This was the return flight from Rwanda. To read the outbound flight (overnight) from London Gatwick, click here:
Note that the outbound aircraft was an A330-300 while this was an A330-200. Aviation buffs will be able to tell you the difference, but as far as I was concerned the main thing was a slightly smaller business class – 20 seats as opposed to 30 – but it is the same seat, the Thomson XL, and is very comfortable.
I arrived at Kigali International at 1105 for my 1230 departure on WB700 to London Gatwick, a non-stop flight of around eight hours and 30 minutes.
To gain access to the airport there is first of all a full security check at the perimeter, when you get out of your car, put your bags to one side where a dog examines them for explosives and other items, and the car is searched.
Once at the airport, you go through a further check point (I was told off by a man with a gun for taking a picture at this point). Then at the airport building, all your personal belongings go through X-ray including shoes, belt and watches.
Rwanda is a very safe place and this is very thorough, but I didn’t mind. After that, check-in was relatively quick (this is a quiet time for the airport, which is busiest early in the morning and in the evening.
Travellers then take an escalator or lift to the first floor, where passports are checked, and then you are into the airside part of the airport.
I have written a separate review of the Pearl Lounge, which I will post here as soon as possible.
The flight was called from the Pearl Lounge at 1200, and there was a further security check before boarding.
By the time I got to the gate people were already boarding. You have your boarding card checked and then are handed a plastic laminated card (also called Boarding Card) which you present to another employee just before the aircraft steps. You walk out to the aircraft, though it isn’t far, and in the June sunshine wasn’t too hot either.
This A330-200 has 30 business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. The rows of seats stagger each individual seat – this is the Thomson XL seating, manufactured in Ireland – and is comfortable and well designed. Since this was the -200 rather than -300, there were fewer rows – only five rows of four seats for a total of 20 seats. I also noticed that this seat did not have the over shoulder belt for take off and landing.
Which seat to choose?
My original seat was 1A, which was too close to the galley and was also directly against the aisle, so I asked if I could move to 2A, which because of the staggered nature of the seating is positioned slightly further away from the aisle as well as the noise of the galley. I intended to work for most of the flight and wanted peace and quiet.
Once on board hot towels were offered.
The inflight system is identical to the one on the larger aircraft, but it had more content loaded on it – more films (30 as opposed to 12, I think), TV shows etc….
As with the other aircraft there is wifi available on board for a price of US$30 for the whole journey – expensive, but you get 300MB for that. One point on this particular route is that for the first three hours you fly over countries where the service is disabled, so that can be frustrating. In addition I found the connection so slow as to be useless. I tried doing a speedtest on it, but it was too slow for even the test to be completed, and by the end of the flight I had used only half of the 300MB.
Food and drink
- Fresh garden salad served with Feta cheese “Greek salad”
- Grilled juicy beef served with thyme jus, ratatouille and masked leek potatoes
- Chicken stew in a pepper sauce “Nigerian Style” served with Jollof rice, fried matoke and vegetables
- Pan-fried Nile Perch Fillet “Mediterranean Sauce” served with an olive tomato herb sauce, boiled potatoes and sauteed Dodo (no wonder it’s extinct).
- Curried chick peas with tomato and spinach stew served with a creamy sweet potato mash and fried onions
I had the vegetarian option (pictured below). I know it doesn’t look much, but it was delicious.
Dessert choice of fruit or cheese.
The drinks menu was short but there was plenty of it. I asked for a gin and tonic and I can honestly say I have never had one that strong before. I asked for the can of tonic water so I could gradually dilute it in the reasonably small glass, but by then the damage had been done, which is why instead of noting the other alcoholic options I simply took a photo of them (below). Note I was sitting down for this photo, not lying by the side of the drinks trolley. I then had some Amarula for the first time since South Africa last year. What a drink….
I slept for an hour in the middle of the flight, not surprisingly, and was woken by the sound of the staff chatting in the galley.
About 2 hours before landing there was a snack option
- Grilled beef tenderloin Chateaubriand served with a light red pepper corn jus and friend plantains
- Grilled chicken brochette served with a sweet chilli sauce and fried matoke
- Stir-fried mushroom vegetables Jalfrez in a light curry sauce and basmati rice
- Vanilla pannacotta timbale with strawberry mont blanc
We landed at Gatwick at 2015 and were quickly off the aircraft. There was only a short wait for luggage.
Much better than the outward-bound flight. The staff were willing and able to help, though you did have to ask them as they were passing or press the call bell. I wouldn’t bother using the wifi on this route, since for most of Africa it is blocked and then too slow to be of much use afterwards, but otherwise no complaints – a good non-stop service.