I recently enjoyed a phenomenal holiday in Zambia & Madagascar, which included a stay at the phenomenal island sanctuary of Time + Tide Miavana, possibly the world’s most exclusive beach resort. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Kenya Airways B787 Dreamliner Business Class from Amsterdam to Nairobi (today)
- Review: Kenya Airways B737 Business Class from Nairobi to Lusaka
- Review: Time + Tide Chongwe Suites, Lower Zambezi National Park (Zambia)
- Review: Time + Tide Kakuli Bushcamp, South Luangwa National Park (Zambia)
- Review: Time + Tide Chinzombo Lodge, South Luangwa National Park (Zambia)
- Review: Time + Tide Miavana (Madagascar)
- Review: Air France B777 Business Class from Antananarivo (Madagascar) to Paris
Today (November 6, 2019): Review of Kenya Airways’ B787 Dreamliner Business Class from Amsterdam to Nairobi.
On August 30th 2019, I flew Business Class in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner of Kenya Airways from Amsterdam (The Netherlands) to Nairobi (Kenya). Kenya Airways – Africa’s 5th largest airline – offers a modern fleet and a competitive onboard product. The carrier calls its Business Class ‘Premier World’ and offers this product on its flights to Europe, Asia, and the USA (all of them being operated by B787s). I was pleasantly surprised by the overall experience onboard Kenya Airways (especially by the warm hospitality of the crew), minus a few hiccups (e.g. frustratingly slow service and a broke flat bed).
Have you ever flown with Kenya Airways? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment below.
- Trip: Amsterdam (AMS) to Nairobi (NBO)
- Airline: Kenya Airways
- Aircraft type: Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
- Aircraft registration number: 5Y-KZJ
- Flight number: KQ117
- Date: August 30, 2019
- On time departure: yes (9 pm)
- On time arrival: yes (6 am; + 1 day)
- Miles: 4150 miles
- Flight time: 8 hours
- Seat: 3J
- Class: Business Class
In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip):
- Cost of my ticket
- KLM Crown Class lounge at Amsterdam Airport
- Facts & figures about Kenya Airways
- Business Class cabin
- Business Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
- Onboard internet
- Other inflight experiences (crew, bar, lavatory & views)
- My verdict (score)
1. COST OF MY TICKET
I paid 1800 euros for my Business Class ticket, which included a multi-destination itinerary:
- Outbound flight: Amsterdam (The Netherlands) to Lusaka (Zambia) via Nairobi (Kenya) with Kenya Airways
- Inbound flight: Antananarivo (Madagascar) to Paris (France) with Air France
I booked the ticket via the website of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, which codeshares with its SkyTeam partners Kenya Airways and Air France.
2. KLM CROWN CLASS LOUNGE AT AMSTERDAM AIRPORT
Since Kenya Airways doesn’t have its own lounge at Amsterdam Airport, the carrier offers its Business Class passengers access to the flagship lounge of KLM (called ‘Crown Lounge’), which is located between the E and F Piers, one floor above the main concourse.
The Crown lounge reopened in December 2018, following an extensive renovation of the previous lounge space. The lounge boasts a surface area of 6,800 m2 (37,194 f2) and offers around 1,500 seats (more than twice the number of seats before the renovation). The massive lounge is spread over two floors and divided into different zones for working, relaxing, entertainment and dining. The floors are connected via escalators lined by a glass cabinet displaying hundreds of Delftware miniature houses, which KLM has offered to Business Class passengers since the 1950ies.
The lower floor is demarcated into several different zones with names like the “City” (where the food and drinks are offered) and “Sea” (with daybeds and shower facilities). The most beautiful zone is an area called “Dutch Mountain”, which is a multi-level platform offering various places to linger around in a decor of colorful sofas, wooden walls, and Dutch design fixtures. Most space of the lounge’s lower floor is occupied though by the “Polder” zone, which contains dozens of seating areas with different set-ups, such as rows of armchairs facing one another, swivel chairs along the windows, seats around small dining tables, and long communal tables. The Polder zone features large floor-to-ceiling windows on one side, which let in a lot of daylight and offer a good view of the apron. The Polder zone also comprises a concierge area & helpdesk, where KLM staff assists passengers with flights and takes care of every request.
The main buffet station is located at the lower floor’s far end (“City” zone) with an excellent selection of beautifully presented food and beverages. Cold dishes include a variety of breads, cheese, cold meats, and fresh fruits, while the hot dishes – offered in an open kitchen – include vegetable soup, grilled chicken, rice, and pasta. An impressive salad bar is present as well, with several salads to choose from, including snow pea and edamame salad. Snacks are offered as well and include biscuits, peppermint, licorice, waffles and crackers. The lower floor also features a second buffet station in the central lounge section, offering a similar selection of food and snacks (albeit without hot options).
The lounge’s upper floor houses Blue, an à la carte fine dining restaurant led by Michelin-starred Chef Joris Bijdendijk. This stylish venue serves “new Dutch cuisine” crafted with primarily seasonal products from Dutch soil. A table here needs to be booked online in advance and private dining rooms are available for a more intimate get-together or business meeting. Guests of the restaurant are charged for meals & drinks (good to know: you can also pay with KLM Flying Blue miles or miles & cash). In front of Blue restaurant is the Blue bar, an elegant space which is a fusion of a coffee lounge and cocktail bar. A beautiful bar counter offering more than 300 local and international spirits is at the center of the space, with several high-top tables as well as some more intimate seating niches on the side. Next to the bar is a small buffet, which offers the same selection of food as served in the main dining area one floor below. This floor’s best part is an outdoor deck, which offers a good view of Schiphol’s apron and runways.
3. FACTS & FIGURES ABOUT KENYA AIRWAYS
- Kenya Airways – the flag carrier of Kenya – was founded in 1977, after the dissolution of East African Airways.
- The carrier – which calls itself ‘The Pride of Africa – is Africa’s 5th largest airline, behind (1) Ethiopian Airlines; (2) Egypt Air; (3) Royal Air Maroc; and (4) South African Airways.
- Kenya Airways has an excellent safety record, with a maximum score of 7/7 on Airlineratings.com
- The airlines operates a very modern fleet, comprising Boeing 787 Dreamliners for longhaul flights and Boeing 737NG and Embraer E190 for short- and mediumhaul flights.
4. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
Kenya Airways’ Boeing 787 Dreamliner features 30 Business Class seats which are spread over two cabins: the main Business Class cabin has 3 rows of 18 seats, while a second mini cabin right behind has 2 rows of 12 seats. The flat bed seats are arranged in a traditional 2-2-2 configuration. The seats lack privacy, as there is no divider between paired seats (although that is only a problem when you are traveling solo). Since the seats are paired, there is also no direct aisle access for passengers seated in one of the window seats. However, when not in lie flat mode, there is plenty of room to walk passed your seatmate without disturbing them in the slightest.
With brown seat covers and playful red motifs on the headrests & pillows, the Business Class cabin exudes a Kenyan-inspired design that submerges passengers into the country’s warm ambiance before even landing at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
For a seat map of Kenya Airways B787 Dreamliner, click here.
5. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)
The Kenya Airways B787 Business Class seat has a pitch of 78 inch (195 cm), which is defined as the space between one point on a seat and the same point on the seat in front. The seat width – defined as the space between the armrests – is 31 inches (78 cm), which makes it one of the wider and more comfortable Business Class seats in the industry. The entertainment controls, power outlets and headphone jacks are located underneath the center armrest and are somewhat difficult to reach. The center armrest’s surface features a panel with seat controls, which are easy to use. The bi-fold tray table is also hidden in this center armrest, and needs to be pulled out of for any use (after which you are kind of blocked in your seat).
