Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Kenya Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner Part 1 (BKK-HKG)

Welcome to my trip report on Kenya Airways and the Dreamliner! 


When I knew that the airline was starting the 787 flights on NBO (Nairobi)-Bangkok- Hong Kong route from August 2014 onwards, I knew I had to book myself on one. While my other friends went for Thai's Boeing 787 on Bangkok to Chiang Mai route, I decided to do something different. Besides that, flying on Thai is not very attractive - one of the regular airlines in Singapore and its kind of boring to me even though the airline wasn't flying the 787 to Singapore. Kenya Airways on the other hand doesn't fly to Singapore and to fly on it again attracted me, this time on the airline's new cabin products and I can compare the difference between the old and the new products. Here is the link to my other Kenya Airways' trip report: Boeing 777-200ER on BKK-HKG route.

This is my part 2.

So once that was decided, I had to find a way up to Bangkok. SIN-SGN-BKK was decided later on and I could earn some miles along the way too! As a Delta Airlines member, I earned around 2,000+ mile points for the return trip and it was on the cheapest ticket, a bargain if you asked me. The airline offered around $300 for Y class and $550 for J class return; one of the lowest airfares on this route. Initially, I wanted to fly on the J class, but looking at the cabin, it was too similar to Royal Brunei's product so I decided to save the cash and just fly on Y class, I wasn't expecting the flight to be full anyway. 

Airline's website

I recommend the US version for booking and checking-in, as I don't have any issues using it. The mobile and main website (Thailand) gave me a fair bit of problems such as saving my airline's mileage number and doing the online check-in. Other than that, I had no other problems such as selecting my seat and selecting special meal if required. Do take note that the airline will block out the front rows and they will only be available a day before the flight. 

I tweeted to @Kenyaairways team for help but no response, in fact none of my tweets in the past had gotten any replies from them. Thumbs down for that! Finally, I tried the US version and my problems are solved. The airline could certainly work on these issues: Social media (learn how to respond - that would be a great start) and fix its website problems. Pretty sure there are others who have similar problems as me. 

                         My route for the day: Bangkok to Hong Kong



I stayed at the Phoenix Hotel in Bangkok and its about 10 minutes drive from the airport. It's a great spotting location to photograph the arrivals; runway 19R usually. So you have to check which traffic is in used as different time of the year, different runway is used. Come only if runway 19 is used. 19L is possible, only with a long lens. 



Keeping myself out of the sun!


My photography equipment: Camera and Flightradar24 to keep track of the incoming traffic. Luckily, there was wifi access at the roof top.


View from the roof top. 


I had one of the most delicious Barbecue pork and duck rice at a restaurant near by the hotel. Its just beside the '7-11' convenient store. 


Once it was time to go, I checked out at noon and made my way to the airport by the shuttle bus, the only one on board in fact. Somehow I had this feeling that I was one of the few guests in the hotel at that time, probably the low peak period. 


My ride to Hong Kong! The 2nd 787 Dreamliner in the fleet. Currently, it is operating 5 787 Dreamliners (September 2014), the latest aircraft - 5Y-KZE was delivered earlier this month. 




I wasn't surprised this aircraft was my ride because for the past one week, KZB was doing this route which is not daily. (4 times weekly)


Once I reached the airport, I made my way to the check-in counter. Bangkok (BKK) Airport doesn't impress me at all; the structure of the building looks incomplete, no free wifi, windows are not photography-friendly at the gate area. (Too much reflection) and holding area (I dislike it to be honest)  However, the airport isn't that bad, it has some good points too such as the train system - express and normal route to town, a good variety of restaurants at the air-side area and clear signboards to get you to where you need to go. 



Mercedes anyone? 


Checking to ensure my flight was departing on time. 


Kenya Airways check-in counters were vacant, so the checking-in process was fast and the staff were friendly. One of them was curious why I chose not to fly direct to Hong Kong from Singapore and after explaining, she was pretty amused but wished me a great flight. She would also helped to make sure no one was sitting beside me. According to her, the flight was less than 40% full.  A Great start to my trip!



    My boarding pass for my trip and its time to fly. 



Something caught my attention here! Anyone knows? Answer: Tiger Mandala has ceased operation in July and this photo was taken in September. (2014)


Once I was done, I made my way to the air side via immigration. Immigration and security check took around 20 minutes and after that I was at the air-side. 

Lots of travellers stopped by to take photos of themselves using their mobile phone camera. 


The structure of the airport just doesn't impress me. Looks very dull even though the weather outside was sunny. 


Who was the one who designed this? Mediocre! 


I stopped by one of the restaurants for this - it was not too bad, but was certainly overpriced.


You can't miss the duty free shops along the way to your gate. 





It isn't too bad when you are at the air-side, at least there are a number of duty free shops and restaurants around.



    My ride had arrived from Nairobi.



     






5Y-KZB is known as Zambezi River - a name given by the airline's management. 






