Uzbekistan Airways’ 787 Business Class: How Bad Was It?

Hello from Tashkent! On Thursday we flew from New York to Tashkent on Uzbekistan Airways’ new nonstop flight. For years the airline has operated a flight from New York to Tashkent via Riga, though as of last month one of the two weekly frequencies operates nonstop. On top of that, earlier this year Uzbekistan Airways took delivery of their first 787, which replaces the 767 that previously flew the route.

So, how was Uzbekistan Airways’ 787 business class? While I’ll have a full trip report soon, I’ll share my initial thoughts in this post.

Uzbekistan Airways’ 787 business class cabin consists of a total of 24 seats, spread across four rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. There are three rows in the forward cabin, and then a single row in the rear cabin. These are standard forward facing fully flat seats, and are one of the more disappointing business class hard products out there for a new plane. I also found their cabin finishes to be quite boring.

However, this is the same product that AZAL Azerbaijan, LOT Polish, Xiamen, etc., have on their 787s, so they’re hardly alone.

Let’s start with the positives. The crew was generally well intentioned. Well, at least two of the three business class flight attendants were. Service wasn’t polished by any means, but they seemed to mean well.

Furthermore, the food wasn’t terrible. At least not the first meal. While the food wasn’t amazing, I was impressed overall, including that they placed the meals directly on the table rather than on a tray.

There were no menus so I’m making assumptions here, but the meal began with a salad with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella, an appetizer of salmon, shrimp, roast beef, and chicken, and a cheese plate.

For the main course I had the beef. The other two choices were chicken or fish. Very descriptive, I know!

Then for dessert there was a fruit plate as well as a chocolate cake.

The breakfast wasn’t quite as good, however. There were no choices, and it consisted of a bland omelet, a small fruit plate, strawberry banana yogurt, and a stale croissant.

Unfortunately that’s where the positives end. Everything else was terrible. Terrible.

There was no amenity kit, but rather the below.

The pillow and blanket were limited to the below, which you’d expect in economy.

There were two movies in English on the entertainment system, and then they also handed out iPads, where there were just a few more options. Below are the only headphones that were offered… ouch.

The champagne they served was the worst thing I’ve ever drank. Yes, worse than Due de Paris, if that’s possible.

The airline just put so little effort into the product overall, it really disappointed me. As a point of comparison, my AZAL Azerbaijan flight from New York to Baku last year was significantly better.

Uzbekistan Airways may have nice new 787s, but that otherwise doesn’t seem to represent a new chapter for them. And I guess that’s not a surprise, since I’m pretty sure we were about the only paid business class passengers. The cabin ended up being about two thirds full, and almost everyone else was operationally upgraded, since economy was oversold.

Comments

  1. I’m gonna be honest, and I think the dinner looked really good. The portions and that shrimp size! But yes, everything else looked terrible!

  2. @Imperator Because experiencing and reviewing premium airline products is a core part of this blog. Sometimes he’s pleasantly surprised, sometimes unpleasantly surprised, and sometimes the product lives down (or up) to the reports from others.

    Based on this review I don’t think I’d fly with them myself, short of outside circumstances mandating it such as required travel with no other options that get me where I need to go.

  3. “The pillow and blanket were limited to the below, which you’d expect in economy.”

    Ben, pax and n the back would be thrilled with that much pillow. We all know you never turn right, so we’ll forgive your ignorance.

  4. Hrm
    -Meh hard product
    -Disappointing Food
    -No real entertainment
    -Nobody really pays for it, but rather it’s intended for upgrades from coach

    Sounds like Alaska Airlines?

  5. Is there some generic catering company that services these lesser known airlines and charters? I used to fly on a government chartered plane back and forth from a far away land and the catering looked the EXACT same.

  6. @alpha Correct. Great service but not worth paying for imho, 36″ of pitch is unacceptable when the airline they are merging with has the best non-cross country first class product in the US…

  7. Sure those slippers are keepers !
    Put them on during your next Etihad or Emirates flight to impress others.

  8. Looks like a usa airlines first class international to be honest. Just mediocre american-style “quality.”

  9. Why bother seriously ? Ask anyone if they care about this airline 100 times, You’d probably get 99 sober negatives and one drunk and high positive. I think this was the most useless flight and review You have ever written.

  10. Ben, pillows and blankets in economy are rarely as good as what you were given. Maybe give economy a try once in a while to compare

  11. Ben: What ‘n’ has written above is very accurate. While we understand that this blog pertains to luxury travel we fear that, like our Hollywood celebrities, you are increasingly completely out of touch with what the Average Joe’s life is like. Yes, please do fly coach overseas even just once a year to put things into perspective.

    And that meal – except for the gross tater-tots next to the steak – is better than what you’d get on any North American airline’s overseas business class. Especially the appetizers.

