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Review: Oman Air 787-9 Business Class

Our first Apex Suite Business Class experience was no disappointment, on board Oman Air's impressive, spacious and comfortable seat from Muscat to Jakarta. Did the food and service match up?

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Flight details

  • Flight: WY849 Muscat International to Jakarta T3
  • Class: Business
  • Seats: 10A & 10B
  • Aircraft Type: Boeing 787-9
  • Aircraft Registration: A4O-SE
  • Aircraft Age: 1.3 years
  • Date: 17th March 2019
  • Departure / Arrival: 02:45 / 13:30
  • Flight Time: 7h 45m
  • Cost: OMR 412.1 each (S$1,440)

The Apex Suite

Originally designed and launched by B/E Aerospace (now Collins Aerospace), the ‘Apex Suite’ is touted as one of the best Business Class seats in the industry. On paper though, with a 2-2-2 layout, that seems a strange accolade.

The key to this design is a clever staggered arrangement at the window seats, allowing direct aisle access for the window passenger (and no one climbing over the aisle passenger at the window pairs), the primary drawback for older 2-2-2 configurations.

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How the Apex Suite works on a Boeing 787 (click to enlarge)

A high quality product, it takes up additional floorspace and so comes at the expense of passenger capacity compared to more dense layouts like the Zodiac Cirrus and Thompson Vantage XL. It is also rumoured to be the most expensive ‘off the shelf’ Business Class seat on the market. That perhaps explains its limited reach so far, with only Korean Air, Japan Airlines, Gulf Air and Oman Air currently using it.

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The Apex Suite on Oman Air’s Boeing 787. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Indeed the seat was originally designed as a high-density First Class product, and Korean Air has used it as both a First and Business Class seat on some 787s.

Seat selection

We were flying on one of Oman Air’s Boeing 787-9 ‘Version 1’ aircraft, a 2-class variant with 30 Business Class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration spread across four forward rows between the first two main aircraft doors (rows 10 to 14) and a single row behind the second main aircraft door (row 15), directly in front of the Economy Class section.

As mentioned, the clever design of these Business Class seats means all passengers have direct aisle access despite the 2-2-2 layout.

The remaining 258 seats on this aircraft are in Economy Class, with a 3-3-3 configuration.

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Oman Air Boeing 787-9 V1 Seat Map. (Image: Oman Air)

The window seats (A and K) in Business Class have the highest levels of privacy once the divider is raised. Aisle seats (B, D, G and J) are more exposed.

Solo travellers appreciating the ‘suite-like’ closed off effect will have the best experience in the A or K seats, but can have a sufficiently private experience in any seat thanks to the large extendable privacy dividers.

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Seat pairs by the window are staggered for increased privacy and direct aisle access. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Couples can choose the window pairs (A/B or J/K), which are slightly staggered but still allow for conversation with the divider down, or the middle pair (D/G), which are directly aligned and therefore most conducive to conversation.

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Middle seat pairs (D and G seats) are directly aligned and ideal for couples. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

We opted for 10A and 10B so that we could try out both the window and aisle experience.

If you’re flying on one of Oman Air’s pair of Boeing 787-9 Version 2 aircraft, which are dedicated to the twice-daily Muscat – London Heathrow route and also have a First Class cabin installed, the seat map looks like this:

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Oman Air Boeing 787-9 V2 Seat Map. (Image: Oman Air)

Due to the presence of a First Class section, this configuration has fewer Business Class seats, 24 in total, across two very intimate 2-row cabins.

Check-in

Oman Air has a separate check-in area for First and Business Class passengers.

There is a dedicated drop off point at the first door of the departures concourse, including a separate access lane for your driver to use. Your luggage is then taken by the porters who escort you through to the check-in counters.

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First and Business Class check-in entrance. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Although it’s not a separate building it reminds us a little of the Singapore Airlines First Class check-in section at Changi Terminal 3. There are plenty of counters and staff to assist, with sofas and seating areas along one side with reading materials, which don’t seem to serve much of a purpose.

The process was swift and we were quickly checked in for the flight with boarding cards issued for seats 10A and 10B, which we had chosen online in advance when we first booked.

The First and Business Class check-in area leads to a private immigration counter and priority security screening section, so we soon found ourselves in the obligatory duty free shop, searching for a way up to level 5 and the Oman Air lounge.

