We arrived at the New Delhi airport within 20 minutes from the Hyatt Regency New Delhi. While the low cost airlines (IndiGo and SpiceJet) operate their domestic services out of the Terminal 1, Air India operates all of its services out of Terminal 3. This is a game changer because lounges, concessions, and gate spaces are all better in the International Terminal 3, not to mention you don’t have to get bused to the aircraft.
So yes Air India, being government owned, does have special privileges over other airlines at the nation’s capital. Don’t even get me started about what happens when fog disrupts flights in New Delhi (Air India gets priority landing and takeoff slots). Anyway our flight happened to be on a rather empty Air India 777ER arriving from Chicago, which continues on to Hyderabad. As such, at check in we were offered to upgrade to business class with lie flat seats for $80 (This was in addition to the $60 or $70 fare we paid for the DEL-HYD ticket). I agreed to the upgrade because I figured this would be a great opportunity for me to test out Air India Business Class and use up our Citi Prestige travel credits. Annoyingly our luggage had to be pulled and retagged with priority slips, which took a while, but we were on our way with invitations to the Air India Business Class Lounge in hand.
The Air India Lounge is located a level above the main terminal, right next to the Plaza Premium Lounge, which is accessible using the Priority Pass card (review coming later). Now I’ve mentioned before that I really don’t like how Air India is being run and the number of problems with the maintenance and seats on the planes (especially the A320 fleet).
So what the Air India Lounge had to offer, impressed me from the get go. The entrance does feel a bit tacky with the ribbons and oddly distributed holiday decorations, but I do love the classic Maharaja. The wooden slits design also made the front facade of the lounge classy and exclusive.
We were promptly checked into the lounge after presenting our boarding passes and invitations and handed the WiFi code. The lounge was quite empty when we arrived and featured extensive and comfortable seating along the walls. There were no tarmac views to be had, but I can’t say I was overly displeased with that. There was a good array of private and not so private seating, and I am happy to say that the furniture wasn’t worn out as it is on the aircrafts.
The massage chairs in the lounge, which were right next to an open area of seating did seem a bit jarring to me. You would expect these chairs in a more private area of the lounge, but power to them for having them I suppose.
I sat down in the dining area and edited some pictures while I waited for our flight. There was quite an extensive buffet of food available in the lounge (note: it was dinner time), which I quickly snapped pictures of:
I didn’t try any of the hot items or pastries, but I did have some of the Gulab Jamun (a dessert), which was fantastic. It was just the right amount of fluffy, warm, and sweet. I was dually impressed by the staff who constantly monitored the buffet items and replenished or switched them out on a regular basis to keep things fresh. The menu itself wasn’t a game changer, but the food genuinely looked presentable, edible, and maybe even delicious. It was also nice of Air India to label vegetarian dishes, which appears to be a common practice in India in general.
I looked at the showers and restrooms in the lounge, and they were surprisingly neat and well maintained.I guess Air India isn’t cutting corners everywhere, which is nice to see. Not the case with the internet however. Wi-Fi was decent enough to check WhatsApp and email, but was overall on the slow side
The Air India Lounge in DEL T3 is perhaps one of the better aspects of “flying with the Maharaja.” The lounge is clean, has plenty of seating, a good dining buffet, and showers to refresh after a long flight. Food quality, as far as I could tell, was pretty good, and service was excellent. The lounge still lags behind the Hyderabad Plaza Premium Lounge (review coming soon) in overall quality, but kudos to Air India for trying to make it a mostly premium experience. Now the Wi-Fi was fairly pathetic for a premium lounge, but I guess that’s to be expected with Air India? It remains to be seen how good the lounge is when there are a couple of more flights going out. The Plaza Premium Lounge next door wasn’t doing so well with the crowding issue……
On another note: I don’t know why Air India doesn’t use the Maharaja to conduct a better ad campaign, the current one is full of paneer, putting it in Indian terms 🙂 On the other hand, take a look at the British Airways ad, which does a better job of being Indian. I know I can’t hold back my criticism, but the airline could be soooo much better.
How do you like Air India’s Business Class Lounge in Delhi Airport? Have you been there?
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