Review: SriLankan Business Class A330-200 Hong Kong To Bangkok

Introduction
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I was quite looking forward to flying SriLankan again. I had flown them a handful of times several years back, so was curious to see how this experience compared, now that they’ve joined oneworld. That being said, I was slightly less excited about having three flights on them back-to-back after a 16 hour flight from New York — I’m not sure what I was thinking. 😉

Anyway, the flight from Hong Kong to Colombo is a “direct” flight (meaning it’s marketed as a single flight number), with a stop in Bangkok. The route is operated by an A330-200. SriLankan has several configurations of the A330-200, some of which feature fully flat beds, and others of which don’t. Unfortunately there’s no way to know in advance which configuration you’ll get. The only way to be guaranteed a fully flat bed is to fly their A330-300, which features fully flat reverse herringbone seats in business class.

And even that’s not a guarantee, given how often SriLankan has last minute equipment changes.

SriLankan 423
Hong Kong (HKG) – Bangkok (BKK)
Saturday, April 4
Depart: 6:15PM
Arrive: 8:05PM
Duration: 2hr50min
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
Seat: 3C (Business Class)

Upon boarding I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had scored one of SriLankan’s refreshed A330-200s, which featured fully flat seats. The business class cabin consisted of a total of 18 seats, spread across three rows in a 2-2-2 configuration.

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SriLankan A330 business class cabin

While the seats are a bit on the narrow side, they’re quite comfortable, and I do think the finishes suit SriLankan pretty well.

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SriLankan A330 business class seats, 3A & 3C

I appreciate that the seats have ottomans, which means you can rest your feet on them even while on the ground and taxiing, while the seat otherwise has to be in the fully upright position.

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SriLankan A330 business class seats, 3A & 3C

Waiting at my seat was a pillow, and upon request I was also offered a blanket.

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SriLankan A330 business class pillow

In the center section between seats were reading lights, the entertainment controls, as well as a USB jack.

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SriLankan A330 business class entertainment controls

Then below that were the seat controls, which were easy to use.

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SriLankan A330 business class seata controls

On the front side of the seats were standard 110v Empower ports.

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SriLankan A330 business class power outlets

On the ottoman console between seats was a small compartment for shoes.

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SriLankan A330 business class shoe compartment

The seatback featured a good amount of storage, including a magazine rack, a compartment for headphones, a bottle holder, and a compartment for glasses or a phone. I was a bit disappointed to see that they just had cheap plastic headphones in business class, but then again I always bring my own, so that doesn’t bother me much.

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SriLankan business class headphones

Upon boarding there were already two pilots seated across from me, and then eventually one other guy took the seat in front of me. But the cabin stayed empty aside from that, despite economy being almost full.

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SriLankan A330 business class cabin

I was offered a pre-departure beverage from a tray, and selected orange juice.

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SriLankan business class pre-departure beverage

Shortly thereafter I was presented with a menu for the flight, which had the food options for both the sector from Hong Kong to Bangkok and the one from Bangkok to Colombo.

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SriLankan business class menu

Since I still had a long travel day ahead of me I decided to change into something more comfortable for the flight to Bangkok and then onwards to Colombo, so I put on shorts and a t-shirt. The business class lavatory was on the small side, and featured some faux-wood finishes.

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SriLankan business class lavatory

Once back at my seat I waited for boarding to finish up. The conversation between the pilots across from me was fascinating. I wasn’t attempting to eavesdrop, but the cabin was quiet and they were talking fairly loudly, so…

You had a senior captain who I believe was Canadian, while there was a much more junior first officer who I believe was Indian (he was maybe in his late 20s). Hearing their discussion about the airline, Sri Lanka, etc., was interesting.

At 6PM the captain made a brief announcement, informing us of our flight time of 2hr20min. Shortly thereafter, at 6:10PM, the cabin door was closed, and 10 minutes after that we began our pushback.

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Airshow enroute from Hong Kong to Bangkok

As we started our pushback the cabin manager made his welcome aboard announcement, and the safety video began to play. It was animated and quite hilarious, in terms of the over-the-top “characters” it featured.

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SriLankan safety video

Here’s one of the versions of the safety video:

Fortunately planes were taking off into the West, which meant we only had a very short taxi to the runway. While our taxi took less than 10 minutes, it featured the typical lineup of interesting evening traffic.

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Dragonair A330 Hong Kong Airport

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Hong Kong Airlines A320 Hong Kong Airport

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Traffic Hong Kong Airport

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Traffic at Hong Kong Airport

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Emirates A380s Hong Kong Airport

I sure needed that blanket to cover up my excitement about the two Emirates A380s and Lufthansa 747-8 parked next to one another — doesn’t get sexier than that!

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Lufthansa 747-8 and Emirates A380s Hong Kong Airport

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Taxiing Hong Kong Airport

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Traffic Hong Kong Airport

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Traffic Hong Kong Airport

We made it to runway 25L before 6:30PM, and shortly thereafter were cleared for takeoff, behind a Hong Kong Airlines A330.

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Hong Kong Airlines A330 Hong Kong Airport

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Taking off runway 25L Hong Kong Airport

Our takeoff roll was quick, and the pilots sure were rough on the controls as we rotated. Not that it’s necessarily good or bad, but you certainly notice a difference in how airlines train their pilots, or perhaps simply what their background is (military vs. civilian). There was no attempt to make the rotation smooth/gradual, but rather I was almost jolted backwards in my seat when we rotated.

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Taking off runway 25L Hong Kong Airport

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View after takeoff from Hong Kong

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View after takeoff from Hong Kong

We hit a bit of chop on the initial ascent, though once we broke through the clouds the ride was smooth, and I had a great sunset view.

