Last month I traveled with Kuwait Airlines from Bangkok to Manila so thought I would share my thoughts on them. Given its name, you will not be surprisied to find out this is the airline of the Kingdom Of Kuwait. Both legs were on an Airbus A340 with a standard passenger layout holding 280 passengers. The plane was 9 years old and showed it inside with bits of seat trim beginning to come off, some of the personal entertainment controls not working properly and so on Seat pitch is supposedly 32" and it felt about that with not much room to manouver. The flight was about 2 hours 30 minutes long and one gripe I did have was on the outward journey, they started the inflight entertainment about 40 minutes into the flight which meant they didnt show the end of the film! What did happen at the end of Big Fish anyway? The meals served were average western airline food with no real flavour but still mostly edible. There was a choice of meals but as I was at the back they had run out of one of them and I was stuck with what they had left - fortunately it was something I liked. The level of service was effective without being notable, anytime something was asked for, it was brought but no real extra smile or effort. One thing of course that some people dont like is that the stewardesses are not native speakers of English. But I found that all the staff had an excellent level of spoken English. They were the cheapest for the that particular route by a good margin ( By over 30 pounds ) as they had a special on that month. One other area of concern is obviously the security sitation in that part of the world and to board the plane I had, in Bangkok, about 3 more checks than with other airlines and at Manila it consisted of eight in total to get onto the plane. The routes are more widespread within the Middle East ( Kuwait, is of course the main Asian hub ) as you can imagine and to major cities in Eu
rope and America. The airline is not part of any airline alliance ie Star or One World but does have agreements for connecting flights with various airlines and it does have its own mileage program - Oasis Club. Their official website is at http://www.kuwait-airways.com Overall, I would have to say that if price is your main concern then I would say give them a try, otherwise I would go with a main flag carrier like KLM, Malaysia or British Airways. Overall a 3 star effort.
Probably the last airline I expected to find myself on. I ended up flying Kuwait Airlines from Heathrow to Colombo, Sri Lanka last year and was pleasantly surprised. I half expected an Old Russian type cargo plane but found myself in a brand new 747 Jet. Kuwait airlines offers cheaper fares to Sri Lanka, India and the Far East (changing in Kuwait). The seats were comfortable (as far as economy seats go) and the food wasn’t half bad. All their planes are equipped with individual video screen on the back of the seat in front of you so you have a choice of what you want to watch. Movies are still on a schedule so you only pick “what” not “when”. The interesting thing about this airline is that all flights are via, you guessed it, Kuwait. I myself spent many hours in this airport seeing as my flight was delayed a few hours on the return. The airport, although a bit boring had great and cheap food options such as Hummus dip with hot fresh pita style bread, Greek salad and freshly squeezed strawberry juice! They do not accept any other currency so you will need to change a bit in the airport to eat or shop which is a bit of a pain. Last but not least the airline (and the airport) is DRY! This means that no alcohol is served anywhere because it is an Arab/Muslim airline. So if you are a nervous flyer, don’t count on that stiff drink to calm your nerves. If absolutely desperate, bring your own!
For marketing reasons that I won't bore you with, Kuwait Airways sells discounted tickets to the India and the Far East, changing planes in Kuwait City, for less than they charge if you are just going to Kuwait! They don't serve alcohol though (bring the gin and they will provide the tonic!) Where is the best place to buy tickets on Kuwait Airways? This is my best advice based upon 10 years experience of selling discounted airline tickets - but if you think you already know everything, and just want to find out the cheapest place to buy it for this airline, then skip to the last paragraph! Lets face it, all airlines can get you from A to B, sometimes you have to change at C, sometimes you have to hang around at C, but if price is your main concern, read on .... First, as an ex-travel agent, let me explain how the system works. Nearly all airlines belong to a cartel known as IATA, which amongst other duties, helps to regulate the official prices between each pair of worldwide destinations. My first piece of advice is, never phone the airline for the official fare, except as a last resort - their staff are trained to extract the highest fare they can get away with, and they are never going to tell you that one of their competitors has a better deal, or that you can save money going the next or previous day. Furthermore, they can only sell at the officially agreed price. Luckily for us consumers, and unluckily for the airlines, they cannot sell all their seats at the official price, especially if a much better, more direct airline has the same price. For example, if the official fare to, say, Bangkok is £600 from airline A (non-stop in 12 hours) and the same price from airline B (19 hours with a 7 hour wait changing planes in Karachi airport) then it is obvious which will sell out first. In order to generate market share, less popular airlines will unofficially discount their fares
through wholesalers known as "consolidators" - these can sometimes save you more than half of the official fare. These consolidators appoint specialised agents, and sometimes you can even save more money if the consolidator will deal with you direct. You may be surprised to learn that, depending on the length of the journey, the consolidator is only charging you £10 - £40 more than the "factory" price given to them by the airline. Contrary to popular misconception, it is not risky to deal with these so called "bucket shops" - If they let you down, they can be heavily fined or even jailed - everything is covered by the government ATOL scheme, so it is a lot safer than, for example, paying for a three-piece suite in advance to a High Street furniture chain. To summarise, these are my recommendations: Contact the airline for their best official price, on 0207 412 0007 Call the consolidator on 0207 255 2222 (Benz Travel - ATOL 3448)