I took a flight with Egyptair in Business Class onboard their Airbus A330 and Boeing 777 – and ended up having one of my worst flights of the year.
Fortunately the pilots didn’t need to wait as long as me to check in. But 20 minutes later I had my paper boarding pass and was ready to head through security.
The gate was absolute chaos. There were no signs up anywhere, but eventually I figured that business class was on the other side to where I was standing.
Egyptair’s A330 business class is in a 2-2-2 configuration. The seats are all very tired and don’t go completely flat – they’re just angle flat.
There isn’t much privacy in the seats at all, and the window seat has to climb over the aisle passenger when they’re laying down.
Egyptair is a completely dry airline, just like Kuwait Airways. Before pushback there was a glass of apple juice in this rather nice glass.
The amenity kits were bought around, and I was pretty impressed by them. I’ll show you more of these later.
Everything’s branded, even the seatbelt buckles which I thought was pretty cool.
Before pushback the Muslim travel prayer played throughout the aircraft ahead of the safety briefing.
We commenced our taxi out to the northerly runway at OR Tambo.
We spooled up and took off into a rainy night over Johannesburg.
Our route this evening then took us northeast out of Jo’Burg, to cross Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania. From there we continued across Uganda and Sudan, before descending across Egypt. Flight time tonight was 7 hours 37 minutes, at a cruising altitude of 35 and 38,000ft.
After takeoff Egyptair showed a teaser of how comfortable we could have been, had we been riding on their shiny new Dreamliner, followed by a healthy main course of propoganda from the Egyptian government.
As I mentioned earlier the seat isn’t a full flat bed, it is angled and isn’t the most comfortable. The seat controls are on the left, with a tray table that is pulled out on the other side. There’s a privacy screen that slides out, but either my seatmate didn’t like it being across or just wanted to watch me sleeping, as every time I woke up he’d pulled it back open again.
The amenity kit was pretty well stocked, and has a proper wooden hairbrush rather than the fold up ones in most kits. There’s also a toothbrush and toothpaste, toiletries, ear plugs, eye mask, socks and hand sanitiser.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from dinner as we’d had no menus – but I was pretty impressed. The starter was fish, followed by what seemed to be a generic meat dish for a main course. It turned out to be chicken chow mein however, and was pretty tasty.
There is wifi onboard Egyptair’s A330, albeit very expensive for what you get. 15 US dollars gets you just 13 megabuytes, which in my reckoning would allow me to receive just a few emails or post a couple of photos on Instagram. 30 dollars gets you just 26 megabytes which is ridiculously expensive.
Breakfast service started and was just a plate full of bread rolls and croissants, with a small bowl of cheeses.
Before long the bright lights of the Egyptian capital appeared on the horizon and we started our descent into Cairo.
Taxying at Cairo is always a chore. It’s just such a huge airport and it feels like you’re taxying forever.
We parked up on a remote stand at Cairo, which after a broken night’s sleep wasn’t a particularly welcome sight.
The buses at Cairo seem like a leftover from the 1970s, but fortunately they just had business class in the first bus so it wasn’t particularly packed.
Once I got off the bus it was a short walk to the departure gates.
I headed to the Egyptair lounge which wasn’t particularly lavish.
There was a small selection of food and drink, but of course no alcohol, not that it was needed at this time of the morning.
The sun started to rise over the apron giving me a nice view of the aircraft outside.
It was soon time to head to the gate, which had a security checkpoint before you could board the aircraft.
My ride to London was this 9 year old Boeing 777-300, delivered new to Egyptair in April 2010. It was temporarily removed from service in 2018 after a tow truck caught fire and burned through the skin of the fuselage.
The seats on the 777 are identical to the A330, but in a 2-3-2 configuration. I feel sorry for whoever ends up right in the middle.
Like the A330, the seats are very tired.
It wasn’t long before I got my first taste of how this flight would go.
Pre takeoff drinks were bought round – and I took a glass of pomegranate juice.
After a few minutes the aircraft went silent and the lights went dark, before the aircraft powered on again.
Our departure time came and went, and we watched as the inflight entertainment powered up again.
40 minutes past our departure time, and the ground crew just appeared to be standing around outside the aircraft.
Finally, an hour and 10 minutes after our scheduled departure time, and after no explanation, the doors closed and we were pushed back.
There was an almighty queue for takeoff, and we spent over 20 minutes waiting to takeoff.
Finally, we lined up and got on our way – taking off 90 minutes after our scheduled departure time.
Our route today took us north out of Cairo towards the Mediterannean. We made a left turn over Turkey to take us across Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia, before turning left over Germany and crossing the Netherlands before commencing our descent into London. Flight time today was 5 hours and 7 minutes, cruising at 34 and 36,000ft.
It didn’t take long until we crossed the Egyptian coast. This is a very busy aircraft and several aircraft passed us heading south, including this SmarrtLynx A320 heading to Hurghada from Tallinn.
Therer was a light snack service served over the Mediterannean, and I tried to get my head down to doze for a bit. I was woken up to an ear piercing scream.
The screaming continued, and didn’t stop for the rest of the flight.
We flew right overhead Istanbul getting a good view of the city.
It wasn’t long untiil lunch was served. There was a fish starter followed by chicken and pasta for the main course, which wasn’t too bad.
For dessert there was a creme brulee.
The inflght entertainment isn’t fantastic, there’s a small choice of movies and TV but nothing fantastic, and those films that were Western seemed to be quite randomly chosen.
Finally, and after many more hours of blood curdling screams, we commenced our descent into Heathrow.
We touched down after, a still unexplained, 1 hour 20 minute delay.
My flight with Egyptair cost me £805.83, or or just over 1000 US dollars. This is for a distance of 6071 miles, giving a cost per mile of 13 pence.
Honestly this flight ranks as one of the worst I’ve taken this year. Yes the crew weren’t bad and the food was at least edible, but the old, crowded seats, lack of privacy, and that unexplained delay left a very sour taste. Cairo airport is chaotic to say the least, and between the constant PA announcements and the screaming babies this was an exhausting trip that I don’t hope to repeat any time soon.
Of the African airlines I’ve flown with so far, I’d rank Egyptair solidly at the bottom. I have to say I would choose almost any airline over them when travelling to South Africa.
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