Last week, I flew on RwandAir A330-300 to Kigali, Rwanda. This was also my first trip to Africa since the COVID Pandemic. Here is my trip report on flying RwandAir.

Rwandair operates a daily service between Kigali and Dubai. The service is operated by a mix of A330 and B737-800. Unlike most other airlines, the airline use terminal 2 in Dubai Airport. The flight departs at 2 am.

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Terminal 2 of Dubai

Check-in was swift and in good order. Business Class have separate counters. There are many passengers connecting in Kigali to other parts of Africa.

Business Class passengers are able to use Marhaba Lounge but there was a queue to get into the small and crowded lounge.

The Marhaba Lounge is crowded at 1am. You can use credit card, Priority Pass, Loungekey to enter the lounge.

The food selection is decent, consistent to other Marahaba Lounge in other terminals in Dubai.

The walking distance from check-in to the gate is minimal unlike Terminal 1 or 3 in Dubai which can be up to 30 minutes of walk. Lot of business flyers prefer to use Terminal 2 fly in and out (on FlyDubai) on short-haul trips.

The gate area is crowded with many flights departing to South Asia and Africa at this time of the day.

Given there is no aerobridge at Terminal2, all aircraft are parked at remote bay. Passengers take a bus to board the flight. This requires extra time and in summer, this would be less desirable due to the heat.

Onboard RwandAir A330

RwandAir A330-300 has 3 class onboard; Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy. I was among the first to board and took some quick snaps in each cabin.

Business Class has 1-2-1 staggered individual seating. This is similar to Qantas, Delta and other airlines offering on the A330.
Business Class has 1-2-1 staggered individual seating. This is similar to Qantas, Delta and other airlines offering on the A330.
Business Class on Rwandair A330. Bulkhead rows has bigger footwell and more room. (Row 1)
Business Class on Rwandair A330. Bulkhead rows has bigger footwell and more room. (Row 1)
RwandAir Premium Economy Class on A330
RwandAir Premium Economy Class on A330-300
RwandAir Premium Economy Class on A330-300
RwandAir Premium Economy Class on A330
RwandAir Economy Class on A330
RwandAir Economy Class on A330

In the cockpit, the first officer Suzannah (from Singapore) is a friend of mine. She started as a flight attendant in Etihad then joined as a pilot cadet with Etihad. She then flew A320 and A330 in Etihad and she is now flying on Rwandair as a first officer. In fact, she was the one telling me about Rwanda and inspired my visit.

Captain Santosh explained the tabletop runway at Kigali. The altitude is over 5,000 ft above sea level.

Our flight would take 5 hours 15 minutes, flying over Oman, Gulf of Aden, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. Flight level was 38,000 ft.

Boarding took almost an hour. There is fog forecast on arrival in Kigali so our departure was delayed by 30 minutes or so.

Welcome drinks include champagne, orange juice and water. Amenity bags and menu were handed out in Business Class.

After takeoff, the light was switched on. A late dinner service was offered throughout the cabin.

The meal was quite simple in Business Class, starter was a plain fattoush salad. Main course is lassgna with bell pepper. I skipped the dessert.

I was hoping to try out some African dishes, but they're not on the menu.

The Rest of the Flight

The service ran quickly. After 1.5 hours, lights were switched off and I have almost 3 hours of sleep.

There was a gap between the cushions which makes it uncomfortable. Given the flight aren't full, I switched seats to row 1 which has a bigger footwell in the bulkhead. In full recline, the bed is long enough for my height (6'1/185cm).

I woke up with just 20 minutes before landing. The Dubai to Kigali flight was a little too short to fully enjoy all the amenities and service.

We landed at 6:20 am just after day break. There were no aerobridges in Kigali so we have to use stairs to de-plane. You can watch the low visibility landing in my video here.

Conclusion

I had a smooth flight on RwandAir. The hard product on RwandAir is comparable to most of the established airlines.

RwandAir only has 2 widebody airplanes (1 A330-200 and 1 A330-300) in the fleet (among B737-700/800, CRJ-900 and Dash8-Q400). So you may not get to experience their long-haul product unless you fly on the A330. The A330 currently flies to London, Brussels, Dubai and Lagos.

Pros:

  • Nice hard product on the A330
  • Boutique feel of an airline, friendly staff

Cons:

  • No Wi-Fi onboard, IFE is simple
  • Not in an airine alliance, limited frequent flyer exposure

Qatar Airways recently made a 49% strategic investment in RwandAir so this may change the outlook for RwandAir.

After landing, I traveled to my hotel at the One & Only Gorilla’s Nest. It is one of the new and best luxury accommodations in Rwanda. The next morning, I hiked in the Volcanoes national park to see gorillas. It was a unique opportunity to watch gorillas from a close distance. Rwanda is one of only three countries in Africa where you can see gorillas. You can see them on my video below.

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