Review: Kuwait Airways Business Class 777 Kuwait To Shannon

Introduction: Journey To Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, And Kuwait
Review: Air France Lounge San Francisco Airport
Review: Korean Air Business Class 747-8 San Francisco To Seoul
Review: Korean Air Business Class 777 Seoul To Kathmandu
Review: Hyatt Regency Kathmandu
Review: Kathmandu Airport Lounge
Review: Drukair Business Class A319 Kathmandu To Paro
Review: Le Meridien Thimphu
Review: Le Meridien Paro
Hiking To The Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan
How We Spent Our Time In Bhutan
Review: Drukair Economy ATR42 Paro To Dhaka
Review: Presidential Suite At The Le Meridien Dhaka
Review: Dhaka Airport Lounge
Review: Kuwait Airways Business Class A330 Dhaka To Kuwait
Review: Sheraton Kuwait
Review: Kuwait Airways Lounge Kuwait Airport
Review: Kuwait Airways Business Class 777 Kuwait To Shannon
Review: Kuwait Airways Business Class 777 Shannon To New York


As our bus pulled up to the remote stand, I was happy to see that our flight was actually operated by a 777-300ER. Kuwait Airways’ 777-200s are ancient, so I was worried we’d have a last minute swap. Fortunately that wasn’t the case, and I was excited to experience the “future” of Kuwait Airways.

Kuwait Airways 117
Kuwait (KWI) – New York (JFK)
Friday, March 17
Depart: 9:00AM
Arrive: 8:00PM
Duration: 17hr
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 9H (Business Class)

We boarded through door L2, where we were pointed right into the business class cabin.

Kuwait Airways has B/E Aerospace Diamond seats in business class on their 777-300ERs, which is a similar product to what’s available on AeroflotAeromexico, Air China, KLMRoyal JordanianSaudia, United, etc.

The rear business class cabin had a total of 24 seats, spread across four rows, in a 2-2-2 configuration.

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Kuwait Airways 777 business class cabin

There was also a forward business class cabin, in front of the second set of doors, and behind first class. It had two rows, for a total of 12 seats. That means the entire business class cabin had 36 seats.

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Kuwait Airways 777 business class forward cabin

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Kuwait Airways 777 business class forward cabin

We were in seats 9H & 9K, which were the aisle and window seat in the second to last row of the rear business class cabin.

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Kuwait Airways 777 business class seats

B/E Aerospace Diamond seats aren’t really cutting edge, but at least they’re fully flat. The advantage of these over standard forward facing seats is that they have a bit more privacy, as the seats are slightly staggered. The downside is that they only have a small area where you can place your feet, so the seat isn’t that spacious in the fully reclined position.

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Kuwait Airways 777 business class seats

There’s a nice permanent privacy partition between seats. It’s low enough so you can talk to the person seated next to you, but high enough so you have a bit of privacy when fully reclined.

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Kuwait Airways 777 business class privacy partition

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Kuwait Airways 777 business class cabin

Behind that is the storage area, which is exposed. It also has a headphone jack and power outlets.

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Kuwait Airways 777 business class seat storage

On the center armrest are the seat controls, which are easy to use.

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Kuwait Airways 777 business class seat controls

The tray table folded out of the center armrest, and you could use either the whole thing or half of it.

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Kuwait Airways 777 business class tray table

I really appreciate that Kuwait Airways has individual air nozzles on their 777s, which far too many airlines don’t.

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Kuwait Airways 777 business class air nozzles

Waiting at my seat on boarding was a scratchy fleece blanket and a pillow — c’mon Kuwait Airways, you can do better than this, especially for longhaul flights.

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Kuwait Airways business class pillow & blanket

About 10 minutes after settling in, the crew came by our seats to offer us pre-departure beverages. The choice was between strawberry juice, orange juice, and water. We both had the strawberry juice, which was tasty, and served with mixed nuts.

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Kuwait Airways business class pre-departure beverage and mixed nuts

The flight attendants working the flight were a combination of local men and women from other countries (the flight attendants serving us were Indian and Eastern European). The entire crew was very friendly. They were clearly very proud of their new plane, which was nice to see.

