Air India First Class: Here We Go!

I hope you guys are ready for this — I’m just getting started on my 30 hour Air India first class journey! I just checked in at Heathrow, and am stoked… I think!

Air-India-Lounge-1

As I write this I’m just in the Maharaja Lounge at Heathrow, getting ready to board my flight to Delhi.

Air-India-Lounge-2

This lounge was recently updated with some great new features.

Air-India-Lounge-Description

Well, at least in theory…

Air-India-Lounge-Bathroom

On the plus side, I just had a delicious Indian breakfast.

Air-India-Lounge-3

On the other hand, I think the carpet has seen better days.

Air-India-Lounge-4

By the time this post publishes I’ll be in the air, so if you’d like to track the progress of my flight, here it is on Flightaware.

Thanks for reading, and be sure you’re following along on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for all the latest updates!

Also, be sure to check back on the blog this evening, as I’ll be posting pictures of my flight from London to Delhi, much as I did after my Finnair flight from New York to Helsinki.

Thanks for following along I appreciate it!

Air-India-Maharaja

Comments

  1. As of a few years ago the KrisFlyer Gold Lounge (second rate lounge for us *G suckers not on SQ) at SIN T3 didn’t have bathrooms. I mean come on, it is the nicest terminal in the world, your hub, and you can’t be bothered to put a bathroom in it?

  2. I’m sure you will enjoy the journey. There shouldn’t be too much problems with landing and takeoff in the notorious Delhi fog with the ILS CAT 3B installed on the longest runway in Asia at DEL based on my past experiences. Enjoy the warm hospitality that defines the country.

  3. Safe Travels Ben can’t wait for the reviews really enjoyed the Etihad First Class Review.Could you kindly review Kenya Airways in the near future? I’m Kenyan and I would really love a review of the same.Safe travels too!!!

  4. Ha – amusing that there isn’t a working toilet in the first class lounge! Surely you didn’t use the same facilities as all the plebs?! The horror!

  5. @Lucky~ you have to be commended for taking this trip on Air India for the blog. I just realised that they dont even have WiFi on Air India.

  6. I know Air India gets some unusual rep, but as a former USAF pilot, I have high praise for this airline which has successfully assisted in several global crises.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1990_airlift_of_Indians_from_Kuwait

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Raahat_(India)

    The airline rescued many of my countrymen when we were unable to operate and rescue them in Yemen so I’m grateful to this amazing airline for saving my friends’ lives.

    Frankly can’t believe anything can be more dismal than flying AA or UA transcontinental.

  7. Seriously? Samosa and Chole in a tin foil.. I hope Lucky’s B(l)og brings some awareness to this airline’s plight!

  8. @NoName

    Cool. What did you fly (if you can say)? I just visited your links. Had no idea that Air India’s operation during the gulf war is in the Guinness book of world records for the most civilians record by a commercial airline!! 180000 ppl over 500 rescue flights. Simply wow!

  9. As a former USAF pilot, I have a dear spot for AI since they rescued many of my friends and countrymen very recently during a period of civil crisis in a dangerous past of the world where my country was unable to operate.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Raahat_(India)

    I also commend the airline for similar remarkable feats in operating in areas of global crises to rescue and bring it’s ppl back home.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1990_airlift_of_Indians_from_Kuwait

    Frankly, knowing these and many more actions to save ppl that AI has taken (i.e.Nepal earthquake) I have deep respect for this airline.

    Anyways nothing is worse than our airlines on transatlantic travels.

  10. @Murali

    Awesome. Could you share the name of the movie? It would allow my wife and I to practice or Hindi which we have been learning since we travel to India so frequently.

  11. @Jared – I remember those days well as my dad was involved with some of the airlift logistics and my neighbour was one of the crew stuck on layover in Kuwait when the Iraqis invaded. It was quite remarkable – every single Air India aircraft that was anywhere in the vicinity of Amman with seats available would be diverted to Amman to pick up passengers. When it touched down in Mumbai, it would be turned around and sent right back to pick up some more. There were a lot of unsung heroes in those days – the Regional Manager back then who was instrumental in setting up the airlift subsequently became the Managing Director and his performance through this was no small factor in that. Keep in mind that Air India was a much smaller airline back then too with just around 20 aircraft – which meant that almost half the fleet was flying to Amman (which wasn’t even an online station at the outbreak of hostilities) every single day for almost 3 months. It wasn’t quite as high profile as the Berlin Airlift (although the new film “Airlift” may change that), but the numbers tell the story.

    If anyone wonders why so many long term Indian residents in the Middle East refuse to fly on any airline other than Air India despite all the issues the airline has had over the years, this is a huge reason. Far more powerful than any modern “loyalty program”.

