POST 8 – November 13th 2018 – Travel lifestyle

Heading to Africa on Kenya Airways

Kenya Airways DXB-NBO-JNB, Business class, Boeing 787-800 “dreamliner”

After a few days in Dubai where we mostly saw aseptized malls, my friend and I were both looking forward to see a « real » destination : South Africa, together with Namibia and the Victoria Falls.

Because I found for my best friend Myriam a reasonably priced ticket on Emirates between France and Johannesburg which could include a stop over in Dubai, She flew direct from Dubai to Johannesburg while I flew at approximatively the same time via Nairobi, on Kenya airways. As it was also my first time on this airline, the price being very reasonable and Kenya airways being a Sky Team member such as Air France or KLM, I was also happy to test a new airline and their long-haul business class product on their Boeing 787-800 dreamliner as it was in operation that day on both flights between Dubai and Nairobi and between Nairobi and Johannesburg.

Checking in Dubai was fast and my boarding passes were issued on the spot. Clearing immigration and security in Terminal 1 was a breeze and I was airside minutes after checking in.

Kenya airways uses the SkyTeam lounge in Dubai. Unfortunately the lounge was very crowded when I arrived due to some other SkyTeam flights departing to Paris, Amsterdam, China and Saudi Arabia.

The lounge, like the other skyteam lounges i was able to visit in the past in Sydney and London was ok. Nothing exceptional but with food and beverages from the different regions the alliance airlines are flying to.

Due to the crowd, I did not stay there very long and decided to visit the lounge across this one, the Ahlan lounge, which is accessible with Priority pass membership.

This lounge looked much larger than the SkyTeam lounge and with good food and beverages offerings, but was way less crowded than the former. As my flight was boarding using one of the bus gates, I stayed there only 5 minutes but managed to snap a few pictures.

The flight to Nairobi boarded using the bus gates (which I think is happening everyday and could be due to the fact that flight lands about 6 hours before).

While there was a priority line to board the buses, everybody was packed in the same buses and it took in total 20 minutes or so to reach our aircraft, with buses packed to the brim. Certainly not the greatest business class experience ever… but we eventually reached the aircraft, a dreamliner registered as 5Y-KZC – Moment I was told by the ground staff that I was not allowed to take pictures of the aircraft…

Kenya Airways flight KQ311, October 29th 2018
DXB Dubai Intl – 01:45
NBO Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta Intl – 05:50
Boeing 787-800 – 5Y-KZC – Seat 1A, Business class, window.

I was informed earlier that day during the check-in that the seat next to me should remain empty for both segments, so while the business class on board Kenya Airways dreamliner is configured in a 2-2-2 configuration, which is not always the best when flying solo, my experience on that trip was better than it is supposed to be as I had the luxury to have 2 seats just for me.

The cabin was in pretty good condition when I entered the aircraft and the business class loading was maybe about 50% that day. The business class cabin on Kenya airways is divided in two sections, with the second galley separating the two sections. The Front section has 3 rows of 6 seats, while the smaller section behind the second galley has 2 rows of 6 seats.

The seats can indeed fully recline and are very similar to what Turkish airlines offers on their long haul flights in business class and also very similar to the older Qatar airways seat. It is comfortable in bed, seated and lounge position and the controls are quite easy to operate. Each seat has one USB and one universal power plug, but not much stowage for computers or ipads for instance, those would have to be placed with the magazines in front of the seat.

Note that for the first row seats, like the one I had, the inflight entertainment screen is located in the arm rest. A small privacy divider can also be operated between the two seats.

A welcome drink was offered before departure and consisted in water or fruit juice (more like a fruit cocktail) and newspapers were proposed. The amenity kit was also given at that time. A pillow and a nice blanket are also available at the seat.

I slept most of the flight so cannot really comment more the service onboard, but I don’t think there was much service on this night flight as most of the passengers did like me. When I woke up mid-flight to use the lavatories, most of the crew was in the galley reading magazines or talking to each other.

I slept quite nicely (almost 4 hours in total out of a 5 hour flight) and woke up about 30 minutes before landing, when a flight attendant asked me if I wanted something to drink and brought me a fruit plate at the same time.

Here below is a 360 degree view of the cabin, while boarding in Dubai airport

We landed ontime and another bus brought us to the main terminal where I had to clear security one more time, although there was no queue at all, so this was an easy formality.

I had about 2 hours in Nairobi and since there is really not much to see in this airport I decided to spend most of the transit time in one of the two lounges Kenya airways offer. I choose the Pride lounge located in the terminal, around gate 17 if I remember correctly (the other lounge is located right after security and will be tested on my return trip when I will have plenty of time to transfer…).

The lounge is better than what I expected. It is clean, and the seating is comfortable, with a good WiFi connection. The buffet is quite minimal but sufficient for what I needed that day. The breakfast buffet consisted in a few hot dishes such as scrambled eggs or tomato beans. Although there was a shortage of cups, glasses, and cutlery, the staff was friendly and efficient to provide me some upon request (as long as you are nice to them, as a few « gentlemens » were not very nice with the staff).

Finally, the lounge has a smoking area, a shower and some outside views.

My flight to Johannesburg was a bit delayed and I waited about 10 minutes at the gate before the boarding began around 07.55, with priority boarding being enforced. I can confirm that there is definitely not much to see in Nairobi airport !

Kenya Airways flight KQ760, October 29th 2018
NBO Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta Intl – 08:15
JNB Johannesburg O.R.Tambo Intl – 10:55
Boeing 787-800 – 5Y-KZA – Seat 1A, Business class, window.

The business class cabin was about half full on that flight too, and I could enjoy the pair of seats 1A/1B just for me. A different type of juice than on the previous flight was offered, but no amenity kit, nor blankets were available. (Blankets are however stored onboard as I asked for one mid-flight). Noise reducing headphones were also provided.

We took off about 40 minutes later than scheduled, and the cabin windows were automatically dimmed after 30 minutes, with nice views on the Kilimanjaro on the left side of the aircraft…

The menus were distributed at that time, with a choice of 3 breakfast options, and I choose the vegetarian dish which was very good. It came with freshly cutted fruits, corn flakes with yogurt and a selection of pastries and danishes. I liked the fact the table was properly dressed for this breakfast, unlike other airlines who just bring you a tray with your meal on it. Most of the service was done from the galley, and the drinks with the main courses brought on a cart. I opted for Kenyan tea to come with my breakfast, and later, Kenyan coffee.

Considering the duration of the flight (about 4 hours) and the light loading of the cabin, I took a few pictures of the second section of the business class.

There was no wifi onboard and found the inflight entertainment to be quite limited in terms of movies and series, but had a decent audio selection. Since I was planning to « work » anyway during this flight, I was fine just listening to some music.

We landed about 30 minutes late and taxied for a good 10 minutes before reaching our gate.

While I cannot comment a lot about the first flight, (but certainly do not think the bus transfers are appropriate for long haul aircrafts like this one), I think the second flight was good, again considering the space I had with the second seat available (there is a lack of storage for your personal items otherwise). I was pretty satisfied with the catering provided on board and the quality of the seating.

Immigration took about 20-30 minutes to clear and the luggage was already there by the time I reached the carroussel (actually, my best friend who arrived with the direct Emirates flight 30 minutes before me catched my luggage for me J)

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