Around The World In 21 Days: Kenya Airways Economy JNB-NBO-DXB


  1. Introduction
  2. Delta Comfort+ ECP-ATL-JNB
  3. Hilton Sandton
  4. British Airways Economy JNB-PLZ
  5. Conrad Pezula
  6. Knysna and the Garden Route
  7. Westin Cape Town
  8. Exploring Cape Town + Penguins!
  9. British Airways Economy CPT-JNB
  10. Protea Hotel OR Tambo Airport
  11. Kenya Airways Economy JNB-NBO-DXB
  12. DoubleTree Hotel Jumeirah Beach
  13. Exploring Dubai
  14. Kenya Airways Economy DXB-NBO-SEZ
  15. Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort
  16. Exploring Mahe Island
  17. Kenya Airways Economy SEZ-NBO-BKK
  18. W Bangkok Hotel
  19. Exploring Bangkok
  20. Vietnam Airlines Economy BKK-HAN-NRT
  21. Back In Tokyo!
  22. Delta Air Lines Main Cabin NRT-DTW-ATL
  23. DoubleTree Atlanta Airport
  24. Delta Air Lines Comfort+ ATL-ECP
  25. Conclusion

When I was planning my Around-the-World itinerary, it was always easy coming up with potential destinations; the tricky part was always trying to find a way to connect those dots. Especially as Africa, specifically South Africa, was considered a must on my list. So how do you leave South Africa to go to other African or non-Africa destinations? The first through to most US-based SkyTeam fliers would be to fly via Europe perhaps on KLM or Air France, both of which maintain a large number of African destinations and have large global networks. Thankfully though, that isn’t required! Kenya Airways, which joined SkyTeam back in 2010, offers a very convenient hub in Nairobi, Kenya with flights to more than just destinations in Africa. There are flights between Nairobi and Europe, Asia, and the Middle East and is constantly growing, adding many new aircraft and routes.

Availability on Kenya Airways was very good when I was looking for my itinerary. For each of the six legs I flew with Kenya Airways, I was able to find award seats on the days that I wanted using various tools out there, as does not offer flights on Kenya Airways for award searches. For this leg specifically, I was able to choose an option with a long layover in Nairobi versus a relatively short one. Considering that I would have needed a visa to enter Kenya, I didn’t see too much of a reason to schedule the longer layover to barely see anything in a short amount of time or just to wind up spending more time in the airport.

After being dropped off by the shuttle from the Protea Hotel OR Tambo Airport, I made my way into the terminal to try to find my way to the Kenya Airways counter. I made my way through Terminal A, and low and behold the Kenya Airways counter was practically the opposite end of where I was dropped off, or at least it felt that way carrying my bag around! They had a SkyPriority lane available, so I made use of that, however the counter wasn’t busy at all. It didn’t take long to get my bag checked, boarding pass issued, and a lounge invitation for the Air France-KLM Lounge.

Immigration and security checks were pretty painless and I was through much quicker than I had anticipated. With several hours to kill, I checked out a few shops, trying to find a way to burn the last little bit of Rand in my pocket. I didn’t see anything too particular, so after awhile, I just went to the lounge.

Air France-KLM Lounge Johannesburg
In Johannesburg, Kenya Airways makes use of the Air France-KLM Lounge. I was given an invitation based on being SkyTeam Elite Plus (Delta Gold Medallion), and it happens to also be the only lounge available for SkyTeam fliers that I am aware of in Johannesburg.

Air France-KLM Lounge Entrance

Upon entering, I handed over my invite at the reception and made my way into the lounge to find a chair. I don’t know why I was expecting it to be busier, but this lounge was empty! Ok, so there was maybe 2 other people in here who weren’t lounge staff, but if I hadn’t walked around I probably never would have seen them.

The lounge itself is a quite large and offers plenty of seating – something that I am sure comes into play when you have an Air France and KLM flight departing at roughly the same time at night. Also, one thing I noticed is that this lounge is very much in the style of Air France. I wouldn’t be surprised if at one point KLM and Air France had separate lounges in Johannesburg and decided to consolidate with the Air France lounge. Although, I’ll admit that while I have been to both Air France and KLM lounges around the world, I had never been to one of their combined lounges. It could be that the combined ones all use the Air France styling for all I know…

Air France-KLM Lounge Seating

Air France-KLM Lounge – Looking Towards The Dining Area

There was a limited food spread out this morning, not quite as good as what I found in the SLOW Lounge, but wasn’t the worst I had seen. Additionally, they have multiple drink stations throughout the lounge for both hot and cold beverages, although I think all the liquors were at the bar/food area. Obviously, it being still the morning, I was after coffee, not beer.

