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Topic: Safi Airways: KBL-FRA-LCY - Prem Economy W/ Pics
Username: LAXorLGWonDL
Posted 2010-09-08 14:22:00 and read 11169 times.

Trip Report: KBL-FRA-LCY
KBL-FRA – Safi Airways
Departure: Scheduled: 0900; Actual: Approx. 1045

After some time in Kabul for my work, it was time to return home to the UK. Due to other commitments, they booked me on Safi Airways from KBL to FRA, connecting to BA for my FRA-LCY flight, as this would get me home several days earlier than using military aircraft.

Me – ready to head out!


Kabul International Airport – from the airside:

Old Terminal:


New Terminal:


Many tails!


Check in:
While the Safi website does offer online bookings, all check in is done at the airport. I arrived at the KBL civilian terminal about 2.5 hours before my flight. Safi uses the new terminal for its flights. As I approached the terminal, I was directed towards a queue for women in order to enter the building. Queuing in Afghanistan is chaotic at best with people from all over the world (Russia, the USA, Germany, and Afghanistan in my case) trying to get into the door. It took about 30 minutes to get to the door, where the guard let me in and directed me to a private room where an Afghan women patted me down. From here, I proceeded to x-ray all of my bags and headed to the queue for Safi’s flight to FRA.

Although there were only 4-5 people in the queue in front of me, it took about 20 minutes to get to the counter. The agent was friendly and promptly checked me in and accepted my baggage. He stated I was in premium economy – no complaints about that! I was assigned 18D (aisle seat) and given a hand written/stamped boarding card. They tagged my checked baggage, writing my seat number on the tags and directed me to departures.

Departures Hall:
I went upstairs to the departures hall. There was a bit of a queue for passport control, but nothing too terrible. From here, it was on to security, which was similar to that elsewhere in the world – liquid size, remove shoes, computers outside of bags, etc.

After clearing security, I headed to the departures hall. It was pretty busy with Ariana flights headed to FRA and Moscow, as well as a Safi flight to Dubai and our flight to FRA. The shop took USD, so I bought a bottle of water. There was also a Duty Free shop. I apologize for no pics – out of respect for Afghan culture, I deemed it inappropriate to take pics that might include people and not make someone happy.

Safi A340:


Boarding:
We boarded our flight at about 0845 or so. When the call came, it was somewhat chaotic as people piled toward the door and then the jetway. The staff at the boarding door were polite, checking boarding cards and directing passengers accordingly.

After we boarded, it seemed like we’d be on our way quickly. However, the pilot came over the intercom and blamed something with the ground crew for our ultimate departure delay of nearly 2 hours.

Seating:
The Safi A340 is a 3-class configuration: Business, Premium Economy, and Economy. Business class appeared pretty empty, premium economy was about ½ full and economy was probably about 85-90% full. The premium economy seats are a 2-3-2 configuration with a nice recline; they were comfortable.

Assigned to 18D, my seat was the first row in premium economy. Legroom:


Once boarding was complete, I asked if I could move to the window seat – 20A. Legroom:


After we boarded, there was some chaos between premium economy and economy, as some pax wanted to sit near their friends at the front of the economy section. Ultimately, it worked out and they sat in the last row of premium economy.

In Flight:

Safi Airways Magazine:

Dari:

English:


IFE – while there were screens in the seat headrests, there were no movies or other entertainment on the flight.

Comfort Items: Pillows with a satin-like cover were provided in each seat and the staff handed out blankets. The blankets had not been wrapped and came out of the overhead bin. They looked fine, but I’d brought my own, as a colleague advised the flight would be cold. This rang true and I was grateful for my Brookstone travel blanket!  

Food:

Lunch: The options were chicken or beef; I selected the beef. The meal was pretty good and included rice, bread, nuts, fruit, and some sort of salad. Beverages included a selection of Coca-Cola products, juice, water, tea, and coffee.


Pre-Arrival Snack: This comprised of a small sandwich and a relatively tiny muffin. Not super filling, but it wasn’t bad.


Okay, enough about the flight…some pics taken during my transit to the airport and taxing for take off!

In transit to the terminal:

Skyway Air:


Safi 767:


Taxing aircraft:


Pamir 737 awaiting take off:


Kam Air – MD88??


Kam Air 767:


Emirates SkyCargo – 747:


Safi A320 – off to Dubai:


Taxi:



Above Kabul City:


Arrival in Frankfurt was fairly smooth. After a relatively short taxi, we arrived at the gate. One alarming thing on taxi was, as we paused waiting to pull up to the gate, many people in economy got up out of their seats and pulled their bags out of the overhead, despite requests from the staff to remain seated. This was a first for me!
Once we pulled up to the gate, we deboarded and headed toward German immigration. The queue was a mess, but I was near the front and did not have to deal with much of the chaos behind me. Upon clearing passport control, I headed to baggage claim. It was very busy and largely a mob scene…blech. Once I got my bags, I headed out into the terminal to check in for my BA flight to LCY.

Thoughts on Safi: Safi was a relatively painless way for me to quickly get back to the UK before this week’s departure to Stuttgart. While some aspects of KBL were hectic, I enjoyed the extra days I had in my flat before coming back to Germany for the next few weeks. Safi’s staff were polite and the service was efficient. The lack of IFE was a bit annoying, but I had a book, iPod, and computer with me to combat any boredom.  

BA: FRA-LCY

Check in for my BA flight was fairly painless. The agent told me I had to pay for my 2nd bag, which was fine…the odd part was his asking me 3 times. I was okay with this and willingly handed over my credit card to get all of my stuff home!  

After check in, I headed to passport control, which was again very easy. FRA was not the least bit busy and I wandered around for a bit, getting a nice Starbucks beverage before heading to my gate. Security was conducted at the gate and, in true German fashion, extremely efficient and prompt!  

Once they called for the flight to board, we got on a bus that took us to the plane…it was a very full E170. At this point, I was past the point of photos…sorry. The flight was uneventful and it took just under 90 minutes to get to LCY. This was my first landing and LCY and it was QUICK! We pulled in, deboarded and headed towards Border Control. There was a bit of a queue, but it worked out this was for the EU/UK folks and I proceeded to the very empty non-EU queue, clearing within seconds.

The LCY baggage hall was a mess with people everywhere. My first bag arrived quickly, but I waited for a while on the 2nd…I went to the baggage desk to inquire and the agent and I realized someone had been kind enough to take my other bag off of the conveyor for me…as it’s bright pink, it’s hard to miss and they’d taken it off immediately when it came into the baggage hall. 

Well, that’s it for this TR – I hope you all found it to be something of interest and a bit different if nothing else.

Thanks for reading!
:D robin

Topic: RE: Safi Airways: KBL-FRA-LCY - Prem Economy W/ Pics
Username: abrelosojos
Posted 2010-09-08 14:37:46 and read 11092 times.

Let me be the first to congratulate on an excellent report on Safi Airways. I have been going to KBL a lot on work recently - investor interest in a certain airline - and, have always lamented the inability to write a TR due to personal "policies". It's so awesome to see a report on this airline, route, and country. I am really fond of Afghanistan and am glad you could share your experience with us.

KBL seems - "normal" - unless you can use the "VIP" process. Meal in Y+CL looks fantastic. Was it the same meal offered in YCL and Y+CL?

Saludos,
A.

Topic: RE: Safi Airways: KBL-FRA-LCY - Prem Economy W/ Pics
Username: LAXorLGWonDL
Posted 2010-09-08 14:42:31 and read 11066 times.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 1):
KBL seems - "normal" - unless you can use the "VIP" process. Meal in Y+CL looks fantastic. Was it the same meal offered in YCL and Y+CL?

