SriLankan Airlines is the flag carrier of Sri Lanka since 1979. They have a global route network of 96 destinations in 46 countries (including codeshare operations) in Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Far East, North America, Australia and Africa. Since 2014, they are also a member of the Oneworld alliance.
Fun Fact: It is the first airline in the Indian subcontinent to join any airline alliance. Air India joined Star Alliance a bit later than Srilankan Airlines.
Branding and Logo
Air Lanka was rebranded as the SriLankan and the new livery was introduced in 1979.
The colourful livery depicts a stylised monara (peacock in local language) in the colour of the country’s national flag – signifying charm, elegance & grace.
The unconventional typeface probably depicts the sea waves, Sri Lanka being an island country. It is definitely one of the best Airline logos I have come across.
Fun Fact: According to legend, King Ravana ministered over his Lankan kingdoms using a magical flying chariot called the Dandu Monara Yantra (Pushpaka Vimana in Indian mythology). This features prevalently in the Sri Lankan folk tales and could also be the inspiration behind the monara logo of the airlines.
- Cabin flown: Economy Class
- Sectors Flown:
- New Delhi-Colombo-New Delhi
- Aircraft: Airbus A320-200 and Airbus A321-200
- Dates of Travel: 1st and 4th July 2015
Check-In and the Lounge
Check-in at IGI T3 (New Delhi) and Changi T3, Row9 (Singapore) was fairly easy and fast.
They have two types of check-in counters: one for the business class (also can be used by the Flysmiles Platinum, Gold and Classic members and Oneworld Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald members) and the others for economy class passengers.
Baggage Tags:The cabin baggage tags are quite unique in design. It is blue in body colour with a darker blue border, features the SriLankan logo in white along with the Oneworld logo. It also has space for writing your name and address for safety purposes.
In fact, after having this cool SriLankan bag tag, I am seriously thinking of pursuing my relatively new hobby of collecting airline baggage tags. I have so far collected around 30 different bag tags from 9 domestic airlines (with 3 of them defunct now) and 2 international airlines. The quest continues, if anyone can help me regarding this please contact me, also if any you would like to gift/donate some of the bag tags you have from your travels to any part of the world, would really appreciate it.
Economy class passengers has a free baggage allowance of 30kg and in addition one piece of carry-on baggage measuring no more than 18″x14″x8″ (46x36x20cm) and weighing no more than 7 kg. I was travelling with my brand new Tortuga backpack (pic above) which was around 13-14 kg. Thanks to a fellow traveller from India, who was kind enough to put some of my stuff in his check-in luggage, my problem was resolved. Readers please note, they might allow a maximum 1-1.5 kg extra at specific scenarios.
Business class passengers has a free baggage allowance of 40kg and may carry 2 pieces cabin baggage, either garment bags or overnight bags measuring no more than 18″x14″x8″ (46x36x20 cm) weighing no more than 7 kg each, or any combination of the two.
Business class upgrade:
I did request an upgrade through social media channels but not at check-in, just to see if there is any response mechanism in place. Unfortunately these channels are quite slow.
However, SriLankan Airlines has a Bid for Business Class system on their website. All you have to do is place your maximum bid online after purchasing your Economy Class ticket until 48hrs before departure and stand a chance to obtain an upgrade. The payment has to be made through credit card (I am not sure whether debit card is accepted) and the passenger will only be billed for his bid amount in case of an upgrade being awarded. For long duration flights this could be an excellent deal for Economy Class passengers.
At IGI T3 New Delhi Plaza SriLankan Business Class passengers can access Plaza Premium Lounge (Located at Level 4, International Departures. Follow signs for Lounges B.)
Bandaranaike International Airport has two exclusive SriLankan lounges for its Business Class passengers – Serendib and Serendiva. Two more lounges are also there.
For more details check:
Fun Fact: The names of the lounges are inspired from an ancient name for the island of Sri Lanka, which is believed to be a corruption of the Sanskrit compound Siṃhaladvīpa.
Seat and amenities
In the short / medium-haul routes I travelled, SriLankan Airlines A320/321’s Economy Class is set in a 3-3 and Business Class is set in a 2-2 configuration. In all the flights I was lucky enough to get window seat. In the New Delhi-Colombo-New Delhi sector quite a few (approx. 30%) seats were empty, despite of this being the only choice for direct flight in the route other than Air India’s recent introduction (started from June 2015). However the Singapore-Colombo flight was completely full and I got a window seat in the first row beside a mother travelling with her toddler.
