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SriLankan Airlines Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Review [DOH to CMB]

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Airline: SriLankan Airlines (UL)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Flight #: UL218
Route: Hamad International Airport (DOH) to Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB)
Date: February 8, 2024
Duration: 4 hours, 45 minutes
Cabin and Layout: Economy class, 2-4-2
Seat: 27D
Cost: 13,000 British Airways Avios + $114.65 in fees

Sri Lanka is a popular holiday destination from my home in Doha, Qatar, and a February school break gave my family the perfect opportunity to explore the country.

As is often the case, trying to book award travel for a large family during a busy holiday week had its challenges. Learn how I researched and scored economy class tickets to Colombo, Sri Lanka, on SriLankan Airlines and how my red-eye experience on this new-to-me airline measured up.

Booking

I had tremendous difficulty finding 5 direct economy award seats on 1 flight. My travel dates were fixed, and the ideal direct Qatar Airways flight only had 4 award tickets available at 17,500 Avios each.

I looked at award flights through British Airways and noticed a red-eye flight departing the night before via SriLankan Airlines that wasn’t available on the Qatar Airways site. This flight had 5 award tickets available and a reduced rate of 13,000 Avios per ticket.

Flight UL218 BA Avios purchase
Image Credit: British Airways

I paid the award ticket fees using my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card as I find its travel insurance coverage crucial when flying internationally.

The cash price for this flight was $2,278 for 5 tickets ($456 each). Less the taxes and fees paid per award ticket, this redemption scored me a value of 2.62 cents per Avios, more than double our value of British Airways Executive Club Avios.

Hot Tip:

As Avios is currently my most-used reward currency, I appreciate the ability to pool Avios amongst my family members via Executive Club’s Household Accounts feature. Learn how to transfer Avios between British Airways, Qatar Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus accounts in our detailed guide.

Hamad International Airport (DOH)

Check-In

My initial plan for the 10:35 p.m. departure was to hit the Al Maha Lounge for a late dinner using our Priority Pass access and keep the kids (ages 9 to 11) awake and entertained.

Just 4.5 hours before departure, I received an email indicating that our flight would be delayed by ~3.5 hours.

Flight UL218 Delayed Message
Image Credit: SriLankan Airlines

With the departure moving from 10:35 p.m. to 2:10 a.m. the next day, I found the customer service phone number for the SriLankan desk at Hamad International Airport. I immediately called to better understand whether we needed to be present at the original flight time should the flight leave sooner than expected. The representative assured me the delay was due to inbound aircraft and that check-in would be open until 1 a.m.

Given this information, we began tracking the flight status of the incoming aircraft online and felt confident that we could change course on our initial plan for the airport. Rather than force the kids to stay up all night, we ordered takeout, put them to bed early, and woke them up at 11:30 p.m. This turned a no-sleep night into a “few hours of sleep” night, which is always helpful when traveling with kids.

We arrived at the airport around midnight. Though I had checked in online, we were not issued boarding passes, just a confirmation, meaning we would be required to have boarding passes issued at the check-in counter.

We had 1 bag to check and entered the long, slow queue at the SriLankan desks at check-in area 9. Regardless of whether we had to check a bag, we still would have been in this queue to get a boarding pass.

SriLankan check in DOH
The line to check baggage was lengthy.

Even arriving 2+ hours before boarding, we were some of the last people in this queue, which took about an hour to clear.

With little time to spare before boarding, we abandoned hopes of a trip to the lounge, said hello to “Untitled Lamp Bear,” and headed quickly to our gate.

DOH airport yellow bear
I can’t resist saying hello to the “Untitled Lamp Bear.”

Boarding

Our flight boarded from gate C8, a convenient location when you’re running behind as it’s just 4 gates and 2 moving sidewalks after the bear.

SriLankan DOH gate C8
The flight departed from gate C8.

We did not have to undergo a secondary screening, but the staff did verify our passports and boarding passes again before allowing us into the gate waiting area. We waited in this area for about 40 minutes before it was our turn to board in Zone F.

SriLankan DOH A330 300 at gate
The Airbus A330-300 that would take us to Colombo, Sri Lanka.

On Board SriLankan Airlines’ A330-300

SriLankan’s A330-300 has 28 lie-flat business class seats with direct aisle access and 269 economy class seats with a pitch of 31 to 32 inches.

