End of February, Travel-Dealz editor Dennis flew from Bangkok to Berlin via Cairo in EgyptAir‘s business class. The route between Cairo and Bangkok is only operated with Airbus A330 airplanes, which still have the old business class on board.
For transparency: The flights were not sponsored by EgyptAir but instead paid for by Dennis. The crew knew nothing about this review.
As a one way flight from Bangkok to Berlin was needed on short notice, Dennis decided to book the cheapest option on Expedia. As there was no need to consider rebooking necessary, he decided to book over an online travel agency to save some money. Normally, when booking a flight for a date further back in the year, he would buy the ticket directly from the airline.
He paid €930. Other one-way business class flights to Berlin would have easily cost twice as much. As the tickets were issued in booking class J, he earned 12,606 status and award miles at Miles&More for the entire trip.
This review is exclusively about the flight from Bangkok to Cairo.
Checking in was already possible online 48 hours before departure without any problems. Both boarding passes could be downloaded into the iPhone Wallet. Nevertheless, it was necessary to go to the check-in counter to drop off the luggage.
The waiting time was 5 minutes. The staff was friendly and printed the boarding passes. They did not, however, mention the lounge. To find out about the lounge, Dennis used the Star Alliance website.
Bangkok: EVA Airways Lounge
As the flight departed from one of the F-gates, Dennis chose the EVA Airways lounge near the gates and did not regret this decision at all. Especially the futuristic design of the lounge was very nice. The drinks and food offer was also good and absolutely sufficient.
All business class passengers of the Star Alliance and Star Alliance Gold status holders, that are flying with a Star Alliance airlines, can access the lounge.
Cairo: EgyptAir Lounge
Dennis had a layover of 4.5 hours in Cairo and spent the time in the EgyptAir lounge. The lounge is generally below average. There was one warm meal, some sandwiches, and salads. The drink selection was limited. As expected, there was no alcohol. The design was very cold and not really inviting. You can also access the lounge with a priority pass. The standard of this lounge is rather that of a priority pass lounge than that of a business class lounge.
Walking from the lounge to the gate roughly took 10 minutes.
The boarding was very confusing, which mostly is not due to EgyptAir but instead due to the design of the F-gates at Bankok Suvarnabhumi airport. First, the business class and Star Alliance Gold customers were boarded. There wasn’t, however, a real queue, and the sign at the gate was pointing in the opposite direction for the priority boarding. It was really very confusing.
While entering the airplane, the right aisle was blocked with a catering trolley. The crew was not really interested in the fact that Dennis wanted and had to go through that aisle. He then got to his seat passing through the row from the other side. After the boarding, a non-alcoholic beverage was offered. You could choose between guava juice and apple juice.
The Cabin & the Seat
The business class cabin in EgyptAir’s A330 is aligned in a 2-2-2 formation, meaning that window seats have no direct aisle-access. Furthermore, the seats are sadly not completely lie-flat but almost so. There are 6 rows, and therefore 36 seats in the business class.
Overall, the seat is comfortable. It is sufficiently wide, and the upholstery was pleasant. Furthermore, there were various seat settings, which make it possible to adjust the seat to one’s individual needs.
There are not all too many storage options in the seat, which is quite a shame. There was only a compartment for magazines and books between both screens in the middle, and the usual net under the screen.
A practical thing: The crew hands out stickers, which can be stuck to the seat. That way you won’t be woken up for the meal or duty-free, if you don’t want to.
Sadly, the age of the cabin is evident. There are cracks and dirt everywhere, which leads to this very curious story:
Dennis got a seat with a broken head-rest. It was so wobbly, that every small movement of the plane made his head-rest (and his head) swivel. This was annoying and he complained to the crew. There was an empty seat further back in the cabin, and he asked if he could sit there, but they replied that those seats were reserved for the crew and that they weren’t willing to swap seats. “Yes, we are sorry, but we can’t do anything about this” was the conclusion of the discussion. Later on, the crew gave him a feedback-form in Arabic. A compensation, even after he asked for one, was not offered, and the feedback-form was obviously of no use, except for that it contained an email address (email@example.com), to which he sent an email stating the problem. Since then, he only got a standard reply on that same day:
That was an unpleasant experience and it is somewhat troubling to see how little EgyptAir cares about their premium customers.
The Egyptair service department reached out again on July 15, 2020 (after more than 4 months) and offered a US$90 (~€76) refund as a compensation (to be collected at one of the EgyptAir offices). While this is not fully satisfying, it’s at least something.
But back to the seat:
The pitch of the seat is totally sufficient (roughly 160°), but as Dennis is relatively big (1.89 m) he had some trouble getting his feet to fit with the fully reclined seat, which caused his feet to hurt a bit after some time. The seat is not on the same level as the other airlines, there is no question about that. Nevertheless, sleeping for almost 7 consecutive hours was possible.
As you can see on the image further above, showing the seat configuration, there is only one washroom for the entire business class cabin. This is absolutely not enough, as it causes queues for entering the bathroom. These queues were also blocking the path for the crew, but no one really knew where else they should stand, which was an uncomfortable situation. There were no surprises concerning the toilets. The toilet was clean but had no other extra amenities.
EgyptAir’s amenity kit is really outstanding. There is rarely a more complete kit on a business class flight. The only thing missing was slippers.
The amenity kit included the following things:
- Sleeping mask
- Very high-quality socks with nubs under the sole
- Toothbrush & toothpaste from Colgate
- Hand disinfection
- Face spray, body lotion, and lip balm
The socks were of such high quality, that Dennis took them home, which until now, he’s only done on first class flights.
Food & Drinks
The food did not meet the expectations set for a business class meal. For the first course, Dennis selected shrimps with potato salad. This was the only course that was extraordinary!
The main course was sadly not good. The pasta was bathed in oil and otherwise completely bland. The chicken meat was dry and the vegetables were overcooked.
The breakfast, however, was good. EgyptAir made no mistakes here. Nevertheless, you can easily get this breakfast on good airlines in their economy class.
Below, you’ll see the full menu. Generally, the design of the menu is something that is completely irrelevant. Here, however, you feel like you’ve traveled back in time into the 90s. Or to state it this way: the design almost hurts your eyes.
Dennis was very happy to get non-alcoholic beer but sadly the drink was not available.
The service was below average. The friendliness of the crew was not even comparable to that of their competition in the Middle East or Asia. On the other hand, the crew wasn’t unfriendly either, but simply not charming and maybe even somewhat unprofessional in some aspects:
Everything began while boarding with the catering trolley in the way. Not a big issue overall, but it does show a general lack of interest in the passenger’s well-being.
Before take-off, Dennis used the washroom. There was neither soap nor running water to wash one’s hands. He mentioned this to the crew, to which the crew member shrugged and said: “Yes, that’s because we’re not in the air yet”. The crew has to be trained in this aspect. Dennis then went on to disinfect his hands at his seat, but that’s an idea that the crew could have thought of and offered.
Another issue was the problem with the headrest that was already described above. It can always happen, that there’s something wrong with the seat. If the crew reacts right to this sort of thing, it doesn’t become an issue. But shrugging and saying “Yes, we’re sorry but can’t do anything about it” turn it into an ugly situation. It becomes even uglier when there are free seats to swap, but the crew blocks these and doesn’t want to swap. A compensation would certainly have been adequate, after all, the most important aspect of a business class flight to many is the seat. That there hasn’t been a reply from the WeCare email address certainly fits the image.
Another thing that has to be mentioned is how the crew handled the wish to get a non-alcoholic beer. The drink is listed on the menu, which is the reason why Dennis got the idea of ordering it. The crew, however, was totally surprised that someone would even try to order such a drink.
Last but not least: Dennis woke up 1 or 2 times during the night (despite the earplugs) because the crew was having a loud chat. There was no consideration for the sleeping passengers.
EgyptAir has a lot to learn to improve their service and how the crew handles problems.
Entertainment & WiFi
With 15″, the screen has a good size. Sadly, it was not possible to check the program. After trying everything, it was not possible to leave the flight map. Neither the remote nor the touchscreen worked properly.
Attempts to test the WiFi also ended with the following screen, from which you could not get anywhere else. That might, however, be a browser-specific problem, as only Safari on an iPhone was used.
- Check-In & Boarding
- Komfort & Kabine
- Essen & Getränke
- Entertainment & WLAN
- Amenity Kit
Overall, EgyptAir offers a below-average business class product. The check-in and boarding suffered from the chaotic boarding at the gate and the catering trolley blocking the aisle when entering the plane. The lounge in Cairo also offers little but at least remains in the average level. Food & drinks were slightly better than economy class meals, but definitively not enough for a business class. The service was sadly unprofessional in many aspects, which leads to this very bad rating. The entertainment & WiFi didn’t work in this seat, but the amenity kit was outstanding!