Thai744
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Posts: 285
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2004 9:25 pm

Sri Lankan Airlines, J Class, CMB-MEL June 2018

Sun Jul 01, 2018 9:29 am

SRI LANKAN AIRLINES CMB-MEL, A330-200, June 2018

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It's been a while since I've written a trip report on here, but there don't seem to be a lot featuring Sri Lankan Airlines, especially in long haul, so I thought I'd offer this for those who are interested.

I found a bargain fare from HKG-CMB-MEL one-way for under $1000 USD in Business Class - not too easy to be convinced to take this in order to fly a new airline and add to my One World status!

I flew HKG-CMB on a Sri Lankan Airlines A321, which I may cover in a separate report if I get time.
Upon arrival in CMB, transit was easy and I made my way to the Sri Lankan Airlines business class lounge where friendly staff welcomed me in.
It's not the most modern lounge going around, but it was clean and comfortable and perfectly fine for a 2 hour layover between flights. There is a rather large Buddha that you walk past on the way - "Welcome to Sri Lanka!"

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Lounge Entrance
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Comfortable Seating Areas in the Lounge
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There is an (attended) bar with a wide range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages on offer. I can highly recommend the local Sri Lankan Gin! Very nice!
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There are fruit juices, bottled water and a coffee machine available, which are next to the food/buffet area.
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I know the idea was freshness, but everything was wrapped in cling-film ("Saran Wrap" for those from the USA) and everything needed to be opened as it had been freshly re-stocked. A little cumbersome, but I appreciate they are trying to keep the food fresh.
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There was also a hot buffet section with some nice Sri Lankan dishes and a few...er... interesting interpretations of western fare!
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There seemed to be a single shower available from what I could see, but I didn't use this as I'd showed in the CX Lounge in HKG.
Approximately 45 minutes prior to departure I made my way to gate 12. The Australian DFAT official asked to check my passport (unusual if you are Aussie) and then consulted with his colleague as to whether it was a fake or not! This was slightly worrying, but in the end they handed it back and I went and stood in the line. I heard a Sri Lankan Airlines employee tell another person off for taking photos in the boarding area, so I put my phone away until I got on board. Boarding was orderly, and there was a separate lane for families, elderly, One World Gold/Platinum and Business Class passengers.

FLIGHT UL604 CMB TO MEL
AIRBUS A330-243
REG: 4R-ALC
AIRCRAFT AGE: 18 YEARS
ETD: 0020 ATD: 0040
ETA: 1440 ATA: 1428
FLYING TIME: 9 hr 18 mins
SEAT: 1K


I was the first J class pax to board and took the opportunity to get a few snaps of the cabin. I was in seat 1K. Unfortunately, UL doesn't use their newer business class (with seats similar to CX and AA) on this sector, although it does turn up once in a blue moon. Not tonight, however, and it was the older business class for me. Having said that, it was still very comfortable with lie-flat seats and lots of space in a 2-2-2 configuration.

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My Seat: 1K
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Looking across the cabin from my seat in the front row
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Only 9 of the J class seats were occupied on this flight and I had a spare seat next to me. If the cabin was full I would probably opt for an aisle seat in the centre section of 2 so I could have unobstructed access to the aisle and no one would have to walk over me to get out. However, with spare seats, this made for a very comfortable flight.

There was an "ottoman" which became part of the bed when the seat was in flat-mode, a large screen with resolution that was "pretty good" but not in the class of EK or SQ for example in J Class, and a centre "storage console" with room for headphones, water bottles, magazine etc.
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Already placed on the seat were socks, eye-mask, noise-cancelling headphone (which were adequate, but better to use your own) and slippers. I love in-flight slippers, particularly when they actually fit my large-ish western feet, which these did!

Socks
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Eye-shade and Slippers
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Noise-Cancelling Headphones
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In the headphones packet there were stickers for WAKE ME UP, DO NOT DISTURB and WAKE ME FOR DUTY FREE which is a nice touch.

