Impressions Of SriLankan Airlines A330 Business Class

Filed Under: SriLankan, Travel

Hello from Colombo! After flying from Dallas to Tokyo Narita in Japan Airlines 787 business class, we connected the next day to SriLankan Airlines A330 business class to Colombo.

We booked this flight for 40,000 AAdvantage miles per person one-way, which is quite a good value when you consider that this is a 10 hour flight. I had only flown SriLankan A330-300 business class once before, on the very short flight from Colombo to Male. I was looking forward to seeing how their longhaul service compared.

In this post I wanted to share my initial impressions of the experience.

SriLankan Airlines A330 business class cabin & seats

SriLankan Airlines’ A330-300 business class cabin consists of a total of 28 reverse herringbone seats, spread across seven rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. Each seat also has an individual air nozzle, which I appreciate.

I love how colorful the cabin is, between the art on the rear bulkhead and the turquoise seats.

I will say that the cabin was definitely showing some wear & tear, and these are also some of the most “basic” reverse herringbone seats out there, in the sense that they didn’t have some of the bells and whistles newer versions have, like storage compartments at the side of seats.

I managed to sleep for about five hours, so I did find the seat to be really comfortable.

All things considered I’d say this is a very good business class hard product.

SriLankan Airlines business class food

On this 10 hour daytime flight, two meals were served — lunch was served after takeoff, plus dinner before landing.

While the meal service was fairly simple, everything tasted good.

For the first meal I had an appetizer of smoked salmon tartare, marinated octopus, and prawns.

Then for the main course I had the paneer makhani and aloo gobi with saffron rice, vegetable jalfrezi, and pakoda. This was my favorite thing I ate onboard.

Next up was the choice of either a cheese or fruit plate.

Lastly there was the choice of dessert, and I selected a chocolate pear cake with whipped cream.

Overall I thought the food was good, especially the main course.

SriLankan Airlines business class amenities

At each business class seat was a pillow and blanket. While the pillow was nice, the blanket wasn’t terribly comfortable.

Each passenger was also given an Aigner amenity kit, as well as slippers, socks, and eyeshades.

SriLankan Airlines business class entertainment & wifi

SriLankan’s entertainment system was much better than I remembered. First of all, the system was easy to use, responsive, and touchscreen. On top of that, the selection of movies and TV shows was quite good, as there were dozens of each.

SriLankan also has wifi on their A330s, though it’s provided by OnAir, which is outrageously slow. You can purchase wifi passes ranging in price from 4USD for 20 minutes/9MB of data, to 25USD for the full flight/240MB of data.

Unfortunately it’s so slow that it’s really not worth using.

SriLankan Airlines business class service

Service wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t good either. On my last SriLankan flight I had one of the best flight attendants I’ve ever had, despite the short flight time.

In this case, the flight attendants working business class all just seemed to go through the motions with very little care for passengers otherwise. They did exactly what they had to, and nothing more.

They weren’t rude, but also weren’t nice, if that makes sense.

So yeah, service was disappointing, as I was hoping for warmer hospitality.

SriLankan Airlines A330 business class bottom line

SriLankan offers a solid business class hard product with a mediocre business class soft product.

The reverse herringbone seats are generally great, especially since Colombo isn’t that competitive of a market. While the food on the flight was good, everything else wasn’t especially great, from the bedding to the service.

I’d fly SriLankan again all things considered, since it’s not like you have many choices in the markets in which they fly nonstop. However, sadly the service seems to be about as consistent as you’ll find on US airlines.

If you’ve flown SriLankan business class, what was your experience like?

  1. I flew the A330 in J last year from Colombo to Singapore. Nice quick flight. Service was as you reported. Definitely didnt live up to the generally amazing service and abundant smiles that you get around the country of Sri Lanka itself, which I really loved. I’d fly them again, though.

  2. I’ve flown Sri Lankan RUH-MLE and RUH-BKK (both through CMB, of course) on their A330, A340, and A321. Overall, I enjoyed the flights and consider their hard product on-par with most global airlines and the soft product similar to a US domestic first class experience (maybe one cut above). Generally, I have found the crews to be engaged in their jobs. I paid cash for the J class flights and the price was unbeatable (I don’t think it was even 50% of EK or EY). I read that Emirates used to manage the airline, but lost the contra for political reasons (sorry, can’t remember the source). UL is no Emirates, but I’d have no hesitation about recommending it. BTW, did you notice they were selling full-size refrigerators at duty-free in CMB? I always thought that was odd.

  3. The reason for selling refrigerators and other white goods in CMB is because so many Sri Lankans work in the Middle Eastern countries – Dubai etc. – and purchase them returning into Sri Lanka for themselves/families. I don’t know the availability within Sri Lanka but we saw them constantly being wheeled out the door – a thing we too thought was strange at the time.

