Review: Oman Air and Transit in Muscat

Earlier this year, I got a chance to fly with Oman Air for the first time. My initial intention was just so I could write a piece on Oman Air review for this blog to share my insights, but I ended up having a lot of things to say about flying with Oman Air and transit in Muscat! 

From getting my flight canceled and rescheduled just one week before my scheduled travel time, to the realization that I wasn't happy when I realized I spent around $25 USD for a Happy Meals at McDonalds during my transit in Oman. 

In this post, I'm going to share my experience with the Oman Air economy class review along with my personal take on a layover in Muscat between my Oman Air flights from Jakarta to Muscat, Muscat to Istanbul, and vice versa. 

So, is Oman Air good? Is it better than the more popular Middle East-based airlines like Emirates or Qatar Airways? Let's find out! 

If you have time to leave the airport to explore Muscat for a short time during your transit in Oman, I recommend booking these tours to ease your plan!
Oman Air economy class flight review.
Oman Air economy class flight review.

First Impression Flight via Muscat with Oman Air

To be honest, I don't have a good first impression of Oman Air after dealing with their customer service firsthand. 

I bought my flight ticket via Traveloka as I'm a premium member there, and I just happened to get one of the lowest fares flight tickets with Oman Air from Jakarta (CGK) to Istanbul (IST) via Muscat (MCT) for IDR 10,228,900 (around $657 USD). 

Oman Air Flight Reschedule with Traveloka

My best friend was getting married in Turkey, and I decided to fly to Istanbul a little over a week before her wedding for several reasons. 

My boyfriend would arrive a few days before the wedding since that's when his leaves were approved. I also hadn't fully explored Bursa, so I wanted to spend more time in the city to visit some places that I hadn't gotten a chance to go to the last time while waiting for his arrival to start our romantic getaway

After my flight was confirmed, I got everything else settled; including my accommodation in Bursa, which I had booked for an entire week. It wasn't until a week before the flight that I got an email notifying me that my Oman Air flight was canceled. 

I was supposed to have an 8-hour layover in Muscat on my original flight from Jakarta to Istanbul. Traveloka offered me two options: I could either cancel the entire flight or request to reschedule the canceled flight with another one that's available. 

Boarding gate at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Boarding gate at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Since I was traveling around the Eid holidays, all the other flight options had already gotten too expensive for me to consider canceling the whole flight. When I checked the rescheduling option, the only available option was the one that departed 2 days after my initial flight from Jakarta to Muscat. 

I requested to reschedule my flight to this flight, even though I knew I had already paid for my accommodation in Bursa, which was non-refundable. I contacted my host to inform him that I'd check in later than my original schedule because of the messed-up flight schedule due to the cancellation. 

However, another issue arose because I didn't know whether a visa on arrival was available for Indonesian passport holders in Oman. 

Oman Air Customer Service

I had no choice but to check everything I need to know about a long layover in Muscat, which enabled me to explore the capital city of Oman for one full day. In a way, it's a blessing in disguise. 

But it wasn't really that easy when I realized that there's not a lot of information about the necessary paperwork for Indonesian passport holders to travel to Oman. 

As I had a pleasant experience with Emirates customer service when I decided to spend my layover in Dubai, I decided to check with Oman Air customer service through their social media. I contacted them through three different platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

Unlike Emirates, I got no response from any of them. 

I checked Wikipedia for the visa requirements for Indonesian citizens; for Oman, the information was a little bit ambiguous since it stated, “visa not required/eVisa.” Which is it? Where should I apply for an eVisa if needed? 

At first, I tried to google it and found this website. But the application looked so complicated, not to mention that it was so expensive. So, I had no choice but to search for an Oman Air call center in Indonesia to confirm whether I would require a visa to enter Muscat for a day. 

I called the landline number +622130049333 from Indonesia, and there was no Indonesian-speaking option for this so I suppose I got connected with someone in Oman at the time. 

Jakarta-Muscat flight map with Oman Air.
Jakarta-Muscat flight map with Oman Air.

My question was actually simple and it was whether I would need a visa to enter Muscat because it was less than a week until my flight, and I obviously didn't want to be deported since I was traveling to Turkey for my best friend's wedding. 

