Longhaul with Sri Lankan: London to Colombo

When you step on a plane and notice that the seats still contain these…

Sri Lankan Airlines Ashtray

it’s likely you’re on a pretty old plane.  Such was the case of my family’s recent experience of flying Sri Lankan Airlines.  Despite boasts of a new fleet, my clan must have got unlucky both ways, flying (in their words) ‘a rickety old tin can with uncomfortable seats’.  So if you’re planning on flying Sri Lankan, here are some tips…

Review of UL504, departs London Heathrow T4 at 9pm and arrives Colombo 1pm +1

Who flew?
James & Anna with their two-year old son Freddy

Flight booking
Done online through the Sri Lankan Airlines website.  At the time of booking we were also able to request a child meal and confirm our seats.  Tip – always prebook your children’s meal as these arrive earlier than the adult meal.

Our plane had a 2-4-2 configuration and we decided the best formation for the three of us was to book a 2 and a 1 (the lucky parent).

Sri Lankan Airlines is part of the OneWorld Alliance so don’t forget to add your frequent flyer number e.g. British Airways. If you haven’t already joined – make sure you do! It’s free!  You can also sign kids aged 2+ to a household account.

Packing Tips
We brought Freddy’s pillow and a soft blanket, both invaluable!

Sri Lankan Airlines - Freddy on pillow

Checking in for Sri Lankan Airlines
We checked in online in advance and then when we got to T4 we were lucky there was no queue for bag drop.
Anna’s tips for T4
  • Bought milk for the flight in WH Smith
  • Took the buggy all the way to the gate with us as it’s quite a walk
  • Had snacks on hand at all time!
The plane was an A330-200, very old and felt a bit rattly. The seat was also very uncomfortable. We were pleased we had booked the 2 and 1 as it meant one of us got a break.
The seatback TVs were also very old with a limited selection of TV and movies.  One of us had a fuzzy screen and the other had no sound! Tip – bring your own tablet loaded up with entertainment!
Tips on getting a young child to sleep…
Our two year old had basically been up since his lunchtime nap.  The flight took off at 9pm and he was very overexcited.  Unfortunately he didn’t fall asleep on take off and went past the point of no return. The difficulty is that the keep the cabin lights on until about 11.30pm. Then after the lights went off he refused to settle so we had lots of grizzling and crying.  He eventually passed out from exhaustion and slept on and off for the rest of the flight!
You can only go into it expecting the worst and then be pleasantly surprised if you get a few hours sleep! Tip – As it’s likely your child will be draped over you, it’s worth investing in a decent adult neck pillow.
Sri Lankan Airlines - Freddy sleeping
The food
They served dinner quite soon after take off. The children’s meal was ok – chicken nuggets and chips. The adult’s dinner was pretty good – several choices of curry!
Unfortunately the stewardess actually woke my husband up to ask if he wanted a drink!
We picked up our stroller at the luggage carousel rather than at the plane door.  Tip – bring your baby carrier
It’s also worth buying your tourist e-visa in advance to save you a queue.
 Srilankan airlines
Overall – we didn’t find Sri Lankan the most luxurious of carriers however it was the best priced option for our route (London to Colombo).  If you are traveling in a group of three, the 2-1 combination works well as at least one of you get the chance of a decent night’s sleep!  
Traveling with a two year old is never easy but flying longhaul is well worth it to visit Sri Lanka’s beautiful beaches….
Perfect Beach - Thalpe


  1. adrianscrazylife

    What a gorgeous beach. I’m so glad my days of traveling with little ones are over. My son was a nightmare on trips – he would fight me with every fiber in his little body because of his rampant curiousity and raging NEED to explore every inch of the entire plane. Definitely not fun!

  2. Menath

    Now Sri Lankan airlines flies their latest widebody aircraft to London.
    I suppose UL should depart from London during the day. from CMB-LHR night

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