Review: Uzbekistan Airways Business Class 787 New York To Tashkent

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Review: Uzbekistan Airways Business Class 787 New York To Tashkent
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Uzbekistan Airways 102
New York (JFK) – Tashkent (TAS)
Thursday, August 10
Depart: 3:00PM
Arrive: 11:35AM (+1 day)
Duration: 11hr35min
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8
Seat: 2A (Business Class)

We boarded through the second door, where we were greeted by the friendly purser, who pointed us left towards our seats. Uzbekistan Airways’ 787 business class consists of a total of 24 seats, in a 2-2-2 configuration. The forward cabin has three rows of seats, and then behind the second door is a mini cabin with just one row of business class seats. Usually that would be my preference, but this time around we decided to sit in the forward cabin so we could better observe the service flow.


Uzbekistan Airways 787 business class cabin

Uzbekistan Airways uses the same fully flat forward facing seats in business class that several other airlines use on their 787s, including AZAL AzerbaijanLOT PolishXiamen, etc. In terms of new 787s, this is probably the worst business class hard product there is.


Uzbekistan Airways 787 business class cabin

As y’all know, the main reason we took this flight was to be able to review it, though after taking a couple of pictures one crew member sternly informed us that photos weren’t allowed. I’ve flown millions of miles on dozens of airlines, and that’s the first time I’ve been told such a thing. I wrote a separate post about how we handled that, though long story short we switched to our iPhones and just took pictures of our food, etc., and then they didn’t seem to mind too much.

For what it’s worth, the “no photos” policy does seem to be a real thing, as even the safety card references how pictures aren’t allowed. Still, on both our Uzbekistan Airways flights I got the sense that they knew what we were doing, but didn’t care too much.


No pictures on Uzbekistan Airways

We had assigned ourselves seats 2A & 2B. There’s not all that much to say about the seats, they’re pretty standard, and also didn’t exactly have the most exotic finishes.


Uzbekistan Airways 787 business class seats


Uzbekistan Airways 787 business class seats

The seat controls were on the center armrest, and were easy to use.


Uzbekistan Airways business class seat controls

The entertainment controller was underneath the center armrest (too bad there wasn’t much entertainment to actually “control” — more on that later).


Uzbekistan Airways business class entertainment controls

Then the power outlets (both 110V and USB) were behind the entertainment controller.


Uzbekistan Airways business class power outlets

On the seatbacks in front between the TVs were coat hooks as well as small storage compartments.


Uzbekistan Airways business class seat storage

Then there were ottomans, with a small space below them that could be used to store shoes, etc.


Uzbekistan Airways business class ottoman

The tray table could be extended from the center armrest, and was a single tray that couldn’t be folded over.


Uzbekistan Airways business class tray table

Waiting at our seat on boarding were a small pillow and blanket. As far as I’m concerned, the biggest way an airline can drop the ball with their soft product is with bad bedding. C’mon, is this seriously the best they can do for international business class? Terrible.


Uzbekistan Airways business class pillow & blanket

Rather than an amenity kit, there was a small plastic pouch with some super cheap slippers, a shoe horn, low quality eyeshades, and service stickers.


Uzbekistan Airways business class amenities

We were also provided with cheap, in-ear headphones.


Uzbekistan Airways business class headphones

Moments after settling in we were offered warm towels.


Uzbekistan Airways business class towel service

We were then asked if we wanted something to drink. I didn’t get a sense that there was a full open bar, but the flight attendant suggested “champagne or soft drinks or…”

So we decided to order champagne. I wasn’t expecting Dom or Krug, and in many ways I like any champagne as long as it’s drinkable. But this was hands down the worst champagne I’ve had in my life. It was beyond disgusting, to the point that I struggled not to spit it out. It tasted like super sugary cat piss. It was actually worse than China Southern’s Duc de Paris. That takes effort.


Uzbekistan Airways business class “champagne”

Uzbekistan also doesn’t have menus onboard. Instead during boarding we were just asked whether we wanted chicken, fish, or beef. I realize there may have been somewhat of a language barrier, but if they’re not going to have menus, I wish they’d at least provide a more detailed explanation of what’s on offer. Not all chicken, fish, and beef is created equal.

Boarding took quite a while, and the business class cabin eventually mostly filled up. It was apparent that most passengers in business class were operational upgrades, as economy was oversold on this flight. The station manager seemed to know some of them, based on the hugs passengers gave him before the door was closed. We seemed to be among the only non-Uzbek passengers on the plane.