When seats are available, you can always ask the crew to help you relocate or shuffle your seat with another passenger.
The Economy Class seats were fairly comfortable with decent leg room and recline. Just after boarding you would be offered a small pouch of refresher towelette in the Economy Class and a hot towel in the Business Class. Every seat will be supplied a small pillow with cover, a laundered blanket and a headphone (all these will be collected back at the end of your flight). Will add info about Business Class seat as soon as I travel in them.
Note for mothers travelling with their babies: SriLankan Airlines usually provide an in-flight child care kit – diapers, medicines, baby food and bassinets are all available on board. Special diaper changing boards are also located in selected toilets.
Menu cards for both legs of the route were presented soon after takeoff, which was definitely a personalised touch of hospitality. Menu cards are quite elegantly designed and are named after spices – Economy Class menu card is called ‘Cardamom’ and Business Class menu card is called ‘Cinnamon’.
Menu items I ordered:
UL196 New Delhi-Colombo – Three bean salad with dill cucumber & capsicum, Mutton boti masala, dal makhni, kashmiri pulao and gajar ka halwa. Salad was ok, mutton boti masala was cooked to perfection, dal was tasty and kashimir pulao was fragrant enough to create a good meal experience.
UL 306 Colombo-Singapore – Fish fillet with napolitana sauce served on a bed of vegetable noodle and fresh fruits. Was not quite impressed by this one, fillet was succulent but a little bland, napolitana was all right.
UL 307 Singapore-Colombo – Plain omelet with mushroom topping served with grilled chicken sausage and hash brown, fresh fruits, yoghurt, and croissant served with butter & jelly. Instead of plain a masala omelet would be good, hash brown was very ordinary, grilled chicken sausage was a disaster. However the crossant was fresh and soft, yoghurt was strawberry flavoured and very tasty.
UL 195 Colombo-New Delhi – Potato, corn & carrot salad with mayonnaise, Masala fish and vegetable makhni served with biryani rice and chocolate gateau. Masala fish was decent, salad was surprisingly very good, and gateau was explosively chocolaty.
All meals were accompanied by a cup of freshly brewed Ceylon tea or coffee. I suggest you try the tea liquor with one or two slices of lemon – let the aroma and flavour blend in and then take a sip from that cup of paradise.
Complimentary alcohol, soft drinks and fruit juices were also available on-board. I would strongly recommend their home brewed beer since 1860, a local favourite – the Lion lager.
The inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines is titled ‘Serendib’. Along with this, a few other options are available in the Business Class or upon request in the Economy Class. Unfortunately Serendib magazine had very mediocre articles and fewer in-depth travel experiences. Rather I found another magazine titled ‘Amazing SriLanka’ slightly better to read.
You must also check out some of their wonderful local handicraft items available in the Serendib Treasures duty free shopping list, which can double up as the perfect Sri Lankan souvenir for you. You can also pre-order the items you like to ensure availability. My personal picks are the beach wraps and the wooden bangles.
The inflight entertainment guide kept in the seat pocket in from of you gives as overview of the on-demand content available including latest movies, tv shows, music programs and games. They also have the air-show option which gives you the forward pilot view and downward camera view (I haven’t tried this). There’s also a handy USB port which makes charging any standard electronic device very easy.
In my New Delhi-Colombo flight there was no in-flight entertainment system. The systems on Colombo-Singapore-Colombo route were quite old and responsiveness of the touchscreen was very bad. However the collection of movies was great and the curated list has most of the Oscar winning films of 2015, some age old black & white classics, Bollywood blockbusters and some world cinemas. I end up watching The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on my way to Singapore, for a flavour of the Incredible India don’t forget to watch it. While coming back to Colombo, I watched an episode of My Sri Lanka with PeterKuruvita, which made me fall in love with Sri Lanka – check it out. The system on the Colombo-New Delhi A321 was quite an enhanced one. It looked sleek and had great pixel density, plus the touchscreen responsiveness was good. However after watching a long movie, it seemed show some problem with the responsiveness and became quite irritating towards the end of the flight. Anyway, I watched one of my favourite movies of all time, Forrest Gump. So, no complaining :D.
