CHECK-IN I arrived at Terminal 2 at 1030 for my 1245 flight. As I got out of the cab I was surrounded by people wanting to carry my bag. I made my own way into the terminal, put my luggage through the scanning machine and approached the premium check-in desks. There was no queue and after check-in I was escorted to the lounge by a member of staff. There was also no queue at immigration as during the day the terminal is relatively quiet.
THE LOUNGE Mumbai airport is not known for its lounges but Jet has set up a private area for first class passengers to one side of the main Clipper Lounge. There is waitered service, with a menu of drinks and snacks such as sandwiches, canapés and samosas. The lounge has wifi at RS42 (£0.50) per hour but there is also a free Airtel service which you can use by registering and getting a password sent to your mobile.
BOARDING When it was time for boarding, ground staff escorted the passengers to the plane with porters to carry the hand baggage. There are no bins in first class so hand baggage was stored by the crew and as a result the cabin felt very spacious. Boarding was left to the last minute so there were no queues. Once on the plane we were offered a hot or cold towel, and a choice of drinks (coconut juice, lime juice, sweet lime juice, buttermilk and water). Bose noise-cancelling headphones were given out along with a sleeper suit and an amenity kit similar to those in business class. There was a choice of English or Indian newspapers and magazines.
THE SEAT The new first class suite is fitted four across with two rows. I chose a window seat and was pleased as the space near the window makes the "cabin" feel even more spacious. The suite is a true cabin with two wooden doors that you can close for privacy. It is made in a mixture of wood, cloth and leather in creams and burgundy and feels very comfortable. If you are seated in the middle seats there is a privacy screen which you can lower to speak to the passenger seated next door or you can seal yourself off from the outside world. When it is time for sleep the crew make your seat into a bed with a mattress and duvet as well as a couple of extra pillows. The flat bed is a spacious 83 inches, and "mood lighting" projects a starry sky on the cabin ceiling which changes during the flight.
The suite has its own wardrobe, massage functions, variable lighting, do not disturb button and storage spaces alongside the seat. The massage function allows you to choose the type of massage as well as its intensity and the place, ie upper back, lower back, seat or all three. The lighting is adjustable as with five lights at each end of the suite, above the table and one for when reading you can create almost any mood. The seat is also infinitely adjustable with the ability to change the back, feet, seat, head, lumbar as well as move the seat backwards and forward towards the table and footrest. All this is controlled from a small LCD screen beside the seat. It is easy to work as it is all done by pictures of the seat on the screen. If you want simplicity there are also a number of preset seating buttons.
The foot rest is a full size seat so a guest can sit with you and the table is so large that you can easily dine together. The table also provides a good place to work and in-seat power is provided. There is also very good ventilation with a personal and adjustable air vent in the seat beside the reading light.
THE FLIGHT Owing to air traffic delays and then some work on the runway we pushed back about one hour late and took off ten minutes after that. The crew kept us informed and made sure we had whatever we needed. Before take-off drink and canapé orders had been taken – there was a choice of vegetarian, including Russian salad, blue and cottage cheese, or non-vegetarian with goose liver and caviar. The drinks menu was extensive, with Krug, Dom Perignon and wines such as Corton Charlemagne 2001, Chassagne Montrachet 1999 and Chateau Brane-Cantenac 2003. In addition to the usual drinks there are cocktails, single malts, and a selection of teas and coffee, as well as iced teas, coffees and chocolate.
The food menu is equally impressive. A spiced vegetable soup was followed by a selection of appetizers – I opted for the salmon, chicken and prawn marinated in different spices and baked. There were four main courses from rack of lamb to traditional Indian dishes (I chose chicken korma), and for dessert I opted for desi pista phirnee with cardamon ahead of ice cream or chocolate macadamia cake. By the time it came to the cheese I was full and had to pass although I did manage to sneak in one Godiva chocolate. If you want to get straight to sleep there is a quick meal choice of shepherds pie followed by dessert and cheese. Later in the flight there is a second "snack" with items such as quiche, mousse and fruit. Popcorn was even offered when I was watching a movie. The IFE is the same as in business class, except with Bose noise-cancelling headphones and a 23-inch screen.
ARRIVAL On approach each passenger was given a presentation box with two small glasses in it but the best present was the fact that there was no delay on the approach to Heathrow. Having made up time we landed a little late just after six. The gate being occupied meant it was 25 minutes until we moved onto the stand. I cleared immigration quickly and within five minutes of being at the carousel my bags appeared.
VERDICT Service was superb and at your own pace, and throughout the flight the crew were attentive and on hand when required. A fantastic product.
PRICE A typical first class return fare costs £5,478 (travelocity.co.uk).