No. 40 airline

Date: 4th September 2014
Airline: Kenya Airways 
Flight: KQ860 
Route: BKK-HKG
Load: 30%
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8 
Registration: 5Y-KZB
Engines: 2 X GEnx-1B
Configuration: C30Y204
Delivered on 20th June 2014
Line number: 184
Gate: E3 
Seat: 31J 
FL: 370
Duration: 2 hours 5 mins 
Departure time: 1505
Push back: 1450
Departure runway: 19L
Arrival runway: 07L 
Arrival in HKG: 1815 (Very early)
Schedule arrival: 1900

The announcement for boarding was made quite early and as the flight was only 30% full, so boarding time was very quick. It took less than 15 minutes from the first announcement to the door closing. Greeted by the Thai crew who do the BKK-HKG-BKK rotation most of the time and they do fly to NBO (Nairobi) sometimes. Another route they do is CAN (Guangzhou) which the 787 also flies there from BKK. This set of crew enjoys working on this aircraft, as  its an upgrade comparing to the old 767 and 777 and sometimes they get mixed up.

While waiting for the door to close, I went to take some quick photos of the cabin. 

This aircraft is configured in 2-class; Economy (Y) and Business Class (J).

                                             J Class seats 








Y class seats 




    What do you think of the colour of the seats? I think it matches the cabin       even though I find it dull.






I love the rainbow lighting! More of this on my part 2 of Kenya Airways trip report, coming up soon! 






Once you fly on the 787, you won't want to fly on other similar size type! Its so comfortable and cozy, that's why this is now my favourite aircraft along with the Boeing 777. Airbus A350 is something I am looking forward to fly soon and the A380 which is another great aircraft to fly on. 




Legroom space is not bad. 







One of the Y class toilets 






How's the seat pitch? 



32-inch seat pitch which is reasonable for a tall person like me. However if you are 6 foot 3 and above, I would recommend the aisle seat or the rows behind as it might get a bit uncomfortable if you are flying for more than 3 hours. Seat cushion was comfortable, not fussy over this. As long as its not hard like the one on ANA's 787 Dreamliner, that's fine for me. 


In-flight service: This set of crew was pretty reserved, only one of them opened up to me and had a good chat for about 15 minutes or so before she had to go prepare the cabin for arrival. Her enthusiasm towards the 787 is pretty impressive and she has been working for this airline for a few years. Overall service was slightly above average but the crew should opened up a more, like smiling.


USB port is pretty useful for charging your phone and watching the content on your phone on the IFE system

The IFE system contains the latest top movies from Hollywood, Asia and Africa. Not that many but the selection should be enough for a 10 hours flight. 


Legroom space is adequate. 


Seat cover of Kenya airways


What's inside the seat pocket and on my seat?




Magazine and safety card!



Headphone - the sound quality was decent, it blocked off the cabin noise. 




Blanket and pillow for everyone!



Push back was early as the everyone was on board before departure time. I dislike those who always take their own sweet time to board the aircraft, causing delay to the flight and even worse forgetting the time which means luggages had to be offloaded which caused further delays. For airports with tight timeslots like London Heathrow, missing the take-off timeslot means you have to wait for quite sometime for the next available slot depending on luck. So make sure, be at the gate at least 40 minutes before departure time.


Since there wasn't any planes on the taxiway, we made a quick dash to runway 19L and took off.

The ride was smooth through out even though the pilot announced there was thunderstorm at Hong Kong, hardly a bump was felt during approach and landing. 

Once the seat belt sign was turned off, crew started their work and the meal was served about half an hour later. 


In-flight meal: I had a choice between chicken and fish, I chose the chicken. It was quite tasty, the appetiser and the dessert was not too bad. 




During the flight, I took some window-shot photos from take-off to landing, do enjoy! 





Taxiing to runway 19L.






At the threshold of runway 19L and off we went.


Not the best weather for flying, but it was smooth.






Much better now, always prefer the blue skies over grey! Who doesn't?














Speed brake was deployed as we started our descend.









Weather at HK had improved when our aircraft came in. 




Touched down! 




 Sunset in Hong Kong! 






Video of the take-off at BKK and landing in HKG








My rating:

Website: 5/10 (If not for the Website's US version, would have given a lower grade)
BKK Check-in experience: 8/10
BKK Airport experience: 6/10
In-flight service: 6/10
IFE System: 7/10 
Cabin interior: 8/10 (Colours of seats are dull) 
Seat comfort: 8/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
In-flight meal: 7/10
Punctuality: 10/10 (Very early)
Aircraft condition: 10/10 
Overall rating: 85/100

Conclusion:

It was a good decision to fly on the airline's 787 on this route. Was I worried about a last minute aircraft change? Not really as the airline was operating 4 aircraft at that time and the reliability is good so it wasn't a risk. There are many Hong Kong and Thai passengers on this routes for both ways, they chose this airline because of the lower fare compared to others. If you are thinking of flying this airline, the airline is now taking delivery of new aircraft such as the Boeing 787 and the Boeing 777-300ER so if you have the chance to fly on one, go ahead. In terms of reliability and comfort, I would give this airline a green light. Do take note that this airline is in the Skyteam alliance which means you can earn miles with another member from the alliance.



Thank you for reading!

Click here for part 2.


Cheers 
Charles Ryan Teo







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