FRA-CMB-BKK-CMB-FRA on SriLankan A332 & A343 (Part I) + 20 pics

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FRA-CMB-BKK-CMB-FRA on SriLankan A332 & A343 (I)

In November my girlfriend and I decided to go on a one-week vacation in early December. After a few days of searching we found an attractive package: Six days near Hua Hin, Thailand, four star hotel - and flights on SriLankan Airlines from FRA to BKK via CMB. Unfortunately Amadeus showed an A332 for all four sectors, but I still accepted the package - hoping for an equipment change...

Pre-reserved seating
Since we booked online via a tour operator we couldn't reserve any seats initially. But after receiving the electronic ticket receipts and the reservation number I grabbed my Skywards card and called SriLankan's office in Frankfurt. A friendly lady immediately accepted my seat selection and 60 A and C were reserved for all sectors (SriLankan doesn't have a "B").

Sunday, 03 December 2006
Frankfurt (FRA) - Colombo (CMB)
SriLankan Airlines UL554
14:20-04:30 (14:28-04:31)
Flying time: 09:15 (hrs)

Airbus A330-243
4R-ALB (msn 306), delivered 11/1999
Economy Seat 60C

Though we had arrived at FRA three hours prior to departure we already found a long queue in front of UL's counters. Just as we tried to go in line, a SriLankan employee told us: "Sorry, this is not the end of the queue." Indeed, the queue was twice as long and we hadn't realized there was a big gap in between so that people heading through the terminal could pass...
We waited some 45 minutes until we could drop our luggage at one of only three open Economy counters. Within a few minutes we had our boarding passes - without a pre-selection it probably would have been hard to secure a window seat.

Terminal 1A: cables and wires
When we lined up for security several different people asked whether we had plastic bags for liquids and offered them to us, but of course we were equipped appropriately. Though, it was interesting to see how many people still seemed to be clueless about the new rules and therefore had to dump countless items...
The gate area in concourse A is not what one would expect from a major German international airport and Lufthansa hub. I hadn't flown from this concourse at FRA for several years and I was surprised about the bad shape. Cables and wires stick out of the walls and roof panels in many areas, unused X-ray machines are located in the middle of the concourse, the number of seats in the gates is very limited...what a mess.

UL's 4R-ALB was being prepared for the 09:15 hours flight to Colombo at gate A56:

Boarding started quite early, about 50 minutes prior to departure. Some minutes after the call we lined up but just as it was our turn to pass, they stopped the boarding process for at least 10 minutes. Finally we entered the cabin and were welcomed by friendly FAs in fancy dresses. While men wear a red jacket and dark pants, women wear a green cropped belly top and a long green skirt, with a long patterned cloth ranging from the shoulders across the belly down to the feet (covering the belly). Most of the FAs in the rear section were friendly as well, but one female and one male didn't smile much - the latter one actually looking grim most of the time.

Cabin & Seating
Except for the colors, UL's Economy cabin is very similar to the one on EK's A332s. While it showed minor signs of aging, the cabin appeared absolutely clean. The seats are the same as on EK, though they didn't appear as hard. Seat pitch is 32 inches according to UL, with the famous IFE boxes located under the window seats. Load factor was around 80 percent in Economy.

Just like EK, UL has installed PTVs in each widebody aircraft, but without AVOD. Again, the system is very similar to the one on EK's A332, but UL's programming is not as clearly structured and offers less choices. Summary:

  1. 18 movie and TV channels (mix from around the world, different languages)
  2. 22 radio channels
  3. 16 interactive games
  4. airshow
  5. front & down camera channel

I didn't review the movies or radio channels intensively, but the choice wasn't bad. Only standard games are offered - without an inflight trivia. The movement controls didn't work properly any more so sometimes I had to leave the game section by switching off the screen. We later noticed that also certain headsets didn't work properly.

While still on the ground, the front camera view is always a welcome feature:

After hot towels had been distributed and collected again we were pushed back at 14:28 and soon taxied towards runway 18. The early afternoon rush at FRA was over and we could enter the runway almost immediately for a long take off roll, followed by a steep climbout.

Early in the flight a tasty savoury mix was served - which even comprised dried peas:

Menu cards
After the snack it was time for a closer look at the inventively designed menu card:

The card not only shows menu options, but also features short texts about drinks, herbs or other ingredients, e.g. Arrack (Sri Lankan coconut brew), parsley, mustard and tofu. On the second page there's a short text about the mangos on the cover:

"Authenticity comes naturally to Sri Lankans. More so, when it’s spicing up nature’s bounty. The staple of every fruit vendor is the regular mango transformed, taking on a more appetizing form by slicing it like a flower and sometimes adding a dash of chilli on top. A mouth-watering authentic Sri Lankan recipe."

Interesting and indeed mouth-watering, but it wasn't served on any flight, unfortunately...

Surprisingly there was a choice of three main dishes which is definitely not usual in these days.

