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Hilarious Air India Reviews Reveal The Perils Of ‘Affordable’ Business Class

“If this is… business class, I really dread to think what economy [is] like.”

Flying business class used to be a luxury reserved for the elite. These days, however, everyone from travel bloggers to point pinching frequent flyers can score an upgrade or even – in the case of Air India – purchase a business class ticket outright.

To put this into context, one can get a return business class flight from Sydney to New Delhi with Air India for about AU$4,000, a journey which would normally cost between AU$5,000 (Singapore Airlines) and AU$15,000 (British Airways).

While we’re all for this (and are not averse to the odd ‘affordable‘ flight ourselves), the problem is, these ‘value for money’ pointy end offerings, though tempting, can occasionally make you wish you had stuck with Economy. Do we exaggerate? Check out the following Skytrax reviews and decide for yourself.

Left by one Prashanth Shetty, whose Skytrax profile says she is an American first-class traveller, our first review of Air India’s business class epitomises the perils of opting for ‘affordable’ business. Reviewing her Air India business class flight from Delhi to San Francisco, this is what Prashanth had to say.

“This was my first time in AI business class, I was travelling at very short notice due to a family medical emergency and AI had the cheapest fare $3400 RT. My collection of experiences reaffirms why this airline which had its heyday in the 70s and 80s is now the laughing stock of the airline industry.”

Ouch. But can she back up this (rather intense) claim? You be the judge: “The staff’s attitude is unmotivated and their approach lacks professionalism – they kept trying to take away my food and drink when I clearly hadn’t finished, and otherwise wouldn’t clear items when I had finished for a while.”



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“The chief purser only stayed in the 1st class section,” she added, “And never came out once to introduce himself or spend any time in the biz class section. The tray table hinge was broken (both ways of the roundtrip) which meant it was pressing against my thigh and couldn’t be moved front or back.”

Not only that but – according to Prashanth – “The seat controls are atrociously bad (it’s hard to figure out which way it’s actually moving) and the grating jerky movements make for a poor customer experience.” Additionally, she says, “The meals served [sic] was mostly lukewarm or cold and the staff didn’t seem to care.”

You might be forgiven for thinking – by this point – Prashanth was done venting. Alas; not quite: “If this is the experience in business class, I really dread to think what the economy class must be like. Clearly the airline strategy is to compete on price, not quality of service.”

“And the final straw is that I got an email today asking for feedback – when I provided it and [sic] try to submit I got a response, ‘Server Error Please Try Later Sorry for Inconvenience… Team Air-India.’ This is an unbelievably poor airline that is being badly managed and run for years. It will be a miracle if they ever find a buyer, probably best to cut off the oxygen, liquidate it and not burden Indian taxpayers any more.”


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Of course, some other reviews suggest Air India’s business class is not always like this, with one Australian Janet Aisbett remarking that she was “pleasantly surprised” by her Air India business class trip from Tel Aviv to Sydney (via Delhi).

“Aircraft staff were friendly and attentive, food was great and wine free flowing. The seating style seems a little old fashioned, but provided for [reasonably] comfortable sleeping. Air India also provided crisp cotton covered quilts in addition to a lighter day blanket.”

That said, a large number of Skytrax reviews of Air India business class are negative, with the one common grumble being the lack of care from personnel – and even the otherwise-positive Janet remarking, “The staff at the lounge at Delhi was the only weak point. The lounge itself was well provisioned and well equipped, apart from the lack of a shower, but the woman at the desk was unhelpful to the point of rudeness.”

Adding to that, customers Christian Lind and H Devuti, also reviewing Air India’s business class on Skytrax, minced fewer words, with Christian saying: “Worst customer service ever experienced” and Devuti saying, “Never fly Air India.”

“Without any notice,” Christian wrote, “Air India changed the flight to an all-economy flight. All staff were extremely rude and the only answer we got was, ‘This happens sometimes.’ Got told to contact ground staff on arrival in New Delhi to get a refund. Ground Saff said I’m not eligible for a refund since I didn’t book my ticket with an Indian bank card.”


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Having said all that, there were a few positive reviews, with Claus Dirnberger, another pleasantly surprised Australian recounting “two excellent flight experiences,” and explaining that – if you navigate the 2-2-2 layout correctly (and keep your expectations in check) Air India business class may not (always) be as bad as the previous reviews suggest.

“Another very good flight with Air India. I was able to upgrade myself to Business and have not regretted it. The plane was very new and clean (including toilets throughout the flight), flight attendents and food excellent. The flight left on time and arrived in Melbourne about 10 minutes early. Although the layout is 2-2-2, the lie-flat beds are comfortable and Air India provided a warm blanket, pyjamas and a nice amenity set.”

