Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Economy vs premium vs business class: Travel experts compare all three Air India A350 cabins simultaneously, from golden pillows to ‘unbelievable’ economy food

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International holidaymakers flying to Delhi can now buckle up in Air India‘s new flagship aircraft – the Airbus A350 – which is now operating between Dubai and the Indian capital, as well as on domestic routes.

Inside, they feature brand-new cabins that are part of a $400million (£315million) refurbishment programme.

To discover if this is money well spent, travel experts from The Points Guy put all three A350 cabins to the test simultaneously, filming their experiences in business class, premium economy and economy on a domestic flight from Bengaluru Airport to Delhi. 

The compelling footage reveals ‘fantastic’ crew members in ‘chic’ uniforms, golden pillows, and ‘mindblowing’ inflight entertainment. Plus ‘unbelievable’ economy food.

Read on for the full verdicts. 

Economy 

Putting Air India’s economy offering to the test is Points Guy Editor at Large Nicky Kelvin (above)

Seating in economy is laid out in a 3-3-3 layout, with the seats offering 'loads of legroom and a big recline'

Seating in economy is laid out in a 3-3-3 layout, with the seats offering ‘loads of legroom and a big recline’

The inflight entertainment holds over 1,600 hours of films and TV shows

The inflight entertainment holds over 1,600 hours of films and TV shows 

Air India Airbus A350s are now operating between Dubai and the Indian capital, as well as on domestic routes

Air India Airbus A350s are now operating between Dubai and the Indian capital, as well as on domestic routes 

Putting Air India’s economy offering to the test is Points Guy Editor at Large Nicky Kelvin, who seems to enjoy his time in the most commonly booked cabin. 

Nicky told MailOnline Travel that at Bengaluru Airport the ‘queue was quiet and the check-in process was easy’, declaring in the full video review on YouTube that the one-year-old hub is ‘next level’ and ‘spacious’ with a ‘really nice vibe’.

When boarding, he is greeted by crew in brand-new uniforms – including saris for the women – which he dubs ‘chic’. 

However, it’s the experience in the cabin that most travellers care about. So how was it?

Nicky said: ‘First impression-wise, the aircraft felt brand new, with the freshest feel. 

Nicky said: 'First impression-wise, the aircraft felt brand new, with the freshest feel'

 Nicky said: ‘First impression-wise, the aircraft felt brand new, with the freshest feel’

Nicky dined on fresh fruit, porridge and a south Indian breakfast dish that he described as 'impressive'

Nicky dined on fresh fruit, porridge and a south Indian breakfast dish that he described as ‘impressive’ 

‘The economy cabin, laid out in a 3-3-3 configuration, had plenty of room and comfy seating with loads of legroom and a big recline.

‘The seat also came with a screen and headphones. Amazingly, the inflight entertainment holds over 1,600 hours, so you’ll never get bored.’ 

Nicky adds that there are various charging points – including USB-C and USB-A.

What impressed the most? The food.

Nicky dines on fresh fruit, porridge and a south Indian breakfast dish that he describes as ‘impressive’. 

Nicky notes that the crew wear brand new Air India uniforms, which he calls 'chic'

Nicky notes that the crew wear brand new Air India uniforms, which he calls ‘chic’ 

Testing out the speed of the service, Nicky completes what The Points Guy dubs the ‘call bell challenge’, where team members evaluate how long it takes for the crew to respond after they push the assistance button. 

Nicky noted: ‘The crew came to my call in 35 seconds. A very fast response.’

In the full video, Nicky concludes: ‘That flight was brilliant… [but] the best thing was the food. 

‘It’s honestly unbelievable getting this amazing hot meal service – it was so tasty and an unbelievable breakfast. 

‘The crew on Air India will blow you away. They are fantastic. The warmest, friendliest people [with] amazing new uniforms and so proud of the airline they fly for.’

Premium economy 

Senior marketing manager Liam Spencer tries out the Air India premium economy offering, which is in a ‘super exclusive’ cabin of just three rows, with the seats in a 2-4-2 configuration.

Senior marketing manager Liam Spencer tries out the Air India premium economy offering

Senior marketing manager Liam Spencer tries out the Air India premium economy offering 

Premium economy is in a 'super exclusive' cabin of just three rows, with the seats in a 2-4-2 configuration

Premium economy is in a ‘super exclusive’ cabin of just three rows, with the seats in a 2-4-2 configuration 

After navigating his way through ‘one of the most stunning airports he’s ever seen’, Liam sits down on the plane and assesses the set-up. 

He told MailOnline Travel: ‘The airport holds a tonne of different options for dining and has an overall nice vibe to it.

‘The premium cabin itself is only three rows, which made the experience feel super exclusive and luxurious. 

‘The recline seating goes back a long way, and the seat offered different footrest options. It was a nice touch that the seat also came with a reading light.

The flier dines on paneer and daal, traditional Indian foods, as well as a pastry and fruit

The flier dines on paneer and daal, traditional Indian foods, as well as a pastry and fruit

Liam said of the food: 'If I was served that at Dishoom [restaurant] I probably wouldn't have complained'

Liam said of the food: ‘If I was served that at Dishoom [restaurant] I probably wouldn’t have complained’

‘The cabin also supplied pillows and blankets for a comfy rest if needed. This is a lovely touch that I appreciated.’ 

