Introduction: Journey To Kazakhstan
Review: Korean Air First Class 747-8 Vancouver To Incheon
Review: Nest Hotel Incheon Airport
Review: Asiana Business Class Lounge Incheon Airport
Review: Air Astana Business Class 767 Incheon To Almaty
Review: Ritz-Carlton Almaty
Review: Air Astana Lounge Almaty Airport
Review: Air Astana Business Class A321 Almaty To Astana
Review: Marriott Astana
Review: Air Astana Lounge Astana Airport
Review: Air Astana Business Class 757 Astana To London
Review: Sofitel London Heathrow Terminal 5
Review: United Lounge London Heathrow Airport
Review: Singapore Airlines Lounge London Heathrow Airport
Review: United First Class 777 London To Los Angeles
Air Astana 910
Incheon (ICN) – Almaty (ALA)
Saturday, September 24
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300
Seat: 7A (Business Class)
I presented my boarding pass to the flight attendants at the door, and was pointed down the near aisle. Air Astana’s 767 business class cabin consists of a total of 30 staggered seats. They’re spread across eight rows, with seats in a 1-2-1 configuration (the last row only has seats by the windows, and not in the center section). In terms of layout, the cabin reminded me a lot of Japan Airlines’ 767s.
The cabin was stunning. First of all, most airlines’ 767s are outdated, while Air Astana’s are only a couple of years old, so they feel very fresh. Beyond that, I just loved the combination of the mood lighting and the finishes on the seats, as I thought the cabin was gorgeous.
I had selected seat 7A, the window seat in the second to last row of the cabin. In this staggered configuration, window seats alternate between being closer to the window and closer to the aisle. I generally prefer the seats closer to the window, since they’re significantly more private. You then have a large console on the aisle-side of your seat.
The entertainment screen is immediately in front of you, while the area for your feet which is essentially located next to the seat in front of you.
Then there are the seats closer to the aisle, which have the console on the window-side instead. These seats don’t feel as private.
The advantage of the seats closer to the aisle is that there’s a bit more room for your feet, since you’re not “cornered in” as much.
The seats in the center section are also staggered, with each pair of seats having one seat that’s more exposed, and one seat that’s more private.
After taking a few cabin pictures I explored my seat further.
The seat could be controlled using a touchscreen to the right of my seat. It was easy enough to use, though my one complaint about this setup is that it’s too easy to accidentally push one of the buttons. The controls are where most people would probably rest their arms, so throughout the flight I accidentally adjusted the seat’s settings several times.
Immediately behind the seat controls were the entertainment controls. The controller had buttons to control the volume, and then you’d scroll to choose your entertainment selection.
Towards the back right of the seat was a small exposed storage area. This is also where the headphone jack and two power outlets were located (both 110v and USB).
Also waiting at my seat on boarding was a pillow and blanket. The pillow was pretty cool-looking, while the blanket was a bit underwhelming for business class.
There were also a basic pair of noise canceling headphones waiting at my seat, though as usual, I used my own Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones.
Overall I thought the cabin was gorgeous, and was also in immaculate condition. A staggered configuration is as good as it gets on a 767. While I prefer a reverse herringbone or Apex Suite in business class, those simply aren’t installed on 767s.
Within a few minutes of settling in, one of the flight attendants offered me a pre-departure beverage, with the choice between tomato juice, orange juice, apple juice, or water. I selected a water.
After that I was offered a selection of newspapers, as well as an amenity kit.
I was impressed by how well stocked the amenity kit was, especially given that this was a fairly short daytime flight. The amenity kit included things like mouthwash, a toothbrush and toothpaste, eyeshades, a comb, a pen, earplugs, socks, etc.
There were even some creams from Payot.
As boarding finished up, the crew came through the cabin with a basket of candies.
Boarding was extremely efficient, and the crew was hardworking. Keep in mind that on a 767 all the passengers board through the forward door, so it can be tough to provide the pre-flight service, given the number of passengers passing through the business class cabin at this time. Nonetheless they performed the service with ease.
At 12:50PM it was announced that boarding was complete. Business class was roughly half full, with most of the window seats taken, while almost all of the center seats were empty.
Around this time the captain came on the PA to add his welcome aboard and inform us of our flight time of 6hr10min, inviting us to enjoy Air Astana’s “super service.” I was intrigued by the fact that he was Mexican (I thought he was based on the accent, and later confirmed it with the crew).
By 12:55PM the door was closed, at which point the safety video began to play. Air Astana’s safety video plays in three languages, so the video took about 10 minutes to screen.
At 1:05PM the captain was back on the PA to inform us of a slight departure delay due to congestion at the airport, and he anticipated it would be about 15-20 minutes until we had our pushback clearance. However, we managed to push back less than five minutes later.
Of course my eyes were glued out the window, thanks to the gorgeous Lufthansa A380 next to us.
I suspect we may have been given pushback clearance earlier than expected because an Air China 737 immediately pulled into our gate, so they figured they’d release us so that plane wouldn’t have to wait longer.
It took us a few minutes to start up our engines, and by 1:15PM we began our taxi to the departure runway.
Our taxi to runway 34 was reasonably quick, and there was some interesting plane spotting enroute, including plenty of Asiana and Korean Air planes.
By 1:30PM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 34.
Our climb out was smooth, though there wasn’t much to see in the way of landscape.
