Kenya Airways 787 Business Class In 10 Pictures

In a previous post I shared the (truly) unbelievable celebration that Kenya Airways had around their JFK inaugural flight. In this post I wanted to talk about the flight itself, as this was my first flight on Kenya Airways.

Kenya Airways’ 787 business class consists of 30 seats, spread across five rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. There are three rows in the forward cabin, and two rows int the rear cabin.

This is a standard fully flat business class seat you’ll find on many airlines, so it’s acceptable but also outdated, with many airlines nowadays having direct aisle access from every seat.

Let’s start with the positive. The crew was genuinely friendly. They had warm smiles, and they seemed happy to be there. There was a sense of pride they clearly took in this flight, and that was so refreshing to see. I can’t guarantee how much of that is just their usual attitude vs. this being an inaugural flight, but I was delighted by that.

Unfortunately everything else about this 12hr55min flight was… mediocre.

The food was completely uninspiring. Lunch was served after takeoff. This started with mixed nuts and an amuse bouche.

That was followed by an appetizer, with the choice between a soup and halloumi cheese with roasted peppers.

For the main course I had red snapper, which was the highlight of the meal.

Then for dessert there was the choice between a cheese plate and a sea salt spiced guava tart.

The food was alright, but there wasn’t a single Kenyan dish on the menu, and it just felt like no effort went into the menu design.

The service was also slow. Like, really slow. This wasn’t a hugely elaborate meal service, or anything, but it took over three hours from takeoff before the service was done, which might just be the longest meal service I’ve ever witnessed.

As far as other features go, the amenity kit was fine, and I loved the lion paws they had on the socks.

The pillow and blanket were basic — the pillow wasn’t very thick, and while I thought the design of the blanket was cute, it wasn’t great for an ultra longhaul flight. There was no turndown service or anything. Fortunately I still slept like a log, given that I flew from Singapore to Newark and then from New York to Nairobi same day.

As far as the onboard entertainment goes, that was pretty good. While there wasn’t wifi, there were 100+ movies and also 100+ TV shows, so that’s better than I was expecting.

I’ll have a full trip report soon, but yeah… aside from the excitement surrounding the inaugural (which was incredible), I thought Kenya Airways’ product was… boring.

They had very friendly flight attendants, solid entertainment, edible but unoriginal food, and a good selection of movies and TVs.

If you’ve flown Kenya Airways, how does that compare to your experience?

Comments

  1. I actually really like these increasingly rare traditional lie-flat seats. I love that you don’t have to tuck your feet into a narrow cubby like with reverse herringbone or most staggered configurations. Yeah, you don’t have direct aisle access which sucks if you’re a solo traveller but many of us travel with our partners so that’s not an issue.

  2. Dog paws?

    Their motto is “The Pride of Africa” so do you want to try that again or were you just being intentionally insulting?

  3. I agree the Justin. If you are traveling to a safari with your partner, which I imagine this route will be full of between June to September, jumping over your partner to bathroom couple times isn’t a big deal. I prefer wide leg room than typical narrow cubby. I also have the same socks. I typically throw away all amenity socks but I kept this one because I thought it’s very cute. While both of my intra-African business class flights were just mediocre, I wasn’t expecting much so I wasn’t disappointed. I would fly them again due to lack of choices! Lol. Btw, I don’t recall food service was slow for my flights.

  4. You’re disappointed catering didn’t feature Kenyan cuisine because you don’t know what it is. Granted, a Swahili stew could be fine, that’s about it. Did they feature Kenyan teas or coffees?

  5. One of the best sleeps I ever had on a plane was about 12 years ago on South African Airways in this type of seating configuration. Between the lie-flat, ample leg room and duvets, it worked out much better than any reverse herringbone or staggered I’ve subsequently flown.

  6. I agree 100% with @Justin above. Especially as a tall person who also happens to be a side sleeper, I hate (almost) all footwells. This seat seems super roomy for the feet, and ideal if I were traveling to Kenya with someone. And if I was traveling alone, I’d just opt for a seat in the center aisle.

  7. @ Semperfi82 — An oversight on my part, my apologies. I’ve been flying for a week straight with little sleep. You can call it an honest oversight, but now sure how you can deduce that’s “intentionally insulting?”

  8. Don’t know, but I wonder if the cost is really prohibitive to cook Kenyan food for one flight a day ? Everything is slow in Africa – but n a pleasant level. I don’t think they get quick.

  9. Surprised that there wasn’t kenyan food offered. I’ve flown KQ many times AMS-NBO and back and there was always a kenyan food option. This was also something KQ used in their ads many years ago. Was there a kale option called ‘sukuma wiki’ on the menu? That’s pretty classic Kenyan.

    Haven’t flown them for about 3yrs so i wonder if things have changed.

    Ok, those nuts are pretty much the same they offer in economy class. That food doesn’t look that appetising. mmmhh…..Hasn’t their twitter account been touting their new chef etc?

  10. The slow meal service could be attributed to this being the inaugural flight and the flight attendants are working out the timing and what not. I’m sure as the months go on, the meal service will go more quickly.

