Sri Lankan offers a solid product on their A321s. Although not as comfortable as a lie flat seat, for the 3.5 hour trip from Abu Dhabi to Colombo it was perfectly fine. It scores better than any domestic US seat. Service was excellent, they offered a complimentary meal, and even brought out amenity kits for passengers.
The Good: Solid IFE, great service and an amenity kit.
The Bad: The seats aren’t very well padded, making them uncomfortable for a long trip.
The Noteworthy: The flight was ⅓ full in business class, and 100% full in economy. They didn’t upgrade a single person.
Arrival at Gate:
After spending some time at the Sri Lankan contract lounge in AUH (the Plaza Premium Lounge) I walked over to the gate. AUH has some interestingly designed gates, where they are arranged in various circles, connected to a main atrium. Once at the gate, I saw that our aircraft was just arriving. This meant we would be departing a bit late, since there were only 45 minutes before departure when I got there.
When boarding commenced, they invited Business Class and elite members to board first. I was the first passenger to board. Little did I know that only 4 seats would be taken in business class.
Airline: Sri Lankan Airlines
Cabin: Business Class
Flight Number: UL 208
Route: Abu Dhabi to Colombo
On time: No, 15 minutes late.
Cabin and Seat:
The cabin looked brand new. I was surprised how clean it was, considering how fast they had to clean the plane. The seats were blue with cream headrests. On my seat there was a pillow and a plastic wrapped blanket.
The seat reclined quite a bit, and considering there was no one seated in front of me, allowed for tons of personal space. Each seat had its own huge IFE screen, and the control was in the side armrest.
Legroom was very generous, and exceeded what you would find in any domestic first class airline in the US. While I took photos of the seat and cabin, the rest of the plane began to board. During this time, the flight attendants proceeded to give out menus and amenity kits for the flight. WHAT?! Amenity kits AND a menu? Sri Lankan was already blowing me away.
The menu was beautiful, and had selections between western courses and Sri Lankan meals. The flight left at 11pm, and they were planning on serving a full meal. US carriers need to step up their game, really.
While the amenity kit was simple, it had all the basics: eye mask, socks, hand cream, tissues, a comb and some stickers to let the crew know if you wanted to be woken up. I was so surprised they offered this in a 3.5 hour flight. I had never imagined an airline would do that in business class (except Qatar Airways). They also handed out headphones, which were flimsy and cheap.
Taxi and Take Off:
After boarding was done, the flight attendants came by offering pre departure options of orange juice and water. I had some of the juice, which tasted fresh.
When the boarding door was closed, the captain came on the PA to advise us of out 3h35m flight, and that it would be fairly turbulent flight, given there was a storm system on our way there.
Then, the safety video played, and the cabin service director welcomed every business class passenger. After a quick take off run, we were in the air.
Once at cruising altitude, we had great views of a full moon.
Since I had eaten a lot in the lounge, not expected UL to serve any food on this flight, I was too full to have a meal. The friendly flight attendant insisted I try the coconut fennel cake, which I obliged in. The menu was beautiful on the inside, explaining a short bit Sri Lankan cuisine.
They brought my warm nuts and a glass of champagne.
The dessert was a moist cake made of coconut and some flour, garnished with fennel, cashews and vanilla creme. It was surprisingly good, as it did not appear to be so just by looking at it.
The seat reclined a substantial amount, and was equipped with a footrest. Although the seat’s padding was very lacking, for the 2h remaining in the flight, it was fine. I slept for about 1 hour, and was woken up by moderate turbulence that lasted for about 15 minutes.
The crew was spectacular, they were very attentive to every passenger. As soon as I woke up they offered me coffee or tea. I ordered english breakfast tea with milk and sugar, and they brought it out in branded china.
The bathrooms were kept impeccable. There was an array of products from different companies. I believe UL just stocks whatever they find, but it was a nice touch. There were also toothbrush kits in the bathroom.
Landing and Arrival:
About 25 minutes out from CMB, the captain came on the PA to thank us for flying on Sri Lankan, and requested the cabin crew to prepare the cabin for landing. Our approach to CMB was very dark, and for a while I thought were landing in the middle of nowhere, until we finally saw city lights about 45 seconds before landing.
We landed without incident, and were parked at a remote stand. Here, I got a chance to take really cool photos of our A321 and proceed to immigration for my one day layover.
Sri Lankan Airlines blew me away. I would have loved to try the meal service, but judging by the cake, food must have been excellent. Service was polished and polite, and the uniforms are blue and beautiful. I would fly them again in a heartbeat. I wish more airlines in the world would take a number from UL and offer such a good product for such a short flight.
What do you think? Have you flown Sri Lankan Airlines? What was your experience? Let us know!