I knew first class was empty on this flight, so asked one of the flight attendants if I could get a picture of one of the seats. He checked with his supervisor, and said it was okay. So I quickly walked to the first class cabin to take a look. The cabin was in a 1-2-1 configuration, with a total of eight fully enclosed seats. The cabin looked pretty nice — I hope to fly it some day.

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Kuwait Airways 777 first class seat

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Kuwait Airways 777 first class seat

Once back at our seats we were presented with headphones. Rather hilariously, they came in a pouch that just said “Luxury” on it, with the Kuwait Airways logo. Hah.

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Kuwait Airways business class headphones

The headphones were fine, though I’m not sure they lived up to the “Luxury” title.

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Kuwait Airways business class headphones

After that we were offered warm towels.

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Kuwait Airways business class warm towel

Then we were offered Arabic coffee and dates. It’s impressive that they offer this, as many other carriers don’t in business class.

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Kuwait Airways business class date

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Kuwait Airways business class Arabic coffee

I also loved the cup this was offered in.

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Kuwait Airways business class Arabic coffee

Our departure was delayed by a bit due to a passenger with a medical issue being loaded. There was a young boy who was badly bruised in the first row of the rear business class cabin. He was loaded onto the plane in what looked like a catering truck of sorts, and they had to lift him from the stretcher onto the seat, which they left fully reclined. There was a doctor traveling with him, along with his family.

Finally at around 9:20AM the door closed, with about two thirds of business class seats occupied. Moments later the prayer and safety video were screened. After that the lead flight attendant made an announcement informing us of our flight time of 7hr50min to Shannon. Yes, the flight to New York makes a stop in Shannon, though everyone on the plane goes to New York, and they don’t pick up any new passengers.

At 9:25AM we began our pushback, next to a Kuwait Airways 747-400.

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Kuwait Airways 747

As we pushed back we also saw the super sexy State of Kuwait 747-8. I can’t even imagine what that plane’s interior is like.

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State of Kuwait 747-8

I loved the planes we saw enroute to the runway, including all the air force planes.

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Kuwait Air Force plane

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Planes at Kuwait Airport

Kuwait’s 777 has a really great nose camera. While I prefer the tail camera on the A380 in terms of the perspective it offers, the clarity of the camera was incredible.

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Taxiing Kuwait Airport

By 9:40AM we were holding short of the runway, and just waiting for a few planes to land and take off.

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Taxiing Kuwait Airport

At 9:45AM we were cleared for takeoff.

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Taking off Kuwait Airport

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Taking off Kuwait Airport

Our takeoff roll wasn’t especially long, and our climb out was fairly steep.

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View after takeoff from Kuwait

We had great views as we flew out over the coast.

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View after takeoff from Kuwait

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View after takeoff from Kuwait

About 15 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off. As soon as the seatbelt sign was turned off, I checked out the two lavatories located between the two business class cabins. They were fairly small, though nice enough. There were also some amenities, including a toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.

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Kuwait Airways business class lavatory

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Kuwait Airways business class lavatory

About 20 minutes after takeoff the crew distributed amenity kits. The kits were pretty nice, and primarily had Aigner amenities. There was body lotion, deodorant, lip balm, eyeshades, socks, earplugs, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a hair brush, a mirror, etc. For business class it was a pretty solid kit, in my opinion.

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Kuwait Airways business class amenity kit

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Kuwait Airways business class amenity kit contents

We were also offered bottles of water.

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Kuwait Airways business class bottled water

About 30 minutes after takeoff tablecloths were distributed, and we were told we’d be offered “refreshments.”

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Kuwait Airways business class tablecloth

They rolled a trolly down the aisle that had coffee, tea, and small plates with snacks.

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Kuwait Airways business class snack

The below was the extent of the snack. Everything tasted decent, though it was small.

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Kuwait Airways business class snack

We were informed that we’d be offered a full meal about three hours before landing.

