The first time I flew on a Kenya Airways airplane was during a visit to their aircraft facility situated at Embakasi almost two decades ago. One of our high school teachers arranged for us to visit KQ in a bid to encourage us to take piloting and aeronautical engineering careers after high school. From what I can remember, the highlight of the visit involved a 20-minute flight from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Cairo International Airport in a flight simulator.
In July I had the chance of flying from Nairobi to Mombasa aboard a Kenya Airways flight. Unlike the last time we flew to Mombasa on a smaller Fokker 50, this time we flew on bigger Boeing aircraft. This meant that the flight was much more smoother than it usually is when flying on smaller air-crafts like the Fokker or Embraer jets.
The night before our depature, we got a call from the travel agent informing that the flight will depart two hours later than it had been scheduled. Not being one who likes to hang around airports, especially with kids, I was pleased that we had been notified in good time about the delay. Although when we got to the airport the following day, there was an additional two hour delay as the incoming plane had been further delayed from its departure point.
At the airport, we had a pleasant check-in experience as the Kenya Airways agent was very courteous and friendly despite the fact that the kids were all over the airport during the check-in process. As we waited for the aircraft, the airline went an extra step to pay for the drinks and snacks that passengers were buying during the wait although I didn't find out until I was just about to pay for my order. There was a Kenya Airways employee stationed at the restaurant check-out counter quietly dismissing Kenya Airways passengers queuing to pay for their order.
As expected with the large aircraft, the flight to Mombasa was short and smooth. Owing to the short nature of the flight, there was no in-flight entertainment although I had the chance to watch part of a very humorous Indian comedy which I followed by reading the sub-titles as there were no head phones in the plane. Unlike the US where they are phasing out drinks during such short flights, we were served with a sandwich meal which I thought was unnecessary but a good gesture anyway.
Unlike the outbound flight, the return flight was on time and we had a choice of two planes though we decided to stick to our original flight schedule as we had gotten good pre-booked seats. During both flights, the only scenery to enjoy was that of Mount Kilimanjaro which looked beautiful against the cloudy July skyline.
Against the backdrop of increased domestic passengers and a booming tourism market, I would have thought that KQ would separate its local flights like they had previously done using Flamingo Airways so that they can be able to differentiate between their competitive international routes from their domestic routes. This would allow them to dedicate airplanes for their domestic schedules and at the same time have aggressive cost savings by not having to maintain high standards like they do for their long haul routes and thereby increase revenues. At the same time, they would not have to use the large air-crafts which don't fill up during the domestic flights. For the first time in as long as I can remember, the plane was probably three quarters full while here in the US passengers flying stand-by have a hard time getting a seat.
Despite the wonderful experience flying Kenya Airways, I'm not sure when I'll fly them next but my guess would be the next time we visit Mombasa which we don't intend on doing soon. Should they commence direct flights from the Miami or Atlanta, as it has been rumoured, through west Africa I might consider flying with them to Kenya as I would really love to visit western Africa and yet go home on the same trip.