Review of Rwandair flight Kigali Dubai in Business

Airline Rwandair
Flight WB300
Class Business
Seat 4A
Aircraft Airbus A330-200
Flight time 06:00
Take-off 14 Nov 16, 20:10
Arrival at 15 Nov 16, 04:10
WB   #107 out of 134 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 21 reviews
East African
Published on 2nd December 2016
Greetings to you all,


According to Routesonline.com, fledging East African carrier WB is set to launch London Gatwick within the next 3 months, also before the fall 2017 its CEO John Mirenge expects Mumbai to welcome one of the 2 brand new A330 recently delivered along with New York for 2019 (plus Mars for 2025, surpassing the NASA….) to "connect the Universe to Africa and Africa to the Universe" through Kigali future airport; the New Bugesera International.

Obviously, I could not wait for such a long time because even in developping countries, let alone in Africa, you are never guaranteed when an airline will go bust and its aircrafts seized. So, the sonner you fly the better… :-)


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On short notice, an Air France return ticket was bought 1 week prior the date of travel for a dire EUR 685. The easy to navigate RwandAir website suggests Dubai-Kigali-Dubai for EUR 1100, nevertheless a multi-city ticket all in business costs only EUR100 extra with, at that time, higher chances to catch the sleek heavy!

The entire routing:

1. Air France AF7689, Montpellier – Paris CDG, A320 – Y: no report
2. Air France AF662, Paris CDG – Dubai, B77W – Y: no report
3. RwandAir WB301, Dubai – Kigali, A332 – J: click here
4. RwandAir WB402, Kigali – Nairobi, B737 – J: click here
5. Kenya Airways KQ670, Nairobi – Kisumu, E190 – Y: no report
6. Kenya Airways KQ657, Kisumu – Nairobi, E190 – Y: click here
7. Kenya Airways KQ608, Nairobi – Mombasa, E190 – Y: no report
8. RwandAir WB301, Mombasa – Kigali, A332 – J: click here
9. RwandAir WB300, Kigali – Dubai, A332 – J: click here
10. Air France AF655, Dubai – Paris CDG, B77W – Y: no report
11. Air France AF7688, Paris CDG – Montpellier, A320 – Y: no report



Following a (too short) week end partying with pals, the good things must come to an end so back to work. Time and service wise this flight represents the « piece de resistance » because it provides the best idea of the quality level offered by RwandAir to judge if it can belong to the African Big Five in the near future !


For RWF1000 (=EUR1.2 /USD1.4), any money-conscious traveller can reach the airport with the 3 months old new Airport Shuttle that departs hourly (9am to 7pm) from the bus terminal between the Institute of Statistics and Rubangura House. Or reciprocally at the same times from the WB's hub.

Willing to maximize the time spent with a friend here, the conventional cab at a flat rate of RWF10000 drove me to the airport 3h before the flight. Since the African Union summit had taken place in July, some roads have been closed and traffic diverted in order to avoid passing in front of the New Radisson Blu Hotel & Convention Centre. Now like anyone would experience in Nairobi JKIA, a compulsory thorough vehicule inspection along with a four footed brigade sniffling every bag happen right before entering the airport perimeter fence ! (Well, in Nairobi all pax/visitors must go through the metal detector too at the security toll).



Colorful departure terminal exterior (Taken another day)
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As usual, 3 other airport staff checked landside that :
1) the passport's holder matched the ticket name,
2) a valid visa or onward ticket is in possession
3) carry on and bags on the hold were approved before walking up to the check in agent on duty, who (even though i was first on the lane) processed a RwandAir staff first before allowing me to get the BP.

The friendly chap told me that Premium Economy would be sold when the London flights start.The quiet Immigration was a breeze.
Airside, one can go to the Bourbon Coffee eatery at the right hand side serving decent snacks and tasty hot meals, for a cheap bill (in USD/RWF currencies) if you are coming from western countries and moderate for any other SSA countries. The problem is that apart from the South Korea brand charging station and the not 4G unlimited free wifi no other activity are available but the 2 old school style duty free shops (=no magazine/electronics/movies to buy) for an airport ranked 7th best something in Africa by Skytrax and which aims to welcome/transfer travellers from all around the world soon !