Seat Controls
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Next to your shoulder/arm there is this console, which looks very old! It actually contains the inflight entertainment remote control and various plugs and sockets. There is also a reading light on a stalk. The controller worked ok, but was a bit cumbersome and I kept bumping it with my shoulder or arm during the flight which was a little annoying.
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I was greeted by a polite crew member and given an orange juice and hot towel that was actually, in reality, quite dry.
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Then a comprehensive menu was handed out in a sturdy and attractive folder.
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Sample of Menu Page 1
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Sample of Menu Page 2
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The safety demo played and the lights were dimmed for take-off (hence no pictures). After take off and setting course for Melbourne, the two cabin crew looking after J class and the Purser each came individually to each J class pax, introduced themselves and had a little chat. Very nice, very sincere and left you with a great feeling about the crew and the airline. They took a drinks order and I went for a soda water (boring, but it was late and I was tired) and it was served with nuts which weren't warmed unfortunately.
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The crew then took my order for dinner, and then handed out an amenity kit which was in a nice re-usable bag and well-stocked.

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My first course, Arabic Mezze, was brought out promptly. I like the "table setting" crockery and glassware used by Sri Lankan and the presentation was good. The taste of this first course was excellent!
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Bread was offered, and it would be bizarre to choose anything other than garlic bread!
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After a short break the crew promptly brought out my main, which was the Lamb Cutlets and tasted absolutely wonderful - the sauce was exceptional. I really enjoyed this dish!
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I went for the Cheese Plate for dessert.....
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However, one of the lovely crew "insisted" I try the cake, so who was I to argue? It was very good actually.
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By now I was really stuffed, and also tired, so it was time to sleep. Full credit to the crew, who managed to serve and complete the meal service in 75 minutes after take-off, allowing maximum time to sleep. I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth (sorry - no pics, but the bathroom was a stock-standard A330 bathroom!), put the seat flat and drifted off to sleep. Even though older, this seat is very comfortable. The pillow was soft and the blanket was a bit clingy, but ok. I got about 4 hours sleep I think and woke up crossing the coast of Western Australia.

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The crew saw me awake and asked if I would like a coffee or something else to drink. A "wake up" coffee sounded just great and was brought promptly.
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I watched a bit of TV on the entertainment system, and 2 hours out from MEL, the breakfast service started. I'm not sure how with only 9 pax and sitting in row 1, but they ran out of my choice of meal for breakfast. It's not the crew's fault, so I didn't really mind too much and settled on having the Mixed Grill instead, which was fine.

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There was yogurt, fruit, and a bakery basket offered as well.
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The crew asked me if I'd like another coffee, however, I thought I should try a cup of Sri Lankan tea, which resulted in my crew member making some recommendations which was much appreciated. I ended up trying 3 of them over the next hour!
A very nice way to pass the time whilst flying over the vast expanse of Australia.
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Before long, we were on-approach to MEL and the crew and passengers were getting ready for landing.
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I went to the galley to thank my lovely crew for their great service and they were happy to oblige with a photo for me. They really were lovely and couldn't do any more to make the flight a very pleasant experience.

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Pretty soon, and 12 minutes early, we made a soft touch-down into MEL.

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Finally pulling up next to a Qantas bird at the terminal. Disembarkation was swift and efficient and I transferred to my QF flight to SYD after clearing immigration and collecting my bags.

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TO SUM UP:
I had always been interested to try Sri Lankan Airlines, and I'm really glad that I did. Whilst their product might not be as modern, or "bling-worthy" as some of the more well-known carriers such as SQ, EK, QR, CX, EY etc, for the price I found the product sensational. The food and beverage offerings were great, but the service of the crew was the highlight - caring, sincere, genuine and friendly. They really made the flight a great one and I would have no hesitation in flying with Sri Lankan Airlines again.

