Jet Airways Business Class Singapore-Mumbai – Modern, fresh, and elegant
Jet Airways is India’s second largest airline, and it is the biggest privately owned airline in the country, with its basis in Mumbai. For a lot of Europeans Jet Airways is mostly known for leasing their aeroplanes to other airlines. Thai Airways and Turkish Airlines are two examples of airlines loaning aeroplanes from Jet Airways. I myself had basically already flown with Jet Airways using their excellent first class suite when flying with Thai Airways, but this was the first time I’d get to test Jet Airways as their own service concept.
My flight from Singapore to Mumbai was part of a longer trip, and it was performed with Jet Airways’ business class, called Première, in one of their brand new Airbus A330.
At the Airport
Jet Airways use the new terminal 3 at Changi airport. I was only in Singapore for transit, a fairly extensive transfer of almost five hours. The bag had been tagged the whole trip but I didn’t have a boarding card for the flight and so I also couldn’t be allowed into the lounge at the terminal. Jet Airways had a transfer desk in the transfer area at the north section of the terminal according to the screens, however it wouldn’t open until three hours before departure, shortly after 16.
Once the desk opened I was quickly checked in by a young girl, my request for a window seat was granted and I also received an invitation to the lounge. She also managed to print a boarding card for another flight on my trip, which was truly appreciated.
Jet Airways uses SATS Premier Lounge in terminal 3, situated a level below the common transit hall. It is a fairly fresh lounge with furnishing which reminds me quite a lot about Singapore Airlines’ lounges at the airport. A fair supply of warm food with sandwiches, fruits, vegetables and mini desserts, a nice view of the runway as well as free massage chairs to use. No truly amazing lounge, but a nice place where I could kill off two hours.
Boarding and First Impressions
Just as the case in Singapore, security check was performed by the gate, this time around with mostly Indian speaking staff. Efficient but thorough check.
Boarding started at 18.30 by gate B9, 35 minutes before departure, with priority for passengers in business class who could use the front door. My first impression of the cabin was positive. The interior felt modern and fresh, but with a certain sense of exclusivity. The interior was light grey with brown details and some neon effects along the ceiling and the seats.
After sitting down in seat 05K I was offered a welcoming drink, no champagne this time around but rather a choice between water, orange juice, and watermelon juice. I chose the latter, which tasted exceptionally well, definitely something unique. The staff noticed that I enjoyed it and gave me a refill. They also offered newspapers and magazines as well as a cold towel. They didn’t hand out any toiletry cases, which might have differed had it been an overnight flight.
There was a timely pushback shortly after 19 o’clock. The screens showed a safety video and we had lift off to the north at 19.30, course set to Bombay with an estimated travel time of five hours and three minutes.
Jet Airways has always focused on a fish bone configuration in their business class, called Première, a 1-1-1 configuration on Airbus A330 where all seats point away from the windows and towards the aisle. There were in total 30 seats over six rows in the front cabin between the first and second door and four rows in a mini cabin behind the second door and the galley. I sat at the fifth, penultimate row in the first cabin, seat 05K. Business class was approximately 70 per cent filled.
The seat was very roomy and thanks to the walls I could have some privacy from my seat neighbours. The main disadvantage is when you bring a travelling companion whom you wish to speak and socialise with during your trip, as there aren’t any good seats for two people travelling together. You might want to choose one seat on the left side (A) and one in the middle (D), as you then get to face each other asquintely.
If you are travelling alone, a seat on the right side of the cabin is definitely preferable over the other (K). Since the seats in the middle are turned towards the left aisle, there’s much less running in the right aisle.
Other than that, the seat had a very comfortable design with many soft lines and corners which helps in creating a calm atmosphere.
The seat could be adjusted using a panel on the wall next to the seat, where they both offered a set mode and the possibility to adjust it into a suiting position. The wall also had a screen which could be extended and placed directly in front of the seat. There was also a remote control for the entertainment system as well as sockets for headphones and electricity, and storage space for your personal belongings right by the side of the seat.
There was a cocktail table by one of the walls in front of the seat, used both for the welcoming drink and for the food serving. Further on there was room for a bottle of water and some smaller personal belongings under the cocktail table.
When folded, the seat becomes entirely flat. Since this was an evening flight I never tried sleeping in it, though I did feel comfortable both when it was unfolded and when it was in rest mode.
Jet Airways’ entertainment system is called JetScreen, and it is an AVOD system (Audio Video On-Demand) of the 3000i sort, with quite a good supply of films, music, and games as well as a fairly simple but easily navigated menu.
The supply included over 50 films, 40 TV programmes, 8 music channels, and 132 CDs. You also get to create your own playlist. I found a couple of interesting documentaries to watch, among them some travel related ones.
