Kenya Airways has been fighting the low fare wars with business class tickets from as low as $400 for the return trip from Dubai to Nairobi and beyond. I was curious to see if its business class product (seat, cabin and service) lived up to the promise.
Kenya Airways uses the SkyTeam Lounge in Dubai. The lounge is quite large but gets crowded around midnight with the many overnight departures by KLM, Air France and China Southern. After midnight, the lounge would empty out and would hold just a few Kenya Airways passengers.
The lounge offers a business center, showers and plenty of seating. The buffet is OK, with a number of edible items but nothing that replaces a real meal.
The seating is a bit cheap and it all looks like they got them from the local IKEA store. There is nothing wrong with that – it just looks used really quickly.
After six long hours, from 11PM until 5AM, the flight would show a 50-minute delay. That’s not something you want to see after spending the whole night in a lounge. The sun came up at 5.45AM in Dubai and boarding finally started, with business class about half full and economy pretty much filled.
The seat pitch is enormous – there is easily enough space for a lie-flat seat but of course it is a just a standard recline seat. I’m not sure why there is such a huge seat pitch – you can’t really use it.
Non-alcoholic pre-departure drinks were served and it took some time until several last minute business class passengers with lots of luggage had settled in. Taxi and takeoff were quick, with minimal lines on the runway.
Kenya Airways has (seemingly) installed Android-based tablets. They are very responsive and give you access to plenty of shows and movies and a flight map, and the long pre-movie trailers were easy to skip. The choice is definitely not very extensive but I felt here that less was more.
There were plenty of comfy blankets and pillows available on this flight.
At breakfast, there were three choices, and none of them really appealed to me. The French toast looked like an egg lasagne. Since I don’t eat eggs, I did not really eat anything.
I tried to fall asleep right after. I usually sleep well on recline seats (especially on Turkish Airlines Business Class seats, for reasons unbeknownst to me).
After a few hours of napping, we were close to Nairobi Airport. At 10.30AM, the SkyTeam terminal was deserted and lines for immigration were non-existent.
In sum, this was a solid regional business class flight. The seat is brand-new, the seat pitch is huge, the IFE is simple but clever and the food could be OK, too. Kenya Airways is slowly switching to a 787 configuration for the Dubai route, which will dramatically change the business class product offered. At the price offered all the way to Kigali, it’s a good product and if you can get the 787, it would be even better.