Post by Mark
Ok since I’ve been drinking in the Abu Dhabi airport for the past few hours and I’ve been listening to David Bowie’s Starman on loop… I’m now in a slightly better mood. So, I figured I’d post what was actually cool about flying with Etihad to Los Angeles. This was my third trip to the U.S. in the past 6 months, the first time I flew British Airways, the second time United Airlines and this third time with Etihad.
I personally prefer as direct a flight as possible since I pop a sleeping pill and xanax combo that basically knocks me out for most of the flight. So 5 hours or 10 or 15 doesn’t make a difference for me. Stopping half way is annoying, I just want to settle down in my seat, sleep and then wake up in my destination. United Airlines was a direct flight but their planes were pretty old and they’re now no longer flying out of Kuwait.
Etihad and Emirates both have direct flights to LA but Etihad has one major advantage over Emirates. U.S. Border Control are located at the Abu Dhabi Airport. It’s so odd I’m not sure why they chose Abu Dhabi, their only other location outside of North America is in Ireland. What this means is you get all your security and visa procedures done at the Abu Dhabi airport and then once you land in the States you don’t have to go through any of it. You actually land in the US as a domestic flight, you walk out of the plane, pick up your bags and leave the airport. This is very convenient especially for those who don’t have US or Canadian passports since the immigration lines on arrival to the U.S are usually super long.
The downside of Etihad is there is a high chance you’re gonna miss a connecting flight. A lot of my friends have missed connecting flights in Abu Dhabi because their flight from Kuwait was delayed or in my case, even when my flight wasn’t delayed I still managed to miss my connecting flight to Kuwait. It’s a gamble so just make sure you know the risk.
Post by Mark
I was originally going to post about how shit Etihad Airways is because they removed my name off my connecting flight back to Kuwait. They “assumed” I wouldn’t be able to make it to the gate in time and now I’m stuck in their airport for 5 hours waiting for the next flight out. But, I figured everyone had already heard a ton of horror stories on Etihad and you wouldn’t be interested in hearing another. I mean even Anderson Silva trashed them on his Instagram account after his last visit to Kuwait.
So instead I’ve decided to turn this post into a positive one and talk about my love for my AMEX card. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember and I love it for multiple reasons. Firstly getting an AMEX card was a fairly simple process, I don’t remember the exact steps since it’s been 6 or more years since I got the card but I do remember their requirements were really simple, something like just prove you work and that was it. They then give you a ridiculously high limit, mine has always been like $12,000 from day 1. But the biggest advantage of the card for me is lounge access while traveling. For example I’m now stuck at the shitty Abu Dhabi airport for 5 hours and Etihad couldn’t give me access to the lounge even though they fucked up because the lounge was “full”. Not that I really care for their lounge since it’s small and overpacked always but I just wanted them to compensate me in someway for ruining my return flight. Since I couldn’t get access to their Premium Lounge I decided to check the airport website and see what other lounges were available here. I ended up finding one called Al Reem tucked away on the far side of the airport that allows access to AMEX card holders. I’m here chilling in the lounge now and it’s actually better than the Etihad Premium Lounge. It’s quieter, a lot less people and there is even a bar.
I travel a lot and always in coach when traveling around the region so the AMEX card really makes the airport experience a lot more comfortable. I use it mostly at the Kuwait Airport, Beirut Airport, Dubai Airport (all terminals), Bahrain and now I’m using it in Abu Dhabi. If you’re flying out with FLyDubai from the Sheikh Saad Terminal in Kuwait, the AMEX card also gives you access to the business class side of the airport which is a much more superior experience compared to the regular side.
Other than lounge access, my AMEX card also gives me 30% off on MyUS shipments and I also earn points on the card which I can convert to air miles for my favorite airlines or buy products from the AMEX store. If all that isn’t enough, my AMEX card has even given me access to early bird or reserved seating for concert tickets in the States using TicketMaster.com.
