BY PROF. DR. WOLFGANG H. THOME, ETN AFRICA CORRESPONDENT | SEP 01, 2014
It’s getting pretty comfy out there for Kenya travelers and tourists. Two new lounges, Pride Lounge and Simba Lounge, will offer hitherto unprecedented comfort levels for any airport lounge in Nairobi, from a cigar room to soundproof sleeping areas, from a new business center with state-of-the-art equipment including tablets to a dedicated dining area, all connected by high-speed wireless broad band of course.
Located in the new Terminal 1A, the future home of Kenya Airways and the airline’s SkyTeam partners, soon two brand new premium lounges will be launched, as progressively more flights move from the former Unit 2, now Terminal 1C, to the new facility.
Kenya Airways yesterday announced that passengers traveling in economy class will have as many as 26 check-in counters available, enough to process the ever-growing number of passengers and flights by Kenya’s national airline, while premium passengers will have 4 dedicated counters available for check in, if they have not taken advantage of the on-line check in and seat selection now available on the airline’s website.
Passengers will soon be able to use either of the two lounges, probably the one nearer to their departure gate, where again a separate boarding channel for premium passengers will ensure fast-track access to the aircraft and into their flat-bed sleeper seats on the B787s and the B777s while generous recliners await in the B737NGs and the Embraer E190s.
From advance information received, it is clear that Kenya Airways has not only invested in brand-new, state-of-the-art aircraft but also into corresponding ground facilities for check-in and in premium lounges. Said one source close to the airline: “This is the start of a new era for Kenya Airways. When their passengers check in at a brand-new terminal building, their expectations are raised from the start. As one of Africa’s leading airlines it is expected that KQ [Kenya Airways] matches if not exceeds [the] service levels of their main competitors from the African continent. I would not be surprised if not very soon they might introduce separate transport from apron-parking positions for premium passengers into the arrival terminal or start [to] offer limo services, perhaps not for free but against a nominal fee. From what I know, they are brainstorming how to uplift service levels, and you and I can only stand by and watch what next they spring on us.”
In fact did the airline’s CEO and Group Managing Director Dr. Titus Naikuni speak on the subject via a media release received: ‘The development of a world class terminal by our partners Kenya Airports Authority has in turn seen the development of some of the most advanced and comfortable airport lounges for Kenya Airways guests. Both Simba and Pride Lounges will offer utmost luxury and comfort for our guests and will feature a melting pot of African cultures as we further seek to enhance customer experience at our Nairobi Hub. We are an inherently African airline, operating on a global scale. We carry guests from all across the globe through our Nairobi hub hence the theme of our lounges as a meeting point and a melting pot of different cultures. Terminal 1A lounges represent our inherent African heritage as well as the contemporary world we operate in’.
Only recently, as reported here at the time, was Kenya Airways named as one of the globally 10 most improved airlines and being the African hub for all SkyTeam partners makes it almost mandatory that KQ pulls out all stops to match the service levels of Star Alliance’s African members with newly modernized hubs in Addis Ababa and Johannesburg. Well done Kenya Airways and looking forward to seeing the new lounges in action very soon.