Note: In the New Delhi-Colombo A321 flight, they show you an animated video for the safety instructions. It is actually quite ingenious and adds a bit of humour to the whole process. I personally think Airlines should take up these kinds of gamification techinques to make their existing boring and repetitive business processes more fun and engaging. We at gyaanspace can help you do that! 🙂
Cabin crew and service
This is the best part about flying SriLankan Airlines. A SriLankan crew member with a decade long service record beautifully puts in – “You know sir what makes us unique? The smile. Sri Lankans are naturally born with a smile”. The warmth and smile of these excellent, well-trained and beautiful crews truly promises to take care of you as if ‘YOU are their WORLD’.
I found this video which rightfully depicts the caring attitude of probably the world’s friendliest cabin crew.
I have serious sleeping problem when it comes to very late night or very early morning flights. In these flights the same thing happened. However the good thing was I spent some quality time chatting up with the SriLanakn crew members (One should learn the art of friendship at 30,000 feet from them) on travel, passion, food, fashion and of course bollywood. Here is what I found out:-
All SriLankan stewardesses sport the iconic Osariya or Kandyan saree (a form of traditional three piece Sri Lanakan saree with a frill at the waist) as uniform – which has an oriental charm, yet is very distinctively modern and contemporary. Let me tell you they all looked absolutely adorable draped in those ethnic soft hues of sea blue sarees splashed with multi-hued motifs of the peacock feather.
Fun Facts: Their busiest route is most possibly London. They think South Indians are better behaved than their northern counterparts. Internationally Germans are in good books with them. Most of them love Bangkok for its food, Singapore for shopping and discipline and India for bollywood and fabled hill stations (Manali, Darjeeling etc.)
I even met one crew who represented Sri Lanka in Lancing, nationally as well as internationally. Another of them was quite well versed in world politics and WWE!
Sri Lankan Airlines was the Official Airlines Partner for IIFA Awards 2015, which certainly kindled huge interest in Bollywood among the crew members. Invariably Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone top the list of their favourite celebrities. Arjun Rampal, Ranvir Singh and obviously the gorgeous Lankan Jacqueline Fernandez come next.
Note: It’s also worth mentioning that in the Singapore-Colombo flight the service was quite slow and one of the senior crew members were even rude to me on stupid bathroom use policy. However I don’t blame them as the flight was completely full and taking care of 153 passengers and meeting all their expectations within a short time frame is a difficult job. Hence I’m overlooking such matters, provided it is a rarity and not a regular practice.
I have been told, on some of SriLankan A330s in-flight Wi-Fi is available. They also offer a free SIM card in some flights in case you are planning to stay in Sri Lanka. Normally they give a nice cute water bottle to the Business Class passengers to carry onward, however if available, on request even Econnomy Class passengers can get one.
Frequent Flyer programme
SriLankan Airlines has their own Frequent Flyer programme called FlySmiles. FlySmiLes has 5 membership levels: Platinum, Gold, Classic, Silver and Blue (entry level). There is also an option of Baggage Bonus Programme which offers additional luggage allowances. Check for the benefits of the individual tiers here.
Indians must take a look at this beautiful video, which showcases SriLankan Airlines’ wide network in India
Travellers planning holiday in Sri Lanka should check out the new SriLankan AirTaxi service which takes you to many destinations across Sri Lanka in a quick 1 hour journey topped with breathtaking scenery.
Verdict – Strongly Recommended
Specially on long haul routes not only because they offer a wide range of novelties but also because they value warm efficiency over cold precision.
In the end do remember business can always be pleasure with the genuine warmth, gracious hospitality and of course the legendary SriLankan Smile J, which you can’t possible miss when they greet you with ‘Ayubowan’ while you are boarding the aircraft.
Additional note on Colombo Airport
The departure lobby and transit lounge here is not a very big like in the IGI, New Delhi or Changi, Singapore. The burger king is only decent food junction here with decent variety. Two duty free shops have good collection and they also offer some discount for FlySmiles members from time to time. Laksala, tucked away in one corner, is a must visit for anyone looking for ethnic gifts, souvenirs and handicrafts from Sri Lanka. My personal favourite is elephant key rings made out of coconut shell. The bathrooms need more cleaning and should have standard amenities. There are 3-4 tea shops also, in case you want to carry home some boxes of famous Ceylon tea. Try the Dilmah shop for authentic products.
If you have flown with SriLankan Airlines recently, please comment and share your experience. Let me know which is your favourite airline and why?
Since this is my first blog post and review of this kind, any feedback from you would be really valuable and much appreciated. If you like this review, then please don’t forget to share and comment.
Please note that all thoughts and opinions expressed here are solely mine. All information is provided on an as-is basis and every part of it belongs to me.