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Flight 3 – Trip Report Oman First Class
Flight 4 – Trip Report: Lufthansa First Class (Coming Soon)
Oman Air is an airline that was an afterthought in the travel community until just recently. Let me ask you, before Oman Air was available as an award redemption through Air Canada’s Aeroplan program, would you have ever considered flying it, let alone heard of the airline? What about in first class? Most may have heard of the airline but never considered flying on it. I assumed it to be a poor-quality airline, but I was so wrong.
It was about 4 years ago when I came across a review of the Oman Air first-class product by a famous YouTuber that brought this product and the country of Oman to my radar. At that time, purchasing a cash ticket was the only way to fly the product, and I went on a mission to find seat sales (e.g., ex-Columbo departures). Fortunately, I never had to pay cash for the ticket as it became available to book as an award ticket through Aeroplan shortly after.
As I mentioned, this ticket was booked through Air Canada Aeroplan. Oman Air only releases 1 first-class award seat (and 2 business class) per flight.
The new first-class product is available only on the 787, that only flies to/from London (LHR) and Frankfurt (FRA). Oman Airways also flies an older first class on their A330 to destinations such as Bangkok (BKK), but this product should be avoided.
Given the global travel situation at the time, Oman Air award availability during 2021-2022 was plentiful. It’s how I managed to fit in this 3rd First Class flight as part of my epic 8 days, 7 countries, 4 First Class flights, the no-jet-lag experience. Nowadays, award availability seems to come and go; therefore, it’s best to book as far in advance as possible and set up alerts for award availability when it becomes available through a service like expert flyer. Note that, unlike other airlines, no additional seats are released closer to departure.
Positioning – Doha
Flying Oman Air First Class with the proper ground experience meant a double position ordeal to get to Muscat from Bangkok. I had a Qatar First Class flight booked from Bangkok to Doha that I reviewed, and I was luckily able to add a connecting flight to Muscat, with an 18-hour layover in Doha. During this layover, I stayed at the Ritz Carlton Doha and paid for my stay using a 35k Marriott Bonvoy Free Night Certificate. While the hotel feels dated, it still provides excellent value for the dollar/bonvoy point.
Doha was a blistering 47 degrees mid-afternoon the day I was visiting, but I still managed to do some touring around the city. I also stopped by the unique Mondrian hotel to cool down and check out its funky décor. The staff was also kind enough to give me a free tour of the hotel and some of its rooms.
Positioning – Muscat
After flying from Doha to Muscat on Qatar’s Airways A350 QSuites, I spent two nights at the W Muscat hotel after a recommendation from a good friend and from Anshul, who inspired me to visit the country of Oman from the review he wrote. The hotel did not disappoint and surpassed my expectations. The older I get, the more I tend to avoid W hotels, but I have had a good experience here. Best off, I received a nice upgrade and also paid using a Marriott Bonvoy Free Night Certificate. On a weekday, it was also hushed, which I appreciated.
The heat in Muscat felt like a relief from Doha, with 34C but insane humidity hitting 51C!
I had much to see in the city for the 1 day I had, and I wasn’t going to let the heat stop me, so I hired a taxi to take me around to all the sights, including the Mutrah Corniche, and Souq, Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Royal Opera House, and Mutrah Fort.
Muscat airport has a dedicated Oman Air First and business class check-in section behind closed doors. I arrived 6 hours early and was surprised that no other passengers were checking in. But then again, who checks in so early for a flight? I wanted to enjoy my time in the lounges and explore the airport, hence the early arrival. After check-in, similar to Qatar First, there is a dedicated immigration and security fast track, which felt extra special having it entirely all to myself; I think it must have had the quickest check-in, immigration, and security experience ever! So why not a perfect 5-door score? The reason is that check-in formalities are done at a counter standing up rather than sitting down. When comparing first-class products, these minor nuances are essential.
Oman Air’s exclusive first-class lounge at Muscat International Airport was the highlight of my entire Oman Air experience. Since arriving early, I had plenty of time to immerse myself in the lounge. I was the first passenger of the day to come and enjoyed the lounge all to myself for over 2 hours with multiple staff members attending to my needs. I was also offered a personalized tour of first and business-class lounges and a complimentary 15min massage. A la carte dining options were plentiful, and my chosen items were fantastic. The chef personally greeted me and explained each dish in detail, an authentic fine dining experience in an airport lounge. The China and Silverware were gorgeous and blended in perfectly with the opulent theme of the lounge.
