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eastafspot
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RwandAir Domestic Business Class - March 2021

Wed Mar 10, 2021 10:57 pm

Here is a short TR about a return RwandAir domestic flight done this week.

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Some RwandAir's Dreammiles points were due to expire end of Jan. 21, thus 2 return award tickets were booked for only 15 000 miles both. (Just FYI, to anywhere in East Africa it costs 10 000 in J rtn).

Due to Covid19, frequencies went down from 10x to 4x weekly so we were rescheduled to fly 2 days earlier.

Even on the WB lone domestic route, negative PCR C19 test is compulsory, justified by harsh inter districts surface travel restrictions where a government clearance downloaded 24h before the trip must be shown and verified upon at the many road checkpoints. Rusizi (Cyangugu) and Kigali are the worst affected cities by the pandemic in Rwanda.



08/03/21
WB601: Kigali (KGL) – Kamembe (KME)
STD: 10h40, STA: 11h20
ATD: 11h05, ATA: 11h40
Distance: 92 miles
Dash 8 Q400


Arrived at 9h30 after the usual security + C19 checks, we dropped the luggages off at the extremely quiet check in area, only one desk opened among the 12 in the grand total.

We reached the newly opened Rwandair Dreammiles Lounge at 9h50 for a supposedly boarding at 10h10. Compared to the contracted Pearl Lounge nearby, 3 huuuges qualities: a great outside view to the city, unlimited serving of alcoholic drinks and a smoking cabin...for only one person (in term of size/capacity :D ). Better than the rest of the airport TBH. Food wise just meh at best.


New RwandAir DreamMiles lounge ( both domestic and international).
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Most flights departing were to West Africa (Brazzaville, Bangui and Accra), the lounge dragon told us she would call us at boarding time. Despite the "final call" visible on the screens, she told us to stay put until we passed through the last security check at 10h30.

As noticed pre covid, WB boards premium pax last in a dedicated comfortable J bus. Only once all eco passengers were seated, our driver opened his bus doors where ground staff holding umbrellas escorted us to the aircraft.

Comfortable business class dedicated bus.
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Dash 8 Q400 for domestic runs.
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A nice 1-2 cabin configuration with recliner seats for a short 40 min hop across Rwanda. Thanks to Covid, we did not expect anything, and we were not disappointed ;) .10 years ago in eco on the same route with my brother, we got offered a nice choice of soft drinks. Only two of us in C and 51 passengers in eco – wow impressive! (95% of them traders, NGO or Congoleses) crossing the Rusizi border 3 km away, heading off to Bukavu in DRC.

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Real C seats even on RwandAir's Dash8.
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Bukavu city (DR of Congo) in the background.
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Luggages took a while (30min or so) to get manually delivered, number 2 and 6.

Kamembe airport (KME) terminal building - landside.
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10/03/21
WB602: Kamembe (KME) – Kigali (KGL)
STD: 11h50, STA: 13h45
ATD: 13h45, ATA: 14h25
Distance: 92 miles
Dash 8 Q400



An early morning mail from Rwandair informing of the 1h30 delay of WB601 (KGL-KME) caused by operational reasons prompted an urgent call to the head office to know if we had to check in at the normal time or if we should postpone it for 90 min. The kind agent promised to call back in 30 min after enquiring her team. Finally one hour later, she informed us that indeed, WB602 would be affected too and we were free to reach the airport at any time before 12h20 (CI closure). Nice news and great customer care so far!


KME airport terminal.
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Following a thorough security check including a canine brigade sniffling our bags, we've been dropped off at 12h15 at this one flight per day airport. With no other passenger but us, station manager immediately denied us entry stating that CI was closed long time ago. Shocked we explained him the whole aforesaid situation. He replied that we should call back the Kigali Head office to clarify the story. He also stipulated that whatever they say, it won't change anything to the fact we missed the flight as here CI counters close 2h before here (whereas in KGL, much busier/larger it's only 1h???).

We explained the situation to the KGL team who at some point talked to the KME station manager for a while. In the meantime, a few people with luggages arrived and processed directly inside the terminal. I really got confused honestly!

When the manager handed over back the phone, KGL team apologized for the miscommunication I was being told in the morning and that final decision will come from the station manager. After another 5 min discussion, he as an exceptional gesture, allowed us to enter the tiny building not before a T°C and security checks. And effectively, we queued for 10 min after a passenger who probably knew about the long delay too. All passengers were already patiently seated in the waiting area.

