Hello from Bhutan! Earlier I flew Drukair business class from Kathmandu to Paro. For those of you not familiar, Drukair is the national airline of Bhutan, and one of the only airlines to serve Bhutan.
Paro Airport is consistently rated as one of the most dangerous airports in the world, based on the approach planes have to make. As a result, there are very few pilots who are trained to land at the airport.
The flight from Kathmandu to Paro is only about 250 miles, so you’d think there wouldn’t be much to write about, but…
Upon checking in at Kathmandu Airport (which is probably the worst airport I’ve been to), I found out that the flight was operated by an A319. I’m 99% sure that when I booked the flight was going to be operated by an ATR turboprop, which doesn’t have business class.
So I inquired about the possibility of paying for an upgrade, not because I thought it was worthwhile for a 45 minute flight, but because I wanted to get pictures of the plane, seats, etc., and I figured boarding early gave me that opportunity. Sure enough, they let us buy up to business class for $90 per person. That’s not cheap for such a short flight, but I’m trying to review as many new business class products as I can, and I see no reason that shouldn’t include unique airlines, like Drukair. 😉
Interestingly our boarding passes were handwritten. I don’t think I’ve ever had that before.
I love Drukair’s livery, and fortunately both airports don’t have gates, so you get to walk on the tarmac and enjoy the view of the plane.
I figured there would be some sort of priority boarding, but instead the boarding process felt more like a prison break. They opened the door between the terminal and tarmac, and people started running to the plane. Fortunately economy passengers boarded through the rear, so I had a brief moment where I could get cabin pictures.
Drukair’s A319s have 16 business class seats, spread across four rows in a 2-2 configuration.
Legroom is roughly comparable to what you’d find in domestic first class on a U.S. carrier. While each seat had an area which looked like it would have personal televisions, there weren’t any. That’s of course totally fine, especially for a 45 minute flight, though Drukair also operates flights to Bangkok and Singapore, which are quite a bit longer.
The economy cabin looked reasonably comfortable as well.
Before takeoff we were offered warm towels and the choice of water or apple juice.
Then shortly after takeoff a snack was served, consisting of a croissant with warm cheese, a meat pastry, and some sort of dessert.
We were also offered water, coffee, or juice to drink.
The two flight attendants serving business class were friendly and attentive.
There were a total of seven seats taken in business class, and there was a monk seated behind me. He “chanted” loudly from the moment he boarded until about 10 minutes before landing, with the exception of a minute break to inhale some food. It was sort of calming…
Before the flight I was told to select a seat on the left side, as it gives you the best view of Mount Everest. Unfortunately it wasn’t a clear day, so we didn’t get a great view of it. However, I believe the below is the tip of Mount Everest?
The most exciting part of the flight was the approach. Paro Airport is supposedly one of the most dangerous in the world, and the approach is exciting. I videotaped it, and am working on uploading the video as we speak. The approach wasn’t quite as extreme as I was expecting, and the entire flight was pretty smooth, including the landing.
Overall Drukair is a cute little airline, and I enjoyed my short flight on them. The route from Kathmandu to Paro is supposedly one of the most scenic in the world, though we didn’t have weather on our side, in this case.
Drukair’s business class is also quite nice. It’s not really worth it for the short flight, but I could imagine it being worthwhile to/from Bangkok or Singapore, if the premium isn’t too big.
If you’ve flown Drukair, what was your experience like?