Hello from Almaty (or should I say “high five?”)! I just flew Air Astana business class from Seoul Incheon to Almaty on the roughly six hour flight, and wanted to share my initial impressions.
This is an airline I knew virtually nothing about a few weeks ago, but already had the chance to fly. All I can say is “wow!”
Air Astana operates the world’s newest fleet of 767s. While the 767 as such isn’t exactly cutting edge anymore, Air Astana’s 767s were delivered in the past 2-3 years. I’m not talking about them getting these planes secondhand from another airline, but rather they got them brand new from the Boeing factory.
Their 767 was easily the most gorgeous 767 I’ve ever flown on. Not only did it have the updated bins and a bright interior, but the cabin was in immaculate condition.
The plane has a staggered business class configuration, and is almost identical to Japan Airlines’ updated 767s. While it’s not my favorite business class product out there, this is as good as it gets on a 767. Given that Air Astana doesn’t operate any “true” longhaul flights, it’s a perfectly nice product.
Not only did the cabin really impress me, but the soft product did as well.
The amenity kit was probably one of the best I’ve ever received in business class, let alone on a six hour daytime flight.
The food was great as well.
There were nuts and an amuse bouche to start.
Then there was an appetizer and salad.
Then a main course.
Then dessert plus cheese.
Then there was another snack before landing. Color me very impressed!
As far as the service goes, the crew was extremely efficient and attentive, and I’d say their attitude can best be described as professional. I wouldn’t call the crew friendly (in the sense that they weren’t very warm and didn’t do anything to go above and beyond), but they weren’t rude in the slightest either. I suspect part of my perception there might be cultural. The crew’s English wasn’t great, so perhaps that caused them to come across as somewhat timid and cold.
Speaking of the crew, I thought it was cool that the captain was Mexican. While I know airlines like Emirates and Cathay Pacific hire a ton of ex-pat pilots, I’ve been fascinated by the nationalities of the pilots on some of the smaller airlines I’ve flown lately. For example, I wasn’t expecting an American captain on my recent Fiji Airways flight, and I wasn’t expecting a Mexican captain on the airline of Kazakhstan.
Lastly, let me finish by saying how much I’m enjoying flying “random” (from a US perspective) new airlines. Sure, I love flying Cathay Pacific first class, but the reality is that I know exactly what to expect, down to a “T.”
As someone who has flown so many premium cabin products, there’s something extremely enjoyable about boarding and feeling completely out of my element. What will the crew be like? What will the cabin we like? What will the food be like? Will the cappuccino I order be the best I ever have on a plane, or just be powdered and nasty?
In that regard, airlines like Air Astana are a real treat, because their 767 business class has virtually no reviews, so I really didn’t know what to expect. And it was very pleasantly surprising.
I’m very impressed by Air Astana. They have the nicest 767s I’ve ever seen with great food and amenities, solid entertainment, and efficient service. What a pleasant surprise.