Review of Kenya Airways flight Nairobi Bangkok in Economy

Airline Kenya Airways
Flight KQ886
Class Economy
Seat 12A
Aircraft Boeing 787-8
Flight time 09:31
Take-off 10 Feb 19, 23:59
Arrival at 11 Feb 19, 13:30
KQ   #41 out of 131 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 87 reviews
ThomasDutch
By SILVER 1682
Published on 20th February 2019

Introduction


While I had another week of free time, I decided to hunt down for some tickets back to Thailand once again. The usual airliners that offer cheap tickets from Amsterdam to Bangkok were present once again like Qatar, Etihad, Emirates & Aeroflot. While I am not the biggest fan of taking them on economy flights, I noticed that there was an outsider offering very cheap flights too, which usually sells them for quite an expensive price.

This outsider was Kenya Airways and as I am not familiar with them, I decided to book my flight with them only two days in advance of my travelling date. Another good point of taking up this itinerary was that I would receive some generous mileage for my flying blue points. The downside however is that my trip was extended by an extra five hours compared to direct flights to Bangkok from Amsterdam. This itinerary however meant that I would finally be able to experience the Boeing 787-8 myself as I never had the chance to fly on it and I would finally be able to fly on a 747 once again from KLM to Nairobi as their 747 is going to be phased out by 2021.

To fully complete my schedule for the week, I had to book a return flight to Ubon to visit my parents-in-law and to meet up with my girl. This however meant that I had to choose between Thai Smile, Thai AirAsia, Thai Lionair or Nok Air. As AirAsia and Thai Smile did not really give me any flights on the times suitable for me, It was either a choice between Thai Lion or Nok Air…. That one was easily made for me, so Nok Air it was.

Find my complete routing below.



Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport - Where I left off.


While I just arrived from Amsterdam with KLM's flight, it took about ten minutes to clear security as only two manned stations were open at the time I arrived.  After security, you are directly dropped in the only duty free section of the entire international terminal 1A of Nairobi with an impressive number of shops (Five in total I believe)…. The shops pretty much offer the exact same products you could find at any other international airport all over the world, so it is not really worth bothering to pay attention to.


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While the newer left wing with gates 15 to 24 did have air conditioning, our flight was departing from the older wing that was straight ahead. This older wing however did not have a working air conditioning and was rather unpleasantly hot. It however did offer a food court upstairs and a pub/coffeeshop in the corner…. Seating should have been sufficient, but so many people didn't bother about their fellow traveller and just occupied about three seats for them to take a nap on.. 


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An Embraer 190 of Kenya Airways would depart soon.


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and here is our ride. A Boeing 787-8 of Kenya Airways with registration 5Y-KZH. It was the last Boeing 787-8 on order of Kenya Airways to join their fleet on the 31st of October 2015… It however was leased by Kenya to Oman Air from the 1st of April 2016 as  A4O-SY. On the 1st of October 2018, it was finally returned to Kenya to start it's service yet again… The moment I took this flight, the aircraft was still very young with an age of 3.7 years.


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Flight KQ 886


Boarding was called ahead of time and was quickly done as the aircraft turned out to be rather empty on it's leg to Bangkok with most passengers being Chinese as this flight would continue to Guangzhou after Bangkok.

We were kindly greeted by the flight attendants and I made my way to my seat 12A, which came with a pillow and a blanket styled to their brand. 


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The legroom was suppose to be better than KLM's Boeing 747-400 on my first leg, however it felt more tight… The seat itself came with a large IFE screen with remote (It is touchscreen too), a USB plug and a adapter between seat 12A and B to charge any device. 


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Our view for the next 9 hours with the aircraft that brought me over from Amsterdam only about 90 minutes ago.


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A look at the literature provided to you in Economy class by Kenya Airways.


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The best look of their own magazine is their extensive route map with the fleet of airplanes they are using.


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Push back was initiated exactly on 23.59 for our departure to Bangkok after being greeted by Captain and purser. During push back, the flight attendants walked through the entire cabin with some kind of  toxic spray to kill any unwanted insects as it was a regulation from the Thai Authorities for any African flight.


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While I experienced a full African crew to be used on those flights, I was rather shocked to see that most of the flight crew was Thai with the ability to speak Chinese on this leg. It did make sense though as most passengers are Chinese, but I didn't expect it and to my surprise, I literally had nobody seated next to me. This meant that I was able to have some good sleep! Sweet!


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As I was seated in the front of the aircraft, the photo below made absolutely sure that it was nowhere near to a full flight.


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About 18 minutes later after our original departure time, we were rolling for take off to make a quick right turn from 06 to fly towards Bangkok.


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Just airborne.


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While still in climb, I quickly took a photo of the cabin which was in a 3-3-3 configuration (which I assume is pretty standard for a 787).


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Literally about 30 minutes after departure, the first meal service for today's flight was initiated. The option for today was Beef or Chicken and was served in a box like this one.


