Review: A Very Disappointing Experience In Oman Air First Class

Earlier in the year I had the opportunity to fly Oman Air business class, and I had an incredible experience. I loved how “local” the experience felt, along with Oman Air’s excellent business class seat (both the old seat and new seat are industry leading), their great catering, etc.

I’ve long been intrigued by Oman Air’s first class, which I’ve been tempted to try. However, I’ve wondered if there’s any differentiation between Oman Air first and business class, given that the products look very similar.

Well, reader John Spear recently flew Oman Air first class from Kuala Lumpur to Muscat to London, and shared his experience with me. I have to share the experience here, since this has to be one of the worst jobs an airline has ever done managing expectations in first class. It’s not just about the lack of differentiation between first and business class, but about the downright false advertising that Oman Air does about their first class product. The report is long, but well worth reading, in my opinion.

For now Oman Air first class is off my list of products to try.

Thanks for sharing your experience, John!


I’m very glad to have experienced Oman Air First Class.  It’s been on my “to do” list for a long time.  I found a great one-way fare from Kuala Lumpur to London and decided it was too good to pass up.  Overall, there were some very commendable high points (very polished service, for instance), but most notably there were quite a few ways that Oman Air failed to deliver on its promises.  This is a “not ready for Prime Time” airline when it comes to First Class, based on my admittedly limited experience.

PART I: From Kuala Lumpur to Muscat

WY822 (A333)
KUL-MCT

09:40-12:50
7 hours 10 minutes (3,215 miles)
First Class seat 1K
Nov 6, 2016

As I expected, check-in opened right around 3 hours prior to departure.  As is common for outstations of smaller airlines, the desks were staffed by contract agents.  They were a bit disorganized and delayed in getting set up, but soon enough I was called over to the Business Class counter to check in (not the First Class counter, which was unstaffed).

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The agent started typing away in the usual way, but it was evident early on there was a problem.  She said there was no ticket number in my reservation.  So I gave the agent a printout from Oman Air showing my ticket number.  She said it was invalid.  I told her I think I have an idea what’s going on: Just after booking this trip back in September I received an email from Oman Air requesting that I fill out and send in a credit card authorization form with copies of my passport and credit card.  I did this at the time, then I got an email confirming they had received the information.  Except, apparently, no one had bothered to do anything with it.  Ever the Boy Scout, I was prepared with the form that I had sent in, which I gave to the agent.

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She said she couldn’t do anything with the form until an Oman Air supervisor showed up.  She called and there was no answer.  So I waited.  People continued to check in.  And I waited.  More people checked in.  Finally an Oman Air supervisor turned up and says that the head office in Oman has to clear me for travel (he was actually very nice, and apologetic).  He tried calling.  It’s the middle of the night in Oman now.  There was no answer.  So I waited.  Another Oman Air supervisor shows up and apologizes for the delay.  The two supervisors are now talking animatedly with each other along with several of the agents.  Several people are on the phone and radios are squawking.  Finally, about 40 minutes later, I have Boarding Pass in hand and I was on my way.

Ironically, just as I stepped away from the counter, a staffer was finally rolling out the special Oman Air carpet in front of the still unstaffed First Class check-in counter.  I wonder if she was aware that I was the only First Class passenger booked out of Kuala Lumpur on Oman Air that day?  She certainly could have saved herself the effort.

So this check-in imbroglio was minor fail #1 of my Oman Air experience.

I should note that there was no escort at any point from the check-in desk to the lounge.  That would have been a nice touch, but I wasn’t really expecting an escort, especially at an outstation where they operate one flight a day.  So I made my way quite easily out to the Satellite Terminal, from which I would be departing.

Oman Air uses the Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge for their premium passengers, and since the lounge is divided into First and Business Class sections, I assumed I would have access to the First Class section.  Nope.  I asked the lounge attendant to please check with her supervisor, and she did so quickly, but the answer was still no.  Now, she and her supervisor could have both been wrong.  After all, I suspect they don’t see very many Oman Air First passengers judging from the load factors I see on their flights out of KUL.  But if this is actually the policy, shame on Oman Air for being so cheap here.  Put your First Class passengers in a First Class lounge, especially when it should be so easy to arrange.  At the end of the day, though, it wasn’t a very big deal.  I’ve been to the Golden Lounge First section before and it’s not going to be on anyone’s list of best First Class Lounges – not even in the top 25.  Minor fail #2.

I had a bowl of decent Laksa in the Business Class lounge, caught up on some emails and made my way to the gate.  Anyone interested can find good reviews of the Malaysian Golden Lounge online, so I won’t dwell on the experience here.

