I’m Flying Air India First Class… For 30 Hours!

I’m Flying Air India First Class… For 30 Hours!

92

I have a new year’s resolution this year. Let me start by saying that I don’t usually make these resolutions, since they rarely work out. But in this case it’s a resolution about something I’m actually passionate about, and I’m excited to share the details step-by-step

My new year’s resolution? To review lots and lots of new first & business class products in 2016. Lots. Like more than ever before. And not just on mainstream airlines, but even on some lesser known ones.

Yesterday I explained that I’m flying Hainan Airlines roundtrip from Los Angeles to Changsha in February, thanks to the great business class fare they were offering.

Hainan-1
Hainan Airlines 787 business class

It’s time for my second big trip “revelation” of 2016. I’m flying Air India first class… finally! In mid-2014 I mentioned how I was considering reviewing Air India first class, given the lack of trip reports of the product. Unfortunately the trip never came to fruition.

Air India is an airline which has a really bad reputation. Heck, just this week an Air India flight turned around five hours into a flight because they spotted a rat on the plane… and that’s far from the first time that has happened!

British-Airways-Lounge-Chicago-20
Air India 777

So, what’s my routing? I booked using Avianca LifeMiles. They let you route from London to San Francisco via Delhi. You get charged based on the award cost between Europe and the US (87,000 miles in first class), so it’s cheaper than just booking Delhi to San Francisco, for example.

Air-India-Routing

For that matter it will let me sample Air India on two flights, including a daytime and nighttime flight (the latter being Air India’s longest flight, and also a new route).

Air-India-First-Class

As you’ll probably notice it’s a bit of a crazy routing, and LifeMiles is notorious for allowing some creative itineraries. In the past there were some opportunities for creative routings on premium carriers (like Lufthansa), though a vast majorty of those have been fixed.

I don’t mind sharing the above, because I can’t imagine many people will be rushing to book a journey going the long way on Air India. It’s perhaps the least tempting “mistake routing” you could take advantage of.

Regardless, I’m stoked about finally reviewing Air India. Here’s to hoping it’s half as good as the guy in this commercial claims it is:

If my experience with their call center to select seats is any indication, I doubt I’ll be impressed. And I figured a call center was something they could at least execute well…

For the outbound flight I’ll be flying Finnair’s A350 business class between New York and Helsinki, given that they’re operating it on the route for a limited time. I’ll then be connecting to London to start the Air India journey.

Finnair-A350-Business-Class-1
Finnair A350 business class

Bottom line

I’m really excited to finally try Air India, and see for myself whether it’s as bad as people have been saying. Hopefully I’m pleasantly surprised, though either way, I’m sure it’ll make an amusing review.

Stay tuned, because over the coming days I’ll reveal some of the other awesome itineraries I’m in the process of planning.

Am I crazy for voluntarily booking ~30 hours in Air India first class? Are you more excited to read about Finnair or Air India?

Conversations (92)
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  1. Bawa Guest

    *Disclaimer* : I am an Indian. Personally I prefer flying AI on international routings as I usually fly catlle class, ie economy, and the seats are more comfortable especially compared to BA, LH, & Virgin economy. Havent tried their Premium economy products, so will not comment on those. The service on my flights has always been decent. And the cabin crew have without fail been smiling & pleasant to speak to. Yes, their landside service...

    *Disclaimer* : I am an Indian. Personally I prefer flying AI on international routings as I usually fly catlle class, ie economy, and the seats are more comfortable especially compared to BA, LH, & Virgin economy. Havent tried their Premium economy products, so will not comment on those. The service on my flights has always been decent. And the cabin crew have without fail been smiling & pleasant to speak to. Yes, their landside service can leave a lot to be desired.
    @Lucky if you are visiting Mumbai, give us a shout. Would love to catch up. You also have an invitation to visit my house, as my is parallel to the landing path most planes use when flying into BOM.
    To those who get affected by "racist" comments, I have not seen anything racist in what Lucky has said. Stereotyping, maybe, but not racist

  2. Jared Guest

    @MillionMiles nothing in the world is as slow as immigration in ORD, MIA, JFK or LAX including DEL. Actually cleared immigration in DEL in under five mins during a very busy period. On the other hand, spent an hour in ORD once for the same before global entry. Funny that you mention the lav. I never eat on planes and the one time I did on Delta one, my colleagues and I spent much time...

    @MillionMiles nothing in the world is as slow as immigration in ORD, MIA, JFK or LAX including DEL. Actually cleared immigration in DEL in under five mins during a very busy period. On the other hand, spent an hour in ORD once for the same before global entry. Funny that you mention the lav. I never eat on planes and the one time I did on Delta one, my colleagues and I spent much time playing musical chairs around the lavatory. Thankfully delta paid for all medical expenses since their food was stale and compensated us for our miles and expenses for the trip.

    @lucky you'll be fine. Enjoy your travels to the subcontinent. If you need info from a fellow foreigner, please ask.