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I opted for the Chicken, which was a Swahili styled Chicken with some rice and Spinach. It was served with a very dry breadroll and some cake. I opted for a Tusker beer to join with my food. The main meal was good, however very very small in size.


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Clean up was about another 30 minutes later and it was now time for me to pay a visit to one of the toilets…. I am not entirely sure what the previous guy was doing in the toilet, but he really made it a wet mess. Almost the entire floor and cabinets were covered in dripping water (if it was water…. of course..). 


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Despite that mess, there is a limited offering of amenities, which involve two lotions and an Eau de Toilet.


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By the time I was done in the toilet, the cabin lights were already turned to sleeping mode. I quickly took a photo before heading to my seat to have a nap.


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It was now time to sleep for some good solid hours. About two hours prior to landing, I was waken up by the change of lights in the cabin as food was going to be served shortly. I decided to scan through the IFE system, which I found to be unresponsive to touches (I had literally to press a button for like ten times for it to continue).  The remote control wasn't the best either though!


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The offering of entertainment was rather limited with some new movies available and I never understood why an airline would only add certain episodes of a tv series on it's system instead of just the full series. (I'd rather have a limited offer of series instead of just an episode of a bunch of different series).


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and a look through my window with some day view!


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About 90 minutes to landing, food was being served. The options for today were Chicken sausage or Scrambled Eggs. I opted for the Chicken sausage which was served with some potatoes, spinach and some short of tomato sauce. A Yoghurt was provided too and a very very dry croissant which was inedible. The main meal was good though.


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Off to my one more visit to one of the toilets. I took the opposite one now which was still very clean and managed to capture another shot of the cabin in daylight.


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About 30 minutes to landing, the captain checked in with us again that they would soon initiate their descent into Bangkok Suvarnabhumi and they expected it to be rather bumpy. He gave us the latest weather update and thanked us for flying with Kenya Airways too. A few minutes later, the purser announced himself too with instructions  for passengers. Those who had Bangkok as final destination, should first go to health control for them to receive a stamp prior to go to border control. (Yes even for transit passengers who only remained about 2 hours in Nairobi Airport like me!!).


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Touchdown was about 30 minutes ahead of time. We just landed after this Airbus A340 of Qatar from Doha.


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And the contestant to land after us was this cute little boeing 737-800 of Garuda Indonesia from Jakarta (CGK).


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While slowly taxiing to our gate, I saw this special livery of China Eastern on one of their Airbus A330.


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Despite a major strike at China Airlines, the midnoon flight from China Airlines with their A350 in special livery was still performed with a Thai B777 being prepped for another journey.


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An ANA 787.


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And we were parked next to an THAI Boeing 777  at the C pier.


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A small look at the flight path we took to reach Thailand.


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Deboarding went on a orderly pace and upon leaving the jetbridge, we were stopped by a rude guy asking for our name and our boarding card on which they marked our names off. No idea as to why, but I believe it has something to do to verify whether we are really going to health control or not.

While done with that, I was now on our way to health control. While I personally was not aware of this rule, I did not have my Vaccination booklet with me which was mandatory to be shown at health control with a questionnaire filled in….. However the lady behind the desk asked me how long I stayed in Kenya… After my short answer of two hours, she was laughing and happily stamped my arrival card with the necessary stamp. (She completely understand the flaw of this ruling for transit passengers).


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Border  control took not more than ten minutes to clear and I was off to pick up my luggage which was already on the assigned belt. It was now time for me to head to my hotel by the airport rail link.


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Verdict

Kenya Airways

7.4/10
Cabin7.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Meal/catering7.0

Nairobi - NBO

2.6/10
Efficiency2.0
Access3.5
Services3.0
Cleanliness2.0

Bangkok - BKK

6.8/10
Efficiency6.0
Access6.5
Services6.5
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

A new experience it was. The food was not too shabby and I had a full row of seats available to myself to lay down. The flight attendants could have been slightly more pro-active, but were definitely passable.

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11 Comments

  • Comment 489418 by
    lbfortress 58 Comments

    Nice report. It's cool to see a review of one of the African airlines. I noticed I sleep well on 787s, even in economy.

  • Comment 489491 by
    ISTFlyer GOLD 188 Comments

    Hi ThomasDutch and thanks for sharing this report on an airline that I have never flown on,

    -Even though the seats look comfortable, the blanket and the pillow looks a bit small and cheap for Economy Class however you had three of them so that must be OK. Also you had the chance to have an entire row. It seems that it was worth it that you haven't took the direct expensive flight from AMS to BKK.
    - The meals on this flight looks a bit cheap and I would wait more than a SkyTeam member on this 11 hour flight.
    - I found it rude that someone checking boarding passes upon arrival, especially by a rude guy. I also remember being checked my boarding pass after flying Turkish Airlines to Bangkok from Istanbul in 2012 but that was only a check. No-one was marking anything. Being welcomed to a country, shouldn't be that bad as you mentioned. However, you were lucky to have a friendly officer at the health inspection.
    - Thanks also for sharing the information about transferring in Africa as if I would use an African carrier in the future, I would carry a document of my vaccination history just in case.

