Air India A321 Business Class In 10 Pictures

Filed Under: Air India, Travel

After a pleasant flight in Air India’s 787 business class from Frankfurt to Delhi, it was time to connect from Delhi to Colombo on an Air India A321. Let me start by saying that the Delhi Airport transit experience was awful. I’ve never in my life seen such an inefficient security checkpoint, though I’ll save the details of that for the full trip report.

So, how was Air India’s A321? Pretty bad.

Air India’s A321 featured a total of 12 business class seats, spread across three rows in a 2-2 configuration.

The cabin was worn. There were no power ports, no personal televisions, no nothing. The seat fabric was dirty and the seat and seatback pocket were really stretched out. There was a footrest, but it was barely adjustable.

Perhaps the funniest aspect of the A321s is that the bulkheads have things that look like entertainment monitors. They even have volume controls. However, in reality they’re only Air India branded signs. How bizarre. Did Air India used to have IFE on their A321s and they eliminated it, but didn’t want to pay to even take the boxes off the bulkheads? This is just so cheap and strange looking.

The only inflight entertainment was the duty free magazine. At least that was entertaining…

The only amenities on this flight were a pillow and blanket. The blanket and pillow were both thin, though they did at least seem to be cleaned sometime recently, as they both smelled fine.

There was a lunch service on this 3hr30min flight, which started with drinks and packaged peanuts. Since I had nothing to entertain myself with I decided to have some wine. Air India has just one white and one red, and they’re served in Air India branded bottles, so I was a little suspicious. To my surprise, the wine was quite good.

There were no menus, though there seemed to be four meal choices — you could choose veg or non-veg, and Indian or Western. I selected Indian veg. Once again, the food was quite good.

The two flight attendants working business class were friendly and attentive throughout the flight. Thanks to the couple of glasses of wine I had, I managed to get in a good nap, and woke up during the descent.

Overall I’d certainly avoid Air India’s A321s, though. The planes are way past their prime, and don’t even have power ports.

Comments
  1. How’d you take the picture from the outside starboard side of the plane in the header? You go out on the catering truck?

  2. Yes, they used to have ptv on every seat (incl. economy) and they are in the process of getting rid of them. The wine you had is the most famous brand in India – Sula – from Nasik region near Mumbai.

  3. The A321s are progressively having the IFE removed (should be complete by now though). The ones which still have screens just display the moving map airshow anyway.

    Be glad you had an A321 for this flight though as it still has a “proper” Business Class cabin. The newer A320s are in an all-Econ configuration with a “European style” blocked middle seat for Business Class passengers.

  4. Transiting in Delhi has never been difficult for me. Now I’m curious about your report. Worst transit experiences for me include LHR, LAX, ORD and YYZ. Total chaos and bureaucratic s**t.

  5. DEL is an oddly confusing experience, even being one of India’s crown jewel achievements of late. My favorite is that suppose you’re flying in on a domestic flight and then have a separate international ticket. So you have to claim bags and go back to the departures hall to check-in. After baggage claim there isn’t a single sign clearly stating where to go for international check-in (essentially how to get upstairs) – there’s a sign that says “domestic connections” which leads to the same hall, but it’s not at all clear. Finally we found a friendly employee who said “go to the end and turn left, there’s an elevator.” And there was – a completely unmarked elevator to go upstairs – guarded by no less than three officers of course! India is the best.

  6. If you want another bad transit experience, try YUL. You will literally have to walk the length of the terminal, twice! Problem is, the international gates are at one end, and customs at the other. So you walk a ton, only to find yourself at the same place you started.

  7. Looks a lot like the legacy US airways A-321’s that American flies. Even the seat looks like same – just a different color.

  8. Hey if you look closely, they have IFE for each seat, recently they have covered it to cut costs. In all domestic/ 3/4 hour international flights (A321), even though there will be monitors, they will cover it and are not usable.

  9. @AdamH – Sometimes they board and deplane from the right side of the plane when using stairs. I’ve seen that happen in multiple foreign countries.

