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
Review: Singapore Airlines Lounge London Heathrow
Review: United First Class 777 London To Los Angeles
Air Astana 953
Almaty (ALA) – Astana (TSE)
Sunday, September 25
Aircraft: Airbus A321
Seat: 6A (Business Class)
Air Astana’s A321 business class cabins are huge, with a total of 28 seats. The business class cabin consisted of a total of seven rows, with seats in a 2-2 configuration. I had selected seat 6A, the window seat on the left side in the second to last row.
Air Astana’s A321 business class seats are similar to what you’d find in domestic first class in the US. I’d estimate the seats have maybe 38″ of pitch.
Even though the plane itself felt a bit on the old side, the seats were in excellent condition, and had great padding. The seats had very nice headrests that were adjustable, so it was easy to get comfortable in the seats.
The seats also had footrests, which I wish US carriers would have as well. I far prefer this to airlines that install legrests in these types of seats, given that there isn’t actually enough room for them. But footrests help to get more comfortable when there’s somewhat limited legroom.
The tray table folded out from the armrest.
The plane’s entertainment was limited to built-in audio, as well as video screens that lowered from the overhead. There were no personal televisions, which was perfectly fine for this short of a flight, though Air Astana does also use these planes on some four to five hour flights.
Within a few moments of settling in, the crew came through the cabin with pre-departure beverages, including champagne (on the international flight they didn’t have champagne pre-departure, I assume because they didn’t want to pay taxes on it).
A few minutes later the inflight supervisor, Christine, came through the cabin to add her welcome aboard and distribute the menus. Menus on a 90 minute flight? Nice!
After menus were distributed, the crew came through the cabin with candy.
Despite the A321 being a pretty big plane, boarding was extremely efficient, and completed within 15 minutes. When I checked the seatmap online the day before the flight I was the only one who had assigned a seat in business class. Much to my surprise, the cabin was over two thirds full by the time the door closed (fortunately the seat next to me remained empty).
Once the door closed, Captain Andre added his welcome aboard the flight. The captain on the previous flight was Mexican, and once again this pilot sounded Hispanic. He informed us of our flight time of 90 minutes, and that the ride should be mostly smooth.
Shortly after 2:20PM we began our pushback, at which point the safety video was screened.
Our taxi to the runway was quick, but despite that, the crew managed to take meal orders while on the ground.
By 2:40PM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 5R.
Our climb out was smooth, and less than 10 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off.
Around that time the crew came through the cabin with hot towels, which were thick and nicely scented.
Moments later tablecloths were distributed, so that lunch could be served. The menu read as follows:
The beverage list read as follows:
Shortly thereafter the crew rolled a trolley through the cabin with drinks and almonds. I just had a still water to drink.
About 10 minutes later the crew rolled out a cart with the meal trays. The food was excellent.
The salad was tasty, and had tomatoes, onion, zucchini, and artichoke.
I was also offered a selection of bread, including a wheat roll and garlic bread.
For the main course I had the salmon, which was flavorful and moist. The tomato and black olive sauce was much better than it looked, and the couscous worked much better than rice, which tends to get crusty on planes.
The dessert was described as a “lemon parfait,” though I’m not sure that was an accurate description. Whatever it was, it was light and not too sweet.
After the meal, the crew collected trays and offered coffee and tea. I ordered coffee, since the A321 doesn’t have cappuccinos.
Trays were fully cleared about 45 minutes into the flight, just about 15 minutes before we began our descent. The crew was charming and attentive, and every couple of minutes came through the cabin to see if anyone wanted anything. There were three flight attendants working the business class cabin, which is an impressive staffing ratio.
Before descent I checked out the lavatory located at the front of the cabin, which was pretty standard for an A321, except it had a flower and some decent hand wash and lotion.
About 30 minutes before landing the captain provided us with updated arrival information, and moments later we began our descent. Since it was my first time in Astana, naturally my eyes were glued out the window during the descent.
We touched down in Astana at 4:05PM on runway 4.
The airport seemed to be slightly busier than Almaty Airport, as there were quite a few planes on the ground. However, ultimately it’s still a small airport, so within five minutes we arrived at our gate.
We parked next to an Air Astana 767 on the left and a SCAT 737 (ahem…) on the right.
Within a couple of minutes the main door was opened, and on the way out I snapped a picture of the plane that just flew me in from Almaty.
Air Astana A321 business class bottom line
While Air Astana’s A321 wasn’t quite as modern or comfortable as their 767, and while their lounge in Almaty was crappy/non-existent, everything else about the experience was great. The catering was excellent (among the best I’ve had on a shorthaul flight), the service was attentive, and the plane was extremely tidy. Air Astana runs a solid operation.