Hi, I've been a long time fan and avid reader of A.net blog. For the longest time I've been wanting to submit a trip report but I haven't really gotten the courage to ever write one. I do quite a bit of travelling around 5-6 times a year internationally. However, this year has been a little unusual as I have been travelling 1-2 times a month and so I thought I'd finally get up the courage to finally sit down and write down a trip report of my very own. I'm not very good at this and I'd appreciate any comments any of you might have. Please try to be gentle.
"The Pearl Service: Kuwait Airways Flight Review Part 1"
Date: June 30, 2014
Route: Manila-London via Bangkok and Kuwait
Airline: Kuwait Airways
Class of Service: Business
Aircraft type: A340-300 (MNL
-KWI)/ A300-600 (KWI-LHR
Prior to June, my mother informed me that she would be attending a conference in London. I had a few vacation days coming up and thought I'd come along as well. After some careful searching on the standard airfare search engines, I stumbled upon a Kuwait Airways, KU
, fare that was about $700 cheaper than its nearest competitor, Philippine Airlines, in business. The schedule would arrive about the same time as PAL
in London and would only be 5 hours longer than PAL
. The thought of flying an 'exotic airline' plus the fact that it was considerably cheaper then PAL
all but sold it to me and thus I was determined to fly on KU
Once I decided on KU
, I immediately logged on the website and attempted to book my tickets. However after many failed attempts, I phoned the KU
Manila Office. The reason why the website kept rejecting my credit card is because KU
does not accept Philippine issued Credit Cards. I was informed that they only accept payments in Cash or Cheque to be done in person at the ticket office. Hence, I proceeded to their ticket office.
At the ticket office, I was one of two customers being served at 930 in the morning. As there were 3 ticket agents in the office, I was immediately called to the ticketing desk. I was greeted by a rather indifferent Filipino man who began to process my reservation and within a few minutes I had my tickets in hand and was headed home.
On the day of departure, as I have customarily done on other airlines when flying business, I arrived in the airport an hour and a half before departure time. Kuwait Airways flies out of Terminal 1 in Manila. As Terminal 1, widely known as the "Worst Airport in the World", was undergoing extensive upgrades. The lines inside the check-in areas were unusually long as work crews occupied a significant amount of space landside. Kuwait Airways occupies the far right check-in counters in T1. After clearing security, I noticed a very long snaking line leading into the economy class check-in of Kuwait Airways. Passengers seemed to bottle necking at the sole document check counter open prior to reaching the check-in counters.
As I was travelling business on this particular flight, I went straight to the Business class check-in counter. I was the second in line. After a 5 minute wait, the agent called me forward and I handed over my flight documents to the check-in agent.KU uses MIASCOR ground handling. There was only a KU
supervisor overseeing the entire process. It took about 10-15 minutes for the agent to check me in. As for the delay in check-in, I was informed that their system was initially not allowing her to issue me my boarding passes all the way to London. However, after consulting with her supervisor , I was issued my boarding passes albeit with a slight delay.
Manila Business Class and Departure Lounge:
In Manila, KU
uses the MIASCOR lounge, a contract lounge, and uses a nearby boarding gate. I find MIASCOR to be a dated lounge with very limited food selections. Although a decent place to catch up on some work and get a refreshment or two but otherwise a mediocre lounge at its best. I didn't stay long.
With 5 minutes to go before the scheduled boarding time, I proceeded to the boarding gate. At the gate there is a secondary security check. After clearing security, I tried to look for a seat in the departure lounge but the there was none to be had. Before I could even find a seat, pre-boarding was announced for infants, wheelchairs and families with young children. As soon as the pre-boarding announcement was a made a surge of people made its way forward. The stunned gate crew tried to segregate regular passengers and those needing special assistance. As I made my way to the front of the line, I was asked by the ground crew to go back to the line. When I had informed him I was travelling them that I was travelling in Business. The ground crew gave me a look of shock and embarrassment when I had asked when would Business be boarding; to which they replied 'anytime sir'. Thus, I boarded the aircraft with a few scornful looks from those in the line.
Upon boarding, I was escorted by a Middle Eastern Male Flight Attendant to my seat. I had selected Seat 2A at check-in. Having previously read on SeatGuru that first row seats would have restricted leg space, Seat 2A seemed like a logical choice. KU
normally has three classes of service. First, Business and Economy. For flights from Kuwait to Asia, however, First class is sold as Business and Business is sold as Economy+. In the forward cabin, there are 4 rows of seats with a 2x2x2 configuration. Seat Width is about 21" while pitch is about 65". The seat itself is an old style recliner type seas. For those of you familiar with the old PAL
First class product on the A340-300, the seat would look very familiar. Business had around 5 passengers while coach was completely sold out.