I find this to be sort of annoying on a couple of levels:

  • The flight left at 9AM, so most people would have to leave their home/hotel by 6AM to get to the airport, and probably wouldn’t have breakfast; you’d think you’d serve a full meal right after takeoff, since most people would be hungry
  • The nonstop flight would be about 14 hours, though they break it up into two flights of roughly seven hours, which limits the amount of sleep you can get; on top of that, they then serve the meals a bit over halfway into the flight, which even further limits the sleep you can get

The snack itself was fine, though we hadn’t eaten breakfast, so I was still hungry. The flight attendants were friendly and offered drink refills, and upon my request also gave me some packaged nuts.

At that point the cabin lights and window shades were all lowered.

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Kuwait Airways 777 cabin

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Kuwait Airways branding

After the snack was finished I connected to Kuwait’s inflgiht wifi. The available packages were similar to those on my previous Kuwait Airways flight:

  • 30 minutes for $10
  • 60 minutes for $20
  • 180 minutes for $40

That pricing is definitely on the high side. Other airlines offer 24 hour wifi passes for ~$20, with no data caps. However, I will say that it wasn’t so obscenely priced that it was unusable. Paying ~$13 per hour for fast wifi while flying isn’t terrible. Especially in comparison to airlines that charge based on data, where you could find yourself paying over $1,000 for all the data you’d use.

So Kuwait Airways doesn’t have my favorite wifi, but it’s not so unreasonably priced that it’s not worth using if you’re trying to work, in my opinion. While you could switch between devices, there was no option to stop the “clock,” so the three hours was calculated from when you started your connection, rather than based on continuous use.

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Kuwait Airways 777 wifi

I also checked out the on-demand entertainment system.

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Kuwait Airways entertainment system

I started by taking a look at the airshow — we were flying over Iran at the time.

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Kuwait Airways airshow

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Kuwait Airways airshow

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Kuwait Airways airshow

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Kuwait Airways airshow

I then browsed the movie and TV selection. The selection was solid, better than I was expecting for sure. There were dozens of Hollywood movies, lots of sitcoms, etc. No, it wasn’t Emirates’ great ICE system, but was still good.

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Kuwait Airways entertainment

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Kuwait Airways entertainment

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Kuwait Airways entertainment

Since I had paid for the wifi, I worked for a few hours, and before I knew it we were over Eastern Europe. During this time the crew stayed in the galley and didn’t come through the cabin much, though when I pushed the call button they quickly appeared without seeming ticked off, so I have no complaints about the service.

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Airshow enroute to Shannon

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Airshow enroute to Shannon

Just under three hours before landing the meal service began.

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Airshow enroute to Shannon

The crew distributed menus — unlike the last flight, at least they had menus this time around.

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Kuwait Airways business class menu

The menu read as follows:

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The drink list read as follows (as you can see, Kuwait Airways is a dry airline):

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Tablecloths were distributed, and then trays with the salad and appetizer were served.

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Kuwait Airways business class lunch — appetizer and salad

The appetizer consisted of smoked turkey with fig jam on toast, smoked salmon with capers on pumpernickel bread, and hummus. It was tasty.

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Kuwait Airways business class lunch — appetizer

The side salad was small, but at least had some tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, quinoa, etc.

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Kuwait Airways business class lunch — salad

I was also offered a selection of bread.

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Kuwait Airways business class lunch — bread selection

The crew rolled a trolley down the aisle with all the main courses, so you could see the dishes before you selected them.

I ordered the “fisherman’s delight,” which had skewers containing diced salmon, prawns, and scallops, with a curry cream sauce. The dish was exceptional.

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Kuwait Airways business class lunch — main course

Ford had the chicken stuffed with spinach and ricotta, which was served with rice and grilled vegetables. He enjoyed his dish as well.

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Kuwait Airways business class lunch — main course

The crew offered us Tabasco to go along with the dish, which I thought was a nice touch.

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Kuwait Airways business class lunch — Tabasco

Once the mains were cleared, the crew rolled a dessert trolley down the aisle.

