Newark (EWR) to London (LHR)
On the Ground: I arrived at the airport a bit early, as I expected a celebration at check-in: I was preparing to take off on the first flight of Air India’s new service from Newark (EWR) to Ahmedabad (AMD) via London (LHR), also the first U.S. Dreamliner service for the airline. The step and repeat, journalists, balloons, candy and Air India mascot met my expectations.
After a quick check-in at the dedicated business-class counter, a friendly Air India employee personally escorted me through security and to the door of the lounge.
Pre-Flight: Air India Executive Class passengers at Newark Liberty International Airport are allowed access to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse pre-flight. In the darkened, quiet lounge I found a corner on the cushioned banquette to settle in and charge up before my late-evening trans-Atlantic flight. I ordered one of the suggested signature cocktails and a bowl of noodle soup, both of which I enjoyed while catching up on a few last-minute emails and text messages.
I’m always too anxious to wait for boarding calls, instead opting to head out at a time I feel comfortable with, never being sure if I will want to shop on the way to the gate. I navigated the terminal to find boarding slightly delayed and a huge crowd of passengers waiting at the gate. It was exciting, however, to see the ribbon cutting and feel the buzz of enthusiasm for the inaugural flight.
In-Flight: As the Executive Class was not full, I switched my aisle seat for a window. The business-class cabin was bright and, with the reconfigured overhead bins of the 787, felt even roomier than normal premium cabins. As we reached cruising altitude, I settled in to watch movies. I ate a little bit quickly; the flight was overnight and I wanted to reach London well-rested, as I would have one free afternoon in the city before returning home. The comfortable seats did the trick, and I was able to sleep peacefully for most of the flight. Welcome beverages, comforters, pajamas and amenity kits were all passed out before take-off.
◆ Fanfare in the airport for Air India’s inaugural Boeing 787 service from Newark (EWR) to Ahmedabad (AMD) via London (LHR) made the experience more exciting.
◆ On a personal note, the milestone for Air India was a bit of a milestone for me: Nearly nine years ago, I took my first trip for GT on Air India’s inaugural non-stop between New York (JFK) and Mumbai (BOM).
◆ The flight also marked my first time (finally!) experiencing the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
◆ On board, business-class flight attendants gave each passenger a small gift to commemorate the experience.
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