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Boarding began on time and I was the first passenger to board after the kiddies and grannies (they boarded First and Business class passengers together).  I was very warmly welcomed at door L2 and shown to my seat, 1K.  I was visited a few minutes later by the Senior Flight Supervisor, Ayeub, and the flight attendant, Shivani, who would be taking care of me.

Oman air has a unique and somewhat bizarre First Class cabin consisting of six partially-open suites and a large common area in the center front section consisting of a sofa, a couple of (presumably) padded butt-rests and a large counter that looks like it could support a nice display of drinks and nibbles, although in practice it never did.

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This area was clearly designed to serve as a lounge of sorts for First Class passengers to gather and socialize, but with only six seats in the cabin it’s hard to imagine it gets used much for that purpose.  It certainly would not be used that way on this flight, as I was the only First Class passenger.

The seats themselves look like an older variety of semi-private suite.  It’s not the newest, nor the most stylish, nor the widest seat out there by any means, but it’s comfortable and of course it converts to a flat bed.  One aspect I appreciate is the copious storage next to the seat.  There’s a very narrow open closet, which can probably accommodate a blazer and a shirt, tops.  It’s even too narrow to place your shoes in the bottom.  Here are some photos.  

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Despite the large capacity storage areas next to the window seats, there was no obvious place for me to store my roller bag, given there were no overhead bins.  I was directed to a cabinet behind the center sofa area.  There were four such cabinets, so if First is at capacity with six passengers I’m not sure where everyone would store their carry-ons.

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One really odd aspect of the seat was the lighting, or lack thereof.  Above my left shoulder were two lights integrated into one fixture, one a fairly standard focused reading light with four different brightness levels and another light that seemed intended to bathe the seat in an ambient glow but instead served only to illuminate the left side of my face to a sufficient level for facial reconstructive surgery.  Notably, there was not a single light from above that illuminated the dining table, an irritant that will become obvious when you look at some of my photos of the meal a bit later on.

A standard bevy of amenities were provided in short order, including noise-reducing headphones, dates and Arabic coffee (I don’t like dates, so no date photo), a very, very, very hot towel, a bottle of water, and an amenity kit.

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Sorry, no dissection of the amenity kit available.  I keep my kits unopened to add to my collection.  I’m aware that’s uber-nerdy but there it is.

I’m not as captivated by flight safety videos as some, so I barely paid attention to Oman Air’s version as I started nesting into my seat.  One aspect, however, caught my attention.  Does this not look like a very unflattering caricature of an Omani man?

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The entertainment system was very responsive, intuitive, and had a good number of movies and TV shows.  But most importantly, it was equipped with two exterior cameras, which I love.  In addition to staring at the cameras and the moving map, on this flight I watched the Ab Fab movie (amusing, but it was a shameless rehash of all their old gags, with precious little new) and the newest Star Trek, Beyond (love).

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Here are some photos of the menu pages.  I’m sorry for the poor quality of the photos – I hope the menu pages are somewhat legible.

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As you can see, the service begins with a light continental breakfast.  This was fine with me as I had eaten a bit in the Golden Lounge earlier.  Everything was fresh and tasty.

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The second meal was the main attraction, but I was very disappointed to see that there was no caviar on the menu.  Oman Air’s web site specifically lists caviar as a menu item offered in First Class.

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Appetizers first, followed by very good soup.  I love soup on airplanes – holds up well at altitude better than anything.

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Three varieties of seeded bread, butter and olive oil.

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A very small salad with vinaigrette.  Uninspiring and the hardest most unripe tomato I’ve ever tasted.

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Okay beef with tasty gravy, completely raw vegetables and yummy crispy potato croquettes.

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A decent lemon tart with raspberry sauce for dessert.

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Overall, the meal was a disappointment, and not up to the standards of International First Class on most major carriers.  I love caviar, and was particularly irked that it was not served, especially since it’s advertised as a component of Oman Air’s First Class service.  And it’s not as if this was a one-off catering mistake.  Clearly the airline had no intention of serving it as it was not listed on the menu.  This is fail #4 and I don’t consider it minor.

After the meal I asked Shivani for a wifi coupon, as Oman Air provides complimentary wifi to its First Class passengers, or at least they do according to their web site they do:

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It was a few minutes before Shivani returned.  She apologized, saying that the crew was not given any certificates before take-off.  I subsequently confirmed with Ayeub that if I wanted to access wifi I would have no choice but to pay now and follow up with Oman Air after the flight.  So I paid $30 USD for 3 hours and 100MB (that’s right, wifi was both time and data limited) for a very, very slow connection that didn’t work over any of India.  Welcome to fail #5 of the Oman Air experience.  Not providing something you advertise is just not cool.

