Airline Criteria Advice + A Trip to Nairobi!
So first things first, let’s talk about transportation. I am going to focus on airlines because they are usually the desired and/or required mode of transportation. I say required because growing up in Nairobi meant that whenever we were traveling abroad, we would have to go by air and the flights were around 8 hours flying time minimum.
Food for Thought!
I have taken many flights on various airlines, and slowly I have discovered the ones that I like. The criteria that I have based my judgment on are as follows:
- rewards program
- seating space (all of you who have traveled economy on an 8+ hour flight know what I am talking about)
- quality of food
- variety of in-flight entertainment
- hospitality of the cabin crew.
I would encourage you to make your own criteria of what you want in an airline, and then join the rewards program of your favourite one so that you can benefit from the points that they give as you acquire miles. Sometimes the airlines have joined forces (like Kenya Airways and KLM) so your benefits will span across both airlines. The program that Kenya Airways and KLM use is called Flying Blue; the more you fly the more rewards you get and you can use those miles/points in various ways e.g. to upgrade your seat.
Here is a list of the airlines that I have used (with my favorite ones in bold):
- Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM – SkyTeam member)
- Kenya Airways (KQ – SkyTeam member)
- South African Airways (Star Alliance member)
- Virgin Atlantic
- British Airways
- Alaska Airlines
- Air Canada
- American Airlines
- Egypt Air
My top airlines are: Emirates, Swiss Air, and Kenya Airways/KLM. This post will take you on a trip to Nairobi on KLM and Kenya Airways.
I was never a big fan of KQ (the IATA code for Kenya Airways) because firstly they would over-book the flight, which meant we were never sure that we would travel that day, and secondly, they were always late due to complications at departure which meant missing connecting flights. Eventually, there were major changes within the company and now KQ has come a long way. It is an amazing airline that flies to 50 destinations around the world and is part of the SkyTeam alliance. There are currently 3 major airline alliances – SkyTeam, Star Alliance, and OneWorld.
So based on my criteria I love KQ because:
- They have tasty food (airplane food isn’t the best but this is delicious). Oatmeal, fruits, orange juice, coffee/tea, bread. I must say that this was business class so definitely much better than economy but even in economy they have much better food than most airlines.
- The cabin crew is hospitable and multi-lingual.
- The inflight entertainment is great.
- KQ is reliable these days.
- Alliance with other airlines (SkyTeam member)
- The KQ Theme Song is AWESOME!!!! (Side Note: Okay, so I might be bragging a little but take a listen and let me know what you think! Make sure you watch right to the end to see the landing in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, Kenya).
FINALLY THE TRIP!
***VANCOUVER – AMSTERDAM – NAIROBI***
When I flew home after my first semester at uni I was anxious because it was my first time doing this long trip alone. This moment had been building up as the semester was coming to an end because of how much I missed being home. I could already feel the warm Kenyan sun kissing my skin as I got into the taxi headed to YVR airport.
The flight from Vancouver to Amsterdam was operated by KLM and the flying time was 9 hours 30 minutes. Layover time was 12 hours, and the flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi was operated by KQ (flying time – 8 hours 15 minutes). I enjoyed this trip because the airlines treated me well, and the process was seamless. I am used to the long trips but the icing on the cake was getting to fly KQ to Nairobi because I already felt like I was there. The theme song was playing, the airhostesses were Kenyan and the language that they addressed us in first was Swahili! HOME!
The photo of a Kenyan sunrise at the beginning of this post was taken while aboard flight KQ117 to Nairobi, just as we were coming in to land. Instead of writing out the rest of my experience I will show it to you.
Sunrise as we approach Amsterdam.
Beautiful and smooth ride.
My gift from KLM – there’s Alcohol inside 😉
Overflying Amsterdam, as we approach the runway.
***12 HOUR LAYOVER IN AMSTERDAM***
AMSTERDAM TO NAIROBI
The moon was such a beautiful site due to the clear skies.
Break of dawn – Somewhere over Africa (probably over Sudan as that is the longest stretch of the flight as you head to Kenya)!!
Breath-taking African sunrise! We’re almost there!!
The cabin lit up with warm rays of sun.
TOUCH DOWN!!! (It’s a blurry mess from my excitement! Haha!)
***END OF OUR JOURNEY – WELCOME TO NAIROBI***
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and gained some insight from the advice given so you take advantage of the rewards programs. Most importantly I hope you feel encouraged to travel to new places because you will always be surprised by what you find. My favorite part of is finding out that I have things in common with people and cultures that seem so far and removed from my own.
If you’ve got any questions write them below in the comment box and I’ll do my best to answer them or point you in the right direction.