Airline review: SriLankan Airlines economy class, Singapore-Colombo

THE PLANE

Airbus A320. SriLankan has an all-Airbus fleet of 27 aircraft: 13 wide-bodied A330s (long haul), six A321s and eight mid-range A320s.

THE ROUTE

Singapore to Colombo

LOYALTY SCHEME

FlySmiles and YoungSmiles, for travellers aged under 18, allow members to earn and redeem points on other oneworld airlines such as Qantas and Cathay Pacific. Being a Qantas Gold member gives me lounge access in Singapore (this flight is code-shared with Qantas) and priority boarding, a bonus when flying economy.

CLASS

Economy, window seat 14F

DURATION

3 hours, 20 minutes. We depart an hour late because of airport delays in Singapore and arrive just 45 minutes late.

FREQUENCY

SriLankan Airlines flies direct from Singapore to Colombo daily.

SEAT

The seats are a calming aquamarine in a 3-3 configuration. Each one is 17 inches (43 centimetres) wide with a pitch of 32 inches (81 centimetres) and has a USB charging port.

BAGGAGE

Economy passengers have a generous 30-kilogram baggage allowance, more if you're a Gold or Platinum oneworld member. The carry-on limit is seven kilograms plus extra items such as a laptop, duty free item or "lady's handbag" (according to srilankan.com).

COMFORT

There's a beige pillow, a mustard-yellow blanket and an over-ear headset waiting for us on each economy seat.

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ENTERTAINMENT

Although the seatback screens are rather small (they're larger and newer on the A320neo aircraft that also fly this route) and selecting a movie requires a firm jab of the "touchscreen", there's gate-to-gate viewing and the movie selection is surprisingly current. There were 59 movies plus TV series, games, playlists and BBC news bulletins. The inflight magazine, Serendib, is mostly in English (there are two stories in Sinhala and Tamil). There's Wi-Fi connectivity, from $US4 for 20 minutes, on some SriLankan flights but not this one.

SERVICE

I can't fault the service and the friendly female flight attendants are a breath of fresh air in their teal-coloured shirts and matching patterned sari-style skirts.

FOOD

Because this flight was part of a longer journey, I couldn't pre-book a vegetarian meal. Thankfully, with so many Hindus in Sri Lanka, the inflight menu includes a vegetarian option: a Thai-style red curry, fried tofu and some rather dry rice noodles, with fresh fruit, served with metal cutlery. Dessert is the highlight – a butterscotch mousse. On flights originating in Colombo, economy passengers can pre-order meals online, such as Australian fillet steak in thyme sauce with buttered asparagus, carrots and potato gratin and dark chocolate mousse in a chocolate cup for dessert, for $US28.

ONE MORE THING

SriLankan won two awards at the World Travel Awards held in Hong Kong in September 2018, including the award for "Asia's Leading Airline to the Indian Ocean 2018". The airline will be deploying its new A330-300 aircraft on direct daily flights between Melbourne and Colombo from October 28.

THE VERDICT

Sri Lanka's national airline slid from 81st to 95th place in this year's SkyTrax ranking, the world's largest annual passenger satisfaction survey of the world's top 100 airlines, but that doesn't show in the passenger experience, which is exemplary in every way; I'd be more than happy to fly with SriLankan again.

OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE

★★★★

Louise Southerden flew as a guest of G Adventures.

See also: Up 400 per cent: Why Australians are flocking to Sri Lanka

See also: Non-stop flights from Australia to Sri Lanka take off

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