  10. I recently posted on a separate site, asking about AI C-Class. People steered me away, now I see why! (I knew about Jet but never heard of the airline everyone recommended: Vistara)

    I am glad I read this thread, as I will be flying on Domestic flight, connecting to international ANA. What Stu wrote above helps me prepare for what I am assume will be a fairly chaotic airport transition.

  11. @Jared, very surprised by those choices. I have transited all of those and, in my experience, they are large, so can take some time, but don’t hold a candle to Frankfurt, where you go round and round in circles, and Miami, which is an outright disaster in every way. Surly people, no signage to tell you where to go, old, decrepit facilities, and interminably long lines.

  12. @John

    I always thought the phrase was “like putting lipstick on a pig”, ie, you can dress it up all you want, it is still a pig. Personally, I prefer the phrase putting pearls on swine…

    I’m surprised Lucky didn’t make a comment about the IFE on each seat being covered by fabric…I guess they were too cheap to remove the ones on the bulkhead but couldn’t cover them up with fabric lol

  13. Looks like UL (Sri Lankan) J service From CMB to SIN. Uncomfortable seats. It’s a shame they put their good biz class seat plane on a 1.5hr flight from mle to cmb but give a crap J product on a red eye btwn CMB and SIN.

  14. So I am guessing the experience transiting as a business class passenger, as opposed to a first class passenger, is drastically different? If I remember correctly, your ground experience when flying LHR-DEL-SFO was quite positive.

  15. I was on the Air India A319 – Terrible! I was in economy, and my experience was like yours, except that the food was terrible, it was catered by a low-cost hotel in southern india for me, there was a card on the tray saying that! Ridiculous! The chicken was really spicy and overly chewy, and the plane was FALLING APART! Seats were broken, the rivets on the engine looked loose (lucky none of them fell out :D), no entertainment, not even a duty-free, since most of them had been stolen by earlier passengers and not replaced. Then, the worst part. Right before landing, we had to go-around because of air india’s bad pilot training. It was a perfectly clear day, and the pilots blamed it on visibility. it was honest-to-god, 1000000% clear outside, but they still went around. Absurd!

  16. @Stu what you described is the transit experience in the US – a complete mess. MIA, ORD and EWR are hell. Try them for an “experience” some day. I haven’t had issues with transiting in Delhi – usually the process is complete in fifteen min. Getting through immigration, if I’m connecting through T1, takes ten min.

    Surprised by Jack’s experience since I’ve always had my pick of drinks and meals on AI domestic, in econ. I guess flying on DL and AA for years may have made me immune to pretty much any airline – character building 😉 I wish shoddy seats were the only thing I had to complain about when flying within the US in “First Class.”

  17. Gotta love how peole’s choice in defending AI isn’t to praise to explain why AI is good, it’s to point out how airlines and airports in the US aren’t good either.

    Like, that still doesn’t change the fact that AI is an airlines which ranges from slightly above average to kind of sh*tty. It isn’t as good as it used to be, that’s for sure. Granted, I prefer Jet Airways myself, and find it to be a much better airline overall to AI.

  18. The wine is from one of the best Indian vineyards, Sula. You should make a trip there in the winter sometime. It’s quite pleasant.

  19. @Juno

    Well, let’s change that. I like AI because of the courtesy afforded to the passengers by the crew and for always personally recognizing me and welcoming me for my *Gold status. I fly econ mostly for comparison. I often fly with family on annual travels to India from the bay area. I find that AI holds great respect for my parents (71 & 75) and look after them well. I once thanked them for this and the response was that looking after elders is part of Indian culture. These small things make for a fond journey. My wife and I like the taste of the food as well. As far as airports are concerned, BOM is an airport we love. DEAL is good too. So I like traveling with AI for personal trips in econ.

  20. Juno …. I need a domestic C flight later this year. People have told me Vistara is better than Jet. Agreed?

  21. UL have their new 330-300 on the CMB SIN 0725 departure and the 330-200 on the 1500 departure from SIN. The others are 320 and 321 but those have IFE and cabin is in better condition than Ben’s AI pics.

