Oman Air Is Slowly Killing First Class

I flew Oman Air early last year for the first time, and had a great experience on them. They’re one of my favorite airlines, largely thanks to how “exotic” they feel. Unlike some other Gulf carriers, they do a great job integrating Omani culture into the experience.

At the moment Oman Air has a couple of longhaul business class products. They were originally known for their incredible business class hard product, which was about the best out there when it was first introduced. Select A330s still have this product, which is in a 1-2-1 configuration.

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Meanwhile their 787s and select A330s have Apex Suites in business class. Initially I thought this would represent a downgrade in terms of the quality of product, but in reality I think these seats are superior to the old ones, at least if you manage to snag one of the window seats.

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While Oman Air has a great business class, their first class seems a bit underwhelming, and has been in the process of being scaled back. Reader John shared his experience in Oman Air first class a while back, which didn’t seem that great. Select A330s still have a first class cabin, which is in a 1-2-1 configuration, much like business class.

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The seats look very similar to those in business class, except there’s a rather random couch in the middle of the cabin.

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Oman Air has slowly been reconfiguring A330s with the new Apex Suites, and in the process has been removing first class.

However, Oman Air is taking delivery of 21 new 787s, including 15 787-8 aircraft and six 787-9 aircraft.

Oman Air is just now taking delivery of their first 787-9, and it has been my understanding that they were planning on installing eight first class suites on these planes. Unfortunately that’s not the case anymore.

Oman Air has just scheduled their first commercial 787-9 flights. They’ll be operating the 787-9 between Muscat and Bangkok starting on March 1, 2017. Unfortunately it looks like Oman Air won’t offer first class on their 787-9 aircraft — they’ll feature 30 business class seats and 258 economy seats.

On one hand that’s sad, since I was hoping they’d introduce a great new product. At the same time I’m not surprised to see this, given that the airline seems to have horrible yields, based on how consistently low their economy and business class fares are.

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Fortunately they have a great business class product on these planes, and I hope they follow through with their plans to begin flights between Muscat and New York.

But if you’re hoping to fly Oman Air’s first class, I think it’s safe to say that the cabin’s days are numbered, and unfortunately there’s no product refresh coming…

Comments

  1. Who needs an underwhelming first class when you have suites in business? Sounds like a good move! Besides, isn’t that what Qatar’s doing?

  2. Next time on Oman try a stopover in Muscat, or even Salalah. Oman has a completely different feel from the other states in the region: for one thing, Omanis are expected to work, consequently there is not a huge imported labour force; nor is there the sense of entitlement to be found elsewhere. There is a great national pride.
    The Grand Hyatt Muscat is a very relaxing place for a few days.

  3. Sorry to disappoint you, Lucky, but OmanAir’s CEO, Paul Gregorowitsch, just made a statement in the actual issue of German Airline Magazin AERO INTERNATIONAL that they are not interested to introduce flights to the US or Australia with own metal. But they are interested to work together with Lufthansa and/or Turkish to expand their codeshare agreements (but no statement about a timeline).
    So I would not count on any OmanAir-Flight to any US airport soon.

  4. @Hiro
    I highly doubt he did, I flew with Oman recently in December and had various issues that I brought up with them after the flights, never got a reply besides assurances that they would get back to me and I should be patient. It’s 2 months now…

    @MattJ
    Yes they fly to KL, flight time is a bit shitty as it leaves around 9am tho

  5. WY slowly killing First Class? Really?

    They announced in a press release on Jan 22nd that they completed the renovation of the First Class Cabins in their three 3-Class A330-300 and I believe there is still substantial demand on their LHR route for example.

    To destinations such as MNL and CGK, the demand for premium classes is much lower than to LHR or SIN, so 2- class cabins are the right choice, but I guess they will keep a few planes with First Class for the markets where they can sell First.

  6. @BenBen, I remember him mentioning about receiving the response and that he’d share it with us – but it’s been quite a while. As for Oman Air’s response to feedback, I received a very positive reply after having a negative experience with their advertized check-in limit time, which resulted in receiving the full refund for the penalty back from the airline in 3 weeks after I registered my complaint.

  7. @Paolo “consequently there is not a huge imported labour force”

    Oman has a huge expat community, especially from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

  8. @ pepe

    Correct, this reflects somehow also in their route map with, I just checked, 161 weekly flights from MCT to 11 destinations in India, thereof BOM, DEL, HYD triple daily.
    Unlike EK, they mainly fly narrowbodies (737-800 and every now and then 737-900), A330 here and there.

  9. @Hiro
    Oh ok, I had some issues with the chauffeur service, twice no priority luggage, seat not working once, IFE not working on the other leg. Registered it end of December and followed up end of January when I was told it will take one more week. Since then never heard anything

  10. @Hiro
    It doesn’t look like it but never give up right 😉

    I won’t fly with them again for now anyway given the horrible ground experience in MCT. Once the new terminal is operational I will give it a try. Hopefully they will catch up to the standard of DXB or DOH.

  11. The probability of the airline surviving in its current format is remote. Oman’s budgetary position is the weakest among the GCC and there are insufficient resources to maintain a loss making airline which is not critical in terms of employment and is a drain on foreign exchange resources. Despite recent route expansion to Guanghzhou, the likelihood is that the airline will return to at best a regional construct and potentially a ‘feeder’ to QR. Trophies are going to need to be ditched to balance the books.

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