Review of Kenya Airways flight Nairobi Amsterdam in Economy

Airline Kenya Airways
Flight KQ116
Class Economy
Seat 22J
Aircraft Boeing 787-8
Flight time 08:45
Take-off 18 Feb 19, 08:05
Arrival at 18 Feb 19, 14:50
KQ   #31 out of 85 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 100 reviews
By BRONZE 3112
Published on 23rd February 2019


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.


I was just through security, which was much improvement compared to my previous visit as more security stations were open by the time I arrived. I was quickly done and arrived in the same exact zone I left off on my first visit. Prior to disembarking, I asked the purser whether KQ operates on the same policy as KL giving you access to use their lounge (even though your second flight would continue in economy) and he confirmed so. Thinking that I would have access, I headed my way up to use their lounge. Only to be asked for a 40 usd fee to enter. Apparently KQ did not operate that policy like the purser confirmed to me. No big deal as I can understand that part of the policy.

Instead of that, I went down to one of the seating areas to briefly check on my mail and to do some work via excel in the remaining 90 minutes with the slow wifi available at Nairobi's airport. At least our flight would depart from the better wing of Terminal 1A with a working air conditioning. 

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As this would be the only flight being performed by KQ in daylight for me, I finally saw more of Nairobi's surroundings. This 10 year-old Boeing 737-800 (5Y-KYD) just arrived as KQ311 from Dubai (DXB).

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Boarding was called on time and performed via zone, which ground staff thoroughly verified with your boarding card. 

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Flight KQ116

By the time we started to board, It was clear to me that the same exact aircraft that brought me over from Bangkok would be used on my flight to Amsterdam as well. Once again I introduce you to 5Y-KZB, a 4.8 year old Boeing 787-8 with the name ''The Zambezi River'' who was the second 787 delivered by Boeing to Kenya Airways and has solely been in service with them.

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We were greeting at the door by a few flight attendants who pointed us in the direction of our seat. My seat was 22J for today and would be in the first Economy compartment near the wing like the photo below shows.

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Legroom once again was not impressive, but passable. Today's flight was rather full and I do think a 3-3-3 configuration is rather narrow on the dreamliner. The literature in the pocket was the exact same on my flight to Bangkok and from my J flight back to Nairobi. 

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Our captain checked in with us to wish us welcome and to explain the estimated flight time to Amsterdam. He kindly instructed us to pay attention to the safety video which would be shown shortly. Push-back was again on the exact time of departure according to our boarding card.

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While engines were now spooling, we made our way through to Runway 06 which would be used for departure when I spotted this bird… Not a common sight anymore, but that Boeing 727 freighter of SAFE AIR was a welcoming sight.

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While a small line of departing traffic was pilling up behind us (Two ATR 72s of Precision Air and a 737 of Kenya), we were cleared for take off about ten minutes after our departure time.

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After the departure, our flight was required to make a 270 degree turn to the right to what I assume clear any obstacles (Mountains or so) to the North of the airport.

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A short look of the flight path we would be taking to Amsterdam at an altitude of 40.000 ft.

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Meal service did start about thirty minutes after departure and they gave us an option between a vegetarian or chicken meal. I opted for the vegetarian meal, but my neighbour took the last one available and I was stuck to the Chicken version. I kindly asked the flight attendant too if she could do something about the window of mine as the sun was burning down on me and making me unable to watch any movie due to the reflection. After her first initial words to use the buttons below the window (which I obviously tried long ago), I told her that they were not working. She told me she will look into it. She kept her word.

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The meal was some sort of puff pastry with a filling of spinach and two whole chicken sausages and a cupcake. The quality of meals with KQ did not impress me and this one definitely did not too. I must say that the vegetarian version looked much better to be honest. I am pretty sure by now considering KQ's meal service is that Kenyans do love their spinach… As drink you could choose between water or some juices.

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A round of coffee/tea was served shortly after. When those rounds were done, the flight attendants came around again to clean up. While flight attendants were ok in general for this flight, I found them to be extremely passive in terms of cleaning. They simply walked in the alley holding a trash bag open with two hands…. While I was seated next to the window, I had to lean over both of my neighbours to dump my trash in their trash bag.

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I quickly went to the toilet as one of my neighbours left for a period not too bother them too often. About 2 hours into flight, it was still clean.

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A quick shot of the forward economy cabin I Was located in.

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Once again I only touched my IFE screen to set it to map and used my phone to watch movies I downloaded from netflix earlier as KQ's content didn't really interest me. 

While overflying Egypt and nearing the Mediterranean Sea (with about 4.5 hours to go to Amsterdam), the flight attendants came around again to serve us some salted nuts and a drink of our own choice. I opted for a coke. 

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About thirty minutes later and nearing Greece & Turkye, the second meal service was initiated with about four hours of flying left. I found it rather early, but I was still hungry after that poor first meal.