[i]Hors d'oevre
Cray Fish in Cocktail Sauce with Italian Leek Salad

Main dishes
Lamb Rogjanosh with Kadai Gobhi and Basmathi Rice

Herbed Chicken Breast in Tomato Coriander Sauce with Creamy Leek Vegetable and Crispy Potato Wedges

Vegetable Biryani with Tempered Yellow Lentils

Cherry Marble Cake[/i]

I went for lamb but the chicken my girlfriend took would have been a better choice. The lamb was a bit chewy and the cocktail sauce was quite rich, but it was still a decent and filling meal.

Beverage service was excellent with a large selection of beers, aperitifs, spirits, wines and non-alcoholic drinks available - and FAs were very generous. Unlike on many other carriers, you find a real glass on each tray.

Cruising at 37,000 feet...

...and sometimes as fast as 1040 km/h, thanks to a tail wind of 151 km/h.

A selection of vegetable and fish sandwiches and drinks was always available throughout the flight in the galley and some two hours prior to arrival a hot dinner (or better: midnight meal) was served. The menu card showed three main dishes again:

Fresh Vegetable Salad with Italian Dressing

Main dishes
Shepherds Pie with Beef Bolognese

Chicken Malai Curry with Curried Mixed Vegetables and Steamed Rice

Cheese & Leek Filled Tortellini with Mornay Sauce and Tomato Ragout

Fresh Fruit[/i]

I ordered the Tortellini which were excellent - and they were "al dente". I was also surprised by the rich taste of UL's ceylon tea - not the tasteless stuff various carriers serve in these days.

The remaining flight was uneventful - except for the observation that the lack of aft lavatories can cause congestion in the aisles between the two Economy sections, especially towards the end of the flight.

At 04:26 local time we touched down at Colombo Bandaranaike's single runway and due to low traffic we started deboarding only a few minutes later.

Colombo Bandaranaike Airport
After reading different reports on the web my expectations weren't high but I was positively surprised. We left the aircraft via jetways and entered a modern terminal building with eight gates on each side. Both the floors and restrooms were very clean and it took us only a few minutes to reach the transit area. It is equipped with various shops and bars - and an appropriate number of seats. Large glass windows enable views of the apron, but I was discrete with binoculars and camera, considering the political situation in Sri Lanka.

Monday, 04 December 2006
Colombo (CMB) - Bangkok (BKK)
SriLankan Airlines UL422
07:15-12:10 (07:22-12:25)
Flying time: 03:17 (hrs)

Airbus A330-243
4R-ALC (msn 311), delivered 12/1999
Economy Seat 60A

After a security check we entered our gate and I spotted 4R-ALC being prepared for the service to Bangkok and Hong Kong. Boarding started quite early again and I soon noticed that the load factor would be close to 100 percent.

Parked next to us: UL's first A332 4R-ALA.

We left the gate at 07:22 and only an arriving PW-powered Etihad A332 prevented us from entering the runway straight away:

The relatively light load for the three hours-flight to BKK enabled a powerful takeoff:

Black screen
This time the movement controls of the handset seemed to work but after only a few minutes my screen didn't react to any input any more and it remained black after trying to start over. Since the moving map was shown on the overhead monitors it didn't bother me much.

As expected a warm breakfast was offered and the menu cards showed three different main dishes once more again.

Fresh Fruit & Strawberry Yogurt

Main dishes
"Kiributh" Milk Rice with Fish Curry Sri Lankan Style and "Seeni Sambol" (Onion Relish with Fish Flakes)

Spanish Omelette with Broiled Chicken Sausage, Grilled Mushrooms, Tomato and Roesti Potatoes

Vegetable Bhurji, Bakherkani, Palak Til Croquette[/i]

I took the spanish omelette which tasted very good - together with the fresh fruit, a croissant and the yogurt a filling and satisfying breakfast.

The remaining time passed quickly and Suvarnabhumi appeared on the left:

After flying towards the sea for a while and a wide left turn we passed a large golf course as well as a major highway, with parts of Bangkok's skyline in the background:

4R-ALC touched down at 12:18 and was stopped quickly:

Impressive architecture and deserted gates at noon:

OH-LGF - one of Santa Claus' private MD-11s...

Please note: due to the image limit on this forum I have split my original report - part two can be found here:

Best Regards,

Original post

Member for

16 years 7 months

Posts: 12,842

An excellent comprehensive report with superb pictures

Profile picture for user Jamie_787

Member for

13 years 1 month

Posts: 555

Superb! Sri Lankin looks like a friendly airline to fly with.


Jamie M

Profile picture for user PlaneHunter

Member for

14 years

Posts: 79

Thanks for all comments!

Absolutely, UL is a fine carrier. Hopefully that nasty political conflict on the island can be solved soon.


Member for

16 years 5 months

Posts: 939

Yet another superb report PlaneHunter, I was thinking of a holiday later in the year in Sri Lanka and this gives me a good idea of what to expect on Sri Lankan as I was wondering what they were like.