Formed on the 28th of January 1992 after the fall of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan Airways is the national flag carrier of Uzbekistan. Based at Tashkent International Airport, the airline flies to 58 destinations globally using a mixture of 66 Western and Russian built aircraft. Destinations include New York, and London. I decided to check out their latest Boeing 767-300ER flying from Beijing to Tashkent on the 'Silk Road route'. .
Route: BEIJING (PEK) - TASHKENT (TAS)
Departure date and time of flight: September 2012
Flight number: HY506 (ICAO callsign: “Uzbek 506 heavy”)
IATA Code: HY
IACO Callsign: UZBEK
Flight duration: 6 Hours 10 minutes
Class: BUSINESS CLASS
Aircraft type: BOEING 767-330P (ER) (16 aircraft in service)
Aircraft registration: UK67004 (First flight 10th of February 2012)
Engines: 2x PW PW4062
Seat configuration for this aircraft:
Business class: 15 seats in a 2-1-2 configuration,
Economy class: 246 seats in a 2-3-2 configuration
Comments on the check-in staff (baggage issues):
No issues regarding the baggage. The baggage limit is two bags (upto 30KG in total per passenger). Hand luggage for Business Class passengers at Uzbekistan Airways is limited to one piece per passenger.
LOUNGE EXPERIENCE at Beijing Terminal 2:
Terminal 2 at Beijing Capital Airport is usually used by the Skyteam Alliance of airlines. This includes Aeroflot, KLM/Air France, Alitalia, and China Southern Airlines (some international flights). Terminal 2 has a lounge for all the airlines in the Skyteam Alliance, and a separate lounge for all other airlines such as Uzbekistan Airways. Both the Business and First Class lounges are located after security and both have plenty of offerings consisting of food, and drinks. The lounge facilities are not as modern as your average 5-star hotel, but nonetheless there are ample number of options for hot and cold dishes (both Chinese and, Western cuisine). Clean, modern, and with sophisticated up to the minute flight information, the lounge
Punctuality of the flight, and route taken:
The flight departed on time from a rather busy Beijing airport on a bright warm autumn day, and landed on time at the quieter Tashkent Airport. Initially after departure heading was towards the outer Beijing marker, and then onto the silk road route. On the ground people can embark in a 14-day journey from Beijing to Tashkent )and vice-versa) on the great ancient silk route to enjoy the amazing scenery, and the smells of the local markets and mountains on the way. The view is equally stunning from the plane too. Even though all you can see is the beautiful ice-peaked mountains and the Gobi desert, the view is rather stunning. While flying over the desert you can help thinking to yourself ‘what if I get stuck in the middle of this desert on the way?’ Nevertheless, it is worth it. Flying over Urumqi gave us an idea of how close the city is to the mountain terrain filled borders of Tajikistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and of course, Uzbekistan.
Comments regarding the pre-flight service:
Passengers’ in the Business Class cabin were offered welcome drinks consisting of apple juice, orange juice, and plain mineral water (still and sparkling). There was also a packet of salted cashew nuts (labelled as ‘Indian nut’ by the vendors at Uzbekistan Airways!).
Comments regarding the pre-meal service:
Around about 25 minutes after departure, drinks were served from the trolley along with another helping of the huge cashew nuts. The only alcohol served was the Tsingtao Chinese beer cans, and not much else. Apart from that were the usual orange juice, apple juice, and water (all branded by Uzbekistani vendors).
Comments regarding the first meal:
The one and only meal of the flight was offered around 40 minutes after departure. In Business Class cabin, the passengers are offered the choice to eat at the time which they find convenient.
The main meal tray was very colourful and consisted of various bits and pieces. The following were provided on the main business meal tray:
· Fresh bowl of salad
· Cracker biscuits with cheddar cheese
· Honey roasted ham, with asparagus, cucumber, and ONE cherry tomato (just one!)
· Salad cream
· Raspberry moose
· Soft bread bun from the bread basket
Hot meal tray options were: fish, lamb, chicken, or beef. There was no vegetarian option available, and Uzbekistan does not offer passengers in any class the chance to pre-order their meal choice before departure. I opted for the fish dish. I couldn’t tell what type of fish it was, and nor did they the cabin crew tell me (they probably never knew either). It tasted as if it had been washed up in a bowl of sunflower cooking oil. Accompanying the fish fillet was a spoonful of rice, portion of boiled baby potatoes, a couple of carrots, green beans, and some pieces of sweet corn. Either they were running low on the number of ingredients at the Uzbekistan Airways catering facility, or they thought that the passengers would be pint sized. Not being greedy, but I mean hey, come on, two slices of chopped carrot as part of a hot dish? Overall, it did the job of filling one up for the medium-ranged 6-hour flight.
The airline is very proud of their branding image, and that comes across clearly with the bright yellow and green colours used throughout the flight décor, including the bright yellow napkin with the Uzbekistan logo.
Comments regarding the after meal drinks and in-flight snacks:
A second round of drinks, including coffee and tea were offered prior to landing at Tashkent.
Comments regarding the second meal:
Comments on the in-flight entertainment system:
The interesting thing was that everyone was provided with a iPad after take-off. Though the iPad was mainly in Russian language it was nevertheless very interesting to use.
Business Class passengers are provided with beautifully decorated bright blue slippers, a eyeshade with the Uzbekistan Airways logo, and a show strap.
Comments of professionalism of the cabin crew:
Most of the cabin crew are native Uzbekistanis, and come across to be very proud to work for their country’s national flag carrier. Uzbekistan Airways does employ some foreign cabin crew and pilots (on our flight we had a couple of South Koreans). All the crew that I came across were able to communicate in excellent English. Three main languages are spoken on the airline: Russian, Uzbek, and English. On the Beijing to Tashkent flight we also had a recorded announcement provided in Mandarin Chinese for passengers who would otherwise not be able to speak in English, Russian or Uzbek.
Comments on the interior of the aircraft (including seat comfort):
The plane’s interior is beautifully decorated in either blue (as with the colours of the airline), or in beige. The business class seats are very comfortable with leather lining on the covers. The cabin brings along a sense of freshness upon entering the aircraft. Its’s clean, and very smart interior is a match to any top international airline in the world.
Uzbekistan Airways logo and livery:
Perhaps the most colourful airline livery around, Uzbekistan Airways have made full use of the colours of the national flag on their planes. The ration behind the design is to make it look like a large Uzbekistan flag flying across the sky. The fuselage has a light blue up top, white in the middle and green on the bottom with red lines separating them in between- just like the national flag. The tailfin is bright sky blue, with a bright yellow circle bordered by a thick red cheat line. Inside the circle is a bright green crane flying to the front.
The engines are also painted in a beautiful bright sky blue colour, and have the same yellow circle logo as the tailfin. Very beautiful and pleasing for the eye.
Overall rating 1-10 (worst-best): 7
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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B777-300ER Cockpit Video 1
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