But what could sadden you the most is certainly the spotter unfriendliness of KGL, and I really mean it !
The luckiest ones with a good angle, can at best glimpse passengers disembarking at the Bourbon Coffe shop. Otherwise, like many other travellers, you just have to settle for the engines sound. Even in Bujumbura, Lilongwe or Lusake the apron view from terminal is far greater !

Too bad, the stay at the third party windowless Pearl Lounge got extended for 1:20. It prefers to advertise for the local helicopter company « Akagera Aviation », instead of letting the natural light brightening the vast room up despite offering an encouraging product with a nicely featured kid zone, some South Korea brand Tablets free to use, a good selection of regional newspapers, a free soft/beer (Bralirwa) bar + some basic salads and cold food items that one eventually has to ask a server to be reheated.

Most of the customers inside would fly KLM and Kenya Airways because SN471 was cancelled, one lady was travelling RwandAir to Nairobi, at 8:30 pm a captain/first officer a dispatcher and another staff (crew?) took a seat here apparently waiting for WB300.

The lounge staff confirmed they would make boarding annoucements as I became worried of being by myslef in this suddenly deserted lounge at 9:00 pm !



Paying bar at Pearl Lounge (taken another day)
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Free booze and softs (taken another day) photo DSC00982_zpsx8bippav



Limited food buffet (taken another day)
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Unfortunately everyone must go (again) through a second security checks with no premium lane before steping inside the roomy and airy departure lounge lacking of view outside though !

One of the 3 Cobus 2700 waited for all the passengers without priority boarding call (certainly a Rwandan method as it's similar whichever the airline flown) for a 300 meter ride.



No outside view at departure lounge past 2nd security xray scanner (taken another day)
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Joel welcomed us and gave the directions to the seat. For my third visit here I felt already like home lol. Only another lady took place in J tonite – in Economy it could be 115 – 125 pax maximum !


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Instead of bad weather as the PA said at the airport, it looked like the real reason was we waited for an inbound flight from West Africa as a 4th bus coming directly from a just landed 737, released ( after a call from a ground agent) a dozen of pax only to the A330, instead of all of them .


Seat 5A
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Lounge position
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Not horizontal but full flat
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Thanks, sure I will :-)
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Again the piping hot oshibori was brought over prior taking off whereas with KQ you get it once in the air. Allen, the very cute senior purser came to offer newspapers, a PDB and an amenity kit.


Rwandan daily… of the day! Good job
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No more South African sparkling wine, real champagne now! Yippie photo DSC01064_zpsl75vzynh



Men amenity kit
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Instead of a razor, lip balm for women
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Marcel, the captain presented his sincere apologies for the delay as we were pushed back at 9 :50 pm.

Take off video from Kigali:




Near the stairs, a guy from Lufthansa Technik (which provides technical support for RwandAir's A330 fleet)
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Backtracking to runway 10
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Kanombe area
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Soon enough, the crew sprang into action for a full service (aperitif, starter, main, dessert and coffee). Due to the late hour, I'm glad they did not rush the protocol !


Aperitif, not sure it's a suitable decision to offer honeycomb crunch nuts and sweet biscuits before dinner.. 0_o
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I liked them very much though!photo DSC01086_zpsfdexz7eg



Menu was orally announced again and different from the IFE screen. The classic choices of beef, fish and chicken – No veggie option. The dinner was nothing to write home about, but the crew definitely praiseworthy. They exceeded my expectations and were proactive, I had a long chat with Davis a very cool and open mind crew rated on 3 of 4 WB's types.