    Oh and do ask them to bring the food on a cart. They Love doing that. They usually do that and don't use the menus like most airlines based on my experience. On my flight, they even had a beautiful pineapple cake for my wife and myself!

  3. MillionMiles Guest

    AI's product is so poor -- and to subject yourself to 30 hours of it-- you're a masochist? It's a government airline and the employees act like they work in the post office. Air side should be okay, but land side, watch out. Nothing can happen quickly and service is a long forgotten idea that has been inverted into the customer is there to serve (as a piggy bank) the company. Remember my post office...

    AI's product is so poor -- and to subject yourself to 30 hours of it-- you're a masochist? It's a government airline and the employees act like they work in the post office. Air side should be okay, but land side, watch out. Nothing can happen quickly and service is a long forgotten idea that has been inverted into the customer is there to serve (as a piggy bank) the company. Remember my post office comment -- you're have 30 hours to reflect on this trip, quite possibly a lot of it in the lav.

  4. Chinmay Deo Guest

    Lucky-I just read in the leading national newspaper in India today, that AI is discontinuing First class on DEL-SFO routes. I'd check with the AI call centre.

  5. Peter New Member

    I'll raise a glass of Grande Siecle to your bravery as I'm cruising the A380 FRA-DEL in LH F next week. Hope to compare notes in the immigration line!

  6. Trent Guest

    I am a pretty old guy now, but used to fly on AI frequently for business travel back in the 70s from my home in London. Must say that then AI had an undisputed reputation as the king of the skies in terms of their modern fleet and royal service. In fact, I even worked for SIA for a while when they were establishing themselves as an airline and I remember that Air India was...

    I am a pretty old guy now, but used to fly on AI frequently for business travel back in the 70s from my home in London. Must say that then AI had an undisputed reputation as the king of the skies in terms of their modern fleet and royal service. In fact, I even worked for SIA for a while when they were establishing themselves as an airline and I remember that Air India was the benchmark of the "5-star" airline. Things have changed significantly since government acquisition of the brand, but I sincerely hope that AI regains its royal reputation, since I would like to make a trip back on the Maharaja for nostalgia's sake and I probably don't have many years left. Interesting article I found here which makes for an interesting read for airline history buffs, such as me:

    http://www.airlinereporter.com/2011/10/a-detailed-look-at-air-india%E2%80%99s-history-part-2-%E2%80%93-guest-blog/

  7. John Member

    You might want to see this amazing video Lucky of an AI Boeing 777-300ER First Class..

    https://youtu.be/pGCUtc1mA8A

    Have a wonderful year ahead!

  8. PM1 Member

    That's awesome news Lucky! Can't wait! :)

  9. Matt Guest

    Comparing Air India business to any airline in Economy and it wins hands down. Award availability is far easier. I flew their B777 DEL-LHR, seat was flatbed (not awesomely comfy), food was good Indian food. Entertainment was fine, all the mod movies kept me going. I'm trying the Dreamliner LHR-DEL-SYD soon and I'm sure will win compared to other non-flat bed options.

  10. Terry R New Member

    Watch First Suites video which is very good, and rings true with other feedback I have had.
    Maharajah Class ( F) on the LHR-DEL route , on the ground and in the air, is reported back as excellent for both hard and soft product, particularly if you love Indian food. As good as most but not all Asia-Pacific airlines and certainly better than US carriers, which is not hard to achieve.

  11. Wolf New Member

    @Loz - just calm down. The nonchalant comments made here were probably not expected to incite any racial denigration. Most of my friends and colleagues (I hope here too) realize the importance of India in our daily lives - hell my accountant, lawyer, doctor and all of my R&D directors are from the subcontinent; and this is not just by chance but because I sought the best and the brightest and they were the best...

    @Loz - just calm down. The nonchalant comments made here were probably not expected to incite any racial denigration. Most of my friends and colleagues (I hope here too) realize the importance of India in our daily lives - hell my accountant, lawyer, doctor and all of my R&D directors are from the subcontinent; and this is not just by chance but because I sought the best and the brightest and they were the best and the brightest. I travel to India and I love it, as do hundreds of my friends and colleagues - especially considering that many of them head the largest companies in the world (i.e. Silicon Valley execs). However, there is some truth into the fact that India suffers from poverty, pollution and lack of infrastructure, although all these areas are developing and improving at a startling pace and I expect India to be the next superpower within 50 years. As I have been so graciously reminded of, I do not need to speak for the 330 million Americans; however, I can speak on behalf of the hundreds I associate with and I assure you that they have India and its citizens in their highest regards. So, basically, do the 80 or so comments here really matter in the larger scheme of things? Why are you getting so worked up about a blog that might reach a few thousand readers?? It's insignificant in the real world. So, just chill and take what ppl say here with a grain of salt and uphold you integrity!

    Peace to all! Safe travels!

  12. Loz Guest

    I frequent this blog because I enjoy reading about Lucky's adventures, and I've always assumed he'd be 'different' from the regular ignorant American because he's gay and so he'd probably be a bit more progressive, intelligent and more aware of the world around him than most Americans. That is true for the most part (although the call centre remark totally betrayed my opinion of him because it was humiliating as hell and completely unnecessary -...

