A Trip Report: Kuwait Airways (March 2016)
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Kuwait Airways is the national airline of Kuwait. As Kuwait has gone through ups and downs, so has the airline. In the late 80’s, Kuwait Airways as going through an expansion and was increasing airplane and routes. The invasion of Kuwait in 1990 put a halt to that expansion, and since then Kuwait Airways has been slowly trying to rebuild itself. The airline recently announced a major expansion with new aircraft orders and upgraded airport facilities.
It had been almost 20 years since I had flown Kuwait Airways – I flew it back in 1994 from New York to Kuwait via London. Since the war had just finished, there was a lot of security surrounding the plane and the boarding process and we had to go around Iraq thus adding about 3 hours to our flight time. The service was decent at that time, but from my understanding there had not been major upgrades since that time. In April 2016, we were flying from Abu Dhabi to Kuwait and we chose to fly Kuwait Airways because 1) they were starting to invest in their fleet and service so I wanted to check out the improved Kuwait Airways and 2) the only direct flights were operated by either Etihad or Kuwait and I prefer not to fly with Etihad.
The plane was an Airbus A320 and was in a 3-3 layout. You could not tell the age of the plane from the outside, but inside the plane did not look new. We passed through Business Class on our way to Economy, and the Business Class were the older seats that did not lie flat. Even though the plane looked older, the seats were comfortable and provided a decent ride for the short flight. Each seat had a pillow on it, and the seat pitch was pretty good – not too tight but generous enough. The seatback pocket contained the airline magazine, duty free magazine, air sickness bag, as well as headphones. The in-flight entertainment had definitely been upgraded as there were new PTV’s available on every seat, and each PTV came with a headphone jack and a USB port. The PTVs were available right away so the passengers could immediately start to watch their videos. The selection was pretty good and there was enough choice to keep you entertained for any short to medium haul flights.
The plane departed Abu Dhabi generally on time, and once cruising altitude was reached the service started. Considering the short duration of the flight, the service on the flight was very generous. A box meal/snack was provided which contained a sandwich, fruit, chocolate, and water. Given it was only an hour flight, it was a generous serving. I had ordered a special meal, so that was also accommodating with the special snack pack. Complimentary soft drinks and juices were served with the snack pack, and later on both tea and coffee were served. The attendants came by the aisle multiple times during the short flight to offer tea and coffee. Throughout the short duration of the flight, the attendants were constantly in the aisle. It was great customer service provided by Kuwait Airways.
As soon as the trays were cleared, it was time to land in Kuwait. We landed in Kuwait on time and deplaned on the tarmac and took a bus to the terminal. The immigration and baggage are at Kuwait International definitely needs an upgrade as it looks very old, and can become very cramped very easily. The baggage claim is on the ground floor, while the floor above is the departure gates. The terminal upstairs is a mixture of old and new, as there are older sections with not as many services as well as newer sections with more restaurant and other options (the newer gates are a far walk from the older section, and it seems that the airport is going through some additional construction).
Overall, it was a short and pleasant flight with Kuwait Airways. They provided good customer service and a good experience, especially for this short-haul flight, and the PTVs were modern and had a decent selection. I would definitely consider taking Kuwait Airways for a short to medium haul flights – given the seat comfort and the age of the plane I am not sure I would take Kuwait Airways long-haul currently. They are modernizing their fleet with new aircraft, so with the new aircraft and the current service, I would definitely take Kuwait Airways long-haul.