Review of Kenya Airways flight Nairobi Amsterdam in Business

Airline Kenya Airways
Flight KQ116
Class Business
Seat 2J
Aircraft Boeing 787-8
Flight time 08:30
Take-off 27 Nov 22, 08:20
Arrival at 27 Nov 22, 14:50
KQ 99 reviews
bldavid
By GOLD 1454
Published on 10th December 2022

I went on a short holiday to Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. None of these countries have direct flights from Europe. There are three main options to get there. You can fly with any major European airline (Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa, Swiss, Turkish) to Johannesburg and connect there. You can also fly to Lusaka in Zambia or Harare in Zimbabwe with Emirates or Qatar. Or you can choose the shortest route and fly with one of the major African airlines: Ethiopian or Kenya Airways. Ethiopian flies to Gaborone in Botswana, Ndola and Lusaka in Zambia and Harare and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Kenya Airways flies to Livingstone, Ndola and Lusaka in Zambia and Harare and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

Kenya Airways flies to four airports in Kenya, 38 airports in other African countries, four in Europe (Amsterdam, London, Paris, Rome), one in the US (New York) and four in the Middle East. The airline has 32 passenger planes including seven B78-800 Dreamliners, eight B737-800s, two B737-700s and 15 E190s. All planes offer two classes: economy and business called Premier. Kenya Airways is a member of SkyTeam.

My itinerary was:
Paris to Nairobi, Kenya Airways
Nairobi to Livingstone, Kenya Airways
Victoria Falls to Harare, Air Zimbabwe
Harare to Lusaka to Nairobi, Kenya Airways
Nairobi to Amsterdam, Kenya Airways
Amsterdam to Paris, KLM

I stayed overnight at the Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi. The hotel is modern, comfortable and offers complimentary airport transfers; driving time is about five minutes.

Nairobi Airport is a very interesting place with flights to all over Africa and also the Middle East, Asia, Europe and North America. The airport was originally built in the 1950s. Nowadays it has more of a 1990s feeling. It was overcrowded when I was there.

Your documents are first checked before you enter the terminal building and there’s a first luggage screening right after. There’s a SkyPriority line but even like that it took me about ten minutes to get in. The regular (economy) line seemed to be at least 30 minutes long, maybe longer.

SkyPriority check-in is on the left side of the terminal. The queues here were quite long as well. 


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Fortunately I only had hand luggage and had been checked in in Harare the day before all the way to Paris.

Passport control and security didn’t take too long. There are different lines (SkyPriority, crew, PRM, UN staff, diplomats and so on) but basically all passengers take whichever line they want. The view from right before security: 


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Over 20 flights depart from Nairobi between 6am and 8am. Note the many morning flights to Mogadishu in Somalia.


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Terminal 1A is used by many of Kenya Airways’ flights.


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Kenya Airways has two lounges. Simba Lounge is upstairs. You'll be asked on your way there if you want a massage - not at the lounge but next door for a fee.


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Simba lounge is not the best but there’s a nice view. 


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There is enough seating and you can get basic breakfast and coffee (from a machine) but the place is quite sad.


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Pride lounge on level 2 near gate 17 is much better.


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The views are very nice from here as well.


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The lounge is large, looks nice and has plenty of seating.



It has showers and has a good selection of food and drinks.


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Our plane as seen from the boarding area.


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Boarding started at 07.40.

Kenya Airways’ B787-900 has two business class cabins. The one in the front has three rows. The load here was 16/18. The second business class cabin has two rows. The layout is quite standard with a 2+2+2 configuration.

Seats 2GJ. 


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Seats 2ACDF.


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Seats 1DF.


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Legroom is more than enough.


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The screen does not seem to be very big but I found it good enough.


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Seat controls.


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The windows are electronically dimmable.


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A pillow was waiting on the seat. An amenity kit and headphones were near the screen. The headphones were so-so quality. 


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The usual Kenya Airways welcome drink was offered: champagne or orange juice or apple juice or water. I had some orange juice.


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We didn't leave at 08.20. The first officer apologised over the PA a short time later and explained that the delay was due to congestion at check-in desks.

An expected flight time of 8 hours and 10 minutes and a cruising altitude of 40,000 feet were announced.

Push-back was at 09.01 for a scheduled departure time of 08.20.

Some interesting views during taxi:


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We took off at 09.15 from runway 06.

Breaking through the clouds. 


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Kenya has such beautiful and varied landscapes. Mt Kenya could be seen to the right about 10 minutes after take-off. 


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We flew over the Equator another five minutes later.


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A hot towel was offered around this time.

The menu cards were distributed before take-off.



Breakfast service started 25 minutes after take-off. A white napkin and a tray with fruit were put on the table. 


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Passengers were then asked which drink they wanted. I had some tea. Service was difficult due to some turbulences.


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Some pastries were also offered. 


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Hot breakfast, the one that could be chosen from the menu, was served afterwards. Poached egg Florentine served with sautéed sweet potatoes, grilled tomato, sautéed spinach and mornay sauce. It was quite good.


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We passed Lake Turkana and we were already in Ethiopian airspace by the time I finished breakfast at about 10.05.


