Review: EgyptAir Business Class 737 Vienna To Cairo

Filed Under: EgyptAir

EgyptAir 798
Vienna (VIE) – Cairo (CAI)
Saturday, June 30
Depart: 3:30PM
Arrive: 6:50PM
Duration: 3hr20min
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Seat: 12K (Business Class)

I boarded through the forward door, where I was greeted by a flight attendant and a security officer (or Egyptian air marshal, whatever you prefer to call them) at the door.

I apologize in advance for not getting a full cabin picture. Since I saw there were two security officers onboard I didn’t want to get yelled at, because it gets much tougher to get any pictures after you’re told not to take them. I think I also had some level of PTSD after my TAAG Angola flight.

EgyptAir’s 737 business class is massive, I think the biggest I’ve ever seen on a 737 on any airline. There were a total of 24 seats spread across six rows in a 2-2 configuration. Even though this 737 was only about five years old, it felt quite dated to me.

EgyptAir 737 business class cabin

The legroom at these seats was significantly better than you’d find in domestic first class within the US, for example. SeatGuru suggests the seat pitch is 48″ — that seems like a bit much to me, though it might not be that far off.

EgyptAir business class seats 737

EgyptAir business class seats 737

I had assigned myself seat 12K, the window seat on the right side in the second to last row of business class.

Underneath the center armrest were headphone jacks and 110v outlets (though there were no USB outlets).

EgyptAir business class power outlets

The tray table folded out from the side armrest, and could be folded in half.

EgyptAir business class tray table

Each seat had a legrest, which went up just a little bit.

EgyptAir business class seat footrest 737

The seat recline and footrest had to manually be controlled with a button. I always find it to be a bit of a pain to raise the footrest with a button, since you typically have to pull on the footrest while pushing the button.

EgyptAir business class seat recline 737

Each seat had a personal television, and the entertainment controller was underneath the center armrest.

EgyptAir business class entertainment controls 737

Waiting at my seat upon boarding was a pillow and blanket. The pillow was on the small side, while the blanket was fleece, which I don’t generally love on a plane. Neither felt particularly clean, as I doubt they cleaned them between flights.

EgyptAir business class pillow & blanket

About 15 minutes after boarding a flight attendant passed through the cabin with a warm towel.

EgyptAir business class warm towel

Then about five minutes later I was offered headphones, a cold bottle of water, and a pre-departure drink, with the choice between apple juice and mango juice.

EgyptAir business class pre-departure drink, bottled water, and headphones

By 3:35PM the door closed, and business class was half full, with the seat next to me empty (economy was completely full). At that point the safety video and travel prayer were played throughout the cabin. I found the use of sound effects in EgyptAir’s safety video to be really annoying, as it kept beeping like an alarm, almost like an overspeed warning in the cockpit of a plane.

EgyptAir 737 business class cabin

There were two things I found interesting during the taxi out. First of all, passengers were advised that electronics had to be turned off completely. No, not just in airplane mode, but off. There aren’t many airlines where that’s the case anymore.

Second of all, I found it interesting that the two security officers were seated in economy. I feel like on most national airlines with employees flying as passengers, the rule is just that they can take whatever the best available seat is, so that’s quite a bit of discipline for the airline.

We started our taxi at 3:40PM.

Taxiing Vienna Airport

Less than five minutes later we were cleared for takeoff on runway 29. We were only a little bit more than halfway through the safety video when we took off, and we were passing through 10,000 feet by the time the video was done. Yow.

Taxiing Vienna Airport

View after takeoff from Vienna

The views on the climb out were beautiful, as you’d expect.

View after takeoff from Vienna

The seatbelt sign stayed on for quite a while, despite a smooth ride. About 20 minutes after takeoff the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, and informed us of our flight time of 2hr40min, and our cruising attitude of 37,000 feet.

Around this time the crew closed the curtains between cabins, and then distributed magazines and newspapers.

EgyptAir 737 business class cabin

The meal service began shortly after that, starting with tablecloths being distributed.

EgyptAir business class table setting

There were no menus, but rather I was presented a tray with the appetizer, salad, cheese, and bread. The appetizer included what I believe was bresaola, along with tomatoes and mozzarella. Then the salad had cherry tomatoes and shaved carrots.

EgyptAir business class meal

I ordered a sparkling water to drink, but was served club soda.

EgyptAir business class drink

About 10 minutes after the first tray was brought out, the crew passed through the cabin with a trolley containing the main courses. They were simply described as chicken or lamb. I selected the chicken, which was tough, though the sauce was quite nice.

EgyptAir business class meal

Trays were quickly cleared, and about 10 minutes later I was asked if I wanted dessert, which was an apple strudel. It was tasty (though not especially easy to eat with the plastic spoon), and I had some tea to go along with it.

EgyptAir business class dessert & tea

The meal was done just over an hour into the flight. I’d say the service was fast and efficient, though not especially friendly. There must have been at least six flight attendants on this 737, not including the security officers, and three of them were working business class. So trays were all brought out and cleared quickly. But beyond that there wasn’t much charm to the service, unfortunately.

After the meal I checked out the lavatory located at the front of the cabin, which was fairly basic, and didn’t have much in the way of amenities.

EgyptAir 737 business class lavatory

EgyptAir 737 business class lavatory amenities

I then checked out the entertainment system.

EgyptAir business class entertainment

There were a total of 24 Western movies, and only five sitcoms. So the selection was alright, but not extensive.

EgyptAir business class entertainment

I usually struggle to sleep in anything but a flat bed (this isn’t specific to planes, but in general), though to my surprise I managed to snooze for about an hour. Before I knew it we were starting our descent towards Cairo, with about 30 minutes remaining.

Airshow enroute to Cairo

Airshow enroute to Cairo

Next to my seat the flight attendants had left a landing card and some packaged cookies.

EgyptAir business class landing card & cookies

Around this time the seatbelt sign was turned on, and to my surprise they were very strict about telling people to return to their seats and sit down. Usually airlines turn on the seatbelt sign early but don’t enforce it for a while, but this was different.

On the descent they played a “welcome to Egypt” video.

View approaching Cairo

Cairo is such a sprawling city, so as usual the views on approach were fascinating. We ended up touching down at Cairo Airport at 6:45PM.

View approaching Cairo

View approaching Cairo

View approaching Cairo

There was quite a bit of clapping on landing, which isn’t that unusual for a flight to/from Cairo, in my experience.

Taxiing Cairo Airport

We had a beautiful sunset as we taxied in. We were taxiing really fast, though it was quite a long taxi until we arrived at our remote stand.

Beautiful sunset Cairo Airport

Beautiful sunset Cairo Airport

We eventually parked at a remote stand by 6:55PM.

Arrival stand Cairo Airport

They had a separate bus for business class passengers, so we made it to the terminal pretty quickly.

EgyptAir 737 Cairo Airport

EgyptAir 737 business class bottom line

EgyptAir offers a solid hard product on their short-haul fleet, especially when you consider that many European airlines operate regionally configured planes to/from Cairo, which feature standard economy seats with a blocked middle as “business class.”

So in that sense, these were among the more comfortable seats I’ve seen on a 737.

The soft product on EgyptAir was acceptable but not great. The food was edible and service was professional enough, but nothing “wowed” me. I’d fly EgyptAir again — I wouldn’t seek them out, but also wouldn’t avoid them.

If you’ve flown EgyptAir’s 737 business class, what was your experience like?

  1. Such large business cabins on narrow-bodies really are strange. I flew South African domestically last week on an A320 also with 24J. There were only two rows of economy in front of the exit rows, one fewer than Egyptair’s 737! Reminds me of AA’s old 757s.

  2. I’ve flown Egyptair 4 times and 3 times out of the 4 we took off with the safety video still paying (taxi out during the 4th sector was long enough that there was enough time for the video to finish).

    I think that says all you need to know about the standards of Egyptian aviation.

    I personally avoid CAI at all costs.

