Melbourne to Colombo
THE LOYALTY SCHEME
FlySmiles, with oneworld compatibility and access to Qantas lounge facilities in Melbourne.
10 hours 50 minutes
Business 7D. There are 28 flat-bed business seats in a 1-2-1 herringbone configuration. Each has a 79-inch (200-centimetre) pitch and 21-inch (53-centimetre) width. There is in-seat AC power. Economy has 269 standard seats, 32-inch (81-centimetre) pitch and 17-inch (43-centimetre) width.
Business: two pieces of carry-on luggage weighing no more than seven kilograms each; economy: one piece of carry-on weighing no more than seven kilograms. Checked baggage up to 40 kilograms for business and 30 for economy.
Once you have the glorious luxury of a flat-bed seat, does the rest really matter? The eternal gratitude of turning left on embarkation is hard to top. SriLankan's new business offering, however, has some cool accoutrements that further elevate the experience.
The first is the easy-access tray table that swings from the interior of the seat pod set-up rather than from behind the seat in front or from the aisle-adjacent arm rest. It's a genius design if you want to get out of your seat before meal service is cleared, or without disturbing your stuff on the table.
The arm rest also recedes at the touch of a button, making getting in and out even easier.
There are slippers and socks in the seat, and an amenity kit of hand cream, earplugs, tissues, a comb and lip balm in a simple but elegant pouch is presented after dinner.
The seat angle options are easy to navigate and the nicely-proportioned side console makes stashing – and retrieving – electronic devices, cosmetics and other bits and bobs a breeze.
My one gripe: it's not just a SriLankan thing, but universal – darkening the cabin post-dinner, no matter the time at the destination. Post-dinner on this flight, it's 2pm Sri Lankan time and broad daylight outside as we cross over the northern Nullarbor. It's about 8pm daylight saving time in Melbourne. I get the crew want us all to settle. But it does the body clock no favours, especially as our arrival is about 10pm. I open my blind halfway and hope it doesn't bother other passengers too much. It doesn't seem to.
In-flight Wi-Fi is available for purchase on the new A330-300 and A320/321 Neo fleet. There is a decent selection of movies and TV shows, and the touchscreen display is responsive and easy to navigate.
Sri Lanka is home to some of the friendliest, most gracious people in the world and this extends to the flight crew of the country's national carrier. They were efficient and professional, too. A note on the return flight: SriLankan has a private entrance and check-in for business class passengers at Colombo, making for smooth sailing through a fairly chaotic airport.
SriLankan Business now offers ''Sky Cuisine''. Pre-order your meal from an extensive menu pre-flight. In-flight, the menu includes Sri Lankan dishes as well as western ones, good wines and a great cocktail selection that includes Sri Lankan gin. The catering is particularly good coming out of Melbourne.
ONE MORE THING
SriLankan's direct service is a fantastic way to access a glorious destination as well as the Maldives (two hours away) and even parts of India.
However, the route is mostly serviced by the airline's older A330-200 aircraft, with an older cabin fit – the A330-300 reviewed here only appears "ad hoc". Reviews on Skytrax of the A330-200 business class flat bed seat are generally good.
Melbourne has a huge Sri Lankan community; for them this route is a fabulous addition to the skies, as it is for those wanting to explore a truly magical holiday location. See srilankan.com
Tested by Julietta Jameson, who flew as a guest of SriLankan Airlines.
Rating: 4 out of 5
See also: How to experience Sri Lanka like a local