This Machine Kept Me Quite Well Caffeinated That Morning…

Apple Cake Thing + Cappuccino

One thing that was nice was that the lounge features a lot of natural light. The only downside? The windows don’t look out on to the ramp, but face back towards the landside of the terminal. You get a good view of a rooftop, parking and roads in the distance…

About 30 minutes before boarding was scheduled to begin, I decided to make my way to the gate, if anything to just stretch my legs. It didn’t take long to reach the concourse, which also was fairly quiet. I guess that these gates must be used for longer-haul international flights, which obviously aren’t going to be in the middle of the day. Actually much like Atlanta’s Concourses E and F during the same period of the day, only a handful of flights makes it relatively quiet.

“A” Gates – Johannesburg

With time to kill, I walked up and down the concourse, getting a few glimpses out the windows, at one point spotting three A380s parked next to each other. Besides that, I finally found away to spend all by 40 Rand in my pocket and bought a little souvenir before heading to the gate for my flight.

Looking Back Towards The Main Terminal Building

Kenya Airways #761
Johannesburg, ZA (JNB) to Nairobi, Kenya (NBO)
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Depart: 12:35PM Arrive: 5:45PM
Aircraft: Boeing 737 Seat: 12G (Economy Class)

Judging by the number of people in the gate area, this wasn’t going to be a very full flight. Which is also why boarding probably didn’t quite start on time either. They didn’t really make use of SkyPriority for boarding either, but then again, it wasn’t a super full flight and I wasn’t going to be in Business Class, so I wasn’t really concerned.

Kenya Airways 737-800

Today’s flight would be operated by what must have been a quite rather new Boeing 737-800. The inside was very clean and bright, and featured the new large-screen IFE system that Delta and many other airlines are installing these days. I settled into my seat, an aisle, and very quickly realized that I would not have any company for the flight. A slight win for sure! Being able to spread out across the row and have easy access to both the window and aisle for the flight is always a win when in Economy Class! On the legroom front, that helped out a little bit, as while Kenya Airways doesn’t have the worst legroom that I’ve encountered, it isn’t exactly the best either.

Kenya Airways 737-800 Legroom

A short while later, the aircraft pushed back on time and we were heading up into the skies of Africa. Once airborne, I started to check out the IFE system, which actually had a decent selection of movies and TV shows. Although I will say that I’m not sure if I would consider “Dodgeball” to be a classic movie…

Your Classic Film Selections…

I should also mention that they provide headsets to all the passengers, however you can equally use your own as well.

Kenya Airways Headset

Shortly thereafter, the flight attendants began coming through the cabin to start the meal service. Starting out with drinks and a snack (nuts), they came through the cabin. Following this, was the main meal service which consisted of two hot options. Up for offer was beef or fish.

Drink Service

I’ve rarely seen fish served in Economy Class as a meal option, and thinking of the movie Airplane, I actually opted for the fish. Yes, I know that sounds sketchy, and to be honest the fish was a little sketchy. I mean, it was some super generic white fish, covered in a cream sauce and served with mashed potatoes, vegetables, a pasta side and what was some sort of cake. Part of it was that it was super bland and the other part was the texture. Although the pasta and the vegetables weren’t all bad…

Kenya Airways Lunch

Throughout the flight I primarily sat there and enjoyed a few movies whilst sitting back and relaxing. I also spent a good deal of time just looking out the window and enjoying the view of Africa below. At one point we got an exceptional view of Mt. Kilimanjaro, passing it as we started the turn towards Nairobi.

It Was A Perfectly Clear Day

Passing Kilimanjaro

Mt. Kilimanjaro

It wasn’t long after passing the mountain before we were landing in Nairobi for an on-time arrival.

Welcome to Kenya!

A couple of years ago there was a fire that ravaged the terminal at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. As a result, they have been extensively rebuilding while also modernizing the terminal, which also creates situations where there aren’t enough gates available for all the aircraft. Even for flights that pull up to a gate, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll use the jet bridge. In my case we pulled up to the gate, but deplaned via stairs and taken by bus to a terminal entrance.

Deplaning In Nairobi

Being on the first bus, I was able to make it to the transfer level quickly and with no lines made it through security very quick. They did have a SkyPriority line for the transfer security check, however as it wasn’t very busy at that time, so it wasn’t very necessary.

Kenya Airways Simba Lounge
My layover wasn’t going to be a very long one, based on the boarding time indicated on my boarding pass, so I opted to hit the first lounge I came across, the Kenya Airways Simba Lounge which was on the second level right after clearing security.

