I love it when an airline genuinely surprises me. It doesn’t happen too often these days – many airlines stand alongside one another in terms of service. If anything, airlines stand out for being poor compared to expectations. Air Astana, on the other hand, surprised me in a really positive way.
I’d arrived into Almaty from my flight with SCAT Airlines. I’d arrived more than three hours late which made me miss my onward connection down to Tashkent, losing me my flight with Uzbekistan Airways. In a haste, my only way out of the country seemed to be to take a flight to Nur Sultan, and try and get home from there. Air Astana had a flight leaving within an hour that I jumped upon.
The only seats remaining were in business class, which were selling for a very reasonable 80,800 KZT – or £168/$210.
As I’d booked so soon before departure I had to present my ID and credit card at the check in desk before I could check in. Once I’d done this I headed straight through to security to the tiny departure lounge here at Almaty.
There is an Air Astana lounge here at Almaty however, unfortunately, I didn’t have time to visit as my flight was called for boarding.
I was pleased to see that my aircraft today would be a brand new Airbus A321neo, an aircraft type I’d not flown on before, and had only been delivered to Air Astana a few weeks before.
I boarded the aircraft and was struck by the modern, spacious cabin. The aircraft still smelled brand new and the seats were in a very comfortable 2-2 configuration.
The seat was very comfortable and had a huge screen in front.
The safety video was played at the gate, and the crew came around with pre-flight drinks and the menu for today’s flight. I took an orange juice and had a look through the menu. Surprisingly there was even a wine list for this short flight up to Nur Sultan.
The cabin crew came around with hot towels too.
As we taxied to the runway, an Antonov AN-24 taxied in after a domestic passenger flight.
The terminal at Almaty is very unique in its design but looks beautiful.
After a very short taxi, we lined up and departed to the north getting some beautiful views of the mountains and, beyond them, China.
The headsets in business class are decent quality and produced excellent sound from the IFE system.
The business class seat on the Air Astana A321neo offers both a three pin power socket and USB power too.
Soon after takeoff, the first drinks service started. I took a glass of wine and a glass of water.
Next came the meal service – and what a contrast to my previous flight with SCAT Airways.
Lunch was a divine chicken kebab with rice and a lush sauce. The highlight, however, was the amazing chocolate caramel dessert – what a meal for a flight less than an hour long!
After lunch, I had time to have a look around the inflight entertainment system. Air Astana’s system is very similar to Lufthansa’s, and I wondered if it’s the same system but rebranded.
There’s a good variety of TV, movies and music.
There’s an air show map system, but whilst this showed our position and altitude in text form, sadly the map was not working.
As we commenced our descent into the coldest city in Kazakhstan, Nursultan, we were treated to a view of some very unique clouds.
We made an approach and landing into Nursultan, touching down on a freezing cold spring day.
Overall, I was very impressed with Air Astana. In a part of the world where high-quality airlines seem to be hard to come by, Air Astana stands head and shoulders above the rest. Their business class product is incredible and even puts Western carriers to shame for such a short flight. They are a great option for connecting flights to Asia, and like many others, I’m looking forward to seeing what they offer onboard their Boeing 787s when they eventually get delivered.