Upon boarding, we were greeted by a flight attendant in a turquoise blue Kandyan sari with a peacock feather motif. The uniform’s color palette matched the blue tones of the economy cabin seating.

SriLankan DOH CMB A330 300 economy cabin
The economy cabin was arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration.

I settled with my 3 kids into the middle seats of row 27, which was about mid-way in the forward economy cabin.

SriLankan DOH CMB A330 300 economy row 27
Row 27, seats D through G.

I immediately realized that I did not pay close enough attention to the seating map when checking in, as my husband, seated in the starboard aisle on the same row, was actually 2 rows behind us.

SriLankan DOH CMB A330 300 economy row 27 side
Row 27, seats H and K.

It’s worth noting on this A330-300 configuration that the port side and middle seats share the same row, but the starboard side rows are offset by 2 rows due to the lavatory.

SriLankan Airlines Airbus 330 300 economy row27
Economy rows on the starboard side are 2 rows behind the port side and middle seats. Image Credit: SeatGuru

The seats had an adjustable headrest with a fabric covering (for hygiene?) attached with Velcro.

SriLankan DOH CMB A330 300 economy headrest
The headrests had a fabric covering attached to them with Velcro.

My kids enjoyed using the adjustable footrests, but unfortunately, the placement didn’t work comfortably for me.

SriLankan DOH CMB A330 300 economy footrest
Economy seats had a footrest.

As you can see, this seat was a little tight for my knees at a 90-degree position, but I was more comfortable with my legs fully extended (sans footrest). The seatback pocket had a duty-free magazine, but mine had been sealed shut with someone else’s chewing gum (ick!).

SriLankan DOH CMB A330 300 economy legroom
There was not much legroom.

I always appreciate when the tray tables can be utilized in a compact/half mode, and this table comfortably fit over my legs to accommodate a drink or snack.

SriLankan DOH CMB A330 300 economy tray table half
The tray table had a compact mode.

The tray table could also be opened up fully, though this was a little tighter in proximity to my waist.

SriLankan DOH CMB A330 300 economy tray table open
The tray table could be fully opened.

Food and Beverage

Red-eye flights are always a bit of a mystery when it comes to food service, and we were wondering if we’d get a full dinner in the middle of the night or a snack and then a breakfast service. On this flight, my kids received their preselected children’s meals at 3:13 a.m. (Qatar time). The entrée was a spaghetti Bolognese (which one of my sons polished off completely) with a side salad and a piece of cake.

SriLankan DOH CMB A330 300 economy child meal
The children’s meal was spaghetti Bolognese.

I’m not sure if these weird side salads are just a result of DOH catering, as we’ve had similarly perplexing children’s meal salads on Qatar Airways, but this dish included a creamy potato salad with peas, carrots, processed cheese slices, and a moldy strawberry. Needless to say, it went uneaten by my 3 kids.

SriLankan DOH CMB A330 300 economy child salad
The children’s meal had a potato-vegetable salad with processed cheese and a moldy strawberry.

Standard meal service followed about 20 minutes later. The options were vegetarian, fish, or chicken, and I selected the chicken. It was some type of chicken curry with green beans and rice. The chicken was nicely seasoned, and the green beans were still crisp-tender. It was accompanied by a cold potato and corn salad and a wet dessert of some type.

SriLankan DOH CMB A330 300 economy chicken
An adult meal option was chicken curry with rice and green beans.

The cabin crew returned about 30 minutes after service to offer Ceylon tea.

Amenities

Blankets

The seats were preset with pillows, and the cabin crew later distributed blankets upon request.

SriLankan DOH CMB A330 300 economy blanket
Blankets were available upon request.

Inflight Entertainment

Each seatback had a small inflight entertainment screen with audio, games, movies, eReader, and TV options controlled via touchscreen. The screen angle was not adjustable, which is a pain when the person in front of you reclines.

The system was very glitchy when trying to swipe or scroll, and compared to recent flights I’ve been on, the movie options were dated and limited. The games did not work for my kids, but they were excited to see a few episodes from Dude Perfect.

My son’s IFE froze almost immediately, and a flight attendant helped us reset the system by holding the power button down until the system restarted. It became unresponsive after the reset, so I used her trick to restart the system until it became functional again.

