BEST FOR: A warm welcome, impressive attention to details and a time-saving schedule  
PRICE: Roundtrip started at $8,750 roundtrip
FLIGHT TIME: 14 hours 30 minutes
CONFIGURATION: 2-2-2Seat Width: 26 inches
CONTACT: kenya-airways.com/ke/en/

CHECK-IN Balloons decorated the ticket counters marking the inaugural service of this new nonstop service between the US to East Africa. However, before the celebration with the crew and airline’s CEO welcoming passengers at the gate started, I quickly paid a visit to the Delta Sky Club for some snacks.

BOARDING SkyPriority lanes made it easy to board at any time. On board, the energy and excitement were palpable. Welcome drinks included juice, water and champagne, and we were offered a selection of international newspapers and magazines.

THE SEAT Arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration, the lie-flat seats have plenty of storage space on the leg rest in front and a spacious tray table that pulls out of the arm rest. Unfortunately, the tray does not swivel making it hard to get out of the seat without stowing it first. There were many positions in which to move the seat including a relax setting or completely flat. I appreciated the width of the seat and the convenient power outlet plus a wide screen with loads of first-rate movies and television programs. Almost as entertaining was the moving map, which is fascinating when flying over Africa.

THE FLIGHT Given the 1:00 PM departure, the service was pleasant and drawn out allowing passengers to settle in for the 14-hour-plus journey. It began with the bar cart serving a variety of international wines and spirits plus an appetizer plate and nuts. I was impressed that no trays were used; instead, the flight attendants placed everything directly on the table cloth, the kind of service you would experience in a fine restaurant. Next came the starter, which was a delicious halloumi cheese and tomato plate accompanied by warm bread and soup. Drink refills were plentiful.

While the slow-roasted Cornish hen with Kenyan beans looked tempting, I opted for the vegetable ratatouille with sautéed pearl onions and roasted orange pepper sauce. The dessert trolley had fresh fruit, cheese plates and cakes from which you could choose as much as you liked. A small snacking station was set up near the galley for hunger pangs, and a midflight snack service included pizza and a chicken sandwich. I slept through the breakfast of scrambled eggs or stuffed banana crepes, which was served two hours before landing.

ARRIVAL Since this was the inaugural flight from New York, the plane was met with a water cannon salute upon landing and one of the most impressive ceremonies I have ever seen. We disembarked via stairs along a red carpet where traditional dancers entertained passengers to the tune of a marching band. Welcome gifts preceded a formal ceremony as numerous dignitaries praised the airline for linking Kenya and US with this game-changing nonstop flight, which shaves as much as ten hours off flights which require a connection in Europe.

VERDICT With a strong emphasis on Kenyan hospitality, the inflight service on this nonstop flight is sure to win positive attention.