Kuwait Airways Is Finally Cutting Their London To New York Flight

Filed Under: Kuwait Airways

One of the more interesting political airline stories of last year involved Kuwait Airways’ fifth freedom flight between London and New York. Kuwait Airways operated a flight from Kuwait to London to New York, and had pick-up rights in London, meaning you could fly them between the US and UK.


While their product is extremely uncompetitive, you couldn’t argue with their excellent business class pricing, which was consistently the lowest in the market.

Last year Kuwait Airways was forced to stop selling seats on their flight between London and New York, though. This was due to a case from 2013, where a passenger with an Israeli passport traveling between New York and London was refused boarding. He booked the ticket through Priceline (which allowed him to enter his Israeli passport information) as an Air India codeshare flight.

Kuwait Airways refused to transport him, claiming they were just following Kuwaiti law, which prohibits its citizens from entering “into an agreement, personally or indirectly, with entities or persons residing in Israel, or with Israeli citizenship.”

Kuwait Airways 747

This contradicts US law, which states that airlines “may not subject a person, place, port or type of traffic in foreign air transportation to unreasonable discrimination.”

The legal question became what constitutes “unreasonable discrimination.” The DOT came to a ruling on that late last year, when they decided that Kuwait Airways was in fact engaging in discrimination. This meant they had to stop selling tickets on their route between London and New York, since it was ruled that this was unreasonable discrimination when a Kuwaiti company is operating flights between the US and UK.

Meanwhile Kuwait Airways was allowed to continue to operate their Kuwait to New York flight, since it’s a national policy as opposed to an airline policy. In other words, since someone can’t enter Kuwait on an Israeli passport, it wasn’t considered unreasonable discrimination.

One of these days....
Kuwait Airways A340

Interestingly Kuwait Airways continued to operate their Kuwait City to London to New York flight 3x weekly, in addition to their 3x weekly nonstop flight between Kuwait and New York. By routing through London they had the opportunity to sell tickets from Kuwait to London and from Kuwait to New York (via London) on the same flight, though obviously couldn’t sell tickets on the London to New York flight alone. As a result, the transatlantic flight tended to be quite empty.

Well, Kuwait Airways will finally be discontinuing their flight between London and New York. Per routesonline.com, Kuwait Airways will operate all 6x weekly flights between Kuwait and New York nonstop as of October 30, 2016. The flight will operate with the following schedule:

KU117 Kuwait to New York departing 10:05AM arriving 4:20PM
KU118 New York to Kuwait departing 7:30PM arriving 3:30PM (+1 day)

I might just have to try this flight soon. As you guys know, I’d like to fly Biman Bangladesh from London to Dhaka, and it looks like Kuwait Airways has some great business class fares from there back to the US:


First class fares aren’t much worse either:


While I don’t know about the soft product (hopefully it’s better than Saudia’s), Kuwait Airways’ 777 business & first class cabins are so outdated. While I know they don’t have wifi, perhaps they’ll have a fax machine?

  1. I find this quote absolutely hypocritical – This contradicts US law, which states that airlines “may not subject a person, place, port or type of traffic in foreign air transportation to unreasonable discrimination.” As US Airlines have the most discrimination. The amount of stories published regarding Muslim passengers being refused boarding or taken off flights due to their religion is ridiculous as the US talk about unreasonable discrimination. When it comes to discrimination, I can’t actually think of a western country who discriminates against others more than the US.

  2. Kuwait airlines First class hard product is a time machine to ‘the good old days’ of aviation.
    But, I must confess that their soft product is second to none.
    Caviar courses with REAL Iranian Beluga caviar and massive meat courses.
    Only downside is that they’re a dry airline.
    Not as bad as Iran air.
    Wished I was alive in the 70’s, I would have loved to fly Iran air 74SP between Tehran and New York with the onboard lounge!!!!!!

  3. @Anonymous — Agree with you, barring the fact that the AIRLINES are discriminating passengers based on their race/religion.
    Kuwait airlines as an AIRLINE discriminated.
    In the case of US airlines, the crews/pilots refused to fly and sparked controversy.

  4. @Anonymous You are confusing media attention on individual cases of discrimination (alleged or not alleged) with actual incidence of discrimination. Maybe take your hypocrisy somewhere else.

  5. After the dust has settled, I find your insistence on calling Saudia service the worst you’ve ever had quite stubborn.

    Many commenters have explained that the people in uniform were not actual FAs, which makes more sense than your version of the story.
    It remains to be seen if you have the courage to address that and maybe, just maybe, admit that you misunderstood the whole situation, I trust your conciousness and integrity.

  6. Wooow…..its great…..Ben…..
    But Ben just to inform …..I think its better not to fly Biman Bangladesh at the moment, as Biman has deployed egypt air’s b777-200er which have outdated cabins. The biman 777-300er’s are currently operating hajj/pilgrimage flights to jeddah. So even if you want to fly, its better to check which aircraft is operating the route.

  7. “Last year Kuwait Airways was forced to discontinue the flight between London and New York, though.”

    Incorrect Ben. The airline was never forced to discontinue. While a case goes to court, you can continue. However to prevent any further violation to its national laws, the airline decided not to sell any seats between LHR and JFK under the Fifth Freedom privilege.

    One may wonder why then were they flying between the two cities since then? The answer: slot sitting. KU has prized LHR slots and they must be utilized otherwise they loose it. The same at JFK. And you can see how the slot sitting helped where they’ll be changing to a daily service by year’s end to JFK.

    On another note: I wouldn’t suggest you fly KU right now. They’re new B77W are due for delivery by November. Why not wait till then to fly it?

    BTW their A330’s lack a fax machine because it’s actually WIFI equipped

  8. US law makes me laugh,what have they done time after time when thoses FA feeling unconfortable with some muslims and kicking them out???OH sorry i forgot US is oractically ruled by Aipac and Israel.

  9. Now, will Kuwait let United fly to Bahrain through Kuwait? As part of this dispute, United had to stop flying to Kuwait.

  10. Its debatable if this is discrimination. If Kuwait has a problem with Israel, they can refuse to fly Israeli citizens. The again, last I checked US Airlines never officially refused to carry Iranian passengers…

  11. They can (and do) refuse to fly Israelis. The US also has the right to bar Kuwaiti from flying to the US if it does so.

    US airlines have been pretty equal opportunity in taking off disruptive passengers. The overwhelming number of passengers taken of US planes are white, from random drunk guys to Alec Baldwin.

  12. Lucky I encourage you to wait a little more to try Kuwait Airways as their new B77Ws are due for delivery starting November. Word is that the first destination they will be deployed on is JFK. If you still want to try the outdated seats, you will get that chance from Dhaka to KWI as the business class on that flight is actually first class sold as business class.

    p.s. they will have their own terminal in KWI by the end of 2017.

  13. Kuwait Airways was never ruled against to stop the london us route, The new management decided back in December 2015 to drop all 5th freedom flights due the new restructuring plan and moving the airline to profitability, The LHR JFK drop came as a quick fix to the lawsuit but it was decided long ago to reopen old direct routes Like Morocoo, Spain & Austria and to drop all KU 5th Freedom money loosing flights even between muslim countries like Indonesia and Malaysia UAE & Oman etc… New KU 77W & A359 will have First class suites widest seats in economy class plus KU will get its new dedicated mini terminal before 2018 and will completely launch in 2022 from the new KWI which will be a modern day marvel.

  14. I think they closed it as Air India has begun operating LHR-EWR route and they have a codeshare with Air India

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *