First trip with Kuwait Airways: Experience, review

Kuwait Air is a lesser known airline from the Middle east. Everyone knows about Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways but not much about their neighbor Kuwait Airways. Kuwait Airways also operates a full service airline from their base Kuwait International Airport to destinations around the world, but their fleet size and destination coverage is much limited compared to Emirates, Etihad or Qatar. Kuwait airways also operates narrowbody aircrafts mostly and has very few wide body planes.

I wouldn’t have booked on Kuwait Airways had they not offered super cheap fares. Last year November I first spotted their Mumbai-Athens return ticket for 24k INR, for travel in December. This is the cheapest ticket to Europe I had ever seen (excluding WOW Air which ceased operations). I had seen other options like Mumbai -Abu Dhabi + Abu-Dhabi - Europe on Wizzair costing around 22-25k, but this plan needed UAE visa, self transfer, Wizzair tickets do not include food or checked bag, so not very convenient. 


24k return ticket on a full service airline with food, bag included was a steal deal. But I avoided December- too much snow/cold everywhere and X’mas season everything will be expensive. When I spotted the deal again for Jan end, I couldn't resist, booked instantly. I already had a multi entry schengen visa so it was a good opportunity to make the most of it before it expires.


Made a 2 week plan- Mumbai-Athens return via Kuwait for 23700 (booked on Easemytrip with some bank discount) and then made local plans within Europe to visit Albania, Romania, Italy, Malta and Santorini island, Greece. Will write about these destinations separately on enidhi.net


One main risk I had was short 1 hour transit time at Kuwait airport between Mumbai-Kuwait & Kuwait-Athens flight. If I miss this flight my plan would be ruined, as Kuwait Airlines do not fly to Athens everyday- next flight will be one stop via Italy, spoiling 2 days of vacation plans. Thankfully this short connection time didn’t cause any issue. I have written a separate post about this explaining how short connections work in Kuwait airport.


Ticket Booking process: It is hard to book on Kuwait airline website directly as they don’t seem to support Indian credit cards/net banking. However I could book easily on Easemytrip, where I got some ICICI bank discount as well, taking the effective price to under 24k INR. Booking process was smooth.


Web Check-in process: Web check-in opens 24 hours prior. We can select seats for free- about half the seats in the rear half of the airplane are kept for free selection. Seats in front, exit row etc are chargeable.


There was a bid for an upgrade option- at least 250 USD onwards for each leg, for a chance to get upgraded to business class. 250 USD is what I paid for entire trip, so no way I am going to spend that much for one leg upgrade.


Unfortunately Kuwait air doesn’t ask for meals preference. NOR there is any provision to provide other airline frequent flier numbers. It is Kuwait airways loyalty program or nothing. Kuwait Airlines is not part of star-alliance or any other networks. (I could give Singapore airline frequent flyer number to Korean Air, as I wouldn't fly much in Korean Air)


I signed up for their Oasis club and got some 3200 points for the trip. Still need 25000 points for the next tire (another 8 to 9 trips at least, not likely to happen in the next 3 years before the points expire). They don’t send any physical card like Qatar airways.


On time performance: Almost all the 4 flights I had operated on time. The first one- Mumbai-Kuwait had some 20-30 minute delay, rest all were on time.


Aircraft: All 4 flights were narrowbody A320s, but Kuwait air A320s do have proper entertainment on board, aircrafts felt modern. They have some 8 business class seats as well.

Full power sockets for each seat is great. You can even charge your laptop and work.


Kuwait Airways does have a widebody aircraft, which they use to flying to JFK


Entertainment: Had a decent list of movies- in Jan I could see some Hindi movies, in Feb I didn’t see them. Wanted to finish watching Azar but couldn’t. No recent movies, all several year old ones.


Map & Navigation info is excellent.


Amenity Kit: Kuwait airways does not give any amenity kit (eye cover, toothbrush etc). Pillows are kept on each seat, bed sheet provided on request, ear phones on request (regular 35mm jack fits into the monitor, so we can use our own earphones, not having to depend on airline provided ones)


Food: Meals were great. At par with all other full service airlines I had experienced- SQ, EK, Lufthansa, Swiss Air etc. No complaints on food.


Except that on my last leg- Kuwait to Mumbai- I was told veg meals are not available. I was in the middle of the plane (row 21) and they had run out of veg already- which meant many more passengers behind me who are vegetarians are also inconvenienced. Like I said earlier, if only the airline had captured meals preference during booking or web check in they could have planned to load the right quantity of meals of each type. 


Would have given 10/10 had they not missed my last meal.


Not sure if Kuwait Air loads fresh food again in Mumbai or they carry food for both legs from Kuwait itself. If it is later, even Mumbai- Kuwait passengers in returning flight would be denied veg food.


Load: Mumbai-Kuwait flight and Kuwait-Athens flight were pretty full. But on the return- Athens-Kuwait was pretty empty, Kuwait-Mumbai flight also had several empty seats. Probably this is the reason I got a super cheap ticket-24k return for these dates.


Starboard side middle exit rows were empty during Athens-Kuwait flight and I was sitting one row behind. Waited to see if crew would ask for some volunteers to move to exit row- but no such thing. The emergency row was empty during the flight.


Transit Airport:

  • Kuwait Airport is pretty small and easy to navigate around. Though the ticket said arrival is Terminal 1 and connecting flight is terminal 2, all are in the same building and walking distance away. (Singapore you’ve to take a train between terminals).
  • Not too many shops in Kuwait- there is a McDonalds that sells veg burger meal for around 2 KWD (600 INR)
  • Drinking water and bottle filler is available
  • No good area to sleep, few lounges are available if you can afford them or qualify
  • Seats have a charging port, so good to work/charge your device.

Summary of Kuwait Airways

Good things

Room for improvements

-Good aircrafts

-On time performance

-Cheap fares (selective dates & destinations)

-Great food

-Small n easy transit airport

-Great staff

-Capture meals preference in advance to stock right type of meals

-Limited destinations and flights compared to others

-No/limited widebody experience

-Support other airline loyalty programs

-Can include Kuwait transit stay experience like what Etihad does


Overall my Kuwait airways experience was great. If I get a good deal I will definitely fly them again.

2 comments:

  1. It is a very clear and helpful blog, what I was looking for. Many thanks for providing valuable information and sharing here. In fact I am about to book London-kuwait-hyd with 50 minutes time to take the connection. The deal I am getting for a family of 6 is really massive savings and hence the temptation for taking the risk.
    Thank you

    ReplyDelete

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