    I frequent this blog because I enjoy reading about Lucky's adventures, and I've always assumed he'd be 'different' from the regular ignorant American because he's gay and so he'd probably be a bit more progressive, intelligent and more aware of the world around him than most Americans. That is true for the most part (although the call centre remark totally betrayed my opinion of him because it was humiliating as hell and completely unnecessary - do you wanna isolate an increasing segment of your readership, lucky?)

    I unfortunately can't say the same for this blog's readership. It's remarkable that you guys are supposedly well-travelled and well-acquainted with the world yet your opinions are far more aligned with people who haven't set foot out of the country, ever. I've lost count of the number of times people on here have denigrated other people/other countries etc and then tried to pass it off as a joke by decrying political correctness, but if Lucky were to crack a joke about white trash I can guarantee that you folks would leave tons of complaints in this thread complaining about your feelings being hurt like the hypocrites you are.

    Anyway, I'm done. Pity, really because I kinda held your country in high esteem in the past - not anymore. You're all responsible for turning the world against yourselves, and you may one day find that it won't be easy for you to jaunt around the world considering the impunity with which you insult the people who share this planet with you. Viva la anti-Americanism. Tread lightly.

  13. Chris Member

    @Wolf: Apologize for yourself. If you have small children maybe you can apologize on their behalf, but spare the adults the unsolicited paternal sanctimony. Many of the 330 million Americans have differing opinions. Imagine that.

  14. Wolf New Member

    Not sure that this is the place to discuss PC language, stereotypes, or racism. I am an American and have lived in over 20 countries and visited close to a hundred. I visit India every year for a month. The positive experiences first: great ppl, rich traditions and cultures, awesome food and the smartest individuals I have come across anywhere in the globe (hence all of my brains come from India) and a tourist's paradise....

    Not sure that this is the place to discuss PC language, stereotypes, or racism. I am an American and have lived in over 20 countries and visited close to a hundred. I visit India every year for a month. The positive experiences first: great ppl, rich traditions and cultures, awesome food and the smartest individuals I have come across anywhere in the globe (hence all of my brains come from India) and a tourist's paradise. The bad: infrastructure development is lagging behind the needs of the population and the fight to win mentality can become tiresome; also, just use common sense and dress appropriately. However, not sure about the comments on buddy odor etc that I'm reading here. I generally find that ppl in the states need to learn more about hygeine, health and how to dress. On top of that, cities in India smell no worse than NYC or LA. Furthermore, I wish ppl in the US be more aware of the world. So the bottom line is I apologize for the comments made here by my fellow Americans. Please don't be aggravated. We are just ignorant.

  15. Loz Guest

    Oh, Kane, I don't know what the first amendment is, nor do I care to find out, for I have never visited the United States nor do I intend to set foot in an increasingly irrelevant country when I have it good in my own native homeland. You are but an infinitesimal and increasingly irrelevant specimen in today's changing world, and it is absolutely remarkable that you are talking about your country's irrelevant legislation in...

    Oh, Kane, I don't know what the first amendment is, nor do I care to find out, for I have never visited the United States nor do I intend to set foot in an increasingly irrelevant country when I have it good in my own native homeland. You are but an infinitesimal and increasingly irrelevant specimen in today's changing world, and it is absolutely remarkable that you are talking about your country's irrelevant legislation in here as if the internet is governed by it.

    And I fully agree with telling the truth! Do you know what India's motto is? It is 'Satyameva Jayate' – that translates to 'The Truth Alone Prevails' in Sanskrit. I fully abide by the phrase as a patriot, which is why I will not withhold when I call all white people incestuous rednecks with a penchant for shooting up schools, black churches, and supporting domestic terrorism, the Westboro Baptist Church, the KKK when they lynch anyone who lacks blue eyes and blonde hair. All 200m+ White Americans are exactly the same - no more, no less - and since you've so courteously enlightened me about the importance of the truth and the fact that all 1.3 billion Indians are the same based on the opinion of some hick, I can assume that the logic applies to your people too... right? Happy shooting! Hope you'll find a decent-sized college to target the next time round.

  16. Kane Member

    @Loz: The truth hurts sometimes, but only if one is thin-skinned. If your level of sensitivity, fear of truth is the benchmark then Lucky might as well shut down his blog or just write 'I flew on an aeroplane today, it was good (or bad). End of report.' Many posters are not stereotyping; their comments are based on solid evidence and personal experience. Many posters have traveled the globe and have seen the good, bad...

    @Loz: The truth hurts sometimes, but only if one is thin-skinned. If your level of sensitivity, fear of truth is the benchmark then Lucky might as well shut down his blog or just write 'I flew on an aeroplane today, it was good (or bad). End of report.' Many posters are not stereotyping; their comments are based on solid evidence and personal experience. Many posters have traveled the globe and have seen the good, bad and ugly. It is what it is, welcome to the real world. Signed: An Anti-PC, First Amendment Supporting American.

