The Pleasure Of Flying

Flatly I want Wataniya Airlines back!

For local travel within the region there wasn’t an airline that could beat its price for comfort package, and the airport was so convenient that every other factor was minimized in comparison. Many people including myself are sick of Kuwait Airport, its a jungle and its frustrating getting to the planes when at Wataniya Airlines it was so easy and enjoyable it didn’t feel like you were in an airport. I got my starbucks, went to the lounge, sat down and relaxed before the flight.

These days I dread having these impromptu meetings in all different areas. I have to check Emirates, Middle East Airlines, Gulf Air, Jazeera, Royal Jordanian and any other airline thats going in the direction that I am going. I got used to only being at the airport 30 to 45 minutes before the flight, and now we are back to leaving the home 2 hours before the flight just to be sure I make it or nothing stops us.

I’m not the biggest fan of Jazeera since they treat their customers like cattle and if they could charge you extra for being a big guy then they would. Surprisingly Jazeera increased their prices from 20 to 60% for many of the desitionations right after Wataniya Airways made their anouncement. They still have their deals but it isn’t what it used to be, and its not like they aren’t making a lot of money with all the ridiculous amount of extra fees.

There is still hope for Wataniya Airways yet, and this is just a rumor that Wataniya Airywas will be coming back in different form. A lot of employees have found new jobs after leaving Wataniya because they didn’t know what their job status was and I’m assuming there is going to be a lot of legal issues going on with them. Wataniya Airways is now a nonoperating Airline but they aren’t going to be bought out, what they are trying to do is bid to buy Kuwait Airways. Wataniya Airways have 7 planes, 3 or 4 parked in Kuwait at Sheikh Saad Airport and the rest in Amaan Jordan, and they will have to pay $70 Million to Alafco as part of their lease payments for these planes, and that doesn’t include the other incuring expenses. The rule that has been stipulated in the bid for Kuwait Airways is that who ever bids for Kuwait Airways can’t be an operating airlines, and the government is reaching the final stages to put Kuwait Airways for a bid. So the step Wataniya Airways took is so they would be in prime position to buy out Kuwait Airways, and if they do take over then it would be a fantastic development. I really don’t have a clue how this is going to work out or how long it takes, but I hope it happens soon and I do hope that they take over Kuwait Airways.

Rumor: Wataniya Airways Bankruptcy

This is shocking and very sad news that is going around. Wataniya Airways will be announcing its Bankruptcy very soon and shutting down completely and will no longer be operational. I honestly thought they would be able to reorganize themselves and adjust their issues to get the airline back on its feet. I didn’t think that it would reach this point, and I don’t care what others may say Wataniya Airlines had excellent service and I was very happy traveling on their airlines, they made it enjoyable to travel again. Now we are back to the old options of Jazeera Airways, Middle East Airlines, and Emirates Airlines for travel within the region.

If you have purchased tickets from Wataniya Airlines you only have 45 days to get a refund for any tickets. And it will probably insane over the next few weeks if this is the case.

Wataniya Airways – Still Going

Previously I posted about the issues that Wataniya Airways are going through and that have caused them to drastically change their operations and let go of quite a few people. My preference when flying around the Middle East is still Wataniya Airways and I had a trip to Dubai so I just check Wataniya and book the flights that were available.

Its still the same good service that I am used but the flight times or frequent number of flights changed. Now its only twice a day to Dubai, I hope they don’t change that either. The ground staff is just as friendly, and the plane staff are just as good, the plane was about 70% empty but its a Saturday flight so I wasn’t expecting it to be full.

But you can feel the atmosphere at the airport, it feels desolate and people are not in the best of spirits. Honestly I’m just going to keep flying Wataniya Airways as they are my preferred airlines, and I hope they get back in shape and plane more routes.

Wataniya Airways – Over Stretched

We are sorry to have to inform you that with effect from 5 December 2010, we will no longer operate flights from Kuwait to Amman, Bahrain, Damascus and Jeddah. In addition, we will reduce the frequency of services to Dubai.

