Airline Review: SriLankan Airlines Economy

Sri Lankan Airlines Economy Review

I was curious about SriLankan Airlines. As the newest member of OneWorld – they joined in April 2014 – I had honestly heard little about the airline before I began to plan my trip to Sri Lanka.

Flying to Sri Lanka on one of their new Airbus A330, I was delighted to experience what they were offering during the 3 hours and 25 minutes flight between Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan Airlines

Check-In and the Lounge

Check-in was fairly easy, but the check-in lines were quite long at Malaysia’s KLIA. Thankful that I held Qantas Gold (oneworld Sapphire), I managed a speedy check-in and headed through to security.

While I did request an upgrade at check-in, all seats were taken as SriLankan Airlines have employed a new Bid for Business Class system on their website (more about that later).

Business class passengers and oneworld Saphire and Emerald card holders have access to either of Malaysia Airlines‘ MAS Golden Lounges. The large spacious lounges are well equipped with food, drink, a dedicated bar area, complimentary fast WiFi and plenty of sockets to charge devices. As far as lounges go, it’s one of the more comfortable lounges I’ve experienced.

Sri Lankan Airlines Economy Seating


SriLankan Airlines has two classes of travel – Business and Economy – on all routes. I managed to be one of the first onboard – a strange change as I usually prefer to be the last! – and was quite pleased with the seating arrangements.

SriLankan Airlines A320’s Economy is set in a 2-4-2 configuration. I had pre-chosen an aisle seat on the edge of one of the middle 4-seat configuration (online it appeared that it was the only option) but the plane was only half-full so, just before take-off, I asked a cabin attendant if I could move.

Despite having seating numbers allocated to us on our boarding passes, I was quickly made aware that most people didn’t actually follow these instructions. It was more a ‘pleasantry’ if you liked a particular seat. As passengers boarded people shuffled between their ‘ideal’ seats and what was allocated.
When asked a member of the cabin crew if I could change seats, as boarding was coming to an end, I was given a strange look and told if the seat was free I could just move. Okay then… Moving meant I was seated in a row of two with both an aisle and window seat. Perfect!

As the cabin prepared for take-off I did notice two things which should have been addressed for safety reasons but weren’t;

  1. As the crew went through the cabin safety procedures, this seemed to be cue for passengers to talk LOUDER almost to the point where it was pointless that the crew were even trying to play and brief us on safety.
  2. The cabin crew did not come and check to ensure people had stowed bags and belongings away before takeoff. I had my laptop and handbag on my lap, the man behind me had his messenger bag sitting in the aisle and the two guys in front of me (in the bulkhead) had their bags by their feet.


The seats were fairly comfortable (though I developed a mean case of ‘numb bum’ towards the end of the flight) but the leg room was lacking. The recline was decent at 32″.

The highlight was the high-quality In-Flight Entertainment System. The systems offer on-demand content including a short catalogue of latest movies, tv shows, and music programs. There’s also a handy USB charging port which made charging my phone and iPad easy.

On some of SriLankan Airlines A330’s in-flight Wi-Fi is available, however, this wasn’t the case on my flight.

Sri Lankan Airlines Economy

Sri Lankan Airlines Economy

How was the food?

Menu cards for both legs of the route were presented soon after takeoff. I chose the Chicken Biryani which was a little dry but still tasty. Accompanied with the dish was a Pasta Salad with Orange Mayonnaise (not for the faint of heart…) and a Mango Marble Mousse (surprisingly delicious).
Complimentary alcohol, soft drinks, freshly brewed Ceylon Tea and coffee are served onboard.

We were also given peanuts during the flight, but it would have been nice to have some fresh fruit as a snack.

Sri Lankan Airlines Economy

Sri Lankan Airlines Economy

Little Extras

Soon after take-off, the crew presented me with a little pack (pictured above) that contained my incoming landing cards and a free SIM card from Mobitel. I used Mobitel while I was in Sri Lanka and it far outperformed my international SIM card.
I thought these little packs were a great feature for guests travelling to Sri Lanka, but when asking friends travelling from Europe or other parts of Asia if they had received one I was told they hadn’t. I really hope they roll these out on more routes soon.

As I mentioned before if you are holding an Economy class ticket SriLankan Airlines offers a Bid for Business Class service. While it doesn’t guarantee an upgrade, passengers can input a maximum price that they would be willing to pay. For shorter legs, this can be as low as $50 however for Europe one friend mentioned that he was told $400 would be a good minimum (your bid can be accepted even if you offer a much lower bid.)
Between KUL and CMB this wasn’t really a big deal for me, however for passengers flying longer routes to the Middle East, Europe or even longer Asian flights.

Now it’s over to you

Have you flown with SriLankan Airlines?

Who is your favourite airline?

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SriLanka Airlines

Website: www.srilankan.com

Based: Colombo, Sri Lanka

Alliance: OneWorld

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Plan your trip to Sri Lanka with these posts:

Destination Guide: Sri Lanka

First impressions of Sri Lanka

A Guide to North Central Sri Lanka
– the perfect place for first-time visitors to Sri Lanka –

Climbing Sigiriya: Sri Lanka’s most famous sight

Inside the Golden Temple of Dambulla

Seeing Elephants at Kaudulla National Park, Sri Lanka

Morning walks at Negombo Fish Market

Life on a Sri Lankan Tea Plantation

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I visited Sri Lanka for TBC Asia (Travel Bloggers Conference Asia)
and SriLankan Airlines was a sponsor of the event offering me a discounted ticket.
All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.