  11. I completely agree with multiple previous posters … all bloggers seem to care about for hard product is direct aisle access, but I prefer these kind of seats to reverse herringbones that have narrow cubbyholes if the seat/mattress comfortable is equal.

    I travel business with my wife so it doesnt make a big deal to step over her feet (or vice versa). Maybe its from me being 6’3” but my wife seems to feel the same way.

  12. @Dan Allen
    I also wonder if it is about the costs. They ought to make it work though. If you’re going on safari, a kenyan meal would add a nice touch on the flight.
    Then again, the airline has been in cost cutting mode….

    Oh and service is never really fast on KQ. No surprises there.

  13. I’m booked on this flight in January. Was very excited to try it, and am now a little less so. How were the wines that they served? In the full report would be great if you snapped a photo of the wine list. I have heard that KQ serves surprisingly good bottles.

    TBH the food doesn’t look that bad. I’ve had worse on BA and AF for sure. The fact that they do a proper table setting and plate the food (rather than using trays and pre-plated dishes) is impressive.

  14. I’ve always had really positive experiences flying on Kenyan, both within Africa and between Africa and Europe. The flight attendants are usually incredibly friendly and helpful — on my last flight from Maputo, the CSD introduced himself with his first name and asked if it was OK to use mine. Then he remembered it throughout the flight. I’ve never encountered the slow meal service — maybe they were told to drag it out on such a long flight? The lounge in Nairobi is pretty good too, as is the new part of Nairobi airport

  15. Thanks for this, Ben. I’m going to be on that flight in August, literally a day after flying EY in F AUH-JFK, and two days before that EK in F JNB-DXB. It’s going to be an adventure!

    It’s good to know what to expect, and I am grateful.

  16. I agree with others. I like the big footwell better than the right squish. I’d probably take the middle seats so you still get the direct access.

    When I flew Kenya last year they served Korean food. Also agree that there will be a lot of couples who don’t mind the two seats. Flight is always better when you’re on way to safari!!!

  17. I have taken KQ many a times from BOM to travel to West Africa. Even next week I am scheduled to fly about 6 segments via KQ .

    Food as such is boring and it’s same in all segments.
    The only motivation to take KQ is I can get 100%miles on my jet privilege which i do not earn on ET or EK to fly to Africa.

  18. Oh why really no Kenyan anything on the menu l hope at least there was tea and coffee, By the way Lake Victoria Tirapia is a winner to see and eat, Avocado Vingaret is International And Kenya has many for starters,naming a few for change or alternative. HOLD THE PRIDE WITH JOY..

  19. One aspect I can clearly relate to is the pride to work for KQ.
    Let me explain: I was coming from a DOH-JNB flight on QR and still had their hand luggage bag tag on my backpack. By the time I reached KQ checkin at JNB some guy working for KQ appeard out of nothing, took the tag off my backpack explaining that I was not flying their friends QR anymore but KQ which is the pride of Africa or someyhing along the lines… I found that funny to witness since KQ employees seem to consistently be proud of their country and airline.

  20. Tally one more person who loves these seats over reverse herringbone
    But again, I don’t fly solo much

    Too bad about the food. I wonder if KQ is concerned about the Western Palate?

    Lastly, I’ve asked before, but do you think your experience of this flight suffered due to the fact that you just got off the Singapore to NY flight?

    It’s like a roller coaster. First one of the day is breathtaking. By the end of the day it’s still fun but your body adjusts, so it’s not as interesting

  21. KQ is first and foremost a government airline. Their service reflects this.

    Case in point – last month I was on a KQ flight in Business Class. It was a 6 hour flight on a 737-800 so the meal service was supposed to be a snack after departure, followed by lunch about 90 minutes before landing. I was seated in row 4, which is the last row of the Business Class cabin.

    The flight was completely full and there was some VIP minister sitting in row 1 with his security officer seated next to him. The VIP decided to go to sleep after the first snack service and was still sleeping when it came to the main meal.

    Rather than wake up the VIP, the crew decided that they needed to save one of each meal choice (chicken, beef and vegetarian) for him so that he could have a choice of meal when he woke up. Therefore, they were now short of meals for the other passengers. Myself and my seatmate in row 4 were told that we had to wait until the VIP woke up before they could serve our meals since he would be upset if he didn’t get his first choice. Accordingly, our “lunch” in Business Class consisted of salad, bread, crackers, extra nuts and the dessert. Since the flight was so full, they also had no extra Economy Class meals to serve us.

    Ironically, the VIP decided not to eat when he finally woke up 30 minutes before landing but the crew said it was now too late to serve us our meal. So we went hungry. When I wrote to KQ to complain about this, I got a stock response saying that meal choices are not guaranteed, etc… and refusing any compensation.

    KQ used to be my airline of choice for intra-Africa travels back in the mid-2000s but ever since ET joined Star Alliance my loyalty has shifted to the point that I barely do 5 annual sectors on KQ but over 50 on ET every year. KQ is simply not consistent, reliable or competitive.

  22. The worst is the airline theme song that they play on repeat before each movie and throughout the cabin during boarding and disembarking, nearly drove me insane.

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