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Transport : Airlines

In this trip report, I flew Business Class in an Airbus A330-300 with SriLankan Airlines (UL) from Male International Airport (MLE) in the Maldives to Hamad International Airport (DOH) in Qatar, via a stopover in Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) near Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo.

SriLankan Airlines is a medium-sized airline and operates an all Airbus fleet, consisting of 13 A330 wide body planes and 10 A320/A321 narrow body aircraft. The carrier offers a great onboard product and employs a wonderful staff. This review only covers SriLankan’s newest Business Class product available on all A330-300 planes. The older A330-200 planes features a less impressive seat (albeit still with flatbed seats).

The cost of my ticket was 1350 euro for a round-trip Business Class flight from Frankfurt to Male, booked directly on the SriLankan Airlines website. One of the reasons I chose SriLankan (other than the price) was their impeccable safety record, with not one single crash or major accident recorded since it was launched in 1976. My route did, however, include 2 stopovers, one in the Middle East (since SriLankan Airlines codeshares with both Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways after it cancelled most of its European routes) and one in Sri Lanka itself. In my case, the itinerary was routed via Doha, with the Frankfurt-Doha and Doha-Frankfurt legs being operated by a brand new Qatar Airways A350 plane (the other flights were of course operated by SriLankan Airlines itself).

When you arrive in the Maldives, if you are not staying in the North or South Male Atoll, you will have to take another flight – either a seaplane or a domestic flight – to get to your resort. So, it took me 4 flights to get to Soneva Jani.

SriLankan Airlines Business Class Cabin & Seat

Both flight legs (from Male to Colombo, and from Colombo to Doha) were operated by the same two-class A330-300 aircraft. Like all A330-300s in SriLankan’s fleet, the plane featured the carrier’s newest Business Class product, which is far superior to the old product installed on SriLankan Airlines’ A330-200 planes.

All Business Class seats – 28 in total – are located in one cabin behind the cockpit. There are 7 rows of 4 Business Class seats each, with all seats having direct aisle access and a lot of privacy due to a 1-2-1 alignment (a so-called herringbone layout). The Business Class seats on the sides are angled toward the window (about 2 windows per seat), while the seats in the middle are angled towards each other. IMHO, this is the best Business Class seat type around and the following airlines offer a similar seat layout:

Review: American Airlines B777-300ER Business Class New York to London.
Review: American Airlines B777-300ER
Review: Cathay Pacific A330-300 Business Class Doha to Hong Kong
Review: Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing
Review: Qatar Airways B787 Business Class Brussels to Doha
Review: Finnair A350 Business Class Brussels to Helsinki
See also seat map of SriLankan Airlines’s A330-300.

Business Class Seat Review & Which Is Best

All Business Class seats have the same characteristics: 192 cm (78 inches) in pitch, a width of 53 cm (21 inch), and a 180 degree recline.

One side of the seat is a large side cabinet with a mirror and enough room to store your personal belongings. There is a reading light, and below that the seat controls, a remote control for the entertainment system, and a universal power supply outlet. This side of the seat also features a large work surface, which hides the decent sized, fold-out tray table so you can eat and work at the same time.

In front of the seat, below the entertainment screen, is an ottoman footrest, which forms part of the fully flat-bed when the seat is reclined. The flat-bed is just over 2 metres (82 inches) long and the side storage compartment offers extra knee space for sleeping on your side.

The large, screen (15.4-inch or 40 cm) swings out from the side of the seat suite’s wall. However, it doesn’t tilt up and down, so watching the screen from the near or fully flat-bed position is almost impossible.

What are the best Business Class seats on UL’s A330-300?

It is always hard to choose the best seat on a flight for more than one traveller. Solo travellers should go for the window seats. If you are travelling with companions, you may all want to choose window seats one behind the other, or you may prefer a pair of middle seats. To be honest, the middle seats really don’t lend themselves all that well to traveling with a partner as they are so private that you will have too lean forward to have a chat. So you might just as well go for the windows if you like the view.

What are the worst Business Class seats on UL’s A330-300?

I suggest to avoid the very front row (row 1) due to its proximity to the galley and lavatories.
I also suggest to avoid the last row of Business Class (row 7) which is close to the Economy bassinet seats. It is worth noting that the window seats in row 7 are missing a window.

Amenity Kit On SriLankan Airlines

You get noise-cancelling headphones, a pillow and blanket. However, passengers did not receive an amenity kit, probably due to the short flight times (one hour from Male to Colombo, and 4.30 hours from Colombo to Doha).

Food Menu On SriLankan

A full meal service was offered on the short, one-hour flight from the Maldives to Sri Lanka. I chose the Moroccan lamb chop, which tasted good. It was presented with grilled haloumi cheese, saksuka vegetables, grilled peppers, and vermicelli rice. An assortment of fresh fruit was offered as dessert.

The Colombo to Doha flight featured a starter if a mixed platter of Arabic Mezze.
Main course was prawn curry Sri Lankan style, with vegetable fried rice, snake gourd fresh salad, and pickled brinjal.
Dessert was a seasonal assortment of finest fresh-cut fruit.
The starter was poor but the rest of the meal was good.

Our Travel Auctions

In-flight Entertainment

Entertainment was available on a Thales AVANT in-flight entertainment system featured the latest blockbusters from Hollywood and Bollywood, and some classics with over 50 TV channels, 120 movies, an extensive library of audio CD’s radio channels and games. There was also an external camera which offered great views.

The Business Class cabin did not feature a walk-up bar. There was WiFi but I did not use it.

This review was written by our friends at TheLuxuryTravelExpert.

You may be interested in my airline comparisons including the top 10 Best Business Class airlines for long haul travel and my best airlines to travel to Europe in Business Class.