First impressions: Jet Airways flights depart from Terminal 3 at London Heathrow. I had not checked in online, and travelled by underground from Central London, arriving at around 1900 for the 2045 departure on flight 9W0121 for Delhi. The check-in area is in zone H, and there were two desks for business class (Premiere) passengers and one for first class.
The area was slightly chaotic, but a very impressive Jet Airways employee called Pommy was taking charge as I arrived. She quickly directed me to the first class check-in desk which was free, but had been blocked by the largest pile of luggage I have ever seen. Apologising for the scene she explained that “All her first class had arrived at the same time”. From the amount of luggage they had brought with them, I was sorry to have missed their entrance. Check-in staff were excellent. I then went upstairs to queue for 15 minutes at Terminal 3’s Fast Track security.
The Lounge: Jet doesn’t have its own lounge at Heathrow. According to the website, in the morning it uses the AA Flagship Lounge which is Lounge “H” after the shopping area, and in the evening it uses the AA Admirals Club. This was a good-sized space which with adverts telling us about the future renovations, a story previously covered on businesstraveller.com here.
There is T-Mobile internet access in the lounge, and you can obtain scratch card vouchers for this from reception. I had just done this when the flight was called at 2000. I walked to Gate 27, and boarded immediately. I was give a sleep suit and socks, a Bulgari amenity bag and the choice of juices or water. There was a wooden hanger for the seat, and I changed into the sleep suit in the larger than average washroom. We took off at 2100.
The seat: This was a three-class B777-300ER aircraft with 8 first class seats (A –DG –K), 30 Premiere (business) and 274 economy (3-3-3, ABC – DEF – HJK). The business class seats are in a 1-2-1 configuration (A –DG – K), herringbone style. Click here to view the seatplan for this aircraft.
This Monday night flight was only a third full in business, and most of the occupied seats were window seats (A and K). If you are travelling with a colleague it is perfectly possible to chat across the aisle from say, 11G to 11K. Seats to avoid are the pair 8D and 8G since you are facing straight into the galley (8G particularly), so each time the curtain is pulled back, there is light disturbance. Also possibly avoid the last row (16), because of economy class directly behind, though there is a good size wall between the two, so this is less of a problem than with many other airlines. Note that the window seats do not face the window, as with all herringbone configurations, there are no easy views out of the window. My seat looked a little worn, with black tape around the seat belt buckle.
All the business class seats have lumbar support and massage systems. Most importantly, however, they electronically convert to a 180 degree 73-inch flat bed with shoulder room measured at 35.4 inches and hip dimensions of 33.1 inches. It also has a good sized table, though this bounced when working on a laptop, and come with laptop power, a telephone and an AVOD Panasonic IFE system with a good choice of recent films as well as music and games. The controls are difficult to work, however, as they have quite a delay, and then when they catch up with your choice often overshot, so patience is necessary if you are to not end up watching the wrong programme.
The flight: My drinks and food order was taken at around 2125. Jet serves Dom Perignon, but not until you are in-flight. The food was excellent. The starter was a choice of salad: mesclun of seasonal greens, tossed with mozzarella, grilled vegetables, arugula, tomato Grana Padano shavings, pine nuts ad pesto; or soup: Cream of Red Core Chantenay Carrots, flavoured with coconut and sundried tarragon. Main courses were Butter garlic prawns, a Paneer Pepper Fry, Roasted sea bass or Quinoa Risotto. All of these were served with Vendakai Kozhambu (okra tossed with coconut, mustard seeds and curry leaves); Tomato Pappu (lentils tempered with curry leaves, tomatoes and flavoured with tamarind) and Ghee Bhaath (basmati rice tempered with clarified butter). The breads were an Indian and Wesstern assortment, and for dessert, there was a choice of Kesari Rasmalai (saffron flavoured poached milk dumplings), Caramelized Apple; Mascarpone Mousse; butterscotch Almond Crumble (one dish, that) or ice cream. To polish off there was a selection of gourmet cheeses.
The wines included a Pouilly-Fume, Domaine Pabiot and a Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons, J Moreau et Fils. The red wines were Chateau Lyonnat, Lussac Saint-Emilion and Beaune Premier Cru, Louis Jadot. On this flight there were also two “Wines of the Month”: Pouilly Fume “Cuvee Max” Etienne de Loury 2005 and a Chateau Yon-Figeac 2002.
Service on the flight was friendly, but not co-ordinated. The meal took a long time to serve. It’s a common problem on night flights of this duration where passengers want to have something to eat but also want to sleep. It is easily solved by asking if passengers would like a short version of the menu served more quickly. On this flight too often the service seemed to be by rote. I was watching the IFE but was interrupted and asked to close the blinds ready for sleep. This could have been done earlier during the meal service. I asked for my seat to be made into a bed which involves reclining the seat, a blanket putting over it and a duvet placing on top. I then heard the passenger behind me being interrupted from his viewing to see if he wanted his bed making. “What does that involve?” he asked. He was told to stand up and he watched as the same thing was done to his seat. He then turned it back into a seat and carried on watching his film.
The flat bed is extremely comfortable. One of the main reasons someone might pay for a flat bed seat in business is because they want to sleep and be productive the next day, yet there were no ear plugs or eye mask in the Bulgari amenity pack, and none available, although an eye mask was found, and a set of cotton ear buds which were not effective. Finally we were all woken 90 minutes before landing to ask if we wanted breakfast. This is too early, and staff should ask before you go to sleep whether you wish to be woken for breakfast. The meal was disappointing after the main meal of the night before: a choice of fresh juices and smoothie, fresh seasonal fruits (these looked tired), fruit yoghurt, a selection of cereals, croissants, Danish, Muffins and Multi-cereal rolls. The flight attendants were then were instructed to take their seats for landing, and we circled Delhi airport for 40 minutes.
Arrival: We arrived on time and after a five minute delay departed from the aircraft.
Verdict: An excellent business class product slightly let down by service which, though friendly, needs more co-ordinating with the needs of the passenger.