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TRIP REPORT: I just booked a 7+ hour trip in Business in a Boeing 737 MAX on Oman Air. Am I mad?

TRIP REPORT: I just booked a 7+ hour trip in Business in a Boeing 737 MAX on Oman Air. Am I mad?

I’ve just booked a trip with Thai Airways/Oman Air and Malaysian Airlines that will take me from Sydney to Europe via Bangkok and then back to Australia from Zurich via Muscat and Kuala Lumpur. We have some obligations in Thailand and friends to visit in Europe. This fare at under AU$7,500 per person Business Class return was nearly too good to be true for an all-widebody trip. But then a narrow body reared its ugly head.

a group of people sitting in an airplane
Oman Air A330-200 Business Class cabin – no central overhead storage makes it open and airy [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

The kicker

When I first booked the trip, the Muscat Oman to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia leg was on an Oman Air Airbus A330-300, with those wonderful Business Class seats I travelled on in 2023. A full review of that trip will be appearing in the next month or so.

A week later, when it came time to confirm and pay for the 2024 trip, the price was the same, but the aircraft travelling this 7-hour and 10-minute leg had changed from a twin-aisle widebody Airbus A330-300 to a narrow body single aisle Boeing 737-MAX. Hmmmmm.

To give you an idea of the difference, this is the Business Class seat/cabin on the A330-300:

the inside of an airplane
Oman Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class [Oman Air]

A 77.5-inch long, lie-flat Business Class seat with a pitch of 82 inches is 22 inches wide and offers an electrically controlled backrest, leg rest and seat depth.

On the other hand, the Oman Air Boeing B737 MAX only has a ‘shell’ seat that does not go flat, but only reclines into a ‘Z’ relaxed position when fully reclined. It looks like this:

the inside of an airplane with several monitors
Oman Air Business Class on a narrow body single aisle B737 MAX [Oman Air/Teague]

OK, OK, we are getting this trip at a very low fare, and it is a daytime flight. The legs before and after both have fully reclining lie-flat seats for their respective overnight flights. Maybe I should stop my kvetching? This may not be so bad.

What Nonstop Dan thinks about Boeing 737 MAX on Oman Air

To assuage my fears about the comfort of this flight, I searched the internet and found a four-year-old video from one of my favourite flight reviewers, Nonstop Dan. He maintains several YouTube channels, but his airline review channel is the most relevant for understanding the experience of a Boeing 737 MAX on Oman Air.

Here is what he thinks about this cabin:

Dan’s opinion is based on a 3.5 hour flight. Ours will be twice that, so we shall see. No WiFi will also be a challenge. But on the whole he is fairly positive about the experience.

Also, forewarned is forearmed. If you know what to expect, then you can plan for it. For this daytime flight, it will be reading and watching movies, with minimal work. That’s in contrast to the legs on either side, which will be nighttime flights, where sleep will be the priority.

a bed in a plane
Look at that legroom on the fully reclining Business Class seat on the Oman Air A330-200 [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

2PAXfly Takeout

Maybe this is a case of the adage ‘You get what you pay for’ being true. However, I did book a trip, where this flight was originally on an Airbus A330-300 but has now been downgraded to a single aisle narrowbody Boeing 737 MAX on Oman Air, without lie-flat beds. On the other hand, equipment changes occur all the time, so six months out, at least I can prepare myself for this slightly less comfortable daytime flight. Anyway – you’ll know what I think in August this year.

Things could be worse. I could be flying economy!

8 Comments

  1. derek

    The Oman Air A330 business class looks similar to the old British Airways 777 business class. In that configuration, the window seat was particularly private. Many did not like BA’s 777 old business class but I thought the window seat was great.

    The 737 business class is more like premium economy or like American domestic first class. It is not worth much more than economy, in my opinion, except on a daytime flight.

    The title reads “…am I mad?”. The answer is that you are, but not for flying Oman Air. Ha ha. No, you’re not crazy at all but write a fine blog.

    Reply
    • 2paxfly

      Thanks for your kind comments. Having flown on both aircraft in business, I cannot agree with your comparison. Oman Air is like a private room. On BA, it’s like being a top to tail sardine in a can. As far as USA domestic first class – I can’t comment. It’s been a long time since I travelled in that class in the USA.

      Reply
  2. Alvin

    There are a few typos – it’s the 737 MAX, not the 787 MAX!

    Reply
    • 2paxfly

      Oops! Thanks for pointing these out Alvin. I thought I had made that error – but couldn’t see for looking. Will correct.

      Reply
  3. Etrust

    Just discovered similar (un-notified) change on my booking. Cant say I am happy.

    KUL-MCT is 7hr+. Like you however it is daylight flight (both ways). The other legs (CDG-MCT, KUL-SYD) are still lie flat (for now!).

    Have asked WY to refund the entire fare, but that would appear unlikely!

    Reply
    • 2paxfly

      Hi Etrust, thanks for your comment. Yes, the change is un-nerving. I decided to stay with the fare and the aircraft change for two reasons: the fare was pretty unbeatable and as an airline blogger, I’m always up for a new seat/cabin/aircraft experience. Had it been an overnight leg, my thinking – or that of my husband, could have been different!

      Reply
  4. etrust

    Oh, appears MCT-KUL is in fact overnight. Sigh.

    Reply
    • 2paxfly

      Hi Etrust, Your comment made me double check my booking. I found that the aircraft was referred to as a ‘Boeing 737 MAX’ – that was all, so I thought in the light of recent groundings, I better check that it was a MAX-8 and not MAX-9 – which Oman also have. Relief! It’s a MAX-8.

      Reply

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