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Salam Air Luban Class Review A321neo Muscat Oman MCT to Phuket Thailand HKT

June 17, 2023
Osman Dadi
Omani low cost carrier Salam Air operates a premium economy service Labuan Class which is perfect for short hops.
From
Muscat MCT
To
Phuket HKT
Duration
5hr 32min
Via
Salam AIir
Seat(s)
1F
Points Used
N/A
Cash Spent
$561.89

Salam Air, Oman’s low-cost carrier, recently introduced Luban Class on its A321neo planes. If you are looking for an equivalent in the US, it’s comparable to Spirit’s Big Front Seat. However, I have to be honest and say I’ve never actually flown Spirit Air at the time of writing, so I am purely basing my experience on what I’ve heard of it off-hand.

Salam Air Luban Class seats
Salam Air Luban Class seats

These are very limited; a single bulkhead row at the front of the plane features this seat. Although I had little information on the product, I tried it on a flight from Muscat, Oman, to Phuket, Thailand.

Luban Business Class Overview

I stumbled over this flight purely by accident. I came across this flight and airline while searching various ways to get from New York to Phuket for Christmas and New Year 2023, where I planned to spend a week.

The best and most viable options with points were flying via points into BKK and switching to a domestic economy carrier. Alternatively, I could fly via points to DEL and then switch to an economy carrier. However, my third choice was to fly via points to MCT and switch to this single 3x weekly Salam Air flight featuring this mysterious Luban Class.

Salam Air Air craft at the gate
Salam Air Air craft at the gate

This schedule worked best for me; taking this route also got me into Phuket directly and a full day early. It would be a Saturday evening arrival instead of my other plan to come in on Sunday evening.

I couldn’t find any information about this seat and very little about the carrier online, so I am determined to be one of the first to write about it.

Booking Salam Air Luban Class

Booking wasn’t exactly easy; I tried to book online several times using different browsers (Firefox, Chrome, and Opera GX). I even tried using different hardware, attempting the booking with my Microsoft Surface (Windows) and Macbook Air (Apple).

Every time the booking got stuck at the payment stage – going into an infinite loop trying to process the payment but never confirming.

Eventually, I gave up and called the airline on a Muscat international phone number. I then had to make the booking manually with the agent. However, this only took ten minutes, as the agent was very easy to work with.

One thing to remember is the benefits of the Luban class. Salam Air includes Lounge Access, a Meal, and also Priority Security screening (Fast Lane) at Muscat airport. All three of these make this flight good value – I found the Lounge Access to be the most valuable.

The Ground Experience At Muscat

I arrived in Muscat on Emirates 862 from Dubai DXB. When it came to checking in, I had already done that before the preceding Emirates flight. However, the check-in was a little long-winded; it was done electronically on my phone and involved six different steps.

Muscat Airport Transfer Check In - Salam Air Luban Class is the last one on the far right.

I was glad this part went smoothly; having to Check-In in person could have otherwise been annoying. With little information on the airline, I wasn’t even sure if the desk would be open and available in the Transfer area.

Transfer screen with details in both Arabic and English.
Transfer screen with details in both Arabic and English.

In Muscat, the transfer Check-In is right in the middle of where the three wings meet on the lower level (arrivals); and right across the transfer, Check-In is security entry.

Across the Check-In is the security entrance, with stunning ceiling architecture just above.
Across the Check-In is the security entrance, with stunning ceiling architecture just above.

I found only the Oman Air and Salam Air Desks open; out of the 15 or so listed airlines, I picked up a new boarding pass at the transfer desk and proceeded through security to the lounge.

Going thru security and up the escalators brings you to the Muscat Airport shopping area
Going thru security and up the escalators brings you to the Muscat Airport shopping area
One additional level up is the entrance to the Majan Lounge, part of my Salam Air Luban Class ticket.
One additional level up is the entrance to the Majan Lounge, part of my Salam Air Luban Class ticket.

The Majan Lounge and Boarding

Salam Air uses the Majan Lounge in Muscat Airport, which I found to be excellent, and I have reviewed the Majan Lounge fully, so I won’t bore you here. Let’s say The Lounge was definitely a highlight of the full experience – included as part of the ticket.

Boarding Salam Air Luban Class to Phuket

One of the quirks to note about Muscat airport is its odd gate layout. The Check-In area for each gate is located on the upper level. Once you check-in, you take the escalator down to the gate area.