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View after takeoff from Hong Kong

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View at cruise level

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Airshow enroute from Hong Kong to Bangkok

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Airshow enroute to Bangkok

I browsed the entertainment selection, and decided to watch “The Accidental Husband,” which was an airplane comedy (aka not very good) if I’ve ever seen one. The entertainment selection itself was fine, probably a bit better than what I would have expected. There were over a dozen movies, and about a similar number of sitcoms.

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SriLankan business class inflight entertainment

About 20 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off and the crew began their service.

The dinner menu read as follows:

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And the beverage list read as follows:

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There seemed to be about four business class flight attendants (including the cabin manager), but since there were only four of us in the cabin (and two of those were pilots), only one flight attendant ever seemed to leave the galley and come into the cabin.

Service began with my table being set, and was quickly followed by cashews and drinks. I ordered a glass of champagne — SriLankan serves Jacquart in business class.

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SriLankan business class dinner — champagne & nuts

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SriLankan business class dinner — table setting

The starter consisted of a vegetable kebab and a selection from the bread basket. I chose some garlic bread.

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SriLankan business class dinner starter — grilled vegetable kebab

I liked the idea of the vegetable kebab in theory, though it was sort of tasteless.

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SriLankan business class dinner starter — grilled vegetable kebab

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SriLankan business class dinner — garlic bread

For the main course I ordered the stirfried red snapper. I think it lived up to the menu description pretty well.

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SriLankan business class dinner main course — stirfried red snapper

Lastly for dessert I had the mousse cake, which was delicious.

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SriLankan business class dinner dessert — vanilla & chocolate mousse cake

Overall it was an okay meal, about in line with what I’d expect for a flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok. As far as the service goes, the flight attendant actually working the cabin was charming in a uninterested way. I’m not sure if that makes any sense. In other words, she was quite friendly when she was providing the service, in the sense that she was smirking and asking how things were. At the same time she was very abrupt in how she carried out the service.

Dinner was done within about 45 minutes, at which point I paused the movie and figured I might as well take a nap. I reclined the window seat into bed mode, and managed to sleep for about an hour. While the seat was on the narrow side, it was surprisingly comfortable. And I also appreciate how big the privacy partition between seats is. While it wasn’t really needed here since the cabin was empty, I would certainly appreciate that on a longhaul flight.

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SriLankan A330 fully flat business class seat

I woke up as we initiated our descent into Bangkok. The captain came on the PA again to inform us of our updated arrival time of 8PM.

Our descent was smooth, and we touched down in Bangkok at 7:55PM.

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View on approach into Bangkok

The airport was oddly quiet, and the only traffic I saw was a Qatar Airways A380, and then on the other side of the terminal a Gulf Air A330, which we parked next to.

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Qatar Airways A380 Bangkok Airport

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Gulf Air A330 Bangkok Airport

As we taxied in, the cabin manager explained that passengers continuing to Colombo should stay on the plane. So once the seatbelt sign was turned off I remained in my seat for what was an… interesting transit experience.

SriLankan business class bottom line

I’ve always been a fan of SriLankan, and am thrilled they join oneworld. There’s something “exotic” about flying with them, which makes it all the more fun.

SriLankan’s reconfigured A330-200 featured comfortable business class seats, especially for such a short flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok. The catering on this sector was okay, and the service wasn’t the best I’ve had on SriLankan. Still, the flight attendant serving me was charming and sassy in an indifferent way.

Fortunately I had two more segments on SriLankan so I would have a better basis from which to judge service norms.

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Comments

  1. RE: I sure needed that blanket to cover up my excitement about the two Emirates A380s and Lufthansa 747-8 parked next to one another — doesn’t get sexier than that!

    I’m not sure that this was written as you intended. Some of us are now possessed of a visual image that is a trifle disturbing.

  2. “I sure needed that blanket to cover up my excitement about the two Emirates A380s and Lufthansa 747-8 parked next to one another — doesn’t get sexier than that!”

    Long time reader who never posts, but it has to be said….. That is my most favourite comment you have ever made. Gold!

  3. Narrow seats compared to what? Emirates A380 business class seats that are the same width as economy? I’ve flown SriLankan a few times to Europe from BKK and I was pleasantly surprised at how good they were.

  4. @BA If you look at the engine cowling on the Line aircraft, you’ll see the AirAsia logo so I gather it belongs to them.

  5. It would have been interesting to read your degustation notes about Arrack, the national liquor of Sri Lanka. It’s like rum, with floral notes from the coconut blossoms. Maybe the airline serves an 18 years old VSOA. Any Sando stout?

  6. Hey, Lucky, I always check your paste reviews to see what the airline/lounge/hotel is like. One thing that I´m really missing is a nice title to your trips: Chasing the sun, A royal (dis)hhonour. Or maybe they just bring fond memories, I don´t know.

  7. @ Carlos — Hah, thanks. I do still try to do creative titles with the intro post, but figured it was repetitive to do it with every post.

  8. Ben,

    I’ve done this sector many times. Maybe because I know some of the FAs as personal friends (well mostly FB), I don’t know why but only with UL, you get a higher chance of running into the same FA again and again. Each time I fly with UL, there will bound to be at least one who might know me or know of me through someone. Because of that, the service I received is often exceptional. Now that’s not just exotic, it’s warm and homely. I am now at their Gold level, soon to do a London flight and after I become platinum, which is One world emerald, their top tier.

  9. @ Lucky, Your experience with the take-off roll is a common complaint Ben, its a sign of the new breed of SLA Officers taking over from the Old Guard. Apologies about the flight crew though, you get all sorts in Sri Lankan, most likely the person who served you was the least senior.

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