There are some downsides of course compared to the credit cards from your bank. You have the yearly card fee which you have to pay while my MasterCard with NBK is free. The interest rate is also higher with AMEX, my MasterCard I think is 1% a month while AMEX is like 2.3%. Then you lose a bit of money with the exchange rate whenever you settle your bill since you have to pay using US dollars. But those downsides are worth it for me which is why I love my American Express card. For more details you can visit them in Salhiya or check out their website [Here]
Post by Mark
Every time I visit Amsterdam I tend to stay in a different hotel but this time I think I’ve found my favorite place. This weekend while in Amsterdam I stayed at The Hoxton which is a pretty cool boutique hotel that opened up back in July.
I ended up staying in one of their “Roomy” rooms overlooking the canal and it was pretty spacious. The room looked great, slightly retro but not overdone to a hipsterish level. It wouldn’t look out of place in an All Saints look book. The hotel has a pretty popular restaurant that was busy all day long but my favorite thing about the hotel was the location. The hotel is located across the canal from The Nine Streets and just few minutes walk from a bunch of my favorite places. Literally all the shops I wanted to visit were less than a 10 minute walk from the hotel including Baskèts, Concrete, Carhartt WIP and ETQ. That made going back and forth to the hotel to drop shopping bags a breeze.
Price wise I thought it was really reasonable especially considering how weak the Euro is right now. I booked last minute and two nights set me back €648. That around KD105 for a night for a pretty big room with a great view, in an amazing location and in a great hotel. I’d definitely stay there again. [Link]
Post by Mark
The Kuwait Airport duty free has been under construction for awhile now but I noticed they’ve now partially opened parts of it. The new revamped Duty Free looks a lot better and fancier than the older one, but the rest of the airport still looks like crap.
Post by Mark
Jazeera Airways hoped to synergies its processes with Kuwait Airways, including operations at Kuwait International and using the Kuwaiti national carrier’s long-haul network to feed its own regional flights.
According to Hubbard, the low-cost hybrid carrier is looking at starting flights to London, Paris and possibly Singapore, if it can no longer purchase a controlling state in Kuwait Airways.
I wouldn’t mind flying to London with Jazeera Airways as long as the planes are clean. I stopped flying with them to Beirut and Dubai simply because the plane interiors got so old and worn out.
Jazeera Airways plans to build its own terminal, including valet parking — an oddity for low-cost airlines in Europe but not the Gulf where a hybrid model has seen the introduction of business seats and included baggage allowance.
The terminal construction, built onto the four gates Jazeera Airways is operating from at Kuwait International, will likely start in the first quarter 2016 and take a year to complete at a cost of €20 million (Dh112.67 million), Hubbard said.
There has been talk on Jazeera building their own terminal for some time now, in fact there are two Jazeera terminal renderings I am aware of which I’ve shared in this post. If they have their own entrance separate from the current airport thats going to be a huge plus for sure until the new airport is built. Check out the full article [Here]
Post by Mark
Effective January 13th 2016, United Airlines is stopping their service to Kuwait. A reader emailed me a link yesterday with some information about it and there seems to be a bit of conspiracy to why they’re ending the flights. Originally the article stated its in retaliation to the whole issue with Kuwait Airways refusing to fly Israeli passengers but the article was later updated stating it was due to financial reasons.
I called my contact at United Airlines and they confirmed to me that they will be ceasing operation in January. No official reason was given to the stoppage but according to my contact they hadn’t achieved their target and also maybe because of security reasons. Not sure what kind of security reasons but it did remind me of the rumor that British Airways were going to stop flying to Kuwait unless the airport upped their security game.
In any case its disappointing we’re losing United. I flew with them a few weeks back to Knoxville, Tennessee and they were by far the fastest way for me to get there. Their plane sucked since it was old, dark and cramped.. but it was a direct flight straight to Washington so saved me a lot of time. Next year would have marked 10 years of United Airlines operating in Kuwait.
Post by Mark
I missed my flight to Kuwait a few hours ago because my connecting flight was delayed. I took the picture above as I was stepping off the plane, my flight to Kuwait had just backed away from the gate and was getting ready to taxi to the runway. I missed my flight and was pretty upset. I was supposed to be back in Kuwait later today because tomorrow I was supposed to fly out to Abu Dhabi for a CTS V test drive event at Yas Marina but thats not happening now. The next available direct flight back to Kuwait is October 3rd since the flights for the next two days are all fully booked. So I’m stuck in Washington now for 3 days.
