The water safari at Kistie-Mpunguti Marine Park & Reserve was the final adventure of the eight-day tour of national parks along Kenya’s southern border. Nairobi National Park was the final safari on this trip to Kenya. Rather than take the safari vehicle for the eight+ hour drive from Mombasa to Nairobi, the tour booked a flight on 748 Air Services.
748 Air Services (K) Ltd is an air charter company based in Nairobi, Kenya. It provides scheduled passenger service to several cities and national parks in Kenya and charter passenger and cargo air services to humanitarian aid organizations, oil and gas companies, and various governmental organizations in several East African countries. 748 Air Services operates a passenger fleet of 10 Dash 8 aircraft.
Dash 8s have an interesting production history. De Havilland Canada began producing them in 1984. In 1986, Boeing purchased the company in part to try to better its chances of landing an order for 737 jets from Air Canada. When Airbus got the order, Boeing immediately put De Haviland up for sale. Bombardier bought it in 1992.
Q400 is the latest version of the Dash 8 series. In the mid 1990s, Bombardier began adding the Active Noise and Vibration System to Dash 8s. That system reduces interior noise and vibration to levels comparable to a jet. Bombardier designated these models the Q(uiet) series.
748 Air Services Flight FE202 was a Q400 that seats up to 78 passengers. Passengers boarded from the tarmac. I prefer boarding that way even in inclement weather. It seems more natural and is definitely more fun than being loaded onto a plane through a gerbil tube (jet bridge).
On this day MBA happened to be hosting a flight of four V-22 Osprey VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft along with a C-130 that carries equipment and/or provides inflight refueling for the V-22s. The U.S. Marine Corps is the V-22’s principal customer. I wondered what the V-22s were doing in Kenya. Probably just routine training. Or maybe serving as a counter presence to the Wagner Group, Russian mercenaries that are active in several African countries.
V-22s are interesting and unique because they are a combination airplane and helicopter. Their engine nacelles can be rotated so the propellers face forward like a traditional airplane or face skyward like a helicopter. That enables V-22s to takeoff, land, and fly like an airplane or takeoff and land vertically like a helicopter but fly like an airplane. Pretty nifty.
My seat was 14A, a window seat on the port (left) side. The passenger load on the flight was light. No one was sitting in the adjacent seat. That makes a big difference in comfort no matter what aircraft I’m on.
All seats were economy class that were 17 inches (43cm) wide. The distance between rows was 31 inches (78cm). That is a bit more legroom than many western airlines provide to economy passengers. The seats did not recline. I liked the leather upholstery.
Row 14 was under the wing and next to the port turboprop engine.
High-wing aircraft usually have good downward visibility. In this case, the engine nacelle blocked a lot of the view horizontally.
Takeoff was on time at 10:30. The captain announced that the expected flight time for the 262 mile (422 km) trip was 55 minutes at 24,000 feet (7,315 m).
There was no service during the flight. In May 2022, passengers were required to wear masks on the plane but not in the airport.
I chose a seat on the port side for a possible view of Mount Kilimanjaro. Not long after takeoff, Kili came into view as we passed about 50 miles to the north.
Thirty minutes later we were landing in Nairobi.
The aircraft parked on the ramp at the domestic terminal at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) at 11:25 five minutes before the scheduled arrival time.
Once again passengers were sparred the indignity of disembarking through a boring, stuffy, windowless gerbil tube and were allowed to enjoy fresh air and the sights, sounds and smells of the airport while strolling into the terminal.
In spite of the fact that there was no luxurious lounge, predeparture beverage or lie flat seat, everything about this experience was very enjoyable. The domestic terminals at both airports were small and uncrowded. Lines, if any, for check in and security were short and fast. The Q400 seat was comfortable. Being next to a vacant seat no doubt adds to the comfort of any flight. The cherry on top of all of it was the final view of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Other posts from the Kenya trip in May 2022.
748 Air Services Dash-8 Q-400 Economy Class Mombasa to Nairobi, Kenya
Kenya Airways 787-8 Business Class Nairobi, Kenya to Johannesburg, South Africa
Air France 777-300 Business Class Johannesburg, South Africa to Paris, France
Air France 787-9 Business Class Paris, France to Dallas, TX
Nairobi National Park Safari
Sankara Nairobi, Marriott Autograph Collection – Hotel Review
Kenya Airways Pride and Simba Lounges Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Nairobi
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse – Johannesburg, South Africa
Air France Lounge Terminal 2E Hall K, Charles de Gaulle International Airport Paris