As I reflect more on my Kenya Airways 787-8 journey from Nairobi to New York in business class, I cannot help but point out how much warm service can make a difference in influencing how I rate and review a flight.
How Great Service Can Best Distinguish An Airline, Even With A Mediocre Business Class Product
On an objective basis, Kenya Airways has a dated 2-2-2 business class seat where passengers wtih window seats do not even have direct aisle access. There were no printed menus onboard. No internet. The IFE selection was quite limited. The blanket was fine, but I’ve had much better.
In other words, this was a decidedly mediocre flight by most measures (not bad, not good, just sort of average).
Let’s put it another way: let’s compare my Kenya Airways flight from NBO-JFK to my United Airlines flight from EWR-CPT.
United offers a better seat, better bedding, comparable food, in-flight wi-fi, and more movies and TV shows to choose from. Thus, by almost every “objective” measure United is better.
And far from being hostile, the crew on my United flight from EWR-JNB was really quite nice (and of course, I slept through almost all of the flight).
So I am not saying that Kenya Airways is a better choice than United Airlines for your premium cabin trip to southern Africa.
But is not the picture above worth 1,000 words? The reason I gave my NBO-JFK flight such a positive review was because of the excellent crew. I singled out Mohamed Khan, the purser (the gentleman in the red coat with four yellow stripes in the picture above) and Sang (on the right).
Khan in particular provided friendly and engaging service, making every passenger onboard feel welcome and like a valued guest, not just a customer. He took time to converse with each passenger and offer them a warm welcome and cheerful goodbye. Flight attendants were attentive…and smiled. It makes a big difference.
Of course business class on Kenya Airways is vastly inferior to leading products like Qatar Airways Qsuite…yet a kind crew covers a multitude of mediocrity.
“Service” is the most subjective part of a flight review. Yet I see, in thinking about my Kenya Airways flight, how absolutely important it is in forming my overall opinion of the flight. Think back to your greatest flights. Was it really because of the seat (to an extent, all flat bed seats allow for sleeping) or are your greatest flights always the ones in which service is the best?