After stowing my carry-on, I was offered the usual welcome drinks of juice and prepackaged mix nuts. As KU
is a dry airline, no alcoholic beverages were offered at any point during the flight. Prior to push back Flight attendants offer passengers some arabic dates with a small glass of arabic coffee. After takeoff,various arabic and english magazines, hot towels, as well as personal IFE tablets with matching KU
branded headsets were distributed. KU
does have built in seat back IFE however these do not work. Overhead projectors displayed various KU
commercials and 'Just for Laughs' episodes. The personal IFE mostly consisted of dated movies and tv shows.
Around an hour after takeoff, meal service began. Meal options consisted of either a middle eastern, western or thai entree The meal service consisted of it being entirely on one tray. Meals were accompanied with a small side salad, a piece of cake. For this flight, I chose the lamb dish which was alright albeit slightly dry. The flight attendants serving business came around with the usual bread basket heated from the galley. The female flight attendants serving business were Thai F/As based in Bangkok. Their service was efficient albeit slightly impersonal. The Flight attendant serving my aisle was polite and very open to requests. Trays were kept an hour after meal service and the rest of the flight proceeded as planned.
Kuwait Airways makes a technical stop in Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi before heading to Kuwait. Three hours after we had left Manila, we began our decent in to BKK
. The technical stop lasts about and hour and half from the minute the plane lands in BKK
. The plane docks into the terminal and door 2L is opened. Passengers continuing on to Kuwait are required to remain seated while passengers whose final destination is Bangkok disembark. After a brief headcount, the BKK
based crew get off as well and hand over the flight to their counterparts taking the plane back to Kuwait. During the technical stop, airplane cleaners come aboard and do a general cleaning of the aircraft. It can be quite an awkward experience having to listen to airplane crew vacuum and dust the plane while you're on it at 3 in the morning. Once the new crew settles in, additional passengers originating from Bangkok board the plane. After all passengers have taken their seats, door 2L is closed and the plane pushes back. The load in business increased from 5 passengers to around 12 and in coach was still very much full. As I recall on this flight around 10-15 passengers disembarked in BKK
and around 10, mostly in business, boarded the flight from Bangkok.
1 hour and 25 minutes later, the plane pushed back and the plane taxied off to the assigned runway. During the taxi, Flight attendants distribute another round of menus as well and begin taking meal orders for the flight to Kuwait. As this flight is leaving at 3 in the morning (Bangkok time), the meal service consisted of a heavy snack after take off and a full breakfast prior to landing in Kuwait.
After take off, the same service is offered to passengers albeit with a different crew. A round of juice and pre-packaged nuts, arabic coffee and dates, hot towels, distribution of IFE tablets and magazines, amenity kits, then ultimately the meal service; the entire service, which they call the "pearl service" takes about an hour and half. As I had eaten before on the previous MNL
leg. I decided to skip the heavy snack and went straight to sleep. I slept surprisingly well given the fact the seats were not as comfortable as some of KU
's Middle Eastern or Asian counterparts. I slept about 4 and half hours when I woke up we were about an hour away from KWI.
As soon as I woke up I pressed the Flight attendant call button to request some OJ. Unfortunately, a less than enthused Middle Eastern Flight attendant responded by giving me a glass of OJ and asked me if I was joining breakfast. I replied that I was. She took my meal order and left. As with the MNL
leg, meal options consisted of a western choice, a middle eastern choice and a thai choice, all served in one tray. I chose the western choice which consisted of chicken sausage, a cheese omelette, and some griled vegetables. The entree was accompanied by different breakfast breads and a side of fruit. Service as opposed to the earlier flight felt very rushed as flight attendants were always in a hurry to collect plates, cups and utensils. Refills during the meal were also very hard to come by as the flight attendants did not seem to care about interacting with the passengers.
An hour before landing, the tables were cleared and the IFE tablets were collected;a round of cold towels was distributed as well. Upon landing in Kuwait, a pre-recorded welcome in arabic and english was played throughout the plane. Passengers with onward connections were requested to consult flight information displays in the terminal or seek help from the transfer desk for any questions.
To be Continued...
Below are some pictures from the first part of the flight