Hennessey Paradis and Glenmorangie 25 were available for spirits, and I gladly indulged in them. Oman Air certainly does not cheap out! Aside from the excellent service and dining, the cozy, intimate feeling of the lounge impressed me. Lots of natural light with views of the tarmac were welcome with floor-to-ceiling windows. When it came time to head to the gate, sadly, no further ground service was offered, such as an escort to the gate. This is a minor drawback but important to note as a shortcoming when comparing against other first-class products; the little things matter. I’ll also add that although the washrooms in the lounge offered showers, they were the smallest I’d seen thus far!
As I boarded the plane, I could not help but feel like I was entering Etihad’s 787 first-class cabin, albeit slightly better. There was great attention to detail in the cabin that subtly blended with Omani architecture, and the color hues presented a modern but luxurious cabin. The design of the suite itself was well thought out. I appreciated the velvety soft walls, dedicated air nozzles, headphone and charging ports in the right spot, and door with excellent lattice design for privacy. The middle seats are fantastic when traveling with a companion as the suites are open to each, unlike Etihad, where a half wall is present. The suite also has an ottoman below the Aria entertainment screen that can be used for dining with a companion. There is, however, a lack of storage in the suite itself other than for a backpack below the ottoman and a narrow closest to hang clothing, so any carry-on suitcases are stored in the galley.
When it came time to sleep, turndown service was provided with a nice mattress pad. However, Oman Air does not offer a duvet like other airlines. Overall, the sleeping experience was adequate but missed the mark of a first-class bed. Lastly, let’s not forget the privacy the doors provide when sleeping; you feel enveloped in your private cocoon.
Pajamas & Amenity Kit
Pajamas were provided; however, they were the same ones as provided in business class, and nothing home to write about. I was disappointed the flight did not have first-class pajamas. However, there is something to be said for any airline offering pajamas for business class, as this is not commonplace.
The amenity kit provided by Amouage was full of all the essentials, including their excellent men’s cologne or women’s Amouage perfume.
Oman’s first-class service wasn’t up to first-class standards. In the lounge, yes, but not in the air. There was nothing wrong with it per se, but I didn’t feel that warm hospitality and personalization that you generally tend to get when flying first. I don’t think 1 flight experience indicates how the service is every time, perhaps it may have just been my bad luck. Professionalism was there but not enthusiasm.
Food and Drinks
Menus were provided in an excellent thick leather-wrapped book; no electronic menus’ here. I was surprised to see that the menu was quite extensive, offering various food and drinks; I had to choose wisely as I could not have it all! I enjoyed reading through the menu while I guzzled down glasses of Charles Heidsieck 2004; a welcome change from Krug and Dom Perignon on my last flights. Arabic tea, nuts, dates, and a hot towel accompanied this. Full marks for pre-departure service.
Dining was available on demand, which I truly appreciated given how badly needed a nap first and was also full from indulgence in the lounge.
The dining experience was pleasant, but no dish hit it out of the park. The Royal Beluga Caviar was up to my standards, with full accompaniments and a good presentation. Plating for the various courses was excellent, and the same China and silverware was used in the first-class lounge.
I’ll also add that a snack bowl and a gimmicky minibar were present at the seat, similar to Emirates.
There is a dedicated restroom for First class passengers, and it was satisfactory. I did not have high expectations given we were on a 787, after all. The lavatory stocked Amouage essentials, and the toilet also had a bidet, so an extra score for this!
The Oman Air first-class product met all the requirements I would expect of a first-class product with minor shortcomings. What was lacking was the “wow” factor. If it were not for the lounge experience, I’d likely not go out of my way to fly the product again unless they expanded their route network to have nonstop flights to North America.
Oman Air is joining OneWorld soon, so we’ll have to keep our eyes on what happens with award redemptions and whether it remains with Aeroplan or moves over to OneWorld. The latter is likely, and I’m hoping more award inventory will also be made available. We’ll know in due time.