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 – 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.

Beirut Stop

I had to go to Beirut a few days ago for a short trip, a few meetings and a few outings with friends. So I booked on Wataniya Airlines and took the normal economy ticket for 60 KD since I booked early and I haven’t traveled in economy for a while but the seats were very comfortable. I just flew Jazeera Airways recently and the leg space was a bit cramped but in Wataniya the seats were very reclined and very good leg room which I enjoyed. One other major plus is that they have power outlets in economy which I haven’t seen in other airlines.

While I was there I just couldn’t stop eating, there is a lot of good food in Lebanon. I know it sounds a bit funny saying this but I Lebanese food in Lebanon tastes a lot better then any where else. Then there is the Solidaire area which is a lot of fun to walk around, the area around there just keeps getting better and better. We went to one amazing restaurant in Rumana called Mounir and their food was amazing but to get their you have to be an F1 driver. I seriously can’t drive in Lebanon, you have to have insane driving skills and there is an art form to honking because you have no clue what the other person is going to do. I honestly love Lebanon there are so many nice places to visit, and I enjoy passing by their art and furniture stores but I never really have time to walk around and take a look.


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Wataniya Airways Expanding

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Now this is some interesting news, Wataniya Airways has signed a code-sharing program with Austrian Airlines to expand their services, that is a great step forward for them. They are now opening 19 new European destinations for very cheap rates London for 99 KD, Milan for 122 KD. Its good that Wataniya Airways is expanding at a gradual rate and being smart about it, I just hope they stay in their current location in Sheikh Saad Airport but I don’t think that the airport is enough for their flights at this point. Then there is also the idea now that Wataniya Airlines might join the Star Alliance since Austrian Airlines is owned partly by Lufthansa, well its a possibility at least.

Dubai Real Tiring


I had a four meetings packed into one day, trying to keep it as efficient as possible, from the moment I land then I would have enough time to eat and then head out back to the airport and take off again. That was a ridiculous mistake on my part, I have done a lot of day meetings and back in the same day, never have I done four long meetings in one day. By the time I was heading to the airport I was too tired to car and too dizzy to pay attention to anything, I just wanted to get home and pass out at the end of the trip. I was so tired I stretched out on the Wataniya flight back and passed out before take off and woke up as we were landing, why can’t we land with the backs reclined, it makes no difference at all. The one comfort is knowing that as soon as the plane arrives I exit the plane and get in my car and drive home in less then 5 minutes.

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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Wataniya Airlines Review

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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

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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.

Review: Wataniya Airlines

Took the Wataniya Airline flight at 8 am going to Dubai. Drove to the new airport in Sabhan, Sheikh Sa’ad Airport, you can easily get to it and the signs are clear. The best part is not going through all the hassle of the old airport, I walked right through, they asked if I was first or economy. Took me right to the check in counter, and then right into the lounge. The lounge is very large, I preferred sitting at the lounge which had a view on the runway even though the weather was bad.

The Good:

  • I like the color scheme of the airlines
  • Very large and comfortable lounge
  • Very helpful staff, even if they are lacking experience, they do make an effort
  • Check-in process was smooth
  • Transport from the airport to the plane was through Mercedes Van
  • Great Entertainment System
  • Good Selection of Games
  • Audio Selection (Music, Pop, Arabic, Quran)
  • TV Series on demand works but they need a larger selection
  • News, Sports, and Documentaries were good too
  • Aux Input (iPod)
  • A/C Connection (Connecting my laptop for the duration of the flight watching items on the laptop)
  • Noise Canceling Headphones
  • Great Flight Info
  • Over a well designed and clean entertainment system
  • Decent Food (Needs some work)
  • Friendly Staff on the plane
  • Texting (Can be used on flight, but there are still glitches which need to be ironed out)

The Bad:

  • Phone booking mix ups, morning flight instead of evening flight, or the other way around
  • 118 isn’t always accessible for bookings
  • No possible way to upgrade at the counter in Dubai or on the plane, can only be done in Kuwait (Based on interacting with the staff)
  • More content is needed for the Entertainment System
  • Ground staff needs a little more experience at the check-in

Overall:

I think people are tired of the selection we have at Kuwait Airport, opening a new airport on its own is probably the best move they did. Its a premium airlines for medium to short haul flights which is filling an important gap due to the horrible service of Kuwait Airways, and their decaying fleet of planes. An airlines which has a huge amount of potential if they can keep their service at this level. They are lacking in experience and coherence, but they make for it in effort. There are still a few bumps to iron out, but the it isn’t a complete roll out yet. They will be opening up to the other routes, and at some point in time they will have internet on the plane. The lounge is amazing and very comfortable, the service in the lounge was fantastic, I wasn’t left alone at any point in time and if I was making a phone call they would leave the room to give me privacy. You are greeted by Marhaba service in Dubai which is a nice touch by I think it its unnecessary for the arrival, I think they need it for the departure rather then arrival. I am definitely going to fly Wataniya Airlines on any of the routes they open if I need to, I just hope they have a milage program soon.

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