Then it hit me. I’m stuck in Washington for 3 days, that’s not a bad thing. I hear its really humid in Kuwait now so don’t think I’m missing much.
Post by Mark
One thing I tend to do before I travel is get travel insurance. I think I’m already covered by my credit card company when I buy the airline ticket but just to be safe I always buy extra insurance since it’s not that expensive and I’d rather be safe than sorry. Previously I used to be able to buy insurance from within my NBK Online page but that no longer seems to be an option. So, the only other way I’ve been able to buy insurance online before I travel is with Gulf Insurance. They have an online page where you could buy travel insurance (along with other insurance) and the process takes just a few minutes and payment is done with knet or a credit card. So if you’re looking to conveniently buy travel insurance before you trip then check out their website [Here]
Update: A reader highlighted another insurance provider called Columbus Direct which you can order travel insurance from online and they seem to offer more bang for the buck. Check them out [Here]
Post by Mark
Yesterday I asked if Kuwait Airways were flying their new planes to London and it turns out they are. One of my readers put me in contact with a friend of his who recently flew to London with Kuwait Airways and he sent me a few pictures. At first I was really impressed thinking I was looking at pictures of the Kuwait Airways business class but then I found out this in fact was the Kuwait Airways first class and my excitement dropped. But I was only looking at pictures so I decided to ask the reader about his experience flying Kuwait Airways and this is what he had to say:
Considering Kuwait Airways history with appalling planes, these are brand new and clean. You can see that the staff are glad and proud to serve you because of the state of the plane. They’re more lively now and very friendly. The touch-screen is huge and has a 3-D map of the trip. The movies are not old, I can say that much. The food, I feel, has always been good but the variety now is vast and tasty. The bathrooms are clean as well. The seat is very spacious and you can slide it down all the way to make it into a bed (Not completely flat, maybe 150-160 degrees).
I haven’t traveled first class on KA for a long time but since they got the new planes, I felt like I needed to experience it again. It is worth it but obviously nothing compared to Qatar Airways and Emirates. KA have a long way to go but they’re on the right track IF they can keep the planes clean and up to standard because I feel like they won’t be able to keep them like that. It was first class and they send you a chauffeur to pick you up and drive you to the airport and vice versa. Its all included in the ticket. Very fancy Mercedes. Qatar Airways have their own lounge in Heathrow, I was granted access to Gulf Air lounge, which isnt bad but Qatar Airways and Emirates is much better because of the benefits. For example, if you book first class on Qatar Airways, you can ship your car with you for free. Furthermore, in business class on Qatar Airways, you flatten the seat completely and they give you a comfy bed to put over your seat and the lounge is amazing.
Oh yeah! Theres no wifi on the plane! Once there will be, it won’t be for free on KA. In Emirates first class, you can take a shower on the plane and the bathrooms are quite large for an airplane. On either Emirates or Qatar first class, the chef can cook you anything you like.
According to the same reader the business class seats on that flight were just over-sized economy seats with larger screens.
I flew economy with Kuwait Airways a few months back to Lebanon and had a positive experience. They’re now my second airline of choice when flying to Beirut and the only reason they’re not the first is because MEA flies over Syria making the trip an hour shorter as well as the fact they serve alcohol.
If you want to view a larger version of the first class images above here are the links:
[Image 1] [Image 2] [Image 3]
Thanks David and Khalid
Post by Mark
On Friday Al Arabia published an article stating that the British Airways had given the Kuwait Authorities a warning to fix the security lapses at the Kuwait Airport or risk having all BA flights to Kuwait canceled. According to one of my sources close to British Airways, BA are denying this story, no warning was given to local authorities and no flights to Kuwait will be stopping.
Since we’re on the subject of British Airways, last month they finally announced that they will be refurbishing their aging Boeing 747’s which currently operate on the Kuwait – London – Kuwait route. The current planes are in pretty poor condition with an outdated entertainment system while lacking amenities like USB ports to charge your devices. Does anyone know if Kuwait Airways are operating their new planes on the London route? If they are they might be a good alternative until BA finally upgrade the planes.