Review: Air India 747-400 First Class Delhi To Chennai

Introduction: Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Economy Class Showdown
Review: Zurich Airport Observation Deck
Review: Emirates A380 And 777-300ER Economy Class Zurich To Dubai To Delhi
The Delhi Airport Ground Experience
Review: Air India 747-400 First Class Delhi To Chennai
Review: Jet Airways 737-800 Economy Class Chennai To Mumbai
Review: Qatar Airways 777-300ER Economy Class Mumbai To Doha To Beirut
Transiting Beirut Airport On Separate Tickets
Review: Etihad Airways 787-9 And A320 Economy Class Beirut To Abu Dhabi To Muscat
Review: Premier Inn Abu Dhabi International Airport
Emirates Vs. Etihad Vs. Qatar – Who Has The Best Economy Class?


Delhi to Chennai
Air India 42
Delhi (DEL) – Chennai (MAA)
Depart: 5:20PM
Arrive: 8:05PM
Duration: 2hr45mins
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Seat: 1K (First Class)

This flight was meant to be on a Boeing 777-300ER with Air India’s latest first class product. When I arrived at the gate, I was shocked to see a trusty old 747 sitting there instead. I felt like a child on Christmas! Walking down the jetway I still couldn’t believe I was on one of the few 747s flying for the airline, in first class no less.

The last flight my aircraft operated was three days earlier to Jeddah, so these beauties definitely aren’t used regularly. Once onboard, I was greeted by an enthusiastic cabin crew who led me to my seat.

The first class cabin is located in the nose of the 747, with a total of 12 seats in a spacious layout.

It’s weird to think that many airlines squeeze in nine lie-flat seats in the same space. The compromise on quality for a few extra seats is insane, though I’m sure this product was top-notch 30 years ago.

The flight attendant serving first class introduced himself and offered me something to drink. I went for lemon water, which was served in a real glass.

Soon enough, boarding was completed, with one other passenger traveling in first. Impressively, business and economy were almost entirely sold out.

Given the state of the aircraft, I wasn’t surprised our push-back was delayed by 30 minutes, which was followed by another 30-minute taxi to the runway. Sitting in 1K right above the center wheel was extra cool since I could hear the gear creaking when we turned.

Taxiing at Delhi Airport.

Our takeoff was smooth and offered great views of Delhi Airport.

Once the seat belt sign was turned off, I went to check out the lavatory, which was pretty standard.

The flight attendant, named Deepak, was waiting at my seat with my meal when I returned. He offered to take pictures of me and insisted I pose with my teacup while taking “a deep breath in.”

Unfortunately, the vegetarian meal was inedible – among the worst airplane food I’ve had. The main course tasted like stale bread, while the finger sandwiches were moist and each contained a leaf of lettuce. The corn salad was also disappointing. The little black dessert was delicious, though.

After the meal, Deepak offered to take me on a tour of the aircraft. What a dream come true?! His enthusiasm made it even better!

First, we took a few more pictures in and of the first class cabin.

Air India 747 First Class “flat-beds”.

Then we headed upstairs, where he introduced me to his charming colleague who gave me a tour of the upstairs galley. Is it just me or does business class look better than first?

We then went downstairs and had a look around economy and the enormous galleys (which were insanely hot – probably above 30C).

I shook hands and greeted a few more of the crew members before heading back to my seat.

I love the Air India mascot on the doors!

The second half of the flight was surprisingly boring. There was no wifi, no working entertainment, and the outside was dark. My computer was dead, so I ended up just sitting there listening to music for an hour.

Sunset over India.

We began our descent into Chennai forty minutes behind schedule. At one point along the approach, a strong burning smell started spreading in the cabin. While we ultimately landed safely, I was debating whether or not I should notify the crew.

We touched down at 9 pm and taxied to our gate at the international terminal, where all Air India flights arrive and depart from.

This gave me 90 minutes to catch my separately booked Jet Airways flight. Stay tuned!

Bottom Line

Overall, I had an unforgettable flight. I flew in the nose of an antique airplane, and enjoyed fantastic service from Deepak and the rest of the crew. The delay and meal were disappointing though. If you can fly Air India’s 747 before it is retired, give it a go! However, I’d avoid this aircraft on longer flights.

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Comments

  1. Tray service in first class? No, thank you. Cathay Pacific don’t use trays, even in HKG-TPE, which is only 1:15.

  2. Ha, it’s great to see Deepak here. He also gave me a tour of the aircraft on the 747. The meal you had was a snack service which tends to be quite oily. If this was a lunch or dinner you could have had a real taste of curry which AI is well known for. You have proved that there is no difference between business and first class meal on domestic flights. Thanks!

  3. What airline has 9 lie-flat seats in the nose of a 747? I know CX did but they retired their 747s. LH (and I think TG IIRC) has 8, BA has 14, KE has 6, UA has 12 (though those are being retired in less than a month), etc

  4. The photo you have put up of Chennai airport is of the domestic terminal, not the international one. But you are right that Air India flight land in the international terminal

  5. Too bad about the meal service. AI has its faults, but the catering, at least on long-haul flights, is generally regarded as good, as long as you stick with the Indian option. FYI, the little black desert looks like a kala jamun, basically a gulab jamun with a darker color and a somewhat grainier filling. Equally delicious, though 🙂

  6. Daniel

    Airline food is of interest to people. Please take a leaf out of Ben’s book.

    Menu
    Photos
    Details

    Other than that, keep up the good work.

  7. Still not bad when you consider it was a domestic flight. Certainly an interesting step back in time.

  8. I can’t believe you included the cabin temperature in centigrade instead of Fahrenheit. Just kidding, wanted to sound like one of the haters. Nice review and you look great!

  9. KLM has 15 lie flat seats in the front of their 747s. I’ve flown the product numerous times and it doesn’t feel crowded.

  10. Interesting that the aircraft cabin is actually pretty well updated.
    The overhead bins in the center section are modified to the later 747-4ER standard, so basically match the 777. And the overhead bins against the walls have new, sculpted doors, and look nice and modern.
    Overall, the plane doesn’t look too bad. Though I agree that the first class product isn’t very inspiring.
    But sitting up against the forward bulkhead is always a treat!

  11. People lament the loss of the 747, but this is what flying used to be like. Hot galleys, packed to the rafters, no light, noisy, smelly. The new planes are much more pleasant.

  12. To be honest the seats in first class looks filthy and awful, and the food looks dreadful. People will say it’s a short haul flight but man this is first class, and definitely this doesn’t even look good enough for business class.

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