Review: Air India Airbus A350 Business Class (Delhi to Dubai)

For now, Air India’s A350-900 aircraft are the only exciting aircraft in their fleet. All six inherited with the Aeroflot designated interiors have been inducted, and at the moment, the aircraft are making domestic trips. In May 2024, the aircraft started making regional trips to Dubai, and there are daily Delhi—Dubai and v.v. and Mumbai—Dubai and v.v. flights, before the aircraft starts to do daily Delhi—London Heathrow and v.v. flights twice daily as of September 1, 2024.

I wanted to try the product (again), so I booked a trip to Dubai on Air India instead of Emirates, which is my usual preference these days. The trip was booked for early June 2024, and I specifically picked the Delhi – Dubai flight on the A350-900 because it was operating the evening frequency, plus most of the other frequencies during the day were operating on narrow bodies.

On the day of the flight, I received a call from Air India’s Delhi Airport team enquiring about my arrival time at the airport. Air India now offers a porter service for premium cabin travellers. I initially told them I did not need one but called back later to request one to try out the service. I was told to call the number shortly before arriving at the airport, and they’d have someone waiting for me.

people standing in a line in a terminal

Delhi IGI Airport Terminal 3

I received a callback from the porter, who told me to arrive at Gate 1/2, where he was positioned. When I pulled over, he took charge of the bag and took me to gate 2, to quickly bring me into the airport premises.

a man standing with a suitcase

AI-SATS Porter Service for premium cabin customers

On the day of the flight, Air India had already posted a slight delay on the flight, although I couldn’t understand how the aircraft would cover a 2.5-hour delay coming in from Hyderabad with just a 15-minute delay. I worked under the impression that the airline had perhaps swapped the plane.

a screenshot of a phone

Air India App with updated timing for flight AI 995

Air India occupies many aisles across each other where they check-in for international flights. The premium cabin customers were being checked in on Aisle G in this case.

a group of people in an airport

Air India’s Check-In Area at Delhi IGI Airport Terminal 3

a man with luggage in an airport

Air India’s Check-In Area at Delhi IGI Airport Terminal 3

The check-in counters were experiencing a problem with the belts not moving (making it longer for the baggage to be dropped on the conveyor belt). But within 5 minutes of joining the queue, I underwent a document check and had my bags collected and my boarding pass issued. Air India printed the eligible lounge invitation on the boarding pass itself, which is a slightly confusing process because they often want to hand over a separate card to the guests.

people standing in front of a counter

Air India’s Check-In Area at Delhi IGI Airport Terminal 3

Immigration and security checks were quick afterwards. The trick at Delhi Airport (or Mumbai, for that matter) is not to fly out late at night when all the US and European bounds fly out. After that, I headed to the Delhi T3 Encalm Prive Lounge, exclusive to airline customers. You can read the full review on the lounge here.

a plant on a table

Air India’s Guests are invited to the Encalme Prive Lounge at Delhi IGI Airport Terminal 3

I headed to the gate about one hour out at 8 PM, at the time the boarding pass said AI would start boarding. The aircraft was already there, but it was a long wait to board it.

a window with a plane in it

Air India’s A350-900 at Delhi IGI Airport Terminal 3 Gate

The aircraft had only arrived at the gate a short while prior, so it was known there would be a further delay (deboarding and then preparing the aircraft for departure). However, Air India maintained the 9 PM departure time on the flight for a long time.

people at a counter in an airport

Delhi IGI Airport Terminal 3 Boarding Gate

Consequentially, many folks waited at the gate with no predictability and no clear answer as to when boarding would begin.

a group of people sitting in chairs in a large room

Delhi IGI Airport Terminal 3 Boarding Gate

The crew appeared only after 8:45 PM, and a delay was posted only once they boarded the aircraft.

a group of people standing in a line

Air India crew operating AI995 arrive (June 1, 2024).

But this delay was not announced; it quietly slipped into the app.

a screenshot of a phone

Air India’s App with updated information on AI 995

It was hilarious that people’s attitudes on the ground have not changed much, at least in Delhi. Airport operations are largely led by AI-SATS, the ground handling agency for Air India, even at IGI Airport. At 9:05 PM, Air India’s staff, who would be responsible for the flight, arrived at the gate. There is no communication with the passengers even now, and one of them just went into a corner to chat with people she knew. She only emerged from there about 20 minutes later.

