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BUSINESS CLASS - Islamabad to Karachi

January 2005




ED is the newest private airline in Pakistan, they started in June 2004, operating a fleet of A320's and offering true international standard service on domestic routes, so I was most keen to try them out as everything was relatively new. My trip began by arriving a bit late at the airport for the 17.30 flight ED240, almost everyone travelling by the airline had checked in, so there were just three other people at the counter, two others besides me at Y class and one at C class, the female staff were young but looked too casual and unprofessional, not right for the type of image the airline want to portray - they have printed uniforms of grey/navy blue stripes with plain navy blue scarf and traditional trousers, compared with plain blue uniform of the cabin crew, cockpit crew wear dark grey shirts with black trousers.

Proceeded to the departure lounge after check-in, going through one more security and hand baggage/tag check, an escalator leads to the place which is located on the top level of the ground plus one story structure that forms Islamabad International Airport. The lounge was clean, simple and functional at best, TV sets showing local programmes and flight timings were fitted at some points. ISB is usually quite busy at this time of the day with domestic summer traffic.

The flight was announced and passengers asked to proceed to the aircraft via the gate, I doubt if it had a number, as there is only one for domestic flights and you have to walk down to it on the ground level via a flat walkway - the type that is meant for trolley's and wheel chairs. I noticed some of the passengers boarding cards were being checked via pocket PC's, perhaps they had e- tickets.

Ground handling is done by Dubai's DNATA Pakistani subsidiary Gerry's/DNATA - who also handle Emirates and other major airlines, so the busses were good but the air conditioning was not working - which made it very stuffy and to make things worse the bus moved literally at snail's pace to get to the aircraft.

We got to our aircraft and parked near the rear exit - a long queue ahead of me, baggage tags were being re-checked and the pace was slow. Finally got onto the plane, an A320, I found it a bit cramped and dark. One of the stewardesses was standing at the entrance just stood there, no welcome, no smile no guiding passengers to their seats.

I got a window seat situated right next to the first emergency exit - plenty of legroom, and luckily no one seated next to me - layout on the aircraft was 3x3 in Y class and 2-2 in C class - seats seemed quite spacious too.

Safety video started playing on drop down LCD screens throughout the aircraft - a generic animated film, with blonde, western characters, and was of better standard than on some other carriers I have been on.

After departure, IFE was turned on after a good wait, and we were given headphones - only two channels one for Audio on which the Holy Quran was being recited with translation in Urdu, the other was for video. A few local song video's, traditional and pop, followed by a popular local comedy show, an English documentary on Astronomy.

Meal was served , a choice of local and Chinese, I opted for the latter, featuring "Sweet and Sour Chicken with Vegetable Rice", accompanied by a "Cucumber and Tomato Salad with a wedge of Lemon", a traditional Pakistani dessert made with milk and vermicelli called "Sawai" followed by tea only. The best part of the meal was that not only was it good but it was served on china ware (the main dish, the tea cup, desert and salad bowls were all made of china). The tray was a flat blue square - like the type used to serve sushi in. Never experienced such a meal service on a domestic flight in Y class on any Paskistani airline.

Approach to Karachi was a little bumpy but landing was smooth - we arrived at dusk after flying for almost two hours. Air Blue aircraft hook upto the jetways, so no stairs - while getting off, we had to pass through C class section - it looked great with wide blue leather seats, loads of arm and leg room.

A great flight on a very good airline, highly recommended especially for domestic travel, as the airline has cheaper fares then the rest - with some flights offering a 25% discount, and 50% off inaugural flights to new destinations for a month. At present they only serve four cities in Pakistan but plan on starting international flights in 2005 mainly in the region.




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