  17. Loz Guest

    addendum: and to every decent white person up there in the comments who stood up for us... thank you.

    Thank you for proving that there's still a ray of hope left for your species. Thank you for convincing me that not all of you are absolute gutter filth.

    As for the rest of you, feel free to crack un-PC jokes all you want, but do so at your expense - not at ours. It's...

    addendum: and to every decent white person up there in the comments who stood up for us... thank you.

    Thank you for proving that there's still a ray of hope left for your species. Thank you for convincing me that not all of you are absolute gutter filth.

    As for the rest of you, feel free to crack un-PC jokes all you want, but do so at your expense - not at ours. It's really telling when westerners conflate political correctness with a basic sense of decency and *not* being a racist - it speaks volumes about the kind of societal rot and moral deficiency that has made your countries, specifically the US, the laughing stock of the world today. Have fun with your karma and your yoga sessions, and your wonderful chai lattes - all courtesy of us, and have fun on your artificially elevated pedestals whilst we all surge ahead of you.

    Sincerely, a proud Indian who has a lot to be proud of - except for Air India, of course.

  18. Loz Guest

    Look at all the white garbage in the comments conveniently repackaging and disguising their racism by predictably telling us to 'stop being PC'.

    I as an Indian might as well stop being PC myself and tell you guys to check yourselves into mental institutions before you pull another Dylan Stormm Roof or potentially become a next Hitler. Oh, and try not to molest your siblings the next time, because all white people are incestuous pieces...

    Look at all the white garbage in the comments conveniently repackaging and disguising their racism by predictably telling us to 'stop being PC'.

    I as an Indian might as well stop being PC myself and tell you guys to check yourselves into mental institutions before you pull another Dylan Stormm Roof or potentially become a next Hitler. Oh, and try not to molest your siblings the next time, because all white people are incestuous pieces of redneck trash, right?

    I mean, it's only fair for me to say that if you're fine with spreading brazen stereotypes about Indians who 'don't use deodorants' and making deplorable comments about call centres. You're probably the kind of hippies that practice Buddhism and Yoga in private, but y'all will stop at nothing to slander the people who gave it to you, eh?

    I wish nothing but the worst for your kind. A cancer on this planet.

  19. Wolf New Member

    Flown AI first previously - flight was fine, catering was excellent, and ground service was great. My call center experience was also excellent. Perhaps they just got tired of attending to useless calls by people who need help to plug in their pc. Last time I flew, I was in the cabin with some US businessman who definitely needed to learn basic manners and hygiene. Otherwise thoroughly enjoyed the flight. Not as good as the...

    Flown AI first previously - flight was fine, catering was excellent, and ground service was great. My call center experience was also excellent. Perhaps they just got tired of attending to useless calls by people who need help to plug in their pc. Last time I flew, I was in the cabin with some US businessman who definitely needed to learn basic manners and hygiene. Otherwise thoroughly enjoyed the flight. Not as good as the airlines from the east, but nowhere near as terrible as the airlines from the US. Thoroughly enjoying flying into and out of the new New Delhi terminal. Security is definitely much stricter and the commandos are intimidating yet strangely assuring, especially compared to the fat and slow cops in the US airports. Not really sure which review I am more interested in, but probably this since I travel the SFO-DEL route frequently since most of the brains from my company prefer working from home in India while earning US salaries.

  20. Al Guest

    I cannot wait for the bitchy trip report on AI to come, which will of course be preceded by the equally stupid "don't get me wrong" line.

  21. Jeff Guest

    To be totally honest: more interested in your Finnair report than Air India!
    Maybe you can try Air New Zealand? They seem to have amazing products....or what about the new Aer Lingus cabin? Is that up and running yet?

  22. John Member

    Please don't go with such a negative connotation my friend. You'll be surprised! Keep a positive mind.. don't judge even before you have flown with them. And if you like any of the 3 US carriers, AI is leagues ahead of them.

  23. glenn t Diamond

    You may be pleasantly surprised by the FIRST CLASS experience with AI I am told. It needs to be good as there is no-one in the world fussier and demanding than a well-off Indian passenger! Apparently you get waited on hand and foot as the F cabin is fully staffed with only a handful of seats. It's a world apart from the back seats.
    Only caveat (for you) may be the food. I know...

    You may be pleasantly surprised by the FIRST CLASS experience with AI I am told. It needs to be good as there is no-one in the world fussier and demanding than a well-off Indian passenger! Apparently you get waited on hand and foot as the F cabin is fully staffed with only a handful of seats. It's a world apart from the back seats.
    Only caveat (for you) may be the food. I know I would adore it, but I also know you are not very adventurous with your food tastes. Not sure about the ground/lounge experience you will encounter, but the way to survive is to go with the flow!

  24. ASan New Member

    On a scale of 10 (10 being EY First Apartment), I think you might be able to rank AI's first class at no lower than a 4, possibly even 5. They reserve their older and more grumpy staff for domestic economy routes. In fact, the pecking order seems to be economy (all routes), domestic business, international business, and finally first class! That said, and while your experience may not be as cheesy as for the...

