Oman Air 737 Business Class Bottom Line
Oman Air is a hidden gem. Although not as well known as Emirates, nor as posh as Qatar Airways, Oman Air is truly a world class airline. My two experiences with them, this being my first, were stellar. The airline offers high quality food, new seats and ample entertainment. My only qualm was the lack of wifi on this short-ish flight. I cannot recommend them enough.
The Good: 2 year old plane, with their newer business class seats. Food was top notch, it had more of a Sri Lankan flair than Sri Lankan airlines own meals.
The Bad: There was no wifi.
The Noteworthy: This was one of the most turbulent flights I have been on. Forty five minutes after departure, the seat belt sign was turned on until at the gate. Nonetheless, the FAs gracefully (as much as they could) provided a full dinner service and no major spills occurred.
Booking this Flight:
I was originally supposed to fly from Tokyo to Bangkok via Beijing. A last minute change with the Air China flight had me refunding the original ticket, and purchasing the NRT-CMB-MCT-BKK route. It saved me a hotel and I had a chance to try out new airlines. In order to route from Colombo to Bangkok via Muscat, I had to purchase each segment individually. I used Etihad Guest miles for the MCT-BKK leg, and this flight cost <$300.
Colombo Airport has always been a bit mystifying to me. There isn’t (as far as I have found) a Sri Lankan restaurant on the premises. I had access to the Araliya lounge, which I have reviewed before. This lounge is uninspiring and was very crowded when I was there. I decided to walk around the terminal to see if I could find good coffee. There was one coffee shop, called the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (a chain store). I purchased a flavored latte for $7. I thought the price was for a large trenta-sized coffee. By the time I had realized my mistake, I was in too deep. I spent $7 on a 12oz cup of coffee. This is more than I have ever spent on a similar sized coffee anywhere, including boutique coffee shops (I’m a coffee snub lol).
Once I made peace with spending that much on coffee, I went to ask the transfer desk if I could get a copy of my boarding pass, as I had been unable to print one at the lounge. The said they would be in contact with the check-in agent. After waiting for about an hour, the agent came back with my first boarding pass, CMB-MCT, and said that they were unable to get my other boarding pass because it was in another reservation. Oh well, I would hopefully have time in Muscat to get the next boarding pass.
Colombo Airport, along with other airports in the region, have actual security at the gate. Once you have cleared security, you immediately scan your boarding pass in order to “board” the flight. After this formality is done, passengers wait at the gate lounge for actual boarding to be called. They began boarding with Business class passengers. There were only 5 of us.
Cabin and Seat
Oman Air has decided that its cabin finishes would mimic the Sultanate’s landscape. The tones of beige and brown denote the dessert and cliffs you can find in the country. I found the finished to be elegant and refined.
The seat itself is the same type of seat that Qatar Airways and Etihad have installed on their regional fleets. The motorized recliners offer deep recline, and are fine for lounging. I find it difficult to sleep in them however. They have extendable leg rests and footrests. Controls are on the outside side of the seat. Waiting at my seat was a large pillow.
The flight was clocked at about 3h50m, and the flight attendants came by to offer us blankets and an amenity pouch. The amenity pouch is similar to what I have received from Qatar Airways, but less fancy. The blanket is the same type of blanket American gives out in domestic business class, but larger. Before departure, the flight attendants came by and handed out noise cancelling headphones, which were better than what some airlines give out in business class on long haul flights.
Departure and Take Off
During boarding, the lead flight attendant came by and asked what I wanted to drink. They were not providing alcoholic beverages before departure, so I decided to try out the lemon and mint drink. Once again, very similar to what Qatar Airways serves in their own business class. The FA came by and handed us a hot towel. When boarding was done, they offered Arabic coffee, minus the dates, which made me really sad since I find the dates to be the best part of the pre-departure rituals of Middle Eastern carriers. She also handed each passenger a bottle of water.
The pilot came on the PA and announced that we would be departing about 5 minutes early but because of strong headwinds, we would be about 10 minutes late. He also announced to expect some turbulence during the flight, and that himself and the first officer would do their best to avoid it.
After that, the safety video began playing. I LOVED the safety video, it shows off the Sultanate of Oman’s attractions. After viewing it, I decided I would be back in Oman to properly visit the country. We lined up for take off and were in the air after a fairly long take off run for a 737.
Food and Beverage
The first time I flew from the Middle East to Sri Lanka, Qatar Airways set the bar very high for food and beverage expectations. When I flew with Sri Lankan Airlines on a similar route, I was happy but not as wowed as I was by Qatar. How did Oman Air stand?
Shortly after departure, the FA came around to take meal orders. The flight was a late night departure, and I was surprised that they were offering a full, multi course meal. The menu read as follows.
The menus themselves were works of art. They were so well adorned, and the way the colors contrasted between the letters for each course with the pictures above truly impressed me. A lot of thought had gone into this. Meals started with a bowl of nuts and a choice of drinks. I ordered the mint lemonade, which I find to be very refreshing.
For my first course, I ordered the soup. I was not expecting to also receive small plates with side salads. They were smaller versions of the ones listed on the menu: potato salad and tabouleh. The soup was accompanied with bread sticks, and a traditional roll. Presentation was impeccable. The soup itself was very flavorful, more like a cream of lentils than the usual lentil soup I’m used to.
For my main course, I ordered the Sri Lankan chicken. Boy was this meal good! For comparison, on my inbound flight to Sri Lanka on SRI LANKAN AIRLINES, I was not served that was (1) this good and (2) this authentic tasting. Although presentation was not a winner, flavor, food quality, and overall organization of accompaniments to the meal was great. There was a little bit of everything I like about Sri Lankan food on a plate.
For dessert, I was given a small Sri Lankan dessert with my original table setting. It was good, I had had it before on Sri Lankan Airlines’ regional service from AUH to CMB, but this one felt fresher (upon reviewing my notes on first UL flight).
After the meal, the FA offered to bring me some coffee, which I declined as I did not want to spill. By this time, we had been in turbulent air for about one hour.
Notes on Service, Wifi and Other Thoughts
Since the flight was plagued with turbulence throughout, the crew were not able to do as many rounds about the cabin making sure that everyone was happy. Granted, I was the only person awake during the whole flight, and when I rang the call button, the FAs would come by fairly fast.
Turbulence was constant throughout the flight, but there was not a cloud in sight. The captain came on twice during the flight to reassure that turbulence was normal, and that clear air turbulence is “not the bad” kind of turbulence. To all the pilots who read this, please let me know if this is true.
Oman Air’s 737s lack wifi, which can be fine for a night time flight like this, but for people who want ot be productive during a trip of about 4 hours, it is imperative to have some form of means to work.
I found that the flight was about 60% full, and business class was 5/12 full. I wasn’t really sure that the airline every fills this flight up, because when I checked for award space, there were at least two seats every day for the random dates I selected.
Landing and Arrival
After a very turbulent flight, we began our descent into Muscat. I did not know that Oman was that mountainous, we were dodging mountains until about 10 minutes prior to landing, when we reached the northeast coast of the country. Muscat is not as imposing as Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Doha, but it looked vibrant and lively in its own right. We landed about 5 minutes late, and were at the gate within 5 minutes of landing. The new airport at Muscat is stunning. It mixes Western and Middle Eastern architecture very well in a very modern setting.
Oman Air is a world class airline. It has ambitions that far expand its current destination portfolio. The airline was recently awarded flights to the US, which they will begin flying with (according to crew) 787s, over A350s. Their short haul flights are as good as Qatar Airways, and I prefer their seat finishes than those of any other Middle Eastern airline. I would not hesitate to fly them again.