Almost every (East) African knows that KQ plays the first roles in its market and imposes its fares regardless the destination.
Going to Uganda could have been done easier and cheaper in many ways of course! But most of people do choose their favorite airlines or the one sentimentally close to them. So did i with " the Pride of Africa " obviously.
Earlier this week, Ugandan A.netter Sjacob sent me a grim news about this airline:
National carrier Kenya Airways has posted a loss before tax of 6.5 billion shillings for the half year period ended 30th of September 2012
It has been hit hard by the Euro-zone crisis and a stronger shilling compared to a profit of 2.03 billion over the same period last year.
Europe accounts for 30 per cents of KQ's total revenues.
KQ said it has had to cut back operations through suspension or reduced frequency on the routes that were not performing well like Rome, Muscat, Zanzibar and London. KQ said it had cut back on the London route by stopping the day flight (rostered only during the week ends)
"London is a big contributor to our passengers numbers and we are looking at alternative routes within Africa to start feeding into the London route" said Titus Naikuni.
By Paul Wafula , National Monitor – Uganda , Tuesday 6th of November 2012
Hence every passing year, their so - called promotions lose attractiveness in fact. In 2010 a bargain multi-destination ticket from London (LHR-NBO-KGL/LLW-NBO-LHR) cost £405, nowadays Nairobi itself nearly reaches £550. So no wonder about those disastrous financial results
As aforementioned, departing from London was often considered the best bet for many reasons, however through KLM website during the conventional begin-of-the-year sales, Edinburgh was much affordable via Amsterdam, my most favorite Skyteam hub to Nairobi. And then a £132 first price one way to EBB.
The Servisair staff, handling AF/KLM flights, is pretty much the same 4 times out of 5, i am always quickly welcomed and processed in the usual way with a nice smile and sometimes a personal word.
At that time a trainee or a probable new member never met before, was reluctant to tag my luggages up to Entebbe/Kampala. She mentionned the "sho-con" separating the 2 bookings. I was dismayed and quiet surprised as it has been done countless of times beforehand here and elsewhere.
So the rest of the preflight in EDI has been spent to change the flight. My laptop showed many availabilities for the next flight at 12h55, whilst in London Airport, the phone agent pushed me to the evening flight at 6 pm, until he realised that yes few seats remained left earlier. Thank you!
A text message to the friend in Kampala to explain the later arrival time, the smooth flight with some "delicious bites"and hop here we go, welcome to Schiphol.
AMS was reported so many time including its easy transfer terminal, its "See Buy Fly" shopping center and its noisy "Mind the step" autowalks that i directly settled down near the gate, in order to enjoy the complimentary half and hour wifi provided.
The unique gate opened
The area is really cosy and comfortable and enables any piano player to demonstrate his talent. A virtuoso Asian shared his fantastic skill. The scarce departing passengers were obviously all enchanted.
Fancy playing piano: this place waits for you
Wandering around after allowed me to discover the famous lounge 3 inaugurated the day before Suryo flew to Granada - Spain and that impressed him:
Suryo was mesmerized by this great Lounge 3
Interested on buying famous Edam or Gouda it has been made impossible since the long lay over in NBO.
19 minutes to go
The latest of their 777-200ER, part of the fleet since February 2007
Time was literally flying, and the last call for boarding was imminent, one can feel the advantage of processing at the end, useless Skypriority lanes, friendly security agent and no queue prior boarding despite 5 minutes wait in the air bridge before being immerse in "Africa".
Photo © Botterman Bram - AirTeamImages
Photo © James Mepsted
Photo © Mark Kwiatkowski
Kenya Airways flies a handful of Triple Seven, mostly serving London, Amsterdam, Mumbai and Bangkok en route to Hong Kong or Guangzhou depending on the days.
If i had followed PlaneHunter's footer, stating that "Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice", i would have surely given up flying Kenya Airways ages ago since it represented my 3rd time at least onboard the most recent KQ's 777!! However it might be my first report here with this plane .
Following a truly warm welcome from a couple of Kenyan crew, i've made my way to the window seat – 18J. A few moment later a cool chap from Leeds settled down on the aisle seat. While he told me about his future volunteering mission in Mwanza – Tanzania, i scrutinized that the very last passengers embarking got enough other options than 18I.
In contrast with KQ101 to/from London, KQ117 attracts much more locals ( understand Africans), on that day it was a bit different though.
So the boarding still processing, embarked other African fellows overloaded of goods, gifts(?) or personal belongings who were desperately trying to fit in on the over head bins. I applaud the staff for their patience and managing to please everyone among the families wanting to sit together or other basic issues.
The same crew distributed the headphones thereafter.
Basic comfort kit: thin pillow and blanket!
A cool British dude
English and Swahili
The recline standard too
Sure not my hairs .
The captain (I read one day that only Kenyan nationals have the right to occupy this position, is it true?) and the senior pursuer presented themselves to the travellers, then gave a very warm welcome to the Skyteam Elite guests, and continued with the usual speech. While the push back began, the security announcements – in English and Swahili – were followed by very few passengers.
Push-back on time
The several turns indicated a take off from the east like runway 27 or 24.
As nobody cares about a night take off, the greatest short video that must be seen now, is what might have invaded the minds of many wazungu, it is really nice so watch it here:
Somewhere above Holland or Germany!
