Kenya Trip Report Part 6 – Qatar Airways A330 DOH-NBO – Not What We Booked!

African sunrise through the windows

Unlike in Chicago, boarding was pretty much on time in Doha. The gates are set up to check passports and boarding passes before entering the gate areas. Then you can board fairly quickly when the time comes. It was still a bit chaotic as they had all of the priority boarding group sitting in one area of the gate and there was no PA announcement, just a guy who yelled “business class!”

I had prepared the family for the disappointment of going from QSuites to the A330. Not only that, but we were not all sitting together in this 2-2-2 configuration. We had two seats by the window in row 1 and two seats in front of each other in rows 3 and 4 on the aisle. At least they were able to find four business class seats for us after our missed connection.

Scheduled 01:45-7:10
Actual 01:55-7:10

My wife and youngest took the two seats together while my oldest sat in row 3 and I took the seat in row 4. We taxied for quite a while and finally took off at 2:18am. I decided to skip eating after takeoff and try and sleep. The others decided to eat first.

Service started once we took off, but I reclined all the way instead. Here’s the menu:

I was a little surprised that a 1:45am flight landing at 7:10am would have a heavy dinner and basically no breakfast instead of the opposite. Surely most people would have eaten dinner already and want to sleep for the first part of the flight?

I napped on and off for a couple of hours but couldn’t really get comfortable. It’s not surprising that the seats were much narrower than QSuites. I also noticed that the middle pair had even less space for the footwell compared to the seats on the side.

Around 4:30am, I sat up and ordered some breakfast (?) I decided on the Arabic mezze as I was not in the mood for anything heavier. Bread and amuse bouche was brought out first then the mezze. I had a sparkling water to go with it.

There was a really pretty sunrise out the left (east facing) side of the plane.

I also grabbed a nice picture from the restroom window.

Before landing, I ordered a cappuccino which came with some delicious packaged cookies.

I had an interesting chat with my seatmate, a UN lawyer headed to South Sudan via Nairobi. She is from the UK, lives in Hanoi and used to live in Kenya. She had been to some really eye-opening (and scary) places in her career.

We landed a few minutes after 7am and pulled up to the terminal right on time. We exited via stairs so I was able to get a quick picture of the plane. It looked like a widebody Kenya Airways flight arrived just before ours.

We were taken in a business class bus to Terminal 1E which is where all international arrivals are processed. It’s a bit of a makeshift terminal since there was a fire at the airport several years ago. We first had to wait outdoors in a line to have our vaccine cards checked. When I say checked, a lady glanced at them for less than a second while in an animated conversation with a colleague.

Then we went into the main arrivals area and waited in line for passport control. There was only one line for non-African/non-UN arrivals, but after a few minutes, a second one opened and we got through in about 10 or 15 minutes. I did see a priority line after we had been standing there for a while, but I’m not sure if we had access to that line with our business class tickets and I was not about to jump out of line to check.

Makeshift immigration area at NBO

We each had to provide our fingerprints electronically and show the evisa, then we were through into baggage claim. As we did not check bags, we went directly to the exit line. There we had to scan some of our carry-on bags in order to exit the airport. Only some of our backpacks were required to be scanned so I’m not sure exactly what the criteria was for scanning.

Anyway, we were now in Kenya and a rep from the safari company was there to meet us. He led us to the parking garage where our vehicle and driver was waiting for us. This was just a regular SUV as we would switch to our LandCruiser Safari model the next day when we left Nairobi.

Leaving the airport

We were driven to the Sankara hotel and because it was a holiday (January 2nd observing New Year’s Day), the traffic was light so we arrived about 8:30am. We were all pretty exhausted, but ready to start our vacation. We agreed to meet up with our safari company owner and our driver for the day in the hotel lobby around 10am.

Up Next: Our But Exhausted Fun Day in Nairobi.

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