SriLankan Airlines (marketed as SriLankan) is the national flag carrier of Sri Lanka. It is headquartered in Katunayake, Sri Lanka, with its hub at Bandaranaike International Airport. SriLankan operates directs flights to Asian, European and Middle East destinations along with its code share routes which include to destinations in USA, Oceania as well. It became a member of the Oneworld alliance in 2014.
SriLankan was established in 1978 as Air Lanka, following the termination of operations of the original Sri Lankan flag carrier Air Ceylon. Following its partial acquisition in 1998 by Emirates it was re-branded to "SriLankan" and introduced the current livery. After ending the Emirates partnership, it continues using its re-branded name and logo.
As of March 2015, SriLankan Airlines serves 96 destinations in 49 countries, including codeshares and remains the largest foreign carrier into the Maldives, with over 30 weekly flights between Male and Colombo. SriLankan Airlines currently operates 258 weekly flights to 33 destinations in 20 countries, covering the main cities of the Europe, Middle East, India, South East Asia and the Far East.
I tried and tested the regional Business Class seat on this short-haul flight from Singapore Changi International Airport to Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport on the Airbus A321-200 aircraft:
Route: SINGAPORE (SIN) to COLOMBO (CMB)
Departure date and time of flight: May 2015, 09:45
Flight number: UL307 (Srilankan 307)
ATC Callsign: Srilankan
Flight duration: 3 Hours 50 minutes
Class: BUSINESS CLASS
Aircraft type: AIRBUS A321-231 (two aircraft of this type in service)
Aircraft registration: 4R-ABR
Aircraft Serial Number: 3636
First flight: 5th September 2008
Aircraft delivery date: 29th September 2014 (from Qatar Airways)
Aircraft engine types: Two x IAE V2533-A5
Frequent flyer programme: SriLankan FlySmiles Program
Seat configuration for this aircraft:
Business Class: 16 angle flat seats in a 2-2 configuration
Economy Class: 153 seats in a 3-3 configuration
Punctuality of the flight/route taken:
This early morning flight departed from Singapore on time and landed on time on a hot morning in Colombo. After departing Singapore, the flight made its way over the south of Malaysia, and onto Thailand’s south-west coast before making a clear run towards Sri Lanka over the Andaman Sea. Spectacular lush green forests and tea plantations of this tiny, yet remarkably beautiful, culturally rich and vibrant country, can be seen very clearly from the air. It is a truly mesmerizing scene, and one that no one should miss if they ever fly over Sri Lanka.
Any baggage issues:
Checking in luggage at Singapore Changi is an easy and smooth affair. You can check here for more information in regards to the baggage requirements.
Lounge experience at Singapore Airport:
Business and First Class passengers flying with SriLankan Airlines use the Dnata Lounge at Singapore Changi Airport. The lounge is located at Level 3 after the departures security. There is plenty of food and beverages available. The area is reasonably clean and quite compact - though it does not feel as fresh and spacious as the one provided by some of the other airlines (Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific etc.). My advice is that if you don’t like sitting around doing nothing, then hand your belongings in to the staff at the lounge and go and explore the shopping areas at the terminal. Singapore Airport is a heaven when it comes to Duty Free shopping, as there are shops selling just about everything under the sun. Plus, you’ll never feel as if you are actually at an airport, because there are palm trees and other lish green placed around the airport. Therefore, it gives that feeling of being in a large shopping mall rather than at the airport- the only exception being you don’t people carrying luggage at a shopping mall.
In-flight magazine: Serendib is the in-flight magazine for Sri Lankan Airlines
Comments regarding the pre-flight service:
Passengers’ in Business Class are offered hot lemon scented towels prior to departure. This is followed by a drinks service, which consists of some of the world’s finest wines, and champagne. In Business Class, the cabin crew offer various kinds of drinks prior to departure:
I opted for the orange juice on this occasion. SriLankan have recently revamped their inflight product offering. The cabins give a very fresh and airy feeling once you are on-board, and everything, including the seats and the toilets are very clean as well.
Comments regarding the pre-meal service:
Around about 35 minutes after departure, drinks were served from the trolley.