It wasn’t difficult to find with both escalator and lift options. We took the escalator while admiring the impressive new terminal and found ourselves at the lounge entrance just 15 minutes after being dropped off at the terminal entrance by hotel car.

That’s a very quick thoroughfare considering we probably wasted 5 minutes of that time taking pictures of the First and Business Class check-in area.

Oman Air First and Business Class Lounge

Oman Air operates its own lounge at its home base, as you would expect. The facility largely caters for Business Class passengers, with a separate First Class section once you’re inside.

Lounge Entrance
First and Business Class Lounge. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Overall a pleasant place to spend time prior to your flight, with a manned bar, Champagne, good food options and shower facilities, though it’s not up there among the best we’ve been to in the world.

We’ll cover the lounge itself separately so look out for that upcoming review.

Boarding

We made our way to the gate 45 minutes before departure time. It was a chaotic scene there with the poorly labelled Business Class line full of Economy Class passengers, and the Economy Class line also nearly full.

There was no real effort to give any priority to Business Class passengers until one of the counter staff spotted our boarding passes then ushered us to come through the crowd (rather awkwardly) to the front.

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The First & Business Class line wasn’t useable as both it and the Economy Class line were full. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Once boarding started from the gate lounge at 35 minutes before departure, there was no priority boarding for Business Class passengers and it was simply a free for all.

Despite being a dual airbridge gate, a single airbridge was used for boarding connected to the second aircraft door.

At a home base airport, especially a brand new one, where in theory it’s easy to pamper your premium passengers, this fell well below our expectations. It felt like a boarding arrangement at an outstation, and certainly fell well short of the impression created with the kerbside porters, private check-in area and very decent lounge experience.

Settling in

After the slightly chaotic boarding process we took a few photos of the cabin then settled in to seats 10A and 10B.

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Boarding the Oman Air 787 in Business Class. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The first thing we noticed about these seats was the size, they are huge for Business Class. Even longer than a British Airways First Class seat, and almost as wide, the all forward facing and direct aisle access arrangement is very impressive.

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Welcome to seat 10B. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Another thing that appeared concerning on photos was that if you were sat in one of the window seats next to a stranger it wouldn’t feel very private. This was not the case at all. The clever stagger at these window pairs ensures good privacy even with the divider retracted.

You’ll soon realise there are no overhead lockers in the middle section. We’re not usually a fan of this, especially on the A350 with its strange ‘blocky’ flat ceiling, but on the 787 the design retains a nice curvature and feels more natural.

In any event if you’re in a middle seat you will have to share overhead locker space with your neighbour at the window side.

Another thing we noticed was that there are no overhead or in-seat adjustable air outlets, which is a shame but unfortunately it seems to be becoming more common.

A bottle of water is waiting in a dedicated holder at your seat. The crew came round with hot towels and shortly later offered Champagne.

Champagne Bottle
Laurent-Perrier Brut was offered on this flight. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Oman Air is serving Laurent-Perrier Brut in Business Class, a mid-range Champagne with good ratings that retails from around S$50-70 a bottle in Singapore depending where you buy it.

It’s also been appearing sporadically in SIA’s SilverKris Business Class lounges at Changi over the last few months, presumably when the Charles Heidsieck supply runs low.

Champagne Pour
Attractive Champagne flutes. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

No complaints here, a nice drop and we certainly enjoyed a glass or two. We really appreciated the Champagne flute design with a good stem, a difficult balance to strike on an aircraft due to potential turbulence combining poorly with a high centre of gravity drink. Oman Air has done a good job here with an attractive high-end design.

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The way every good Business Class flight starts. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

If you’re flown with a Middle Eastern airline before, you’ll probably be familiar with the pre-flight Arabic coffee and dates. On Emirates you get this treatment in First Class, but on Oman Air it’s offered in Business Class too.

Arabic Coffee
Arabic Coffee. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
Dates
Dates. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

With the late departure time, and our plan to sleep after dinner, we skipped the coffee option but the dates were very good.

Shortly after this the menus, pyjamas and amenity kit were presented.

Amenity kit and pyjamas

Oman Air provides Business Class passengers on long-haul flights with an extensive amenity kit including Amouage products, a top-end brand.