    On a scale of 10 (10 being EY First Apartment), I think you might be able to rank AI's first class at no lower than a 4, possibly even 5. They reserve their older and more grumpy staff for domestic economy routes. In fact, the pecking order seems to be economy (all routes), domestic business, international business, and finally first class! That said, and while your experience may not be as cheesy as for the chap in the advt, you'll probably find the soft product better than the hard one, particularly F&B. Waiting to hear your views!

  25. Tommy Trash Gold

    That will be one stanky trip. Indians have yet to embrace the concept of antiperspirant/deodorant like many in the west. Bring your strongest Blaise Mautin room spray.

  26. Jesse Member

    Just curious, if you plan to try Aeroflot business class in 2016?

  27. Jubbin Guest

    Hey Ben - Let me know if you have any actual ground time in Delhi, would be happy to meet for a drink or coffee.

    Cheers.

  28. Stephan Guest

    So much PC "correctness" here... and so many people without any sense of humor at all.

    And of course, the usual BS about bloggers. Scratch another one of your bucket list, eh MS? The world is so unfair.

  29. A fan Guest

    To be honest I'm more interested in the Finnair A350 flight than the Air India one

  30. Alvin | Young Travelers of Hong Kong Diamond

    I feel like I'm the only one who's anticipating a post entitled "Air India's 777 First Class - The Flight Of My Life!"

    While I wanted to mean that he would be unexpectedly blown away, I can imagine the other definition of that title as well...

  31. Steve R Member

    Oh oh, Lucky, OP Stacy is feeling 'micro-agression' from you and is headed for a safe room. Sounds like a Gen Y'er university student. Better start sending your posts first to Mumbai for PC editing.

  32. Bill Guest

    Thanks for taking the plunge for the rest of us! I confess to having some interest, since the SFO-DEL route is of appeal to those of us living on the USA West Coast. I've heard rumblings that UA is toying with this route or the SFO-BLR route that AI originally considered but abandoned...but I can't imagine that is coming any time soon, if ever.

    This will be an interesting experience to be sure. I...

    Thanks for taking the plunge for the rest of us! I confess to having some interest, since the SFO-DEL route is of appeal to those of us living on the USA West Coast. I've heard rumblings that UA is toying with this route or the SFO-BLR route that AI originally considered but abandoned...but I can't imagine that is coming any time soon, if ever.

    This will be an interesting experience to be sure. I also hope AI F isn't as bad as everyone says...but at least we know it's going to be an adventure.

    I love seeing your reviews of the less commonly traveled airlines in premium classes. It allows more options for those of us who love going to the less traveled destinations.

  33. me Guest

    @firstsuites - shameless plug and terrible video. Need more practice boy.

  34. FirstSuites Guest

    There is a Air India First Video TR here to give you an idea on what to expect Lucky-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGCUtc1mA8A

    As for Garuda First Suites you can book up until the end of March a NRT-DPS First Class Suites Return ticket on the 777-300ER for $2570 so you can review that product at a bargain price.

    A Video TR on that route here-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsIn-lPLf0Q

  35. stacey Guest

    i love your posts in general, but the racist/stereotypical call center comment (who's the "they"?) made me cringe enough to write this. don't you find it surprising that another "they" ("you") would allow so many security lapses on "their" flights considering "they" have access to sophisticated security equipment and the most militaristic security personnel?

  36. AJK Member

    Someone wake me up when there's a Garuda First report.

  37. Christina Member

    Awesome! I'm excited to read your reviews of Air India!

    I would love to see transpacific reviews of Cathay Pacific and Korean Business class. We all know what you think of their First Class ;) but how about something for those of us who aren't quite so miles rich yet?

    I'd also like to hear about the re-vamped Alitalia if you can.

  38. Eli Guest

    Love that you are going to be reviewing a larger variety of products. Should be entertaining. Keep it up

  39. Rich Guest

    What stereotype? The call center folks weren'tt good. That's not stereotypical, it's just plain bad service.

  40. Greg Guest

    Just picking up on your comment about Avianca's creative itineraries....Yesterday, I tried to book from LAX to JFK and the only option offered was to go on Copa via Panama!

  41. Rish Guest

    ha ha ha! you did crack me up with this one...
    as an Indian, i myself avoid it as much as possible, but i have flown them at times (great fare, short-on-time) and while they aren't amazing like CX or QR, they are not bad either (barring the incidents that happen, which i just put down to bad timing). luckily, i havent had a bad experience with them yet.

    infact, i have flown their...

    ha ha ha! you did crack me up with this one...
    as an Indian, i myself avoid it as much as possible, but i have flown them at times (great fare, short-on-time) and while they aren't amazing like CX or QR, they are not bad either (barring the incidents that happen, which i just put down to bad timing). luckily, i havent had a bad experience with them yet.

    infact, i have flown their Economy, Business and and First and of these, Economy and Business on their Dreamliner to Shanghai. First was thanks to an upgrade as the sector was full on business from Bombay-Delhi.

