Review: Air India First Class B747-400

Jeddah to Mumbai via Hyderabad

The long way from Dubai to Mumbai via Jeddah

I need to get to India and I refuse to fly the nonstop way from Dubai. An excellent itinerary on Air India B747-400 from Jeddah to Mumbai via Hyderabad (Shamshabad) surfaced, with connecting from Dubai to Jeddah on Emirates A380. The unforgettable 16 hr trip is born!

I spent about 2 hours in the lounge. At 10:10 pm, I decide to leave the lounge to go to the gate. The Air India flight is scheduled to leave at 10:40pm from Jeddah.

This is the security area after screening. Many passengers were held up because of the slow processing.


A long orderly queue already formed at Gate 46 for AI964 to Hyderabad and Mumbai.

Air India have another A330-200 nonstop flight to Mumbai departs later at 1am.


The queue getting longer. Boarding started at 10:10am with each passenger carefully screened and have passport checked before proceed onto a Co-bus 3000 to the airplane.


Gate scene.


Many Indonesian still in the terminal since afternoon due to late aircraft arriving from Jakarta.


I was told First/Business class passenger should go back to the lounge and wait for last to board.

I was too excited and refused to wait any longer. So I boarded a crowded bus like everyone else.


With Air India JED station manager Mr Vinod 🙂 He told me I was the only guest flying First Class that night. A welcome news indeed!

Initially I was NOT allowed to take photo outside the boarding door, but the young Saudi guard have a change of heart, he took photo of us personally while holding his rifle on other hand!


Arrive at the waiting Jumbo! Immediately I was pulled aside and told no photos, but the deed was gladfully done 🙂

My long waited Air India B747 ride is about to start with the whole stairway to board available to myself 🙂

Aircraft operating tonight is VT-ESN. An original Air India B747-437. MSN 1003. delivered 1993

Jeddah to Hyderabad AI964 VT-ESN B747-437 4 hr 35mins


Once stepping aboard. I turn left and was warmly greeted by Air India hostness who escort me to my seat 1K. Later I asked to change seat and was told I can sit ANYWHERE i want....

I settled with seat 2A.


Overview First Class cabin of Air India B747-400


Great leg room!

23   Seat are identical to Royal Jordanian used on their Crown Class A340-200 but this plane have fabric seats instead of leather. 24  

Since boarding is delayed by security screening and the bus process, I went to the Economy cabin and surprised to see the original seat covers and carpets! This section is directly behind First Class, with 3-3-3 seating (compare the usual 3-4-3 B747 seating)


Purser awaiting last load of passengers. Every 10 minutes or so the bus will bring a fresh load of passenger.

Tonight on AI964 to Hyderabad we have F 1/12 C 6/26 Y 380/385 passengers onboard! 25b  

At 11:45pm, doors are finally closed and we're ready to push back from the remote stand.

Notice the original logo on the old fashion buckle seatbelt.


I have the pleasure to have the whole Jumbo nose area and First class cabin to myself.

Flight time to Hyderabad is 4 hr 35 minutes.

On ground 1 hr 30 minutes

Flight time to Mumbai is 1 hr 15 minutes.

Total time onboard the B747 (include delay) is over 8 hours!


At 11:55pm we commenced push back and it only took 3 minutes to taxi to the end of Rwy34L.

"All crew to be sitted" came on with the crew rush to take the unfinished glass of water and returned to their station.

At 0:03am Captain O Singh and V Singh pushed the throttle of the B747 to the max and we sky rocketed out of Jeddah follow by a large bank over Jeddah and the red sea towards East for India.

After a shallow unimpressive A380 climbout earlier that day from Dubai. I was really pleased and impressed with the B747-400 climb performance. The whole cabin was dimmed on takeoff and I really enjoyed the climb out and large bank performed by the 18 year old Jumbo Jet. What a feeling at midnight in the clear sky flying out of Jeddah!

Long Live the Queen of the Skies!

27   Unbelievable....within 15 minutes of airborne, Air India crew rolled out a cart of food just for myself. All presented in front of me! 28  

We have Curry Masala (eggplant), Chicken curry, Lamb kebab, Vegatable Biyarni, Chicken Biyarni and chicken korma with mint yougrt.

No menu was available but I enjoyed the lively introduction of the food.

Catering is from Jeddah


My selection. Yes, I ate two full plates 🙂 It was tastefully cooked!


One tray buffet service at midnight onboard Air India 🙂

Again no alcohol can be served until we leave Saudi aerospace.

I went straight to sleep afterwards.


We landed the next morning at Hyderabad at 7:05am. It was a smooth touchdown. I was only woke up from a good sleep few minutes prior to the arrival.


Aerobridge used at the new Rajiv Gandhi Int'l serving Shamshabad/Hyderabad.


Snacks and tea were served while remain onboard. I was told a light load will join the flight to Mumbai.


Ground crew came onboard to service the B747-400. We're running slightly late so every minute count to make up the difference.


I went upper deck to check out the seats. Very nice bin decor can be found to the side of the seats.


Upper deck have 26 angle lie flat seats. Capt O Singh came out and have a chat with me, later was joined by an Indian A320 captain who parked next to us and simply adore the B747. Capt O Singh have dual rating on B747 and A310 !


Last passengers to board for Mumbai.


At 8:45am we're on push back and ready to depart once again!


View from the front windows on the Jumbo lining up runway 27.

Hyderabad to Mumbai AI964 VT-ESN B747-437 1 hr 25mins


City of Hyderabad underneath.


This is the HAZE and pollution layer!


A quick meal was served consist of Paratha, some indian rice cake and potato and dal. It is unclear whether this is the crew meal and where the catering came from.....


After the refeshment, I went all the way to the very back of the B747 and the purser took picture of me standing next to Maharaja! (Air India Mascot)


I believe the flight to Mumbai was a light load, boy I was so wrong. It was FULL HOUSE! No meal service though on this leg.

Not quiet sure other passenger are enjoying the B747 ride as much as I do.


Full house onboard to Mumbai!


Upper deck is empty except 2 passenger only.....


Upper deck scene.


Back to the First Class sanctuary.


Ahhhhh what a lovely sight. From row 42 Economy class window. Cruising westward for Mumbai.


We started our top of descent around 9:45am. At 10:00am we're approaching over the local suberbs of Mumbai.


Massive city underneath. Slums and high rise co-exist together.


At 10:03am, VT-ESN slammed hard on Rwy 14 of Mumbai (the crossrwy) with all breaks used to come to a halt at the very end of the runway......

I feel a tremendous welcome to India and a glorious arrival!


Taxiing back under beautiful Mumbai weather.


To my very surprise, we are using stairways to deplane today!


The purser open his door and wait for the stairway truck to close in to the plane.


At 10:15am, I was the first passenger out the door greeted with a sunny 34 degrees Mumbai and this impressive view of the B747-400 I just flown inside the last 8 hours from Jeddah overnight.

Mission Accomplished!

I found Air India, although a state run airline but quiet efficient and offer a low profile, solid product. The joy of flying their Maharaja B747-400 outweights and offsets all the difficulty encountered. I went home with loads of stories to tell......


I was given this bottle of Maxim Champagne as a take home gift since I didn't consume any alcohol onboard. Much appreciated!