Kuwait Airport 1 hour transit time experience

When I saw an ultra cheap ticket to Europe (Mumbai Athens return for 24k INR, almost half the normal price) I almost immediately decided to book. But my biggest worry on this ticket was 1 hour transit time in Kuwait, including a terminal change.

I was scheduled to arrive at Terminal 2 from Mumbai by 9.20 AM and next flight is from Terminal 4 at 10.30 AM, giving me just 70 minutes aircraft to aircraft.

If I am to miss my connection, next flight to Athens was only next day, that too one stop via Italy. I would loose almost 2 days of holiday because of this.

I decided to take the gamble and book the ticket. Below were my initial risk assessment

  • I won't have checked in bag, so one less task for the airline
  • Kuwait Airport Terminal 2 and terminal 4 are not too far. It is possible to rush
  • Airlines sometime delay a flight if there're lots of connecting passengers from a previous flight which gets delayed. If I am the only person flying in from Mumbai connecting to Athens they may not hold an entire aircraft for me, but say if there're 20-30 passengers who have a short transit, it is more sensible for airline to delay the flight by 30-60 minutes than bear the cost of providing hotel to 20-30 people, putting them on next flight (which might be full as well)
  • Many other people had booked similar tickets with 1 hour transit time. Many have made it through, few had to miss their connection, were given a hotel by airline or put on next flight.
  • Because I am saving significantly on the flight, the risk is worth taking- worst case I may lose a day & some money, can explore Kuwait city using transit visa.

I decided to press forward in optimism.

The Mumbai Kuwait flight showed 91% on time performance. It is a narrow body aircraft with about 150 passengers, so will be quicker to board and take off compared to wide body planes with 300+ seats. So there was fair hope of reaching on time

I will NOT have any checked bag, so I can rush and might be able to make it. Could not check the on time performance of my connecting flight KU 175 on flightstats.com. If connecting flight is delayed a bit I am safe.

Below is how my experience went

  • Online check-in I could only get row 19, nothing further unless I opt to pay
  • At the airport requested check in counter staff for a further front row. Got a seat in row 12
  • Inbound flight arrived few minutes earlier than schedule-one risk eliminated
  • We boarded on time, but our departure delayed-instead of scheduled 7.15 take off,we took off only by 7.45. Congestion at Mumbai airport is blamed. This removed 30 minutes from 70 min transit time I had, adding to risk
  • We touched down in Kuwait at around 9.30, almost on time, reached gate by 9.40 but they took more than 10-15 minutes to open the door after aircraft reached the gate. 
  • As I got out of the aircraft I was expecting some Kuwait air ground staff would be holding my name and will guide me to next gate- but there were NO ONE. I was on my own.
  • I didn't have a clue how to go to another terminal and to my gate. But as there was only 1 way to proceed I walked fast, reached transfer desk. 
  • There I had to clear security- Luckily no rush but they did all the random test on my - ion scanning for drugs, full body pat down, checking all bags etc. Took about 5 mins. 9.35 AM boarding for Athens was supposed to start and 10.10 was gate closure time. It was now 10 AM.
  • As I cleared security I had to figure out where in Gate D8. Asked a staff, they told me to go up. Luckily though it is a terminal change everything is in same building, so not much walking (In Singapore you'll have to take trains between terminals, Mumbai Delhi- go out of airport and take a bus- needs lots of time)
  • As I reached my gate noticed that boarding for Athens has not started yet. So I could relax and sit. Boarding started 5 minutes later, but take off was delayed by about 45-50 minutes compared to original time. My guess is they chose to delay the flight due to connecting passengers and their bags
  • Rest of the journey went smooth. Kuwait airways experience will share in a separate post.
  • Reached Athens and the trip is ON

So my advise is, take a chance with Kuwait airways 1 hour transit if the fares are pretty cheap. It is a gamble with great rewards if all goes well, but some reasonable risk of loss of time and money if you miss the connection. Go mentally prepared to miss the connection and with a plan B.

Kuwait Airways detailed review here


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