SriLankan Airlines (Colombo International to London Heathrow International), BUSINESS CLASS, AIRBUS A330-300
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 new Business Class seat on this long-haul flight from Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport to London Heathrow Airport:
Route: COLOMBO (CMB) – LONDON HEATHROW (LHR)
Departure date and time of flight: May 2015, 12:50pm
Flight number: UL503 (Srilankan 503)
ATC Callsign: Srilankan
Flight duration: 11 Hours 50 minutes
Class: BUSINESS CLASS
Aircraft type: AIRBUS A330-343E (5 aircraft of this type in service)
Aircraft registration: 4R-ALN
Aircraft Serial Number: 1604
First flight: 28th January 2015
Aircraft delivery date: 26th March 2015
Aircraft name: City Of Kolomtota
Aircraft engine types: Two x Rolls Royce Trent 772B-60
Frequent flyer program: SriLankan FlySmiles Program
Seat configuration for this aircraft:
Business Class: 28 flatbed seats with 180 recline in a 2-2-2 configuration
Economy Class: 269 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration
Punctuality of the flight/route taken:
I had come in from Singapore on SriLankan, and so this was a connecting flight onwards to London Heathrow. Every crew member says they dread this flight because it is so long (nearly 12 hours), and also placed at an awkward time – the whole of the 12 hours are spent in daylight because you take off at lunchtime Colombo time and land in the summer evening in London (daylight during the late Spring). The flight departed on time and arrived on time at Heathrow (thankfully there was no delay in holding over London). The flight flew over India, the Middle East, Turkey and then onwards Europe. I'm so glad I got the chance to fly over the Tabriz area, the legendary 'Secret Garden of Eden'...spectacular...mountains sticking out at 3,000 meters above sea level.
In his published work, Legend: The Genesis of Civilisation, David Rohl posts a location for the legendary Garden of Eden in Iranian Azerbaijan, in the vicinity of Tabriz upon which the Genesis tradition was based. According to Rohl, the Garden of Eden was then located in a long valley to the north of Sahand volcano, near Tabriz.
Any baggage issues:
I had my luggage checked in at Singapore Changi, so there was no need to worry about the baggage here. You can check here for more information in regards to the baggage requirements.
Lounge experience at Colombo International Airport:
SriLankan Airlines operate the Serendib Lounge for their Business and First Class passengers. The lounge can also be used by those travelling on flights with OneWorld Alliance partner airlines. The WiFi enabled lounge is well-managed, clean and there are plenty of options for food and beverages.
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 a glass of champagne and a plate of cold canape. The cold canape consisted of cheese and salmon cutlets.
Comments Regarding The First Meal (Lunch):
For the first meal, a choice of four entrées were provided– all selected from a superb range of Asian and Western dishes.
Meals are served on a low trolley that gives the passenger an inviting eye-level choice of what's on offer and the airline is also introducing new food service items with a more Asian feel in their Business Class. All food in the Business Class cabins in SriLankan is served on elegant bone china tableware specially designed and exclusively produced by Noritake.
Freshly prepared soup cream of mushroom with garlic French croutons
The soup was served with a selection of warm bread from the basket.
After the soup, we were served with an appetizer of:
Seafood terrine and poached lagoon prawns served on a bed of fennel, gourd and citrus salad accompanied by a coriander and chilli cocktail sauce
Very well-cooked. The prawns were skinless, and went very well with the lemon and sauce garnishing.
Lagoon prawn curry with steamed rice, brinjal moju, bitter gourd salad, cashew & pea curry, Malay pickle, papadams and fried chilli
This was served with endless amounts of warm bread from the basket.
Cheese & Dessert:
A selection of Blue d’Auvergne, red Leicester, Taleggio with cabernet paste
A selection of fresh seasonal fruit
A plate full of a trio of miniature sweet delights
Comments Regarding The Second Meal (Dinner):
Around about two hours before landing, we were served with dinner.
I opted for:
Sri Lankan marinated chicken skewer with devil sauce, mini tomato and seafood pizza topped with feta cheese accompanied with oats & herbs crumbed sausages & cheesy cantered risotto croquette with spicy tomato chutney & cucumber, onion & tomato salad
This was served with plenty of drinks, and warm bread from the basket, as well as, a plate of fresh seasonal fruit as dessert.
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 Namaste (palms clasped and head bowed), 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 flatbed seat, which has a pitch of 77-79 inches and a width of 21 inches. It is a fully flatbed and provides a decent amount of sleep for the back. Very comfortable for a long flight. Unlike some other Business Class seats where the seat dips at the feet, this seat doesn’t – it is full flat and feels like a copy bed with your own privacy space to hide away under the warm quilt!
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.
SriLankan also provide a luxury amenity kit bag on long-haul flights. Toothpaste by Colgate and a real proper toothbrush is provided. Luxury hand creams and moistening creams are provided by Crabtree & Evelyn.
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 an 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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