Kenya Airways launched its non-stop flights to New York, US, on October 28.
However, frequent travellers need to know the DOs and DON'Ts of this flight.
Being non-stop, it means Nairobi is the only point of security check, therefore expect the process to be amped up several notches. You are best advised to arrive at the airport at least four hours before departure to allow for any eventuality.
DOuse Delta Air Lines when connecting to/from other cities in the US.
You can book two tickets. One from Nairobi to JFK on KQ and the other from New York to say Los Angeles via Delta. For now, it looks like the partnership agreement between Kenya Airways and Delta is not final and so you cannot get a one-through ticket on this non-stop flight to another state.
The advantage of booking with Delta is that the KQ flight lands at Terminal 4 at JFK, the same as Delta, allowing for a smoother and faster transfer.
The disadvantage of having two tickets is that you cannot check in your luggage through to your final destination, which means that when you disembark at JFK, you will have to collect it and check it in for your onward journey. I do hope that the KQ partnership with Delta will be firmed up soon. Travellers from the US to Kenya will no longer be subjected to long layovers.
DO arrive early for the flight at JKIA
This flight being non-stop means Nairobi is the only point of security check, therefore expect a rigorous process. The other consideration is that with the frustrating and unpredictable Nairobi traffic, don't take any chances with random delays. Please note that the flight departs from JKIA's Gate 19 at Terminal 1A.
DO prepare for additional security measures at JKIA
For the inaugural flight, nearly 40 per cent of the passengers were randomly selected to undergo extraordinary security checks lasting six minutes per person. They included personal interviews before boarding. Be prepared. Ensure that you get to the airport early enough.
On the United States' Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website, it is stated that passengers with laptops must remove them from their bags or suitcases and place them in a separate tray for scanning at the airport security checkpoint. Be ready to expedite the process and save yourself last minute stress.
DO bring laptops and other devices on the flight
In 2017, the US Department for Homeland Security instituted a ban on devices larger than a mobile phone on non-US airlines flying directly into the US from several Middle Eastern and North African airports. This meant that passengers were not allowed to keep their devices with them and were required to check them in.
For business travellers, this was going to be a great inconvenience. Thankfully, the ban came to an end in July of the same year and travellers from the countries listed in the original ban can now bring their laptops into the cabin. From the inaugural flight on October 28, passengers were allowed to bring their laptops into the cabin, and hopefully this will not change.
DON'T make jokes about security
Kenyans are generally happy-go-lucky people who see the funny side of even the most serious of situations. Just look at all the memes going viral about the inaugural KQ flight. However, this type of humour should not be extended to airport security or the US security personnel manning the security areas. They will not see the humour. Should you happen to make a joke, you will be refused boarding, or worse, held for questioning.
You DO earn Frequent Flyer Miles on the KQ-Delta ticket
Because Delta and Kenya Airways are members of the SkyTeam Alliance, all frequent flyers can earn and redeem miles on both airlines. This is excellent news for frequent flyers who value their miles for the benefits they receive. In addition, the Elite Plus flyers will also benefit from Sky Priority services all over the United States.