We check out SriLankan, one of Asia’s fastest-growing airlines and the gateway carrier to the beautiful island of Sri Lanka and beyond.
We had assigned our seats during the reservation process so when we checked in at Hong Kong International Airport, the airline’s team processed our boarding passes quickly and efficiently and pointed us in the direction of one of two pay-in lounges at HKIA operated by the Plaza Premium Lounge, both of which are also used by smaller airlines. The lounges are always packed but access with a SriLankan Airlines business class boarding pass gets you complimentary drinks at the bar and it’s a good staging space before your flight.
After finding our seats on the Airbus 330-200 aircraft, we were greeted by smiling, welcoming cabin crew, including Dilini, one of the best we have ever encountered, who ensured we were settled in before offering glasses of Jacquart champagne and cold Lion lagers, hot towels, and menus (she later gave us her recommendations for restaurants in Negombo and was spot on).
SriLankan, a member of oneworld, operates both A330-200 and 330-300 aircraft and is slowly rolling a new generation business class across its fleet. The aircraft operated on the Hong Kong-Colombo (via Bangkok) route featured the older business class, which is still surprisingly comfortable. The cabin’s 12 fully-lie flat seats, set in a 2-2 configuration, feature a pitch of 198cm, and plenty of storage based around a large monitor that presents a recently upgraded IFE system with over 100 movies, accessed using a unique little finger-tracker remote (though as always you might want to bring your own noise-reduction headphones).
Orders for our meal were taken quickly by Dilini before we left the gate and dinner was served in record time after reaching cruise altitude, despite the business class cabin being 80 percent full.
A papaya salad with glass noodles and tofu was followed by a choice of stir-fried chicken with sweet chili paste, fried noodles, and vegetables; grilled red snapper in masala sauce; ragout of lamb with buttered penne and grilled peppers; and mushroom and green pea masala with steamed rice as a vegetarian option.
A notation in the menu pointed out that guests could mix and match the ingredients of the stated dishes to suit their preferences. The salad was fresh, light, and zesty, with just the right amount of heat, while the chicken was the perfect comfort food and was followed by a choice of fresh fruit and opera cake with mixed berries.
We landed in Bangkok, the first half of our journey to Colombo, uneventfully but very impressed with SriLankan Airlines’ levels of service. Staff held themselves very well – nothing was too much trouble – and we left with an entirely different perception of the airline and its home destination, one which was further cemented on the subsequent five flights we would make with the airline in the following fortnight.
From a value proposition, SriLankan is very competitively priced given the competition on the routes and the quality of the service and business class product – even if it is the more dated version.
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