Kenya Airways Launches Direct New York to Nairobi Flight, Conveniently Has $242 RT Fare

by Chris Dong

Kenya Airways landed in the U.S. for the first time ever Monday morning, as flight number KQ002 arrived at New York JFK. The flight marks the beginning of daily direct service between the continental U.S. and Nairobi. Kenya joins a handful of airlines—EgyptAir, South African Airways, and Ethiopian Airlines—that have direct flights between the U.S. and Africa.

Kenya Airways Flagship Direct Flight

This ultra-long haul journey is 7,360 miles-long and scheduled to take 15 hours from Nairobi and 14.5 hours to New York.

  • KQ2 Nairobi (NBO) 10:25pm to New York (JFK) 6:25am (+1) Arrival
  • KQ3 New York (JFK) 12:25pm to Nairobi (NBO) 9:55am (+1) Arrival

Kenya Airways is using one of its eight 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft, each with a two-class configuration—economy and Premier World. The Premier World cabin has 2-2-2 configuration with 30 lie-flat seats. In economy, there’s 204 seats in a standard 787 configuration of 3-3-3. Each of these seats offer 32.2 inches of pitch and 18.5 inches of width.

A tour of KQ’s 787-8 led by a great Nairobi-based crew.

Not the most exciting, but at least lie-flat. Forward-facing business class seats.

As good as it’s going to get on a 787 in economy.

While speaking to Kenyan staff and executives, it was clear that there was immense nationalistic pride for this flight launch. It wasn’t just the airline staff that were excited. Kenyans back home were truly proud of their national carrier and closely tracked the inaugural from Nairobi in droves.

Partially state-owned, Kenya Airways has been struggling financially, but didn’t spare any expense launching this high-profile service. Kenyan media, dignitaries, and Kenya Airways’ CEO Sebastian Mikosz flew into New York for the inaugural.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta even flagged off the flight from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

The non-stop flights between Nairobi and New York City is set to provide a seamless experience for business and leisure travelers alike.  It will open up Kenya and the region to the world to enjoy our hospitality and diverse culture.

A look inside the 787-8 cockpit.

The $242 Round-Trip Deal

While the inaugural was mid-flight to JFK, there was a short-lived, screaming deal to Nairobi. Select dates in 2019 were just $242 for a round-trip ticket in economy on this very same direct flight. The fare lasted through the early morning hours Monday morning, around the same time KQ002 landed into New York. Coincidence? Maybe. But I’m thinking it was a super-brief and super-smart publicity stunt to get the word out as the launch flight was happening.

After all, it wouldn’t be the first time something like this happened. A few months after Hong Kong Airlines launched their flights to the U.S., they had an insane fare deal in business class to Asia for about $600 (See my review of that flight here.)  Conspiracy theorists hatched the idea that the airline created the fare deal as a promotional tactic. Did Kenya Airways do the same thing but on a smaller scale (economy deal vs. ridiculous business class deal)? For starters, let’s see if they honor the deal first 🙂

Want To Fly Kenya Airways On Miles?

As a SkyTeam partner airline, you can book using Delta SkyMiles or Air France-KLM Flying Blue (transferrable from Amex, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards). There are also a bunch of bonus miles offers out there for new cardholders opening a Delta-branded American Express card.

A quick look at ExpertFlyer for three random dates including close-in, spring, and summer travel yielded business class award availability of at least six seats. Booking is another matter. Calling Delta to “longsell” the ticket is one option—this should price at 95,000 SkyMiles and about $400 in taxes and fees. The same seat using Flying Blue would be about 115,000 miles but should be bookable online.

The Upshot

The new flight from Kenya Airways is not only a source of national pride for a country, but also provides an awesome new direct flight to the African subcontinent. While the business class product isn’t industry-leading, lie-flat seats and a recently launched upgraded soft product should be sufficient for the 15 hour flight.

Welcome to New York, Kenya Airways.

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Kenya Airways Launches Direct New York to Nairobi Flight, Conveniently Has $242 RT Fare October 29, 2018 - 7:33 pm

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