Eventually, passengers’ restlessness grew, and the flight finally started boarding at 9:30 PM (which was supposed to be our second delayed departure time). As is usual, once the boarding gate was opened, there was a flood and a disorganised boarding, with business class passengers, elites, and everyone else clubbed into one.

a plane in an airport

Air India’s A350-900 at Delhi IGI Airport Terminal 3 Gate

Air India AI995
Delhi (DEL) – Dubai (DXB)
Saturday, June 1, 2024
Departure: 09:58 PM
Duration: 3 Hours 30 minutes
Arrival: 11:58 PM
Aircraft Type: Airbus A350-900 
Seat: 1K (Business)
Meal Service: Dinner

When I booked this trip, 1A was gone, so I booked myself 1K. Here is the seat map of the Air India A350-900 from the check-in flow of Air India, taken a couple of hours before the flight, to give you an idea of the occupancy on board.

a screenshot of a cell phone

Air India’s App with updated information on AI 995

As is common with Air India, no one brings you to your seat, but I was pointed in the direction of my seat. Here is seat 1K. A small pillow, a throw blanket, and disposable earphones were waiting at the seat.

a seat in a plane

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Suite

A very confusing SOP at Air India is that the three-point seat belt is buckled up before the guests arrive on board.

a seat belt on a seat

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Suite

The overhead bins were already half full with crew bags, whoops.

luggage on a shelf in an airplane

Air India’s A350-900 Overhead Bins

Air India has the Collins Aerospace Horizon Premier business class suite, which initially debuted on the Aeroflot version of the aircraft and was inherited by Turkish Airlines and Air India. There are 28 fully enclosed suites in a 1-2-1 configuration on board. The absence of overhead bins over the centre made the business cabin roomier.

an airplane cabin with cubicles

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Section

Outside, at the next gate, an IndiGo A321 also waited to depart.

a close up of windows

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Suite

Air India’s Airbus A350-900 Business Class In-flight product

I settled into my seat. On board is a 21″ in-flight screen.

a screen with text on it

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Suite 21″ IFE

In the seat is a small storage compartment for personal effects and a mirror for vanity use.

an airplane cabin with a door open

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Suite

Outside the storage is a small lamp. Air India teams who prepare the cabin are not briefed to bring on the lamps before boarding. So, one has to switch it on themselves.

a light on a wall

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Suite

I figured there would be a bigger cubby for the feet in the first row, but even in the first row, you get the same size as the rest of the business cabin. It is pretty comfortable, though, even for side sleepers.

a blue seat in a room

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Suite Foot Cubby

All business class suites of Air India are fitted with a small wardrobe to hold your clothes, which is much needed when you fly this cabin on the long haul segments.

an open door in an airplane

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Suite Wardrobe

a bottle in a drink holder

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Suite Water Bottle Holder

There is also a water bottle holder. What is missing from this seat is an armrest, which tends to become uncomfortable over long flights.

Air India uses the Panasonic Xe3 in-flight entertainment system and the ARC map product.

a screen with a globe on it

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Suite IFE

Very soon I had my favourite IFE product loaded, the moving map.

a screen shot of a tablet

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Suite Moving Map

Unfortunately, Air India patrons have not been taking good care of the cabin, and so is Air India. Here was seat 1K’s shoe drawer, and it was rammed in and broken.

a grey object with a white object in it

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Suite Damaged Shoe Storage Area

The seat has a universal power supply with a built-in USB-A port. However, it does not have a USB-C charging option, which is surprising because the rest of the aircraft also has the USB-C option.

a black outlet and plug on a wall

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Suite Universal Power

A reading lamp is installed in the seat as well.

a close up of a light

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Suite Reading Lamp

I made a quick trip to the lavatory, and there was enough room in this standard-size lavatory for people to change into pyjamas when they were offered.

a shelf with bottles and cups on it

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Lav Amenities

a sink with a bottle of alcohol on it

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Lav

a white toilet in a bathroom

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Lav

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class In-flight service

A few moments after being seated, a cabin crew member named Priyanka brought pre-departure beverages. The options were Pomegranate juice and Buttermilk. Air India does not offer alcoholic options such as Champagne on the ground because, in India, you’d have to pay a customs duty to serve alcoholic beverages on the ground.

