TRIP REPORT: Kuwait City - Skopje via Istanbul


Written by Teodor Parolo Tasevski

This is about a trip that I took from Kuwait back to my home country of Macedonia in July of last year. Considering that I was coming from one of the hottest places on earth (with temperatures over 50C), Skopje’s scorching summer seemed almost mild! For this trip, I purchased two separate tickets - one on Jazeera Airways from KWI to SAW, and another on Pegasus Airlines from SAW to SKP. When purchasing my KWI-SAW ticket on Jazeera’s website, the price for a business class seat turned out to be just around 30 EUR more than one in economy, so I figured I’d give it a try.


View of the check-in area from the escalator

Being Kuwait’s only LCC, Jazeera has its own (albeit little) terminal building right next to the main one. The main terminal of Kuwait’s airport is usually chaotic, so I was glad to be using this one. Security and immigration only took a few minutes, and I was on the other side in no time.

Since I had some time to spare, I thought I’d try the business lounge. Although the lounge was nothing to write home about, hosting a modest buffet and a small sitting area with no views, it was arguably more than enough for an LCC, which don’t usually even offer premium service. Jazeera, like most LCCs operates a fleet composed exclusively of A320s to mostly short and medium-haul destinations out of Kuwait, with the only long-haul route being the recent London Gatwick addition, meant to offer a cheaper alternative to KU and BA for direct service to popular London. Unlike most LCCs, however, they offer Euro-style business class.

My boarding pass

We got a remote boarding gate, which was a hassle because of the heat and the long bus ride to the plane.

As I said, the business class was Euro-style, with only the middle seat blocked, and a curtain separating it from the economy cabin. Although I had chosen seat 2F, the crew politely asked me if I’d move to 2A, since a couple wanted to sit together. As it was also a window seat, I didn’t object.

The crew did the security presentation, and within minutes of pushback, we were in the air!

A great view of Kuwait City!

The food was mediocre, but still more than you’d expect for free on an LCC. The chicken wrap was perhaps the only good piece. Unlike neighbouring flydubai, Jazeera doesn’t have personal IFE on their flights, and they played an Arabic TV show on the overhead screens. No big deal, however, as it was only a 3 hour flight.

View of the economy cabin

LF was nearly full, almost exclusively with Kuwaitis vacationing in Turkey. After my walk throughout the entire plane, I had a chat with the purser - an older Iranian man working for Jazeera for the past 10 years or so. He was very impressed to meet someone from Macedonia for the first time!

The rest of the flight was uneventful, and we started our descent in no time.

The weather in Istanbul was excellent

There was zero turbulence on approach and landing went very smoothly. Since it was around 1PM, SAW was full of gulf carriers. I spotted Saudi “flynas”, Kuwait Airways, Qatar Airways, Emirates… Turkey has become a really popular destination for tourists from the area in recent years.

J9 boarding back for KWI

QR A330-200 boarding for DOH

Since I only had hand luggage and printed my online boarding pass for the SAW-SKP segment from home, I proceeded directly to the transit zone. The security queue, which can be long during rush hour, only took a minute due to most arriving passengers terminating at SAW.

I have to be honest and say that SAW has become my preferred airport in Istanbul. It's the perfect size, looks clean and modern, and transiting is relatively quick. If you have a layover over 3 hours (which I didn’t this time), I recommend visiting the nearby “ViaPort” Outlet mall, with many shops and restaurants.

The new Istanbul airport, although it’s big and beautiful, has a couple of issues: it takes forever for the plane to get to the gate once it lands, and walking from one end of the terminal to the other can take over 30 minutes. Doha, a much smaller airport by comparison, has a quick shuttle that gets you from the main shopping zone to the farthest wing in under 2 minutes! IMO, IST desperately needs something like that. Additionally, it reportedly receives a lot of fog during the winter, causing problems for flights.

After purchasing the customary “baklava”, and a quick lunch, I headed for my gate. We got a jet-bridge, and the LF on this segment was almost 100% (as always). In fact, I don’t remember a single flight in between IST/SAW and SKP where LF has been less than 80-90%, even in times like November or February.

We got one of Pegasus’ newest a320NEOs. Although I’m a B737 fan myself, I must admit that the NEO is a great bird.

Once I came to my seat, 2D, I got a nasty surprise. As I was among the last passengers to board, it appeared that there was literally ZERO space for my suitcase in the overhead compartments. The crew, unhelpful as they are, simply told me to put it under the seat in front of me, despite it being a pretty large bag. Thankfully, neighboring 2E was among the only empty seats on the plane, so I came up with this rather “innovative” solution.

The flight to Skopje was short, lasting exactly 1 hour, and the weather was smooth throughout.

I didn’t get up from my seat because the space was crammed, and the crew were selling stuff out of their trolley for almost the entire flight.

Macedonian landscape prior to landing

We arrived in SKP a few minutes ahead of schedule, and quickly pulled up to the jet bridge gate. Notwithstanding the fact that it's my home airport, I must admit that SKP is one of my favorites. It legitimately took me no more than 10 minutes to get from my seat in the plane to my car. Let’s see that happen at any major hub!

Final Verdict: To be clear, the service and product weren’t anything close to what you’d expect from TK or QR (especially in business class) for the same trip. Yet, the sheer difference in price, coupled with great timing and a short layover easily made this one of my most pleasant KWI-SKP trips. A solid 9/10.

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  1. Anonymous09:14

    Great report! Love Gulf LCCs which have business class cabins, lounges, dedicated terminals :D Jazeera Airways looks very good.

  2. Anonymous09:18

    Nice report, Jazeera looks like a cute little airline. As for Pegasus, I think they are generally full from everywhere because they tend to be the cheapet. I remember I bought BEG-SAW-IKA and back for as little as €250!

    1. Anonymous18:31

      IKA/Iraq used to be very expensive.

  3. Anonymous11:14

    indeed great report. Pegasus could have done more at SKP. Being one of the last boarding passangers on a lcc flight is not recommended (its another world) ;)

    I found SAW to be really boring

    1. Anonymous18:30

      There is no Wi-fi.

  4. Anonymous11:24

    Pegasus is flying 8 times / week to Skopje, looks they have a lot of passengers

    1. Anonymous11:57

      if it wasnt for the unpredictable bumpy turkish economy they could have done seasonal Izmir-SKP and SAW-OHD. I guess they are playing it safe with SKP-SAW

    2. Anonymous19:53

      I low key hoped they’d win one of those MK gov subsidy tenders that Wizz always gets. I like what W6 has done for SKP, but a little competition would be nice.

  5. Anonymous14:59

    Istanbul is so beautiful...the eternal city after Rome.
    Business class is just separated by a curtain from what I see. Overall, seems pretty average as an airline. The Omani LCC seem to be much nicer.

  6. Anonymous18:32

    With the construction of the new Istanbul airport SAW has certainly gained in appeal, making it much more easier to reach despite it also being very far from the city center.

  7. Anonymous15:05

    The new IST is closer to city center than SAW.

    And the 5th runway (3rd independent runway) of IST will be on service less than a month, it will shorten the taxi time by %60.


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