This is a very sad day, I was honestly shocked when I heard this information about Wataniya Airlines. I thought things were picking up, they opened up the new routes in Europe and people went crazy during Eid. It just felt like things were coming together for Wataniya Airlines and I was looking forward to flying on it more then before, but turns out they were in more trouble then anyone knew. They stopped 4 destinations, planning to rent out several of their planes, shut down their call center, downsize and fire a large majority of their employees. This is just a shocking step for such an amazing airline, and I completely depend on it for my flights in the Middle East and now I have to go back to either Emirates or Jazeera. Emirates have good service but very high prices, I got used to the spacious planes of Wataniya Airlines. Jazeera are cheap but lots of delays, no flexibility, a fee charged for every little thing, and a huge fee is charged for normal changes. I was honestly very proud of Wataniya Airlines as a Kuwaiti brand but now its in trouble and I really hope they get their act back together soon so we can keep on traveling with them.

Wataniya Airlines – The Upgrade

A lot has been going on with Wataniya Airlines over the past 6 months. They got a new plane, now it seems like they have a total of 5 planes, and more staff hired. They are now even changing the way you check in at first class, and now as soon as you check in, you can have your passport stamped right away so you only have to go through security to board the car to the plane.

New Routes:

  • Rome
  • Vienna
  • Istanbul
  • As well as all the others

Now they are even expanding the First Class lounge as they are expecting more and more people which is a great idea, I think they can even have more seeting inthe current area without any issue. So the old passport area for first class being turned into a lounge for First Class. The best part now is that they offer Zaijil Wifi services in the lounge and airport, so you can purchase 2 hours for 1 KD or 24 hours for 3KD, and you can do the whole thing and charge it to your Zain mobile phone by sending a few sms which was extremely easy, and I was online with my iPad. Now this makes it easier to sit early in the lounge and relax without any issues.

I have been flying Wataniya Airways continously throughout the Middle East and so after a couple of months I go to the Silver Diwan Card from the Purple Card. So even if I fly economy I get to use the lounge now and also get one person in with me which is pretty good for Silver, usually that doesn’t happen until your Gold with Emirates and that takes a lot to get there. I just hope they open up more routes and hopefully to London soon with a new plane that can fly a longer range, as it is right now British Airways is too expensive and the services are lacking for that price.

Wataniya Airways- Early Flight

I had a meeting to get to, organized the next day in Dubai before I even looked at the timing of the flights, luckily Wataniya Airlines flew early enough and I booked on the 7 am flight. I didn’t realize that 7 am would mean that I would have to be up by 5 am to take my time and get to the airport by 6 am. I got to the airport and boarded my flight, it was still dark outside. My flight back was around 6 pm so I had a few meetings get it done, then a bit to eat and head back to Kuwait. Took a few episodes of Supernatural with me on the flight, I am addicted to the show so I have a few episodes with me. I do enjoy flying Wataniya Airlines but I hate the Marhaba lounge in Dubai Terminal One, its uncomfortable and tacky but landing at Sheikh Sa’ad Airport makes up for it.

On the early morning flight I was the only person sitting up front, it wasn’t that full in economy either. I wonder when these flights do get full during the week, but on the way back it was a little more full. Had a couple of arabic coffees to keep me awake, I almost ran out of battery that time in the day but still had a few things left to do. The best part of landing is walking out so quickly, and out to my car to head home and relax for a little while.


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On the Flight Back

Flew to the airport, made a late check out form the hotel on Tuesday due to a meeting running a little over. Packed my bags, there wasn’t too much, I just had to make sure I got my magazines, and some other stuff all packed up and ready to go. The streets were still relatively empty, they even told me that the hotel had very low occupancy and the summer crowd would be coming right around the 15th of June. The weather was just perfect a breezy 29 degrees with clear skies, and a little humidity.

I got my bags on a trolley and headed straight to the check-in counter right after security, then passed immigrations and went to the virgin stand to check it out. Virgin just isn’t what it used to be, waited at the gate to board. This time around I was the only person up front with about 15 – 20 people in economy. The place was empty, so I asked the staff that I wanted the food right away since I didn’t have a chance to eat due to the long meeting. After a good meal I switched on my laptop watched about 20 minutes of anime and passed out for 2 hours, woke up to us landing and dusty view outside.

