Review of SriLankan Airlines flight Colombo Tiruchirappally in Economy

Airline SriLankan Airlines
Flight UL133
Class Economy
Seat 25A
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 01:00
Take-off 08 Apr 19, 13:30
Arrival at 08 Apr 19, 14:30
UL   #78 out of 130 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 57 reviews
aaqib67
By 342
Published on 5th May 2019

SRI LANKAN AIRLINES |COLOMBO to tiruchirappalli | AIRBUS A320-200 (UL133 | 4R-MRE) - 08TH April 2019


Routing

  • UL133 - Economy - Colombo - Trichy - Airbus A320 You are here
  • 6E7161 - Economy - Trichy - Bangalore - ATR 72-600 Coming soon
  • UL172 - Business - Bangalore - Colombo - Airbus A321Neo Coming soon

Hello and a warm welcome to Trip Report 28!  

Flying back to India once again within a span of 6 Months was definitely something least expected as I was almost on the verge of flying on Saudia's Boeing 777-300ER to Saudi Arabia for Pilgrimage. However once again, the Saudi Government's unreasonable Law's regarding Pilgrimage (Umrah) Visa's had been amended again!  This meant that anyone travelling from Sri Lanka to Islams's Holiest Cities was permitted to do so with a Three Year gap between visits  (and not 2 Years as they announced previously) 
 
 With hopes being dashed for the second consecutive time, we decided to go ahead with Plan-B and India was back on the cards once again.
My idea was to fly out to Jaipur, connecting in Chennai on IndiGo, to visit the Ajmer Dharga, and then again from Delhi to Chennai on Vistara's all new Airbus A320Neo en-route to Tiruchirappali on Air India's ATR72-600 to visit Nagore Dharga located 150KM east of Triuchirappali and back to Colombo on IndiGo. This itinerary proved to be tough and a bit on the expensive side with many people questioning the practicality of covering both North an South India in a matter of 7-8 days.

Upon Amending the Itinerary, I decided to keep it simple and booked a Multi-City Itinerary on Sri Lankan Airlines that would take us from Colombo (CMB) to Trichy (TRZ) with our return sector being from Bangalore (BLR)
   
 A total of 2 Flights Operate daily to Trichy with UL flying their Older Narrow- Bodied Airbuses to TRZ.
BLR-CMB on the other hand looked  more attractive with 3 daily connections comprising of IndiGo operating flights 1 x daily with the remaining 2 slots operated by Sri Lankan Airlines 

   FR24 showed A320CEO's being operated by UL to and from TRZ with an odd A321 and A320Neo being operated from time to time. This was considered acceptable since it was the early morning flight that was usually having a higher load factor when compared to the second rotation that had low yield's, thereby it been impractical for UL to operate one of their better aircraft.
UL's website also showed Seat Maps for the Older Airbus A320's upon booking and during the process of seat selection   
   


Watch the entire FR here!

 



pre-flight


Moving on to the FR!

With Departure scheduled at 1330hrs, Taking the Airport Expressway, we managed to get to CMB airport within a 1 1/2 hour time frame with absolutely no traffic en-route due to school holidays and the up-coming Sinhalese and Tamil New Year 

CMB was empty, just as it was a couple of months ago at this time. Personally I do prefer such Weekday Morning departures in contrast to a afternoon or late evening Departure from CMB which coincide with departures to the Far East and the Middle East 

  Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport was still under renovation as it was before. The usual Passport and Ticket checks were carried out and we were allowed to proceed into the terminal building.
Unlike Indian Airports, Sri Lankan Airport authorities do not insist on printed ticket copies upon entering the airport 


Checked in Online the night before with Sri Lankan Airlines giving us customers the option of a 48 hour check in window prior to departure.
Making our way to the Online Check in counter to drop off our bags and to collect our BP's took almost an Hour!

 The dedicated Online Check-in counter was unbearably slow, with just one family and another 4 Passengers in front of us, the Ground Handling Agent in this case was lazy, lethargic and taking his own time in performing a simile task that should be carried out fast and efficiently. The regular  check-in counters were operating at a much quicker pace compared to the Online Check-in counters which are set up purely for a quicker service to customers in order to minimize time spent in going through such formalities. Sadly the counter today just seemed to be the opposite     

Immigration was just a matter of minutes and we moved to our assigned gate B4, located on the ground level which meant that we had to take a bus to board the aircraft very  much to my liking.


Spotting was a tad bit monotonous with the usual Airbus fleet of Sri Lankan Airlines taking center stage. Nothing unusual or spectacular could be seen from the viewing area today.

I did catch a glimpse of a Thai Lion Air Boeing 737-900ER from outside the airport though.
Nice to see more carriers such as Thai Lion Air and Thai Air Asia venturing into the Sri Lankan Market. With LCC's and Hybrid LCC's such a Malindo Air establishing themselves as full on competitors to full-service airlines, we do have reports that SpiceJet would be operating new frequencies to and from Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport connecting Hyderabad (HYD) and Mumbai (BOM) filling in Jet Airways vacant slot. Vistara too would be looking to connect Delhi (DEL) in the near future and I do speculate IndiGo expanding its operations in Colombo. 
 