Amenity Kit
Oman Air Business Class Amenity Kit. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Contents include:

  • Amouage Hand and Body Lotion, Lip Balm and Facial Moisturiser
  • Shaving Kit
  • Dental Kit
  • Mouthwash
  • Comb
  • Eyeshades
  • Socks
  • Earplugs

Pyjamas are also offered in a variety of sizes. They are good quality, reminding us of the Qatar Airways ones, and come in a carry bag that includes a pair of slippers.

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Oman Air Business Class Pyjamas. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Given the rather lacklustre comparative offerings in Singapore Airlines Business Class, even on 17-hour non-stop flights, this extensive selection from Oman Air is impressive and much appreciated.

Toilets

There are three toilets in the Business Class cabin on Oman Air’s Boeing 787-9, meaning an excellent passenger to toilet ratio of 10:1 (Singapore Airlines has a 14:1 ratio in Business Class on its long-haul A350s, and 16:1 on its new A380s).

The toilets are relatively standard for a Boeing 787, including the mood lighting. They are also washlet (bidet) equipped. This is the first time we have seen the feature installed on a non-Japanese airline.

They are stocked with some additional Amouage toiletries including hand cream and both men’s and women’s fragrances. A baby-changing table extends over the toilet for those travelling with infants.

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Baby-changing table. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

With our flight being only around 60% full in Business Class, there was never a long wait and we had the forward left toilet, just ahead of seats 10 A/B, almost all to ourselves.

Wi-Fi

If you need to stay connected during your flight you’ll be happy to know that Oman Air’s Boeing 787s are all Wi-Fi equipped.

Wi-Fi Options

Two main drawbacks though, if our experience was anything to go by:

1. It’s very expensive
2. It’s very slow

First the cost. There is no free Wi-Fi allowance on Oman Air, even for Business Class passengers. We understand if you’re flying First Class with Oman Air (on selected routes only) you do get a complimentary 3 hours (100MB) package included. The options were:

  • 30 mins (10MB limit): US$10
  • 60 mins (25MB limit): US$20
  • 3 hours (100MB limit): US$30
  • Full flight (150MB limit): US$40

Despite the cost I went for the 60 mins / 25MB option to test it out.

Wi-Fi speed on an aircraft is often slow for a while, as the receiver starts to lose line-of-sight with a satellite, then non-existent as it pairs with a new satellite, then suddenly improves significantly.

At first the connection on this flight was basically unusable, so we did a couple more speed tests later when it improved, but it has to be said it never became particularly good.

Wi-Fi online

Wi-Fi Speed

For the basics this connection would suffice, but anything over and above that (including many data intensive social media apps) will be frustrating or impossible.

In-flight entertainment

The IFE system on Oman Air is quite extensive, with a 23” HD screen and a wide selection of movies, TV shows and games.

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IFE Screen. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Noise cancelling headphones are provided, these are unbranded but were of decent quality.

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IFE headphones. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

There is also a good moving map system with additional flight details, and the time remaining to landing is always shown on your IFE controller.

The TV is touchscreen, but you can also use the wired IFE controller in your armrest to do everything you need with the TV, as it’s quite far away.

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IFE controller. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The IFE selection was good, not as extensive as you would find on Emirates or Singapore Airlines but still a decent choice of the latest movies, which should be ample to keep you entertained for a 7 hour flight.

Seat controls and positions

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Seat controls. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The main seat controls are located in a panel at the seat side (window side for the window seats, aisle side for the aisle seats).

There are four pre-set positions for takeoff and landing, relaxation, dining and bed mode.

Additionally the seat back and legrest angles can be controlled independently using the three buttons in the middle, as can the seat pan forwards / backwards position. We thought that was great for the perfect knee position, especially if you’re a taller person with long legs.

Additional controls adjust the lumbar support and the massage function.

We found the pre-set positions to be ideal for most of our time in the seat, but the individual controls should ensure you are able to tailor the seat comfort to your needs.

Three additional controls at the inner armrest, below the IFE controller, allow you to raise or lower the privacy divider, control the overhead table / reading light and switch the do not disturb light (on the outer seat shell) on or off so the crew know whether to wake you for service.

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Additional controls. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The headrest at each seat is vertically adjustable, so tall people should be able to find a comfortable support position.

Headrest 1
Headrest extended vertically. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The ‘wings’ at the side of the headrest also wrap around for additional support if required.