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New Wataniya Routes

Recently I have been traveling on and off to different parts of the GCC/Arab Countries. Every time I have a flight come up I always check Wataniya for their available flights to see if I could fly out of Sheikh Sa’ad airport instead of the regular airport. I do wish they start their frequent flyer program already, I would have some air miles racked up. What I found out is that unlike before their schedules have changed for some of the destinations and some work out to my benefit, they used to fly only to four destioinations a couple of months ago but now 6 destinations daily and 2 more on set schedule with only a few days difference. I hope they continue their growth into different areas, and I heard they will be landing in London soon but when exactly I’m not sure. For now I put an extensive list of all their flight times for all their destinations, click the “more” to see the whole long list.

  • Amman
  • Bahrain
  • Dubai
  • Beirut
  • Cairo
  • Bahrain
  • Damascus (Except Tuesday & Friday)
  • Sharm El Sheikh (Only Tuesday & Friday)

Kuwait/Dubai (Daily)

1st Flight – Departure 0900 Arrival 1140
2nd Flight – Departure 2040 Arrival 2320

Dubai/Kuwait (Daily)

1st Flight – Departure 0005 Arrival 0055
2nd Flight – Departure 1225 Arrival 1315

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Wataniya Airlines Review

wataniya1

I have flown a few times with Wataniya Airways and have had a few family and friends who have flown on the airlines. Most everyone has praised this new airline and are refreshed with the new airport. It is a long awaited change, many people prefer using Wataniya to the airlines just because of the convenience of the airport, I know I do.

Current Available Routes:

  • Bahrain
  • Beirut
  • Cairo
  • Dubai

wataniya2

Pricing:
Wataniya is priced as a premium airline, and their service does reflect that fact. The economy seats are wider and more comfortable then those of Jazeera Airways with similar pricing when you book early enough. Economy would be priced from 40 KD up to 80 KD, with First costing 160 KD to 300 KD, this is all depending on timing. These prices are very reasonable when compared to its counterparts such as Emirates, Kuwait Airways, and other Premium Airlines.

Airport Service:
Regarding First Class service the airline are very friendly, you don’t have to even stand at the counter. They are very relaxed about the rules, this time the immigrations is after the lounge, so they escort you into the lounge while your bags are checked in or if they just printing your ticket. The lounge staff are very nice with a large assortment of food and beverages available. There are two business computers available for use, but I think they should have provided wireless internet instead it would be more convenient then the business lounge computers. The furniture is very comfortable, with very spacious seating area, and the smoking section is closed off. Even the Ministry of Interior Immigration Staff are friendlier when Departing from and Arriving into Sheikh Sa’ad Airport, I even think they feel better working their then the main airport.

In Plane Service:
The seats on the plane are very comfortable, the best part is the technology integrated into the plane entertainment system. The staff are very friendly, but I think they are still lacking in experience. There have been times when they don’t serve the drinks or food correctly. Then there are times when they seem a bit lost as to what they have to do next. There was a time when they forgot to ask for my lunch order and decided to skip me when they were serving, but corrected that right away. Those are just some small things that have happened, but the staff are rather friendly and have solved most issues rather simply and hopefully with the time and experience the staff will improve. The food on the other hand is very good for airline food, their have been times when I haven’t had enough time to eat due to meetings and barely get to the airport, at that point I’m looking forward to the food and so I’m satisfied, and I’m happy they always have ice cream for desert.

In Plane Entertainment
They have modern entertainment system and over the past couple of months they have increased the content of the shows and music available. Lots of shows to occupy you for the two to three hour flights. Then you can connect your iPod and watch directly on your screen which is a fantastic feature. I for one connect my power socket to the seat and watch what I have on my laptop.

Booking
You can book with Wataniya directly through the website or on the phone with their staff, or through a travel agent. With Wataniya the price you see online is the same as the price that you buy from a travel agent, unlike Jazeera Airways. The process is simple enough and usually very few problems, but there have been a few hiccups before. One issue I have is that you can’t upgrade at any airport except for the Sheikh Sa’ad Airport, so if you are in Dubai or Cairo, you can’t upgrade from the airport and its a bit of annoying process which I think they should solve soon.

Overall I think that Wataniya Airways is an excellent and needed alternative to the local airlines available. Hopefully they can continue this level of service as their destinations expand.