    Thanks for sharing and hope to see you soon.

    • Comment 489562 by
      ThomasDutch SILVER AUTHOR 335 Comments

      Hi Istflyer,

      --Even though the seats look comfortable, the blanket and the pillow looks a bit small and cheap for Economy Class however you had three of them so that must be OK. Also you had the chance to have an entire row. It seems that it was worth it that you haven't took the direct expensive flight from AMS to BKK.
      * I like to try new ways to reach to Bangkok as it is a frequent destination for me due to my girlfriend, though I wouldn't do this leg anytime soon. I found KQ to be extremely disappointing (especially on the way back) and I only took this flight as it would give me an abundance of flying blue miles. The blanket and pillow were indeed very cheap. Next time I would definitely pay that extra 200 euro for a direct flight.
      -- The meals on this flight looks a bit cheap and I would wait more than a SkyTeam member on this 11 hour flight.
      * My fault there. It was only a 9 hour 30 flight, but the return flight would turn out to be more of a disaster. Will upload that report very soon...
      -- - I found it rude that someone checking boarding passes upon arrival, especially by a rude guy. I also remember being checked my boarding pass after flying Turkish Airlines to Bangkok from Istanbul in 2012 but that was only a check. No-one was marking anything. Being welcomed to a country, shouldn't be that bad as you mentioned. However, you were lucky to have a friendly officer at the health inspection.
      * Though I love Thai people, you won't find that hospitality in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi to be honest. People at Don Mueang however are much friendlier towards you. I was asking him for the reason why he needed to check my details (as the passenger list should have all my details) only to be returned with a direct answer '' Just give me the fucking passport for me to verify ''. I have never been treated this way however ever before on Suvarnabhumi.
      -- Thanks also for sharing the information about transferring in Africa as if I would use an African carrier in the future, I would carry a document of my vaccination history just in case.
      * Fortunately I had only a stopover of less than two hours on both legs, but I can't imagine to spend more than four hours on such an airport in Nairobi to be fair.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 489589 by
    KL651 TEAM 4426 Comments

    Thanks for this FR.
    Well the food is very generic.
    Good that you got 3 seats for yourself but such low loads probably explain why KQ is in bad ecoomic shape...

  • Comment 489656 by
    East African 1490 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this first FR on this route!
    You felt tired by the previous segment and we can see this in the writing style!
    "you are directly dropped in the only duty free section of the entire international terminal of Nairobi "=> Nope that's totally wrong!
    "It however never entered service"=> This is also incorrect !!
    "Swahili styled Chicken"=> nice to get a local specialty onboard (incl. the Tusker) 🙂
    Why such low grades without any explanation given for Nairobi airport? 😕
    Looking forward to the return journey...

    • Comment 489660 by
      ThomasDutch SILVER AUTHOR 335 Comments

      Hi East African,
      From what I have seen, the terminal does not really offer much more than those five duty free shops, but I have changed it accordingly. Regarding the aircraft, the site I listed probably made an error and I did some extra research, so it is changed too.
      And in your response to my grade of Nairobi? I wasn't impressed with the airport at all. I found it rather dirty. Half of the terminal 1A I explored did not have a working air conditioning at the time I was there and it was very very humid. Seating at gates are sufficient, while it is lacking at other places... Though seating at gates were mostly blocked by sleeping people making it not a pleasant experience at all. Upon arrival, my flight was not shown on monitors yet, so I went to the nearest airport info desk to ask them about my gate (as KQ transfer desk was unoccupied) to ask them what gate it was departing from... I was pointed to the next desk to ask them, only to be pointed back by them to the station I was earlier.....
      While I was satisfied with this flight to Bangkok, the return journey back to Amsterdam via Nairobi with KQ was going to be more of a disappointment....

  • Comment 489848 by
    East African 1490 Comments

    "I explored did not have a working air conditioning at the time I was there"= So, you go to Thailand during the European winter, but you look for a cold place in an airport? Meh 🙄
    "I was pointed to the next desk to ask them, only to be pointed back by them to the station I was earlier....." => Or you could have waited, like everybody, until 60 min before your flight... for what were you rushing to know your boarding gate since you like to embark not among the first? 😁

    • Comment 489854 by
      ThomasDutch SILVER AUTHOR 335 Comments

      I was new to the airport and just like to know what gate I would have beforehand, before I wander off too far. How hard can it be for them to simply tell me? Isn't an Airport info desk simply there to help travelers? Or am I missing something? :P.. The issue I was having with the non-working air conditioning at the gate my aircraft would depart from was not in terms of temperature, but in terms of humidity. Yes Thailand is humid too, but it felt more like you were stuck in a car without any conditioning on and all rooms closed with many people breathing in it.

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