Flying business-class just won’t ever be the same.
I hadn’t even settled into my seat yet on Jet Airways’ new Boeing 777-300 ER when a flight attendant approached with a tray full of fruit juices in hand. Moments after takeoff, the other Premiere-Class passengers and I were treated to bubbly, and not just any kind — Dom Perignon to be exact — and that was just the beginning.
An hour or two after takeoff, dinner service began and I couldn’t wait to delve into Indian entrees of mughlai
chicken and steaming-hot naan
bread. (Non-Indian entrees like braised lamb shank were also available.) And, soon after that, I was ready to drift off to sleep in my fully reclining, lie-flat bed which measured 73 inches long.
Six or so hours later — the longest I had ever actually slept on an international flight — I awoke, eager to commence a Bollywood movie marathon that would last until landing. Breakfast, like dinner, offered a multitude of Indian and non-Indian choices, and I arrived at my destination feeling well-rested and full — a first after enduring an 11- or 12-hour flight.
The Premiere-Class service was exceptional, to say the least, outdone only by First Class. My fellow journalists and I were granted a sneak peek of the First Class cabin and marveled at the amenities offered: the world’s longest airline beds; private closets; a 23-inch, flat-screen television; a VIP/Business Jet-style table that seats two; multiple LED lighting options; too many chair controls for lumbar support to even remember; an eight-point massage system built into the chair; and a state-of-the-art In-Flight Panasonic eX2 entertainment system, to name a few. Dinner was even more decadent — entrees were plated on hand-painted Bernardaud porcelain dinnerware and premium beverages were served in Mikasa crystal glasses.
Passengers in First Class can sit across from
each other as they dine. // © Jet Airways
Such was my experience on Jet Airways’ new nonstop, direct service from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport. However, beginning Jan. 13, Jet Airways passengers flying out of SFO will no longer have an opportunity to fly to Shanghai. Instead, Jet Airways will fly SFO passengers to London with continuing service to Mumbai, Delhi and other Indian destinations through a code-share partnership with United Airlines.
I suspect that the reason for this change may have had something to do with the company’s recent round of layoffs that began in October, when the airline laid off 800 cabin crew who had been hired for a planned expansion program; at the time, the company also reported it planned to make a total of 1,900 job cuts.
A company press release announcing the change in routes said that, “in light of the recent downturn in major economies worldwide, Jet Airways plans to focus on its more established international gateways.”
This winter, Jet Airways is also offering 15 percent fewer flights than scheduled due to “declining traffic volumes,” according to the company. It’s rather unfortunate, but an all-too-real sign of the troubling global economic crisis and its affect on the airline and travel industries. Although the Shanghai route will no longer be available, the airline’s impeccable in-flight service will still remain the same.
And even if your clients don’t have the opportunity to fly First or Premiere Class, they won’t be disappointed. Economy seats are ergonomically designed and feature a new hammock-style headrest and foot net. Passengers also get to enjoy the same on-demand, in-flight entertainment system as First Class and Premiere Class passengers with their very own 10.6-inch touch-screen television.