Considering the importance of keeping kids happy and entertained on a red-eye flight, I swapped seats with my son so he wouldn’t have to deal with this particular system. The IFE worked fine for me after a few resets.

I liked that the system showed the times and temperatures at the departure and arrival cities and the time to destination.

SriLankan DOH CMB A330 300 economy IFE screen
The IFE touchscreen response was inconsistent.

There were no AC power options at the seat, but a USB-A input was at the bottom of the IFE screen.

SriLankan DOH CMB A330 300 economy USB
The IFE unit had a USB-A power input.

The cabin crew distributed headsets, and these were comfortable to use.

SriLankan DOH CMB A330 300 economy headset
Headsets were distributed by request.

The single-pin headsets plugged into the double-pin input in the armrest.

SriLankan DOH CMB A330 300 economy earphone jack
The headset input was in the armrest.

Wi-Fi

There was no Wi-Fi available for economy passengers on this flight.

Lavatory

The lavatory was pretty gross quite early into the flight. There were paper towels on the wet floor, tissues on the counter, and the person ahead of me didn’t flush or put the seat down.

SriLankan DOH CMB A330 300 economy bathroom
The lavatory was small and unkempt.

Service

Service was generally attentive and accommodating. When signaled to my son’s IFE issues at the start of the flight, the flight attendant helped him reset the system and checked back later to see if it was functioning.

However, when our descent began around 6:23 a.m. (Qatar time), so did the leak above my head that affected our row and the row ahead of us. We were pelted with condensation drips for a few minutes, and flight attendants were unresponsive to my call button to alert them to the issue. I used one of my kids’ blankets to clean it up. The headsets and blankets were then collected before landing.

SriLankan DOH CMB A330 300 economy drip
The ceiling dripped condensation at the end of the flight.

About 20 minutes before we landed, passengers were advised to cover their nose and mouth as the cabin crew sprayed an insecticide throughout the cabin. The spray was quite potent and had several passengers coughing.

SriLankan DOH CMB A330 300 economy spray
Flight attendants released aerosol insecticide throughout the cabin before landing.

Arrival

We arrived at Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) at 9:31 a.m. Sri Lanka time. The plane parked on the tarmac, and we disembarked via stairs to an awaiting bus.

I had previously completed Sri Lanka’s Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) (~$21 per person). I thought we could breeze through passport control, but we were sent to the back of the line to fill out arrival cards. Make sure to do so before entering the immigration lines.

Even with the slight hiccup at immigration, our plane’s luggage was painfully slow to arrive at baggage claim. From when we landed to when we exited the airport, it was about 80 minutes.

Final Thoughts

Pidurangala sunset
Sunset at Pidurangala, overlooking Sigiriya Lion Rock. Image Credit: K. Stooksbury

My family spent 10 days traveling throughout Sri Lanka. It’s an incredibly affordable country to visit, with challenging hikes, national park safaris, jaw-dropping tea plantation landscapes, and beautiful beaches.

By booking SriLankan Airlines via British Airways, I saved 4,500 Avios per ticket compared to Qatar Airways (22,500 Avios across 5 tickets). We also optimized our flight times to make the most out of our first day in Sri Lanka compared to burning a full day on travel.

I was excited to try a new airline, and my experience on SriLankan Airlines’ A330-300 in economy class was about what I expected. The meal service was a highlight, as I can’t remember the last time any of my kids finished an airplane entrée, and I enjoyed my meal as well (even if it was a 4 a.m. dinner instead of breakfast). The dated, unresponsive IFE is certainly an opportunity for improvement, and the drippy ceiling was a bit startling, but I understand that these things happen.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does SriLankan Airlines provide food?

SriLankan Airlines has inflight meals, and special meals can be requested. The airline states that it offers inflight refreshments every 45 minutes during long flights.

What is the seat pitch of SriLankan Airlines' economy?

SriLankan Airlines economy class seats have a pitch of 31 to 32 inches.

Does SriLankan Airlines have premium economy?

SriLankan Airlines does not have premium economy, but it does offer an extra legroom seat in economy class for an additional $25 to $75.

Can you drink on SriLankan Airlines?

Yes, SriLankan Airlines offers a variety of wines, spirits, soft drinks, teas, and coffee.

Keri Stooksbury's image

About Keri Stooksbury

With years of experience in corporate marketing and with a nonprofit, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and reviewing thousands of UP articles in the process.

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