Headrest 2
Headrest ‘wings’. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Table

Each seat has a large table extending from the centre console. It’s a sturdy surface for dining or working. The table moves towards you and away from you, and of course you can still adjust the seat pan itself, so you should find a comfortable setup.

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The table in dining position. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

If you need to leave your seat during mealtime, or halfway through doing some work, the table not only moves away from you towards the TV screen but then also pivots round by 90 degrees in orientation, allowing you room to get in our out of your seat without disturbing the table setup.

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Table moved away from you. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
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Table swivelled round for seat / aisle access. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Storage options

As we already mentioned there are only overhead lockers above the side seat pairs in Business Class on this aircraft. That means if you’re in one of the middle seats (D or G) on a full flight and are late to board, you might find limited space left for your carry on items in the lockers.

The Apex Suite is generous with personal space, but actually a bit limited when it comes to storage. There is a sizeable area under the footrest and this comfortably accommodates a rucksack or similar sized bag.

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Storage under the footrest. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The only drawback here is that it’s difficult to reach your items stored under the footrest, and of course they become inaccessible with the seat in bed mode. Do note also this storage area is slightly smaller at the window seats (A or K) compared to the aisle seats.

To the side of the seat at the foot area and within easier reach are the literature pocket (these always say ‘Literature Only’ but in reality they are perfect for an iPad or thin laptop like a MacBook). There is also a drinks holder where your bottled water awaits you on arrival at your seat, and a small storage pouch directly below this.

That small storage area unfortunately also becomes inaccessible with the seat in bed mode.

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Literature pocket, water bottle storage and small storage pouch. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Finally immediately to the side of your seat there is a small recess under the armrest designed for storing your small personal electronic devices, like a mobile phone, but nothing much larger than that.

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Small storage recess for mobile phones. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Overall if you’re flying on Oman Air’s Apex Suite you may have to consider a little more carefully which items you put where for convenience, especially if like us you travel with cameras, laptops, etc.

Do pay particular attention to the storage compartments you won’t be able to access once you have converted the seat into a bed.

At the side of the seat there is an adjustable reading light, which can be moved through an angle of around 90 degrees (from forward to downward facing).

Directly below that is a storage hook for your headphones.

Headphones Hook
Reading light and headphones. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

One benefit of the aisle seats at the window side (B or J) is the gap behind the suite wall of the window seat itself, between your seat and the window or cabin wall.

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Gap behind seat 10A, useful for 10B to store items. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

This is a good place to store your amenity kit and pyjamas for example, but it’s supposed to remain clear for takeoff and landing.

Power Sockets

This seat is not short of power sockets for charging your devices, though they are slightly awkwardly placed.

In the small storage recess immediately at the seat side you’ll find a multi-standard socket.

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Multi-standard power socket. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Given how difficult it was to photograph, you can imagine how difficult it is to use!

Finally you have two USB charging sockets and your headphones socket directly above this, still below the armrest but thankfully much easier to reach and use.

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USB charging and a headphones socket. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Beverages

As always, we check on the Vivino rating (out of 5 stars) for the Champagnes and wines offered on board.

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Wine list cover Beverage list

The wines were mostly from France, with a single Chilean option.

Vivino
Champagne
Menu Champagne.jpg
fr.png Laurent-Perrier Brut N.V. 4.0 stars
White Wine
Menu White Wine 1.jpg Menu White Wine 2.jpg
fr.png La Perrière Sancerre Blanc
fr.png Albert Bichot Chablis
4.0 stars 3.7 stars
Red Wine
Menu Red Wine 1.jpg Menu Red Wine 2
cl.png Baron Philippe de Rothschild Escudo Rojo
fr.png Château Laroque Saint-Émilion Grand Cru
3.6 stars 4.1 stars
Port
Menu Port
fr.png Château Guiraud Sauternes (Premier Grand Cru Classé) 2006
4.3 stars

These are very good scores for Business Class, generally higher on average than we saw for example on our Qatar Airways Qsuite flight, however the selection on Qatar was more broad for those preferring new world wines.

Personally apart from the Champagne I had a glass of the Chablis with the first meal, which turns out to be the poorer rated of the two white wines offered. Nonetheless it was very nice.

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A glass of Chablis went very well with the first meal. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Food

Food is known to be Oman Air’s strong point, so we went into this flight with high expectations.

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On the whole we were not disappointed, with the airline offering an extensive menu including two full meals on this 7 hour flight.