  22. @Kevin Vistara is the best in terms of food, comfort and overall experience. It’s a pity that their network isn’t huge though. Also Vistara is 49% owned by SQ with a SQ guy as ceo

  23. @Frances

    Exactly the same comment I make upon returning to the US – ugh, it’s the US, what can I expect? The answer is very little.

  24. @Kevin

    If you want a pleasant flight without any of the garnishing in a new and well maintained plane, good service and on time arrival, just fly Indigo. Best connectivity and schedule in India with some hot international destinations. I’ve flown Vistara and wasn’t impressed. They are good but I couldn’t find a concrete reason for the extra cash I dished out. Indigo is like flying in economy plus within the US but in aircraft that are clean and less than five years old, unlike in the US. Indigo is my go to when traveling in the subcontinent.

  25. @Taylor

    I’m sure someone could provide similar anecdotal evidence of United, American, etc. Still doesn’t make them a good airline. Air India has inconsistent FAs, seats and cabins, etc. Definitely not India’s best airline, for international and domestic flying.

    @Kevin

    I’d put Jet and Vistara on equal terms. Indigo is ok.

  26. @Juno

    Out of 387 flight segments in 2017, 61 were on various AI operated routes. Guess I just get lucky 😉

  27. @Juno

    Entirely possible since more than 80% of my travel occurs for business via corporate Jets, so I go in with very little expectations in the rare circumstance when I must use commercial airlines.

  28. Stay away from AI and don’t connect through DEL unless you must; Indigo definitely the best airline for domestic travel in India.

  29. @Taylor

    Those must be some ratchet corporate jets you use.

    Also, 20%/61 isn’t something one would classify as rare. It feels like you are BSing now. But to each their own.

  30. @Juno

    You sound like a five year old lacking a life. This is why I only travel via private jets – so as not meet an unpleasant individual like you, and I get to write it off as business expense.

  31. And yet, here you are commenting. Did you forget to post as Taylor this time?

    I thought you traveled on private planes because you disliked traveling on Emirates. Must be one heck of a jump, from Emirates to private planes, all on the same project. You seem to BS almost as much as Taylor does.

  32. Comments following AI articles never cease to entertain 🙂

    @Juno

    Your last statement on EK F vs private (chartered as opposed to owning) jets interests me as I’ve written about it frequently, here and elsewhere. Actually chartered private Jets are frequently cheaper than F tickets. My company, a petrochemical corporation, frequently hires chartered Jets for its colleagues’, especially when relocating families, trips vs F ticket purchases depending on which is cheaper at the time of booking. This is a common practice for my associates since our time is much more valuable to the company than the $800M it may be saving by flying me on F over the year and it enables the flexibility needed. A round-trip from Houston to Dubai on a chartered jet with a 12 hour stop (mandatory for crew rest unless you pay another $14M for a second crew) in Dubai is $93K via luxury Jets services. The same trip exceeds $110M for my family of four on EK F. Not trying to be a snob since no one would enjoy 300 days away from home, but just providing details on an assumption many make.

  33. your analysis is full of bias. really sad they didn’t have lie flat seats and shower. Why don’t u carry your wine from home and drink it from a milk bottle if your so petrified of this wine! Get a life dude

  34. @Lucky

    The Indian govt has already announced its intentions to divest a majority of its investments from AI, with EY playing the role of their consultants. The airline has already received a dozen MoIs from major global airline and corporations. It would be interesting to see who end up with the airline (possible that the airline may be divided). Hopefully an Indian firm, such as Tata.

  35. @Frances – you’re ignorant and need to be educated. India may not have the advances enjoyed by many 3rd world countries, but it’s a dominant political and economic force. It has a growing middle class of 300 million, close to the population of the United States. It has the fastest growing GDP except for China and is a one of the largest global economies. Unless you’re stupid, which you’re probably are, Indians run Google, Microsoft, and several other tech companies. Besides, we don’t need people like you visiting India…You wouldn’t understand anyway.

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