I think the food was the same -- the FA's continued with their food and beverage carts from Y+ to Y...or so it seemed. I'm not sure if Ramazan affected food service in Y or not. Most of the pax in Y+ appeared to be Westerners...everyone seemed to take food though.

 

Topic: RE: Safi Airways: KBL-FRA-LCY - Prem Economy W/ Pics
Username: MHTripple7
Posted 2010-09-08 16:16:27 and read 10799 times.

Wow, what a rare airline / route! Thank you for sharing.

You can clearly see who operated that A340 before Safi - they didn't put much effort into repainting it into their old colors.

Although the food looks great, and Safi seems to be offering a fairly nice product overall.

It's interesting that Safi can operate flights into the EU but Ariana is banned.

Oh, and thanks for the awesome pics of the ramp in KBL. Very interesting!

Topic: RE: Safi Airways: KBL-FRA-LCY - Prem Economy W/ Pics
Username: okapi
Posted 2010-09-08 16:20:56 and read 10783 times.

Hi !

Quoting LAXorLGWonDL (Thread starter):
I hope you all found it to be something of interest and a bit different if nothing else.

You must be joking! I jumped on it as soon as I read KBL on the title bar. Great report indeed. Safi looks nice and a fresh change on all the luxury yet very interesting TR around. Would you fly them again? And how is Kabul in general? The views of the airport remind me of Sarajevo, back in 1995...

Thanks for sharing!
OKP.

Topic: RE: Safi Airways: KBL-FRA-LCY - Prem Economy W/ Pics
Username: ronerone
Posted 2010-09-08 16:46:53 and read 10710 times.

What an AMAZING Trip Report!!!

I had been waiting for a Safi Airways one, and thank you so much for providing us with this insight!

the meals indeed look great! .. How was the crew? Was there any IFE?


Thank you for sharing!

Cheers,
Roni

Topic: RE: Safi Airways: KBL-FRA-LCY - Prem Economy W/ Pics
Username: airpearl
Posted 2010-09-08 17:00:52 and read 10685 times.

Hi there!

Wow, what a wonderful, rare report. Thanks for sharing the pictures of KBL and the unique mix of traffic there. The fact that this flight originates from Kabul, and that the airline is Safi almost puts this report in a category of its own!

Thanks again for the amazing insight.

Cheers
airpearl

Topic: RE: Safi Airways: KBL-FRA-LCY - Prem Economy W/ Pics
Username: WhereToNext
Posted 2010-09-08 18:08:41 and read 10584 times.

Hi LAXorLGWonDL,

First off, WOW. Amazing trip and thanks for covering such a unique routing on an even more interesting airline. I was pleasantly surprised by how modern Afghani aviation seemed to be. Safi Airways seems to offer a nice product on this route!

Thanks again,
Matt (WhereToNext)

Topic: RE: Safi Airways: KBL-FRA-LCY - Prem Economy W/ Pics
Username: 767747
Posted 2010-09-08 19:01:20 and read 10485 times.

Really good report!

I remember reading something about Safi Airways in a recent Airways Magazine article. What an interesting airline! Looks like they provided a good service for you .. What a rare route on this site!

Thanks for sharing,

Matthew (767747)

Topic: RE: Safi Airways: KBL-FRA-LCY - Prem Economy W/ Pics
Username: concordechild
Posted 2010-09-08 19:30:53 and read 10427 times.

Fantastic trip report, hope you can do a few more on this route if you travel it again.

P

Topic: RE: Safi Airways: KBL-FRA-LCY - Prem Economy W/ Pics
Username: Fly2YYZ
Posted 2010-09-08 20:38:10 and read 10291 times.

I gotta say I appreciated your trip report on Safi!

Its been a few months since I last took Safi and wanted to try out their KBL-FRA flight, I always got booked onto the DXB flight and travelled home from there. Hope you are finished with Afghanistan and if not hope you have a lengthy leave!

