Somehow, my adventures meandering around the world lead me here – sitting in a Biman Airlines business-class seat onboard a Boeing 737-800NG. But just how did I get here? Let me explain.
Easy! After a visit to Paris-CDG and Dubai, I looked at a map and decided, hey, why not go to Bangladesh? While exploring the compact, but fascinating country, I had three choices to get from one place to another: 30 minute flights, 7 hour train rides, or 12 hour ferries.
Naturally, I chose… all 3! Of course.
I was absolutely riveted to check out Biman Airlines and see how their domestic business class product compared to other airlines I’ve flown business class in – United, Delta, American, Aerolineas Argentinas, LATAM, Ethiopian (read about my interesting experience here), Air France, Mauritanian Airlines, and a couple others.
Considering the short flight time and the vastly diverse experiences I had in Bangladesh up to this point, I truly had no idea what to expect on Biman Airlines – especially in business class.
My Overall Impression of Biman Airlines
I flew from Osmani International Airport, Sylhet (ZYL) to Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Dhaka (DAC), a 35 minute flight, in late January. This trip was operated by Biman Airlines on a Boeing 737-800NG, though this route is also served by DeHavilland Dash 8 Q400s and Boeing 787s. Other notable airlines in Bangladesh include US-Bangla Airlines and Novoair, both of which I did not try.
While I did not get a chance to fly on competing US-Bangla Airways or Novoair, I did fly on two Biman Airlines flights, one a Dash-8 and the other this Boeing 737-800NG, both in economy and business classes.
Both experiences were remarkably similar and consistent, which I consider a good thing. While there was no weather (as it’s winter in Bangladesh – dry season), both flights were insignificantly delayed – between 40 and 60 minutes. The delays were not posted, and it was very difficult to find information online about the inbound flights. If any PAs were made, they were not in English – which is understandable. We were the only foreigners we saw.
Biman Check-in Experience: 7/10, online checkin is useless
Though we checked in online, both times we were required to go to the counter to get printed and stamped boarding passes. This process was easy, though the line for business class was not well delineated.
We were not required to weigh our bags, though there technically is a limit (20kg and 7kg for checked in and carryon, respectively). I was able to avoid checking in my normal pilot carryon bag.
Security times were nominal, almost nonexistent both times.
Service (6.5/10, very average)
There was no real difference in service between economy and business. In fact, the meal was identical – some cake, mango bar, and water served in a box.
Though I can’t say definitively from just one flight, it appears that the flight attendants aren’t trained to provide any special service for business class passengers.
The experience from check in to deplaning was nothing special, just average.
Seats (8.7/10, super comfortable but no IFE)
Overall, this 738 was quite dated, it seemed. (S2-AFM) The interior could use a little bit of TLC. The exterior was equally dirty, but it’s understandable considering the high pollution levels of Bangladesh and the number of sectors these aircraft perform.
Though the seats are standard recliner first class seats, Biman Airlines seems to offer more legroom and recline than average for first class. I found the seats very comfortable, and I think I could sleep on a longer flight. Pity that ZYL-DAC is only 35 minutes.
No blanket, but there was a very nice pillow. The headrest is adjustable but the contours are not. Overall, the cushioning seems to hit the spot – soft where it counts, and firm where it’s needed. You really feel comfortable here. The legroom is enough that you could mostly pass your neighbor for aisle access without them having to move out of the way.
No IFE, no WiFi – but not necessary for these short sectors.
If you are flying on a Dash 8 Q400 with Biman Airlines, note that the business class seats are identical to economy (2×2).
Pricing: 9.1/10, very affordable
At $61 one way in business ‘saver’, it’s quite a steal. Economy seats are typically around $35 each way. Worth not being in a middle seat. I booked this flight about a week out.
I booked my ticket directly on the Biman Bangladesh Airlines website, which offered more flight options than any other online service I found.
Conclusion: Biman Airlines has a good, not great domestic business class product
All things considered, I would say Biman Airlines domestic first class is above average for developing countries. The product is honestly fine, not outstanding, but I would definitely fly them again.
Looking forward to trying out their business class long haul product some day. Until then, I’ll hold on to this unique and memorable domestic experience!
I’d rate this overall at 8.1/10!