You know what their customer service agent said? I'd write this based on her answer verbatim, “You should check it yourself as an Indonesian, because it's really not our department's responsibility to know the answer.” 

First of all, I wouldn't have asked if I got a clear answer about it. Second of all, it definitely ruined my first impression when it came to the Oman Air review. 

The only thing that helped me with this was when I joined an Indonesian travelers' group on Facebook. I searched for information about Oman, and the reviews were mixed. Some of them said that there would be a visa on arrival, and others mentioned that it's no longer required as we can now travel to Oman for up to 14 days for free. 

Well, the worst thing that could happen in that case was that I had to pay for a visa on arrival and it sounds much better than the possibility of getting deported without the proper paperwork. 

So, I winged it and just got on my flight, hoping for the best, thanks to the super unhelpful Oman Air review! 

Review: Flying with Oman Air for the First Time

To be fair, I was really annoyed with how Oman Air handled their customer service. As a customer, it was so hard not to see why Oman Air is less popular compared to other Middle Eastern airline counterparts. 

The information about transit in Dubai is more straightforward on the Emirates website, yet I couldn't find anything similar to Oman Air. Even worse, their social media accounts were pretty much non-responsive, which makes me question their reliability as an airline to begin with. 

In this section, I'm also going to share my firsthand experience on the D-day of the flight. From check-in to on-board services with Oman Air, I've also included the pros and cons of flying with Oman Air economy class from a passenger's point of view. So, here we go! 

Oman Air 787 review
Oman Air 787 fleet for Jakarta-Muscat flight.

Oman Air Check-In Process

Although I booked my flight through Traveloka, I could do the online check-in on the Oman Air website with no problem. 

I still had to queue to check in my baggage. As an economy class passenger, I was allowed to check in my baggage up to 30 kilograms with Oman Air. It was definitely an advantage compared to Emirates that only allowed 25 kilograms. 

While technically I didn't have excess baggage, they did check my cabin bag in Jakarta and the check-in service agent was quite strict about not allowing it to be more than 7 kilograms. 

As someone who used to work for airlines, on paper I know check-in service agents are required to check cabin bags to ensure they won't be too big or too heavy. But as a passenger, I know sometimes 7 kilograms is not realistic since some bag materials could be up to 3 kilograms on their own. 

Long story short, the check-in service agent who assisted me at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport was one strict cookie because he forced me to separate my stuff as my cabin bag reached 9 kilograms. 

He insisted on removing 2 kilograms of the bag and placing them on my checked-in baggage, and I was pretty annoyed because I would've done it if it wasn't because I had ended up having a longer transit in Muscat should Oman Air not canceled my flight to begin with! 

After stressing myself out trying to unpack some and move it to my big bag, I decided to just remove my toiletries and use the baggage wrap service at the airport just so I could check it in separately. 

That being said, the check-in service agent in Muscat wasn't as strict since I tried to put that back in my cabin bag on my flight to Istanbul, and they allowed it. 

From my experience of working with airlines, I know too well that a case like this relies so much on your luck and whether you have to deal with a strict agent or someone who's pretty laidback about it. 

Also, while my Jakarta-Muscat-Istanbul flights were technically a fly-thru, I still had to check out my baggage at Muscat International Airport since my next flight to Istanbul was more than 24 hours after I landed in Muscat.

Oman Air Flight Meals

I'm not a fan of in-flight meals. I think in-flight meals, regardless of the airline, are rubbish. So the downside of long-haul flights is actually having to settle with flight meals, especially when it's not good. 

So far, there are only three airlines whose meals are pretty tolerable: Garuda Indonesia (I'm biased!), Sri Lanka Airlines, and Qatar Airways. So, how about Oman Air flight meals? 

On my first flight from Jakarta to Muscat, the first meal service was a snack since my flight was in the afternoon Jakarta time. Nothing heavy, just a package of Desi Munch that I think came from Muscat instead of Jakarta and beverage service. 

I chose pasta for the dinner course, and it was pretty bland. I think that the dinner set also came from Muscat since I didn't see any Indonesian brands there. 

For breakfast, it was obvious that the meals came from Indonesia since I saw Tricks, an Indonesian chip brand (my favorite, actually!) on the set with sandwiches. 

While Oman Air flight meals are pretty average, there's one thing that stands out from the four flight routes that I've had with Oman Air: the desserts!

Their flight meals may not be that fantastic, but all the desserts served on their meals were top-notch. From sliced fruits to pudding and some Middle Eastern sweets, I loved them all! Which was weird, considering I'm not exactly a sweet tooth myself, but I really enjoyed them! 

Oman Air Economy Flight Review

For the Jakarta-Muscat route, I flew with their 787 fleet and it was actually a great experience. The leg space was pretty decent, and the in-flight entertainment worked pretty well too. 

If you want to know the Oman Air 787 review, here's my thoughts… My personal favorite with their 787 fleet is that instead of the usual window blinds, the plane comes with dimmable windows that makes it even more convenient to sleep on. 

The only downside is that for the in-flight entertainment, the playlist for the music isn't really my taste so I spent most of my flights with Oman Air watching movies since I didn't feel like listening to their music playlist. 

The amenities weren't that bad, as they provided a blanket and soft pillow for the flight. I also got a care package with a sleeping mask and socks too. 

For the flight from Muscat to Istanbul, Oman Air used a single aisle plane although I totally forgot to check the aircraft types. I suppose it's a 737, but I could be wrong. 

As for the flight from Istanbul to Muscat, the in-flight entertainment on my assigned seat was broken as the headset plug was blocked by something there. Luckily, I didn't have to share the seat with anyone else so I could move around as I liked. 

Pros & Cons of Flying with Oman Air

I honestly thought I was just unlucky to have to get through all the flight drama with Oman Air. 

However, when I spoke with a friend who lives in Germany the other day and I complained about how bad my experience was with Oman Air, she said she could resonate with it since the flight attendant on her last flight with Oman Air was pretty rude. 

Here are some things to highlight so I can sum up my experience of flying with Oman Air!

(+)
  • When I booked my flight with Oman Air, the airline just happened to offer the lowest fare in the market from Jakarta to Istanbul. 
  • Oman Air serves over 40 international flights in more than 20 countries, which makes it one of the best alternative airlines to travel around the world. 
  • I definitely love their 787 fleet with dimmable windows!
  • The four flights I had with Oman Air all served delicious desserts despite the pretty average meal set. 
  • They allow up to 30 kilograms of checked-in baggage for economy class passengers. 
(-)
  • They have such a lousy customer service. Based on my firsthand experience, their social media accounts are non-responsive and their call center agent was rude. 
  • As a country with the third strongest currency in the world, a layover in Muscat is super expensive. It's definitely more expensive than if you spend your transit time in either Doha or Dubai. 

Everything You Need to Know About Transit at Muscat International Airport

While the Oman Air flight ticket that I bought was relatively affordable compared to other airlines, I had to learn the hard way that layover in Muscat was ridiculously expensive! 

During my transit in Dubai when I flew with Emirates, I had McDonald's for breakfast. While the price of McDonald's at Dubai International Airport was still higher than regular McDonald's, it was understandably high just because I know it was an airport price. 

When I had McDonald's during my layover in Muscat, it was the most expensive McDonald's that I've ever purchased as I spent over $20 USD for a Happy Meals. I also spent $8 USD for a water bottle, which I found really ridiculous. LOL. 

Omani Riyal is one of the strongest currencies in the world, the third behind Kuwaiti and Bahraini dinar. For reference, 1 OMR is equivalent to $2.6 USD. It's so expensive that they have 1/2 bank notes. 

The fact that it's so expensive, especially if you have to spend hours during transit at Muscat International Airport, is probably one thing you should consider when budgeting your trip to Oman. 

Despite that, I find the average price for everything else isn't too expensive outside the airport. 

In this section, I'm going to list some of the frequently asked questions about Oman Air and layover in Muscat.

Muscat International Airport in Oman.
Muscat International Airport in Oman.

Is Oman Air good? 

I have a mixed opinion about Oman Air, since during the flight I had a pretty decent experience with their service. 

But the fact that they canceled my flight just a week before my scheduled departure with no help regarding my visa requirement to Oman, it definitely makes me think that there's a reason why Oman Air doesn't stand out compared to the other national carriers in the Middle East. 

When can I check in with Oman Air?

You can check in online via Oman Air's official website 24 hours before your estimated time departure. For the check-in desk, it will be open 4 hours before the flight. 

How is Oman Air economy class flight?

Based on my experience with Oman Air economy class flight, it was pretty decent. The seat wasn't too bad, and the amenities were quite satisfactory. 

The in-flight meals were pretty average, but all the desserts served on my four flights with Oman Air were really delicious. I don't think I've had better desserts served on the flights with other airlines. 

The only downside is their in-flight entertainment, as their music playlist isn't as comprehensive as those on Qatar or Emirates flights. 

Is transit in Muscat allowed for all passengers?

Yes, you can transit in Muscat without a visa if you don't leave the airport. 

One of the advantages for transit at Muscat International Airport is also that the airport isn't as crowded as Dubai International Airport in the UAE, so you can easily find a spot to lie down or sleep while waiting for your next flight. 

That being said, be mindful with the fact that everything else in Muscat International Airport is much more expensive than most airports in the Middle East. 

Can you leave Muscat airport during a layover? 

Yes, you can. However, you may want to have at least a 6-hour layover in Muscat in order to leave the airport. Otherwise, I'm afraid of the high chance you miss your next flight. 

Right now, Oman offers free entry visa for over 100 countries, which makes it possible to travel around Oman for up to 14 days. You can check this page to confirm whether a visa is required based on your citizenship. 

Quick tip: Muscat has pretty decent public transport in the city, so you can rely on the public bus to get around the city during your transit in Muscat. 

Take bus number A1 on the ground floor at the airport. The bus route will take you to the Royal Opera House and Ruwi if you want to explore Mutrah Souq around the corniche in Muscat. You can pay the bus ticket in cash for 500 paisha (1/2 OMR). 

Alternatively, you can also choose to hire a private transfer in Muscat for a more convenient way to explore Oman's capital city. 

Can I stay in the airport overnight after landing in Muscat?

Only if you have less than 24-hour transit in Muscat. 

As mentioned, I rescheduled my connecting flight and my next flight was over 24 hours after my first flight. I had to check out my baggage and check back in for the next flight because of that. 

However, if you don't want to bother carrying all your big bags outside the airport, you can find a luggage storage “Seal & Go” at the departure terminal at Muscat International Airport.

I did this when I left the airport since I had a 2-day stopover in Muscat, and I put all my bags except for my hand carry there. It's pretty expensive, but it's worth not having to carry all the heavy bags from airport to my hotel in Muscat. 

I left a big suitcase with a small box there for 2 days, and I paid 22 OMR (around $57 USD) in total. 

If your next flight is more than 24 hours after your arrival in Muscat, I'd recommend getting a transit hotel near Muscat airport. There's a beach around 10 minutes from the airport, which could be pretty relaxing to enjoy in between flights. 

Conclusion

After my first flight with Oman Air, I won't consider it as my favorite airline in the Middle East. 

However, the airline offers some perks compared to other Middle Eastern airlines. For instance, economy class flight passengers are allowed to check in up to 30 kilograms of baggage. It's 5 kilograms extra compared to the standard economy class with Emirates or Qatar Airways. 

Apart from their pretty lousy customer service, a layover in Oman can be pretty expensive too especially if you plan to spend money on meals during your transit in Oman. 

Either you bring your own meals and snack during your layover in Muscat, or make sure you prepare for it financially since even a water bottle at Muscat International Airport can cost you around $8 USD. 

So, have you ever flown with Oman Air? Do you have a better experience than I did on my first flight and transit in Muscat? Share your experience in the comment below, and cheerio! 🙂 

marya the beautraveler author profile
Marya The BeauTraveler

I am the founder and main editor at The BeauTraveler. I spent 4 years working in the aviation industry but ironically got to travel more right after quitting the industry in 2015. Born and raised in Indonesia, I started working remotely in 2017, and while I stay at home most of the time, I also regularly spend 2-3 months living a semi-digital nomad life elsewhere every year.


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