Photo credit: image four of the economy seating is owned by Kerwin McKenzie

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  • Reply
    March 31, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    I haven’t flown with SriLankan airlines. They seem to be a fairly nice airline for the price.

    • Reply
      June 9, 2015 at 11:37 pm

      I agree with that! They were great if you want to take a short flight but I’d be curious to know how they are flying long-haul between Sydney – Sri Lanka. 🙂

  • Reply
    April 8, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    I hadn’t heard about them either until I was looking at flights just the other night. I appreciate your review, I may just fly with them now.

    • Reply
      June 9, 2015 at 11:38 pm

      Hey Stacey,
      This is great news! If you do fly with them do let me know what you think. 🙂

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    October 2, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    Hey Nicole

    Great review! This is extremely helpful as there isn’t much information on Sri Lanka Airlines online. We are booking flights from Colombo to South Africa so it will be interesting to see how it compares.


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  • Reply
    Sujoy Sen
    March 18, 2017 at 6:49 am

    Nice review on Sri Lankan airlines. Can you kindly share with me the price of on board meal? Is it available free of cost or do we need to pay for food?

    • Reply
      May 3, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      Hi Sujoy,
      From what I understand, SriLankan Airlines is a full-service carrier, which means the meal is included in the cost of the ticket.
      The only thing you ‘may’ need to pay for is alcohol. I’m not sure about this as I didn’t drink on the flight.

  • Reply
    June 6, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    We flew Economy with Srilankan airlines in September 2013 from London Heathrow to Colombo and found the experience to be most pleasant. The legroom was fine for my husband and I and the seats were comfortable enough. The inflight meals were tasty as airline food can be and our drinks were complimentary. The staff were pleasant and attentive and the inflight entertainment was plentiful and varied. All in all we were very impressed so much so we are flying to New Delhi via Colombo with them this year then back to Colombo for a stay in Sri Lanka before flying home. We would definitely recommend them.

    • Reply
      June 7, 2017 at 12:44 am

      Hi Julie,
      Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. It’s great to here others are having a great in-flight experience with SriLankan Airlines and choosing to fly with them again!

      Have a wonderful trip to New Dehli and Colombo later this year 🙂

  • Reply
    September 13, 2018 at 6:24 am

    This is most disgraced Air Line to travel. As the President of Srilanka say the food that is being supplied is rubbish.I traveled to Colombo from Melbourne early this year to Colombo.
    Absolutely horrible flight the money you pay these guys is not at all worth.I will never fly in this Air Line any more.
    The standard has gone to the dogs.Better get this Air Line off instead of putting innocent travels in trouble.

    • Reply
      September 16, 2018 at 6:13 pm

      Hi Mohamed,
      The Sri Lankan President was not happy with the cashew nuts served onboard his flight from Nepal to Colombo but has not commented on the regular food. From the news stories I read, he simply wasn’t happy with the current quality of these nuts, which is currently being changed from a Dubai based supplier to another supplier.

      I was looking at flying to Sri Lanka from Melbourne next month, so thanks for sharing your flight experience. I might re-think my opinions and look at the cost of flights to Singapore or Malaysia, connecting to Colombo.

      Safe travels!

  • Reply
    October 16, 2018 at 10:37 am

    I had booked 2 return flights from London to Colombo with SriLankan Airlines in June for a 2 week holiday (out business, return economy). We’ve since found out we have to move our holiday forward a month for reasons outside of our control. We booked the holiday through a travel agent who has told us to change the flights to a month earlier the charge will be £280 per person. I was under the impression the admin fee for this sort of change was closer to c£50 per flight, so almost £600 for both of us seems too high, this is more than booking a new economy return flight for one person on the same dates! Does anyone have experience of changing flights such as this and the charges involved? I don’t know if our travel agent is also adding extra charges, but I can’t see on the charges described anywhere on the SriLankan Airlines website. Any help would be much appreciated!

    • Reply
      October 16, 2018 at 12:37 pm

      Hi Mani,
      This is extremely unfortunate.

      From my experience, it is probably a mix of things – airline change fees (particularly if your seats weren’t a flexible type. This would be on a case-by-case basis depending on what cabin you fly, date you were flying and now want to fly, and if your tickets were flexible or non-flexible in nature) and additional administration fees by the travel agents. Combined, this adds up!

      I would ask in a Facebook group like Frequent Flyers Australia (https://www.facebook.com/groups/frequentflyersaustralia/) for extra assistance as people in there are very clued in to different airlines policies.

      Best of luck with changing your flights.

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    May 9, 2019 at 11:02 am

    Hi Nicole,

    How is you experience with Sri Lankan Airlines? I am planning to fly from Chicago to Hyd. I bit skeptical about this airlines. Let me know your thoughts.

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      May 9, 2019 at 10:19 pm

      Hi Raghu,
      I’ve flown Sri Lankan Airlines three times in Economy between Asia and Colombo, Sri Lanka and never had an issue.

      Let me know how your trip from Chicago to Hyd goes!

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