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Thursday 21 February 2013

My 40th carrier: Kenya Airways (BKK-HKG)


I have always wanted to give Kenya Airways a try ever since the Boeing 777 operated on this 5th freedom sector. Previously, the Boeing 767-300ER was used and the airfare back then in 2005 was slightly more expensive than Ethiopian Airlines. It turned out to be a great decision because not long after, the airline pulled the plug on this sector (BKK-HKG) and instead operating DXB-HKG sector, which meant that the airline would be left with only BKK-CAN. This route is opened for reservation, so if you want to try Kenya Airways without heading to its home base, you can give this a try.

I did my booking a few weeks before the date of departure. This time, I chose my seat last few rows near the rear of the aircraft originally at row 40A, then changed to 43J.

The excitement of flying this airline became stronger as the time was ticking closer to my departure time. Anyway, for this BKK-HKG sector. There are many airlines flying in this sector, Kenya is the cheapest. I purchased this one-way ticket for S$150 Economy class while the business class ticket cost only S$280.Quite a bargain if you ask me even if the J class is outdated, I still think it is cheap. Anyway, since I had done BKK exploring before, I will skip this part and move on to the next part which is boarding the aircraft.

The bad thing about BKK airport is taking photos of aircraft, that is almost impossible as you can see from the photos.


Looking at the passengers for this flight, most were Asians and the load was probably 60% with lots of empty seats especially at the rear. My original seat 43J was taken by an African who probably was on the NBO-BKK sector, I moved to the 2-seater seats just a few rows behind my assigned and settled there for the rest of the trip. Doors were closed early and we stayed at the gate for a good 20 minutes before pushing back which was on time and made our way to 19L for a quick departure.

Carrier: Kenya Airways
Flight number: KQ860
Date: 27th January 2013
Routing: BKK-HKG
Seat number: 43J changed to 45J
Aircraft Type: Boeing 777-2U8ER
Departure Gate: E1
Engine type: RR Trent 892
Departure runway: 19L
Arrival runway: 07L
1st time on 5Y-KQS
Line number: 522
Plane delivered: 17th June 2005
Configuration: C28Y294
Registration: 5Y-KQS
FL: 370
Flight duration: 2 hours 5 min
Scheduled departure time: 1410
Actual departure time:1355
Actual arrival time: 1730
Scheduled arrival time: 1750
Load factor: 60%

Photo: X Pan 


I was one of the first to board the aircraft and already saw some passengers on board, they were passengers from the previous leg and I was surprised to see Thai crew and a few charming Thai ladies serving us on this flight, can't imagine, to be honest. Anyway, when I got to my row, there were some African gentlemen, but I decided to just move to to the 2-seater seats anyway and hoped for the best. Lucky enough, the seats at the rear were mostly empty and some of the other passengers changed seats. We sat at the tarmac for another 20 minutes before the plane pushed back and our journey began.

                                            Legroom space

     The legroom space is reasonable, not the best but I think I would do ok if I were to fly on longer sectors such as NBO-BKK.

        Economy Y class seats

As you can see how empty the rear of the aircraft is! Great for passengers who like to stretch their legs. The crew had no problem with photography.

Basic PTV system which reminds you of the early 2000s. It is an outdated system, but it is easy to use. I will give this a 5/10 for the PTV system. Perhaps the airline can invest in a better PTV system to attract the others to fly with this airline especially on the long haul. Day flights would be important to have a good PTV system to keep some of the passengers entertained.

The colour combination of the seats reminds me of LAN Airlines's interior. The good thing about the seating configuration is the 3-3-3 layout which is definitely more comfortable than the 3-4-3. Legroom space is sufficient while the seat cushion is a little hard but not too bad. Overall, I will give a 6/10 for the seats.

The in-flight magazines 


                           The headphone was offered on this short flight.

While the rest of the passengers were either sleeping or watch PTVs, I went exploring the cabin. None of them minds what I was doing and in fact, one of them asked whether I was an aviation geek, because he encountered one on one of his flights before this. Friendly guy! Anyway, not before long after, meals were served. This was what I had! 

I had a choice of chicken or beef and I chose the beef. The meal was not bad; beef and vegetable tasted nice but the rice was a bit hard. As for the dessert, it was a little bit too sweet but overall I enjoyed it. I guess being hungry also make it easier to finish the meal in no time. I give a rating of 7/10 for this meal.

Once the meals were served, one of the nice crew who happened to see my Kenya Airways 40th airline card, offered to get it signed by all the crew. 

Thanks to her, I got my card signed. I wanted to ask for a cockpit visit but since it was an outbound flight, I decided not to as they had to make a quick turn around. Talking to the Thai crew, apparently, they only work on the BKK-HKG and BKK-CAN sectors for now. No mention of the BKK-HKG sector being withdrawn. 

In-flight service

This set of Thai crew was pretty cool. The ladies were quite charming and smiles were seen on their faces each time they walked passed. One of the male crews who served my section were frowning half of the time at my section for whatever reason, but he was good after meal service. Perhaps another difficult passenger make life hell for him earlier on? I don't know, but still, you don't frown when you are at this job. The flight crew on this flight was informative and kept us updated throughout the flight and including the holding pattern at Hong Kong. I will give a rating of 8/10 for the in-flight service. 

Some window-shot photos


Paying US$125 for this one trip is a bargain, its the cheapest among the carriers that are flying on this route. It is a great pity that this route will be stopped but looking at the load factor, I can understand why. I don't think the airline is making much on this route. I was quite surprised as I thought there would be a mixture of African and Asian crew on board and it doesn't feel like an African carrier while on the flight itself. I guess the other passengers like myself are disappointed that this option would no longer be available. However, if you are looking at flying on Kenya Airways without the need of flying to Africa, you can do Bangkok-Guangzhou on its Boeing 767-300ER but sadly for the 777 fans, the Boeing 777-200ER will be deployed to other destinations. Anyway, I feel that this should consider upgrading the PTV system to make itself more competitive against the "giants" from the middle-east. 

My rating:

Website: 6/10
On-ground service: 8/10
In-flight service: 8/10
Seat comfort: 6/10
PTV: 5/10
Cabin ambience: 8/10 
Aircraft Cleanliness: 10/10
Meal: 7/10
Punctuality: 10/10
Overall rating: 68/90

Thanks for reading!



  1. Thanks for sharing this report. With the number of airlines that offer the BKK-HKG segment as a tag-on, we're kind of spoiled for choice! Kenya is one of the carriers I would like to try.