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I landed at Muscat rather frustrated, but of course I thanked Shivani and Ayeub for their excellent service.  None of the failures were even remotely their fault.  Shivani was friendly, polished, responsive and just all-around lovely.

OMAN AIR PART II: On the Ground in Oman

The Omani government is building a new airport to serve Muscat, but it’s not quite ready yet, so they’re still using their old airport which does not have any jet bridges.  As a result, all aircraft park on the apron and passengers are bussed to the terminal.  Except for First Class passengers, who receive luxury sedan service, er, theoretically.  I think you can guess what’s coming next.

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Shortly after we parked, and I saw both Shivani and Ayeub looking out the window intently.  I asked them if anything was wrong and they said they didn’t see my car.  A few minutes later the stairs were pulled up, the door opened and the Business Class passengers started to deplane.  Shivani ran in front to talk to the ground agent and asked him where my car was.  He could not have been less concerned if his life depended on it and he barked at me to just get on the bus.  Shivani tried to protest but I told her it was fine.  What was the alternative?  I could have hung out in my First Class seat and waited while they radioed for my car and that would have taken who knows how long.  I would have ended up last in the immigration line instead of first.  Fail #6.

The arrival experience at Muscat airport is not modern, polished or convenient.  The Government of Oman’s web site instructs visitors to go to the Visa desk to obtain visas-on-arrival (which I had prepaid in advance).  But the gruff burly man behind the Visa desk snorted and told me I needed to stand in the queue and one of the regular immigration officers would process my visa, which they eventually did.  But the queue was frustrating.  There were at least two officials whose job was evidently to keep the queues in order and let folks know when it was their turn to visit one of the immigration desks.  But these officials were far more interested in looking at their phones and talking amongst themselves, so the end result was that the more moxie you had to cut in line, the faster you got through.   I do not possess much moxie in this regard, so it took me a while.  This was not an Oman Air fail, of course.  It is what it is.

I had allowed myself half a day in Oman.  I rented a car to drive down the southeast coast.  I stopped at quite a few places along the way, some quite scenic.  I didn’t really have enough time to venture into the mountains, but I would like to do that on a future trip.  Fast forward to about 9pm.  I wanted some time to relax in the First Class Lounge in Muscat prior to my flight to London.

I already had my boarding pass for the next flight, which I had received in Kuala Lumpur, but I decided to visit the combined First/Business Oman Air check-in desk anyway, just to say hello, see if I needed a First Class Lounge pass, check on the flight, etc.  I was quickly helped and given directions to the lounge (no printed invitation necessary, and, interestingly for their hub, no dedicated First Class desk).  Just after check-in, there was a First/Business immigration desk, but there was no one there – no one behind the desk, no one in line.  Ghost Town.  So I spent a few minutes trying to figure out if I could use the automatic gate next to the desk.  No luck.  A few minutes later the immigration officer suddenly appeared and quickly stamped my passport.  Maybe he had to pee?  I was through security quickly after that.

Right after security I spotted the Plaza Premium lounge (accessible via Priority Pass) and decided to pop in, just for shifts and giggles, since I had so much time.  Lounge was crowded, food looked okay, wifi was unusable, so I left after 5 minutes.

Oman Air operates separate First and Business Class lounges as part of the same complex, as is common.  Upon entering I was immediately escorted a few feet down the hall to the First Class lounge.  I was given the code to the keypad for the lounge so I could come and go as I pleased, and I was introduced to Zeena, the attendant responsible for me, my personal chef (name not understood), and Hasan, my bartender.  For the next four hours I would be the only passenger in the lounge.  Nice.

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Dining Area.  I would take a seat here later in the evening to sample a very tasty local lamb dish recommended by my chef.  Unfortunately there was no printed menu to consult, but the chef described a great many things that were available.  I was saving my appetite for the dishes I would have on board my flight to London, custom-ordered in advance, so I didn’t have anything else.  More on that soon.

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I settled down in this area near an outlet to do some work.  Hasan brought me some water and quite a few nibbles, both sweet and salty.  It was clear he wanted to be of service and I think my lack of desire for fancy, complicated drinks disappointed him.

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At one point I wandered out to the terminal to pick up some trinkets and collect some small Omani coins.  Interestingly, the Omani rial is worth quite a bit more than the dollar (1 OMR = $2.60) and is subdivided not into 100 subunits but 1,000, the baisa.  I also took a walk around the Business Class Lounge.  It’s quite a nice space and was not overcrowded.  The buffet looked very good.