  4. The biggest problem with flying Sri Lankan is having to use Colombo airport, which is one of the worst I have experienced.

  5. I fly them anout 8-10 times a year. Usually quite OK though not remarkable. Most important for me is flat beds for the longer trips which they have. Anything else is secondary to that. Oftne, flights to the middle east are priced less than half of Emirates.

  6. I’ve flown UL a few times now between BKK-CMB and CMB-MLE. Each flight (6 now) has been a very pleasant experience, though some of the older planes they are flying (especially the A330s) feel much older than they actually are. Consistently, the service has been authentically friendly and warm…I’d go so far as to say it was some of the best I’ve experienced as compared to biz service of KE, EK, EY, SQ, TG, and other airlines that are supposedly superior in terms of service. Luck of the draw, I suppose!

  7. We flew their A321neo from SIN-CMB last Sunday and had great food, a detailed tea service, and smiling FAs who were constantly refilling our glasses and checking if we needed anything. They weren’t 100% polished but they did a great job and we genuine and we were completely pleased. We are hoping for the same great service on our A330-300 hop to Male tomorrow afternoon.

  8. @cow, I am an ex-pat residing in Sri Lanka. Fridges and other white-goods are only available to Sri Lankan nationals and at duty free are about 60% of what they cost domestically, that’s why you see so many being wheeled out the door.

    @chris, I actually like CMB, whilst its not the most modern, it’s very rarely crowded coming in, loads of staff at Immigration counters, and 90% of the time they are genuinely happy to see visitors. Leaving Sri Lanka, depending on time of day and class of travel can sometimes be an issue, but if you are flying Business it’s always quick, Immigration leaving is normally quite fast, with exceptions at certain times of the day ( when Chinese or Russian flights departing – what is it with those people? ). The lounges are OK. Sure, not the best in the world but they do the job. Serendib Lounge by UL has some great food options, Sri Lankan curries are marvelous but you need to be in UL Business or a One World Emerald to use that lounge if flying Qatar’s 6 flights a day. But never overcrowded like most major lounges now, quite relaxing places before a flight in fact.

    But I respectfully disagree, to say it is “one of the worst” is a bit over the top. It’s relaxed in a Sri Lankan way.

    Have you been through MEL, SYD, BNE recently, what about DXB? It’s a madhouse these days, LHR cannot cope with its crowds nor can AMS. Let’s not even start on the USA airports. Terrible, especially if you are visiting. Surly, rude, obnoxious Immigration officers who have far too much power for their small uneducated brains. It can take 2-3 hours just to get through Immigration at some airports eg; IAH, EWR, ORD, JFK, LAX to name a few.

    The worst airports for me in the past few years ( 500+ flights in the past 3 years ) goes hands down to HAN, SGN and CXR in Vietnam. Positively disgusting. And PEK is a big challenger. Turn the A-C on me ole China.

    So all of a sudden, CMB looks like bliss. IMHO.

  9. @Robbo
    Well said sir!!! Excellent comments. Also UL used to have excellent service but during Rajapakse regime. His uneducated extremely low IQ’d brother in law ruined the airline. Many FAs are hired under the table and they do not have enough training nor education. Presently, there are more than 170 employees (director level) in UL drawing more than 1 million ruppee salaries when an avg salary is around 20-30K ruppees. This still show the corruption at the airline (being such a small airline with that many salaries).
    Rajapakse regime still owes millions of dollars to the airline for his chartered flights where the new puppet president ignore to collect due to his fear towards Rajapakse. Great counyto visit except for the least educated people that runs the country.

  10. Flew MEL-CMB recently. Everything was just OK, service was tick-the-box, food was meh – the Dine on Demand which is specified in the menu is just a concept. It didn’t happen on either leg. I found sleeping difficult as you have to angle your legs to fit into the cavity under the seat in front. Toilets in J were standard, toiletries were ordinary. Trying to get a drink refill prepared you for the same challenge in Sri Lanka between 2pm and 5pm.

    Colombo is dirty, polluted and chaotic with little of interest and CMB airport is an a absolute dump, especially on departure where bureaucratic nonsense takes priority over commonsense. I’d fly UL again but only because it offers the only direct flight MEL-CMB. Having said that, I’ve no desire to return to Sri Lanka but that’s another story.

  11. It’s worth noting that Sri Lankan offers an extended menu available for pre-order on long haul flights. It’s no SQ ‘book the cook’ but the options are far more extensive than the regular options.

  12. @Drew, I’ve flown them a number of times over the past year. They serve Piper-Heidsick in the are in in the lounge. I enjoy it 🙂

  13. I’d dearly like to try them for CMB-SIN-DXB but potential turbulence over the Bay of Bengal puts me off. Any months less turbulent?

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