Review: Flight AI 657 (DEL-BOM), Air India, Business

Since it was only me and the television in the Altitude Lounge at Delhi, I got bored pretty quick and decided to hang out at the gate after my breakfast in the lounge. It was going to be a full flight it seemed from the numbers that were lining up at the gate. While I’ve done tonnes of early morning flights and I’ve begun to not like them much, I like the fact that planes are back at their base and hence there is less chance of a delay in the morning flights (unless there is weather-related delays!). At the scheduled boarding time, which was 06:20 AM, there was nobody at the gate from Air India, while the passengers had already started to come around at the gate.

Photo 01-04-13 6 15 21

Empty gates

Photo 01-04-13 6 18 49

Passengers are there!

Photo 01-04-13 6 27 34

VT-PPT, the Air India Airbus A321 which will be my ride to Mumbai

Anyhow, out of nowhere, a couple of people landed up at the gate in a very chatty spell in the morning, and boarding started at about 6:30 AM. With my boarding pass, which was issued for Economy Class, there was a beep while boarding. The ground staff struck my seat number, and put a new Business Class seat number on my boarding pass. Three words that I love were uttered, “You’ve been upgraded!”. Woohoo.

Delhi(DEL) – Mumbai(BOM)
Monday, April 1 2013
Depart: 07:00AM
Arrive: 09:05AM
Duration: 02hr05min
Distance flown: 706 miles
Aircraft: Airbus A321
Seat: 3F (Business)
Meal Service: Breakfast

Once on the plane, I found my way to my new seat. The plane was definitely running an almost full load going by the number of people boarding, since this was the end of a long weekend. I managed to get some pictures of the cabin, before it would start filling up.

Photo 01-04-13 6 28 20

Photo 01-04-13 6 28 30

Photo 01-04-13 6 29 43

Photo 01-04-13 6 29 37

Photo 01-04-13 6 29 16

Photo 01-04-13 6 30 55

While I loved the cabin hues in the Executive Class cabin, I can’t understand why does AI want to colour itself orange and red in the economy section, which is a tardy colour scheme at best.

As I settled in, I noticed there was no pre-departure drink service when the passengers arrived. Instead, the inflight crew was busy talking to each other, a flow from the chatty crew at the gates I presume. A while later, closer to doors closure, the purser came out offering a round of drinks to everyone. The options were grapes, orange and apple juice. I went with the grape juice.

Photo 01-04-13 6 51 39

With this hurried service, we were all set to take off and we did get on our way and airborne on time. Thirty minutes into the flight, the crew started to set up breakfast service.

Photo 01-04-13 7 04 43

Since there was no menu presented, I’ll roll out all the options presented to me during this meal service. First, cereal and fruits were offered to everyone. And there was an option to have hot milk or cold milk along with your cereal.

Photo 01-04-13 7 28 23

In a bit, the crew came back with meal options. The choice was pretty rich, however, presentation was not up to the mark. The crew was roaming around the cabin with the 4 meal options in a tray, and would serve whichever one you picked. There were two types of eggs, and a couple of vegetarian options if I remember correctly. There was the choice of cheese omelette along with sausages, or poached eggs, and idlis for South Indian breakfast (the flight went onwards to Coimbatore). I don’t recollect the fourth vegetarian option.

Photo 01-04-13 7 45 53

I sort of almost got bored and sleepy by the time they brought the bread basked out, but when they did, I was glad that the croissants were still in shape unlike Jet Airways where they always seem to be crushed under a roadroller before serving them. They also had some nice muffins along which went well with the coffee.

Photo 01-04-13 7 47 30

The meal was good, so I have to give that to them, unlike the very weak meal service in the economy cabin on my way into Delhi. However, presentation and attitude has not exactly been the forte of Air India crew for a very long time and they lost the plot on this plane too. Service wasn’t with a smile, but as if they were forced to work on the plane. I spent the rest of my time on the plane between napping and trying to finish some work. We arrived into Mumbai at about 8:50 AM, and within 10 minutes I was on my way to downtown Mumbai.

Like I said earlier, AI has a long way to go to become my airline of choice, because unlike in other parts of the world, in Asia, the airlines are still supposed to be hospitality-oriented, and Air India needs to learn that, apart from getting a better loyalty program before I look to them again.

How do you guys like Air India’s domestic services? Would you rather have me fly them or Jet Airways on my next domestic flight?

Related Posts:

Live From A Lounge is present on Facebook, Twitter & available via email, RSS.

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. I originally thought you had booked business with your points anyway !
    Nice objective report. I think that one more thing AI needs to achieve more is consistency in food. I recently flew on them on a DEL-PNQ regional flight in Economy & I was served more or less the same content & portions as you, the Main courses were a choice of Dahi Gujiya (veg) or Kheema Pao (non-veg) as it was an afternoon flight. It ended with a delicious hot chocolate walnut brownie. So I thought the food was very good for Economy. Having said that, I’d be disappointed if I found the same in Executive Class though, paying more than twice the fare.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *