Tuesday, 8 January 2013

My Egypt Air Boeing 777-300ER Experience (KUL-BKK)

Welcome to my Trip Report on Egypt Air and the Boeing 777-300ER!


I had some flights in mind for January but because I had work commitment, I wasn't able to take many days off. Initially, I wanted to go to Taipei and fly on Transasia A330 inaugural flight on SIN-TPE sector but I decided to do what I always wanted to do and that is to fly on the 5th freedom flights between KUL-BKK. At this time, there are a few interesting operators flying on this route, they are Royal Jordanian, Egypt Air, Lufthansa and Ethiopian. I had previously flown with Ethiopian on BKK-HKG route and it was on a leased 767-300, ET-ALL. I wouldn't have mind flying the airline again hoping to get the airline's own aircraft. After considering all the factors, I went ahead with my booking for SIN-KUL and then KUL-BKK routing.

For my SIN-KUL booking, there was only one choice for me and that was Air Asia, I wanted to get into another special livery aircraft. I booked the 0845 flight which meant that I would arrive there at 10am. After arriving, I would have one whole day to spend before catching my evening flight to Bangkok. I decided to go with Egypt Air to Bangkok. The air ticket may be more expensive than the others, but flying the Boeing 777-300ER and adding another African Airline to my flight logbook, it was a bargain. Departing KUL at 10pm and arriving at Bangkok at 1115pm. From there, I would have an airport shuttle to take me to the hotel.

Later on, I browsed through some of the airlines' websites that were flying on BKK-HKG sector, I got myself attracted to the idea of flying on Kenya Airways to Hong Kong. My original plan was to do SIN-KUL-BKK and return and booking Royal Jordanian on the BKK-KUL which also meant that RJ would have been my 40th carrier! Because Kenya offered an attractive S$185 one way, I took a few days to think it through before booking it. Flying with this airline had also been in mind for quite sometime, it's good that I can get it done now! The only thing that would change BKK-HKG at this moment was for Ethiopian to change the current 767 equipment to 787 Dreamliner, but that didn't happen.

Anyway, for my return sector, I wanted to do PIA to Bangkok and then Scoot back to Singapore from there, but decided to leave it for my next trip and instead stayed one more day in Hong Kong. PIA flies on BKK-HKG-BKK sector on certain days only.

Airline's website 





Egypt Air's website uses the Amadeus system and one would expect both to work flawlessly on whichever platform you use. I used my Ipad to do the booking with Egypt Air, the experience was a smooth one. Changing seats and updating your profile on your itinerary were not an issue for me, so you shouldn't expect much problems with this airline's website and the moblie application. 

In the morning, I did the positioning flight from my home base, Singapore.I got myself a cheap Air Asia ticket to KUL. 

Positioning flight: Air Asia SIN-KUL (AK1804) -9M-AQR

Just another routine shuttle flight with this airline, nothing to shout about.






The flight took about 1 hour 5 mins, it must have been the headwind as usually it takes only around 45 mins. My record flight from SIN-KUL is 35 mins and that was also on Air Asia. Anyway, I took this flight timing because I could spend more time at KUL viewing mall for some plane spotting session in the afternoon until departure time in the evening.

About my Air Asia flight 

My original seat was taken up by an Caucasian kid with her mum, I decided not to make a fuss about it since I had done this trip many times and instead moved to the empty seat at the rear. The set of crew was great and they had no problem with a few of us changing seats.

During my stay at KUL Airport
Once at KL's LCCT airport, I took a shuttle bus (Near the Coffee Bean) to KLIA, this cost only $2.50 Ringgit. The ride takes about 30 mins if I am not wrong, but the other passengers and myself were pretty pissed off with the driver for playing his Indian music so loud!

                             My flight was departing as scheduled.                                      


It was a good thing I came early as the queue was long after I left. There was no separate queue for web check-in passengers. 



Spotted my ride, it has to one of the nicest livery on the Triple 7.








The sight of MS's Boeing 777-300ER probably excited me more than any other passengers.


Looking at the number of passengers at the gate, I was expecting a full flight, most were heading home to Cairo I reckoned. One lesson I learned about this is to select the back rows, usually they would be empty or at least a couple of seats would be. 


Carrier: Egypt Air 
Flight number: MS961
Date: 25th January 2013
Routing: KUL-BKK
Seat number: 48A, changed seat to the last row
Aircraft type: Boeing 777-300ER
Departure Gate: C22
Engine type: GE 90-115B
My 10th ride on this aircraft, 7th airline to have flown on this aircraft type
Departure runway: 34R
Arrival runway: 19R
1st time on SU-GDO
Line number: 907
Plane delivered: 15th Dec 2010
Configuration:C49Y297
Registration: SU-GDO
FL: 350
Flight duration: 2 hours  5 mins
Schedule departure time: 2200
Actual departure time: 2158
Schedule arrival time: 2315
Actual arrival time: 2250
Load factor for Y class: 95%

Because the announcement system was down, the Malaysian staff had to do it raising his voice, making the necessary announcements. 

