Drukair A319 Business Class In 10 Pictures

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.

Drukair-A319-Business-Class - 1

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.

Drukair-A319-Business-Class - 2

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.

Drukair-A319-Business-Class - 3

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.

Drukair-A319-Business-Class - 4

The economy cabin looked reasonably comfortable as well.

Drukair-A319-Business-Class - 5

Before takeoff we were offered warm towels and the choice of water or apple juice.

Drukair-A319-Business-Class - 6

Then shortly after takeoff a snack was served, consisting of a croissant with warm cheese, a meat pastry, and some sort of dessert.

Drukair-A319-Business-Class - 7

We were also offered water, coffee, or juice to drink.

Drukair-A319-Business-Class - 8

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?

Drukair-A319-Business-Class - 9

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.

Drukair-A319-Business-Class - 10

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?

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

More articles by lucky »

Comments

  1. A very similar experience when I flew them a few years ago. My favorite part was definitely that landing…those twists and turns! Enjoy Bhutan, it’s still one of my most memorable experiences ever.

  2. Try the domestic terminal at KTM, it is way worse than the international one.
    Btw did you get a chance to go to the lounge at KTM?

  3. While in Nepal how could you pass up on the opportunity of flying into the most dangerous airport in the world, Lukla?!? An experience I will never forget.

  4. Yes, that is Mt Everest sticking up over the clouds. It’s a perfect peak.

    So that answers my question as to whether you took an “Everest Flight” or not. Obviously not. I don’t know if it was because of time constraints or what, but going all that way and not doing it seems like a huge missed opportunity. That was one of my favorite memories of visiting Kathmandu.
    Ah well….

  5. If its not really worth it, why did you buy it? Might as well have given the money in charity to the people in Nepal around you who clearly need it more.

  6. the pilots are very skilled. I remember it not being too scary to me when I landed there. I did the BKK flight (the return stopped at Guwahati in India briefly…and we were warned not to take any pictures since it’s also a military base). I think the business class round trip was about $300 more than economy. But that was 6 years ago.

  7. They did a great segment on the Paro airport in BBC’s City in the Sky documentary, giving a cockpit view.

  8. @Penn Adam – Bhutan Airlines also flies there. But I think they’re the only ones these days.

  9. @B
    People say these things, but how about next time you go out to a restaurant to eat or spend money on yourself for nice things, donate that to charity?

  10. A hot snack on a 45 minutes flight over mountainous terrain? Just shows at how bad U.S. airlines are at service…Nothing with them under 2 hours!

  11. You have never had a handwritten boarding pass? I have got them all the time in Rwanda, DR Congo and Madagascar, made for some interesting flights. Did not even have a security check at a local Malagasy airport

  12. i’d be curious your thoughts on your trip to Bhutan, we had some hotel issues when i went but enjoyed it overall.

  13. The scariest approach I’ve ever seen is at Sucre in Bolivia. Went there for business a few times for my old job. Same deal of threading the plane through tight mountains and sharp ridges in an unsettling zigzag pattern and then, boom! You’re on the runway.

  14. Even the bank onto final and two short field takeoffs in Pokhara was awesome, but the KTM domestic terminal wasn’t. It was awesome having the TG 772 taxiing past when you are at ground level though.

  15. … about three years ago, I even had a handwritten boarding pass on a scheduled BA flight from MAD to LHR. I was on a flexible fare and saw that the earlier flight was still in the process of boarding. So I asked the gate agent if I could join the earlier flight, he agreed, rebooked me … and then the printer failed … so he issued a handwritten boarding pass 🙂

  16. Bhutanese are the best People alive on Earth. They don’t even kill animals. All native Bhutanese are veg and they import meat from India foe tourists.

  17. these people are supposedly among the “happiest” on earth. i know it’s a subject thing, how do you feel about that Happiness Index in that country?

  18. @B, such a tired comment. If you are so concerned, perhaps you should stop reading blogs that primarily discuss business/first class travel. :p

  19. Ben,
    Sorry the weather wasn’t that good for KTM to PBH. Did you land from the North or the South? Southern landing has great photo opportunities with lists of turns. One can easily see the chilis drying on the roof of the homes. Enjoy your time in the Happiest Place on the Planet!

  20. For a handwritten boarding pass, just take a domestic flight departing from one of the smaller airports in Iran – that’s quite common there.

  21. Hi Ben
    I was just wondering if you were trying to review as many new business class products as possible? Only I enjoy your website and read frequently, it’s just you never seem to state this.

    If you could let us know, as readers we’d appreciate it.

  22. It’s not a normal monk behind you. It must be a “Rinpoche” meaning a high lama because they are the only ones who can afford business class. He must have a monastery, many followers, well wishers & of course donors. You should have asked for his blessings lol.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *