Rwandair A330-300 business class
BACKGROUND Rwandair flies to 21 destinations in Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia from Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. It launched three-times weekly flights from London Gatwick to Kigali in May 2017.
CHECK-IN I arrived at Gatwick North at 1950 for my 2150 departure. The flight was not shown on screen so I asked at an information desk and was directed to Zone C. About 20 people were checking in a variety of giant boxes and bags, which were blocking the business class lane as well as the economy one, so it took a while to be seen. Fast-track security was quick.
THE LOUNGE Rwandair uses the No 1 lounge – for a review visit businesstraveller.com/tried-and-tested.
BOARDING At about 2100 the flight showed as boarding. When I got to Gate 102 there was still a fiveminute wait to board, with business class flyers given priority. Drinks were slow to come before take-off and only water or juice was offered.
THE SEAT Rwandair uses two new aircraft on the route, an A330-200 and the longer A330-300. This flight was operated by the latter. There were 30 fully-flat seats in business class, staggered slightly in a 1-2-1 layout so the centre pair was closer together in one row and further away in the next. Window seats are either next to the window and protected from the aisle, or on the aisle. I was in 4H, by the window. As you’d expect with such a spacious arrangement, there’s plenty of room to work, relax and sleep. The seat has several pre-set positions, plus also a massage function, mood lighting, good wifi (free for 45 minutes and US$30 for the rest of the flight), a universal plug socket and two USB ports. The IFE system had 12 films and seven TV shows (more will be added, and the A330-200 on the return journey had a wider choice). Noise-cancelling headphones were provided.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? I’d avoid the front row because of galley noise, and also the back row, where there are only two window seats, which is exposed to the rear galley. Generally, I would prefer a window seat with the side table giving shelter from the aisle.
THE FLIGHT There were only five passengers in business class. No bottle of water was left by the seat, so it was a long wait for a drink after take-off, at about 2240. I asked for champagne, which was Moet & Chandon served from half-bottles. A refill was offered reasonably swiftly.
Unfortunately, because the flight is relatively new, there were a number of service problems. There were no menus, and the food listed on the IFE system was not what was served. All the wines had been opened, with corks in the top – I was told they had been loaded that way – and, charitably, they were past their best. Mostly South African, there was also a Louis Jadot Marsannay, which looked as if it had been around the world many times. I asked for a taste – it wasn’t a Louis Jadot Marsannay. Yet the bottle was full.
The crew could not identify the food (this was not the case on the return journey). Main course dishes were chicken, beef or vegetarian. I went for the latter, which was prawns, although there was also some tofu in there.
I had no trouble sleeping, waking when I heard breakfast being prepared. Amenity bags contained the usual items, plus a razor and shaving gel.
ARRIVAL We arrived slightly early at 0700. Tom Otley