B747-400 Kuwait to London
This trip report can be seen in Youtube video format from below link.
Kuwait Airways (KU/KAC) operate a sole B747-400 on ad-hoc basis, which is leased from the government of Kuwait. (part of Emir of Kuwait’s fleet) The B747-400 schedule was never published in advance and always flew as a last minute aircraft change. Simply put, it was one of the most difficult planes to fly on because of its unpredictable operation nature. On random basis, it has been seen and operated from Kuwait to Dubai, Jeddah, Cairo, Bombay, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Frankfurt, Geneva and London. It also flies on government missions. Recently it flew to Ulan Bator, Mongolia on behalf of Kuwait government. KU can only operate the B747-400 when the government don’t require their B747.
From the people who luckily flew it, the B747 has an unusual layout; it features a flying hospital onboard (operation theatre), located in the middle of main deck with seats around it on the two aisles. Often seats are removed to make space for onboard hospital purpose.
During the month of August 2014, I have found out Kuwait Airways is using this B747-400 flying between Kuwait and London every two days. The schedule shows AB6 (A300-600R), however if one open the seat map, it shows a B747! Later on, Kuwait Airways changed the AB6 code to 747 on all GDS. This was the first time since I’ve been monitoring and chasing the B747 that the type showed up in GDS and its website. I made a booking straight away and knowing this would be one of the rarest B747-400 to fly with.
The flight to London departs at 12:30pm. With the boarding pass on hand, I proceed to Dasman Lounge which seems house the majority of airlines in Kuwait. Interesting, Kuwait Airways does not have its own lounge, or the closest one being its own is the Dasman Lounge.
The lounge is spacious with many 3 seater plush leather sofa. I had a quick shower and rest for sometime.
Dasman lounge has excellent food selection. Plenty of hot and cold choices and even various favour of ice cream are on offer.
I spent the time reading and writing some aviation stories for my upcoming book,
I left the lounge a little earlier to the gate. Boarding started at 12:00pm. It was very assuring and satisfying to see a large than usual tail when walking towards the gate. Yes! It is the B747!
There was a white sports car (Ferrari) just been loaded inside the forward cargo hold. At the same time, a sick patient on stretch was carried onboard.
The B747-400 looks awesome from outside, clean and with nice Kuwait Airways cheat line. Many other passengers also noticed this unusual type to London.
Unfortunately, there was no organisation on boarding. It was done by forming one queue for all.
This is the most exciting moment, to see the interior of this mysterious KAC B747-400 myself! It is configured as 32 First Class seats across Zone A and B with no division. 26 Business Class seats on both sides with a huge galley in the middle. The rest is Economy Class on both side of main deck with a flying hospital in the middle. Upper Deck is strictly off-limit; I will reveal the upper deck later.
I was politely told by the crew that photography is forbidden onboard this aircraft since this plane belongs to the Emir of Kuwait (Government of Kuwait). Nevertheless they allowed me taking some food and product pictures without people’s face inside.
Judging from the pictures, as you can see this plane haven’t had any changes since out of factory in mid 90s. But because it is so old, it is almost a classic and time machine reminded me how First Class travel in 1990s was.
Welcome Drink Non-Alcohol Pina Colada
We departed at 12:50pm off Runway 33L of KWI. Please see the takeoff video link below.
Kuwait City in a distance
Iconic Kuwait Towers
Our flight time to London is estimated to be 5 hours 50 minutes. Flight initially head North over Iraq, then onward NE toward Turkey.
By the look none of the crew were below age of 40, the purser looks the youngest and nicest. Most other ladies body language showed that they don’t want to be there and don’t care much about their work. Crew came from mostly Arabic speaking countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and we have one Kuwaiti lady as well. I didn’t bother to take crew photo since I can read from their body language which is a “No”.
First Class labelled headset. (A nice bag, but a cheap headset inside)
First Generation PTV.
A huge First Class Menu.
Comic Sans Font 🙂
Over Baghdad. Since then KAC don’t fly over Iraq anymore.
Lunch cart is getting prepared. 2 amazing looking appetizer cart to serve First Class.
Caviar, lamb shawarma, salmon and turkey tartare as starter. Very nice taste. There was also a Cream of vegetable soup but was never offered. (by request only)
The caviar portion is too small. Later on, during my cabin tour, I saw the crew were eating the left over portion, in large scoops!
Main Course buffet consist of Pepper Steak, Grill chicken, Nasi Goreng and Grill seafood with rice, vegetable and potato gratin.
The food is excellent at Kuwait Airways. I love the old school trolley buffet presentation as you can mix and match, trying a bit of everything.
I would never give up an opportunity to see the rest of the cabin on this rare B747-400.
Cruising FL360 over Iraq.
Business Class. Horrible seat pitch.
Hand written label
Flying Hospital in between economy. Photo by Vin Man
Due to this aircraft belong to the Emir of Kuwait (Govt of Kuwait); the crew never let me to go upstairs to see what’s there. It is strictly off-limits. A friend of mine works in LHR sends me the picture below, he was fortunate to visit the upper deck.
Upper Deck consists of Emir’s private bedroom and office. Photo by Vin Man
Another lounge and office. Photo by Vin Man
I slept three hours until the second meal is served. It is more like afternoon tea with snacks, sandwiches, shawarmas and cakes. There were plenty of food. Shortly after we started our descend into Heathrow, over overcast sky of London City. We landed on Rwy27L despite all other traffic lands on Rwy27R, which resulted a short taxi to Terminal four for deplane.
You can see the landing scene on video:
I am very glad to be able to fly on Kuwait Airways’s sole B747-400. I never thought it would be possible in the past. The seating configuration reminds me about 1990s travel and brought me back 20 years. First Class was fine, the food was great but can’t say the same about the crew. Although I didn’t encounter bad service or incident, but you can tell from the body language and the attitude, the crew didn’t want to be there and treat themselves better than the passengers. This wasn’t the case on my other KAC flights, which the crew were usually nice and polite. Best thing flying Kuwait Airways is the food served in Premium Classes and their old school charm. I dedicate this report to all fans of Kuwait Airways. “This is a Kuwait Airways year!” said by one of the biggest KAC fan, Josef Fuerst.
This trip report can be seen in Youtube video format from below link.
Feedback and comments are always welcome.
Youtube: Sam Chui