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Kuwait Airways business class lunch — dessert cart

I ordered the cheese and cake, while Ford had the fruit and ice cream. The dessert was excellent as well — Ford enjoyed the ice cream, and the butter cake with raspberry was delicious.

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Kuwait Airways business class lunch — dessert

After lunch I watched a couple of sitcoms. About 45 minutes before landing the crew came through the cabin to offer Arabic coffee or mint tea. We requested some mint tea, which was served in cute glasses.

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Kuwait Airways business class tea

A few minutes later we began our descent into Shannon.

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Airshow approaching Shannon

While the descent was smooth at first, we hit some turbulence on our approach, and there was very limited visibility.

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View approaching Shannon

We finally broke out of the clouds at a low altitude (I’d say at around 1,000 feet), just a minute or two before touching down.

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View approaching Shannon

The nose camera was high resolution, so it was cool to see the runway as we were about to land.

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View approaching Shannon

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View approaching Shannon

We had a smooth touchdown in Shannon at 1:55PM.

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Touchdown Shannon

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Taxiing Shannon Airport

From there we had a short five minute taxi to our arrival gate, where we arrived at 2PM.

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Arriving at gate in Shannon

All passengers were advised that they had to deplane, as there was a crew change in Shannon.

Kuwait Airways business class bottom line

Overall Kuwait Airways business class is reasonably solid, especially compared to what they used to be. They have a lot of things going for them — the fully flat seats were comfortable (though there are better products out there for longhaul flights), the food was excellent (though could be better presented), and the crew was friendlier than I was expecting.

At the same time, there are so many areas where a bit of effort would go a long way. The meal service on the flight was poorly timed, as a meal after takeoff would seem logical, and their system minimized the amount of rest passengers were able to get. Better bedding would also help.

But overall Kuwait Airways exceeded my expectations, and at a good price, I’d recommend them.

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Comments

  1. @Lucky – did you go through pre-clearance for the US when you got to Shannon? Can’t imagine they wouldn’t have passengers go through it as that is practically the whole point of transiting in Shannon.

  2. The tiny foot cubicle on this design of seat makes me want to avoid it. I imagine it’s like trying to sleep with your feet manacled together in a weird bondage ritual (not that I know anything about such things). More importantly, the 2-2-2 layout is a no-no for me (and I thought for you, too, judging by how often you criticise BA for having it?).

    Do you clear US immigration at Shannon?

    Nice review. Though am really looking forward to the Etihad experience.

  3. @ CR — Nope, they don’t use the facility. I’m not actually sure why Kuwait makes the stop. They don’t pick up or drop off passengers. I know they used to operate the flight to London but then lost pick-up rights, though I’m not sure why they didn’t just switch to a nonstop flight then.

  4. Given the range on that plane, and that many other operators go even further with it, did you ever get a reason why they operate it with a refuel/crew change stop in Shannon? If you aren’t even allowed to deplane and take advantage of US pre-clearance, say, it seems really odd to me in this day and age.

  5. @Lucky – Interesting. They might not be able to do non-stop flights from KWI to the US due to security issues and/or whatever the bilateral agreement says. Although now that I think about it, UA did IAD-KWI non-stop a couple years ago for a bit with no issue so it makes me wonder why Kuwait doesn’t do non-stop.

  6. @ CR — Oddly they’re now operating the flight nonstop some days, but not all days. So that was my first thought as well, but I don’t think that’s it.

  7. Always odd to me that these airlines don’t have their menus spell-checked by a native English speaker prior to printing. “Board palette,” “fried potatoe,” “expresoo.” Seems like a cheap and easy step, and would make a big difference in appearances – especially on flights to/from the States.

  8. @ Lucky – That only adds to the mystery as to why they stop some flights in Shannon but some are nonstop from KWI…very intriguing airline and route. If memory serves me correctly they lost traffic rights between London and the US because they denied boarding to an Israeli passport holder ticketed for the flight. Or at least that was a contributing factor. Perhaps that has something to do with it.

  9. @CR that is correct on that. And also in retailation they stripped United Airlines for running their IAD-KWI flight as well.