    Food is amazing, drinks are fine and the bed was comfortable (2-2-2 for Dreamliner Business). Service is nice if not super proactive. For the price, i think it was good deal and made a memorable Valentine's day trip ;-)

    Lets hear more about it then from you! Cheers to 2016

  42. Sal Guest

    I'd love to see reviews from TAM, South African, Kenyan, Garuda, AZAL, Air NZ, Fiji, Air Canada, SAS, and Swiss. But I'm glad that we will be getting tons of new reviews this year. After all, last year only brought us new reviews for SriLankan, airberlin, and Maldivian, and a bunch of reruns of Cathay, Qatar, British, American, Emirates, and Etihad.

  43. Tom Guest

    Today, Air India. Tomorrow maybe Ryan Air, Easy Jet and Spirit? Now that would be funny.

    The call center comment? Pure gold. In fact, that is the Best Post of the Week.

  44. MS Guest

    Sure go ahead and expose more tricks. You're a blogger (funny about how one could compare a rat to you guys) so I guess it isn't surprising.

  45. Steve R Member

    Lucky: Be forewarned. In case you think the rat comment was a joke or an undeserved slap against Air India, this article from Thursday, 31 Dec. 2015. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/12075658/Rat-on-a-plane-Air-India-flight-returns-to-Mumbai-after-rodent-spotted-on-board.html

  46. Him Member

    Proud to be British. Pround to the global.
    You should try Easyjet instead.
    Or pound to be Irish and try Ryanair.

  47. Mike O. Guest

    Hey Ben,

    A bit OT but since you mentioned you are willing to try more First and Business class products in 2016, why don't you give Philippine Airlines a try on their 777 at least from JFK-YVR and vice versa?! Their timings westbound are better than the CX night departure. That will change however in a few months as far as I know.

    Cheers,
    Mike

  48. Nicole Guest

    I'm soooo happy to hear you're doing this! I am going to India in 2016 and thinking about using Star Alliance miles. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  49. Brenton Guest

    We flew British airways on our way to Italy the Saturday before thanksgiving with a scheduled departure of 5:15pm. We ended up departing from a different gate 2+ hours because an air India flight just never left the gate. No passengers around, it wasn't mechanical. No one at the gate had any idea why it was still there 5 hours after it was supposed to leave...

  50. ChesterWilson Member

    Any other stereotypes you wanna get out of the way or is the call center the only one?

  51. Christian Guest

    I flew Air India a couple of years ago in First on their EWR to FRA route because I needed to get to FRA and their First price was cheaper than LH Business. I remember the food actually being pretty good but then again I love Indian food. Service was good but I was the only person in First. Boarding was a mess both in EWR and in FRA on the return because it was...

    I flew Air India a couple of years ago in First on their EWR to FRA route because I needed to get to FRA and their First price was cheaper than LH Business. I remember the food actually being pretty good but then again I love Indian food. Service was good but I was the only person in First. Boarding was a mess both in EWR and in FRA on the return because it was a mad rush by everyone to the gate when they announced boarding. (No preboarding). Overall okay but I haven't rushed to rebook with the them again! Looking forward to your review!

  52. Rose Guest

    The Call Center comment made my morning.

  53. AVOID AI Guest

    According to my experience, I would suggest to avoid them.

  54. Nolan Snoeyink Member

    YES YES YES! Can't wait! The Air India review will sure be entertaining, and the Finnair review will probably be a little more useful. Looking forward to both! Hoping for Azerbaijan as well...

  55. George Member

    That's going to be an impressive year, I must say!
    Being from S. America, may I give you some tips of airlines and routes you could try?

    - Azul's VCP-FLL in Business Class
    - TAM: GRU-MAD in Business Class with the A350
    - LAN: SCL-SYD in Business as well

    Have a great 2016, Ben!

  56. Dahs Guest

    Air India is a decent airline.

  57. me Guest

    Good news is the fatter rats do get used for First class and they will catch them for you. They let economy chase there own. Might want to take some air freshener as well.

  58. Luis Fernando Oliveira Guest

    Really? No mention of the commercial? Really? The most cringe-inducing 30'' ever!!

  59. Yuri Torres Guest

    Glad to hear about your New Year’s resolution. [2]

  60. Antonio Guest

    I'd like to see you review TAM, LAN, AeroMexico and Aerolineas Argentina. Maybe you could make a South American adventure out of it :-)

  61. mark Guest

    The home of the overused exclamation point.

  62. Steve R Member

    Glad you're volunteering to give us the 'truth' about Air India. Don't be shy, give us the full and unadulterated story, Lucky. In booking an award trip a few years ago the agent told me I could upgrade from J
    to F on an Air China flight vice flying ANA. Uh, I stuck with ANA J. Thank you very much. @Adam: Rats, indeed. Seems these furry friends are found frequently on their flights. Would...

