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I traveled first time by Biman Bangladesh in 1999 which was a pleasant experience. It was a long gap in between when I traveled second time in 2007 from London to Dhaka via Dubai. There is no denying the fact that Biman Bangladesh is not up to world class standard when it comes to maintain flight schedule, cleanliness and hygiene. The comfort level is below good in my personal experience. However, the food is just superb, the best I have had on any flight by other carriers. The biggest problem is the discomfort while traveling by Biman Bangladesh. The seats are not very clean and looks pretty shabby. The toilets are not clean. Apart from these, I have found everything just excellent with this national carrier of Bangladesh. The flight attendants are very helpful and always ready to help passengers. The food is very tasty and include Bangladeshi delicious items as well as western and continental items. However, choice is limited when it comes to drink juices. On long route food are served a few times, which are adequate. Another big advantage is its direct flight that many reputed airlines do not provide. I would also like to mention that Bangladesh Biman has an excellent reputation of maintaining safety records or scores. The pilots are very efficient and experienced, in my opinion among the best in the world the way they run old aircrafts so well. I will recommend to travel by Biman Bangladesh if you want safety, good food and to travel without stopovers.
Imagine a terrible airline at it's worst. Well, that is what you will get from Bangladesh Biman on a good day! Now, I am not trying to be smart or even sarcastic, this airline has an awful reputation which is deserved. I have flown both economy and executive class on this airline and it is without a doubt the worst airline I have ever flown with. Before, you mention budget carriers such as Ryanair, Biman takes you to a new level of depravity. The tagline for the airline is 'Your home in the sky' which would only hold weight if your home was a broken shack in a slum. It may appear that I have been somewhat harsh about the airline but I assure you I am being fair and accurate. So, lets examine some of the details about this airline. BACKGROUND Biman is the national airline carrier of Bangladesh. Being the flag carrier means that if a government official requires a flight then your flight will either be cancelled or severely delayed. Biman operate a fleet of ageing Airbus A310s and old DC10s on most routes and Fokker F28s for domestic flights. Biman has some of the oldest planes (25 years+) in operation which bring with them countless mechanical, safety and security issues. In 2007, Biman faced strong criticism from major international airports including London Heathrow Airport and Dubai International Airport for its failure to maintain flight schedules. In 2008, The Times labelled Biman as the worst performer for punctuality at Heathrow, with flights delayed on average by three hours. CHECK IN This is usually when the troubles begin as a flight that leaves on time is something of rarity with this airline. Usually, it is a case of how long will the delay be. Yes, you may check in on time but that seldom means a prompt departure. Also do not expect much via the way of communication from the airline advising of any such delays. I have experienced delays on both International and domestic flights which have ranged from 1 - 18 hours. When hotel accommodation needs to be provided because of delays they will try to get people to share rooms with other passengers even if they do not know them. They have a complete disregard for your personal safety and comfort. The response on complaining is unsympathetic and usually futile as they fail to respond or act. ONBOARD The planes are time machine! When you walk onboard, the first thing that you will notice is the rather ugly looking orange and green floral upholstered seats which compliment the rather faded dirty carpet. The scene is something from the 70s as the airline has done no refurbishment at all. The airline supposedly has a few new(er) aircrafts but I have not been on nor heard of anyone that has been on them. ECONOMY CLASS As mentioned the seating looks rather ugly and dirty and it seems befitting that most functions do not work. Many seats do not recline, drop down tables are weak and usually held together by one hinge, seat pockets have debris from previous flights etc. If you are or near average height then legroom is not something that you have. Having said all this, the seats are not particularly uncomfortable but it obviously depends on which seat you get and whether it is broken or not. Do not expect anything in the way of an entertainment system. Biman used to provide those in economy class with flimsy earphones to listen to the onboard music (music from early 90s which has not been updated). These earphones were also used to listen to the inflight movie. You do not get a screen but the movie would be displayed on monitors that came down from the central isle. No choice and if you were not nearby, then the viewing experience would be rather difficult at distance. They have now stopped this so you get no entertainment whatsoever on your flight regardless of the duration. There are supposed to be inflight magazines and newspapers for you to read but these are seldom found in any seat pockets. If using this airline, bring your own entertainment or sleeping pills. The toilets in economy class usually carry a stench which makes you not want to use them. If you need to use them then it is best to do so early on. The food, however, although not anything of note is edible and half decent. The standards seem to have slipped as the food is not as good as it was which I guess is a result of cost cutting. This manifests itself in the beverage they offer you, which used to be a small soft drink can which has now been replaced by a cup of flat coca cola. I heard one passenger ask the whereabouts of the vegetarian meal he had pre-ordered to which the crew responded by saying they had run out of such meals and that the chicken was good and he should eat that. The crew seem stressed and look like they do not want to be there in this class. Requests (for drinks, tissues etc) are taken but usually delivered after the need has gone. EXECUTIVE CLASS The title suggests that you will be in for an altogether different and perhaps positive experience. This could not be further from the truth. I would rate this class as significantly below the offering of economy class on the likes of Emirates, Qatar, Etihad, Singapore Airlines and even BA. The seats have the same gaudy 70s floral pattern but are large and there is legroom (although if you are pushing much over 6ft you may challenge that). There is more space to move around especially when you compare it against the cramped cattle class tail end. They also have foot rests which economy class does not. Most footrests are broken though! This is really where the differences in the two classes end. You are not provided with an individual inflight entertainment system, your seat does not turn into a bed, you are not offered fruit basket. You do get to choose your food from a menu selection of 2 items (when available). You do get real as opposed to plastic cutlery. Does this warrant executive class? Well, perhaps if I say that you receive a small bag which contains ear plugs, flight socks, tooth paste and a small bottle of cologne then you might think it warranted the label? Well, you get offered such basic things in most economy classes on any half decent airline. The only real benefit is that the toilets are cleaner and usually free. Although, you get plenty of people coming in from economy to use them. The crew seem oblivious to this. The crew in executive class are more attentive and polite to passengers but I have received a friendlier and more professional service when flying economy on most other airlines. VERDICT The service standards are low, the planes are old and riddled with mechanical faults, delays are the norm, comfort is not a reality, customer service is asking for too much. This is an airline you should avoid and do not be tempted if you find a cheap ticket for executive class as it is substandard and would be below economy on most Arab airlines (Etihad, Emirates, Qatar). If you are considering this airline because the flight schedules or times are more favourable for you then I would advise against. This airline seldom keeps to it's schedule and has been reprimanded by many airports. If you have a time sensitive meeting or event, then you should ignore this airline altogether regardless of whether the schedule seems the best fit. The only reason to use this airline is if you do not fancy the hassle of stopovers and having to change planes as Biman flies direct to some destinations that other carriers do not. If travelling with a family or the elderly, this could outweigh the significant disadvantages flying with this airline offers. For this convenience of flying direct, you will be paying in terms of your comfort. If at all possible, avoid this airline as it will not be an experience that you enjoy.