Instead, I asked the cabin crew member for some water, which she acknowledged but proceeded to do other things. I had to remind her for drinking water for a couple of times before she actually brought it along.

a glass of water on a coaster

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Pre-Departure Beverage

Shweta, the cabin supervisor, came by offering hot towels to business class passengers.

a hand holding a towel

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Hot Towel Service

After the cabin was prepared for take-off, the crew came around and distributed headphones.

a hand holding a black bag

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Headphones

Subsequently, menus were distributed for dinner service. A separate wine list was also provided.

The flight was originally scheduled for 8:45 PM, but we only left the gate at 9:58 PM. The airline crew came about and collected the towels.

a screen shot of a television

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Moving Map

As the plane pushed back, the safety demonstration video played. Finally, the new safety video was updated and put out. As has become very normal for Air India so far, and nothing to be proud about, they did not take the opportunity to talk about their new product and acquaint the guests with seat features, and neither did they come around to greet their elite guests.

a screen with a girl in the middle

Air India’s Safety Video

Fortunately, Air India’s A350 aircraft have tail cams, providing a nice feed.

a screen shot of a video game

Air India’s A350-900 Tail Camera

We finally took off and had a long climb, given that the belt sign was up for about 30 minutes after take off. Eventually, at about 10:40 PM, the seat belt sign was put off, and the crew started to pace around to prepare for service. Unlike the other airlines that have “doors” for their suites, no one bothered to unlock the suite door for a while, so I had to reach out for the attendant button so that someone could come and get the door unjarred.

a close up of a device

Air India’s A350-900 Business Class Door

Ten minutes later, they came around and took drink orders. When I also tried to tell them about the dinner order, I was curtly told that the dinner orders would be taken later.

For those interested, here is the list of wines on offer. First, Air India now offers some good champagne.

a paper with text and a label

Air India’s Business Class Wine List on Delhi – Dubai Sector

a white paper with text and images

Air India’s Business Class Wine List on Delhi – Dubai Sector

a menu of wine bottles

Air India’s Business Class Wine List on Delhi – Dubai Sector

Here is the list of spirits and cocktails available on board.

a menu with text on it

Air India’s Business Class Spirits List on Delhi – Dubai Sector

The facepalm moment, though, came a short while after I ordered drinks. The cabin crew member who took my order returned fifteen minutes later and told me they had not put the champagne to chill, so it was still at room temperature. 1.5 hours after the crew boarded the plane, it was unexpected for the crew that served business class that they still did not have chilled champagne on board.

Anyhow, I was told they’d chill the champagne quickly, in 15 minutes, and bring it out. If I wanted to have anything else in the meantime, I should let them know. I told them not to worry and bring out the champagne when ready. They just left me some warmed nuts in a ramekin behind.

a bowl of nuts on a table

Air India’s Business Class Warm Nuts

The crew came back to take meal orders in the meantime. Here are the meal options on offer.

a hand holding a pink menu

Air India’s Business Class Dinner Service

I let a slight sigh under my breath. While the meal options were all great, Air India started to display meal options on board with the launch of its new app. I took some screenshots while I was airside and in the lounge, right before the flight, so I could refer to them on board.

This is a one-meal-service flight, but the menu on the app refers to two meals (a main meal and a light refreshment). Secondly, if you look at the options, nothing matches (except the pasta, but the descriptions are different for the pasta).

a screenshot of a menu

Air India’s Business Class Dinner Menu per AI App

a screenshot of a menu

Air India’s Business Class Dinner Menu per AI App

a screenshot of a menu

Air India’s Business Class Dinner Menu per AI App

a screenshot of a menu

Air India’s Business Class Dinner Menu per AI App

a screenshot of a menu

Air India’s Business Class Dinner Menu per AI App

While it is not a big deal, these half-baked features leave a sorry image with the customer. Why bother uploading menus if you can’t do them right in the first place?

