Date: 23. December 2016.
Flight time: 6 hours 30 minutes.
GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
In Kuala Lumpur I am staying at the Sama Sama hotel that is connected to the airport terminal building via footbridge. It takes you about five minutes on foot from the hotel lobby to the departures concourse on level 4 of the terminal building.
- Business Class – two counters.
- Web check-in – one counter.
- Economy Class – four counters.
Web check-in: I receive an e-mail from Oman Air the evening before the flight, inviting me to check in online for the flight from Muscat to Zürich, but not for the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Muscat. So I am not quite sure what that e-mail was about and what the web check-in counter is supposed to be for.
Comment: The airport is crawling with people when I arrive for check-in. There are long queues for all airlines and outside, most of the aircraft stands appear to be occupied.
Location: In the satellite terminal, above the station of the shuttle to the main building.
Name of Lounge: Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge.
Type of Lounge: Malaysia Airlines Business Class lounge.
Toilets: Toilets are available in the lounge, but they are pretty old and smelly.
Showers: Also available, but in equally bad shape as the toilets.
Food & Beverages: There is a selection of hot and cold dishes, with a mix of traditional Malaysian and Western breakfast dishes.
Connectivity: Wifi is available in the lounge, password required.
Comment: The lounge is used by all passengers travelling on Malaysia Airlines and a few others, like Oman Air. As a result, the place is completely full and there is hardly a place to sit. Once I do find a place to sit down, I go and get myself a drink, only to find that they have run out of clean glasses.
I think this is a really nicely designed lounge, but I also think it is starting to show its age, it looks tired and worn.
Priority Boarding: Kind of…
Number of Airbridges: 2.
Comment: My flight is boarding from gate C1, which shares a security checkpoint with gate C3. There are two queues for the security checkpoint. There is no dedicated lane for Business Class passengers but at least the queue moves fairly quickly. Once you are inside the holding pen, there are two separate exits to the aircraft. Business Class passengers use the L1 door, all other passengers use the L2.
CABIN & SEAT
Configuration: 2 + 2 + 2.
Seat Layout: Oman Air has started to renew the Business Class cabin of its Airbus aircraft. Where previously the A 330s had a seat that was more akin to what other airlines have in First Class, the new Business Class definitely makes better use of the available space. Oman Air has installed the same seat that Japan Airlines has on the Boeing B777-300 on long-haul flights. On a pair of two, the seats are slightly staggered, with the aisle seat is slightly behind the window seat to allow the person sitting by the window easy access to the aisle without having to climb over another person.
Apart from the fact that the seat and cabin are obviously still very new, I like the colours Oman Air uses, a combination of light and dark browns with a dash of turquoise to liven things up.
- Business Class – 30 seats.
- Economy Class – 196 seats.
Pitch: 82 inches.
Width: 22 inches.
Length as a Bed: 77.5 inches.
AC Power: Every seat in Business Class has its own AC power port and two USB ports.
Audio and Video: Audio and video on demand. The IFE system is operated via remote control. The control reacts very well and is very fast.
Earphones: No name branded earphones.
Connectivity: Wifi is available on board and there are different price plans for mobile devices and laptops. You can choose between 30 minutes/10 MB for USD7; 60 minutes/25 MB for USD13; or 3 hours/100 MB for USD20.
Comment: Of course the new seat is not as luxurious and spacious as the old Business Class seat that used to be installed on the A 330. However, having said that, the new seat certainly makes more sense commercially. I like this seat. It offers a lot of storage space and if you raise the privacy screen between you and the person on the aisle, the window seat really is quite private. Besides, on this particular flight only 10 out of 30 seats are occupied anyway.
I was unable to find a seat map with the new cabin layout.
SERVICE & CREW
The crew are friendly enough. As soon as I am seated, I am brought a scented hot towel that is so hot it actually has steam rising from it. In short succession I am also brought the earphones, the vanity kit, the menu and an orange juice.
Once the doors close, the service begins with the traditional Omani welcome, which consists of a fresh date and a cup of Arabic coffee.
- Shaver with shaving cream.
- Colgate toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Eye shades.
- A comb.
- A lot of useless Amouage cosmetics (lip balm, eye cream, hand cream…)
THE FIRST SERVICE
Welcome drink on the ground: Orange juice.
Towel before the meal: Scented hot towel served while still on the ground.
Delivery: Individual tray service.
Type of meal: Breakfast.
First course: Natural yoghurt with honey.
Main course: Bowl of fruit (mango, pineapple, grape, kiwi, melon, nectarine)
Breadbasket: A selection of warm breads, including Arabic bread, a Danish roll, a croissant and a bun, served with butter.
Beverages: Coffee with cream, orange juice.
Comment: On the morning flight from Kuala Lumpur Oman Air changes the service order around. Just after take-off the small meal is served, while the main meal is served prior to arrival in Muscat.
Choice: There are three options each for the starter, the main course and the dessert.
Delivery: Individual tray service.
Type of meal: Lunch.
First course: Arabic hot and cold mezze (labneh, olives, samosa and something red with a tasty, strong flavour of roasted bell peppers.
Main course: Oriental beef curry with a spiced gravy and fragrant steamed rice.
Cheese: A selection of cheese with pineapple chutney and poached pears.
Breadbasket: A selection of bread, including Arabic flat bread.
Beverages: A Diet Coke and still water, coffee after the meal.
Comment: Ninety minutes out of Muscat the main meal service begins. For the starter I have the Arabic mezze, which are quite tasty. I have to say, this dish is not on the same level as Qatar Airways’ mezze platter, for example. But the food is good enough and the presentation is nice.
For the main course I have the beef curry and this really is quite tasty – the beef is so tender! The meal is served with cucumber and a chilli in case you like your food a bit spicier.
I decide to skip dessert and have the cheese plate instead. As the flight attendant comes to remove the plate from the main course, he notices that I have already demolished all the bread, so with the cheese plate he also brings me some more bread.
Our arrival into Muscat is very spectacular and leads us along the cost past Mutrah and the city of Muscat to land in a westerly direction.
From the outside, the new terminal in Muscat looks nearly finished. However, I ask one of the cabin crew and he tells me the facility will not be opening before the end of 2017 because there is still quite a lot of work to be completed on the inside of the building.
But of course this is all good news for me because it means we will be deplaning via stairs and ferried to the terminal by bus. I always enjoy taking a good look at the aircraft I fly with from the outside. Business Class passengers are bussed across to the terminal in their own, dedicated bus.