However, once you’ve gone down here, you can’t go back out, so be aware of this issue. In hindsight, I could have spent at least another hour or so at the Majan Lounge instead of kicking my heels by the gate.

I found this quirk the hard way. By the time I realized this, it was too late to go up and exit the gate area, as you’re already checked in. To make matters worse, there’s only one bathroom per gender and zero amenities.

Gate A2 entrance
Gate A2 entrance

There’s also only a single power outlet in this entire gate area, so you can’t even charge up before the flight (and the flight doesn’t have power ports!). So be warned, wait till the last minute to board your flight.

It's now 12:00 and the displays said "Gate Open" - but the plane is no where to be found
It’s now 12:00, and the display says “Gate Open” – but the plane is nowhere to be found.

Slowly, the gate area went from almost empty to completely full, and I realized this would be a jam-packed flight. The pilots and crew came at 11:45 am. They were jolly and having a ton of fun with each other.

Where is our plane? It finally rolled in after 12:00pm, still needing to disembark.
Where is our plane? It finally rolled in after 12:00pm, still needing to disembark.

We began boarding at 12:30 pm. Boarding started with Zone “C”, then moved to Zone “B”, then to Zone “A” and finally ended with Zone “D.” I was in Zone A, but could honestly not figure out the logic behind the boarding sequence – my seatmate in 1D was Zone “C.” At the same time, the two passengers in 1A and 1C were Zone “D.” It seemed to be quite randomly assigned.

Finally we can board our flight
Finally, we can board our flight

Salam Air Luban Class Cabin Seat

Salam Air is set up with Luban Business Class seats only in the first row of its A321neo planes. Although it is similar to Spirit Air’s Big Front Seat, the main difference here is it is just a single row. The rest of the cabin is your typical low-cost carrier style, so I won’t dwell too much on it.

Salam Air Luban class seats
Salam Air Luban class seats
Salman Air Luban Class seats are two across, with spacious legroom for both passengers
Salman Air Luban Class seats are two across, with spacious legroom for both passengers
Salam Air Luban seats have no power ports. There is also no TV or IFE system.
Salam Air Luban seats have no power ports. There is also no TV or IFE system.
Windows are slightly off the seat placement, but you do get two (particularly in full recline).
Windows are slightly off the seat placement, but you do get two (particularly in full recline).

Seat 1F

The seat is quite firm, which does mean good back support, and I generally found it comfortable. The headrest is large, firm, and can easily support a sleeping head.

Salam Air Labuan Class chair footrest is folded below my seat when it is not extended.
Salam Air Labuan Class chair footrest is folded below my seat when it is not extended.

The seat has a footrest that extends out and a bigger recline than other seats. The controls are two buttons and are manually operated.

Two button controls for reclining your seat and the USB C ports for phone charging.
Two button controls for reclining your seat and the USB C ports for phone charging.

There are two USB ports, one as USB C (new USB style) and the other as USB A (old USB style), on the front of the seat. Power was turned on after take-off and had green indicator lights.

Salam Air Labuan Class pocket storage for items like laptops or iPads, in between the two seats.
Salam Air Labuan Class pocket storage for items like laptops or iPads, in between the two seats.

There is a small storage area on the center panel of the two seats (mine was on the left side), and on the opposite side, you can lift.

Here is the tray table on the right side, which folds out in two parts. It was very difficult to open this.
Here is the tray table on the right side, which folds out in two parts. It was very difficult to open this.
Two control buttons for recline and the footrest Both are manually released. There's also a tray area for a phone and drinks above
Two control buttons for recline and the footrest Both are manually released. There’s also a tray area for a phone and drinks above.

Luban Class recline mode!

I tried reclining soon after take-off and found that the seat reclines back approximately ten degrees. This makes it comfortable, although more to the level of Premium Economy than a Business Class seat. The headrest was also incredibly comfortable for sleeping.

Each Salam Air Luban Class seat is equipped with this comfortable folding headrest with the Salam Air logo on it.
Each Salam Air Luban Class seat is equipped with this comfortable folding headrest with the SalamAir logo on it.

The footrest comes out about 12″ or so at a 45-degree angle.

The Extended footrest basically fits my size. I'd say this is very comparable to Premium Economy on most carriers.
The Extended footrest basically fits my size. I’d say this is very comparable to Premium Economy on most carriers.

When in Recline mode especially extending the leg rest brings the seat to roughly a 30-degree angle. I noticed that this position makes it very easy to put your feet up on the bulkhead, which is not my style. However, my seatmate thoroughly enjoyed this.

