Image
Top
Navigation
February 20, 2016

Review: Azerbaijan Airlines Business Class A340-500 and B767-300

Azerbaijan Airlines Review

Trip Video

Introduction

I’ve always intrigued by Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL), they have a handful of interesting long haul aircraft (2 A340-500, 2 B767-300, 2 B787) flying to a handful of places few times a week. Their crown jewel of the fleet, A340-500 has  became a largely standby aircraft since they received B787 Dreamliner. She no longer fly regularly to New York or Beijing.

In early January, by accident I saw their A340-500 on the flightradar24 in Dubai. Further research revealed that they indeed deploy this much bigger plane to Dubai during peak January season until January 12.

After much thoughts, I decided to buy a ticket to fly them to London via Baku. There is a decent Business Class ticket cost 1250USD one way from Dubai to London. I bought my ticket on their website which is simple and functional. However I cannot choose seats after booking and was told only at check-in.

8 January 2016

Dubai to Baku

Flight: J2 11

A340-500, 4K-AZ85

AZAL use terminal one at Dubai. There was a rather long queue for check in with most passengers with families and lot of luggage going to Baku.

I arrived 2.5 hours early and able to choose seat 4K which is arguably the best seat for engine view. 

AZAL business class passengers use DCA Business Class lounge in T1 which offer good variety and quality F&B.

 

20160108_114401

20160108_120541

20160108_120930

20160108_121019

 

Boarding was conducted using dual aerobridges which is impressive. The striking blue colour on the A340-500 made me feel very special walking down the bridge to board.

20160108_134053

20160108_134117

The Cabin

Wow! i was blown away with it. Although this retain the former Kingfisher Airlines seating design, but it was really nice and welcoming with the red. This plane was never delivered to Kingfisher but eventually to AZAL.

OS4A5747

OS4A5721

OS4A5828

OS4A5831

OS4A5718

Even better, there’s a bar!

I think it is this bar set this aircraft apart and gave a much premium feel! It is so gorgeous! I think I prefer this setting to the Emirates A380 bar!

OS4A5774

OS4A5785

OS4A5874

OS4A5883

OS4A5885

Welcome Onboard

After i settle down in my seat, an AZAL flight attendant came with a tray of cocktail juices and champagne to welcome me onboard. I took a strawberry juice as my welcome drink.

20160108_135745

Newspaper, noise cancelling headset and food/drink menu were handed out.

20160108_140942

20160108_142415

20160108_141023

5 Main courses to select on a 2.5 hrs flight!

20160108_141051

20160108_141055

What an awesome amenity kit! (How many crocodile it consumed? LOL)

20160108_141741

We’ve pushed back ontime at 14:10 local time, all set for the journey up North to Baku.

20160108_142039

The only 2 four engines airbus together!

20160108_142519

Oh no, something went wrong

As our plane taxi towards the active runway 30R, we made a sharp U-turn. I knew something doesn’t seem right. We taxied all around Dubai Airport and stopped at a hard stand. The announcement was made in Azerbaijan language so I have to ask the crew. It turned out we have a medical case onboard that require paramedic’s urgent attention.

We waited a further 20 minutes for the paramedics to board and examine the ill passenger.

20160108_151737

20160108_152110

While we’re waiting onboard, I went up to the front door 1L to snap the impressive A340-500 in AZAL blue paint.

OS4A5891

The F/O was kind enough to help me take this photo as a souvenir. Although I was smiling in this picture, I was worried about the flight connection.

20160108_150121

The ill passenger and her family was eventually offloaded with their bags. The whole process took 1h45mins. I started to be very concern of my short connection in London, which I only have 2 hours in Baku. At one point, it seems I am going to miss the connection. I was worried but it is out of my control. I can only keep waiting and read through their in-flight magazine.

20160108_165448

Below is the seatmap of the AZAL A340-500

20160108_152501

Very generous leg room and ottoman.

20160108_162236

Finally we were airborne at 16:30 (2h20mins after departure time), I was relieved to know there are 17 more passengers connecting to London and they will wait for us. Our estimated arrival time in Baku is 7:05pm which is actually the London departure time.

We flew out of Runway 30L (Rwy30R was closed for routine maintenance that afternoon).

Please see the video footage of the beautiful climb.

20160108_163558

20160108_163620

City of Sharjah in the background.

20160108_163722

Turning North

20160108_163758

20160108_163817

What a beautiful wing, I can never get tired of this view!