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I turned my seat into a full flat bed and I had a very good nap for over an hour.


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We were above Sudan when I woke up – my next destination in a few weeks.


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The Nile in Sudan north of Khartoum. 


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Lake Nasser on the Sudan-Egypt border.


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Irrigated land in Southern Egypt.


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I checked out the IFE offer. There are about a 100 movies. Mostly Hollywood but also some Bollywood and African movies as well. There are also about 130 TV Shows including 9-1-1, Black-ish, Bob's Burgers, The Flash, Major Crimes, Marvel's Agents, The Middle, Pennyworth, Planet Terra, Prodigal Son, Rush Hour, Superman & Lois.

Amazing Africa is a selection of nine African movies and TV shows including Kenya Airways’ own channel.

Audio has only 17 channels: African Classics, Chinese Pop, Classic Rock, Clasical, Dancehall/Reggae, Jazz, Meditation, Modern Rock, Pop, R&B, South African and so on.

The CEO of Kenya Airways apologises in a short video before each movie most likely referring to the recent strike. It's a bit surprising and also a bit bothersome as it is repeated before each and every movie.   


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I asked for some coke. It was served with some nuts.


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There are several map options on the screen.



Reaching the Mediterranean coastline.


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The extreme east end of Crete in Greece.


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Lunch service started with a hot towel at 14.35 Nairobi time when we were not far from Athens. 


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Pineapple and cucumber salad, marinated seasonal vegetables, assorted lettuce and orange segment. The salad was very refreshing and was served at the right (cold) temperature.  


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Beef ragout served with pureed potato, button zucchini and grilled mixed pepper. The beef and the zucchini were good but nothing special; the mixed pepper and the pureed potatoes were just OK.


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Vanilla mousse with caramel sauce. It was OK.


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Lunch altogether was not bad but certainly nothing outstanding.

Meal service was over at about two hours prior to arrival when we were between Skopje and Sarajevo.

I slept for almost an hour after lunch until around Passau. Once again I found the seat very comfortable for sleeping when converted into a flat bed.

Approaching Amsterdam. 


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We landed at 15.35 for a scheduled arrival time of 14.50.

The queues at Schiphol security were insane. There was a single "SkyPriority and short connection" line. Passengers were almost flighting to get in it. There were only two employees there and the line moved very slowly although most people had their flights departing within 10 minutes or so. The line for non priority passengers seemed to about 12 times longer also with only one security channel.   

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Verdict

Kenya Airways

8.0/10
Cabin9.0
Cabin crew7.0
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Meal/catering8.0

Kenya Airways Pride Lounge

8.5/10
Comfort9.0
Meal/catering8.0
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Services9.0

Nairobi - NBO

5.8/10
Efficiency5.0
Access5.0
Services5.0
Cleanliness8.0

Amsterdam - AMS

6.8/10
Efficiency2.0
Access9.0
Services7.0
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

Although some airlines offer a more sophisticated business class product this was a very nice flight. The cabin was spacious and the seat converted into a flat bed was comfortable for sleeping. The cabin was in very good condition. Catering was up to the standards of intercontinental business class but did not exceed my expectations. The choice of movies was OK. The cabin crew did their job correctly but they were not as friendly as on my other Kenya Airways flights.

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

The contributors of Flight-Report published 4 reviews of 2 airlines on the route Nairobi (NBO) → Amsterdam (AMS).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is Kenya Airways with 7.5/10.

The average flight time is 8 hours and 33 minutes.

  More information

6 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 616953 by
    NGO85 GOLD 1871 Comments

    Hi David, thanks for sharing the finale to this series! All in all, KQ looks like a sufficient option into Africa, especially if needing connections outside the major intercontinental hubs.

    Monitors in the bulkheads are foldout? Must be significantly smaller than what you had. The hard product does look a little tired after ~8 years of use, but still competitive to what KL/LH offer into Africa.

    Catering was up to the standards of intercontinental business class but did not exceed my expectations.

    I agree, that the overall service protocol looks completely in line with other carriers, but the overall execution and quality looks just average. Interesting that they serve the Coke in a plastic bottle versus can.

    • Comment 616959 by
      bldavid GOLD AUTHOR 257 Comments

      Hi NGO85 and thank you for your comment. Kenya Airways seems to have good passenger loads. I'm sure they're planning to their business class product yet as you say it is still competitive with other airlines.

  • Comment 616987 by
    East African 1549 Comments

    Thanks for this last FR,
    While KQ is offering 2 hot full meals on this (daytime) sector, products are quite repetitive (= similar to your regional sectors). And what about the Laughing Cow cheese (on the lunch tray) in business class, that's clearly an insult!

    Pride lounge on level 2 near gate 17 is much better.

    Yes and no!
    In the evening it can be very crowded and this is when Simba lounge becomes handy!

    Any way, thanks to your awesome serie, I really want to travel to Africa now :)

  • Comment 617179 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 6051 Comments

    Another good flight with KQ in J! Definitely a good option to/from Africa with a solid product and service and extensive route network.
    Beautiful report as always! Thanks for sharing

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