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The option for today would be chicken again or lamb. I opted for the lamb which was definitely an improvement to previous meals and I managed to finish it. However I could not finish any of the side dishes as they were way below standard again and way too dry. The bread roll was more of a rubber sponge.

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Tables were cleaned shortly after and one of my neighbours decided to take my plate instead of me leaning over him to give it to any of the flight attendants. Thanks!

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About 30 minutes to landing, the captain informed us that we were already descending towards Amsterdam with the latest weather information and gave us the usual thanks for flying with KQ and to wish us a pleasant stay or onward journey.

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And our flight was assigned to the Polderbaan, which is Runway 18R at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The notorious runway in Amsterdam for it's long taxi to any of Amsterdam's gate. Unfortunately due to noise abatement restrictions, Amsterdam is forced to utilize this specific runway to it's full potential. Landed at 14.25, which meant that we were 25 minutes ahead of schedule!

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After a long taxi of approx. 15 minutes, we were parked at a gate which was close to border control. One last look of the plane that brought me over from Bangkok and Nairobi to Amsterdam.

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Border control was completely empty as most of the passengers on board of my flight were transit pax and it took me less than a minute to clear.

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Amsterdam Airport Schiphol loves to promote their fully automated belt technology, but fails to impress you with the speed your bags are delivered….. It took a good 15 minutes for my luggage to arrive.

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From here I was off to home by a family member who picked me up by car.

See more


Kenya Airways

Cabin crew6.5

Nairobi - NBO


Amsterdam - AMS



At the end of this project, KQ was a rather disappointing experience for me and I would be unlikely for me to try them again anytime soon. While flight crew is ok in general, there are just too many flaws in their operation.

Information on the route Nairobi (NBO) Amsterdam (AMS)

Les contributeurs de Flight-Report ont posté 4 avis concernant 2 compagnies sur la ligne Nairobi (NBO) → Amsterdam (AMS).


La compagnie qui obtient la meilleure moyenne est Kenya Airways avec 7.5/10.

La durée moyenne des vols est de 8 heures et 33 minutes.

  More information


If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 489972 by
    sotto_Deactivated 82 Comments
    In fact, this KQ flight seems to have gone better in catering than BKK to NBO, even though the reporter only gives 4.5 points for catering / meals. For reasons of the environment (waste) I find the distribution of snack boxes in cartons a problematic. That's what KL does too. The content in the box itself did not look convincing.The lamb menu looks very neat. And the reporter praised the taste. Conclusion: KQ may learn at any time. However, I do not prefer this airline.
  • Comment 490007 by
    East African 1556 Comments
    KQ did a good job to accomodate your needs!
    Both meals look rather good.
    "While I am not the biggest fan of taking them on economy flights"=> after trying KQ, now you go back to them ?
    Thanks for sharing.
    • Comment 490015 by
      ThomasDutch BRONZE AUTHOR 600 Comments
      In the end KQ does deliver you to your destination as promised according to your itinerary, but failed at so many fronts to deliver a proper service. It wasn't the worst experience I have had (which to date is still Aeroflot), but KQ can't manage to deliver a better service compared to W5, which I used in 2014 to get to Bangkok with very old planes..... and W5 didn't even have one sort of IFE system.
  • Comment 490008 by
    Benoit75008 7247 Comments
    Thanks for this report,

    It's clear that KQ is trying to save money on many details.
    I got the same chicken sausages as you between NBO and DSS and i didn't find it so good and too small.

    The second meal is served quite late during the flight and it's clearly an improvement comparing to the tiny first one, although it doesn't seem to be good (too dry as you mentioned).

    It would be better to fly with KL or AF on that route.

    Enjoy your weekend
    • Comment 490016 by
      ThomasDutch BRONZE AUTHOR 600 Comments
      The main meal of the 2nd round was rather enjoyable, but the side dishes were very disappointing to be honest. KL or AF were definitely a better choice on this route, however KL would not depart until 23:59 that day and I was not in the mood to wait half a day for that and AF would add me about another 3 to 4 hours extra to my itinerary and i'm not really fan of CDG as stopover airport.
  • Comment 490050 by
    ISTFlyer BRONZE 386 Comments
    Hi ThomasDutch and thanks for sharing this report,

    - It's obvious that the meals onboard this flight is better than your previous BKK-NBO sector. At least, these meals refers to Economy class, the ones in the previous flight didn't refer to Business Class.
    - It's also really bad that KQ doesn't do the maintenance of these aircrafts in regular sequences, it's horrible when your window blind doesn't work, especially when the sunlight is directly coming to your face or your IFE screen.

    Thanks for sharing and hope to meet you in your reports in the future.
    • Comment 490053 by
      ThomasDutch BRONZE AUTHOR 600 Comments
      It was not broken, but somehow the system never released my window. They somehow managed to unlock it with one of their systems, but I couldn't use my phone nor my IFE for a good 90 minutes as it was totally reflected by the sunlight. Thanks for stopping by!

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