Air India Food Review

A tray of food on a plane.

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One Wednesday morning in May, I received an urgent phone call around 11am, informing me of a family emergency in Australia. Within a few hours, I found myself on a flight from Paris Charles de Gaulle to Melbourne.

A toilet in an airplane with a seat next to it.

Most of the journey is now a blur, but one thing I vividly remember is the lack of inflight entertainment throughout the entire trip to Melbourne, which made the journey quite boring.

Air India Inflight entertainment

I’m torn when it comes to Air India. On one hand, they have excellent cabin crew and the food is decent. However, the transit experience in Delhi, their lounge, and the absence of inflight entertainment are disappointing in this day and age. While I understand their aspirations to become a world-class airline, it seems like it will take them years to achieve that.

INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

The issue of non-functional inflight entertainment seems to be a common problem on Air India flights, as both passengers and crew have complained about it. Nevertheless, I was fortunate to have an exit row seat on both sectors.

A monitor with a remote attached to it.

During the Delhi to Melbourne leg, I struck up a conversation with one of the crew members about the inoperative inflight entertainment system. Perhaps feeling sorry for me, she returned from business class a few minutes later with some snacks as a quasi-apology. It was a lovely gesture.

A bag of cookies and a bag of chocolate chips on a plane.

PARIS TO NEW DELHI

I was pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome I received from the crew as I stepped onboard. They greeted me with a friendly “Namaskar!” The crew remained fantastic throughout the flight, always pleasant and attentive. Additionally, having a local French crew member onboard was helpful for any language difficulties.

The flight from Paris to Delhi lasted approximately 7 hours, so I expected two meal services. It departed Paris around 8pm and arrived in Delhi the following morning. Pillows, blankets, and headphones were provided.

A white pillow is sitting on top of a bed in an airplane.
A bag with headphones and earphones sitting on top of a table.

INFLIGHT SERVICE

The service commenced promptly after takeoff with a round of drinks and some delicious crunchy corn snacks. Soon after, the meals were distributed, offering a choice between vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.

A tray with a cup of pepsi and a bag of corn.

Soon after the meals were distributed, there was a choice of vegetarian or non vegetarian meals.

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A tray of food on a plane.

I can’t recall the exact name of the meal, but it was satisfactory. It didn’t quite match the standards of fellow Star Alliance members Turkish Airlines and Austrian, but it wasn’t the worst I’ve had either.

I appreciate Air India’s efforts to enhance their inflight service and reduce plastic waste by using sustainably sourced cutlery. Economy class customers on flights departing from Delhi also enjoy an enhanced meal service (more details below).

A tray with food and utensils on it.

Before landing, a second meal was served, without any choice. Passengers received a meal tray consisting of a sandwich and fresh fruit. Again, it was nothing extraordinary to write home about.

A tray with a sandwich and fruit on it.

TRANSIT

Transiting through Delhi airport is not the most pleasant experience. After arriving, passengers with connecting flights are required to visit the transfer counter to have their boarding pass stamped before proceeding through security. The staff at the transit desk and security checkpoints are not particularly friendly, which adds to the overall mediocre experience.

I had access to the Air India Maharaja Lounge, which provided a quiet space away from the terminal crowds. However, the lounge itself was disappointing, with limited food options and a desperate need for an update.

On a positive note, the staff at the lounge were wonderful, and I was able to rest in a nap room and freshen up with a shower. (Although the nap room resembled the inside of a prison)

A small bed in a small room.

DELHI TO MELBOURNE

Air India Boeing 787 cabin

On this particular flight, Air India offered an “enhanced” meal service in economy class. The airline made a big announcement about the upgrade to economy class meals earlier this year. While it was a good PR move, the actual changes were minimal, with the addition of a small salad to the meal tray and a slightly larger dessert.

A tray with food and water on it.
A cup of tea is sitting on a table next to a napkin.

In between meals, passengers could help themselves to drinks in the galley.

A plane with a lot of drinks and bottles in it.

Four hours after the first meal service, the crew once again provided another meal service. I have no complaints about this meal tray, and my favorite part was the dessert, which was quite tempting.

A tray of food and water on a plane.

Three hours later, just before landing, the crew came around with a snack service. Although I wasn’t particularly hungry at that point, I gladly accepted the food as I was quite bored without any inflight entertainment.

A piece of paper on a table.

Overall, I found the food on the Delhi to Melbourne route to be more authentic and flavorful, which is understandable as it is the airline’s home port. Do I believe Air India can become a leading global airline? I certainly hope so.

They have some work to do, but they are fortunate to have hard-working and friendly cabin crew who are willing to go the extra mile for passengers. The transit and lounge experience, however, fell short of expectations. While the quantity of food provided was impressive, Air India still has some catching up to do to match the standards set by airlines like Emirates and Singapore Airlines. I remain optimistic that Air India will achieve their goals and become a world-leading airline.

 

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