Simba Lounge Entrance

After checking in with the lounge agent, who reconfirmed my gate, I headed for a chair up next by the window. It’s not a very large lounge, or at least from what I could see, but since I didn’t have much time…well having a beer and a quick snack was a higher priority.

Always Trying The Local Beer Options

The Simba Lounge had a both hot and cold food offerings, although it wasn’t a wide selection. I’ll chalk it up to being a fairly small lounge as to why there wasn’t much available. That being said, I tried a few things quickly before turning back around to head towards the gate for my flight to Dubai.

Simba Lounge Buffet Area

Drink/Bar Area

Watching The Sun Set Over The 737 I Flew In On

Kenya Airways #310
Nairobi, Kenya (NBO) to Dubai, UAE (DXB)
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Depart: 7:15PM Arrive: 1:19AM +1 Day
Aircraft: Boeing 777 Seat: 12F (Economy Class)

Had I known how the gate areas were in Nairobi, I probably would have stayed in the lounge longer. Much like Amsterdam, each gate area is an individual holding area where they scan your boarding pass when entering. Unlike Amsterdam though, since you clear security there isn’t a security check at the gate. However, just like Amsterdam, once you are in the gate area you are pretty much stuck in there. Sure, there’s a restroom, a few TVs, and I think a vending machine along with the chairs. It’s very boring and a rather terrible place to spend time when I could have been relaxing in the lounge. In fact after 20-30 minutes of being in the gate area (and already pass the published boarding time), I started to see a few passengers from the lounge start to come in.

As one might expect, boarding was a bit chaotic. I think the only way I was able to board when SkyPriority was called was due to the fact that I had positioned myself near the door to the jetway. Once they announced boarding was about to begin, everyone swarmed towards the door.

Kenya Airways 777 – Mount Kilimanjaro

Once onboard, I made my way to my seat fairly quickly as I in the center of row 12, which is the second row of Economy on the Kenya Airways 777. You could tell this plane was a little bit dated when it came to the interiors. Almost thought I was having a flashback to an Air France flight I had taken ten years prior. Legroom, was well, tighter than on the 737 that I flew in to NBO on. And the IFE, it had a decent selection, but the system was an older one that was a little bit slow at times and featured a much smaller screen.

Kenya Airways 777 Legroom

Kenya Airways 777 In-Flight Entertainment

About an hour or so into the flight, the meal service began. The dinner option I had decided to go with was lamb with rice and vegetables. It was a pretty average economy class meal, and at the very least it wasn’t mystery fish.

Kenya Airways Dinner – NBO-DXB

The rest of the flight was fairly non-eventful. I kept switching between various movies, TV shows, and airshow. I didn’t even try to get a little bit of sleep, as I knew I would want to make sure I could pass out without any issue once I got to my hotel that night.

Approaching Dubai…

The flight pulled up to the gate in Dubai at more or less on-time, getting me into the terminal at just a little past 1AM. Unfortunately, we were at one of the very last gates in the terminal which also meant there was one very long walk to Immigration and Customs. I think it took at least 15-20 minutes to get to Immigration, and once there I was in line for another 30 minutes or so before I reached one of the Immigration officers. With no problems there, I claimed my checked bag, went through Customs, and found myself in the arrival hall. I hae to say, that it was quite crowded in each of these places, with long lines to match. I figured that I would try to pick up a SIM card from one of the local carriers at the airport, however, after waiting in yet another line, I was told that the computers were down…

After pulling out a few Dirhams from an ATM, I decided with it being already past 2AM that I would just get a taxi to the hotel. Thankfully, Dubai has a decently looked after airport taxi stand and you can choose between a regular cab or a black car. I didn’t see the need to pay any extra, and the attendants were able to relay to the driver my hotel. Considering I was pretty well tired, all of this definitely made it easy. Of course I could have tried to use Uber as well, but you really never know how pickup at airports can work out. Plus without a local SIM in hand, I didn’t have a way for the driver to get in touch with me anyways.

This was my first time flying Kenya Airways, and it wasn’t certainly going to be my last, with still four more segments with them on this trip. Overall the first impressions were that this was a decent airline. The 737 on my JNB-NBO leg was very brand new with a very friendly crew and the the 777 on the NBO-DXB leg was older witha less energetic crew, but by no means terrible either. In both cases, I got where I needed to go on-time without any major hiccups, and sometimes that’s all you can ask for. Then there was the Simba Lounge which wasn’t bad, although I do wonder if it will become a larger lounge once the terminal construction is completed. Overall, the first impressions of Kenya Airways were that the airline is really trying to improve their product and perhaps become the ‘premium’ airline in East Africa. Of course with several legs yet still to be flown, there was plenty more to find out about this airline…

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