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SriLankan Airlines Business Class – Booking
On the return trip from Colombo to Toronto, the journey was split into two separate bookings. The initial segment was from Colombo (CMB) to Frankfurt (FRA), followed by the subsequent flights from Frankfurt to Washington Dulles (IAD) and then onward to Toronto (YYZ). The Colombo to Frankfurt stretch was flown in SriLankan Airlines Business Class.
My trip to Sri Lanka included many firsts, including some aspirational bucket list items:
SriLankan Airlines Business Class from Colombo to Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class from Frankfurt to Washington D.C (coming soon)
Being a OneWorld alliance member, SriLankan Airlines offers booking options through the American AAdvantage program, accessible by transferring RBC Avion Points or via the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan using the MBNA Alaska Mastercard. The business class seat for the Colombo to Frankfurt leg was secured for 50,000 Alaska miles and USD 160 in taxes.
Colombo International (CMB) – Airport Experience
Getting to the Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) can be tricky. Sri Lanka has two leading ride-share apps, Pickme and Uber. Pickme is the most popular; however, I had an issue linking my Canadian Credit card to the app for payment, so I had to pay cash for each ride. The problem with Uber is that the drivers cancel rides at the last minute if they see you are not paying in cash. My fare to the airport was 5,000 rupees (CAD 21), which included 400 rupees for the airport toll.
CMB airport presents a unique hurdle with its pre-entry security screening. All outbound passengers must stand in line to get to the airport regardless of the airline or service you are flying, except for Srilankan business class passengers with a dedicated line via a side entrance that your taxi can drive right up to. As you approach the departures, a sign says, “Silk Route Departures The Fast Track,” with an arrow pointing left. My airport arrival was a breeze, bypassing the long queues and swiftly moving from a personalized check-in to immigration in under five minutes—a stark contrast to the typical wait times.
After completing check-in and immigration, I went to the Signature Serendip Lounge. On my way, I came across a niche service – a Sri Lankan Post post office inside the terminal. For a cost of 70 rupees postage (plus the cost of the postcard), you can mail a postcard anywhere in the world. Not many airports have I found an operating post office inside the terminal.
Business Class Lounge (CMB) – Serendib Lounge
Location and Access
Sri Lankan Airlines business class lounge was nestled across the Duty-Free Shopping Mall and accessible to those with a confirmed business class ticket on SriLankan Airlines or a One World Partner airline, its entrance is marked by grand wooden doors adorned with gold, guarded by stone deities that lead you to a comfortable area away from the crowded terminal.
Upon entry, the Serendib Lounge unfolded into a seating area in earthy tones of brown and beige and offered expansive views of the tarmac. Comfortable leather couches, ambient light music and wallpaper featuring Sri Lanka’s rich wildlife and landscapes enhanced the atmosphere. A particular ‘quiet area’ with lazy boy recliners, bathed in soft blue light, presented a peaceful retreat for those seeking rest. Clean facilities, including a fresh-scented men’s bathroom and an accessible bathroom with a shower, rounded out the amenities despite the absence of open areas to enhance passenger mobility throughout the lounge.
Food and Beverage Selection
The culinary spread in the Serendib Lounge reflected Sri Lankan hospitality. The buffet, adjacent to the entrance, showcased an array of cold finger foods alongside heartwarming hot dishes such as Cream of Lentil soup, assorted curries, and a tempting seafood pasta. Dessert options, while limited, included classics like bread pudding. Although occasionally unattended, the bar was impressively stocked with premium spirits from Chivas 18-year-old whiskey to local Sri Lankan Arrack (distilled coconut liquor). My dining experience in the lounge was gratifying, with the mutton curry’s rich spices beautifully offset by the milder dhal, all accompanied by a refined glass of Cognac Leyrat. While the desserts were less impressive, the lounge experience would benefit from an expanded selection of authentic Sri Lankan sweet treats and savoury ‘short eats’ to fully convey the local gastronomy.
Overall, the visit to the Serendib Lounge was a delightful escape from the crowds and marred only by minor lapses that, if addressed, could elevate the experience of Sri Lankan luxury.
SriLankan Airlines Business Class – Boarding
This is where SriLankan Airlines drops the ball. Before boarding, there was a passport check, and the police checked every passport with a magnifying microscope (not metaphorically, but literally) to ensure the passport was authentic. While there was a dedicated business class line to re-ex-ray your carry-on luggage (and yourself) before entering the departure gate, there was no dedicated line to go through the police check. Unconventionally, business class passengers boarded last, which was a first for me and seemed an area that needed the most amount of improvement.
SriLankan Airlines Business Class – Cabin and Seats
The Airbus A330’s business class cabin sports a 1-2-1 configuration, providing direct aisle access for every seat. My choice, seat 2A, offered both window and aisle access. Despite its full recline capability for a restful sleep, the seat felt narrower than other aircraft models, and storage was limited. While functional, the cabin missed an opportunity to reflect the airline’s national identity through colour and design.
Though basic, the amenity kit from Ainger provided all the necessities for comfort. In-flight entertainment included a wide range of movies, yet the supplied noise-cancellation headphones lacked quality.
SriLankan Airlines Business Class – Meal Service
During the 10.5-hour flight, passengers could choose between breakfast and lunch offerings. The beverage selection was notable, with champagne and the exotic King Coconut water as favourites. Morning meal choices included a classic cheese omelette, delicately poached eggs draped in creamy hollandaise sauce, fluffy waffles, and golden-brown French toast, the latter enhanced with the unique sweetness of Kithul treacle, a Sri Lankan specialty similar to maple syrup but derived from a type of palm. Opting for a taste of the locale, the Sri Lankan Milk rice (Kiri bath) was selected, accompanied by savoury dhal, spicy Seeni Sambol, and tangy Lunu Miris. This was paired with smooth yogurt, a selection of fresh fruits, an assortment of bread, and coffee or tea. The meal, surprisingly high in quality for airline cuisine, added a distinctly Sri Lankan flavour to the dining experience.
The menu was just as enticing for lunch, featuring a Seafood Thermador Pie, Chicken with shitake mushrooms in a rich oyster sauce, and a Lamb Kofta. However, I chose to indulge in the vegetarian delight of Gothamba Roti, another dish of high personal regard. This was served with a creamy Paneer mutter and Seeni Sambol, a Sri Lankan favourite known for its sweetly caramelized onion flavour. The vegetarian plate maintained the tradition of delivering a spicy and authentic taste, which is impressive for in-flight service. Accompaniments included a crisp green papaya salad, aromatic garlic bread, a variety of fresh fruits, and the standard beverage offerings of tea and coffee. Notably, there wasn’t a roaming cart for spirits and wine during lunch, but a specific request for a Chivas 18 was swiftly honoured and served directly at the seat.
SriLankan Airlines Business Class – Staff and Service
The service onboard was impeccable, with Heshani, my flight attendant, offering attentive and friendly service that enhanced the overall experience. While the amenity kit and headphones were underwhelming, and the lack of proactive spirits service was noted, the staff’s demeanour and efficiency overshadowed these minor shortcomings.
Grading my experience at 7 out of 10 reflects the mixed facets of my flight. The exemplary aspects, such as the check-in efficiency, sumptuous meals, and superb service, were slightly overshadowed by the less-than-stellar boarding procedure and onboard amenities. Nonetheless, the positive outweighs the negative, making Sri Lankan Airlines Business Class a commendable choice for travellers—especially considering the value of against 50,000 Alaska Miles. Would I fly with them again? A resounding yes, for the convenience, the lounge, and the stellar service which makes it worth revisiting.
If you enjoyed this report, you can check-out my other culinary adventures here. Happy travels!