Review: Kenya Airways E190, Nairobi – Mahé


Kenya Airways is the flag carrier of Kenya based out of its aviation hub at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya. We were continuing onwards on a connecting flight through this hub from Tanzania to the Seychelles. Our second flight today would be on their Embraer 190 aircraft product; the most common equipment in their regional fleet.

This post is one chapter on our trip to the Republic of Tanzania and the Islands of the Seychelles. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and enhanced through World of Hyatt and Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: Kenya Airways E190, Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport – Mahe Seychelles International Airport

The last time we were through Nairobi, Kenya was on South African Airways Business Class Johannesburg – Nairobi and Swiss Airlines Business Class Nairobi – Zurich. At that time, they had just had an electrical fire through the airport and the new terminal was still under construction. Today’s visit had us landing on Kenya Airways Dar Es Salaam – Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Connecting through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport:

There are new modern visionary airports in the world like Singapore’s Changi, Hong Kong International Airport or even Beijing Capital international airport. Others tend to take a more institutional approach. The new Terminal 1A of the Jomo Kenyatta Airport is one of those more institutional varieties. It had great wide new spaces, but was painted in a gold and yellow coloring that looked more at home in a swimming pool of the seventies than a brand new airport designed to be the pride of a country. There also seemed to be quite a few places where the project didn’t look completely finished: fixtures and covers were missing and liquid appeared to be leaking around certain structural steel supports.

After arrival, we entered out into the new Jomo Kennyata International Terminal Nairobi at Gate 15 and found the international transfers desk. Kenya allows international to international transfer without clearing immigration, customs and the necessity of getting a Kenyan Visa. The surroundings seemed a bit more organized than Jules Nyerere in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

We bid goodbye to the other Canadians and headed for the security screening for international connections. After being screen through, we headed onwards on our Kenya Airways Nairobi – Mahé Seychelles flight.

Walking Through Duty Free in Nairobi
Wide Spacious Corridors in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
Exotic Flights on the International Departures Board

Entering onto the departure concourse, MrsWT73 stopped at the new duty free area for an Absolute Lemon while I looked at and debated buying some overpriced $16 USD Tusker Beer fridge magnet bottle openers. We only had a 50 minute connection so we ended up finding our gate right away. We still hadn’t eaten breakfast but by the time we had gotten to the gate area, the gate agent indicated they were going to be boarding in the next 5 minutes. We skipped the sit down food service and forwent the take away options since the tummy was feeling a little delicate for both of us.


On Board Kenya Airways:

We had our identification and boarding cards scanned at the entry to the departure lounge. We sat down for 5 minutes and then boarding was called. Although boarding zones were printed on our boarding passes, it was another free for all for the gate today. Access to the plane was via a bus gate. We were on the first bus to the SkyTeam grey livery Embraer 190 which was parked nearby.

Kenya Airways
KQ250 – Economy Class
NBO – SEZ (Nairobi International Airport – Mahe)
June 5, 2018
11:10 AM – 3:25 PM
Booked: Embraer 190
Flown: Embraer 190
Boarding Kenya Airways Embraer 190 through jet bridge air stairs

We boarded through a ramp stairway to door L1. The Kenya Airways Embraer 190 is set up in a 1 – 2 configuration in business class, and a 2 – 2 configuration in economy class. We found our way to seats 19A and 19C. I gave MrsWT73 the window for this leg since she was feeling a little delicate. I couldn’t get us seated any closer to the front for this flight, despite trying at on line check in and during the reservation process.

Kenya Airways Economy Class Emergency Exit Row Seating Embraer 190
Kenya Airways Embraer 190 Economy Class Seating
Kenya Airways Economy Class Seating and Cabin
A View from Row 19 on Kenya Airways

We got underway on Runway 6. This took us out over Nairobi in a straight easterly direction. There wasn’t much to see on the outbound other than road traffic headed into the city. The cloud cover today was also quite thick.

Once we were at cruising altitude, the Seychelles Immigration Cards were passed out, along with a Seychelles Health Authority card.

Seychelles Boarding Cards and Health Assessment Forms

A disposable towel serviette service was offered, which was a nice touch for economy class.

The Meal: A Lunch

We got a free meal (in economy no less) that was presented as “Beef, chicken or vegetarian”. I had the chicken, which was chicken in a ginger sauce with a saffron styled rice, a bread roll, and a heavy cake of some sort. I asked for a bottle of wine from the drink cart and was presented with two individual bottles of Stonedale Reitvallei Chardonnay from South Africa, which kept me held over for the duration of the flight. MrsWT73 commented on the flight “I forgot how tight it was back here [in economy]”

Chicken in Ginger Sauce with Saffron Rice

In Flight Entertainment: Advanced Video on Demand

There was Advanced Video on Demand entertainment on this flight. The system featured 5 new release movies, 5 classic movies and 2 television shows. Each of the shows were pre-empted by a series of advertisements for Kenya (tourism), Kenya Airways and the Flying Blue frequent flier program. Unfortunately, the moving map feature wasn’t available, nor was it installed for in flight tracking. I had some difficulty with the system in that it continually crashed. Headphones of the non cancelling variety were also provided.

Kenya Airways Advanced Video on Demand
A Light Selection of Movies

We had a few bumps out throughout the 2 hr and 40 minute journey towards the Seychelles. There really wasn’t much to look at out the window other than the thought that we were flying through one of the more remote and infrequent air corridors in the world.


On Final Approach to the Seychelles:

Towards the end of our flight, we started our descent into the islands of the Seychelles. As we did, we got a look at some of the surrounding islands of the Seychelles. It appeared to be very pretty. I was particularly interested at the size of the mountains that were on the island. At one point, I looked across aisle at the passenger side windows and noticed that we were below the mountains in altitude on the final approach.

Approaching the Islands of the Seychelles
Beautiful Island Views on Final Approach to SEZ
Attractive and Inviting Beaches

We arrived to the Mahé Seychelles International airport. Pulling up on the apron, we parked next to an Ethiopian Boeing 737 and a Qatar Airways wide body. I had always thought that we’d be one day arriving to the Seychelles on Ethiopian since it is the only Star Alliance carrier that flies to the Seychelles. For many years, Star Alliance was the largest points currency that we owned so it was bizarre in my mind to be arriving on some other carrier.

The Mahé International Airport tucked against the Mountains
Parking Next to an Ethiopian B737-8

We offloaded at a non gate position at Seychelles International Airport. There are no gates at all at “SEZ” and we walked into the immigration hall. The hall itself was really clean and left a great first impression.

At immigration, we had a very officious customs entry. We were asked and had to produce a paper copy of our hotel reservation AND our departing air ticket. We were staying in two separate places and I didn’t bother to print off the other one. I think the whole thing was a bit for show since I offered to dig out my laptop for the second hotel and the immigration official told me not to bother. Surprisingly though, he only gave us 7 days of entry and stay permit; enter and remain which seemed a bit bureaucratic if you ask me. What if I fell in love with the country and decided to stay another week? I always take note of this as departing Peru in 2011, our outbound flight was cancelled but there were issues in us re-entering the country.

Getting Stamped into the Seychelles

We collected our bags; thankfully both had arrived. My bag had all it’s external pockets opened and rifled through it. It was a brand-new Briggs and Riley and hadn’t been used before this trip and had all the outside zippers closed when I had left Tanzania. I hadn’t shrink wrapped it but it was locked. We had a bag X – Ray before customs and went outside to meet our driver.

The Arrivals Hall of the Seychelles International Airport

We transferred over to Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove Mahé Seychelles for our stay on Mahé.

My Thoughts on Kenya Airways:

The Kenya Airways experience was perfectly “adequate”. Although by no means one of the world’s best travel experiences, we were fed, served and delivered to our destination on time. The catering was reasonable and although the entertainment system could be improved upon, for such a short flight it wasn’t a critical mis step. Although not quite to the level of South African Airways, Kenya Airways was much better than our southern African British Airways Comair flights. The best part was flying the odd dog leg route through Kenya on the way to the middle of the Indian Ocean.

If you’ve visited the Islands of the Seychelles, how did you fly to these isolated and beautiful islands ?

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