JONAS
Jonas Rask Eilersen
Sri Lankan A330 Business Class
Sri Lankan Airbus A330-300, Colombo Bandaranaike International - London Heathrow, Business Class.
22nd February 2016

Sri Lankan is undergoing a much needed revitalisation, and its new flagship, the Airbus A330-300, of which the airline now disposes over seven, is flying daily between London and Colombo (as well as being deployed on several other routes).

I tried out the Colombo – London flight, departing at 0225 and arriving at 0845 the same morning.

Check In
I'd started my journey in India, in Bangalore. Check in here had been extraordinarily friendly and courteous. I was furnished with boarding passes for my journey all the way via Colombo to London, and my bags were checked all the way through. I received lounge invitations, was consulted regarding any special requests or requirements; I really felt taken care of. Full marks.
While not strictly belonging to this section, I also want to comment on the extremely easy transfer at Colombo - small airport, short distances, minimum of fuss and hassle.
The Lounge
Although I did try out two lounges (one in Bangalore and one in Colombo), I will dwell on the airline's flagship lounge - the one at its home airport, Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport.

It honestly was a bit of a letdown; I couldn't quite date it, but it seemed in need of both a refurb and a deep clean. In terms of furniture, it seemed quite cluttered - lots of armchairs and low tables interspersed with dining tables, with no clear separation and all in a quite garish colour scheme.

Staff were initially friendly and explained that there was a small "ayurvedic spa" area (I didn't enquire further). However, when I, in vain, tried to find the advertised shower facilities, the receptionist got visibly irritated with me. To my surprise, the shower was co-located with a WC (inside a WC cubicle), without any signage. It seemed relatively clean - although when I turned on the water, it started smelling vaguely of urine in the room. To add insult to injury, there was no hot water - at all - available. Only positive was the friendly toilet attendant who handed me a towel and a small "shower pack" with soap.

Food and drink were acceptable, although not particularly nicely presented. As I had a few hours to kill, I moved to the relaxation area which featured comfortable armchairs with good recline. Problem was that the temperature was extremely low, and the flimsy blankets available didn't do much to keep me warm.
Boarding
I was very happy when the boarding call was made in the lounge - I couldn't wait to get out and onto the plane. It was a relatively long walk to the gate (relative: it takes only some five minutes to walk from the central part of the concourse to the end of the main pier...). At Colombo, the security is carried out at the gate - but it went quickly and easily, and I was able to walk straight onboard through a separate "finger" for business class passengers. At the airplane door, I was greeted like a long lost friend by two stewardesses as well as the male maître de cabine.
The Cabin, Seat and Service
First impression was exceedingly positive; in all honesty, the cabin felt very much like a brand spanking new Sri Lankan version of the Cathay Pacific cabin. This is no coincidence - the seats are practically the same. Organised in a reverse herringbone configuration (1-2-1), all seats have direct access to the aisle.

There are a total of 28 seats spread across seven rows. As is the norm with reverse herringbone seats, the personal entertainment screen could be deployed at the push of a button, though has to be stored for takeoff and landing. To the left of my seat were the controls, including the entertainment and seat controls, as well as a 110v and USB outlet.

The seats are very comfortable; both in fully upright position as well as in bed mode (the seats go fully flat). Furthermore, they're quite "private". To my surprise, the cabin was about 80% full - at first glance, I'd thought we were only three or four passengers onboard. Even the centre seats appear very private.

Almost immediately after I'd sat down, I was offered a glass of chilled Champagne (yes, please!). The printed menu revealed that it was a Piper-Heidsieck (no particular vintage); it was lovely. An amenity kit was also provided; containing all the necessities (of Crabtree & Evelyn brand). It was nothing too fancy, but more than adequate.

My only teeny gripe was that the blankets were a little flimsy for such an otherwise outstanding product. It wasn't that it was bad - it was more that all the other bells and whistles just "work"; from the seat's finishing and comfort, to the pillows and the supreme service (I've never experienced being called (correctly) by name throughout such a long flight - by all crew), you kind of expected a more luxurious bedding product.
Food and Drink
As it was in the wee hours of the morning - around 0330 - when the main meal was served, I chose instead to sleep and asked to be woken up for breakfast. However, the menu for supper looked great (I was quite hungry and could've gone for a broccoli soup with almonds, but my tiredness overwhelmed me...)

For breakfast, in hindsight, I should've chosen the Sri Lankan option - but the fact that it was fish based was a wee bit much for me at 6 in the morning (even though my inner clock was closer to midday at that time...). Instead, I opted for Cheddar cheese omelette - served with tomato, rösti and chicked sausages. It was delicious, as was the whole meal and presentation was flawless. The juices were great. Obviously, I finished off the meal with a Ceylon tea.
Inflight Entertainment
The screen for IFE is large and crystal clear. I was impressed with the selection of both recent and older releases; also with the TV selection. Wifi is also available and is payable (it ain't cheap; 9MB is USD5 - so you quickly end up spending quite a lot. The biggest package is 100MB at USD25.
Arrival
After some 11 hours and 15 minutes in the air, we landed, ahead of schedule, at 0820 in the morning. Taxiing to our stand at Terminal 3 took only a few minutes. The whole arrival experience was very good, with the cabin being immaculately clean on arrival, the crew waving me goodbye with a smile (and again, mentioning my name). Although I was through immigration in minutes, my bag was already waiting on the carousel.
Verdict
A surprisingly top quality product, Sri Lankan is an airline I will from now on seek out to fly again with one caveat: it has to be on the Airbus A330-300 operating. I felt the lounge at Colombo was a letdown compared to an otherwise top of the line product.