The crew ajusted its uniform before closing the forward curtains and its customary first action was to hand over the hot towels. The opportunity to show you the cabin arose at this moment along with the lavatory, mainly because after the meal service a huge queue appears and the cleanliness becomes doutful, though some passengers dare walking barefoot...
First cabin lays out in 3 – 3 – 3
From the back
Rear section of the cabin
The lavatory at an early stage of the flight
From the galleys were spread the first appetizing odours, quickly Benson, our pursuer started the first service, dedicaced to the special requests.
From Amsterdam, anyone can order a meal that fits most of the special diet, myself i managed to taste with KQ along with the regular meal; a low sodium, a sea food, a gluten free, halal and today to please the diversity of this community, let's go for a kosher meal.
- Benson: "have you ordered a special meal mister EAS?"
- EAS: " that's right, a kosher one?"
- Benson " yes of course, here we go..."
- EAS " Thank you very much"
Few years ago, those special meal requests were not guaranteed especially from Nairobi, but since KLM supplies the catering, things have drastically changed for better. furthermore from Nairobi and Mombasa since 2010 the (French) company Servair ensures all Skyteam needs and caters a majority of major airlines too...
To be honest, the special meal helps to be served among the firsts and extends the resting time!
All in all it was nicely presented, smashing taste, and portions somewhat filling.
Apron for the hostesses and waistcoat for stewards
Special mention "The rabbinate only guarantees the kashrut of this meal so long as the seal is intact"
Close up on the tasty starter...
Main composed of chicken (again) with coconut flakes and rice: delightful
Terra Andina has gone, excellent news indeed !
Time for dozing a wee bit in front of the AVOD IFE, that offers 30 movies in 4 languages ( English, French, Indian and Mandarin) including 17 blockbusters, a TV channel with documentaries and news, a kids channel, maybe 10 music channels, a feedback page and a flight track channel.
For the latter, from experiences one must often "choose" between that feature or the movie, however on that day neither overhead sreens or ptv were screening the route map, not a big deal apart maybe for PlaneHunter, because since Libya and Egypt uprisings ended few months ago, the track is well printed in my memory.
Ok, there is no way to compare with the mega funky systems offered by the 4 star + airlines but it must suit very well the markets targeted such as India, China, France & Former french african colonies, especially if you consider that the KQ magazine does contain a section in " Language of Molière".
Usually the flight track indicates Genoa nearby !
Msafiri stands for the traveller!
The Skyteam livery emblazons now two aircrafts:
B737-800 (5Y – KQH) and ERJ190 (5Y – FFB )
The long haul fleet
The relatively new pass "Skyteam Go Africa" is available here !
As expected, once the trays and trashes cleared, most of the people lined up to the loos, even the hostess had a hard time to push the duty free cart through the aisles.
Also she stared at me in way to dissuade me from paying with a credit card, for few gifts intended to my friend in Kampala, because she had to walk a bit to get the payment terminal.
Before the well deserved rest of Benson, a little favor was asked such as a delightful wee Amarula on the rock, what was brought over in no time and in a double portions. Unfortunately, now the common Baileys has substituted this lovely South African creamy liquor.
A wee Amarula often eases the digestion!
First movie: Invictus
With no mood light transition, light got dimmed, the crew members craved of this moment despite few rebels:
- The talkative and/or frequent travellers, sharing their useful opinions
- The insomniacs and/or sportmen_women going back and forth through the cabin
- My neighbour and others always thirsty
- The unluckiest and crabby passengers refering to the cold temperatures or the faulty IFE
- The trip reporter and his strange attitude of snapping everything
Indeed, time came for a quick peek around the cabin prior loading a new movie, in a meantime, the crew kept hydrated the cabin with some juices and glasses of water.
Since two sounds clearly dominated let's compare them:
According to you, which one is perceived the most?
Added to what Lars (The777man) wrote in his excellent KQ101 report (LHR-NBO):
The pillows were very thin and having to sleep upright made it difficult to sleep.
it has just allow a little snooze
Dazzling and hardcore wake up call straight in the face! Another hot oshibori contributed to the effective eye-openning. Benson dropped off the light cold breakfast tray because, as you may know, among the 6 millions passengers going to NBO every year, half of them are only transiting out there. Today i'll be counted as the others despite officially being part of the first group without choice given though.
The good cold breakfast
The sun will rise soon
With 26 minutes to go, the cabin was prepared for landing, headsets and blankets were collected and the sun rose from the left – the best side to observe the majestic mountains in the background. A quick speech from the flight deck let us know that they wanted to see us soon.
On short final at JKIA, as usual runway 6
KQ117 landing at Jomo Kenyatta Airport: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCLMpLEYQ14
The main boggey kissed the usual runway 6 at 6h23 local time. How many airports have only one side runway constantly in use?
(i can name only KGL, NBO and a mountain airfield, Courchevel in France)
Passengers were informed about the shortest connections and were wished a pleasant stay or a safe journey, and KYZ docked to an air bridge.
The state of the cabin suggested a tough job for the cleaners. Finally the most of the crew cracked a charming smile as a farewell to everybody!
Some classic birds (B732, DC9, DC8, L1011), still flying?
Flew onboard 5H-PAZ on MWZ-DAR
Luckily, the East African Community lane was deserted, managing to pick up the luggages in no time, and soon enough going through the customs hassle free too, where an officer asked many questions before being focused on an Indian family with 3 trolleys loaded of boxes .
The usual numerous touts promoted their services but facing an unsual transit customer they gave up quickly
Do you prefer NBO or ADD architecture?