So this was my routing for today:

SriLankan Airlines (UL/ALK)
Flight Number: UL133
Equipment: Airbus A320-200
Reg: 4R-MRE
Seat(s): 23A & 25A
From : Colombo-Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB/VCBI)
To:   
Tiruchirappalli International Airport (TRZ/VOTR)


DEPARTURE / IN FLIGHT


First of all, I'd like to apologize for the low quality images on this FR, as i downgraded my device to an iPhone 6 

 Making our way downstairs to Gate B4, after spending some time at the Duty Free shop's located at the upper level of the Departure terminal prior to boarding the bus that'd take us to a remote stand where our parked A320-200 awaited us.

MRE! after many years of avoiding this very aircraft, I was just moment's away on flying Mihin Lanka's ex-Airbus A320-200, incidentally the last ex-Mihin Lanka  Aircraft remaining in UL's fleet (2 of their A321's and an A319 had been returned back to the leasing company)

I was low key happy though, since I had never had the opportunity to fly on Sri Lanka's first (and probably the last) home-grown LCC. I did manage to book on Mihin Lanka a couple of years before they merged with Sri Lankan Airlines, booking a CMB-MAA-CMB itinerary which was scheduled to be operated on their Airbus A321. However I was re-booked on a Sri Lankan Airlines flight with my itinerary changing to Kochi (COK) due to the Mega Floods in Chennai  (Dec 2015)

To be honest, the Crew wasn't outstanding, however they were very accommodating in filming on-board  and did allow me to change my seat prior from seat 7A which had a severely scratched window making it very difficult to focus my GoPro. I thereby moved to the aft cabin to row 23A and had the entire row to myself.  


photo img_0087

Here we have the view from  Seat 7A on 4R-MRE


Knowing the fact that MRE was one of UL's A320CEO's that wasn't configured with IFE didn't seem to bother me due to this sector being more or less under one hour.
However, the usual Sri Lankan Airlines "Serendib" magazine as well as "Serendib Treasures" On-board Duty Free Magazine were available in the aircraft seat pocket  


photo img_0088

Worn out, but decent for a short hop (Definitely better than 4R-ABL)


photo img_0104

Serendib Magazine and MRE's very own safety card 


photo img_0092

Sri Lanka's Domestic Carriers: FitsAir's ATR 72-200 (4R-EXN) and Cinnamon Air's Cessna Grand Caravan (4R-CAG)
Notice UL's "worthless" Airbus A330-200 (4R-ALS) parked outside the hangar  


Take-off was on time with the 13 Year old Airbus A320-200 clearly showing signs of age.
Maintenance was poor, probably due to the fact that this aircraft is utilized only on short-haul and on the occasional flight to Bangkok (BKK), Mumbai (BOM) and Dhaka (DAC) and would probably be the next aircraft that would leave Sri Lankan's fleet. 
However, such maintenance is unacceptable. Seats were discolored and falling apart windows were terribly scratched and even the galley looked lost in time. I didn't visit the lavatory due to obvious reasons.   

 



The crew did impress me in terms of Service. Unlike in my previous rotation to Chennai (MAA) which a cup of  water and a Cold bun was served as refreshments. Today's meal service comprised of a neatly packed Toasted Vegetable Bun accompanied by a selection of either Apple or Orange juice and water. UL had finally done away with the poorly presented cold bun which had earned them many negative reviews on their catering which they deserved. It was good to see that the National Carrier was now focusing on Short-Haul product and their catering 

 


photo f2

Toasted Veg. Bun and Apple Juice: Impressive! 


I switched seats once again for Lading as there were a bunch of inconsiderate passengers playing loud music who probably thought that they were flying on their own Private Jet. Upon voicing my complaint to the crew, they apologized for the inconvenience and the passengers mobile device was turned off much to the relief of the handful of passengers in the aft cabin.
Upon checking on my folks in row 7, I managed to take a headcount of pax flying inbound to TRZ. The load as expected was on the low side, a total of 30-35 pax were traveling in Y class and J Class flew empty

Landing was announced and we landed in Trichy (TRZ) ahead of schedule. 
 


photo c1

Standard 3-3 Seat Configuration on this Airbus A320-200



Descent into TRZ


First Impressions of Trichy was that it was a much smaller airport, quite similar to Madurai (IXM was far nicer though) 
I stopped filming in the aircraft since I was unsure about the local restrictions on filming in the airport and on the ground.

Trichy Airport (TRZ) is ISO 9001:2008 quality certified and was declared an International Airport on the 4th of October 2012. It is the third-largest airport in Tamil Nadu in terms of total passenger traffic with Chennai (MAA) and Coimbatore (CJB) ranked first and second respectively.
Suggestions were made in the past to Rename the Airport from Tiruchiarappalli International Airport to Tiruchirappalli Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam International Airport following the demise of the former President of India Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam who hailed from Tiruchirappalli 


photo img_0123

4R-MRE: Honestly better than expected! 


