Kuwait Airways is a little bit of an extraordinary Middle Eastern airline. It doesn't exactly dominate the world market, and neither does it operate the newest or fanciest planes. You barely hear about the airline and there isn't a wealthy Sheikh that funds the company. No, that's not the airline from Kuwait.
I've flown on almost all the Middle Eastern airlines and I can say that Kuwait Airways has real character. It's like travelling back in time, especially when you board an old Airbus A300 or A310 which are rarely still used by other airlines. I simply wanted to test their long haul flight and I was positively surprised by the carrier from Kuwait City.
First of all, the price was unbelievable. I paid around $350 from Colombo, Sri Lanka to Frankfurt, Germany via a short stopover in Kuwait. All the other fares only started from around $500, including Qatar or Emirates. After doing my research, I got all excited once I discovered that I would be flying on an Airbus A310, which you won't find that often anymore amongst the bigger airlines. Let's say that Kuwait still fly some real oldtimers and that gives them a very special note indeed.
As a frequent flier, I usually book my trips on Kiwi, which offers an interactive map. It also shows alternative routes at a competitive price.
The Kuwait Airways Fleet
Airplanes are like cars, it's always nice to drive a new sports car (let's say a Dreamliner) but also a pleasure to ride on an oldtimer (Kuwait's A300) from time to time. It's a welcome change for every frequent flyer. Kuwait Airways operates some real beauties such as the Airbus A300 or A310, the first ever wide-bodied aircrafts with only two engines. These planes used to be the backbone of many major airlines throughout the 80's and 90's.
In comparison to the size of other Middle Eastern airlines, Kuwait Airways only operates 18 airplanes and the majority of them are wide body planes for international flights. The fleet is due to be renewed over the next couple of years and ten Airbus A 350-900 are due to join the fleet to replace most of their current aircraft.
THE AIRBUS A340-300
Kuwait Airways can call four of them their own. The average age of these planes is 19 years and they have been part of the fleet since 1995. It comes in a 3-class configuration and is mainly used on European or Asian flights. The airplane has small screens for each passenger which might give you a hard time on certain flights. My overall experience was very satisfying though and it kinda reminded me of Gulf Air's A340's.
THE AIRBUS A310-300
This plane is quite a legend. It's old, you have no jump seats for the crew and some tables are broken and will sit on your lap all flight long but flying one of those old ladies is pretty awesome. Your airways fall into a coma after two hours due to the low humidity but flying on one of these old birds is heaps of fun. They are reliable and something you can't often experience anymore these days.
THE BOEING 777-200er
The "newest" members of the fleet are the Boeing 777's. They joined in the late 90's and mainly fly to New York, which is the only American destination the airline flies to from Kuwait. It has a flight time of almost 12 hours. It also has a 3-class configuration which is up to international standards including full reclining seats.
THE BOEING 747-400
One of the slowly fading beauties of the skies, the 747 is also being operated by Kuwait to date. It is their one and only Boeing 747 and it will soon be retiring. Along with the others, it will also be replaced with the new A350-900. The cabins are modern and clean and you may be able to find some new nice flatscreens that have been refurbished. An interesting note, the official government aircraft of the State of Kuwait is a new Boeing 747-8 in Kuwait Air liveries, so don't confuse this official plane with the commercial fleet!
Kuwait Airways - Economy Class
THE CABIN AND ENTERTAINMENT
It depends on which aircraft you fly on but usually Kuwait's cabins are pretty old. I don't find them filthy but you can definitely notice the age. The screens are super old and sometimes don't work properly or the sound is very scratchy which will prevent you from watching what's on offer. Although the gear is old and faulty at times, the entertainment options like the movies and music are pretty up to date.
THE FOOD OPTIONS
You will be served a hot meal with an entree, dessert and drinks (or breakfast if you're on an early morning flight) and then a muffin with tea or coffee two hours prior landing. The food is good and you will have a choice between three meals, although no pork is available due to religious reasons. Most of the time you will be able to pick between chicken, lamb or a vegetarian meal (all halal). I really enjoyed it and I had no complaints.
THE CABIN CREW
This is something I really love about well-established airlines with small fleets, their cabin crew is well trained and they know what they are doing. The service was friendly, super fast and the crew was super funny. No comparison to Emirates or Qatar Airways where you will be served by foreign crews which only repsond with "Yes, sir" or "No, sir" and a massive fake smile on their faces. Thumbs up Kuwait Airways your cabin crew is awesome!
BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE KUWAIT AIRWAYS
With Kuwait Airways you will be able to check in 2 x 20kg in Economy Class, which is actually very generous.
WHAT YOU DO GET ON BOARD:
- Pillow and blanket
- 12 channels of various movies, TV and music
- Breakfast, lunch or dinner
- Muffin and tea or coffee
- 2x 20kg check-in baggage
- 7kg carry-on
Kuwait Airways - Flight Map
Kuwait Airways flies from Kuwait International Airport to the following destinations:
in North America:
New York City (John F. Kennedy)
Frankfurt Main, London Heathrow, Paris CDG, Vienna, Geneva, Rome
in Asia and Middle East:
Alexandria, Al Najaf, Beirut, Cairo, Chennai, Dhaka, Jakarta, Islamabad, Lahore, Delhi, Mumbai, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Jeddah, Riyadh, Sana'a, Jeddah, Sohag, Istanbul
Kuwait International Airport
Kuwait International Airport is a great transit airport to kill a few hours in. There's a wide range of restaurants and cafes where you can pay easily by credit card if you don't have any of the local currency. The transit area also offers free WiFi which is fast and very easy to connect to.
If you love to shop the transit lounge has a big duty free shop where you can buy everything your heart (or wife) desires.
If you are a smoker you can find a smoking cabin, which is small and smoky. You will see most of the people standing outside it though because it's hard to breath in that little space.
The toilets are a bit stinky and beyond dirty, so if you need to shit you should do it on the plane before landing, you can thank me later!
- Free WiFi
- Restaurants and cafes (credit cards accepted)
- Duty Free shopping
- Smoking areas
- Dirty toilets
Kuwait Airways was worth every cent. They certainly don't provide luxury but they offer good deals and certainly have one of the most interesting fleets in the industry. If you aren't that picky you will excuse the old airplanes and rather consider them as a cool oldtimer with heaps of charm!
The crew is simply cool and they seem to have a lot of experience and literally love their jobs. The service is fast and super friendly. I guess it must be the passion they have and you can feel that you're in good hands.
Also the food is great. It's more than standard and you won't be left behind starving. They pay attention to detail and I have never seen a crew work as fast and efficient as the flight attendants of Kuwait Airways.
I would totally fly with Kuwait Airways again and I can definitely recommend them. Don't be scared and give them a try!
WHAT I LIKED:
- Passionate crew
- Very fast service
- Good food
- Unique airplanes
- Free WiFi at Kuwait Airport
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:
- Technical delays
- Dirty toilets at Kuwait Airport
- Long check-in wait