Tried & Tested

Kenya Airways B777-200ER Premier World

28 Sep 2009 by Mark Caswell

BACKGROUND From its Nairobi hub, Kenya Airways flies to 35 destinations in Africa and nine cities in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. It serves the London route daily, with an extra flight Friday to Sunday, and is an associate member of the Skyteam alliance. It is also a member of Flying Blue, the frequent flyer programme of Air France/KLM. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic operate daily on the route.

CHECK-IN I arrived at Heathrow’s Terminal 4 at 0835 for my 1020 flight and proceeded to Zone C. There were short queues for both business and economy. Check-in was smooth and I was asked if I’d like to change my seat allocation of 1A (you can also check in online and request your preferred seat if you have an e-ticket). I was happy with it and took the fast-track lane for security. I was airside by 0850.

THE LOUNGE The Skyteam lounge at T4, open since June, is located opposite Gate 10. It’s a large, bright space over two floors, with the upper level due to open on November 9. It will be good when it does because the lounge was busy, with someone sat at every pair or group of armchairs. I took one of the bar-style seats and tucked into the tasty breakfast on offer, which included freshly made omelettes and pancakes. Other facilities included a wine bar, a gaming zone, several PCs and free wifi. The vertical garden that adorns the walls is a great touch, with 60 species of plant creating a fresh feel. I didn’t have much time to enjoy any of this, however, as at 0910 I saw on one of the screens that my flight was already boarding.

BOARDING I made my way to the gate and there was no queue to board. On taking my seat I noticed there was a mobile phone belonging to the previous incumbent still on it, which I handed in. My jacket was promptly taken and I was offered a welcome drink, a newspaper and an amenity kit. There was then a lengthy wait for the aircraft to begin taxiing, which it did at 1030, before stopping again. We took off at 1055, 35 minutes behind schedule.

THE SEAT The B777-200ER is in a two-class configuration of business and economy. Business was arranged in four rows of seven in a 2-3-2 layout (AB-DEF-HJ – see seatplan, right), while economy was arranged 3-3-3 (ABC-DEF-GHJ). It was good to see business class three-quarters full. My window seat was very comfortable and upholstered in maroon fabric. It was 79cm/31in wide, and extended to a 193cm/76in, 176-degree flat bed. My in-flight entertainment (IFE) screen was attached to the bulkhead in front, with the magazine rack underneath providing the only space for storing small items (seats in the other rows had a built-in storage box at ground level). A good-sized table folded out of the left armrest.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? My row had marginally more legroom than the others and was the first to get served, but was next to the galley, which could be a little noisy. Row four is in front of the toilets and the economy galley, so avoid it if you can.

THE FLIGHT Shortly after take-off I was offered nuts and a drink. The meal service began two and a half hours in. I had beef pastrami to start, which was very flavoursome, followed by baked coconut chicken – fine, if a little too sweet. For dessert I chose the delicious summer fruit slice, which I polished off with ease. The friendly flight attendant offered me seconds, which I declined, and also recommended a tasty South African red wine – the service was excellent throughout. The on-demand IFE system had a decent selection of films. The flight was smooth, and just over an hour before landing, afternoon tea was served.

ARRIVAL We were quickly off the aircraft after landing but the lengthy visa queue took almost an hour to clear, by which time Kenya Airways staff had located my case and kept it for me.

VERDICT A comfortable, enjoyable flight with a good seat offering. Kenya Airways really differentiates itself with its great service.

Fact file

  • Configuration 2-3-2 in business, 3-3-3 in economy
  • Seat width 79cm/31in
  • Seat pitch 75cm/29.5in
  • Seat recline 176 degrees
  • Price Internet rates for a return business class flight from London to Nairobi in October started from £2,405.
  • Contact kenya-airways.com

Michelle Mannion

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