After a few hours I was feeling pretty tired and I asked Zeena if there was somewhere I could take a nap.  There is a nap room in the Business Class lounge but it was full, so I made due with one of the chaise longes in the First Lounge.  As nice as the lounge is, the lack of a dedicated First Class rest area is a bit of an oversight.  Nonetheless, I dozed off for quite a while.

The shower suite.  I had intended to use it, but my nap lasted a bit longer than expected and I ran out of time:

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At around 12:30am Zeena collected me and handed me off to the fellow that would be taking me to my car, for the drive to the plane.

OMAN AIR PART III: From Muscat to London

WY103 (A333)
MCT-LHR
01:25-05:55
8 hours 30 minutes (3,629 miles)
First Class seat 1A
Nov 7, 2016

Fortunately, this time, my car was ready and waiting.  Boarding had not yet started, so my escort helped me maneuver through the throngs at the gate, my boarding pass was scanned and I was helped into my shiny new white Mercedes S Class.  The drive took just a few minutes.  We pulled up to the stairs leading to door 1L and I was the first to board.  I was welcomed aboard by Adam, the Senior Flight Supervisor as well as several different flight attendants, whose names I did not record.

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More than anything else, I was looking forward to the custom-designed meal that Oman Air encouraged me to select in advance.  They tout this during the reservation process, and they send you a reminder email several days before the flight.  I have pre-ordered meals on quite a few airlines in the past (Singapore Airlines is probably best known for this, with their “Book The Cook” option, but quite a few airlines offer it).  Even on SQ you only get to choose your main course; everything else is off the on-board menu.  With Oman Air’s “Service By Design” concept, you get to choose every course from appetizer to soup to salad, etc., etc.  There are several choices for some courses and dozens for some.  It is unique among airlines.  Here were my choices:

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When I was presented with the menus for this flight I asked the flight attendant to please make sure that my requested courses had been catered.  She immediately got a funny look on her face and disappeared for quite a while.  She came back with Adam and they informed me that none of my courses had been catered; not a single one.  They didn’t even have a record of me confirming an order.  Again, I was prepared with a printout of my confirmation email (shown above) and was able to show them, but of course that didn’t solve anything at this point.  They were very sweet, and very apologetic, and Adam said that he would speak with his supervisor about this as soon as we got to London.  I was pissed.  Really pissed.  The Oman Air failures just kept piling up.  This was fail #7, and it was a big deal.  This was one of the main reasons I booked these flights – the opportunity to try something that no other airline in the world was doing.  In actual fact, maybe Oman Air isn’t really doing it either?

I’m in the hospitality industry.  I manage a hotel.  And every single day one of my core principles in everything I do is to under-promise and over-deliver.  Based on my experience, Oman Air has got that exactly backwards.

So, on to the regular menu.  I apologize for my lack of photos, but I was in a pretty sour mood at this point.  Because this flight departs in the wee hours of the morning, the first meal is not large.  In fact, it is miniscule.  The photo here depicts absolutely everything on the menu: a tiny beef sandwich, two pieces of lettuce and a small slice of strawberry cake.  Oh, and you can see some mixed nuts in the background.  Unless I wanted to order a breakfast item at this point, there was nothing else available.

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After completing my First Class dining experience in four minutes flat, I asked Adam for the wifi code.  You guessed it – no free wifi codes.  Adam said that Oman Air was doing that for a while as a promotion but not any more.  I politely informed him that free wifi is still advertised on Oman Air’s web site as part of the First Class service.  He said he would talk to his boss about that as well.  At this point I had nothing terribly urgent to do so I did not pay to use the wifi.  Fail #8.

Here’s a photo of the bar/counter area at night.  I don’t know if they didn’t deck it out because I was the only First Class passenger, or if they always leave it so bare.  There were some magazines piled up there at one point but then they took those away.  Just a small box of dates and chocolates and some napkins.

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I asked for my bed to be made and got a few hours’ sleep.  The bedding is very nice.  The sleeping surface is quite narrow, but I slept fairly well.  Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the PJs.  They look nice, but – and this is really weird – they smell strongly of petroleum.  You know the way your hand smells after pumping gas?  That’s it.  I thought it might have been a one-off issue so I asked for another set of PJs.  Same thing.  I’m not even going to count that as a fail because, well, I’m tired of counting.

Breakfast time.  The menu was extensive for the morning meal, and I ordered the traditional Arabic breakfast.  It was good.

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We landed in London on time, but Fast Track security took over an hour.  All the electronic gates were closed in T4 for some reason.  Nice little exclamation point for the end of my largely disappointing two flights with Oman Air.

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After all this, I’m actually willing to fly Oman Air again at some point in the future, probably after they take delivery of their first 787-9s and after the new Muscat airport opens.  Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment.

