Flight test: Oman Air economy

OMAN AIR

THE ROUTE

Bangkok to Muscat.

THE PLANE

Airbus A330-200.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Sindbad. Passengers can also earn points by flying on Etihad.

UP THE BACK OR POINTY END?

Economy, seat 41D (then 40D).

TIME IN THE AIR

5 hours, 50 minutes from Bangkok, Thailand to Muscat, Oman.

THE SEAT STUFF

34 inches (86 centimetres) pitch, 18 inches (46cm) width. There are 196 economy seats in a 2-4-2 layout.

BAGGAGE

One checked bag up to 30 kilograms in weight, one carry-on bag up to 7 kilograms in weight. Technically, any additional personal items carried aboard must be included within the carry-on allowance.

COMFORT FACTOR

My first seat, 41D, is on the aisle in a row of three near the back of the aircraft, directly behind a standard row of four. As a result, its associated seat pocket, tray and video screen are all out of alignment with my seat. Fortunately the flight isn't very full, so the crew are happy for me to move one row forward. Oman Air's economy seats seem tight with the armrests down, although there's generous leg room. As I have a row to myself, I can spread out and make the most of the space. This means I manage a short but satisfying nap beneath one of the airline's clingy blankets. The seats are firm but sufficiently comfortable for the day-time journey.

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT

The seatback touchscreen seems more responsive than many I've used on other aircraft. There's a good selection of recent Hollywood movies from hobbits to superheroes, along with some art house fare. The Classics category ranges from Gone With the Wind to Grease, while the Back by Popular Demand section includes more recent flicks. Lovers of international film would be happy with the non-English selection, which includes subtitled movies in Arabic, French, Italian, German, Thai, Malay and other languages. The television section is less impressive, with individual episodes of popular series such as Hawaii Five-0 and The Big Bang Theory. There's also "Live TV", featuring live streams of various cable news channels; though this is not always available, dependent on satellite signals.

THE SERVICE

Service is efficient and friendly, with the attendants adeptly serving a diverse and multinational clientele.

FEEDING TIME

An early lunch is served an hour into the flight, with a choice of chicken, seafood or a vegetarian dish, each served with rice. I snag the last serve of chicken. It doesn't look like much, but turns out to be surprisingly tasty. In fact, it's delicious and thankfully much spicier than you expect airline food to be, which I attribute to the Thai catering staff at our point of origin. It's accompanied by a nondescript salad and a slice of sponge cake, along with plastic cutlery. Alcoholic beverages are discreetly served but I decide on a pineapple juice instead. Near the end of the journey we're given a chicken pastie, which is also very good.

ONE MORE THING

Oman Air offers a Wi-Fi service aboard the flight, dependent on the availability of signal. It's not cheap, however, starting at $US5 for a 3MB download allowance.

THE VERDICT

Seats are snug, but for a medium-haul flight this is a good economy-class experience.

THE FREQUENCY

One to three times daily.

Tested by Tim Richards, who flew courtesy of Oman Tourism.

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