About 15 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off, at which point menus were distributed.
The menu read as follows:
The beverage list read as follows:
Service began with hot towels being distributed. The towels were thick and extremely fragrant, which is a nice combo.
Service began within minutes, as the flight attendants rolled carts through the aisle with drinks and canapés.
I had a glass of champagne (Air Astana serves Taittinger) and a glass of still water, and was offered both almonds and a salmon canapé.
After that the flight attendants came through the cabin with tablecloths.
A few minutes later I was served a tray with the salad and appetizer.
The appetizer consisted of a hoisin marinated scallop with black sesame seeds, mixed peppers, oven-dried tomato, kalmata olive, and mushroom salad. It was excellent.
The salad was a bit untraditional as well, though very good. It had cherry tomatoes, eggplant, and feta cheese.
I was also proactively offered a pretty plain bread roll.
Once the salad and appetizer plate was cleared, I was offered a roasted tomato soup, which was very good.
Around this time the crew also came through the cabin with a basket of garlic bread, which was much more flavorful than the other bread on offer.
After that the flight attendants individually brought out the main courses. I selected the pan-fried cod fillet, served with tomato salsa, fried polenta batons, roasted pumpkin, button mushrooms, and asparagus. It was exceptional, easily one of the best fish dishes I’ve had in business class.
Next the crew came through the cabin with a dessert cart. I selected the chocolate and walnut brownie, which was decadent. I also ordered a coffee to go along with it, and was offered some packaged candy from a box they had on the trolley.
Lastly I was offered a cheese selection.
Overall the meal service was top notch. Not only was the quality and quantity excellent, but I loved the pace at which the crew served the meal. The lunch service was done just 75 minutes after takeoff. I always find it unnecessary when airlines take three hours to serve a mediocre business class meal. In the case of Air Astana they were able to serve an excellent meal very quickly.
The crew on this sector could best be described as efficient and polite. They weren’t the warmest or most memorable, but they were extremely efficient. For what it’s worth, I found the crews on my two subsequent Air Astana flights to be significantly friendlier.
After the lunch service bottled water and immigration cards for Kazakhstan were distributed. The immigration cards felt rather unofficial, like they were copied from an original document and then cut by scissor.
After the lunch service the cabin lights were turned down and some mood lighting was turned on.
I decided to browse the entertainment selection, which was fairly extensive.
I first browsed the airshow, which had rotating perspectives on our flight path.
The TV and movie selection was better than I was expecting, though certainly not among the best out there.
I ended up watching a couple of episodes of The Big Bang Theory that I had seen before. The programming all had ads, though I found it weird that the English programming had non-English ads. That seems like a lost opportunity for their advertisers…
Eventually I opened the window and saw that the views outside were pretty awesome, which I guess isn’t surprising given the flight’s route.
I briefly checked out one of the two lavatories at the front of the cabin. While the rest of the cabin felt especially modern for a 767, the lavatory was an exception, and felt like any other 767 lavatory I’ve been in.
It did have a few branded toiletries, at least.
At that point I decided to recline my seat and take a nap. Like I said above, this hard product is as good as it gets on the 767, though the seat is certainly on the tight side.
The most restrictive aspect of the seat is the area for your feet, which is tiny. I can barely fit my feet in there, and certainly can’t turn them while they’re in there. Still, I’ll take this flat bed product over anything that’s angled.
I managed to get about two solid hours of sleep, which is pretty good for a daytime flight. At this point the mood lighting was turned off altogether, though many passengers still had their windows open, so the cabin wasn’t actually dark.
Upon waking up we were about two hours outside of Almaty, at which point a pre-landing snack service began.
The crew rolled some trolleys through the cabin with snacks and drinks. The snack consisted of a small plate with chicken, veggies, salmon, etc. I was also offered some bread to accompany it. To drink I just had water.
I asked if they had cappuccinos on the plane, and sure enough they did. So I ordered a cappuccino, which was excellent.
About 40 minutes before landing the captain came on the PA to provide us updated arrival information. He turned the seatbelt sign on right away, apparently because it was going to be a bumpy descent.
I decided to watch an episode of “Just For Laughs,” which I consider to be perfect airplane entertainment.
About 10 minutes after the captain’s announcement we began our descent, at which point the crew came through the cabin to offer passengers water.
My eyes were glued out the window once we were well into our descent, as the views were fascinating. I’ll let the pictures of the landscape speak for themselves.
At 4:30PM we had a smooth touchdown on runway 23, and from there it was a short five minute taxi to the gate.
While there were several private jets parked at the airport, there wasn’t much traffic otherwise.
On the ground were an Air Astana 757, Fly Dubai 737, and Somon Air 737.
By 4:35PM we arrived at our gate, parking next to a Somon Air 737. It’s not often I see planes nowadays from airlines I’ve never even heard of, so that’s how I knew I was somewhere fun!
After deplaning I headed for immigration, which was a quick process, as I was among the first people off the plane. Outside the immigration hall a representative from the Ritz-Carlton was waiting for me.
Air Astana 767 business class bottom line
Air Astana is such a cool, quirky airline. A few months ago I didn’t know anything about them, so being able to fly them so quickly was awesome. The airline greatly exceeded my expectations — the cabin was gorgeous and in immaculate condition, the food was exceptional, the pace of service was great, and the entertainment options were fairly good as well.
I’d recommend them in a heartbeat.