In this post, I’ll be finishing my series of travels from late 2019 to “Australia and beyond”, with my journey home to London being provided by Oman Air, from Jakarta. Two 787-9s took me home, via Muscat and an overnight transit hotel was included in the cost of the ticket.
I also filmed the experience for my YouTube channel:
Checkin at Jakarta was straightforward; a dedicated line for the small number of business class customers meant I was seen very quickly.
Terminal 3 at Jakarta is a far cry from the old domestic and regional terminals here. It’s relatively new, having opened in 2016, and would happily fit in anywhere in the world; it’s a genuinely nice building with plenty of good places to eat and lots of glass!
Oman Air directed me to the Saphire (sic) Lounge. Unfortunately, the Plaza Premium Lounge was closed, and with the Saphire Lounge also being a Priority Pass/pay on entry lounge, they rather let greed get the better of them and admitted far too many people.
The lounge was full and standing room only. The offerings inside weren’t great, and so I headed out to watch the planes after a few minutes.
Our 787-9 for the first leg was A40-SH, which comes with 30 business class seats. Two of Oman Air’s seven -9 aircraft contain first class, but these aircraft fly on the London route only (as a point of housekeeping, the aircraft for the second leg was also an all-business variety thanks to a tech issue).
Oman Air uses the gorgeous Apex Suite as their business class seat. On the first flight, I flew in the one-row mini-cabin behind the second set of doors, which was exceptionally private.
The main cabin ahead of the doors is still fantastic, though.
The Apex Suites are not angled and accommodate direct aisle access for everyone by way of staggering the seats to allow a small passageway for window seat customers to exit.
After a quick Arabic coffee, and a juice, the first of many hot towels was served before pushback.
After a lengthy taxi and a wait for about half a dozen other aircraft to depart, we were airborne. The mini-cabin gives fabulous views of the engine!
The electro-chromatic shades on the 787 Dreamliner are a great feature (if the crew don’t control them centrally!). My favourite on day flights is to leave them on a middle setting for a beautiful blue vista out of the window.
So, the seat in detail: There’s a generous fixed ottoman which provides storage underneath in flight for a handbag or rucksack.
A full-height privacy divider ensures you don’t need to see your seatmate. In fact, you’ll never see anyone else at all, apart from when the crew pop their head around to ask you if you need anything. It really is a superb seat in this respect.
There’s storage for the fairly large amenity kit, too:
…and somewhere for your bits and bobs.
Behind the seat is a hook for the (rather good) airline-supplied headphones.
The screen is located far away from your seat, so a remote is provided to control the entertainment. The handset can also display a dynamic map while you watch something on the main screen.
I found the WiFi to be reasonably good, although the pricing was a little high for me. 40 US dollars for five hours of connectivity is more than I’m used to paying with most European and American carriers.
Oman Air’s food service was outstanding. After nuts and a juice to begin, service opened properly with a fine amuse-bouche.
A delightful pumpkin and lentil soup was served, and this was probably the best soup I’ve had on a plane.
I chose sea bass and rice for my main course, which was perfectly done. Fish can be risky on an aircraft as it can turn out quite dry, but this was excellent.
Service closed with a small, flavourful chocolate ice cream served with mint and strawberries.
I spent most of the flight working, and before I knew it, we’d landed in Muscat.
I was in transit, connecting between two flights less than 24 hours apart, and business class customers only could request an off-airport hotel at no extra cost. You could do this online, by phone or even at the airport desk when you arrived. Oman Air also used to offer stopovers at this time too – whether in business or economy you could get one free night in Oman if you booked a two- or three-night stopover. When it’s time to travel again, it’s worth looking into – I found the layover service exceptional, anyway.
So, how does the layover service work? Essentially, you deplane, head to the Oman Air representative at the transit desk, who will take your particulars and liaise with the border police to grant you a 24-hour transit visa (there is no charge for this and the visa is always done on arrival). You’ll then be driven to an off-airport hotel; in my case, this was the Novotel Muscat Airport, which appeared to house all transit passengers on one floor for convenience.
Dinner, bed and breakfast are all included, and you never have to put your hand in your pocket once (just wait until you find out how little I paid Oman Air for this plane ticket in the first place!). In the morning, you’ll be collected by car, and driven to the airport to check-in.
So – Muscat Airport. My kind of airport: medium-sized, not busy, relaxed and with good facilities. It’s not Dubai or Doha, and in my view, that’s a good thing. Oman Air has a separate check-in wing for first and business class:
Just my luck, I was travelling on the last day the Oman Air lounge was closed…
…but Oman Air had provided access to the PrimeClass Lounge upstairs in the terminal instead. This is an outstanding third party lounge, tastefully appointed and with everything you’d want to find in a lounge, and more. There is even a cheap spa!
Boarding at Muscat was done via the front door…
…and after refuelling with Arabic coffee…
…we were airborne on time for our seven-hour jaunt back to London.
The table in these Apex Suites is reasonably good, by the way, and swivels to allow you to exit – although the gap it leaves is fairly small and you need to be fairly mobile to move past it easily!
I had no work to do on this flight, so I relaxed, enjoyed the awesome food service and drank wine. Life’s hard.
A special mention to this salmon and kingfish starter, which was beautiful.
Saffron chicken stuffed with dates and pimiento – an excellent main course.
Finally, a dessert which wasn’t on the menu! This was a raspberry and rhubarb cake, which was some sort of a mix between a cheesecake (biscuit base), a sponge cake, and a crumble.
I watched a few TV shows and one of Oman Air’s Bollywood films. It’s not surprising the airline has a good Bollywood selection; the airline has 11 Indian destinations (over a fifth of its route network), and until recently there was a travel bubble between Oman and India.
The amenity kit is by Omani luxury perfume house, Amouage.
The contents are pretty high quality too – I love the gold DVT socks and eyeshades!
The seat reclines into a bed, which reveals one of the minor weaknesses of this seat: it’s too easy to accidentally activate the seat controls while sleeping if you roll onto them.
Nonetheless, the bed is long and wide and not at all claustrophobic, in my opinion.
Oman Air’s bedding was of superb quality, coming with a blanket, duvet and mattress topper. I had a great two-hour nap.
One hour before landing, a small refreshment tray was served with drinks. This tasted a lot better than it looked! That burger slider looks sorry for itself, but I’m happy to report it tasted just fine.
All business customers get fast track immigration paid for by the airline, although as a UK passport holder I didn’t need it, as I can use the electronic gates at Heathrow. We ended our trip with a scenic hold around Heathrow and a look at some of London’s landmarks.
Overall, an outstanding trip, and all the more so considering I paid only £698 one way for this trip; a truly incredible fare I got in a flash sale. It’s worth pointing out Jakarta is a hotspot for cheap fares, although this one was a particular bargain!
Oman Air is a carrier I would go out of my way to experience again; the airline provided me with superb hospitality, and the Apex Suite is my favourite business class seat, apart from Qatar’s QSuite.
The inclusion of the seamless layover benefit is a big selling point with this airline. If you prefer to take leisurely overnight transits, I would absolutely recommend Oman Air with a layover in Muscat.