I flew economy class on Kenya Airways' flagship 787 Dreamliner to see if 'the Pride of Africa' stacks up to the world's top airlines
- Nicknamed "the Pride of Africa," Kenya Airways is the flag carrier of Kenya and a member of SkyTeam Alliance, operating in 53 cities around the world. It recently launched a direct flight from New York to Nairobi, with plans to up to 20 new destinations in Africa, Europe, and Asia in the coming years.
- While Kenya Airways hasn't won any major awards, it's consistently ranked as one of the best African airlines and I'd heard rave reviews from friends who had flown the airline.
- With a flight from Nairobi, Kenya to Dubai, UAE coming up, I booked a ticket on the airline's flagship Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner to see how it stacked up.
- While Kenya Airways isn't quite at the level of top flag carriers like Etihad, Emirates, or Singapore Airlines for luxury, I found that it offers high-quality, friendly service, meals on most routes, complimentary alcohol, and a fleet of planes that is getting newer with the addition of eight 787 Dreamliners starting in 2014 and a proposal to add ten 737-Max planes in the near future.
Kenya Airways has had a rough couple of years.
While it consistently ranks as one of the top airlines in Africa, it has suffered three years of losses due to, according to Bloomberg, "a poorly executed expansion strategy and fuel-hedging contracts that saw it miss out on rock-bottom oil prices." The losses forced the company to cut employees and reduce its fleet size to stabilize.But things are starting to look up for the carrier, which is majority-owned by the Kenyan government and part-owned by Air France-KLM.
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Last October, Kenya Airways launched its first non-stop flight between New York and Nairobi, with plans to launch direct flights to Geneva, Switzerland and Rome, Italy later this year. It's all part of an aggressive five-year plan to add up to 20 new destinations and as many as ten new Boeing 737-Max planes.
I was curious whether service has suffered from all the corporate turbulence and cost-cutting. With a flight from Nairobi, Kenya to Dubai, UAE. coming up, I took a chance and booked a ticket on Flight KQ310 to see how it stacked up. The flight was operated using the airline's flagship Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.
Here's what it's like to fly "the Pride of Africa":