We disembarked via. the one of the three aero-bridges and made our way towards Immigration. Even though the airport was small, it lacked signage and getting about wasn't as easy as it should have been. We filled up our arrival cards and we proceeded to completing immigration formalities. With a very few selection of places to have lunch, I thought it would be best to head straight to the hotel and order ourselves some decent lunch form the Hotel's restaurant 

Pre-paid airport taxi cost us INR 350/- from the Airport to Trichy Central which was situated about 8KM away
 Trichy was absolutely boiling! The temperature was probably hitting 40 degrees Celsius far warmer than Sri Lanka
Probably spent more than I should have on the Taxi, but do note that Trichy is limited to only Uber Tuk's (UberAuto) with OLA being the local operator dominating the market. 

There is another cheaper mode of transport to and from the Trichy Airport though (and no it is not public transportation)
Find out in my next FR!

   

 

See more

Verdict

SriLankan Airlines

6.6/10
Cabin5.0
Cabin crew7.5
Entertainment/wifi5.0
Meal/catering9.0

Colombo - CMB

5.4/10
Efficiency2.0
Access6.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness6.0

Tiruchirappally - TRZ

4.2/10
Efficiency4.0
Access5.0
Services3.0
Cleanliness5.0

Conclusion

Overall, an above average experience on Sri Lankan Airlines, even though it was on one of their Oldest Aircraft in the fleet
They've certainly revamped their overall short-haul product and service and I wouldn't hesitate to fly this sector again

Thanks for Reading! stay connected via. FR and YouTube don't forget to Subscribe link for my next series
Comments are welcome!
That'd be all for now,See you in the next takeoff!

Related

6 Comments

  • Comment 501618 by
    ThomasDutch SILVER 305 Comments

    If only the aircraft was better maintained in terms of cabin, this product UL seems to offer is quite impressive on a shorter route compared to many other airlines. Thanks for sharing!

  • Comment 501621 by
    Shisdu SILVER 654 Comments

    Hello, Aaqib!

    Thanks for this report. I had never ever heard about Tiruchirappalli. Very interesting city.

    Too bad you had to stand those rude lads playing loud music. Been there.

    The snack looks great!

    Best. :)

    • Comment 501646 by
      aaqib67 AUTHOR 44 Comments

      Hi,

      TRZ has been left unreported for some reason, probably due to the fact that the majority of flights heading to and from Tamil Nadu in India route via Chennai (MAA)
      Being a smaller airport, TRZ is on the expensive side in terms of fares when compared to the bigger airports in the region. However, it was less chaotic and better located to the area I was travelling to.

      The snack was a 5/5, would've gone for seconds, but sadly time didn't permit (flying time was around 40-45 mins)

      Thanks for reading :)

  • Comment 501809 by
    jish.b SILVER 227 Comments

    Great report, thanks for sharing!
    -Have had no issues pulling up my email to show the e-ticket at Indian airports whatsoever. Not sure where you got that from...
    -Pity of Jet's demise, but hopefully the other airlines pick it up - more so of SG/UK/AI over 6E, because the latter is just so boring...
    - 4R-MRE still has the Mihin interior from the looks of it..
    -What's the deal with 4R-ALS?
    -WHoa the meal does look fantastic indeed! Glad they have come through with something much better, but I miss the trays, still...
    -TRZ does look pretty bad, judging by the purple tinted glass - hate them!

    • Comment 501903 by
      aaqib67 AUTHOR 44 Comments

      Hi,

      - MAA/IXM did insist for a hard-copy of the ticket on previous occasions, I've always carried printouts since then

      - Jet's Demise is indeed sad, In my opinion I'd like UK to pick up and probably take over a few of 9W's route's and serve CMB as well

      - I do recall MRE having a weird looking red carpet when you flew on it to CCU. Coincidentally, I just realized that i was seated at 23A too :) Ever since MRE was taken over by UL, I'd always try my level best to avoid it whenever I booked on UL. I guess his time my luck ran out , but then again it was pretty good and I wouldn't mind flying it again
      -ALS is quite simply yet another bad decision by UL's management, It is sitting on idle at CMB and is used for spares whenever needed. It did fly to MAA on a couple of occasions but faced technical problems and has been grounded ever since. Apparently ALS doesn't suit UL's business model due to the fact that it has a cramped up layout in J Class and thereby cannot be marketed as Business Class by UL (so they say). It would definitely be more appropriate to sell the J Class section as Premium Economy and keep the aircraft flying! I have a string feeling that UL may end up like 9W in the near future if they continue being mismanaged

      - The snack was hands down the best i've had on UL's short haul flights. A renovation of TRZ on the other hand is much needed

      Thanks for stopping by :)

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