Cheers all.

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Comments

  1. This was a really good review. Sometimes I get sad reading Lucky’s reviews where everything seems to go smoothly for him, when in my experience that rarely happens. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one for whom things don’t always go as planned. And it’s a good lesson learned to take printouts of everything — even though it may not have helped with the meal ordering, at least they didn’t think you were making it up.

  2. I don’t really know what to make of this review, I guess it shows the horrors the top 1 percent-ers have to go through in their daily lives. I mean – no caviar? That would be a deal breaker for me, even with the personal chef in the lounge and transfer in an S Class MB. LOL.

  3. @ Charlie McMillan — I don’t think that’s the point at all, though. It’s not necessarily about what is and isn’t being offered, but rather about them delivering on their promises. I don’t think John would complain about the lack of caviar or free wifi if it hadn’t been advertised. It’s false advertising, plain and simple. Having flown Oman Air business class, I see no difference whatsoever between the soft product offered in the two cabins.

  4. Expectations were very high, whether warranted or not, so I definitely understand. For example, I flew QF F SYD-DFW last week and I was pretty “meh” about the whole thing. After the fawning in the blogosphere regarding the F lounge in SYD, the food onboard, and the seat, I was expecting something glorious; instead, I received pretty standard service in an above average (but in no way superlative) setting. Was it bad? No, but not worth the stress and consternation of obsessively trying to find award space.

    All of this is to say that it seems that while Oman Air promised a lot and failed to deliver in multiple small ways, none of what was reported was catastrophic. It appeared to be “fine.”

  5. Good review. If they weren’t expecting you on the initial flight, many of the fails seem to add up. No wifi codes, no car transport for you, no prebooked meals….

  6. 1. Maybe they don’t roll out the first class carpet unless they have a first class passenger. Since they didn’t know about this ticket (apparently) the didn’t roll it out until something happened behind the scenes. 🙂

    2. Why would they even have a different lounge section for first class if they don’t have very many first class passengers in the first place. It’s not like they won’t survive slumming it in the business class area 🙂

    3. I think you now know why you “happen” to be the only first class passenger on these flights. It’s not worth the extra money it seems.

  7. What a terrible trip! I would go crazy. Basically they didn’t offer any type of service that First Class offers. I think the worst fails are the initial check-in, and that terrible meal in your second flight.

  8. I feel like this a majority of these problems (catering on the second flight, lack of transfer on the first flight, maybe even the lack of WiFi coupons) could be directly tied to the fact that your ticket got screwed up and had to be fixed at the airport. I dunno if that’s the case, but at least playing devil’s advocate a bit. I’d wager you could probably call and complain about the missed services and get some miles or a voucher or something.
    Also, while these are all totally first world problems, when you’re promised something and pay the agreed upon price (miles, cash, blood) for that something you should get that thing. While I generally agree, your life is not tangibly affected by the lack of caviar and wifi on these flights, you should have received it as promised.

  9. You come across as a negative person, or even angry. I definetly agree that ordering a custom menu and then not getting it is highly unprofessional, but you really point out all ‘negative’ points, and the positive ones don’t get nearly as much attention. For example, to “review” the breakfast with literally three (!) words, is not really what I expect when reading a review.

  10. Yup. OMAAT reviews are often positive (unless it was MU) and real life is somewhat more balanced. I love LH, but could live without QR or QF, for example.

  11. I would be interested to know how the airline responded to being advised of the numerous service failures. Sometimes the recovery can make a big difference.

  12. i dont understand the rip into Lucky, “For satisfaction and happiness, look within.”, “You come across as a negative person” kind of comment is just ridiculous! “. Expectations were high because Oman Air made it so, over-promise & under-deliver is just like Luck said so. In this sad millennial mindset, we only point fingers at victim, not the culprit.

  13. As an aviation enthusiast I’d like to give a big word of Thanks to John for reviewing and Ben for posting. Oman Air First Class is one product with very limited information on internet while there are so many Business Class reviews (including mine myself). I don’t think John was deliberately being negative at all – First Class fares on Oman Air are pretty steep high compared to other airlines (but usually heavy regular discounts on Business; an irony) and this review really showed how the airline focuses a lot on Business but not First. KL airport mess, First lounge inaccessibility, no promised caviar service, mediocre quality food onboard, no promised wifi, limo transfer not arranged… I’d feel the exact same way as John does. That food thing on MCT-LHR is totally unacceptable – otherwise he could have enjoyed a great (hopefully) dinner at the First Lounge, which seemed to be like the only positive thing about the experience.

    Once again, a great review and sorry for the overall experience. I was also thinking of collecting enough Etihad Guest miles to redeem on Oman Air First – and it proved something. May be as John said once the brand new B787-9 comes with the new product they may focus on the service greatly. Now – definitely doesn’t look like the right time.

    As someone who admires Oman Air’s Business Class product, it was shocking to see such a contrast!

  14. Great review. I like that it’s a real world experience, not the usual Ben’s trip reports which look more like ads.

    Some are saying that most of the fails are likely because the ticket was screwed up. But wait – why the ticket was screwed up in the first place? There apparently was no schedule change, it was not a complex partner’s mileage redemption, etc. It was a simple ticket purchased directly from the airline. It should not get screwed up! And things like lack of advertised caviar or free wi-fi on both flights – this is not due to the ticket. There was no caviar on the menu. The airline stopped offering that, but did not care to remove it from the website. And don’t day it’s not a big deal or a first world problem – it is a big deal to sell something and get the money, but fail to deliver.

  15. By the way, I’d strongly suggest John to write a complaint feedback to Oman Air, with this report as an attached link. Speaking out of experience, once Oman Air closed check-in counters an hour before the departure time in Cairo, as contrary to their website indicated it would close 45 minutes before. I was late and turned up just at 45 minutes before departure, only to find out that they were empty and I ended up missing the flight. Luckily there was another flight leaving 6hrs later so I waited, but I had to pay a hefty penalty, even though the website still indicated the closure time as 45mins. Later I wrote a feedback to Oman Air from their website about the experience, and although I didn’t expect any reply I got a call from their Muscat head office three weeks later. I was apologized for my inconvenience and told me the team has corrected the information on their website, and also promised me a full refund for the penalty which was returned back within three days. I was actually impressed that Oman Air did take my complaint seriously (also attached my blog link as well, so that could have been a factor I’m not sure). I think it’s worth give it a try, mention that the airline did not keep the promises as per website. If successful I’d love to know what their response would be too. Sorry for writing long.

  16. LOL’ing at John passing on and leaving his children musty leather amenity kits with shriveled ear plugs and disintegrating tooth brushes…

  17. If the reason for all these screwups was simply because of the ticketing issue—and remember that he was the only first class passenger—why was any of the standard (listed on the menu) food for first class loaded to begin with, and why did the attendant on the second flight say that free Wi-Fi was only a limited-time promotion (I.e., no wifi coupon even if there hadn’t been an initial screwup)?

  18. I also really enjoyed this review. Oman Air is also on my list of products to experience some day and after reading this review: 1) Would take extra effort to firm up the reservation – especially after John’s documented experience. 2) Would go in with both eyes open as to what to expect. It is the only second review on Oman Air I have read and obviously they can fail to deliver. Also, despite the failures there are some cool and unique elements of their product even when their not on their best day. John, thanks again for thoroughly documenting your experience. Lucky, I appreciate you including this post. Jimmy

  19. @Steven
    Most of this was caused by the behind the scenes screwup. He should have a follow up review where they were prepared to serve that cabin.

  20. Too bad you missed the 15 minutes choice of head/neck/shoulders, Thai, stone therapy or jetlag massages. You sure could have used it.

    Business class is 6 across, that’s the main difference. Your breakfast was the same as J class. It seems the supervisor in Kuala Lumpur never notified the appropriate office of your confirmation as a F pax. Therefore, catering didn’t get the go ahead to cater properly. The apologetic FA was putting a show for you. How could they not notice the carts didn’t have the class of level catering?

  21. Wow thanks John for a comprehensive review and similar to you, I have been trying to see if I can ever fly Oman Air’s first class, which seems to imply a top notch product. It is clear that there is no need to waste money on this type of product, that is barely better than business class. I want to remind readers that business on the A330 is also 1-2-1, similar to last generation of first class flat suites. The difference really lies on the software, which is the ground service, the lounge, and the actual food.

    My theory is that since Oman Air never discounts their first class product, it really gets little business. That’s why the service becomes water down, as less people use it. I can look past many deficiencies in KUL, but the first class lounge service in Muscat is a major failure. The lack of menu looks pretty bad, especially it seems that it is a totally on demand dining in the F lounge. I will be very irritated too when you pre-order meals on the flight, and they fail to deliver. That is unacceptable because you have already set up expectations with the guest. If that pre-order service is not available, don’t have it out. I think IT at Oman Air is another failure because the website is simply inaccurate about many things.

    John, with his hospitality background, surely understands how the industry works so his opinion actually matters. They speak loud about a product that is over-promised and under-delivered. That might explain why no one is actually paying for that service. I hope Oman Air, which is unlikely, reads this report and thank you John for sharing this report. I have been waiting for an Oman Air first class trip report for a long time.

