Tried & Tested

Jet Airways B777-300ER Premiere (business)

1 Jun 2007 by business traveller

CHECK-IN I arrived at the building site that calls itself Terminal 3 at Heathrow at 1935 for my 2125 flight to Mumbai. The curbside check-in had been moved due to the building works so I entered the main terminal and made my way to Zone B. There was one business class desk open with no queue. Check-in was quick and the agent told me about the lounges and even escorted me to the landside one.

THE LOUNGE Jet does not have its own lounge but offers you a choice of two lounges. The first is landside and called the DiamondAir Lounge. It is on the second floor above Millies Cookies in the arrivals area and is easily the better of the two, but does mean you have to allow more time to get through fast-track security before boarding. The space is bright and airy, with comfy chairs, desks with computers, wifi, and one of the best selections of magazines and newspapers I had seen in a long time. Cooked meals are served all day – a member of staff told me that due to BAA restrictions the menu was limited at the time but it did include soups, salads and hot dishes from curry to pasta and roast lamb. Other services include meeting rooms, showers, pressing and shoe shine. Two-hour dry cleaning is also available for a fee, as are spa treatments from KarmAir. The lounge is also open to the public at a cost of £12 for the shower facilities and £35 for a visit of up to four hours.

The airside lounge is the United Red Carpet Club, which I suspect is waiting for the terminal reorganisation before being refitted. There are plenty of seats, a number of workstations and T-Mobile wifi, as well as a good selection of soft drinks, wines, beer and spirits. To eat there are muffins, cereal bars, crisps, biscuits and nuts as standard, but Jet orders some extra food for its customers such as sandwiches, samosas and puffs. Passengers are usually only given one lounge pass at check-in, so you need to make a choice. If you are going to be at the airport for a while it is worth using the DiamondAir Lounge for the better facilities and refreshments.

BOARDING My boarding pass showed a boarding time of 1955, which was clearly incorrect, and the flight was called in the lounge at about 2040. I made my way to the gate where I walked straight on to the plane. The first thing that struck me was the wooden floors in the galleys on this new Boeing 777-300ER. I was shown to my seat and offered fresh orange juice, apple juice or water, as well as a selection of newspapers and magazines and a hot towel. My jacket was taken and I was given a sleeper suit, Bulgari amenity bag, and another bag with eyeshades, relaxing gel and socks. The plane pulled away a couple of minutes late and was airborne 20 minutes later. Orders for dinner were taken and drinks quickly served (Jet is the only airline serving Dom Perignon in business class).

THE SEAT This 777 had been flying for just a month and was fitted in all three classes with Jet's new product. Business class (Premiere) is fitted in a herringbone layout with a seat similar to Virgin's, albeit with four seats across with each seat having access to the aisle. Unlike Virgin the seat reclines into the bed rather than flips over. When it reclines it is 73 inches long and 35.4 inches wide at the shoulder, so I had plenty of space to lie flat. The seat has a couple of unique features such as a "do not disturb" button, separate lights for sitting and reclining, and a massage function, as well as multi-adjustability. If you want to work the table is large and there is a power supply (there is also a USB and RJ45 cable socket which I was told would be for internet access in the future). There is plenty of storage under the footrest and either side of the seat as well as two ledges on the right partition ideal for that glass of wine, water bottle and book.

THE FLIGHT Dinner started with soup, which was followed by a choice of fish, risotto, prawn or vegetable curry. To finish there was cheese and then either an Indian dessert, Haägen-Dazs ice cream or fruit. All were delicious. There is also a bar area so you can help yourself to snacks during the flight. Continental breakfast is served prior to arrival with juices, smoothies, fruit, yoghurts and pastries. Wanting to sleep I opted for the DND button and tried to recline my seat, only to find it wouldn't move. However, this was soon fixed and the cabin crew reclined the seat and made up the bed with a quilted mattress and a cotton-backed blanket.

The in-flight entertainment is AVOD with nine audio channels, 85 CDs and about 75 movies (Indian, children's and Hollywood), as well as games and Berlitz language courses. All are watched on a 15.4-inch screen and with noise-cancelling headphones. It took me a while to get the hang of how to operate the system but I soon mastered it. The most complicated bit was the ability to send emails and text at a cost of US$2.50. There is also a live text news but this was not available.

I was woken once during the night by the duty-free announcement, which was frustrating and unnecessary, but apart from that I slept until the pilot came on air 35 minutes before landing.

ARRIVAL A slight delay due to congestion at the airport meant that we landed a little late but we were off the plane quickly. There was a fair walk into an empty immigration hall where I was processed in a matter of minutes. As I walked up to the carousel the priority bags appeared and mine was amongst them. Within 30 minutes of landing I was out of the airport and in the car on the way to the hotel.

VERDICT A very good product and exceptional service. While there are a couple of minor teething problems with the new product I will certainly fly Jet again and would recommend it to anyone.

PRICE A typical business class return fare costs £2,863 (travelocity.co.uk).

Julian Gregory

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