20160108_164225

20160108_164418

20160108_164454

In-flight Service

Business Class is about 60% full while it is full in economy. The service started right after the plane reach cruising altitude. Table cloth were laid and interesting they serve the meal first before beverages.

20160108_165241

I have the cold meat as starter which is very tasty.

20160108_170408

20160108_170414

20160108_170418

20160108_170422

 

20160108_170657

20160108_170705

I was offered 2 kind of champagne, Moet and a German one. You can guess which one I chose 😉

20160108_172228

I was also offered to try 2 different Azerbaijan red wine with my main course.

20160108_172453

Seeing I enjoy the wine, the purser left me with the whole bottle! And what a bottle!

20160108_172851

Main course: Roast Beef, very well done.

20160108_172623

Dry fruit, honey cake and black tea, all gone down very well.

20160108_175621

20160108_180342

Well, I can’t believe this much catering for 2.5 hrs flight! Food and Beverage was excellent on AZAL.

I also enjoy using the in-flight entertainment system, which it seems quite generic feature lot of Russian and Azerbaijan movies along the usual Hollywood hits. I just keep watching the in-flight map to see if we able to fly faster and catch up some lost time.

20160108_165535

Where is Baku situated? It is on a peninsula in Caspian Sea and it is above Iran!

20160108_181847

Earlier we flew over Iran, the desert just before sunset.

20160108_165810

With a belly full of wine and food, I was given this children’s pillow to sleep which I obliged and found it comfortable as a pillow.

20160108_174537

Arrival into Heydar Aliyev Int’l

The light were turned on during approach into Baku. Please refer to the video to see the landing scene.

Due to the 2 hrs delay, we arrived in Baku after dark.

20160108_185833

20160108_190104

 

I was very pleased that my first flight with AZAL is a memorable and extraordinary one on their flagship A340-500. The flight was short but the enjoyment was huge. Great aircraft, great food and beverage and good service makes the 2.5 hrs flight gone probably even faster.

Trip Video

Short Transit in Baku

There are quite a lot of passengers are on transit onto London, Moscow and other CIS destinations. Many were rushed running towards the transit desk to re-checkin and going through security check. It didn’t take very long time to pass through the formality. However I didn’t have time to visit the AZAL lounge in Baku.

The impressive terminal at Baku

20160108_191634 20160108_191705

Boarding AZAL B767-300 to London

8 January 2016

Baku to London

Flight: J2 7

B767-300(WL), 4K-AZ82

AZAL’s london flight is usually operated by B787 but on that day it is scheduled for a B767, no complaint from me.

Our flight departure is delayed about 50 minutes due to the late arrival from Dubai and baggage loading.

Business Class is 2-1-2 configured with Boeing’s signature cabin (overhead bin)

20160108_192419

I was the only customer sitting in the center seat. Later on I moved to the first row which is far more private. The solo seat lack of privacy but it is great for solo traveler. The seat recline into a angle flat position that you feel like sleeping downwards.

20160108_192834

Row 1 has better recline and leg room.

20160108_195739

Flight time to London was 6hrs + with very strong head wind.

20160108_203551

First Course: Smoke Fish and Russian Salad

20160108_211204 20160108_211207 20160108_211213

Nice flower to enhance the onboard dining

20160108_211845

Pasta with Prawns, it was yummy

20160108_212337 20160108_212404

Finally dessert is Panna Cota, fruit and black tea

20160109_002612

Economy Class of the AZAL B767

20160108_222807

Nice crew

The crew was cold at the beginning but after seeing me being so enthusiastically taking photo of everything, they finally broke the ice. They’re interested in what I think of AZAL and whether I have visited their country. The crew consist of Russian and Azerbaijan origin.

     20160109_012610     20160109_012818

Landing into London

With the strong head wind and delayed departure, our arrival into Heathrow is delayed by more than an hour. We arrived in T4 at 22:30pm. The B767 have to turn around with less than an hour to beat the curfew at Heathrow. It eventually departed at 23:32 back to Baku that evening; the last one out of Heathrow. Well done to the London team.

Below is a photo over London city around 10:30pm from above.

20160109_020643

Conclusion

I really enjoyed both of my flights with AZAL. For me, It is a rare airline to fly with. They are 4 star Skytrax Airline which I think they offer solid product and well deserve such rating. I look forward to visit the country, Azerbaijan one day.