After lift off menus were handed out including the list of drinks – a menu with a very artistic cover designed by the Indian artist Shahabuddin. On our trip to Mumbai they served dinner with soup, salad, four choices of main course, a cheese platter and a variety of desserts.
The drinks included champagne, two white wines, two red wines, and a decent supply of liquors as well as non-alcoholic drinks, soda, juices, and mineral water. There was also a good supply for tea lovers.
After lift off I was offered a warm towel as well as the first cocktail service with nuts. I ordered a glass of champagne to drink and it was served by my seat. The kind they offered was Bollinger. Jet Airways has skipped out on the traditional wine and champagne glasses much like for example Air France and Air Canada, and instead go for the smaller, somewhat rounder drinking glasses. An original but nonetheless modern and quite pleasant initiative. At the same time that the cocktail was served they also took orders for food and drinks.
A white cloth was placed onto the table followed by an elegant setting. Jet Airways has chosen to no longer use trays in business class, and so everything is served individually based on what you wish to eat and when. The porcelain is truly elegant in white colour with black corners, and it was indeed a daring pattern.
The serving was a mix between traditional Indian food and international dishes. Instead of a starter they offered a soup followed by salad. The soup was a fairly traditional tomato soup, and they served the salad shortly thereafter, consisting of zucchini, marinated artichoke, and sundried tomatoes, and it was all topped off with nuts and Parmesan cheese. The salad was served with different dressings.
The soup and salad was served with both Western and Indian bread from a basket, I chose some kind of Indian bread in tin foil, which tasted very good and was excellent to dip in the soup. I was also offered a refill of my champagne, and was later offered more bread from the basket. A good start of the meal.
There were four choices of main course, which is quite good for a medium distance trip within Asia. Of these there were two Indian dishes, one Western and one from South East Asia. The Indian dishes were Jhinga Bemisal, shrimps in tomato sauce, and Lauki ke Kofte, Indian dumplings. These were all served with Masala toor Dal, lentils with Indian spices, and Pualo, a traditional Indian dish with basmati rice. The Western dish was spinach cannelloni with mozzarella and ratatouille, while the South East Asian dish was chicken with egg noodles and vegetables.
I had some difficulty deciding but ultimately ended up choosing the chicken dish with noodles, a quite tasty main course. Yet another time the food was served on real porcelain, something that felt more like at a restaurant (or in first class) than in business class. I also asked to get a glass of red wine to drink, and chose the Italian wine Rive Barbera.
The tray was removed and then the dessert trolley came through the cabin. The trolley had Aam ki Phirni, Indian rice pudding with mango and saffron, chocolate quenelle, ice cream and fresh fruit. They also offered different cheeses with biscuits, accessories and After Mint. I was already quite full, and so I chose to skip the cheeses and instead go for the Indian rice pudding as well as a plate of fresh fruit. I don’t always go for Indian food, but I almost always enjoy Indian desserts, and this was no exception. Not to mention how the food came with such an elegant presentation.
The meal was finished off with a cup of black coffee and a glass of Chivas Regal whiskey.
I was overall positively surprised by the food serving, which was one of the best I’ve experienced in business class. Nice, modern and elegant with several different possible choices. As they had now skipped trays and porcelain there was also an exclusive impression when it came to the serving.
As opposed to the main competitor Air India, Jet Airways has a more modern view on anything from food and drinks to service and furnishing, while Air India is much more traditionally Indian in their way of working. That is of course both good and bad depending on what you prefer, and it is to some degree quite natural as Jet Airways is a privately owned company while Air India is run by the Indian state.
The average age of the cabin crew was relatively low, probably around 30, which gave the service a youthful feel. The treatment was kind and polite, I was almost always referred to as Sir and when I rang the bell it took mere seconds for someone to appear at my side. I also liked their uniforms, especially those of the female staff who wore yellow sun coloured suites which were apparently meant to reflect the warm Indian hospitality.
The only thing I felt missing was some personal engagement, I missed the genuine warmth and consideration and some small talk. Even though the serving was well coordinated and the service was both nice and reliable, the personal treatment isn’t really something you can study in the staff manual.
The five hour travel went on nicely and at around 22 local time we touched ground at Bombay’s Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport, entirely according to schedule. There was an airport employee standing by the gate holding relevant connecting flights, among them mine. He asked me to stay put, after which he escorted me to the transfer area and the security check.
Since a few months ago there has been a brand new terminal in Bombay, terminal 2. The old terminal, which I passed by for this trip, is the older terminal 1B, a disgrace of an airport terminal in such a big and important city as Bombay, and one of the ugliest, smallest and dirtiest I’ve ever seen.
A modern and fresh airline with a high standard on most things. I especially enjoyed the food service which had an excellent mix of international and Indian food, and a nice presentation with the elegant porcelain. They also had a good seat and a nice cabin. The only thing missing was a somewhat more personal engagement from the cabin personnel.