    Glad you're volunteering to give us the 'truth' about Air India. Don't be shy, give us the full and unadulterated story, Lucky. In booking an award trip a few years ago the agent told me I could upgrade from J
    to F on an Air China flight vice flying ANA. Uh, I stuck with ANA J. Thank you very much. @Adam: Rats, indeed. Seems these furry friends are found frequently on their flights. Would make a great Simpson's piece of a Apu-like steward with a clever chasing the thing around the cabin in preparation for dinner! Uh, sorry, Lucky. Enjoy.

  63. Kevin Guest

    Finnair without a doubt and the A350 experience. Perhaps, you will have an opportunity to review the saunas at lounge in HEL.

  64. Joey Pore Guest

    haha... that commercial though....

    Pretty awful. "Are you Indian?" lol. Who is this guy, and why is he the one subliminally telling me I should fly them?

  65. Eric Guest

    You're absolutely crazy. But I can't wait to read the report....

  66. AP Guest

    I think you and most of your readers would be pleasantly suprised flying Air India. I'm a frequent business traveler, so I've seen my share of the best and worst airlines. My experiences on Air India have been good. My wife and I flew them on 2 domestic segments in Y from AMD to BOM to TRV on our way to the Maldives. We're not talking in the same league as Etihad, Emirates, Qatar, Singapore,...

    I think you and most of your readers would be pleasantly suprised flying Air India. I'm a frequent business traveler, so I've seen my share of the best and worst airlines. My experiences on Air India have been good. My wife and I flew them on 2 domestic segments in Y from AMD to BOM to TRV on our way to the Maldives. We're not talking in the same league as Etihad, Emirates, Qatar, Singapore, Cathay, etc. but certainly better than any flight I've flown on any of the legacy US carriers. Air India planes were clean. Comfortable seats. Friendly flight attendants. Good food. In fact, we were served a hot meal on each flight even though the flights were less than 1 hour each. Flights departed and arrived on-time. If given a choice of flying a legacy US carrier or Air India, I would fly Air India hands-down.

  67. aj Guest

    I am quite torn over your call center comment, it is unclear what you are actually alluding to, whichmakes me a little uncomfortable, since there are a couple of ways to finish that sentence which border on stereotyping/ racismr.

    Ultimately, given the rest of the piece I do not think it fits, and I worry about what you mean.

  68. Doug Guest

    Honestly, AI in premium cabins is not bad at all. I've flown their 777 several times, and while they certainly aren't a top-tier airline, the hard product is solidly average and the catering is actually pretty good (assuming that you like Indian food).

  69. Raghav Sanghi Guest

    Guys, I've been on air India and other airlines as well, in economy. It is right now one of the few airlines offering a 33/34" pitch in economy. I flew on ORD-Del return sector and it was the most comfortable economy flight I've been on with 3-3-3 configuration. In comparison, Emirates and Etihad were a hellish place, especially Etihad with 30-31" pitch on a 13 hr flight. Restrooms were kept quite clean on my air...

    Guys, I've been on air India and other airlines as well, in economy. It is right now one of the few airlines offering a 33/34" pitch in economy. I flew on ORD-Del return sector and it was the most comfortable economy flight I've been on with 3-3-3 configuration. In comparison, Emirates and Etihad were a hellish place, especially Etihad with 30-31" pitch on a 13 hr flight. Restrooms were kept quite clean on my air India flight. And the stories about rats is also true. Can't deny it. But I didn't find any of the issues onboard. Entertainment system is a bit old now, with AVOD. They definitely need to take care of the mishaps that happen once every while. Otherwise it is one of the most comfortable long haul flights I've been on.

  70. Jerome Zagala Guest

    Your trip reports are fun to read. Personally, it would be interesting to see a trip report on Air France First between CGK and SIN.

  71. Diego Guest

    yey! You are already making me look forward to my much needed study breaks this next quarter... I'm still anxiously awaiting the AV 787 review! ;-) Great resolution and happy new year.

  72. Joe Member

    Was considering F on Air India for a MLE-SFO flight. Currently booked TK J via UA Miles, but saw Air India F availability for the day I'm flying. Think I'm gonna stick with TK J though, as I've only found one review of AI, and not enough info for me to want to switch.

  73. Olli Vainio Guest

    Shame you are not flying Finnair long-haul ex-HEL. Their catering is waaay better ex-HEL.

  74. Anshul Guest

    I nearly chocked on my morning coffee with the call center comment. God speed my friend. Does AI have a dedicated first class lounge? Cant wait to read your review on the trip. Cheers!

  75. Ian Guest

    Honestly Air India is not as bad as it is commonly portrayed to be. Flew FRA-DEL-BLR-COK-MAA-CCU this past summer in Y and it was fine. Entertainment isn't great, staff aren't very proactive, but the food is absolutely incredible. Good food on a 1-hr ATR flight can't be beat. If you compare it to EK or QA, guess what, there aren't over-the-top suites or showers, but it's cheap, has good food, and gets you there safely.

  76. subichoww New Member

    Just out of interest how far into the future will this flight and trip report be? I need to book some flights back from Europe to Sydney one-way and Air India actually has a reasonable paid fare as well as good connection times. However it seems to be in the news quite often regarding an incident here and there... Mind you, I did fly Air India earlier this month but it was only a 40 minute domestic flight.