At around 3:10PM the door closed with roughly two thirds of the business class seats occupied (and 100% of the economy seats occupied). Like most airlines, Uzbekistan Airways has mood lighting on their 787s, and they started using that the second the door closed.


Uzbekistan Airways 787 mood lighting

Once the door closed the purser informed us our flight time was 10hr40min. At that point the rather outdated safety video played in Uzbek, Russian, and English.

We began our pushback at 3:25PM, and our taxi five minutes after that.


Taxiing JFK airport

We were departing from runway 13R, so it wasn’t a long taxi at all.


Taxiing JFK airport

Best of all, by the time we got to the runway, there was only one plane ahead of us for takeoff.


Taxiing JFK airport

We were cleared for takeoff at 3:50PM.


Taking off from JFK

We had some awesome terminal views on our initial climb out.


View after takeoff from JFK


View after takeoff from JFK


View after takeoff from JFK

Despite having a smooth ride, the seatbelt sign stayed on for over 30 minutes. Once it was turned off, the first officer made a welcome aboard announcement. During our climb out a video was screened throughout the cabin. It wasn’t in English, though, and depicted people fighting on planes. Like, it was so intense that they had to show six different fights at once. I’m guessing the moral of the story was not to fight on planes, but who knows?


Uzbekistan Airways fight video

As we climbed out I browsed the (awful) entertainment selection.


Uzbekistan Airways business class entertainment selection

First I checked out the airshow, which was the same system you’ll find on many airlines.


Airshow enroute to Tashkent


Airshow enroute to Tashkent

The movie selection was terrible. There were a total of about 30 movies, but best I could tell, only a few of them were in English.

Uzbekistan Airways business class entertainment selection


Uzbekistan Airways business class entertainment selection


Uzbekistan Airways business class entertainment selection

There were also some games, as you’d expect.


Uzbekistan Airways business class entertainment selection

Shortly after takeoff the crew distributed iPads with a better entertainment selection than the built-in IFE. I guess offering this on the actual built-in system would have been too costly. The iPad didn’t even come fully charged, and we weren’t provided chargers either.


Uzbekistan Airways business class entertainment selection

This selection was better, though there were still fewer than a dozen movies in English.


Uzbekistan Airways business class entertainment selection


Uzbekistan Airways business class entertainment selection


Uzbekistan Airways business class entertainment selection

The iPad also had games on it.


Uzbekistan Airways business class iPad

The meal service started about 30 minutes after takeoff, though Matthew’s tray table wouldn’t extend. So they called the first officer to try to fix it, as one does.


Tray table problems on Uzbekistan Airways

45 minutes after takeoff tablecloths were brought out and the meal service began. There weren’t any nuts and drinks to start, but rather they went straight for the full meal. At first we were offered a shrimp and salmon appetizer, a chicken and beef appetizer, a salad with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella, a cheese plate, and a side of bread.

On one hand I was impressed by the variety of food we were offered, and also was pleased by the lack of trays they were using, as they were serving everything directly on the tablecloth. The food tasted decent, but not amazing. My biggest complaint was that the bread was hard as a rock, and that all the plates were so overfilled with food that it was almost tough to cut the shrimp, etc.


Uzbekistan Airways business class lunch — appetizer, salad, and cheese

We were also offered a cute Uzbekistan Airways refreshing towelette, as well as a single fork, spoon, and knife, which doesn’t really seem like enough for so much food.


Uzbekistan Airways business class utensils and packaged towels

For drinks we decided to order red wine. After the horrible experience with the champagne, we wanted to order something that wasn’t so sweet. We were told all the white wine was super sweet, while the red was semi-sweet. The red wine was drinkable, though not great.


Uzbekistan Airways business class lunch — red wine

For the main course I ordered the beef, which was served with some sort of filled gnocchi and a tomato sauce of some sort (the lack of a menu makes it tough to describe). The beef itself was overcooked and tough, though at least the accompaniments were decent.


Uzbekistan Airways business class lunch — steak

Matthew ordered the salmon, which looked bland, but still looked like the better of the two options.


Uzbekistan Airways business class lunch — salmon

Next we were offered dessert.  This consisted of a sliced fruit plate and a cherry chocolate cake. I also had a coffee to go along with it. The cake was quite good.


Uzbekistan Airways business class lunch — dessert, fruit, and coffee

The meal was done just over 90 minutes into the flight, and overall was decent enough. I was impressed by the quantity, while the quality was just okay. What blows my mind, though, is that they didn’t have any Uzbek food. I don’t understand why some airlines don’t try to infuse more of their culture into their airline. There was simply nothing about the meal that was Uzbek.

