An image like this near your airport is simply not good. Flying out of a tropical cyclone almost guarantees an adventure.
About the best thing that can be said for Cyclone Thane is that it passed over 100 miles to the south of Chennai, meaning that the winds and rains were steady, but not excessively strong. Our flight got out basically on time and that was a most welcome relief. Our biggest adventure was actually getting to the airport, with some areas of road having standing water and other issues. On the plus side, it seems that most folks decided to stay home in the rain so there wasn’t too much traffic.
The flight itself was on one of the relatively new Airbus A320s in the SriLankan fleet and it was pretty much an uneventful 65 minute trip from Chennai to Colombo. Cloud cover was heavy for nearly the entire flight so there were plenty of bumps along the way, but nothing too strong.
The seats were comfortable enough. I scored a bulkhead in advance through their online booking system with no issues, though it is a solid bulkhead with no foot cutout.
They even managed to serve a meal to a relatively full aircraft in that short flight time. The vegetable Biryani was not half bad, though it also wasn’t particularly wonderful. (I also think now, 72 hours later, that it was this meal that got me ill, necessitating dipping in to the emergency cipro supply, so maybe the "not half bad" comment above was a bit off.)
The family of four sitting adjacent to us (we both wanted window seats and they took the middle/aisle adjacent) was pretty entertaining, including the decision to change the lap child’s diaper at the seat. Ick. At least the kid was cute and didn’t scream. And his brother fell asleep shortly after takeoff, ending that shouting as well.
The flight attendant uniforms were pretty awesome, with the women wearing a sari-esque outfit. Didn’t manage to snag a photo, sadly, but I’m a big fan.
I was also impressed with the amenities offered up to passengers in the forward cabin on the short flight. Never seen anything close on a short-haul flight.
Oh, and coloring books (colored pencils, not crayons!) or hats for the kids on the plane was a nice touch, too.
And then, as we started our approach into Colombo, the skies cleared and we were treated to a beautiful view of the Sri Lankan countryside as we came in to land on runway 22 at CMB.
I’ve also heard reasonably good things about the long-haul product that SriLankan offers and was actually planning on trying it out, albeit on a somewhat shorter CMB-BKK flight. I booked those tickets online also with no issues. Trying to get them refunded, however, has been nothing short of a nightmare. The refunds for online bookings can only be handled online and the webpage has failed three separate times for me. Fortunately I was able to get through to someone in the call center here in Sri Lanka and have them at least cancel out the seats but I foresee much trouble in the future getting my money back; they insist that I now send emails to a refunds group. AmEx might be getting a call on this one.
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