“The only slight drawback,” he adds, “Was the check-in procedure (that was not flight-specific but for all AI flights) and that took about 1 hour and 15 minutes of waiting to get four lines of passengers checked in before me, although these were the drop-bag’ check in counters. Either Air India has upped its game or I was very lucky to have had two excellent flight[s].”

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  • Jon Allen

    “Clearly the airline strategy is to compete on price, not quality of service”
    Air India has no strategy. It relies on large government subsidies. There is zero incentive for the staff to do any more than show up. It wouldn’t matter if the plane were 3/4 empty, it would still be flying. Consider yourself a guest of the Indian taxpayer.

  • Picanin Igundwane

    Hilarious… Definitely a miss used word to describe this article, certainly did not crack a smile or roll around the room crying with laughter

  • aussiearef

    Definitely not the best Biz class but giving them a harsh review because the head of cabin crew did not go and bow for the passenger is just pure snobby

  • James

    Fair point. What about all the rest though? Not even a chuckle?

  • James

    My coffee stained monitor would suggest otherwise… Guess we have different funny bones?

  • checkpointcheryl

    Based on the title I was looking forward to sharing this article with frequently flying friends and family, but the complaints it cites are so petty and I don’t see anything funny about them. Purser didn’t come to say hello – come on! They come to take the tray away too soon – just say no. I’ve had a United Airlines stewardess in business class turn around abruptly with a tray in her hand, spill coffee all over me and then yell at me because I should have called out “I’m behind you” while standing behind her in the aisle waiting to go back to my seat. I was on a Christmas flight with United, where after an eight hour delay, a father who was traveling with infant twins asked in an only slightly exasperated voice whether we were going to be leaving at some point, and the desk clerk told him that she was calling security on him because he was being unruly. I’ve ordered a vegetarian meal in business class, which consisted of a cold chickpea salad appetizer, heated chick peas as the main course, and lukewarm chick peas for breakfast an hour before landing. This is just normal flying. I’m still waiting for the hilarious.

  • FNU Vikas

    Sure thing… United and American are not good …if Others are bad, does not mean we have to be bad either.
    Air India should be the class apart… Come on India

  • 7Footpiper

    Sadly, what you and I consider “hilarious” are two entirely different things. Yes, there are perils to making business class affordable for average people but this would be the same issues that budget airlines have with making economy travel affordable to trailer trash who think their $99 Southwest flight from Atlanta to Miami entitles them to be treated like royalty.

  • Washington Park

    Those were really Shetty comments by Prashanth.

  • Baiju Bhaskaran

    In the last 20 years , I have travelled by Air India to different places like Dubai, Doha,Riyadh, Sydney, London,Singapore etc. Everytime I had a very good experience. The flights took off on time and landed 10 to 15 min ahead. The staff were doing their duty properly. The food was also good. The Aircraft was clean. When compared with other aircraft’s which I have travelled there is not much difference in service. But there is lot of difference in price which matters.

  • Praveen Kapoor

    I disagree with Shetty completely. I try to fly Air India business class whenever possible. Extremely friendly and attentive cabin crews, way better than a lot of (particularly) European airlines. I can eat my meals whenever I want, while I was asked to eat my meal during the service on a recent Emirates business flight. Affordable? On the New Delhi- San Francisco sector, they are the most expensive (because it’s a non stop)! Excellent wines and 18 year old Scotch.

  • Bobby Roberts

    I travel often to India for work and choose either Air India or United Airlines since those are the only 2 non-stop flights from New York to Mumbai. Trust me when I say this- United has THE worst cabin crew of any airline. The service is beyond abysmal in business class- almost to the point of being rude and making the passengers feel like a burden. On one occasion, the crew locked the front lavatory for their exclusive use on a 15-hour flight. And as a white guy, I also think they were behaving rather condescendingly towards paying Indian passengers in business class. The best cabin service on any American carrier is worse than the average service on any Asian carrier.

  • joe dirt

    Great place to go to get away from people that don’t know how to discipline their kids. Some people like to train them to be wild animals.

  • Greener

    Asians get treated badly on all airlines while a White person is treated like Royalty on any Asian airline. Inferiority complex of Asian cabin crew is shocking.

  • James

    Oops. Thanks. What’s the worst that’s happened to you?

  • James
  • Gerko

    Why would you quote the BA fare from Sydney to Delhi? That’s for travel via London. A bit like flying from Sydney to Melbourne via Perth.

  • Utkarsh Chaudhary

    If this is hilarious, she haven’t come across any State Bank of India branch. Purser didn’t come to say hello. SBI staff will make you cry in front of them

  • Utkarsh Chaudhary

    They do have strategy. Save money by not paying fuel companies.

  • Utkarsh Chaudhary

    This comment is more hilarious than the article itself.

  • Izzie

    With 2 sons both very tall — it’s the space that matters. I’ve had rude staff in many airlines, I can deal with them.




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