Liam points out in the video that the seat features a ‘very handy’ UK-India plug socket and he’s impressed with the food, which he orders from a ‘beautiful menu with lots of options’. 

The flier dines on paneer and daal, traditional Indian foods, as well as a pastry and fruit.

He told MailOnline: ‘The food was fresh and delicious, a very solid premium economy breakfast,’ adding: ‘If I was served that at Dishoom I probably wouldn’t have complained.’

The icing on the cake is the call bell challenge, with the crew taking only 11 seconds to respond to Liam’s request – a time he says was ‘pretty quick’.

Business class 

The business-class cabin, which is in a 1-2-1 configuration, is assessed by travel content creator Maz Green, who posts about her experiences on instagram.com/where.to.find.me.

Her ticket grants her access to the lounge in Bengaluru Airport, which goes down a treat.

She enjoys freshly cooked dosa – Indian-style pancakes – and told MailOnline: ‘The lounge had to have been the nicest I have ever been in, with huge sections and a lovely bar area.’

The business-class cabin, which is in a 1-2-1 configuration, is assessed by travel content creator Maz Green

The business-class cabin, which is in a 1-2-1 configuration, is assessed by travel content creator Maz Green 

Maz's ticket grants her access to the lounge (above) in Bengaluru Airport, which goes down a treat. She says: 'The lounge had to have been the nicest I have ever been in'

Maz’s ticket grants her access to the lounge (above) in Bengaluru Airport, which goes down a treat. She says: ‘The lounge had to have been the nicest I have ever been in’ 

Maz also enjoys the (actual) red carpet that’s rolled out for business-class passengers at check-in, explaining that it makes her ‘feel special’.

After boarding the plane, Maz settles in to seat 3A and receives a drink and a warm towel to wash her hands with. 

She notes that there is a ‘cushioned leg rest’ as well as a mirror, a cabinet for shoes, a seat massage function and a button to indicate to the crew that you want total privacy.

The content creator told MailOnline: ‘The cabin felt super comfy and very wide. 

‘The seating itself was extremely cosy and cushioned, and I was very impressed by the storage space. 

‘The inflight entertainment was huge and blew my mind. I loved the private seating and personalised cloakroom.’

Maz says of the seat on the video: 'You're not going to get much bigger. It feels like my own little room with the sliding door giving total privacy'

Maz says of the seat on the video: ‘You’re not going to get much bigger. It feels like my own little room with the sliding door giving total privacy’ 

The business-class seat boasts a coat cloakroom as well as a drawer for shoes

The business-class seat boasts a coat cloakroom as well as a drawer for shoes 

The business-class breakfast includes a traditional Indian dish of dosa and ven pongal, as well as pastries, a yoghurt, fruit, butter and jam and a sambal (spicy sauce)

The business-class breakfast includes a traditional Indian dish of dosa and ven pongal, as well as pastries, a yoghurt, fruit, butter and jam and a sambal (spicy sauce) 

The flier added: ‘Business class offers a soft blanket and gold satin pillow for passengers. This was a lovely addition to my experience.’ 

Maz says of the seat on the video: ‘You’re not going to get much bigger. It feels like my own little room with the sliding door giving total privacy.’

The business-class breakfast includes a traditional Indian dish of dosa and ven pongal, as well as pastries, a yoghurt, fruit, butter and jam and a sambal (spicy sauce) 

Maz commented: ‘Considering it was a two-hour flight, I was very happy with the number of options they offered. I really enjoyed the breakfast they served me.’ 

The business-class crew wins the call bell challenge, responding to Maz's request in just 10 seconds

The business-class crew wins the call bell challenge, responding to Maz’s request in just 10 seconds 

In the full-length video she adds that the meal ‘didn’t shy away from spice’ and was ‘super fragrant’, although one item was a little dry. 

To top it all off, the business-class crew wins the call bell challenge, responding to Maz’s request in just 10 seconds.  

On YouTube, viewers weighed in with their thoughts on Air India’s service. 

User ‘yuvrajgulabani_B787-9’ said: ‘I think that Air India has made significant progress in recent years, including improvements in its financial performance, operational efficiency, and customer service. 

‘The airline has implemented various measures to enhance its competitiveness, such as fleet modernisation, route optimisation, and cost-saving initiatives. 

‘Despite facing challenges, Air India continues to make strides in strengthening its position in the aviation industry.’

While ‘TravelSingFlyEnglishEdition’ noted: ‘I was on the inaugural flight of this aircraft. 

‘The atmosphere was amazing because there are so many aviation geeks in India.

‘I came all the way from Germany and it was all worth it.’

For more from The Points Guy, visit thepointsguy.com/uk-travel. To see the original Air India review video click here.

The Points Guy team are all very impressed with Bengaluru Airport (above)

The Points Guy team are all very impressed with Bengaluru Airport (above) 

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