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Breakfast menu (click to enlarge) Lunch menu (click to enlarge)

Service is ‘dine on demand’, so you can eat at a time to suit your body clock. That’s a nice option as some passengers will want to encourage their body clocks to move towards their destination time zone, while others will be keen to remain on home time.

On this flight, departing Muscat at close to 3am, they were serving breakfast after takeoff then lunch prior to landing in Jakarta. That was opposite to our expectations, we thought they would serve a light dinner then breakfast in the morning prior to landing.

As such we had deliberately eaten very little in the lounge, expecting dinner on board after takeoff prior to a good night’s sleep.

That’s where the ‘dine on demand’ concept comes in handy, or so we thought. After takeoff the crew came round to take the meal orders and we said we would prefer to choose from the a la carte menu first, then have breakfast before landing in Jakarta.

When the crew member went away to check he returned with bad news. They had already loaded all the ovens with the breakfast items, so if we wanted to dine on demand we would have to wait at least 30-40 minutes until they had the opportunity to prepare it for us.

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Dine on demand wasn’t really as advertised

Since we wanted to prioritise sleep on this overnight flight and it was already 3am Muscat time, we decided to go for the breakfast instead.

This was disappointing, especially with the 60% full Business Class cabin on this flight. If you offer dine on demand you should really take the food orders before filling all the ovens. Better still, take food orders on the ground prior to departure.

They certainly shouldn’t have needed all the oven space for the Business Class load on board and they could then easily have had some capacity for our a la carte request at the same time as the other passengers had breakfast.

There was nothing we could do at this stage so we set out to enjoy the meals in the ‘conventional’ order.

Breakfast

Eddie decided on a light breakfast and just went for the Chicken Kofta with frittata, alongside another glass of the Laurent Perrier.

Breakfast 10A
Chicken Kofta with roasted potato, frittata and other accompaniments. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

This was a nice dish, a well-presented generous portion and very tasty.

I started with the spiced prawns and cured salmon, which was immaculately presented.

Prawns
Spiced prawns and cured salmon. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The prawns themselves were a bit dry and floury / fluffy, sometimes an indication that they have been frozen before, however the small sliver of cured salmon topped with tobiko caviar (fish roe) in the middle was excellent.

Some interesting accompaniments here including asparagus, carrots and grapefruit. Not items I would have put together, but it worked quite well.

For the main course I went for the Arabic breakfast.

Breakfast 10B
Arabic breakfast. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Similar to an Arabic Mezze and served with hummus, babaganoush and Arabic breads, this always goes down well with me! Again it was well presented and everything tasted good. I couldn’t do it full justice as it was definitely time to sleep.

Bed mode

The crew are happy to make up your bed for you while you freshen up in the toilet or get changed into your pyjamas, though it’s also easy to do this yourself as the seat easily moves into the fully flat position and the mattress topper, blanket and pillow are provided on boarding.

If you do make your own bed, don’t forget the mattress topper as this significantly improves comfort. We haven’t flown Oman Air on a daytime flight, but it’s possible you may have to request a mattress topper in that case.

10A Bed
Seat 10A with the mattress topper, essential for a comfortable sleep. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Finally the blanket finishes off the bed. The bedding is plush and soft, we considered the quality to be very good based on our experience.

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10A fully decked out with the blanket ready for sleeping. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

There is a good-sized pillow, and at 10A you really get the ‘cocooned’ feeling with the privacy divider between you and your neighbour extended.

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Seat 10A in bed mode with the privacy divider extended. A ‘suite-style’ experience. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

In the aisle seat the bed is slightly shorter, but still very generous for Business Class. The main drawback here is the exposure to the aisle with some privacy around the head and foot area but otherwise an open space.

10B Bed
Seat 10B in bed mode. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

At the window seats the beds are by far the best, with an added 10cm of length compared to the aisle seats meaning a full 203cm (80in or 6ft 8in) long.

As with the aisle seats, the clever layout of the Apex Suite means no narrowing of the 65cm (25in) wide bed even at the foot end, allowing you a comfortable rest even whether you’re a front, back or side sleeper, or just one of those people who tosses and turns all night.

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Bedtime in seat 10B. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Overall these were excellent beds for sleeping, and compare to some First Class experiences we have had (e.g. British Airways).