    Thanks,
    Adrian

  22. I really enjoyed this review. All the commenting rabblerousers either never fly F, don’t care about being sold a bill of goods, or are just downright green with envy. Perhaps a combination.

    After all, I’m sure none of them would care if they bought a Cartier watch, and Amazon delivered a Timex instead. I’m sure all of them would say, “meh, what’s the difference anyway–they both tell the time, bro.”

    Yawn.

  23. John: Bravo! A simply wondrous review. My husband Stev and I will be sure to visit the motor inn you manage when we are in town.

  24. Lucky you could learn a fair bit from this guy. Really enjoyable article. Well written. A proper critique of the airline. It beats the headphone talk, cappuccino pictures, crew were amazing/phenomenal/outstanding [for no apparent reason] comments.

    Good stuff. Give him a slot.

  25. @Steven L. – “…it’s surprising how many people here are absolutely fine with not getting what they paid for.”

    Spot on, sir, spot on.

    And for those wondering if it’s a ticketing issue, Steven L raises a good point: how did they know to cater first at all, considering John was the only person in first?

    And how did John get a reminder email from Oman Air a few days before the flight if he had no ticket?

    Ben, the people demand answers! 🙂

  26. @Bobby Dooley – “My husband Stev and I will be sure to visit the motor inn you manage when we are in town.”

    Why visit the motor inn when you can just stay in your mobile HOME?

    Stay tacky.

  27. Very well written review. Would love to see more from you. Don’t let the haters discourage you. Why are they even reading this site if they can’t handle the content? My advice: Get lost.

  28. Great review and Oman Air is off the list. Will be flying EK and Qatar in the next few months long haul (SEA-CPT) and have heard good things and bad things so have some expectations.

    Not having the pre-ordered meal available is a huge negative – especially when you don’t eat when you can as you are waiting for the great meal ordered. And then to discover NOTHING on the flight. Reminds me of the time BA had a problem with catering and we flew J from YVR-LHR-AUH with NOTHING TO EAT OR DRINK for 21 hours. Not a good way to treat passengers in expensive seats.

    BA did nothing to compensate until I found out that Y passengers (with no expectations) had each received 50,000 miles compensation. It was a lengthy process to even get the Y compensation. Again, not a way to treat a J passenger. Guess why I don’t fly BA any more?

    So hope Qatar is good and that the EK flights from SFO-DXB-CPT are as good as our flights previously from JFK-MXP.

  29. My guess is nobody actually flies Oman first-class except for government ministers and other VIPs. I think that is or was the case with the Saudi and Kuwait airlines.

  30. Caviar a deal breaker? It doesn’t appear that you are 1%, as someone insinuated, (“kiddies, grannies, butt seats..” characterize your observations), so expect it was a huge fail because it is the only opportunity to experience it for you – on free F or discounted (steep) fares. Was everything delivered as advertised or expected? No, but that is the way it often is in the world of service, hospitality, travel, etc. Those of us who have flown and sampled many different F products agree that while the experience is better than economy or biz, and can be very enjoyable, to put so much energy into labeling it a complete failure and making decisions based on one experience (or based on someone else’s experience- i.e. Lucky putting Oman on his “no fly list” lol) it missing the purpose of travel. That is usually held for the destination and experience of the destination itself and thus a disappointing flight is just that, but your experience does not sound like a “failure”. Good review, but tone is a bit like a kid getting a pair of Nike shoes from Mom, but not the ones that all the cool kids have.

  31. Love this review; and love Lucky’s work as well. I can’t believe the knockers and moaning from some readers. This is a FREE website, people. Stop pissing on Lucky – he is a compelling writer with engaging reviews.

  32. Thanks everyone for the nice comments. And thanks Ben for the opportunity to post here.

    I submitted my complaint to Oman Air today via their online feedback page. I’ll advise via Ben of any reply/resolution.

    Cheers all.

  33. You have a right to be upset if you dont get what you pay for. This is true In the third world or first.

    It’s highly disappointing when a large amount of money is spent. I am sympathetic as small service failures tend to compound when repeated.

  34. @shanti,

    Wow, what a sexist thing to say…why must you associate cranky behaviour with someone having their period?

  35. Oman is in dire straits when it comes to money. It is the most skint in the region.

    I think this is showing now.

  36. Can someone please moderate some of these offensive comments from the usual gang of jealous idiots who continually post the same sort of rubbish day in, day out! It would be a much more pleasant experience for the rest of the readers/posters.