Let's check the survey
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French and English are official languages lol !photo DSC01134_zpszbq36yct



Their French is a good as my English :-(
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Feeling hungry?photo DSC00871_zpsrw5u0duh



Today's menu photo DSC01150_zpsokfrwhsj



Napkin
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Silverware
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Mozzarella cheese is a high priced imported product in Rwanda, starter was bland!photo DSC01098_zps4qolq97b



What a cute basket :-) photo DSC01091_zpsh9bd34ll



The wine cellar (L to R): Deetlefs De Hageveld Red 2012; Deetlefs De Hageveld White 2013; Jean Luc Colombo Les Lauves 2013 Saint-Joseph Syrah; Org De Rac Cabernet Sauvignon 2012; Org De Rac Chardonnay 2013.
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Really hesitating, the crew made me try both South African whites. Deetlefs wine tasted much better than the organic one, but was at room temperature, thus I sticked to the latter.
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Predictable tilapia fish on every East African airline… ;-)
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Moist and full of flavour photo DSC01108_zpsvemizohc



Sweet and sour Asian style chicken breast
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Desserts options photo DSC01124_zpse5f6w195



Pudding was just fine
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Moodlighting on at Amarula & coffee timephoto DSC07931_zpsle1xb7ie



The flight duration is clearly too short to appreciate the entire dinner and have a good rest thus the London/Paris/Frankfurt routes might be better to my needs !


Obviously spotless with 2 guests
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Empty W cabin as not available yet to booking
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Doesn't look bad indeed!
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Turning off the light for a 3h+ night photo DSC01127_zpsuea0dgyn


As we started our descent toward DXB the soothing lights were turned on and Allen handed over a hot towel and a glass of orange juice. Very thoughtful!

Landing video at Dubai:



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DXB
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Last view upon disembarking
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We parked at the heavy stance of T2 and the charming crew bade « Au revoir et à bientôt » and thanked me for choosing RwandAir.

Interestingly enough, the bus driver closed the doors immediately after all J pax stepped inside, even if we did not get a fast track access to the immigration ! It was not congested at 5:30 am like it would be at 11:30 pm in T1!



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I'm looking forward to their projected flight to Paris
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A dedicated, and much appreciated, J class bus
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At the opposite, luggage took ages to be delivered and was not even part of the first ones !

The Air France flight departing at 1:30 am the next morning, I hailed a taxi for less than AED 60 to Al Mankhool for a day time sleep and dive at the comfortable Hotel Winchester Appartments which can be seen below on the bonus  !

Bonus : Click here display
See more

Verdict

Rwandair

8.5/10
Cabin10.0
Cabin crew10.0
Entertainment/wifi6.5
Meal/catering7.5

Pearl Lounge

4.6/10
Comfort6.0
Meal/catering3.0
Entertainment/wifi5.5
Services4.0

Kigali - KGL

4.9/10
Efficiency4.0
Access4.5
Services3.0
Cleanliness8.0

Dubai - DXB

4.8/10
Efficiency6.5
Access1.0
Services4.0
Cleanliness7.5

Conclusion

If DXB-KGL crew were good, Allen, Davies and Joel were simply amazing. Devoted, attractive and witty, they provided the human side and personalized service that anyone would expect.

I'm truly amazed by the quantum leap done by RwandAir, great job ! As of today, the only reason I'm essentially flying with Kenya Airways is basically because RwandAir had yet to fly to 2 or 3 European hubs. Also adjusting the DreamMiles FFP to become more attractive would be a key factor. It might change soon with London Gatwick on the book. Fingers crossed!

The airline industry is going through challenging times as customers have a wide array of choices in Africa and to undertake the type of planned expansion is risky. Let's hope it does represent judicial deployment of resources for a such poor country.

Many thanks for reading comments and corrections always valuable

Related

18 Comments

  • Comment 376731 by
    BombieFlyer 93 Comments

    Hello East African!

    Thank you very much for this unique report.

    I am very impressed with the business class cabin of RwandAir. So nice!! It's basically the same as Qantas' and SAS' business cabins. The premium economy class seats also look very comfortable and inviting!