I hope you enjoyed this report of my experience on Sri Lankan Airlines.
 
smi0006
Posts: 2443
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 7:45 am

Re: Sri Lankan Airlines, J Class, CMB-MEL June 2018

Sun Jul 01, 2018 9:57 am

Fantastic report!

I have worked with a number of ex-UL staff over the years, many working in MEL airport today. Can honestly say they have been the kindest, most gentle beautiful souled people I have ever had the pleasure to work with - I miss them dearly, and would hire any ex-UL staff in an instant!

I also got questioned by DFAT staff in BKK years ago- a highly unpleasant experience left me questioning why countries allow Australian government staff to work in their airports! They thought my passport was a fake and wanted me to get a new one at the Embassy - despite showing them my drivers licence, student ID and Medicare cards! They only gave in when I wanted something in writing to recoup my costs when it was confirmed real!
Seems like a jolly for power tripping Border force staff to me - they should be able to pick up the fraudulent passports at the border! No need for weeks in Asia!
 
bhse
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat May 07, 2005 2:23 pm

Re: Sri Lankan Airlines, J Class, CMB-MEL June 2018

Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:01 pm

I also agree that UL FAs are fantastic! They are the kindest and most attentive crew I've met. Even in economy class, they love to have little chats with passengers, making us feel very welcoming onboard.
 
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ClassicLover
Posts: 4748
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:27 pm

Re: Sri Lankan Airlines, J Class, CMB-MEL June 2018

Sun Jul 01, 2018 5:31 pm

What a wonderful report! I have been interested in trying Sri Lankan since the joined oneworld and it looks like I really should do just that.

Your pictures are brilliant, especially of the food, which looks utterly spectacular. I'm glad you took the time to get pictures of everything such as the cabin and what not. What choice did they run out of at breakfast time? I also liked the presentation of the menu and the fact there are so many choices.

Thoroughly enjoyed the read, so nice work! :) I hope you do write the one on your other flight with Sri Lankan. I'll pray that you have time. Thanks very much for writing - a job well done!
I do enjoy a spot of flying, especially when it's not in economy!
 
jrfspa320
Posts: 517
Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2005 12:18 am

Re: Sri Lankan Airlines, J Class, CMB-MEL June 2018

Mon Jul 02, 2018 1:13 am

Great report, I have flown Srilankan Airlines many times, and i think their crews are the great, very friendly and personable.
The lounge in CMB could certainly do with an update, but i think that will come with the airport redevelopment.

Living in Melbourne myself, I haven't yet flown UL from MEL, but would be more inclined if they used the A330-300 as the hard product isn't great for the long flight to CMB, i don't know if the 200s will get refitted with the same product as they are getting on now and more likely to be replaced.
 
debonair
Posts: 3597
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2004 10:50 pm

Re: Sri Lankan Airlines, J Class, CMB-MEL June 2018

Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:33 am

Very sad to read your fantastic TR - UL is such a fantastic airline! But how long will it be around?

Poor maintenance, the UL-technicians released an aircraft despite having detected debris in the engine - loosing the ETOPS licence; around 100billion LKR in accumulated debt and part failed integration of MihinLanka... Hope the airline will recover soon!
 
kriskim
Posts: 402
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:44 am

Re: Sri Lankan Airlines, J Class, CMB-MEL June 2018

Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:16 am

jrfspa320 wrote:
Great report, I have flown Srilankan Airlines many times, and i think their crews are the great, very friendly and personable.
The lounge in CMB could certainly do with an update, but i think that will come with the airport redevelopment.

Living in Melbourne myself, I haven't yet flown UL from MEL, but would be more inclined if they used the A330-300 as the hard product isn't great for the long flight to CMB, i don't know if the 200s will get refitted with the same product as they are getting on now and more likely to be replaced.


UL will upgrade to the A330-300 on the MEL route from 28OCT - A much better J product overall. UL is doing really well in MEL, with the flight performing well above expectations.
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