Lunch

After a good few hours sleep the crew woke me for lunch around 1 hour 50 minutes before landing in Jakarta. Eddie asked not to be disturbed, as he wanted to maximise sleep.

Lunch started with an amuse-bouche, which was a warm pistachio and parmesan crusted scallop with pineapple and chilli relish.

Amouse Bouche
Amuse bouche. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

It was nicely presented, but I have to say I am not a fan of scallops and this one was chewy and not at all to my liking. I’m sure others might appreciate it better!

For the appetiser I went for the Classic Arabic Mezze with Arabic breads.

Mezze
Arabic Mezze. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

In many ways this was similar to the Arabic breakfast, though I expected that. While it wasn’t the most extensive mezze I’ve had on a plane everything was really good. The Arabic bread was soft and tasty, and the portion size was perfect for a starter.

For the main course I went for the braised lamb with sweet potato.

Braised Lamb.jpg
Braised lamb. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

This was yet another good dish, the presentation didn’t look much but it was well cooked, tender and flavourful, served with pumpkin and asparagus. Again at this point I had probably eaten too much and couldn’t really do it justice; it’s easy to see why many airlines don’t serve two full hot meals on a 7 hour flight!

When Eddie woke up the crew were keen to offer him something to eat even though he had said he would sleep through. He opted for a bowl of soup, which was pimiento and roasted artichoke.

Soup
Pimiento and roasted artichoke soup. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

It was served with a bread selection and was excellent.

Seat recommendations

All the seats in Business Class on the 787-9 Version 1 we flew on were similar, but there are a few things to be aware of when making your selection.

If you’re travelling alone, you will have good privacy and direct aisle access in any seat, but you can’t beat the added privacy of the window (A or K) seats in our opinion.

Be aware that on these Version 1 aircraft there is a missing window in Row 12 on both sides of the cabin, so you may wish to avoid seats 12A/B or 12J/K.

12AB
There is a missing window at Row 12. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Having said that seats 12B and 12J are two of the few which have a window view through the gap behind their neighbour’s seat. At most rows, like at row 10 where we sat, these spaces align with the wall and so there is no view outside.

10B Window Storage
Seat 10B doesn’t get a window view through the gap. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Another consideration I found to be an issue in the front row (10B) was a lot of light from the galley during the night. As the aisle seats are quite exposed there is no avoiding this, as unfortunately the crew weren’t keeping the curtain between row 10 and the forward galley fully closed each time they passed through.

It also didn’t help that the passenger in seat 10D kept his TV on full bright all night, which shines straight into seat 10B. Eyeshades are a must sometimes, but sitting further back in the cabin may have helped.

10A Bed Down.jpg
If a neighbouring passenger across the aisle has their TV on it can cause some disturbance. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Finally the small single row cabin (row 15) on this aircraft is very intimate, but be aware of the three infant bassinet positions in the first row of Economy Class directly behind, and the proximity of the galley which may cause disturbance similar to row 10.

Couples who don’t mind about the window view will find the middle seat pair (D/G) the most sociable as they are directly aligned with one another. These seats also benefit from the same full length as the A and K window seats (only the B and J aisle seats suffer some reduction in length to allow for the window seat access corridor).

12DG.jpg
Middle seat pairs, like 12D/G (pictured) may be the best choice for couples. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The beauty of the Apex Suite layout and design is that wherever you sit you will enjoy good privacy, for example as a solo traveller, thanks to the large privacy dividers separating each seat into a ‘mini-suite’.

Service

Overall the service on our flight was good at times, average at others. The lead cabin crew was very helpful, but the other crew members serving our seat seemed quite new and inexperienced.

They often didn’t show a lot of confidence when asked something out of the ordinary, and the lead cabin crew ended up taking over a few times. This was highlighted during the dine on demand request but also a few other times during the flight.

For example the crew went to wake Eddie for breakfast a couple of times while they were starting to prepare my table, and I had to remind the crew that he was sleeping through and didn’t want to be woken for breakfast. They had already been told this before we slept and his do not disturb light was still on, so it was a little frustrating.

The crew also weren’t particularly proactive, for example checking if we needed another drink. I think I asked for a coffee twice before landing but never actually received one.

Despite that the crew were always courteous and friendly throughout the flight, but we certainly felt a little more attention to detail might be needed for them to compete with the standards at some other Middle Eastern airlines and of course Singapore Airlines.

