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… :-)
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!
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)
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)
Free booze and softs (taken another day)
Limited food buffet (taken another day)
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)
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 !
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 .
Not horizontal but full flat
Thanks, sure I will :-)
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
No more South African sparkling wine, real champagne now! Yippie
Men amenity kit
Instead of a razor, lip balm for women
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)
Backtracking to runway 10
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
I liked them very much though!
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
French and English are official languages lol !
Their French is a good as my English :-(
Mozzarella cheese is a high priced imported product in Rwanda, starter was bland!
What a cute basket :-)
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.
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.
Predictable tilapia fish on every East African airline… ;-)
Moist and full of flavour
Sweet and sour Asian style chicken breast
Pudding was just fine
Moodlighting on at Amarula & coffee time
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
Empty W cabin as not available yet to booking
Doesn't look bad indeed!
Turning off the light for a 3h+ night
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:
Last view upon disembarking
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!
I'm looking forward to their projected flight to Paris
A dedicated, and much appreciated, J class bus
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 displayhide
a 7am till 7pm stay for AED235
Skyteam Lounge DXB T1
AF655 light dinner.
Kigali - KGL
Dubai - DXB
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
12 LIKESLIKE TO THANK THE AUTHORTHANKS ! FLIGHT-REPORT LIKED
Flight-Report is a free website hosting more than 500 000 pictures and 17 000 reviews, without ads, this website can't exist. We understand that ads can be annoying, this is why we only display a maximum of 2 non-invasive ads per page.
To continue using Flight-Report, we invite you to add Flight-Report to your blocker's "white list".