  12. @Sean

    Thanks for the information. I understand now why all my friends in the US of Indian origin have this deep heated loyalty to the airline, even though they concede that it is not the best. I sincerely hope that the airline returns to its glory as I recall in the 80s and 90s. Thanks for sharing your family’s memories about it. Really appreciate it. I’ll be looking out for the movie. I have had good experiences on AI first and biz. Can’t say much about lounges since I hate sitting and waiting in an airport so I’m usually always walking around watching people and getting a workout before a long flight.

    Strange that the post by NoName is not visible now…

  13. 60% of the world does not have access to flush toilets. Dysentery, typhoid, cholera and hepatitis A still ravage these countries. India sits at the top of the list for nations with the highest percentage of households without indoor plumbing. It’s strangely ironic that their first class lounge still lacks this basic necessity.

  14. Sub

    Would love to see how you describe the smell.

    P.S. only 1/3 of my graduate school classmates are Indian.

  15. Before you get too horrified about not having a bathroom in a lounge, the Air France/KLM lounge in Frankfurt has no bathroom in the lounge either. I wasn’t horrified and nor did I draw conclusions about the sanitary condition of France and the Netherlands.

  16. People, lighten up. There will be humor, there is always humor in every review. And criticism. That’s the reason of the blog. It will not be directed at India or the Indian people. The same way that humor/criticism directed towards AA is not a condemnation of USA or Americans. Grow up and grow a pair. This inferiority complex gets old really fast.

  17. This is going to be fun! Following Ben’s adventure will be my entertainment for the weekend. Though, I would not be at all surprised if Lucky finds his AI flights to be quite pleasant.

    @Sean M.

    As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed your thoughtful comment.

  18. Just to clarify, I’m the one who normally posts as No Name here and on Ask Lucky and the posts above is not me.

  19. Hah hah hah! Ho ho ho!. Lucky captured it. The sign on the broken toilet, the filthy, soiled, stained carpet in the First class lounge no less, but it gets the passengers pre conditioned to what awaits them in India to temper the shock to the mind and body. What an introduction to his ‘adventure’ aboard Air India. Good luck, Lucky. Hope you took along disposable gloves, face mask and bottle of Purell.

  20. funny post but lots of airport lounges around the world, in hub cities no less & even those used by supposed 5-star airlines dont have toilets *inside* the lounge.

    one recent example I can think of is the AF/KLM First Class Salon Premiere Lounge Terminal 1 @ CDG. this lounge is also used by many many intl airlines that fly out of T1 including Qatar Airways — which is nothing if not notorious for expecting the highest standards with regards to passenger experience, all-around.

  21. Air India saved numerous American lives in Yemen because the incompetent US government was unable to extricate its own citizens from that place.

    I hope the potential hicks who want to trash-talk Air India or the country for reasons outside of AI being a dismal airline realise that. You think you’re some kind of superior specimen on some elevated pedestal – but the reality is that you’re far lower than you think, especially after displaying such a brazen sense of ungratefulness.

  22. Hmmmm… Not sure the duty line carrier and washroom is unusual.

    I’ve been at the united global first lounge in ORD and seen terribly dirty couches, carpets and all washrooms out of order due to a “sewage issue.” I guess that’s reflective of our idea of hygiene since my Asian colleagues definitely have impeccably clean homes compared to my western colleagues and myself. I can say the same for all delta lounges I’ve visited around the US and many don’t have dedicated washrooms. Furthermore, the only time I fell sick during travels was on a Delta flight over the Atlantic departing ORD.

    Thirteen out of fifteen of my graduate school research group in propulsion were Indians. They all flew AI for the same reason all Israelis fly ElAl – its theirs and they know they are safe.

  23. @Desi chil!!! this is a blog for like minded people to have candid conversations, no offense meant to any race or culture or country. If anything the hope is Air India gets better.

  24. Last few times time I used the * lounge in Geneva there were also no toilets inside the lounge. You had to go out and use the public toilets

  25. Happy to see that the blog is diversifying a little bit. I may as well start my own considering I have flown many more airlines than reported here so I appreciate this year’s resolution to expand the list.

    On a more relevant note, I fly on many airlines and most of the time I cannot recall anything about the experience (I’m sure it was good but it’s just another trip). Every time I fly AI maharaja, which is about 6-10 times a year, I actually enjoy myself and I remember the FAs well. Somehow there is that warm feeling on AI that I don’t experience much in the age of robotic, impersonal duties in any class on any airline.

    Also, the lounge looks no worse than UA in Denver, DL in ATL, AF salon in cdg or LX in the box that is the int’l terminal in Zurich. I just find it funny that they identify the samosas as simply “veg.” If imagine most ppl would know what a samosas is today.

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