Amenities, Wi-Fi and In-Flight Entertainment

Salam Air is a low-cost carrier even in Luban Class. As such, this flight has no IFE, Wi-Fi, or Amenities. This was fine for me, as I would only be writing and sleeping and didn’t need to be online.

However, this is definitely something to keep in mind if you require Wi-Fi connectivity flying this route – you’d be better off using Emirates (DXB), Etihad (AUH), or Oman Air (MCT) instead. Salam Air is not the airline to fly with if you need Wi-Fi, IFE, or Amenities.

Luban Class Food and Beverage

About 18 minutes into the flight, the crew began rolling a cart with Snack Boxes down the aisle. I believe these are for sale.

Food served in a plastic tray.
Food served in a plastic tray.

In contrast, about 20 minutes into the flight, the lead FA asked for my boarding pass, checked me against the manifest, and let me know my food was being heated. I saw the FAs checking the entire passenger manifest against items each passenger is due to receive. Given that everyone has individual selections and mostly opts in or out of the food service upon booking, getting this right is critical.

Contents include the Entree, a small box of Mango juice, a Kit Kat bar for snack and plastic utensils.
Contents include the Entree, a small box of Mango juice, a Kit Kat bar for snack and plastic utensils.

Another 20 minutes passed, and a different FA pulled a cart down the aisle, asked me for my boarding pass again, and then served me my meal on a plastic tray with a covered top. It felt odd and interesting to see this process of checking against the boarding passes; I’d never seen this before.

The meal was Chicken Khabta, a type of Chicken Rice dish that was spicy and tasted a little like Indian Biryani. The portion was on the small side, but it was fully sufficient given that I’d been eating at every single stop and leg of my journey! It was served in a plastic tray with a cover.

It came with a small box of Mango juice and a Kit Kat bar for a snack; the utensils were plastic and wrapped.

The Chicken Khabta uncovered - it was hot and tasted well, but was also on the oily side.
The Chicken Khabta uncovered – it was hot and tasted well, but was also on the oily side.

Paying for coffee

Another 25 minutes later, the FAs walked through with a cart full of food, drinks, and snacks. I asked for a coffee, and I was charged 0.600 OMR for this. Unfortunately, I had no change, so they had to charge this amount on a credit card – $1! I get it, though; after all, this is a low-budget airline, and everything gets charged.

The coffee was the instant mix type – but the FAs asked me if I wanted it stronger or weaker; and ensured I was happy with the water included before serving it to me.

Mid Flight Turbulence

The flight was turbulent for a good two hours as we were traveling over India and the Indian Ocean – the warm air currents make flights quite choppy, and it was shakey for a very long time.

I was able to capture the sunset mid-flight.
I was able to capture the sunset mid-flight.

Although that was more than made up for by the views.

I was able to capture the sunset mid-flight.
I was able to capture the sunset mid-flight.

It was beautiful to watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean as we flew East and the sunset west. Over time, the colors changed from bright orange to Salmon red to dusk’s deep purples and blues. I also saw the new moon rising.

View approaching Phuket, Thailand, swinging around the East side of the island.
View approaching Phuket, Thailand, swinging around the East side of the island.

Now with nothing else to do aside from writing and being exhausted from my journey, I slept for most of the flight. I found the seats pretty comfortable, and I ended up dozing off. I woke up to find us cruising over the lights of ships holding in the Indian Ocean before we swung over land and approached Phuket airport from the East.

Salam Air Luban Class Arrival in Phuket

We landed on time and, with a quick taxi, were brought to a mobile gate area and disembarked the plane through a pretty steep covered stairway.

Salam Air A321neo on the ground at Phuket, Thailand.
Salam Air A321neo on the ground at Phuket, Thailand.

As an American passport holder, Immigration was easy. Simply wait in line and get stamped on arrival. The process took about 15 minutes and was very smooth.

Disembarking was via Stairs and a connecting bus.
Disembarking was via Stairs and a connecting bus.

Final Thoughts

I didn’t know what to expect out of Salam Air, given how little info there is on the internet about it. This product is relatively new, and I haven’t flown this seat on another airline. It could be similar in some regards to the Spirit Airlines Big Front seat with a comfortable amount of space, although on the flip side, there was no IFE, Amenities, Wi-Fi, or Power, and the food was pretty basic. That being said, lounge access at the start of the journey was a definite plus.