And then the shock, yes, the baggage handler told us to take our cabin belongings and escorted us to the VIP lounge!!! Indeed KME offers an air conditioned lounge for premium travellers. Well it's very basic but one can view the plane before touching down, there is also a TV ( not working on that day), private toilets (no water to wash the hands after though) and Inyange soft drinks brought to us over by the bagages handler. What a surprise! Terminal got totally renovated a few years ago but never expected this! My partner felt sorry for passengers who endured the long wait since the check in started at 8:50 am!

VIP lounge at Kamembe (KME) airport.
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VIP lounge at Kamembe (KME) airport.
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Premiun pax boarded last (3 C, 2 Y DreamMiles Gold or Diamond members) with a further delay of 20 min, for a little stroll to the Dash. 41 pax incl 2 non rev. We could not seat on row 3 with a window due to a large luggage not allowed at our emergency exit row (what about putting it in the hold???). Before safety demo, a welcome drink, juices or champagne and we even got a refill once in the air. Upon arriving there were a QR 777 ( - DAV?) a ET 737 and KQ 733 cargo as visitors. Past immigration there is an arrival lounge operated by Radisson Blu.

Boarding time.
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Pre departure drinks and refreshing towels ( same selection inflight ;) )
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Not visible on the photo, a KQ 733 cargo taxiing out.
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We had to prove to the authorities that we were just flying internally to escape the compulsory $60 covid test + 7 day self quarantine before grabbing our priority tagged bags.


Final words:

The inbound flight was certainly more unexpectedly pleasant yet stressful at the beginning!
This route is certainly one of the most profitable for RwandAir!

Thanks for reading, videos will be uploaded shortly :smile:
Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Golden Wings Aviation, Kenya Airways, RwandAir and Uganda Airlines...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki !
 
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AirAfreak
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Re: RwandAir Domestic Business Class - March 2021

Sat Mar 13, 2021 9:32 am

Hello/Bonjour/Anyeonghaseyo from Los Angeles to you, one of my very long time favorite trip reporters, eastafspot! Thank you as always for your contributions! “Variety is the spice of life,” they say, and you truly “add” to this forum. Wishing you and yours a meaningful and joyous 2021. Happy and Healthy New Year. Bon Vol/Happy Flying!
Korean Air | Excellence in Flight.
 
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ClassicLover
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Re: RwandAir Domestic Business Class - March 2021

Sat Mar 13, 2021 2:06 pm

eastafspot wrote:
Real C seats even on RwandAir's Dash8.


Great report! I love the business class bus, it looks almost exactly the same as the ones Qatar Airways use in Doha for their business class passengers, only theirs have blue coloured seats. Also really liked seeing proper J seats on a Dash 8!!

Nice to see the lounges and hear your experience - thanks for sharing that! Rwanda is a place high on my list of countries I want to visit, so I hope to get there sometime soon. Will have to try RwandAir now too! :)
I do enjoy a spot of flying, especially when it's not in economy!
 
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Spiderguy252
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Re: RwandAir Domestic Business Class - March 2021

Wed Mar 17, 2021 6:43 am

Agreed, that J class bus looks comfy.

Exotic TR overall. Thanks for the share.
Vahroone
 
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eastafspot
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Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2008 5:19 pm

Re: RwandAir Domestic Business Class - March 2021

Sun Apr 25, 2021 6:53 pm

AirAfreak wrote:
Hello/Bonjour/Anyeonghaseyo from Los Angeles to you, one of my very long time favorite trip reporters, eastafspot! Thank you as always for your contributions! “Variety is the spice of life,” they say, and you truly “add” to this forum. Wishing you and yours a meaningful and joyous 2021. Happy and Healthy New Year. Bon Vol/Happy Flying!

Bonjour Mickael, comment ça va? :wave:
Many thanks for these kind words, always very much appreciated to read your great comments. Let me truly wish you the very same in 2021. To reveal you a bit about my private life, now engaged, the wedding will happen in October. Unfortunately, the downside is definitely less leisure trips in the near future :faint: , hahaha such is life. The norm will now become the exception soon!
What about your projects this year if soon (or already) vaccinated?


ClassicLover wrote:

Great report! I love the business class bus, it looks almost exactly the same as the ones Qatar Airways use in Doha for their business class passengers, only theirs have blue coloured seats. Also really liked seeing proper J seats on a Dash 8!!