As far as the service goes, overall they were quite friendly. Taking care of business class was Rufina, Umida, and Kristina. Two of them were friendly and genuine, and one of them not so much.

It looked like some of the other business class passengers were getting better service, though, as they had a bottle of wine on their tray, chatted with the crew for extended periods of time, etc.


Uzbekistan Airways business class bottle of wine

By the time the meal was done we were just over Northeastern Canada, about to begin the Atlantic crossing.


Airshow enroute to Tashkent


Airshow enroute to Tashkent

At this point I checked out the lavatory. There were two of them between the two business class cabins. They had nothing in the way of amenities, but were still otherwise fairly clean.


Uzbekistan Airways 787 business class lavatory

After the meal I tried to sleep, though between the not-great bedding and it only being 6PM on the East Coast, it just wasn’t happening. For what it’s worth, if you do try to sleep, one of the armrests raises slightly for a bit of additional privacy.


Uzbekistan Airways business class bed


Uzbekistan Airways business class bed


Uzbekistan Airways business class privacy partition

I decided to watch “Madagascar” on the iPad, which was adorable. My gosh, I really do love animated movies lately. About four hours into the flight we hit some significant turbulence, though it died down within about half an hour.

I then decided to work for a bit. Unfortunately there was no wifi, but so I got some writing and picture editing done. Before I knew it, we were approaching mainland Europe and the sun was slowly rising (sorry, I couldn’t really get a good picture due to the 787’s window dimmers).


Airshow enroute to Tashkent


Sunrise over the Atlantic

I worked for a bit more, and eventually we were over Northern Europe, about four hours from Tashkent.


Airshow enroute to Tashkent


Airshow enroute to Tashkent

The crew was attentive, and throughout the night they’d come by to see if we wanted anything. Starting about three hours out they told us that we could have breakfast whenever we wanted. Shortly thereafter we asked if they had any other snacks in the meantime, and we were brought some nice-looking plates with cashews and sweet cookies. I was a bit frustrated by the lack of bottled water on the flight. The glasses were quite small, so it was tough to stay hydrated without annoying the crew too much.


Uzbekistan Airways business class snack

About 90 minutes before landing we decided to order breakfast.


Airshow enroute to Tashkent


Airshow enroute to Tashkent


Airshow enroute to Tashkent

There was no choice for breakfast — we were offered yogurt, fruit, a rock hard croissant, and a corn omelet with breakfast potatoes. The omelet was fine, though overall it was an unexceptional meal.


Uzbekistan Airways business class breakfast

I also had a cup of coffee to go along with it.


Uzbekistan Airways business class coffee

During breakfast, landing cards were distributed for Uzbekistan.


Landing cards for Uzbekistan

About 30 minutes before arrival the crew started to prepare the cabin for landing, including collecting iPads. Moments later we began our descent.


View approaching Tashkent

There was some very cool scenery on the approach.


View approaching Tashkent


View approaching Tashkent


View approaching Tashkent


View approaching Tashkent

At 11:45AM we touched down on runway 26L. As we rolled off the runway we had a view of the domestic terminal, where we saw two IL-114s parked — I’m so bummed we didn’t have a chance to fly them.


Uzbekistan Airways IL-114s at Tashkent Airport 

Our taxi to our arrival gate was quick, and we pulled into our gate by 11:50AM.


Taxiing Tashkent Airport


Taxiing Tashkent Airport

One thing that impressed me was the arrivals experience. Uzbekistan Airways has a special business class arrivals and departures area. As you enter the arrivals hall there’s a guy standing at the door yelling “business class.” If you’re in business class you give him your name, and then you’re welcomed into a separate area where immigration formalities are handled. There are even some couches and soft drinks. It’s one of the few areas where Uzbekistan Airways seems to really put effort into their product.


Business class arrivals lounge Tashkent Airport

This also lets you out in a different area of the terminal, which has quite a nice courtyard.


Business class arrivals lounge Tashkent Airport


Business class arrivals lounge Tashkent Airport

From there we grabbed a taxi to the Hyatt Regency, where we’d be spending the next four days.

Uzbekistan Airways 787 business class bottom line

There’s no denying that the 787 represents a big improvement for Uzbekistan Airways, which previously flew 767s to New York, not even featuring flat beds. Unfortunately the product just doesn’t feel like it had much thought put into it.

