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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)
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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.

Apex Layout 787.jpg
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.

13AB
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:

Seat Map V2 (Oman Air).jpg
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.

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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.

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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.

Boarding.jpg
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.

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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.

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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)
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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.

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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.

J Wine Cover Menu Beverages
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.