For this years Christmas trip I decided to fly back to Germany and spend some weeks in Europe. Earlier in October Oman Air had an amazing sale for flights originating in Kuala Lumpur with awesome rates for business class tickets.
Naturally for roughly MYR4,000 (~USD900) roundtrip from KUL to Munich (MUC) via Muscat (MCT) I could not resist, especially since there are many great reviews for the Oman Air J product. After I booked this flight I did also request a status match from my Skywards card to Oman Air Sindbad, which was approved within a few days.
Since I am very accustomed to KL international airport check-in and immigration took only a few minutes and I was on my way to the satellite terminal that houses C gates from which Oman Air flights depart. The boarding pass came with an invitation to the pretty solid Malaysia Airlines Golden lounge – which I visited countless times before so not much excitement there.
I showed up at the gate around 20 minutes before scheduled departure time at which point the flight showed up as final call – just to find out boarding did not even start. Another 10 minutes later boarding started with passengers with special needs followed by business class. I was one of the first pax aboard and was greeted by the flight attendants that directed me to my seat. The plane featured the new business class of Oman Air, which I was happy about, even though the old one is apparently perceived as superior by some people in the industry I like the layout of the new product that is almost like a fully enclosed suit for the window seats.
Oman Air business class seats can be extended to a fully flat bed and on the seat a big and nice pillow as well as a duvet and the amenity kit were waiting for me. The seat was huge and clean with a very big legroom and a nice big screen for the IFE. I noticed that the isle and middle seats seem to be significantly smaller than the window row, which can be unfair since all seats come at a similar price.
There is a divider between seats that can be lowered or elevated which adds extra privacy. Shortly after settling in a flight attendant welcomed me again and introduced himself. He also took my order for the pre-departure beverage (champagne) and brought it together with a hot towel. There were a bit of communication problems which surprised me as the English level in other Middle East carriers was spotless compared to this crew – it was still alright tho.
I took the opportunity and checked the in-flight entertainment system during boarding. The seat has a touchscreen handset that can be used to control the IFE screen as well as a separate console to control the seat position.
While the handset was mostly responsive I noticed that the system had some bad lags when a movie was playing and you wanted to do something else with the handset. Both the movie and the handset then became quite unresponsive for a few seconds. The selection of movies and TV shows was great even though it wasn’t as extensive as on other carriers. The big disappointment of the Oman Air entertainment system for me was the airshow and maps. While the maps on the handset were completely useless and did not even scale to the full screen size the one on the screen featured only one perspective that showed very little area and close to no flight information.
Also while I appreciate the existing application and I am sure many people can make good use of it, I can’t help but to feel that the offer for in-flight apps could be still extended.
The meal service on the first flight to Muscat international airport was very slow, it took them 1:45h after departure to start with the breakfast which ended up being a quite small but tasty portion. I do not understand how it can take so long to prepare some bread, even with a rather full cabin.
Likewise the lunch was announced for 2h before landing and ended up coming 1:20h before arrival at MCT. I can understand that even less given that they had close to 3 hours during the flight to prepare lunch. In general the service was very friendly but not polished at all and at times a bit clumsy.
One big concern with the flights is the cleanliness aboard. There was a cockroach on my seat (I am sure there are some on many planes, but that is the first time I saw one) which was a very unpleasant surprise, the crew later caught it but still it shouldn’t happen. As well the bathrooms very outright dirty and I do not think the crew cleaned it before departure and I never saw them doing it during the flight.
While the seats were new and probably refitted recently that does not apply to the lavatories and galley, which seemed to be quite rundown. Also I had to request 2 times for a new set of cutlery because the one I got had big stains and the remains of food and detergent on it. The stains were so big that I can not come up with an explanation why that was not noticed when they prepared the set, I can only assume the quality standards of Oman Air are simply not strict enough.
Besides those hygienic issues that I consider quite serious, in fact it was the worst flight in that sense for me so far, the food was of good quality and tasted delicious. Plenty of drinks and refills were offered too.
Oman Air has in-flight WIFI available on most of their planes, especially the ones with refitted seats. While I appreciate the offer I think it is worth noting that the prices are quite unreasonable and not on-par with the product other Middle East carriers offer. Since I did not have anything urgent to do that would justify paying these prices I did not use it, so I can’t say anything about the speed and connection performance.
What I did like about the digital offers at the seat was the strong USB power socket, the seat had two of those and my phone recharged significantly faster than I experienced on other planes. There was also one international power socket available.
The ground service at MCT was rather disappointing as well, since the new terminal is still under constructions there are no jet bridges at Muscat airport so all planes park at remote gates for now. While there was a bus for business class pax on arrival (even though it was a standard bus and not one of the nice business busses Emirates is using at DXB) no separate bus was provided at boarding to MUC and the shared bus was super packed.
While I generally prefer boarding at a gate with jet bridge the one thing I love about remote gates is the great opportunity to take pictures of the plane, this time I got especially lucky with two unexpected guests posing above the Oman Air A330 to Munich international airport.
The second flight was significantly more empty but the service was pretty much the same. Crew was slightly more polished by still far from what you would get on Emirates or Etihad. Food was great and this time no cockroach!
Unfortunately my luggage arrived as one of the last pieces in MUC because the ground crew at KUL apparently forgot to put priority stickers. Also I could not make use of the complimentary chauffeur service to the ibis Hallbergmooss because it wasn’t possible for me to schedule it on the Oman Air website as required. Event hough their Facebook support helped me to fill out a form but the chauffeur service refused to process it and I have never heard from the Facebook support again after they promised to fix it…
Summarizing I loved the seat on both flights, it was huge and very comfortable even without proper bedding. While the IFE could use more content, a better map system and should be more responsive, overall it was still alright and definitely entertaining enough for those two flights.
My big issue and why I probably won’t fly Oman Air again is the low hygienic standard and the very sad ground experience at Muscat airport, the latter one should change in 2017 when the new terminal opens.