Shortly after taking the meal order, the champagne was brought out—in a water glass, and not cold, either.

a glass of beer and a bowl of nuts on a table

Air India’s Business Class – Drink Service

That was a waste of a $150 bottle of champagne, and I asked them to take it away almost immediately. Shortly after, they came back to dress the table, and at 11:38 PM IST (roughly three hours after the originally scheduled take-off time and one hour and forty minutes after we actually pushed off from Delhi), the meal was finally brought out.

a tv on the tray

Air India’s Business Class – Dinner Service (Makhmali Methi Murg)

The cabin crew manning the aisle seemed to forget things often and forgot the beverage I requested. It took a couple of reminders for her to bring out the beverage requested. No bread basket was brought out, and the breads were pre-plated when the meal was served.

a tray of food on a table

Air India’s Business Class – Dinner Service (Makhmali Methi Murg)

The meal was wholesome and very tasty. However, the service aspect of this flight was topsy-turvy. Air India would do well to have their cabin crew hone their service protocols before being assigned to international segments. For instance, the champagne was brought back again, a second time, without me asking for it. What I wanted to ask the cabin crew was, if they were on the plane 45 minutes before the passengers got on board, why would they not put the champagne to chill then? After all, it is a popular beverage in the premium cabin.

The whole meal service was unduly long on this flight, and finally, the lights were dimmed at quarter past midnight (IST), 2:15 hours after the flight took off from Delhi.

And then, an hour later, about fifteen minutes before landing, the crew came around to collect the headphones from the business class guests. This was the first time I learned that Air India rotates the same headphones, and they needed them back to be able to bunch up the wires and prepare them for the next guests. I don’t know how it worked pre-pandemic, but I thought airlines had wisened up now and only passed out sanitised headphones to customers.

a hand holding headphones

Air India’s Business Class Headphones

a screen with a picture of a city at night

Air India A350 Arriving into Dubai

In the rush to collect headphones, the crew forgot an important aspect. They did not check seat belts before arrival and forgot to latch the doors on the suites. Consequently, the doors slid forward on landing while they should have been open in case of an emergency. Also, Cold Towels, usually distributed on domestic business-class flights, were absent on this flight.

a television on the wall

Air India’s A350-900 arriving in Dubai, operating as AI995.

We were so delayed arriving in Dubai that the Dubai—Mumbai flight was on its way back about the time we landed.

a plane on the runway at night

Air India’s A350-900 departing from Dubai to Mumbai.

Eventually, we docked at a gate.

a plane in a terminal

Air India’s A350-900 arriving in Dubai at Terminal 1, DXB.

Air India’s version of the ARC Map implementation shows statistics about the trip at the end, which I like to catch on.

a screen shot of a map

Air India’s A350-900 Moving Map Summary

a screen shot of a device

Air India’s A350-900 Moving Map Summary

We were quickly allowed to get off the plane.

a plane on the runway

Air India AI995 operated by an Airbus A350-900 at DXB.

It was about an hour before I could arrive at the luggage belt (Visa on Arrival and then immigration), where the bags were patiently waiting on the belt.

a large screen with a large screen on it in a airport

Air India AI995 Luggage Belt


This was a good flight experience with Air India, but only for the hard product. The crew had their minds all over the place, and they did not deliver the best service they could have, nor did they bother with the details, which are especially important when you are trying to pull people away from the Dubai-based carrier. The bad state of cabin handling was also to see, which the airline should look into quickly.

Have you experienced the A350 on one of the international flights of Air India? What has been your experience?

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+ Brand new aircraft
+ Spacious
+ Private Business Class (with door)
+ Working IFE
+ Meal Choices


- Cabin Crew Training needs work


About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

More articles by Ajay »


  1. The cabin crew have many more SAFETY RELATED things to do before they can chill your champagne. And the crews bag were hardly taking up half the space. This is a very amateur review IMO.

    • @Flyer, I agree with you, what an amateur review. But just one thing to pick on here. The Champagne is a part of the Air India product, not something I brought from home and asked them to chill for me. Has it ever occurred to you that other airlines manage to get it right and even have bragging rights for some of the Champagne they serve? And for a paying customer, every part of their experience matters.

  2. Don’t think Laurent Perrier is $150…I would say closet to $50 and that is a stretch knowing AI is getting a big discount on bulk order.

  3. Very comprehensive, thank-you for sharing!

    The million dollar question is, will Air India turn into Vistara or will Vistara turn into Air India? ;D

  4. Did they offer payjamas on such a short flight? Might just be the reason to take a short haul as I still use the ones (very good quality) I got a few months back on a trip to Nairobi 🙂 while I have 3 from Qatar lying unused in my wardrobe.

    Perhaps best to fly AI premium cabin in the coming months before the planes wear out!

    My personal experience with premium cabin service has been quite good in the past (notwithstanding the fact that I door like certain features such as tray service). The lack of attention from crew is disappointing.

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