Fly The Emir Of Kuwait’s Private 747

A few weeks ago I was at London Heathrow Airport and saw a Kuwait Airways 747.


Now, I’ll be the first to say I’m not an expert on Kuwait Airways’ fleet, but I hadn’t realized they had 747s in their fleet.

And I was correct, because they don’t… at least not really. The Emir of Kuwait has a private Boeing 747-400, which interestingly Kuwait Airways sometimes uses on commercial routes when it’s otherwise not in use.

I mean, that’s like American Airlines occasionally subbing in Air Force One on a New York to London flight. Okay, not quite the same, but you get the point. 😉

Anyway, per, the Kuwait Airways 747 service to London Heathrow wasn’t a one off.

Between February 13 and March 28, 2015, Kuwait Airways will operate three times weekly 747 service between Kuwait City and London. The flight will operate with the following schedule:

KU103 Kuwait City to London departing 12:20PM arriving 4:20PM (Wed, Fri, Sun)
KU104 London to Kuwait City departing 10:30AM arriving 7:55PM (Thu, Sat, Mon)

The schedule makes no sense to me, given that the plane seems to be sitting in London for 20 hours in each case, and there’s not really a more expensive airport in the world to park a plane for that long. I guess the logic is that they want the crew to work each “roundtrip,” though surely it’s cheaper to keep the crew there for a couple of days than to park a 747 at Heathrow for a day.

So, since this is the private plane of the ruler of an oil-rich country, surely the entire cabin is decked out with gold, and maybe there’s even a hot tub aboard? Not quite, unfortunately.

Interestingly the upper deck is the only area that’s “special,” and it’s off limits when the plane flies commercially (you can’t even get a tour of it).

The lower deck is fully equipped for passenger service, and for lack of a better word, looks wretched. The first class product looks more like a bad business class product, and the business class product looks more like premium economy (you can see it 5min30sec into the below video). And there’s a flying hospital in the middle of economy class.

Here’s a video my friend Sam Chui made about his flight on the Kuwait Airways 747 on this route:

I’ve written in the past about what a great value Kuwait Airways fares are out of Colombo, Sri Lanka. For ~$1,100 you can fly from Colombo to Kuwait City to London to New York in business class, all on Kuwait Airways. And if you can knock out their Airbus A300, Boeing 747-400, and Boeing 77-200 all in one trip, all the better…


If there has ever been a time to write a Kuwait Airways trip report, I think this opportunity is as good as it gets…


  1. The meal service actually looked pretty cool! I’d still love to see you review it!

    That reminds me, do you have any plans to try to get on Etihad’s new 787-9? It’s flying to Dusseldorf right?

  2. Well at least the seats in economy have personal TV screens.. Even though it’s probably looping video, still better that what united has in economy on their 744s

  3. Given a choice of willingly flying Kuwait Airways or being poked repeatedly in the eye, I would toss a coin. Believe me, you don’t want to fly them, at least not until Kuwait airport’s renovations are complete and their new aircraft are delivered later this year.

  4. I hope Mr Emir doesn’t come after you for calling is crown jewel plane wretched lol
    What’s the name of this airline U-Wait? For 20 hours till its airborne?

  5. @Lucky.

    I think you answered you own question Lucky when it comes to why they have such along ground stay, they have only one 747 so probably don’t have enough pilots with the correct type rating to fly it more.

    The use of it probably comes down partly to cheap crew training anyway.

  6. Oh since you seem to plan on flying the less polished airlines of the world, when can we expect that Norwegian 787 review?

  7. You seem to be the one who always knows better than everybody. I can’t seem to see you doing a better job than a certain us airline ceo. Better stick to flying and staying in hotels (which you call living).sorry, but Staying at different hotels doesn’t really constitute ‘living’ in hotels. New word for it. You travel, and stay at a hotel, like the rest of the world that travels more than you (yes, I actually travell more than what I know you do and I don’t blog it). ‘Living in hotels’ is staying put in one (1) single hotel.

  8. Dear Jame Smith: You might want to repost with your point.

    Accusing Ben of living in hotels isn’t exactly an indictment since that is, in fact, not only what he does but also what he says he does.

    Accusing Ben of blogging isn’t exactly an indictment either since that is, in fact, not only what he does but also what he says he does.

    I can do accusation way better than you. Here, watch: Ben! I accuse you, right now, of running a business!! Of writing about credit cards!!!

    So do grow up, won’t you?

  9. >I mean, that’s like American Airlines occasionally subbing in Air Force One on a New York to London flight.

    Nitpick: Air Force One is whatever plane the president is currently flying in.

    @jame smith:
    >‘Living in hotels’ is staying put in one (1) single hotel.

    That would be “Living in *a* hotel.”

  10. @ Reine — To be honest the 787 doesn’t look that interesting to me. The first class product looks tighter than what’s on the 777 or A340, so not sure I see what they did there that’s innovative. Certainly not as good as the A380. But I’m sure I’ll fly it at some point.

  11. Regarding that business class itinerary above it looks like they would charge you another $400 to add a few days stopover in each city. That would make the journey a bit more bearable not having to fly it all in one go.

  12. Lukcy, there’s something (a plug-in it seems) that is causing your pages to load extremely slowly and sometimes crashes the page altogether which prompt the browser to ‘kill the page’. I am using Chrome on Mac.

  13. I have no idea how you’d make it that far without a cheeky glass of something to calm your nerves. I’d rather a prostate exam by a blind veterinarian than sit in that so called “business seat.

  14. lucky
    what happened with your promised report on their JFK-LHR route? You promised all of your readers and we even voted for it.

  15. What on earth is a flying hospital? Is that a term I am supposed to have heard before?

    Lucky, if you’re going to go for that multi-fleet trip report, be aware that Kuwait likes to switch up their aircraft assignments regularly — I once flew them shorthaul with the hopes of trying a few different widebody aircraft types and three of four segments ended up being operated by A320s instead. Indeed they are the only airline I’ve ever flown that labels their narrowbody seats as A,B,C and H,J,K (instead of D,E,F as most do), presumably to facilitate equipment swaps.

  16. @Steven L. – It’s only Air Force One if the POTUS is on an Air Force aircraft. If it’s a Marine aircraft, it’s Marine One, if he’s on on Army aircraft, it’s Army One, etc.

  17. There’s only one 747-400M in Kuwait Airways’ fleet. They were supposed to take delivery of a second 747-400 but was cancelled and taken by Philippine Airlines instead, the plane later retired in June 2014.

  18. I’ve just bumped into this accidentally and have to say that thinking that an Emir of a country would be subletting his private / fully customised plane to a commercial airline is not the smartest thing there is to do.

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