I was one of the first few Y class passengers to board the Triple 7. Taking photos of the empty cabin before the rest came in. It was a good thing too as the aircraft was about 90% full with only a few seats near the middle rear of the rear cabin. 

Most passengers were Muslim and as Egypt Air is from a Muslim country, a special prayer was done just before the safety video was shown. It was a new and interesting experience for me, watching the others around me reciting the prayers shown on the screen. Didn't take video or photo as I wanted to respect their privacy. Once the safety video started, the lovely GE90 engines were started, one by one. The whole cabin vibrated and the noise level suddenly increased by 2 to 3 times for that period. I looked around me and I saw many were covering their ears! Anyway, we taxied to the runway and took off quite powerfully into the darkness. Another observation of mine, the flight crew didn't update us on our flight. 

Another incident to note: when the plane started rolling, I saw a few cabin crew rushing to their seats, what a sight it was!

It was initially bumpy at the initial climbing stage but once we left the Malaysian Peninsula, the ride was smooth and the seat belt signed was turned off and the crew began their work. As for me, I looked around behind and saw some vacant seats, I decided to move to one to have more legroom space. 

Before I moved, I took these photos of my originals seat. 



The system is pretty decent and it should keep you entertained with a variety of the latest movies.  However, passengers on board was not able to enjoy the movies or music as the earpieces were not distributed. I wondered whether was it because of a complaint by ├án Egypt Air a few days before my flight. (About the airline showing inappropriate content on one of the movies according to an on-line article)







                            Legroom space is of the standard 33' inch. 





Seats: The seats are comfortable with ample legroom space. If I get stuck in that window seat for a 12 hours flight, I may get a bit uncomfortable but still not as a bad as a 3-4-3 configured 777 aircraft. Overall, I feel that the airline has a decent Y class product.


No-electronic device sign instead of the usual no-smoking sign.







Celebrating my 39th airline!


This was my movie for the short hop to Bangkok. 






That's what aviation enthusiasts like myself like to do, watch the map of our aircraft's location!







In-flight magazine 



In-flight meal


I had a choice between this and chicken. This is the beef noodles from KUL catering and it was not bad. I was surprised that a hot meal was served at late hour.















More photos of the cabin 

















Business Class seats - identical to KLM's Boeing 777-200ER old J class seats.





In-flight experience

The initial climb was quite smooth and seat belt sign was turned off until turbulence came in and it was only switched off after the meals were served, even though the flight was smooth way before that. Make sense if you ask me, makes the job easier for the cabin crew. Anyway, they were fast in serving and collecting their trays back was equally as efficient. Before I knew it, the plane started descending, all standard checks were made and the plane touched down Bangkok early. Got to say the passengers on board this flight have been well-behaved. 



In-flight Entertainment System

This system is used by some other airlines like Etihad. The problems are similar to one another. One of them is the touch screen, you have to press very hard to get to the page you are looking for. Using the keypad can be a bit tricky but once you get the hang of it, its not that bad. There is no camera installed on the tail or landing gear, so the only view you can get is from the windows. Looking at the movies and music variety, I think that is good enough for long-haul flights. Overall, I give a rating of 7/10. 


In-flight service

The crew may look aggressive and unfriendly at first, but when the service started, they were friendly. Of course you can't compare the service to the top airlines such as SQ, EK, QR, OZ, NH, JL ...etc. One of them was kind enough to help me get my card signed by every member of the crew on board. A big thank you to them! 





My rating

Website: 7/10

On ground service : 7/10
In-flight service: 7/10
seat comfort: 8/10
PTV: 7/10
Punctuality: 10/10
Cabin ambiance: 10/10
Aircraft Cleanliness: 10/10
Food: 9/10 

Overall ratings: 75/90 


Conclusion

I paid only US$153 for this one way ticket. It might be more expensive than the others but it was certainly worth every cent of it. It may be a short flight, but to get to experience an African airline without the need to head to its home base, is certainly worth it. I highly recommend anyone who wish to do this, its great that this airline has the 5th freedom right on this routing. The in-flight product is decent, and for the in-flight service it was decent. The airline was supposed to change the Bangkok-Kuala Lumper to Kuala Lumper-Jakarta sector. It did a few flights of the latter but later on it went back to the former for unknown reasons. Currently, the Airbus A330-300 is used to operate the CAI-BKK-KUL sectors, the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft are being utilised elsewhere.




Thank you for reading!

Cheers,

Charles 

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