On the plus side, the crew was generally friendly, the food was plentiful and edible, and… well, that’s about it.

For everything else there’s room for improvement. Lots of room for improvement. The amenities weren’t good (no amenity kit, no menus, cheap in-ear headphones), the entertainment selection was bad, they went with the most generic 787 seats there are, the bedding is terrible, the food is generic rather than Uzbek, etc.

So if you need to fly from New York to Tashkent and value taking a nonstop flight, then this isn’t a bad option. Otherwise I’d look elsewhere, though.

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Comments

  1. @Lucky – did you catch the name of the brand of champagne (if it can even be called that)?

    Never thought the bar could be lower than Duc De Paris.

  2. Just curious why you persisted in taking photographs even after being very clearly advised that this was not permitted?

  3. I can’t be sure on my phone screen, but that whole bottle of wine on your fellow-passenger’s tray looks a lot like Ridge. Safely assuming they’re not serving Ridge on Uzbekistan Airlines, he must have come prepared. Can you buy it somewhere in the terminal though?

  4. @ Charlie — That’s a good question. They made a point of saying that the onboard wine was from Uzbekistan, so if it is Ridge, then maybe he did buy it in the terminal? That might also explain why it was at his seat. Then again, he was friendly with the crew, so who knows.

  5. @ CR — I didn’t, unfortunately. They were already suspicious of us, so didn’t feel like I could say “that was so bad, can I see what it is?” The alternative was saying “that was so delicious I want to buy it at home, can I see the bottle?” But I also feel like I would’ve had to have another glass then, and that’s an area where I couldn’t take another one for the team. 😉

  6. @ Sean M. — Well, ultimately because we had a job to do. In fairness, after one flight attendant told us no, we asked the other flight attendant if it was okay to take pictures of the food, etc. We explained we wouldn’t take pictures of other passengers or the crew (I imagine that’s the only concern they could really have). She acknowledged what we said and didn’t tell us no, so I at least felt pretty comfortable with it. If we had been told “no” again we would have certainly stopped.

  7. You wrote : “Uzbekistan Airways uses the same fully flat forward facing seats in business class that several other airlines use on their 787s…In terms of new 787s, this is probably the worst business class hard product there is.”
    Even worse that the Royal Air Maroc business class seats you reviewed last year?

  8. I just want to tell you I’m an airplane nut and I really look forward to your reviews I’ve traveled the world and experience a lot of first class but I love reading about all the airlines. You do this very well thank you Don

  9. Regular reader here. Really appreciate your posts but found a bit strange the colloquial tone of the article with expressions like “y’all”, “tasted like cat piss”. Most of all the use of “Like” to start a sentence as if you were telling your experience in a conversation. Takes away from the professional tone of the website.

  10. With “It Take Two,” starring the greatest actresses of our generation – Mary Kate and Ashley – I’m not sure what other entertainment you’d need!

  11. Sounds terrible, but I actually like this type of seat very much (fly it on air china A330 sometimes). For me, it feels very spacious and it makes for one of the largest beds of any business class seat (way better than reverse hering bone or staggered).

  12. Agreed w/Claus – IMO this is a better seat than the decade-old-plus one UA is still delivering new 787s with these days. It is both long and has an unencumbered area for your feet – both major issues w/the UA (ex-CO) seat. More storage space down below too.

    Give it TK’s nice trim on their version and aesthetically it would look a lot better too.

  13. Thank You for the interesting review on Uzbekistan Airways; it is a pity Uzbek and MIAT do not showcase their own cuisine, music, Inflight movies and culture more (as they are a flag-carriers); i liked Turkish Airlines as they offered Turkish wines and delicious Turkish cuisine in their business cabin; even Air Canada offers signature ‘bloody ceasers’ and Canadian beers.
    .
    If you have a chance, i might suggest trying Bangkok Airways business ‘blue ribbon’ service where they actually add a blue ribbon to the baggage.
    .
    Appreciate all your photos and honest comments always/ happy and safe travels

  14. The wine may very well be Ridge or the people involved may be staff? Or regular customers. As ex airline staff myself I was often embarrassed by the way I was treated in C / J class. I never thought the other pax didn’t notice me being given 4 champagne snipes to go.

    As I am non American I find the whole US tipping culture very strange and counter productive. But who is to say it does not go on on 2nd world carrier’s? Tip the cabin crew and get top treatment, same as in an American bar? It must surely go on? If you won’t tip, well as I was told in America, What do you expect.

    For the record I do not agree with tipping, I’m just suggesting a scenario.

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