Date: 23. December 2016.
Flight time: 6 hours 40 minutes.
Seat: 5A, window.
TRANSFER IN MUSCAT
I have two hours to make my connection to Zürich. From arrivals I head one floor up to the transit and departures area, which is also where the security checkpoint is located. In Oman laptops and liquids do not need to be removed from your bag at security.
Location: Behind the duty free shop.
Type of Lounge: Oman Air First and Business Class lounge.
Toilets: Available in the lounge.
Showers: Available in the lounge.
Food & Beverages: The lounge has a large buffet with hot and cold food, with a selection of Western, Indian and Omani dishes. Seeing as I have only just had lunch and will probably be eating again on the next flight, I do not have anything to eat in the lounge.
Connectivity: Wifi is available, password required.
Comment: With the increase of traffic to Oman and the expansion of Oman Air, the lounge in Muscat is seriously at the limit of its capacity. Since I was last here, the area has been extended, but even so, the lounge was simply never designed to handle so much traffic.
On my previous flights with Oman Air there was always a dedicated bus service to the aircraft for Business Class passengers in Muscat. This may or may not still be the case, because today by the time I arrive at the gate, most of the passengers have already boarded, so I just step on the first bus that comes along.
CABIN & SEAT
Configuration: 2 + 2 + 2.
Seat Layout: Much to my surprise, the Boeing 787 has a different cabin layout to the Airbus A 330-200 I just arrived in Muscat with. This aircraft has a more traditional, if not to say old fashioned, configuration. I believe it is the same seat that LOT Polish Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines have installed on the Boeing 787. The cabin definitely looks more spacious than that of the Airbus, but it is also a lot less private. Later on the cabin crew tells me that this particular aircraft in on a long-term lease from Kenya Airways. From what I know, as part of the same deal that saw Oman Air taking over this aircraft from Kenya Airways, they also source a further slot pair in Heathrow from Kenya Airways – allowing Oman Air to operate a second daily flight.
- Business Class – 30 seats.
- Economy Class – 204.
Pitch: 74 inches.
Width: 31 inches.
AC Power: There is a AC 110V power port and a USB port at every seat in Business Class.
Audio and Video: The aircraft has the same IFE system as the Airbus A 330-200 on the previous flight, which is very responsive and fast.
Connectivity: Wifi is also available on the Boeing 787-8, with the same price plan as on the Airbus A 330.
Comment: The one thing I really do not like at all on the Boeing 787 are those bloody electric window shades. In particular, what I dislike is the fact that it allows the crew to dictate what you do with your window shades. When I enter the aircraft, the shades are fully dark and I cannot see anything outside. For take-off, the shades are then brightened. However, after take-off I have the sun shining fully in my face and on the video screen, but I have no means of making the shades any darker until the crew release the shade controls.
Other than that, I find the cabin very noisy.
SERVICE & CREW
The crew on this flight are friendly. More over, it is interesting that there are even a few females in the crew too. On the previous flight from KL there was only one female cabin attendant.
The process is the same. I take my seat and then receive the hot towel, the menu, the earphones and a welcome drink. This time I go with the lemon and lime juice, which is very refreshing.
- Shaver with shaving cream.
- Colgate toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Eye shades.
- A comb.
- More useless Amouage cosmetics…
Welcome drink on the ground: Lemon and lime juice.
Towel before the meal: Scented hot towel served while still on the ground.
Pre-meal drink: Diet Coke.
Amuse bouche: A canapé with cream cheese and another with smoked salmon.
Choice: There are three choices each for the starter, main course and dessert.
Delivery: Individual tray service.
Type of meal: Late lunch.
First course: Selection of Arabic mezze – chicken ball skewer, labneh with a lot of garlic, something with puréed aubergine and parsley, black and green olives, lemon.
Main course: Penne pasta with vegetables and parmesan.
Dessert: Buttermilk panna cotta with poached dates and caramel sauce.
Beverages: Diet Coke and still water.
Comment: The quality and quantity of the food is good. The crew’s timing and pace of the meal is excellent. There are no long waits in between courses and drinks are constantly replenished.
THE SECOND SERVICE
Choice: There are two choices for the savoury item.
Delivery: Individual service.
Type of meal: Light snack.
Main course: Grilled vegetable sandwich, served warm.
Dessert: Chocolate fudge cake.
Beverages: Diet Coke.
Comment: The meal hits the spot nicely. To be honest I am still full from the lunch, so I just have half of the sandwich and the chocolate cake, which is very rich and sticky.
Eventually we start our descent into Zürich. When we departed Muscat earlier in the day, the temperature was a balmy 28 degrees Celsius. By the time we land in Zürich it is dark, the notorious fog is already starting to gather on the ground and the temperature is a mere chilly 4 degrees Celsius. The flight arrives 45 minutes ahead of schedule.
It is nice to be home.
On The Airbus A 330 from KL to Muscat I was surprised in a good way with the new seat. I was kind of expecting it to be a sort of anti-climax in comparison to the old First Class type seat. All in all though, I think Oman Air has done a good job refurbishing the A 330.
As for the Boeing 787, I really have to say I do not like this plane. I found it rather noisy and the cabin design and layout is old fashioned and drab.
As far as the service is concerned, I found the crew to be very professional, friendly and competent, although perhaps not quite as polished as the Qatar Airways crews.
The transfer in Muscat is always an experience I enjoy. It is not just the deplaning via stairs, which is very cool, but the old terminal, which reminds me a lot of the old facility there used to be in Malta. I am curious to see what things will be like once the new airport opens.
Without a doubt there is a lot to be said for a nonstop connection between Europe and Asia, like the Cathay Pacific flight I took from Frankfurt to Hong Kong at the start of the week. However, I am starting to appreciate the benefits of a stop on the way, either in Muscat, Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Doha. It is kind of nice to be able to get off the plane after a few hours, if only just to stretch your legs a bit.
All that is left now, is for me to wish everyone…