    Looking forward for your next adventure!

  • Comment 376760 by
    padawan 1448 Comments

    Hello Leonard,
    Thank you for this return trip to DXB.
    WB confirms here that they offer something really good on their all new A330, except the angle-flat bed :(
    I would like to try this airline though!
    Cheers!

    • Comment 376872 by
      East African AUTHOR 1508 Comments

      Hello Padawan, thanks again for dropping a comment!
      Yes you are right, I did not feel very comfortable when I tried to sleep. But to be honest, it is much better than the cradle seat WB use to offer some days per week on this route ;-)
      Maybe a CDG-KGL-LBV routing will be possible soon...

  • Comment 376770 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4998 Comments

    Very nice! Thanks for posting this first look at the new Rwandair A330!

    Wow, that's a pretty high end J product for such a small carrier. I see they went with the Thompson Vantage XL seats--a very good choice, and in fact better than many of the big legacy carriers in J. Though I can't say I'm a fan of the color scheme of the seats, aside from that, the cabin looks very spacious and modern. And how awesome to have such an empty cabin basically to yourself.

    The Premium Economy looks very good as well. The seats seem to be the same as CX W seats. The catering looks simple, but tasty.

    Thanks so much for sharing this unique report!

  • Comment 376800 by
    SKYTEAMCHC TEAM GOLD 7863 Comments

    Many thanks for this very interesting report . RwandAir is not very known and it's nice to discover their hard and soft product. I saw another Rawdair A330 awaiting delivery in Toulouse and now I knows how it looks inside.
    The cabins look very nice and according to your your rating the crew must have been awesome. Diner is a bit disappointing compared to some airlines but seems good enough.
    Thanks again for this exclusive report.

  • Comment 376801 by
    oliver92 73 Comments

    Nice FR ! Soon available in French ?

  • Comment 376823 by
    hometoyyz SILVER 498 Comments

    Great flight report! I really like the look of this cabin, and how nice to have it (basically) all to yourself! I really like the green of the seats. Sounds like the service was good, and the catering looks attractive as well. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Comment 376911 by
    757Fan 565 Comments

    Another great report! It looks like you had another great flight with RwandAir. Their J product looks very good, and the food looks tasty as it did on the outbound flight to Kigali. The business and Premium Economy cabins both look great too, and the seats in Premium Economy look like they have a nice recline!

    Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to your next report.

    • Comment 378071 by
      East African AUTHOR 1508 Comments

      Thank you very much 757Fan for commenting,
      I had mixed feelings on my last WB KGL-DXB in 737 J 2 years ago, now as you can see WB's hard product has clearly improved.
      I would not mind to discover and try the W class some day :-)

  • Comment 377074 by
    nicander24 16 Comments

    Thanks for sharing your experience! RwandAir seems to have invested on great hard products, so hopefully they can capitalize.

  • Comment 377486 by
    Nick 172 Comments

    Awesome report. The business class product seems very similar to what South African is planning to roll out on their A330s. Do you know how RwandAir has been able to stay in business? I know it's mostly owned by the Rwandan government, but how are they able to budget so much for RwandAir? Your aircraft flew with a ton of empty seats. Even on my flights from Nairobi and back, the planes seemed less than half full.

    • Comment 378077 by
      East African AUTHOR 1508 Comments

      Hi Nick, thanks for dropping a comment!
      Thanks for the interesting info, when will SA 1st aircraft J cabin be retrofitted?
      "Do you know how RwandAir has been able to stay in business?" => that's the million dollar question indeed ... and also for how long? Ok their product is good but frequencies too limited, they have no global recognition that's why management may want to join an Airline Alliance soon.
      According to a friend who worked at RwandAir until last year, the most profitable/busiest routes all year round are Lagos and Jo'burg - on both cargo and pax!
      I remembered very well your FRs and it was shocking to see such low loads 0_o ...

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