Topic: RE: Safi Airways: KBL-FRA-LCY - Prem Economy W/ Pics
Username: The777Man
Posted 2010-09-08 21:39:57 and read 10197 times.

Very intersting and nice report on an airline and departure city we rarely see here. Meals looks great but too bad that thre was no IFE.

Looking forward to your next report!

The777Man

Topic: RE: Safi Airways: KBL-FRA-LCY - Prem Economy W/ Pics
Username: TravelsUK
Posted 2010-09-08 22:00:52 and read 10174 times.

Many thanks for sharing that with us, something totally out of the ordinary and much appreciated!

Surprised to see that KBL looks so 'normal', glass airbridges etc. when you conbsider the images of Afganistan ordinarily portrayed in the media.

The A340 looks to be ex Air Comet - is that correct?

Many thanks again

Nick

Topic: RE: Safi Airways: KBL-FRA-LCY - Prem Economy W/ Pics
Username: LAXorLGWonDL
Posted 2010-09-08 23:59:31 and read 10002 times.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 5):
the meals indeed look great! .. How was the crew? Was there any IFE?


The food was fine...it was airplane food.   The crew was polite and prompt in providing service. Aside of the meal services, they also brought around water, tea, and coffee a couple of times. As far as IFE, despite the tiny screens in the head rests there was no entertainment system whatsoever.

Quoting TravelsUK (Reply 12):

The A340 looks to be ex Air Comet - is that correct?

Yes, it is.

Quoting Fly2YYZ (Reply 10):
Its been a few months since I last took Safi and wanted to try out their KBL-FRA flight, I always got booked onto the DXB flight and travelled home from there. Hope you are finished with Afghanistan and if not hope you have a lengthy leave!

I know a lot of folks who fly KBL-DXB and then take Emirates, BA, or another airline to their onward destinations. As far as returning to KBL, I'll probably go back sometime next year.

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 3):

It's interesting that Safi can operate flights into the EU but Ariana is banned.

I know there was an Ariana flight scheduled to Frankfurt that departed about 30 minutes before us. A lady in the security queue to get into the building was on that flight.


Thanks for feedback everyone! I'm glad you liked the TR!

robin

Topic: RE: Safi Airways: KBL-FRA-LCY - Prem Economy W/ Pics
Username: faucett
Posted 2010-09-09 00:26:38 and read 9948 times.

Wow! We normally don't get TR's from this part of the world, and certainly not on there airlines.

Great reading.

Sam

Topic: RE: Safi Airways: KBL-FRA-LCY - Prem Economy W/ Pics
Username: burj
Posted 2010-09-10 20:38:17 and read 8463 times.

Wow, fascinating! Thank you for sharing such a unique experience!

Topic: RE: Safi Airways: KBL-FRA-LCY - Prem Economy W/ Pics
Username: BA319-131
Posted 2010-09-11 00:05:59 and read 8356 times.

Intersting stuff, thanks for sharing the Safi flight with us.

I have to say the whole experience seemed much better than I imagined it would have been.

Interesting Safi have a Y+ product, would never have expected that, food and portions look generous too,quite impressed actually!

Cheers

Mark

Topic: RE: Safi Airways: KBL-FRA-LCY - Prem Economy W/ Pics
Username: ojas
Posted 2010-09-11 00:47:22 and read 8313 times.

A very nice TR including a rare airport and airline!

It seems a relatively decent experience flying from KBL, different from what I perceived. Also liked the meal presentation on the flight.

Thanks for sharing.

Topic: RE: Safi Airways: KBL-FRA-LCY - Prem Economy W/ Pics
Username: Avianca
Posted 2010-09-12 18:45:47 and read 7953 times.

great report!

looks like a very good service for a carrier from a country were we would expect somehting else.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 1):
have been going to KBL a lot on work recently - investor interest in a certain airline - and, have always lamented the inability to write a TR due to personal "policies".

what routing are you normally using? CCS-FRA-DXB-KBL?

saludos
Avianca


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