THE FLIGHT: HM031 between Gatwick and Seychelles International Airport on Mahé with a departure time of 19.35, just 40 minutes late. The Boeing 767-300 made one of the smoothest take-offs this writer has ever experienced.
THE CHECK-IN: A separate blue-carpeted Pearl Class (business) check-in was quickly handled by an efficient and exceptionally friendly woman who asked if we’d prefer different seats with still more legroom than those already allotted, but it transpired that all seats had the same.
THE LOUNGE: Air Seychelles Pearl Class passengers have access to British Airways’ bright and spacious 4th floor Terrace Lounge with copious seating areas, snacks, drinks, work area and showers. A very restful start to a 12-hour flight.
THE SEAT: We were given Seats 1A and 1B with lots of leg room for the tallest passenger and which partially recline. This autumn (2010) Air Seychelles is planning to introduce ergonomically-designed lie-sleeper seats. The new seats will come with seat dividers ensuring privacy. Other features will be a hand-held entertainment system, built-in massage functions and footrest extension.
THE SERVICE: Jackets were taken straight away followed by a hot towel, ‘a little welcome drink for the beginning of a long journey’, unbleached cotton amenity kit and very comfortable headphones. Thirty minutes into the short hop to Rome drinks and canapés – with later offers of more – were served with the main meal following after the 22.50 take-off from the short Rome stopover. There was a good choice of food and drink and service was friendly and efficient. Breakfast was served some 2.5 hours before landing in the Seychelles.
THE ENTERTAINMENT: The arm rest screen was not working fully so I was brought a Mezzo Portable Entertainment System which comes with 125 CDs and 12 movies but being a night flight, sleep beckoned.
THE ARRIVAL: Landing next to the Seychelles’ aquamarine ocean out of an azure blue sky, any arrival would be blissful but this was enhanced by a passport control which managed to combine speed with a welcoming friendliness; other destinations note! The downside of speedy immigration is a longer wait for the luggage but if I hadn’t been busy chatting, I could have made use of the well-stocked arrivals duty-free shop.
THE DETAILS: Air Seychelles currently operates a weekly Tuesday flight from Gatwick (at 18.55) and two from Heathrow each Sunday (at 18.20) and Friday (at 17.50) all arriving around nine and 10 the next morning. All three flights operate via Rome or Milan.
A friendly and efficient crew who infused the flight with the warmth of the Seychelles before we'd left Gatwick. As well as new lie-flat sleeper seats the airline will be one of the first to introduce the new Boeing Dreamliner 787-8.
Managing editor, Selling Long Haul