  12. Look you forgo the obvious slam for flying what is the xyz on the list of airlines, and simply look at this as a learning experience. Seeing that not that many years ago we had the Borat movie, and most people in the US if asked to point to Uzbekistan on a map would be lucky to find Azia let alone where in Asia it is.
    Not to put too fine a point on it, you are lucky that you got what you got. I am older, but I have flown on airlines where the locals’ carry on were some sort of local farm animal, and a bag of food that smelled like what came from the farm animal. Those days are gone, but at least they have a Boeing jet and not some Russian lawn dart.

  13. I do my best to avoid having breakfast on any airline. Even on Emirates in Business the breakfast is poor (although the flights to and from Japan look like they have a good Asian breakfast, but that’s the only good-looking airline breakfast I’ve seen).

  14. Hi Lucky,

    How did you get a visa for Uzbekistan on such short notice? It looks like it takes a few weeks according to the embassy website.

    Thanks!

  15. @Dylan, those are most likely pan fried gnocchi, not even close to tater tots.

    @Rufus, do you realize that your geography is off right? Borat=Kazakhstan, not Uzbekistan!

  16. Lucky–

    You’ve brought back fond, quirky memories of my 2 1/2 years living in Tashkent 1997-2000. You may have been served Uzbeksiy Shampagnskiy–the successor to the old standard Soviet Champagne. Take care in the summer heat if you make it out to Bukhara or Khiva and I highly recommend exploring the Tashkent metro system.

    I used to fly Uzbek Air a lot–back in the 90s registered expats could play the currency exchange rates against each other and buy plane tickets with a backpack of cash for effectively an 80% discount–it used to be $220 round trip from Tashkent to London!

  17. So it’s BAD because there’s no amenity kit, and they don’t have fancy headphones.
    And as others have said, do fly cattle class internationally once in a while. It may get you closer to reality

  18. @ Tracy – It’s an inside joke. Imperator has been public bugging Lucky to take Uzbekistan for the past year. His comment was for humorous purposes.

  19. Seems like pretty much every review of these lower tier airlines (i.e. not LH/EY/EK/CX/etc.) pretty much reads: “well, that was basically as bad as expected.”

    Might I propose a “diamonds in the rough” series: best seat on an airline no one thinks of, best catering, best crew, etc.?

  20. Hi Lucky,
    Long-time reader, first time commenter.

    Thanks for this review, I’m actually going on Uzbekistan Airways in a week via DXB. We’ll have a government minder, and I hope that translates to a smoother airport experience.

    I’m from Kuwait, so if you have any questions, let me know. We have two airlines that I don’t think you’ve mentioned but are worth looking into, Wataniya and Jazeera. With regards to Kuwait Airways, they have the new ‘royal suites’ that fly to JFK, but i still think it stops in Shannon.

    Finally, I just want to say, thanks for reviewing first and business class products so well.

    Safe travels! 🙂

  21. Lucky… As others have pointed out, you are increasingly out of touch. I really enjoy reading your reviews, but your perspective has become unbalanced.

    This product is miles ahead to what you would get in economy, which you really need to experience on a proper long-haul flight. The seats and the food seem pretty nice here, and it doesn’t seem a bad way at all to fly from/to Uzbekistan. Sure, there are real issues for a business class product : the lack of amenity kits, the headphones and those awful slippers. But all this is clearly minor for the average traveller and not “terrible”.

    You are so used to reviewing airlines that maybe you don’t realise that you overemphasize some review criteria that don’t matter that much.

    Just my two cents… Keep writing and all the best!

  22. The meals look (and I’m sure taste) miles better than the slop we were served on a recent AA Business class LAX to LHR flight. It was my first time on AA and while I was v impressed with the hard product, the food was unbelievably bad; like worse than British Airways bad and that’s saying something! (This was pre-lobsterrollgate so didn’t realise quite how low AA could sink)

  23. People’s listen up. Lucky reviews business and first class so give it a rest. Miserable gits the lot of you.

  24. Noblemem like myself want reviews of normal class and royal class. Save for the peasantry remarks.

  25. At least they didn’t offer water on a “one per person” basis. The food actually looked pretty good, even the bland omelette. No, this airline doesn’t go on my personal no fly list. TAP and Azores have an exclusive on that privilege, thanks to your thorough reviews.

  26. Hey Lucky,
    Long time reader here. I’m gonna chime in with the other readers here to agree that I think you’re a little harsh. This airline’s product wasn’t *bad.* Sure, it was no Emirates, but it looks like you got decent food (as opposed to a “lobster roll”), had friendly flight attendants, and had a hard product that isn’t particularly subpar to most other ones out there on the market. Honestly, It’s no Air France First Class, but not every airline is going to be, and that’s rather the whole point. If there was something honestly wrong, like smoking, we’d be happy for you to bring it up, but as is, you sound like you’re complaining that not every airline is Air France La Premiere.

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