I was not much looking forward to this journey to begin with, but bit the bullet as the means to an end for getting to and from a brilliant cruise on the Nile. Why so?
Well, it’s a six hour flight, and Egyptair is a ‘dry’ airline. A couple of drinks takes some of the edge off such a long flight under normal circumstances.
Secondly, the airline uses the Boeing 737-800 on what is a moderately long haul route. For reasons that I honestly cannot adequately validate, I have never been a fan of the 737.
Having made those disclaimers, here’s the skinny on how things actually panned out.
Check in was easy, friendly and competently handled at Heathrow Terminal Three. Embarkation was brisk and efficient,via an air bridge, and staggered via groups of rows.
Once on board, the 737-800 featured two sets of economy seating, three abreast, separated by a central aisle just aft of the attractive looking business class seats. Overhead storage was more than adequate, even on what looked like a very busy flight.
The plane was clean, quite smart, with seats upholstered in sky blue, picked out in white detailing. I had managed to score an exit seat at the window, 20A, which gave me more than ample legroom (Though I’m 5’6″ in height). Push back was some ten minutes late, and we got a much appreciated welcome aboard from the flight deck, first in Egyptian, then in English.
Once airborne, in flight service began, courtesy of a very attentive and genuinely warm flight crew. Water, soft drinks, tea and coffee all around. Though the cold drinks were served in white plastic cups, these are no more or less worse than the see through plastic equivalents of other airlines. And at least Egyptair provide their economy passengers with proper drinks napkins, which is more than BA has done for quite some time.
Tables were provided in the side of the armrest, rather than the plastic, fold down ones on the seat backs in front preferred by so many carriers these days. No problems here, either.
In flight entertainment came in the form of two films, played on drop down, overhead screens. Headphones were provided free of charge at the start of the service. The first film was some nonsense with Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Vinnie Jones. The second, a whimsical little affair called Escape From Planet Earth, was actually quite funny.
Meal service offered a pleasant surprise; a choice of two hot main courses, either chicken or beef. The beef, basted in paprika sauce, was surprisingly succulent and tender. I followed it with a zesty lemon and coconut tart, and a bread roll that was absolutely delicious. This service was delivered with another round of non alcoholic drinks.
Tables were cleared quickly and efficiently, just in time to settle down for the second feature. Toilets on this flight were spotlessly clean, fully stocked, and complete with two bottles of hand cleansing soap.
It was especially delightful looking out of the window, as we swept across the snow shrouded Alps at dusk. I was more than comfortable in my seat for the whole flight though, to be fair, I did not try the seat recline.
By the time we came in to land at Luxor, I was feeling far more relaxed and good humoured than I had expected. Landing cards had been distributed early in the flight, giving us ample time to fill them in; a pretty simple procedure.
Landing was smooth and painless, as was disembarkation. Strangely, there are no air bridges at Luxor for the national airline, which did surprise me.
Still, debarkation was a breeze, onto a pair of coaches awaiting us at the bottom of the steps. And the sensation of stepping out into the warm, welcoming night air of Luxor was such a tonic in itself. Despite our slight delay on take off, we arrived on the stand at Luxor a few minutes early.
That formerly ghastly airport has changed out of all recognition, and massively for the better. A visa (£12) was obtained, baggage collected and customs cleared, all within twenty minutes. With Discover Egypt reps awaiting us in the arrivals hall, transfers were seamless.
Conclusion? I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality, warmth and efficiency offered on this six hour, Egyptair flight. This was an impression reinforced one week later, when I flew back on the same route.
Recommended? Absolutely. Well done, Egyptair. It was a pleasure to fly with you.