With the new look Air Seychelles, you don’t have to wait until you reach the Indian Ocean playgroup to enjoy authentic Creole hospitality, discovers Nick Walton on a flight from Victoria to Hong Kong via Abu Dhabi.
Air Seychelles has been operating as the national carrier of Seychelles since the airline’s inception in 1977 but has recently been revitalized by 40 percent owner Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad. Now with new aircraft, newly trained staff, and new routes, Air Seychelles is set to be a dynamic regional carrier.
The airline’s executive lounge at Victoria-Seychelles Airport on the main island of Mahé, named the Le Salon Vallée De Mai, is a pleasure to visit. Spacious and inviting, it features captivating views across the runway to Praslin Island, comfortable couch and cafe seating, and a rustic tropical ambiance that’s a nice final farewell to passengers leaving this tropical destination. There is a full bar set up as well as hot and cold snacks, a magazine selection and high-speed wifi. When it was time to board a friendly Air Seychelles crew member escorted us to the gate.
On this flight to Hong Kong via Abu Dhabi we flew on Air Seychelles’ new A330-200, a modern aircraft with 18 lie-flat business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. Each of the comfortable new seats features leather and fabric upholstery, a privacy shell, and a pitch of 82-inches, which is an impressive product for such a small airline.
The seats lack USB connectivity but are more than comfortable for the four-and-a-half-hour flight to Abu Dhabi and the further eight-hour flight to Hong Kong thanks to a 65-degree lie-flat position, lumbar support, and massage function.
Initially, the leg rest of my seat wasn’t working and by departure time in Abu Dhabi other aspects of the seat had also failed despite mechanics being called. Fortunately, the cabin wasn’t full and I quickly relocated myself to a functioning seat.
Passengers were greeted on each sector with champagne and hot towels as well as amenity kits that featured moisturizer, a toothbrush, and the all-important eye mask and earplugs.
Dining is another area where Air Seychelles really shines. After intensive training by Etihad, the crew was friendly, professional, and efficient, taking meal orders before takeoff (and making the most of long delays at Abu Dhabi in both directions), timing meal service to suit individual passenger’s sleep requirements, and offering service with grace and smiles.
Dinner started off with glasses of Joseph Perrier Marquis de Joncry Brut NV champagne, matched perfectly with a prawn and smoked salmon salad with papaya salsa and a balsamic reduction. The main options included Creole chicken breast with savoy cabbage; grass-fed beef with rosemary potatoes; sweet and sour fish with steamed Chinese broccoli; and a trio of vegetable parcels as the vegetarian option. The chicken was elegant and well portioned and went well with the Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc from New Zealand. Dessert consisted of warm apple tart or mango cheesecake followed by a section of imported cheeses, fresh fruit with an orange coulis, or Providore natural ice cream.
Seychelles is a relatively new destination for travelers from Asia and the US but the new-look Air Seychelles ensures the holiday begins well before takeoff.
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