As the carrier settles into life in Star Alliance, Business Traveller reviews the premium offering on Egyptair’s route between London and Cairo.
Check-in I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 3 at 1305 for my 1500 departure on flight MS778. Having recently joined Star Alliance (see online news July 10), Egyptair should eventually move to Terminal 1 to join the other member airlines, although no timetable has been set in place for this yet. For now, check-in for Egyptair is at Zone 3, where there was one desk open for first class passengers, one for business and five for economy. As both the premium desks were occupied, I was directed to one of the free economy counters, and was swiftly checked in and given a pass to the lounge. Business and first class passengers get fast-track security access (which for once was remarkably speedy) and I was airside by 1320.
The lounge Egyptair shares American Airlines’ Admirals Club (business class) and Flagship (first class) lounges, known collectively as “Lounge H”. Both have good facilities including wifi internet access, a large selection of newspapers and magazines, business centres, self-service snacks and drinks, and plenty of seating. I was advised that the flight would be called, and at 1445 an announcement was made that the inbound flight had been delayed, so boarding would start at around 1515.
Boarding The flight was leaving from Gate 34, and when I arrived there was a large queue snaking out of the seated area. Boarding had already begun so I joined the line until business and first class passengers were invited to step forward. I was sitting in seat 1D in first class and, once on board, was offered a choice of guava, cherry or apple juice (Egyptair is a dry airline), a selection of newspapers (mainly Egyptian), and an amenity kit, which in business and first class is Monteil-branded and includes moisturiser, a toothbrush, socks, an eye mask, a comb and a bottle of “refresher mist”. We were advised that there would be a further delay due to bad weather, and we eventually took off just before 1700.
The seat Egyptair’s Boeing 777-200 is configured with 12 seats in first class (in a 2-2-2 layout), 21 in business (2-3-2) and 286 in economy (3-4-2). The seats in business and first class are fairly similar, both with a width of 21.5 inches, and 9.2-inch individual TV screens. The differences are in the seat pitch (62 inches in first class and 40 inches in business) and recline (14.5 inches in first and 7.5 in business). (Economy class seats have a pitch of 33 inches, a width of 19.8 inches, and a recline of five inches.) Other features include a foldout table, a small storage compartment under the armrest and a drinks tray. The seat is fairly old-fashioned, but for a four-hour flight is perfectly comfortable. Looking around the premium cabins I estimated around half of business class was occupied, and five of the 12 seats in first were taken. An oddity in the seat numbering means that business class ranges from rows eight to ten, although they are in fact the third, fourth and fifth rows behind first class.
The flight Drinks were offered as soon as the seatbelt signs were turned off, with the dinner service starting shortly after. While there were no menus in either business or first, the starter consisted of smoked salmon and asparagus with a salad of feta cheese, cucumber and tomato and warm, fresh rolls. For the main course, several dishes were brought out on a trolley to be served at the seat. (There was china crockery but plastic cutlery.) I opted for chicken breast with vegetables and sautéed potatoes – other choices included beef kebabs, and fish and vegetarian dishes. A cheese and fruit selection was also brought round, followed by a choice of desserts and tea or coffee. I watched a film on the in-flight entertainment system from a choice of four fairly recent releases – they are not on-demand so if you want to catch the whole film be sure to turn your set on early in the flight.
Arrival We landed around one hour behind schedule, having made up about half the time we lost waiting to take off. We had been handed a booklet during the flight containing landing cards and general information on Egypt, so having filled these in before we landed it was a fairly straightforward process at immigration. (UK citizens pay US$15 for a visa on arrival.) Cairo airport is very busy and passengers should be ready to be approached by people touting everything from taxis to hotels. Depending on traffic, the city centre is between 30 minutes and one hour from the airport.
Verdict Attentive, friendly service and an adequate seat for this length of flight. Readers should note that Egyptair codeshares with Bmi (another Star carrier) on this route, with two daily flights served by Egyptair planes, and two on Bmi A320 aircraft. Other direct choices on this route include a daily flight with British Airways, and a twice-weekly service with Sudan Airways.
Price Lead-in prices for return London to Cairo flights start from £1,005 in business and £1,335 in first (including all taxes and charges).
Egyptair 777-200 seat plan