  3. i cannot understand why there need skymarshels
    i dont like to be looked at on boarding
    besids egypt is a poor country and is not el al
    i find it very iritable

  4. Contrary to LMcK I would certainly consider MS to Cairo. In particular if the alternative is a red eye flight on a A320 with the european style business class (such as the LH, LX, OS flights to CAI).

  5. Club soda IS sparkling water 🙂

    The main dish looks pretty similar to what they were serving in economy 10 or so years ago. I flew them Aswan to Amman, which required a transfer in Cairo, and both short flights had a full meal in economy! I wonder if they still do that?

  6. @Andy agreed, tho pretty much everyone has at least one day flight to CAI so not that hard to avoid MS if you so wished.

    As for the airlines safety practices, the EU has not banned or restricted MS, and the FAA has the Egyptian CAA listed as Category 1.

    Personally, I know there are some EU airlines I am more hesitant to fly on than MS.

  7. I though the use of Air marshals was so that they would not be easily identifiable to passengers…so much for that theory. Agree that they should be seated (or at least one) in business class…so they can keep watch of that cabin as it’s closest to cockpit.

    After two suicide flights – I too have no desire to fly them !

  8. #1: That pillow is the grossest thing I’ve seen today.

    #2: I read an AF J review on another blog today and it drove home how good you are at what you do. Thank you for many enjoyable reads!

  9. Side question Lucky – do you watch safety videos each time you fly? Seems you would know most by heart and I’m just curious.

  10. Lucky,
    What is the camera you are using for most of the photos taken in your trip reports these day?

  11. You ordered carbonated water and received carbonated water. How were the air nosles ? How polished was the service.

  12. @Ben above – I agree, although that AF review over at TPG was one of the better ones. The NZ review from a few days ago was a disaster of biblical proportions. …make me and everyone else run back here to a place where 99% of the reviews are great. I say 99% but I am not always in agreement with what I read or the tone, but overall Ben/Lucky is very good with his reviews.

  13. @Jordan

    I think TPG site is like this site, some of the reviewers are better than others. I mean, I wasn’t a fan of Daniel’s reviews, tbh. Lucky does do more of the reviews on here as a percentage of the overall reviews, so there is a clearer “voice” for this site overall than on TPG.

    Does British Airways fly the ex-BMI A321 to Cairo? The one with the staggered seats in business class? I know they fly that plane to cities like Amman, Beirut, and Tel Aviv.

  14. @ Zymm, @BigG – doesn’t club soda contain salt while mineral water doesn’t? I always thought that was the difference.

  15. @james
    The main difference between club soda and sparkling water is the type of “bubbles”. Club soda contains potassium bicarbonate, while sparkling water contains only CO2 (Carbon dioxide)
    Si technically not the same product albeit very similar taste.

  16. The aerial shot of arrival in Cairo really are amazing. The buildings look as if they were made with Legos.

  17. Flew into Cairo last month on RJ VIE AMM CAI. It was late night and aborted landing. There was an aircraft on the runway. I looked at the FA and she had a mortified look. I’ll stay clear of Egyptian aviation

  18. Your review was pretty accurate but my recent experience was even better. I flew FRA-CAI and had lie-flat seats and very efficient service (and excellent food). I remember thinking: how is it that a developing country’s national airline can serve a multi course hot meal for this many J passengers in under an hour, and those same passengers would get a bag of chips on a transcontinental flight back home? I’d staunchly avoided flying MS in the past and was only on this flight due to my original OS flight being cancelled, but I’d do it again.

  19. Excellent review. The security officers are usually seated in the aile front seats of the economy. There main roll is to prevent passengers from behind to cross to toilets in front and again to let the business class leave the craft earlier and join business class bus if available. The security officer just give the impression they are there.
    Services on board, meals, refreshments entertainment are limited to the basic necessities and to the minimum. Food is usually not tasty and sometimes not properly cooked. Choices of juices are limited.. Toilets are sometimes miserable.
    However, you get what you paid for which is usually cheaper than competitors.

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