Air India 787 Business Class In 10 Pictures

Filed Under: Air India, Travel

Hello from Delhi! I just took the 6hr30min flight from Frankfurt on Air India’s Boeing 787-8. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I was very pleasantly surprised.

I had only flown Air India in first class prior to this, from London to Delhi to San Francisco. So I was curious to see how their business class product on their newer 787 compared. I came in with low expectations. How can you not when these are the kinds of ads Air India runs?

Air India’s 787 business class cabin consisted of a total of 18 fully flat seats, spread across three rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. Air India certainly didn’t go for the most subtle cabin finishes (not pictured is the red carpet), though I thought the cabin was cute enough.

Let’s start with the amenities. Each passenger received two pillows and two blankets. One of the blankets was a thick duvet, and one of the pillows was substantial as well. I got a great few hours of sleep, especially as the cabin was cool, and there were individual air nozzles at each seat.

Each passenger got slippers, socks, eyeshades, a well stocked amenity kit, and pajamas (which rather hilariously have the maharaja logo on them — you can bet I’ll be wearing these in public when I get back to the US). That’s super impressive.

The flight attendants were good as well. They weren’t over the top friendly to the point of being insincere, but working business class were three very well intentioned and genuine older ladies, who were efficient, friendly, and professional.

The meal service on this short redeye was excellent. Perhaps I’m biased because I love any and all Indian veg food (I don’t know why I don’t just order Indian veg special meals on flights, since they usually look quite good).

Service began with drinks and packaged nuts.

That was followed by the kofta curry, which was spicy and delicious (alternatively there was an Indian non-veg option, and two Western options).

Then there was a separate dessert trolley with fruit, cheese, and dessert. I had the kesari phirni, which was saffron flavored rice pudding. I love any saffron or pistachio flavored desserts, and it reminded me a bit of the incredible dessert I had on Pakistan International Airlines a couple of years ago. I also had a cheese plate, which was plated in front of me.

Then just a few hours later a light breakfast was served, consisting of fruit, carbs, carbs, and… carbs. Okay, the breakfast wasn’t great, but I wasn’t hungry at that point, so it didn’t realize bother me.

The only other thing worth noting about the flight is that we had significant arrival delays due to the fog in Delhi. Fortunately the pilots knew about this going in, so they had plenty of extra fuel, and we didn’t have to divert.

Is this the world’s best business class? Of course not. But this Air India flight had excellent bedding, pajamas, comfortable seats, hospitable service, and tasty Indian food. That’s much more than I was expecting.

Based on what we hear in the media, I know many assume that the average Air India flight has two drunk pilots engaging in a fist fight in the cabin while rats are at the controls, though that certainly wasn’t my experience. I wouldn’t hesitate to fly Air India longhaul on the 787 again.

Comments
  1. “Perhaps I’m biased because I love any and all Indian veg food”

    Ends up ordering the kofta instead lol

    I mean, I hope it was a vegetarian kofta…

  2. The best part of the AI 787s in Economy is the 33-34″ standard seat pitch at all seats. It is a noticeable difference in comfort relative to other carriers.

  3. I have to fly AI 787 biz frequently due to work in the sub continent and I don’t have any complaints. The product is comfortable and the service professional and friendly. Hey, as long as my country have the likes of DL, UA and AA, I don’t think I can complaint of most airlines considering the low bar set by the three behemoths. Also having flown economy several times, I still stand behind the statement that AI has one of the most comfortable economy products, what with the amazing seat pitch and edible meals. I don’t think the cynicism in your post is necessary, although it probably helps to sensationalize an otherwise uneventful recollection of a comfortable trip. Greetings from the Leela near Delhi as I write this.

  4. @JohnC

    When it comes to pilot and cabin incidents and brawls, we Americans lead the way, and no one shall steal our crown!!

    Google can help here too!

  5. Lucky while the AI 787 business class might be good i am sure it would be a different on their 777 which they have quite a few of in their fleet

  6. Air India has a lot of potential. They hold prime slots in major airports around the world. I hope they can turn around after they get privatized. Their merger with Indian Airlines was quite rough for passengers (myself included).

    I still remember my first flight – it was on Air India to Saudi Arabia, and I had asked the air hostess for Mutter Paneer instead of whatever they were serving.

  7. Impressed with them handing out PJs and slippers on a flight twice as short as my CX YVR-HKG A350 flight in J. Cathay, take note!
    On the other hand, the main dish consists of a mountain of rice, with a bit of kofta to go with it…hmmm…

  8. ME3 fly a lot of passengers to and from India. Emirates alone has more flights out of India than any India-based airline, but of late, the cost-cutting in ME3 is beginning to show in the quality of vegetarian meals.

    Even in Etihad Business Class, the Indian veg meal had way more rice than dal, and no dessert. Air India can have an edge here.

    Also, Air India’s website isn’t setup to book a ticket from, say, Detroit to Bangalore. Their web ticketing system needs to be overhauled drastically.

  9. Somehow I serious mistrust Air India. Having seen a couple of their planes has prevented me from booking them. Similar to Kingfisher airlines ( not the beer), Air India has a history of taking new planes apart and use them as donors for their fleet. Plenty of airlines do this, but none of them do it to that extend. Kingfisher stripped down airplanes to the point the airworthiness was put into question.

  10. I’m not sure discussion of airline safety and airline incidents favour the US. There is no shortage of bizarre events on US airlines.

    On a more relevant note, AI 787 business is a good product, but it’s important to point out that it is consistently more expensive for paying customers compared to alternatives. However, for flights to and fro DEL and BOM, I always find myself steering to AI when their 787 business is an option. I like the care and comfort.

  11. @Emily – airline incidents in India get a lot of coverage, especially AI since it’s owned by the govt. Newspapers in India tend to be aggressive towards the government, based on my experience as a journalist. You will find a lot of articles on Indian aviation, even those including runway incursions. Such incidents within the US rarely make it on Western/American news outlets because only sensational stories get our attention (very sad).

    We could learn a thing or two about freedom of the press and journalism from the Indian media, even in matters as trivial as airline incidents.

  12. I will be flying PVG-DEL next week and debating the choice of seats. I am traveling solo and do not like the 2-2-2 configuration. The middle two seats do have aisle access and picked a middle seat. The windows would be the more ideal option but I am not fond of the idea of climbing over people. The 3AM arrival in New Delhi will be interesting.

  13. @Richard

    I did the same on Nov 24th. The experience was good, except for the check-in since the business/star gold check in line was not clearly marked and I had to cut through the economy line to get to it. Basically ppl stare at you as you cut right through the middle of the economy passengers, but I guess that’s a fault of the airport authorities since I’ve always found that check in is handled by the Chinese airport authorities in China. I had a window seat. There was sufficient room to climb over the person next to me, although I didn’t need to use the facilities in board. The service was courteous and they thanked me for being a *gold flyer. The food tasted good to me except for the bread roll. We departed on time and arrived at the gate twenty min ahead of schedule. From there immigration was a breeze. I often avoid the line for business/first passengers in DEL and head to the foreign passport queue since they are frequently quicker (just guage the flow).

  14. Lucky you should fly through Chicago. The rats will not only delay your flight, they will hold you down and give you a a free beating too ala Dao.

  15. If the main character in the first ad sat next to me on a flight and engaged in that level of brain-pain dialogue I’d quite probably voluntarily self-downgrade to Y, and failing that, pretend that my noise cancelling headphones were connected to something to which I was intensely listening.

  16. I second Prabuddha.

    Last year my LX flight was cancelled, departing ORD, due to the finding of a rat on board. On the plus side, I caught a showing of Hamilton

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