Aircraft Type: A330-300
Class: Business Class
Date: February 2018
SriLankan Airlines recently added two daytime flights per week from London to Colombo, flying on Saturdays and Sundays, providing better connections and more convenient departure times. This now makes the airline even more attractive to passengers looking for one-stop carriers between London and the Maldives, Sri Lanka and beyond.
On the Ground
Heathrow Terminal 3 has recently seen a wave of improvements for oneworld airlines, including new Cathay Pacific and Qantas lounges. Instead of opting for the British Airways lounge, that Sri Lankan recommend passengers to use, we recommend opting for one of the newer lounges. With the addition of this daytime flight, the perfect spot to grab some breakfast is the Qantas Lounge.
On arrival in to the Qantas lounge, our tip is to enjoy the downstairs table service breakfast. Although there is a limited menu, you can always go a little off-piste, and we had some amazing eggs benedict and a perfect glass of champagne to wash it down.
While the Qantas lounge is an excellent addition to Heathrow, the lounge can become quite busy, potentially due to it being a new lounge, but also due to the fact the Qantas A380 operates to and from Heathrow still, with a large proportion of business class passengers awaiting their flight at the same time as multiple other oneworld flights at that time of day.
The upstairs is certainly beautiful, with a wonderful horseshoe bar acting as a focal point. However, it was difficult to find a seat at this time of day, so we opted instead to head next door to Cathay Pacific’s larger and brighter lounge.
As you can see from our Cathay Pacific Lounge report, the space is elegant, refined, and allows a much better view of Heathrow’s runways, along with fantastic cocktails and a better selection of wines and champagne.
That said, a breakfast at the Qantas Lounge, followed by a quick relaxing stint in Cathay’s lounge is the perfect way to start the trip.
SriLankan only flies their flagship A330-300 aircraft on the London route, which means Business Class passengers are treated to an all-aisle access herringbone product, meaning that there is ample space and a feeling of openness in the cabin.
On entry, you are greeted by a sea of aquamarine, royal blues and creams, which adds a flavour of the exotic, and certainly doesn’t make for a boring cabin environment. Adorning the rear bulkhead of the aircraft is an ornate peacock motif, which is the symbol of the carrier.
The cabin was tidy, and although the aircraft had a quick turnaround due to the inbound aircraft, everything was immaculate on arrival, with a variety of amenities already at the seat, including headphones, slippers and blanket.
Our coat was taken instantly, champagne, juice or water offered, and the airline offers gate to gate entertainment, meaning it was easy to start dipping into a fairly respectable selection of movies and TV shows.
The cabin also offers mood lighting, which ranged through sunset and blue hues throughout the flight. The best element however was the starry sky ceiling panels, which twinkled throughout the flight, creating a sense of a much higher ceiling.
The seat is the standard Zodiac Aerospace Cirrus business class seat, which is a sturdy and comfortable product. While the foot well isn’t the largest when the seat turns into a bed, it’s a totally acceptable business class product, used by multiple airlines around the world.
The SriLankan version is well equipped with a USB port, in seat power, a secondary video handset, reading light and bi-fold dining table.
The seat itself is very comfortable, the cobalt blue leather is also a nice touch, although it is starting to get the familiar creases that leather gets from extended use. For those travelling together, the middle pair is perfect, and for those travelling alone, the window seats offer great privacy. Due to the slightly staggered nature of the middle pairs and the window pairs, all the seats offer great privacy, and we didn’t have direct eye contact with any other passenger during the flight.
The seat also features a small footrest, which sadly doesn’t allow for storage underneath, but considering the low density of the business class cabin, virtually every seat can help themselves to an overhead bin, allowing for plenty of storage above. If you are wanting to store a laptop, aim for row 7, as these seats offer a small shelf above and behind, which is perfect for storing your computer during dinner service.
The seat controls are very easy to use, and perfectly positioned, however the controls are quite bright overnight, so thank goodness for the amenity kits which offer eye masks.
The Food and Service
Even on the shortest of hops (such as Colombo to Male, Maldives) SriLankan offers a proper dining service with printed menus and a drinks service. It’s impressive to see a carrier still investing in this level of passenger experience, and a great point of differentiation in the market.
On boarding the flight, which unfortunately suffered a 3 hour delay due to a late arrival of the inbound aircraft, we were offered Champagne, juice or water, and opted for a glass of the Piper Heidsieck.
Printed menus were handed out, which were keepsakes due to a printed recipe in the rear of the menu to encourage passengers to try SriLankan cuisine in the comfort of their own homes. A lovely touch, and a clever marketing tool.
The First Food Service Menu
Peppered Scottish smoked mackerel presented with hot smoked salmon roulade, chillia and coriander marinated king prawns with grilled peppers, salad, lemon and mango salsa
Hoisin duck and Thai beef salad served with spinach leaves and hoisin sauce
Marinated grilled assorted vegetables presented with grilled halloumi cheese and paprika hummus
Chicken Coriander Curry
Served with brinjal moju, mixed vegetable curry with cashew and saffron rice
With Scallop, clams and octopus presented with grilled mixed peppers
Slow Cooked Lamb Shank
Presented with ratatouille, champagne potatoes Irish style with rosemary and thyme jus
Split lentil tempered served with mixed vegetable curry, steamed rice and mini samosa
A combination of mango mousse and panna cotta served on a bed of mango coulis
After take-off, drinks were served, and we opted to stay with the Cuvée Brut champagne, although there other options such as Katnook Founder’s Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 or Galway Vintage Shiraz 2015 both from Australia, and for white, a Domaine de la Croix Bouquie 2016 and a Macon Lugny Saint-Pierre Bouchard 2015 both from France.