There was also the celebrated SriLankan complimentary bar service for Business Class passengers, including various alcoholic beverages, and soft drinks. Ground coffee, and decaffeinated coffee or tea (English earl grey, Ceylon, and Chinese green tea) were also available. Tea was provided by well-known SriLankan company, Dilmah (naturally). The tea? This was the BEST tea I’ve had on a plane for a long time. I have never been on any of the other South Asian carriers (Air India, PIA, JetAirways or Biman), and maybe the Indian airlines provide a better tasting tea…but the cuppa I got on SriLankan was the best most authentic tea experience (really, it was!). If I was to fly somewhere and wanted my cup of tea then I would choose SriLankan any day.
Comments regarding the breakfast meal:
Instead of eating a Western breakfast, I opted for a traditional and authentic dining experience for breakfast – a vegetarian dish
Vegetarian choice of aloo mutter masala and steward eggplant with tomato served with plain paratha. Very scrumptious, well-cooked, and prepared with love and affection to provide a truly authentic experience in the air. I can say that I tasted the BEST South Asian in-flight meal ever. The chefs really know how to create a top quality dining experience in the air.
Accompanying the main dish was a bowl of thick and delicious natural yogurt, a bowl of fresh seasonal fruit, and a selection of warm bread from the basket.
Comments on the in-flight entertainment system:
This aircraft features AVOD (Audio and Video OnDemand) with every seat having access to a personal video screen, offering various audio programming options. There is a wide selection of movies, TV and music to choose from.
Comments of professionalism of the cabin crew:
The cabin crew appear to have been trained very well, and seem to know how to handle all kinds of situations. The trainers must have had everything thrown at them, ranging from rowdy passengers to those having a nervous breakdown. These people are amazing. They really do pamper you.
Now, I am not saying this because I was travelling in Business Class, but the crew were very friendly and hospitable to ALL the passengers, and showed a genuine smile whenever. Like I said before that I have not been on any of the South Asian carriers, and I have read horror stories of passengers experiencing delayed flights, bad customer service, blocked toilets etc. But, contrary to belief, I experienced none of that. The plane was very clean, the food was out of this world delicious, and the customer service was authentic, genuine and just awesome. From my experience, flying with SriLankan was no different to that of flying with Cathay Pacific, Emirates, and Qatar Airways. And the most important part of all? The cabin crew welcome the passengers by saying Ayubowan (palms clasped and head bowed....Ayubowan means 'May You Live Long'), and also say a thank you in a similar fashion before landing. It is something that Western airlines can learn from. Trust me, believe me, I have come across some cabin crew on some of the best airlines in the world (Oman Air, Etihad, British Airways, KLM, Cathay Pacific to name a few), that have had an attitude problem of some sort or another with passengers (we all have our good and bad days), but the hospitality shown by the SriLankan crew was second to none. Just wonderful.
Comments on the interior of the aircraft (including seat comfort):
The new Business Class regional cabin is fitted with the spanking new fully angle flat seat, which has a pitch of 45 inches and a width of 20.
There is certainly plenty of space available. I had my camera bag (which is annoyingly big), plus my laptop (I seldom have to sleep on a daytime flight so I end up working!), AND my carrier bag. All of these were neatly stored before departure. Oh, there is also space for you to put your shoes during the long flight so you can sit like as if you are sitting on your sofa at home. There were plenty of in-flight magazines and newspapers (both Sri Lankan and Western) for passengers.
There was no amenity kit provided for this short-haul regional flight.
SriLankan logo and livery:
The initial livery consisted of red stripes on a white fuselage, the tail being a solid red and sporting the corporate logo, a stylised peacock. This was the sole livery of the airline for nearly two decades, from 1979 to 1998. After SriLankan Airlines began a decade-long partnership with Emirates, the livery was changed into a much simpler one, with an all-white fuselage, covered by blue 'SriLankan' titles, and the tail adorned with the corporate logo.
Some aircraft have tourism advertisements on the rear part. In May 2014 an Airbus A330 in special Oneworld livery was delivered to commemorate the airline's establishment as a Oneworld member. Newly delivered aircraft are adorned with a blue under-belly bearing the tourism advertisement- "Visit Sri Lanka" in white.
About Airline PR
This is a special section on Airline Branding, and Airline Public Relations written by me on all the flights I have been fortunate enough to have been on. These are not records taken from somewhere else, but are actual flights I have been on. Most of the flight trips are officially sponsored by the airline companies in order to promote their certain routes, and aircraft. Airline promotion and PR related work in the aviation industry is one of my expertise.
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