On my recent trip to Sri Lanka and the Maldives with Perowne International, I was lucky enough to fly with an airline I’ve never used before. Sri Lankan Airlines is the nation’s own carrier, launched in 1979 and now part of the One World alliance.
For me, it’s a great choice for clients looking to travel to Sri Lanka, the Maldives, or a combination of the two, as you have roughly an eleven hour flight to Colombo, followed by a short hop of around one and a half hours to Male. However, with the fantastic reputations of the middle eastern carriers, how does Sri Lankan match up?
Now, in my opinion, unless you’re wanting to fly Business or First, a long haul flight is something to endure, rather than enjoy. Leg room is severely reduced, your chair recline is limited, and don’t even get me started on the breakfast service, with a meu staple that I have come to know as ‘sweaty eggs’.
However there are degrees of ‘bad’ – the age of the aircraft comes into play, as does the design of the seating, the service and the entertainment system. These are all things that can turn an uncomfortable journey into a nightmare.
Below I have therefore listed my pros and cons of my personal experience.
– The aircrafts were surprisingly well maintained, clean and orderly, with comfortable seating.
– Headrests were fantastic, and were better than most other airlines I have travelled. The sides folded around hard and sturdy, making a perfect place to lean your head.
– Staff were polite and extremely helpful. Refreshments were also regular, with pastries and sandwiches being served even on the short flight to Male.
– The entertainment screens were modern and had a clear picture, with a good touch screen.
– All flights were on time both take off and landing.
– Although the aircrafts were well maintained, I noticed that staff don’t clean the bathrooms during the flight. This did mean that for around half of the flight time, it was common to find toilets blocked, and extremely wet floors.
– The seats had foot rests, which while sometimes welcomed, didn’t store well. This meant that if you had the footrest up, there often wasn’t room to stretch your legs out comfortably underneath.
– The nets at the back of the seats for storage were sagged, which made if difficult to store all of your belongings.
– Often food choices were limited, with only one option available by the time staff arrived at your seat.
– The entertainment system was lacking – the choice of films wasn’t overly current or wide, and the home screen would often show films not available.
– During my first flight, my audio wasn’t working on my system, and on the flight back, one of my companion’s screen didn’t work at all. This is something the airline could take note on.
Overall, I would say that Sri Lankan is a mid-range airline. It certainly won’t win any awards, but what it does do is offer a safe and direct flight to Colombo from London, as well as easy access to the Maldives. Fares are also great value for money, and therefore, as long as you’re aware that this airline isn’t perfect, it’s a great choice for the budget conscious.