The airline also promotes its Sky Bar, which offers a range of spirits including Colombo Gin and SriLankan’s very own cocktails such as Classic Colombo Fizz a coconut Twister and a Botanical Burst.
For those wanting to try out the world famous Ceylon Teas, there are no less than eight blends available.
Shortly before take-off, our orders were taken, and no more than 30 minutes in the air our tables were being laid for a late lunch. The service on-board our outbound flight was impeccable, and incredibly warm, something that SriLankan prides themselves on, and quite rightly so. There’s something quite magical about cabin crew dressed in Osariya uniforms ornately designed with a peacock motif.
Being a big fan of Hoisin Duck, we opted for the duck and Thai beef salad. It was incredibly tasty, even though the presentation wasn’t the best. The one thing we feel would be a small but noticeable upgrade to the passenger experience here would be new table and glassware. The heavily branded plates don’t give a premium feel to the food service, and a more refined look would certainly give the carrier an elevated food service.
For the main course, we went for the Chicken Curry, which was one of the most delicious dishes we’ve had in many flights, with the brinjal moju offering a welcome kick of heat to spice up a flavoursome dish.
The dessert was enjoyable, and fruit was fresh. Interestingly, the food, although only for 27 business class seats (one of the 28 is used as a crew rest), is still served by a trolley, while most other international carriers are now offering ‘restaurant-style’ service, where the trolley isn’t used.
After dessert, a liqueur and coffee/tea service passed through the cabin, and we had to try a green tea blend to send us to sleep.
Shortly after the service we set up the bed to sleep. While the turbulence was fairly rough at certain times during the flight, we had to call a cabin crew member to clear away our glasses and tea cup in case of any spillage.
Approximately 2.5 hours before landing, we were woken by the gradual change of cabin lights, from night time to a sunset colour scheme. Interestingly, even though we were meant to land at 4.30am (and in reality 7.30am) the airline had opted for a dinner service rather than a breakfast service.
The Second Food Service Menu
Supreme of Chicken
Presented with orange marmalade, sautéed courgettes, glazed parsnip and carrot batons
Pan Seared Salmon Fillet
Served with dill mornay sauce, roasted balsamic vegetables and parseley potatoes
Herb Crusted Lamb Cutlet
Accompanied with mixed vegetables, potatoes and mint jus reduction
Tagliatelle tossed with vegetables, pesto and olive oil served with steamed broccoli and baby carrots
The second service, delivered pre-served on a cloth-lined tray was a quicker service than the main lunchtime service, as most airlines offer on flights. It was, however as equally delicious cuisine, and the herb crusted lamb cutlet was literally perfectly cooked, slightly pink and still tender, with a beautifully crisp and flavoursome crust.
Served with a salad and followed by a fresh fruit salad, it was the perfect pick me up before landing in the morning. Knowing that most passengers were connecting onwards, the airline opted for a dinner service as their following flight was going to offer a breakfast service, or they could enjoy a breakfast in SriLankan’s lounge in Colombo.
Throughout the flight there was an option for other light dishes, and we have to say the chocolate service after the main lunch was great to see, and instead of just offering one, they came back to offer a second chocolate until they were all gone.
SriLankan offers a good entertainment option, it’s quite limited compared to some carriers who offer a really wide range of movies and TV series, but there is certainly enough to keep us entertained of the flight. Interestingly, even though our return flight was on the 4th of the following month, the programming hadn’t been changed, which was a shame as we were expecting different movies on the return flight.
The TV however, is huge, and of a good resolution. Flipping out from the seat, SriLankan allows passengers to watch their TV, Movies or even 3DMaps and live aircraft cameras from gate to gate. While other carriers ask for the TV to be stowed, it seems like we were able to rumble down the runway with TVs still in their viewing position.
The headphones are good, and are of a mid-range quality. They were certainly noise cancelling, but the connections were a little intermittent, meaning we had to jiggle the wire to find a good connection. This is commonplace in aircraft, and just a usual sign of wear and tear as the headphone port gets the most interaction of any part of the seat.
The airline also offers WiFi and USB charging, so if you wanted to enjoy your own personal devices, you can. While we can’t comment on the speed as we didn’t use it on this flight, it’s good to point out, that WiFi can’t be used over India, so if your flight crosses the country, have a think about the data plan you want to purchase.
The airline also offers Serendib magazine, which is of an OK quality, we found it interesting to see their route map had put the likes of London where Newcastle is, and Paris near the sea. While small details, it did make us laugh a little at the tectonic shift the airline was anticipating for our return.
SriLankan offers a wealth of amenities. From slippers, a large colourful patterned pillow and aquamarine patterned blanket when you board, through to an Aigner amenity kit, featuring a body lotion and a lip balm as well as the usual amenity options.
Throughout the service, we were offered hot towels, our drinks were always topped up and little passenger surprises like the chocolates were welcome thoughtful and warm touches. The business class cabin enjoys three toilets, all of which were well looked after, and fairly large.
Considering the price point of SriLankan and being part of oneworld the airline offers a fantastic product, benefiting from oneworld lounges including Qantas, British Airways and Cathay Pacific lounges in Heathrow. It was great to see that the warmth of the service, the hard product and the dining options were still at a high standard, and that even though the airline suffered a delay, they ensured that all passengers made their connections the following day.
These new day flights on the weekend are a huge benefit to the carrier, making for quicker connections in Colombo, and with the return flights arriving back at Heathrow at 8.30am, they are perfectly poised for a morning start in London. If you haven’t read our recent interview with Saminda Perera at SriLankan, take a look here.
The Big Picture
THEDESIGNAIR.NET TRAVELLED AS GUESTS OF SRILANKAN, HOWEVER THE VIEWS EXPRESSED HERE ARE OUR OWN