    @Lucky some of the planes there were a USAF C5, a military charter plane and then the nice white C-17 of the Kuwaiti Air Force. Lots of great opportunity to plane spot at KWI.

    I find it puzzling that they do not use the pre-clear facility in Shannon, but yet they contract out a lounge in Shannon. (been through charters that always stopped in Shannon on the way to KWI)

  10. Do Western flights overfly Iran like this?

    I’d never take a dry airlines so this wouldn’t work for me.

  11. “And also in retailation they stripped United Airlines for running their IAD-KWI flight as well.”

    I’m not sure it had anything to do with that. Just a lack of demand, maybe. UA stopped all of their flights to the Arabian Gulf, not just to KWI.

  12. If Kuwait Airways actually plans a stop in Shannon and not use the US Pre-Clearance facility, isn’t that just dumb how they do that? Can’t the fly Nonstop?

  13. You know, if this picked up in DUB or SNN, I’d actually go for it – It looks like a really pleasant service – I don’t really drink on flights any more anyway, (You can bring a series of 100ml flasks if you have ‘the thirst’ though right?) and I love all things unique and arabic – mint tea, coffee, and they are served so beautifully!

  14. Ridiculous to me that in 2017 some anti semitic airlines still deny boarding to those with Israeli passports….like really? come on….

  15. Did you explore their attitude to passengers bringing on their own wine for dinner? In the past Royal Brunei were very helpful and would supply wine glasses and a cork screw if asked.

  16. What a great improvement. I heard from locals that certain people at Kuwait airlines were keeping the airline bad to keep the price of the airline low, so it could be bought from the government cheaply. Seems something has happened to change this.

    P.S @Schar – There is a huge difference between Anti Semitic and Anti Zionist. Please learn your history before commenting.

  17. Great Review! I actually live in Ireland and did some work experience in Shannon Airport – the reason why they do the stopover is because the security screening facilities in Kuwait aren’t up to FAA standards and they’re required to stop somewhere, however I’ve heard that they’re changing this soon. While I was working at SNN, when with the security screening team I actually got to board the new Kuwait 777 as it was carrying passengers and doctors that were unable to deplane due to medical illness. The flight carries a lot of sick people travelling to the IS for treatment which explains the person on the stretcher. While working in SNN you noticed while the plane was on the ground the numbers of ill looking people from Kuwait and India. Was interesting to read your review about the product that I’d only seen briefly!

  18. @Philip

    Back in the day, from the 70s to the mid 90s. Kuwait Airways was a really great airline. Certainly the best Arab airline. Even when it was dry, it still had better service, seats, and food, compared to it’s neighbors. While I don’t expect it to topple any of the ME3 and regain it’s status, it’s good to see them putting in some effort and improving things.

  19. I love your trip reports! Whenever I read them, I say to myself, ‘one day I will be rich enough to buy business/first class, not because of operational upgrades.’

  20. Something to consider as far as the Shannon stop is concerned:

    Shannon is a common military cargo hub for NATO and other countries, but especially the United States. Kuwait is still the main point of troop and cargo deployment and redeployment of US and other coalition forces serving in Iraq. The stop may be a cargo transfer for the military and part of the contracts between Kuwait and the US.

  21. Two more things… both cargo planes pictured are C-17 Globemaster IIIs, one a U.S. Air Force bird and the other a Kuwaiti Air Force bird that’s used for presidential equipment and security detail transport (hence it being in civilian colors.)

    Security is NOT the reason for the Shannon stop as the same aircraft operate non-stop to JFK some days of the week.

  22. KAC will be getting a new modern & luxurious dedicated terminal next year with 2 large first & businness lounges offering 5 star service, Many onboard service enhancements are coming.

  23. Kuwait Airways Boeing 777-300ERs Are My favorite 777sthey are Modern,Spacious,And Equipped With the Latest Types Of Entertainment 🙂 I’ve tried the Kuwait Airways B777-300ER To Dubai Last February,But aim Economy Class
    And It was fantastic 🙂

    Thanks For This Lovely Report 🙂

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