RwandAir's Mumbai Service: What to Expect Onboard
In less than a week from today, precisely on 3 April, 2017, RwandAir will commence a four weekly service between Kigali and Mumbai, India using its brand new two-class Boeing 737-800NG.
According to RwandAir's schedule, the Kigali-Mumbai flight will take about 7 hours on each leg aboard the Boeing 737-800NG.
Having taken delivery of two brand new Airbus A330 aircraft in 2016, I and most other people had expected that RwandAir would deploy one of them on the Mumbai service considering that it is a medium haul intercontinental service.
Understandably, being a new route, deploying a 264-seat A330-200 or 274-seat A330-300 to Mumbai would mean over capacity and poor load factor, hence the decision to use the smaller Boeing 737-800NG.
Economy class cabin of RwandAir's Boeing 737-800NG
For obvious reasons and from passenger experience perspective, wide-body aircraft are usually more comfortable than narrow body aircraft especially on flights lasting up to a few hours especially due to more available space for onboard 'roaming'.
RwandAir's has put together the right mix of hard and soft products aboard its Boeing 737-800NG for the utmost comfort of its passengers on the Mumbai service. Whether the products will meet or exceed or even fall below their passengers expectations, remains to be seen.
First of all, RwandAir's Boeing 737-800NG is brand new and was delivered to the airline a few months ago directly from Boeing factory.
The aircraft is configured to carry a total of 154 passengers including 16 business class passengers and 138 economy class passengers. Unlike on their A330, there are no premium class seats on the Boeing 737-800NG.
With a seat pitch of 51 inches in the business class and 31 inches in the economy class, RwandAir's Boeing 737-800NG offers one of the most generous seat pitches you can find on a typical two class narrow-body aircraft.
Soft products on the aircraft will include in-flight WiFi to allow passengers get connected to their businesses and families during their flight. In a Twitter chart, RwandAir confirmed to us that there will also be charging ports for laptops and phones onboard although only in the business class.
In terms of onboard cuisines, while we may not see a typical Rwandan diet like Ugali, Isombe and Matoke or typical Indian dishes like Masala Dosa and Machher Jhol, I'm not sure RwandAir will disappoint in this regard.
But here is the thing. Rwandan foods are said to be neither spicy nor hot, and this applies to most foods eaten in most parts of Africa where RwandAir's passengers are expected to come from. But in stark contrast, Indian foods are notorious for being very spicy and hot and of course, the Mumbai service will definitely have a good number of Indians travelling to/from different parts of Africa.
Rwandan men are known to enjoy drinking beer. They are also known to enjoy tea with lots of milk and sugar. Indians are also known to drink lots of tea. Will RwandAir serve lots of beer and tea onboard its Kigali-Mumbai service? We shall see.
I am almost certain that, whatever the onboard menus will be, RwandAir will have a good mix and blend of onboard menus that cut across different cultures and even religions. It is expected that there will be hot and spicy meals particularly for Indian passengers and not-so-hot and not-so-spicy meals especially for non Indians.
Finally, forget the WiFi and the charging port, if RwandAir gets it right, the onboard food might just be the reason for passengers to fly them again and again and again. After all, according to George Bernard Shaw, There is no sincerer love than the love of food.
Chidozie Uzoezie is an Aviation Analyst,frequent flyer, freelance writer and a travel blogger. He is the CEO of The Afritraveller as well as the Founder of the African Aviation Group on Facebook.