After quickly running through the Plaza Premium Lounge, we headed over to the gate for our flight to Hyderabad. Boarding began promptly at 6pm (the flight was a bit delayed due to fog). As usual there was a throng of people trying to board the aircraft first. Somehow the agents managed the crowd and boarded first and business class before anyone else.
The cabin was fairly empty, and is configured in the 2-3-2 manner, which is much the same as Emirates does on its 777s. However these seats are lie flat and a bit more comfortable in the reclined position.
At our seats were a pillow and a blanket already, which are not the normal ones used for long haul flights. We were offered a departure drink choice between champagne and a pineapple juice (I think you guys have seen enough photos of Air India drinks).
The seat controls and tv remote were located in the hand rest next to the seat.
Air India chooses some of the oddest colours for its interior cabin and it often reminds me of an old nursing home. While I expected this flight to have seats that were in better condition than the ancient A320 to Udaipur, they really did not. As soon as I sat down, I could see the wear and tear on the seats. Much of it was duct taped together and the seat table would either not come out or would be slanted.
I was thoroughly enjoying all the hidden surprises in the seats when the captain came on to announce that we were now ready to leave the gate and expected a flight time of exactly 2 hours. The cabin door was closed, but there seemed to be some upgrades from economy by the time we left the gate. I would guess that these were frequent flyers but you never know because this is Air India.
It was extremely foggy in New Delhi with very little visibility outside so it was quite surprising to see that we were pushing back and were ready to takeoff shortly after.
However conditions did seem to be somewhat better in certain areas of the airport. I suppose fog is a bigger issue for landing than takeoff?
I was promised that my entertainment system would be reset as soon as we took off, but that never happened. And my sister’s screen ended up not working at all. So we were moved to a different seats where the entertainment systems were working, but the seat wouldn’t recline. Go figure, they really never take the time to fix the seats between flights.
I finally got around to starting a movie when the mood lighting turned on and meal service began. My tray table wasn’t coming out so I was relocated to another seat where it turned out that someone else sitting (oddly he had his left the seat for a while). I was pretty much playing musical chairs at this point!
Back at my (second) seat, they finally got the tray table out and the meal set. The meal barely stayed on the table though because both sides were slanted 🙂
They apparently didn’t have any soda on board so they offered me wine or water (of which I chose water). Overall the food looked and smelled pretty good, though I wasn’t too hungry so I just went for dessert after trying the fried appetizer on the left. One thing is for sure after all these years though: Air India has amongst the best asian vegetarian catering despite not being presented that well. This was actually one of the better presentations:
This seat had no entertainment system but the power outlet was working well so I hooked up my phone and watched an episode of “Psych” before we landed. The cabin crew came by a couple of times to see if I was comfortable at my new seat and whether I needed anything else. They were extremely nice and service was excellent. They really can’t be blamed for the poor seating, and they did try their best.
Air India 777 service from Delhi to Hyderabad is perhaps one of the best ways to travel between the two cities and the only service which features lie flat seats. Air India has an excellent soft product on its international fleet with good service, lounges, and food. The seat maybe lie flat, but it doesn’t help much because it is absolutely falling apart. Not being able to recline or enjoy the entertainment system on a short haul flight in business is fine, but imagine taking this flight from Chicago. I would never pay or use miles for such a long haul route with Air India on this particular aircraft. From what I hear the 787 fleet is supposed to be better for business class so I would love to try that to see if there is any palpable difference. If it chose to, Air India could compete with the products offered by Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar, but that continues to be a dream….
What do you think of Air India business class on the 777?
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