Nice to see the lounges and hear your experience - thanks for sharing that! Rwanda is a place high on my list of countries I want to visit, so I hope to get there sometime soon. Will have to try RwandAir now too! :)

Glad you enjoyed the report ClassicLover, you too publish some great experiences here, especially in premium classes!
Would you be surprised to learn that Qatar (and QR of course) recently invested in Rwanda and RwandAir (49%), so it might make sense to notice some similarities now and even more in the future between QR and WB. I wish to visit the new RwandAir arrival lounge (operated by Radisson Blu) soon though!
Yes, once the pandemic is over, you should definitely go to Rwanda, safe, wild, off beaten and small thus that can be included in a wider (East) African trip :smile: .

Spiderguy252 wrote:
Agreed, that J class bus looks comfy.

Exotic TR overall. Thanks for the share.

Outbound we were alone so it was even more pleasant, do you know which other airlines do provide a such nice treatment? KQ offers a Sky Priority door on it buses :scratchchin: , but nothing else...
Many thanks for commenting Spiderguy252.
Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Golden Wings Aviation, Kenya Airways, RwandAir and Uganda Airlines...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki !
 
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AirAfreak
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Re: RwandAir Domestic Business Class - March 2021

Mon Apr 26, 2021 5:45 am

Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!! I am so happy to read such wonderful news about your engagement! May your future be fortunate! I hope you enjoy your next chapter in life with many meaningful and joyous moments to celebrate and to forever have all the happiness your heart and hands can hold. It’s so nice to find that special someone to spend your days and weeks and years with many memories to make to share together. A votre Santé!!!!

This year, thus far, has been met with exhaustive and challenging experiences with work. I have no personal life, but I am grateful and blessed for the work opportunities with my recent promotion and that also means I have delayed my personal flying plans until January 2022. I will take one month off and fly home to Korea with a special treat for myself by flying Korean Air First Class on the 2nd of January since I have saved a bit of money by not taking any time off this year. I upgraded my Prestige Class seat to First, so it doesn’t feel as painful in terms of cost lol. Also, being single allows that and I don’t even have pets or even live plants in my home haha.

But, I look forward to seeing an Air France or Air Tahiti trip report in your future to Pape’ete for your honeymoon! And of course, if you choose a stopover in Los Angeles, please don’t hesitate to message me so I can offer you and yours, a wonderful welcome drink or ten! ☺️

Partagér un moment de bonheur!

With many best wishes,

Air Afreak ☺️☺️☺️
Korean Air | Excellence in Flight.
 
debonair
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Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2004 10:50 pm

Re: RwandAir Domestic Business Class - March 2021

Mon Apr 26, 2021 11:44 am

eastafspot wrote:
Outbound we were alone so it was even more pleasant, do you know which other airlines do provide a such nice treatment? KQ offers a Sky Priority door on it buses :scratchchin: , but nothing else...


If to talk about African Aviation, ET comes to my mind. I know that ET is offering private bus transport for Cloud Nine passengers in a small van from/to the aircraft, albeit not so luxurious. In addition to the Cloud Nine waiting area and lounge, it's the perfect combination. Wouldn't be surprised if other ET affiliated airlines like ASKY or Malawian Airlines offer the same service...
 
VSMUT
Posts: 5498
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2016 11:40 am

Re: RwandAir Domestic Business Class - March 2021

Mon Apr 26, 2021 12:08 pm

debonair wrote:
eastafspot wrote:
Outbound we were alone so it was even more pleasant, do you know which other airlines do provide a such nice treatment? KQ offers a Sky Priority door on it buses :scratchchin: , but nothing else...


If to talk about African Aviation, ET comes to my mind. I know that ET is offering private bus transport for Cloud Nine passengers in a small van from/to the aircraft, albeit not so luxurious. In addition to the Cloud Nine waiting area and lounge, it's the perfect combination. Wouldn't be surprised if other ET affiliated airlines like ASKY or Malawian Airlines offer the same service...


They aren't that rare. Outside Africa, Qatar Airways offers it in Doha and at many other airports (normally just a standard bus, but reserved for business customers only). Turkish has it in Istanbul. I can't recall exactly where I tried it other than those two, but I know for certain I've tried them around the place in the ME and Asia. Air France has the Sky Priority markings on its buses in Paris CDG, but they are always the last off the bus when I have the misfortune of being treated to those.

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