  77. Marcus Member

    Toilets on Air India are generally unusable after the first hour or so so so keep that in mind... Oh and be careful what you eat and drink and do make sure you do have a week or so between connections

  78. me Guest

    What a waste of miles--you will hate it trust me.

  79. Andrew B OMAAT

    Glad to hear about your New Year's resolution. Considering how much attention your reviews of China Southern and La Compagnie garnered, I think this is a good call.

  80. No Time For love Guest

    I am extremely happy to hear this Lucky, have fun.

    Welcome to India (once again)

  81. Stacky77 Guest

    You are one brave soul.

    - not so brave Indian soul.

  82. Luda Guest

    Air India always reminds of their slogan in the Simpsons.

    "We treat you like cattle"

    But meant in a good way. Look forward to reading this

  83. Lrh Guest

    Wow insane. It should be fun. We want to see a Garuda Indonesia First Class Report

    Perhaps also China Airlines New Business Class or China Eastern supposedly "First Class"

  84. Elteetrav Gold

    This is fabulous news. Thanks for taking a break from Emirates etc. happy new year. (I hope it's happy with those flights;-)

  85. Peter Guest

    Totally can't wait to hear about your Air India experience....ORD-DEL is often wide-open for award travel, and India is on the top of my list for countries I haven't visited that I want to see. Will be great to know if Air India is bearable, or at least amusing to fly! Have a great 2016, Ben, and thanks for all of your informative and entertaining articles!

  86. James Member

    Fantastic Lucky, I hope you proceed and go through with them, and maybe the Azerbaijan Airlines flight also ?

    I know you can fly Emirates, Etihad , and all the big carriers whenever you want and I have enjoyed your reviews on them, but i'm REALLY looking forward to seeing your thoughts on some other airlines.

    Happy New Year to you and continued success in 2016.

    I start of January 1st with SAN-EWR :)

  87. Adam Diamond

    I actually guffawed at my desk here at work (yes...I know I should be working...) when I read your comment about the Call Center. And as a SF native (raised, but not born), I'm excited to see new airlines at SFO, especially ones that are somewhat trendsetting or otherwise noteworthy. Plus, Air India has such a terrible reputation and I know what to expect from your TRs, that I'm sure it'll be an amazing read....

    I actually guffawed at my desk here at work (yes...I know I should be working...) when I read your comment about the Call Center. And as a SF native (raised, but not born), I'm excited to see new airlines at SFO, especially ones that are somewhat trendsetting or otherwise noteworthy. Plus, Air India has such a terrible reputation and I know what to expect from your TRs, that I'm sure it'll be an amazing read. Plus, with no desire to go to India at all, I'm sure I'll never have need to fly Air India...rats or otherwise.

  88. Tyler Guest

    You should try and add a single transatlantic economy flight in 2016, heaven forbid!

  89. Jonathan New Member

    Let's be honest, the OMG-what-is-going-on factor is strong with Air India. It'll be entertaining, though Lucky may end up regretting it.

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Bawa Guest

*Disclaimer* : I am an Indian. Personally I prefer flying AI on international routings as I usually fly catlle class, ie economy, and the seats are more comfortable especially compared to BA, LH, & Virgin economy. Havent tried their Premium economy products, so will not comment on those. The service on my flights has always been decent. And the cabin crew have without fail been smiling & pleasant to speak to. Yes, their landside service can leave a lot to be desired. @Lucky if you are visiting Mumbai, give us a shout. Would love to catch up. You also have an invitation to visit my house, as my is parallel to the landing path most planes use when flying into BOM. To those who get affected by "racist" comments, I have not seen anything racist in what Lucky has said. Stereotyping, maybe, but not racist

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Jared Guest

@MillionMiles nothing in the world is as slow as immigration in ORD, MIA, JFK or LAX including DEL. Actually cleared immigration in DEL in under five mins during a very busy period. On the other hand, spent an hour in ORD once for the same before global entry. Funny that you mention the lav. I never eat on planes and the one time I did on Delta one, my colleagues and I spent much time playing musical chairs around the lavatory. Thankfully delta paid for all medical expenses since their food was stale and compensated us for our miles and expenses for the trip. @lucky you'll be fine. Enjoy your travels to the subcontinent. If you need info from a fellow foreigner, please ask. Oh and do ask them to bring the food on a cart. They Love doing that. They usually do that and don't use the menus like most airlines based on my experience. On my flight, they even had a beautiful pineapple cake for my wife and myself!

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MillionMiles Guest

AI's product is so poor -- and to subject yourself to 30 hours of it-- you're a masochist? It's a government airline and the employees act like they work in the post office. Air side should be okay, but land side, watch out. Nothing can happen quickly and service is a long forgotten idea that has been inverted into the customer is there to serve (as a piggy bank) the company. Remember my post office comment -- you're have 30 hours to reflect on this trip, quite possibly a lot of it in the lav.

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