After lining up with the runway, both GE
engines were throttled forward and we lifted off into a hazy sky. Since the load was so light on today’s flight, you could really feel the power of the aircraft.
I started playing with the IFE as the view disappeared outside the window.
Anyone notice the wrong Air India livery on the Boeing 777 in the corner?
My first challenge was finding a pair of headsets that actually worked. After trying my seat, the seat next to mine, and the aisle seat, I found a working pair in the seat behind me. Not quite a good start but still remaining hopeful. I did notice that the headsets on offer in Air India business class are identical to the headsets on offer from United in economy.
After going through the movie selection, I was rather disappointed to find only 12 English movies, with half of them being far from current releases! While I do enjoy some movies from the 90’s, at least give me a choice, I am not always in the mood for classics. I don’t know what made me think Prometheus was a good choice, but then again I use the word “choice” loosely.
Eventually the seatbelt sign was switched off and Roni decided to occupy the aisle seat in order to join me for lunch.
Rashna first handed out hot towels followed by our pre ordered drinks. This was followed by two packages of nuts, one containing salted peanuts and the other salted almonds.
My rum and coke.
While the presentation could use a bit of sprucing up, the nuts were of a high quality and complimented the drinks very well. My rum and coke tasted equally good, if not a tad bit heavy handed on the rum, but then again most people consider that a good thing.
Now I am sure I do not need to tell you what infamous drink Roni ordered. The good news is if he accidently knocked the glass over onto the carpet no one would notice. He was so happy with his bloody mary that he downed the first one in no time and was ready for a second before we were ever given our meals.
Roni’s ever so classic bloody mary!
Ashok delivered second’s on our drinks without as much as a second thought. Rashna distributed our meal trays shortly thereafter, with Ashok right behind holding a breadbasket handing out rolls and chapatis.
At first glance the tray is cluttered, and the presentation is certainly lacking any finesse that is normally associated with international business class standards.
The bread roll was a bit dry and hard but otherwise relatively edible. The chapati however was absolutely delightful, warm, soft, and just the right consistency. It was the absolute perfect companion to the yellow dhal.
The Italian salad dressing was provided on the side in a rather cheap plastic packet, but at least it tasted decent. The vegetables in the salad bowl consisted of a cucumber, a few slices of tomato, bell peppers, lettuce, and some corn.
The main course consisted of curry chicken, basmati rice, and some stewed okra. In all honesty I am not a large fan of okra, but it tasted pretty decent. Thankfully it was not slimy at all. The chicken curry was full of flavor and a bit on the spicy side. I had to dilute the spiciness with some of the plain yogurt that had been provided. The rice was hot and fluffy, and not dried out at all. Overall it was quite a satisfying dish.
However the highlight on the tray for me was the orange and mango mousse. I am a die-hard fan of chocolate mousse, and an equally big fan of mango, so combining the two is a match made in heaven for me. It was light and airy with just the right amount of sweetness.
Oh did I mention the tray also contained some crackers and spreadable cheese? Needless to say this was quite a filling meal. Ashok even stopped by half way through our meals offering more chapati and dhal. Sadly I was so stuffed I could only manage a second helping of chapati.
Roni’s vegetarian tray.
A close up of Roni’s vegetarian main course.
Roni being a lover of Indian food practically inhaled his entire tray in what seemed like a matter of seconds. He more than willingly accepted Ashok’s offer for more dhal and chapati. While he had ordered the vegetarian option his main course was identical to mine, with just the chicken being swapped out for a paneer based dish. We did not know what it was exactly but with the words Indian and Vegetarian together, Roni did not need any more information.
Ashok collected our trays a little while later.
“I hope you enjoyed your meals?”
“We certainly did.”
“Is there anything else I can get you?”
“Can we get some of that Indian tea?” Roni quipped.
“You mean chai?”
Roni gave me a bewildered looked to which I responded,
“Ashok, do you have any masala chai?”
“Absolutely, would you like two cups of that?”
“That would be perfect.”
Our distinctive white mugs with the orange sun were delivered with a smile from Ashok. Good to see a non-US airline using mugs onboard. I can honestly say it was definitely one of the better cups of tea I have had in the air, but then again I really enjoy masala chai.
After everything had been collected, Roni decided to take a nap by putting his seat all the way back. As per his snoring, I take it the seat was very comfortable. I on the other hand finished up the rather horrendous movie and decided to listen to some music instead.
Now this is one area that Air India’s IFE did not disappoint. I switched over to the electronic section and came across three of my top DJ
’s, including my all-time favorite. I quickly made my own playlist using all three albums, and blissfully passed the time in a dark cabin with my seat reclined into a cradled position.
A view like this accompanied by some great music is all that I needed on this flight.
A quick trip to the lavatory revealed nothing out of the ordinary.
The lavatory was relatively clean and contained a bottle of cream, hand sanitizer, and eau de toillete from “Caire.”
As the dark cabin began to slowly change into various shades of blue and orange, I knew the top of descent was imminent. The crew went through the aisles opening up the window shades, and Ashok came by my seat and began to inquire about where I was from and what I do for a living. Once he found out I work in the industry, we began quite the long conversation on Air India and aircraft in general as the aircraft began its descent into Hong Kong. He mentioned how he enjoyed working on the 787 and thought the merger had been an utter disaster for the two airlines.
Roni and Rashna had a rather similar conversation in the seats behind.
“Mr. Hawi, I hope you enjoyed your flight with us today?”
“I most certainly did. Thank you very much”
“Most welcome. Is Hong Kong your final destination?”
“For tonight yes, and what about you? Do you continue to Delhi?”
“Delhi we will continue tomorrow only, as we will layover in Hong Kong for the night”
“Thank you for flying with us Mr. Hawi, and we hope to see you on board again”
Eventually they both excused themselves as we were nearing final approach. The weather was not great this afternoon, but the front camera provided some excellent views of the surrounding area.
A smooth touchdown ensued, and we taxied to our corner gate located at the end of the “Y” terminal.
Once the seatbelt sign had been switched off, we picked up our belongings and headed towards the galley. I asked Ashok if it was possible for Roni and I take some pictures of the First Class cabin. He smiled and said “Of course, be my guest.”
After a few pictures were taken, we both headed towards the door where Ashok and Rashna were waiting to bid us farewell.
After a quick exit down the jetway, we walked towards immigration just as the sun was setting outside.
Hey look Roni, it's a sign!
Thankfully this afternoon immigration moved relatively swiftly despite being a little jam-packed. Having no checked in bags, both Roni and I were landside and on our way to the hotel minutes before the sun fully set.