Each seat features its own 15,4 inch HD TV, which can be controlled by either a handset in the center armrest or by directly touching the screen. Below the TV monitor is an ottoman or footrest which becomes part of the flatbed once the seat is fully reclined. An open storage compartment for shoes or other large objects is located under this footrest, and it’s the only storage compartment of the seat, except for a shelf in the center armrest which can be used to stow away a laptop.
The seat goes fully flat (180 degrees recline) and the bed itself is very comfortable since the bed has an ‘open’ ottoman, contrary to many other Business Class products these days that require you to place your feet in a tight footwell. That said, during this flight, my seat was broke and did not fully recline (160 instead of 180 degrees). The staff tried to fix it, which didn’t work, and since the cabin was full, I could also not be relocated to another seat. I did manage to get some sleep though (I mostly never fully recline my seat in a plane anyway).
What are the best Business Class seats on Kenya Airways’ B787s? For a seat map, click here.
- All seats in the cabin are excellent for those traveling with a companion because of the 2-2-2 layout.
- The second cabin only features 12 seats, compared to 18 seats in the main cabin, and has a more intimate and tranquil ambiance.
What are the worst Business Class seats on Kenya Airways’ B787s? For a seat map, click here.
- The 2-2-2 Business Class layout does not make the cabin very attractive for solo travelers, since you will always end up sitting next to a stranger. To make things ‘worse’, there’s also no divider between paired seats, resulting in a lack of privacy.
- Window seats don’t offer direct aisle access.
- The seats in row 3 and 4 are located right before or after the toilets and galley, and passengers seated here may suffer from occasional noise disturbance.
Kenya Airways provides the following amenities to Business Class passengers on longhaul flights:
- An amenity kit, which comes under the form of a black pouch with a red ribbon. The kit contains travel essentials such as earplugs, eyeshades, a pen, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a comb (no toiletries). The kit’s highlight is a pair of cute socks featuring lion paw prints.
- A Kenya Airways-branded pillow
- A warm blanket
- Noise-cancelling headphones (which you cannot take home with you as they can only be powered within a plane)
During this flight, a four-course dinner was served after takeoff as well as breakfast prior to landing.
I choose the following selection from the (rather basic looking) menu:
- Amuse bouche: tuna mousse with tomato and mozzarella
Appetizer: smoked salmon, black tiger gambas with horseradish crème, cherry tomato and Citra leaves
Main course: beef teriyaki, basmati rice, and sautéed broccoli
Dessert: mango mousse and raspberry coulis
All in all, food was acceptable for a Business Class product, but the presentation nor the taste was very refined, and I found the portions rather small.
Ninety minutes prior to landing, a rather disappointing continental breakfast was served, with fresh seasonal fruit, assorted yoghurt, and breakfast cereal and pastries (but no hot dish).
Each Business Class seat is equipped with a 15,4 inch HD TV and also comes with noise-cancelling headphones to enhance the onboard entertainment experience. The entertainment selection itself can be navigated by using a handheld remote or by directly touching the screen. A decent selection of entertainment is offered, with over 100 movies and 48 hours of TV shows.
9. ONBOARD INTERNET
So far, Kenya Airways doesn’t offer WiFi on its planes.
10. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
#CREW: The cabin crew members onboard this flight were super-friendly, enthusiastic, and genuinely warm, and great ambassadors of African hospitality. That said, service was extremely slow, and the dinner’s first course was only served at 11 pm local time, two hours after takeoff, which was ennoying given this being a rather short overnight flight.
# TOILET: there are 3 lavatories for the Business Class passengers: one is located behind the cockpit, and the other two in the galley between the two Business Class cabins.
11. MY VERDICT
- Cabin design: 8/10
- Seat comfort (upright position): 8/10
- Seat comfort (bed position): 8/10
- Food (quality): 7/10
- Food (quantity): 6/10
- Inflight entertainment : 8/10
- WiFi: not available
- Service: 8/10
- Overall experience: good: 8/10