Where the Apex Suite is flying

Oman Air has installed the Apex Suite Business Class on all its Airbus A330-200s (4 aircraft), some A330-300s (3 out of 6 aircraft) and all Boeing 787-8s and 787-9s (9 aircraft).

While the airline unfortunately no longer flies to Singapore, you can pick up the Apex Suite on flights to Muscat from:

  • Bangkok
  • Guangzhou
  • Jakarta (1st September 2019 onwards)
  • Kuala Lumpur (selected flights)
  • Manila (selected flights)

Note that the route we flew on, Jakarta, currently has the older A330-300 Business Class seats between now and the end of August 2019.

Oman Air then flies from Muscat to a number of cities in Europe for example, such as London, Frankfurt, Munich and Paris. Many of these flights also use the Apex Suite.

We found a return Business Class fare from Bangkok to London Heathrow on Oman Air via Muscat with the Apex Suite on all four flights in September for S$2,700. Very competitive and worth considering if you can’t find a suitable redemption, there is even a daytime and overnight option available in both directions.

Additionally, Oman Air is currently offering a free stopover in Muscat for First and Business Class passengers flying from Asia to Europe or vice-versa, with a complimentary night at the Ritz-Carlton Al Bustan Palace.

Who else flies the Apex Suite?

The Apex Suite is a rare find, but you’ll also find it used in the Business Class cabins on the following airlines:

  • Gulf Air (787)
  • Japan Airlines (selected 777s and 787s)
  • Korean Air (selected 747s, 777s, and 787s)
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Gulf Air is the latest airline to install the Apex Suite on its 787s, and you can find those flying on up to two daily flights from Bangkok. (Photo: Gulf Air)

Is Turkish Airlines next?

Turkish Airlines is introducing the Stelia Symphony seat in Business Class on its latest Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 aircraft.

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Turkish Airlines 787-9 Business Class. (Photo: Turkish Airlines)

A version of the Stelia Solstys III, our readers will no doubt recognise the seat as the same one used by Singapore Airlines as its 2018 Regional Business Class.

TK 789 J 2 (Turkish Airlines)
Turkish Airlines 787-9 Business Class. (Photo: Turkish Airlines)

This seat is not suitable for the wide cabin of the Boeing 777, however, and Turkish has promised a retrofit program for those aircraft with a different seat type.

The airline’s Chief Investment & Technology Officer, Dr Ahmet Bolat, hinted to Australian Business Traveller at the IATA General Meeting earlier this month that a seat meeting the description of the Apex Suite, with “seats that are two coupled together with aisle access via the back of the seat” was one possibility for the Turkish 777s.

Apex Layout 777
How the Apex Suite works in a 2-3-2 layout on the Boeing 777 (click to enlarge)

For us this would be a big step forward from the current 2-3-2 ‘aligned’ Business Class product on the Turkish 777-300ERs, guaranteeing both space and privacy. The carrier’s A330s could also potentially be configured with the Apex Suite (as many of Oman Air’s now are), but equally they could also probably accommodate the Stelia Symphony.

Let’s hope the initial rumours bear some truth as the current Turkish Airlines long-haul Business Class seats leave a lot to be desired in our opinion, and it can be a useful option to Europe with Star Alliance.

How to redeem Oman Air flights

Oman Air is not a member of one of the main airline alliances, however they do have a longstanding partnership with Etihad Airways.

We paid cash for our flight, however if you want to try it out using miles you have two options; Oman Air’s frequent flyer program Sindbad, or through the much more mainstream Etihad Guest program.

You can transfer points from Citi credit cards in Singapore directly to Etihad Guest.

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For the flight we took from Muscat to Jakarta in Business Class you’ll pay 48,000 Etihad Guest miles, however there are much cheaper options to Bangkok (34,000 miles) and Kuala Lumpur (39,000 miles).

Flights to Europe are also available at reasonable rates, for example flying Apex Suite Business Class from Muscat to:

  • Milan or Munich* (38,000 miles)
  • Frankfurt* (39,000 miles)
  • Paris (42,000 miles)
  • London (44,000 miles)

* Not all flights on these routes feature the Apex Suite.

That means you can redeem the Apex Suite all the way from Bangkok to Paris, for example, for 76,000 miles (34,000 + 42,000). Etihad Guest also allow one free stopover on round-trip Oman Air redemption tickets, either on the outbound or return flight.