  37. Excellent review John. Ignore the negative comments. For those of us who are fortunate enough to travel regularly in premium classes, the little things mean a lot. I flew Oman Air on several trips a few years ago and loved the business class seats. I have just returned from a Europe – Bangkok roundtrip in Oman Air business class and (despite what Ben thinks) the new seats are horrible. They are so narrow that it is uncomfortable at the shoulders, there is practically no storage space, the shelf is so narrow it is a joke – it is too narrow to take the drinks glasses they use.

    The wine list you posted is identical to the business class list with one addiitonal choice in each category. As an aside I was intrigued by the Italian dessert wine – don’t bother it was not very good at all.

    Muscat airport is total chaos and the way they handle wheelchair passengers is a disgrace. Hopefully, the ground experience will improve once the new terminal opens.

  38. Perhaps some airlines just aren’t meant to offer first. When you’ve got a superior business class product compared to much of what’s out there in the market (APEX suite) it would make sense just to focus on delivering the best possible experience you can with what you’ve got. Sorry your experience was such a bum note…

  39. @TheRealBabushka

    Ask Frau Schlappig about introducing period related complaints on this website. To give her some credit, she was drunk at that point. Maybe an old woman being drunk is cute?

  40. The comments are half the fun anyway.

    I thought this review was great, nice chance of pace and kept me reading.

  41. @Alexander: No, this is more like a kid paying the shop extra money for the Nike shoes that the cool kids have, and the shops take his money and give him a cheaper pair of Nikes. Can you not see the difference? If he’d won a complimentary Oman Air flight he’d have nothing to complain about, but when you pay your money for advertised products and services and don’t get them, that’s fraud. Simple concept.

  42. “Does this not look like a very unflattering caricature of an Omani man?”

    Have you seen many Omani men? I’d say it’s spot on.

    @JR

    Yup.

  43. I had a very similar experience on Oman. Arriving at LHR from the US I went to the transfer desk to find the Oman counter and a boarding pass. While there was an Oman sign, the BA and Air India team at the next desk said there was no Oman agent available. Fortunately for me I read Lucky’s review of the Gulf Lounge at LHR which is used by Oman passengers. I presented by ticket conformation to the lounge agent and was admitted, but she had no idea how to secure a boarding pass for me. Finally the Gulf Airlines lounge manager came and he knew the phone number of the WY manager who he called. She was working the check-in counter and indicated the had no personnel for the transfer desk. He walked to the check-in counter and retrieved my boarding pass. By the way, Lucky is correct in that the Gulf Lounge at LHR is very nice and the Nespresso machine in the Oman lounge is really cool.

    My experience in business class on WY104 was similar to John’s. It was OK, but nothing exceptional. There were no first class passengers which resulted in the first class section turning into a crew rest/party cabin which was visited by several men coming up from the economy section….strange.

    I also pre-paid my visa, but had no trouble transiting immigration; it was seamless.

    Everyone needs to keep in mind that Oman is a very small airline in a small economically challenged country. Oman Airlines has received massive subsidies for several years and is now experiencing significant cut backs in those subsidies, the result of that is what we are seeing. That said, I agree with John that if they are not planning to offer a service, they shouldn’t advertise it.

  44. Comparing to Oman Air, at least Thai Airways give me a fair service and catering with the 40, 000 united miles (although still bad)… I had written a report about the disappointed service in Chinese on the flyertea.com:

    http://www.flyertea.com/thread-877295-1-1.html

    Feel so funny when the lousy details showed in such a manner. (I really have the sense of feeling that ‘r u kidding me?’)

  45. Wow. I just read this review and sorry to hear of your experience. I know there are 2 MCT-LHR flights a day. WY103 flies in the wee hours of the morning whereas WY101 flies in the actual afternoon. I wonder if the service and meal may be different had you flown WY101? I’ve flown Oman Air business class several times and have actually been saving sindbad miles to redeem for Oman Air F in 2018 though now I’m not sure what to do with these miles.
    Before reading this review, I didn’t know Oman Air provided First Class service on its KUL-MCT route; I thought it only sold F seats on MCT-LHR route.
    Do please let us know how the airline responded to your concerns.

  46. Hi all, I am happy to report that I have a resolution from Oman Air that I am very pleased with, however I am still awaiting some further communication. I expect to be able to post a follow-up report within the next few days.

  47. This person is an incredible whiner. I take it he has never had a bad day. By the end of the review I was rooting for more circumstances to piss him off. He was really pissed the meal service glitched? What a whiner.

  48. Hi, Ben. Wow..a very negative review on this one. A loy of frustration and fail promises. However the Oman Air cabin still delivering a good service at least.

    Regards..

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