Are you planning a trip to Africa, and are considering booking with Uganda Airlines? Look no further, as I recently flew with Uganda Airlines for the first time and decided to write a review. Hopefully, this review will help you decide whether this airline is perfect for your next trip. So, let’s dive in and explore what Uganda Airlines has to offer.
Uganda Airlines is the national carrier of Uganda and it offers a range of domestic and international flights, catering to the needs of both business and leisure travellers. The airline which is based in Entebbe originally started in 1977 but closed operations in 2001. Revived in August 2019, it has been flying ever since. The airline currently operates a fleet using Airbus A330-800 and Bombardier CRJ900ER.
Uganda Airlines currently (April 2023) operates flights to and from the following destinations:
Pre-Flight Experience with Uganda Airlines
Booking a ticket with Uganda Airlines is mostly straightforward. You can reserve on their website or through their customer service WhatsApp number. I found selecting a one-way or round-trip flight to be simple, however, the multicity option regularly gave error codes. Customer service advised me to instead reserved two one-way tickets.
According to the Uganda Airlines website, you can pay using the following options: credit card (visa, MasterCard, American Express), Unionpay, MPesa, MTN mobile money and Airtel Money. Tigo Pesa, Xpay, Dumapay and Paypal are also listed. However, paying Paypal did not work for me. Using my credit card to pay for my flights also was a problem as I got error codes. This was sorted after a message to their WhatsApp where I gave the reference code and was emailed a payment link using DPO pay, which worked with no issue. So payments can be an issue, however, customer care is usually able to help with alternatives.
It is important to note that you can check in online 48 or 72 hours ahead of your flight, however, this depends on your departure airport.
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that I could select emergency exit seats at no extra cost. This is something I have never seen before, it was great to be able to pick seats with the extra legroom. Interestingly, I found that there was plenty of legroom even in the regular economy class seats.
Another highlight was the price point. I found that they were cheaper than the other airlines, and I was able to book a one-way flight for USD 188 which is pretty good considering the distance I had to travel. Even better is the fact that if you book online, the price is $30 cheaper!
Finally, being from the Caribbean, I have become used to paying for checked bags. It has been refreshing living on the African continent where most airlines allow 2 free bags. Uganda Airlines is no different in this regard.
The Not-So-Great Part
The biggest drawback I found with flying Ugandan Airlines was the fact that they currently do not issue flight credits. My original trip should have been in December 2023, however, there was uncertainty just before this as there was an Ebola outbreak. Therefore, I decided to cancel my flight expecting to get flight credit that I would then use in the future. But I was shocked to find out that this was not possible! I could either get a refund (less the fees) or rebook the ticket using the exact route as the original ticket just with a different date.
As a result, if you are not sure about your route and dates, I wouldn’t book with them for that trip. Depending on how you paid, the refund can take anywhere between a week to over a month. I had fraud issues with my credit card and it had to be changed, so Uganda Airlines couldn’t refund my credit card. Instead, I had to accept a wire transfer which meant I got even less money back due to wire transfer fees.
Another one of the downsides of travelling with Uganda Airlines is that most connections require an overnight stay in Entebbe. This can be inconvenient for some passengers who prefer to arrive at their destination without any delays. The additional cost of visa, accommodation and meals during the overnight stay can also be an issue for budget-conscious travellers. While some passengers may enjoy the opportunity to explore Entebbe during their layover, for those who prefer to get to their destination as quickly as possible, the requirement for an overnight stay can be a major inconvenience.
Inflight Experience with Uganda Airlines
From the moment I stepped on board, I was greeted with warm hospitality and exceptional service. On my flight back from Entebbe, some of us got the chance to sit in first-class since the flight was not full. Even though I was still served economy-class food, the opportunity to experience their wide comfy first-class seat was greatly appreciated.
On my flight from Kilimanjaro to Entebbe (which transited through Dar Es Salaam), we got a chicken sandwich with a muffin and a drink. I assume that this is standard for their shorter flights. I was however a bit surprised when I realized that nothing on my tray was made in Uganda. Since this is the national airline, I think more has to be done to ensure that more locally manufactured products are served.
For the inflight drinks, it was the basics of beer, Fanta orange, coca cola, water and two different juices. On the flight from Dar to Entebbe, a cup of South African wine was offered to those interested.
The Other Not-So-Great Part
The main drawback I found with Uganda Airlines’ inflight experience is that there were no USB/charging ports or entertainment on my flights. For passengers who rely on their electronic devices for work or entertainment, this can be a major inconvenience. Without the ability to charge devices during a flight, one might find their batteries dead and be unable to use them for the duration of that flight. Especially since you might have to use your device to keep you entertained. Therefore, bringing a portable battery pack is essential when travelling with Uganda Airlines.
While the airline’s commitment to offering affordable prices and excellent service is commendable, the lack of USB or charging ports and in-flight entertainment can be a drawback for some passengers. Especially on the longer routes!
Should you book with Uganda Airlines?
The pros of booking with Uganda Airlines:
You can contact customer service through a Whatsapp number.
Window seats and emergency exits seats don’t cost extra
Legroom of seats in economy
Generally more cost-effective flights
Two checked bags included in the fare
$30 off when booking online
The cons I found with this airline:
Not offering flight credit for cancelling flights
Most connections require an overnight stay in Entebbe
Not enough Ugandan-made products
No USB or charging port given there is no in-flight entertainment
Glitches when trying to book multicity tickets
Not being able to pay directly on-site with my credit card
Uganda Airlines is one of several airlines serving the African market, but it’s one of the cheaper options for making your flight connections throughout Africa. Take the pros and cons into consideration and then decide if it’s a good fit for you.
Have you ever travelled with Uganda Airlines? What were your thoughts?