Availability for Etihad Guest matches that offered to Sindbad members, and is shown on the Oman Air site (simply select ‘Miles’ instead of ‘Cash’ on the booking page). That means you can search online, but you’ll have to call Etihad Guest to book.

The full list of Etihad Guest mileage rates on Oman Air flights is available here. Oman Air does levy a fuel surcharge (YQ) on award tickets, so you’ll pay that in addition to the taxes due and the miles required, for example around S$204 on a Muscat to Bangkok flight.

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An Oman Air Boeing 787-9. (Photo: Steve Lynes)

Generally using Etihad Guest miles on Oman Air represents good value compared with using them on Etihad flights (e.g. Abu Dhabi to Bangkok in Business Class is 67,500 miles on Etihad, Muscat to Bangkok in Business Class is 34,000 miles on Oman Air).

If like us you are flying on a cash fare with Oman Air (they have some fairly competitive ones), you can also credit miles to Etihad Guest, which we would recommend over the more limited Sindbad option.

We picked up a ‘D’ fare class on Oman Air, which earned us 150% of the miles flown under the Etihad Guest program (5,780 miles each).

Summary

We really enjoyed the Apex Suite, probably one of the most spacious and comfortable Business Class seats we’ve ever flown in. Oman Air has finished the seats well, with a high specification and in warm, attractive, neutral tones.

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(Photo: MainlyMiles)

One Mile at a Time even ranks it as the second best Business Class in the world, and we don’t disagree. While the aisle seats don’t have the privacy levels of the Qsuite, the window seats practically do and we would recommend these for solo travellers.

The seats are also much more spacious in comparison (we found the Qsuite to be quite small in our recent review). Indeed the initial impression you get when you settle into these seats is how big they are – comparable to many First Class products.

The food on this flight was mostly excellent with a good selection, and the seat converted into a very spacious and comfortable bed ensuring a good night’s sleep.

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You can’t help but be impressed by the space offered in the Apex Suites. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

On the downside there were a few things Oman Air could be doing better, based on our experience. The boarding was chaotic and gave little or no priority for Business Class passengers. Very surprising at a brand new airport, let alone the airline’s home base.

The dine on demand service is a great concept, but wasn’t correctly managed by the crew, who had made it impossible to realistically offer after takeoff.

These are both really simple things to fix.

Overall though, we would definitely fly this airline and this product again. The hard product alone is a clear step above most Business Class seats, and the food and beverage options could hardly be faulted for a 7 hour flight.

Oman Air also offers competitive fares from Asia to Europe, though unfortunately you have to position yourself out of Singapore to access them.

Scoring the Apex Suite alone we would award 4.5 or potentially 5 stars for this product, but a couple of own goals by Oman Air on our flight tempered our overall rating slightly.

Review Summary
Review: Oman Air 787-9 Business Class
Summary: Aside from a chaotic boarding, which didn’t match the rest of the ground experience, and a poorly executed dine on demand concept, Oman Air’s Apex Suite Business Class is without doubt one of the nicest we’ve tried. With excellent food, ample personal space and mostly good service, this one should definitely be on your radar for a good value, high quality Business Class flight.
Author: Andrew
Date: March 2019
Among Business Class flights:
Rating: 4star.png
4 out of 5

(Cover Photo: MainlyMiles)

5 comments

  1. Very nice review on the APEX suites. <3

    Will you guys tried out APEX suites on either Korean Air, Japan Airlines in the coming future?

  2. Very good product indeed! I flew with them from Jakarta to London with all 4 leg with them. However, I do find their IFE content a little dated. Also, if nothing goes wrong, they are good. If something goes wrong, it’s terrible (eg. When your flight gets cancelled). Lastly, did your Etihad miles ever get credited?

  3. Be aware that starting beginning of June WY is operating Jakarta – Muscat on a wet leased Srilankan A330 used for this route only. Service and catering are still same as standard with a mixed cabin crew, business class seats while not bad in general, they are for sure not the same quality as Apex suite. Thus if you choose to fly Oman Air on this route and find this seat you may be disappointed. News saying B787 to come back in this route by September.

    1. Yes as noted in the review the CGK route returns to Apex Suite on the 787 from 1 Sep. You’ll need to fly to or from BKK or KUL (selected flights) until then to get this product.

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