A Weekend of Flying in May 2015 | Flight #2 Brief Introduction: I was on my way to catch a V Air flight from Bangkok to Taipei, and decided to route via Kuala Lumpur on my way there. V Air is a new Taiwanese low-cost carrier and I managed to get myself a USD48 one-way ticket on this interesting airline. Do refer to either parts 1 or 3 of this series for a more thorough introduction!
Anyway, this report focuses on the business class experience on Royal Jordanian Airlines ("RJ"). 2015 was the year I decided to aim for Qantas Gold so I did my research and found a few routes with cheap and affordable business class fares that would allow me to top up the remaining status credits (on top of those I would earn from my regular travels) before I attain my Oneworld Sapphire status; this fifth freedom RJ route between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok was one of them!
Disclaimer: I began my journey in Kuala Lumpur with the intention to prepare for a comprehensive report on RJ’s B787 Business Class product; so I made very little attempt in reducing the length of this report and basically tried to cover every single aspect of the flight I could think of. Please bear with this ultra long report and I hope that, by the end of it, you’d feel like you had flown on the flight with me! (:
This is a list of all the other reports in this series.
Flight 1: Click Here > 08/05/15, SIN-KUL Jetstar Asia 3K663, A320 (Economy) Flight 2: This Report > 08/05/15, KUL-BKK Royal Jordanian RJ181, B787-8 (Business) Flight 3: Click Here > 09/05/15, DMK-TPE V Air ZV6, A321 (Economy) Flight 4: Coming Soon > 10/05/15, TPE-HKG Cathay Pacific CX511, A330-300 (Business) Flight 5: Coming Soon > 10/05/15, HKG-SIN Cathay Pacific CX711, B777-300ER (Business)
Royal Jordanian RJ181 Aircraft Registration: JY-BAC Origin: Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia (KUL) Destination: Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) Date: Friday, 8 May 2015 STD/STA: 2210h (UTC+08:00) to 2325h (UTC+07:00) ATD/ATA: 2210h (UTC+08:00) to 2310h (UTC+07:00) Estimated Duration: 02 hours 15 minutes Actual Duration: 02 hours 00 minutes Flight Distance: About 759 miles / 1,222 km
After a day in Kuala Lumpur, it was finally time to check in for the flight that I had been looking forward to for so long!
I checked the FIDS at about 7.27pm to see which check in counter I should head to. While it was still early, check in for my RJ flight to Bangkok was already opened.
There was this larger FIDS in the check in hall of KUL. You can see that Malaysia Airlines had a codeshare flight number on RJ181. Nothing surprising since both carriers are oneworld members.
Many early birds were already queueing for check in at zone F - the check in counters for RJ181 bound for Amman via Bangkok.
Happily, I walked towards the Business Class counter, only to see that there was nobody there to entertain me.
After a short while, a Malaysia Airlines check in agent finally strolled slowly towards me before taking my passport and itinerary.
I kept checking the seat map for this flight on RJ's website a few days before my departure. Just so to make sure I can secure a pair of seat (with the aisle seat empty) for myself. When I was done checking in for the flight, there was literally nobody except me at the Business Class counter, so that increased my hopes that the J class will remain relatively empty later on.
Anyway, the crowd below was also checking in for flight RJ181. Given the amount of luggage many of them were checking in, most of them should be bound for Amman and not Bangkok.
This was the first ever business class ticket I bought. So the boarding pass was definitely worth a good photograph!
I didn't quite like RJ's boarding pass design though; the yellow boxes were kind of ugly.
A business class ticket meant that I could access the lounge even though I was just a Oneworld Ruby member at that time.
A moment ago at the check in counter, I was hoping to receive a separate lounge invitation card from the check in agent but all he gave me was this boarding pass. When he was about to turn his back and walk away, I stopped him and asked which lounge I could go to. And after a brief moment of silence, he said "MH Lounge" before disappearing almost immediately. Oh well, I guess he was just THAT busy?
It was nice that KUL's security and immigration had dedicated lines for business and first class passengers. With that, I was through in less than ten minutes.
My flight departed from the satellite terminal. But before hopping on to the inter-terminal aerotrain, I snapped a few pictures of the famous aircraft models in KUL's airside.
Definitely was feeling excited to be able to board an RJ flight soon!
Checked my boarding gate once more…
… and off I went to the satellite terminal.
This was the first aircraft I saw upon arriving at the satellite terminal. And yes! It was RJ's B787!
Definitely the one that will be operating my flight later on. Its registration was JY-BAC, and was just about 7 months' old.
Most of RJ's fleet are named after Jordan's royal family; this aircraft was no different and had Princess Salama's name on it.
It was really a pity that I couldn't get any other better photographs of my aircraft that night; I really don't know when will I ever fly RJ again!
Another major highlight of this flight was the visit to MH's flagship lounge - Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge. It was also my first time visiting an MH lounge.
The layout of KUL's satellite terminal wasn't too complicated: level 1 had all the duty free shops and the boarding gates, level 2 consisted of some restaurants and all the airline lounges.
The problem was that I just couldn't find my way up to level 2 because all the escalators seemed a little hidden - quite an inconvenient design I would say? But maybe it was just because of my lousy sense of direction.
Anyway, I eventually found my way upstairs and was then outside of the lounge in just another few seconds.
The lounge staff was very friendly and he welcomed me to the lounge soon after scanning my boarding pass.
Yes, and wifi was available!
Any Oneworld Sapphire members or business/first class passengers can gain access into the lounge.
The walkway into the lounge was simple but elegant. On the left was a bar that I just walked pass without realising its existence, until when I was about to leave the lounge. I guess I will be back next time.
Let's look around the lounge a little. We have newspapers in various languages here.
Glanced quickly at the food options available.
There was just a little crowd at 8pm. More people started streaming in later on.
The lounge had lots of seats. Though none of them were exceptionally private.
But it was really good that they had different kinds of seating catered for different usage - you can work on your laptop, sit on a sofa for a short nap, chat with your travel companion, have a good meal or even just sit anywhere and stare into blank space. Really, this aspect of the lounge made me quite impressed.
I decided against ordering a bowl of noodle since there will again be food served on my RJ flight later. But thinking back now, I actually regret not sampling the hot meals prepared on demand in the MH lounge. The meal served eventually served on my flight turned out to be just some light snacks. ):
For my first serving, I just took some veggies and chicken from the buffet selections. And of course, some rice to go along.
They were actually quite tasty!
Utensils with MH logos.
After eating Asian food, I went for some Western food choices - tomato soup, freshly baked slices of pizza, some fruits and cakes. I ordered a cup of mocha to go along with my second round of food and it was also surprisingly good!
After I was a little full, I did some work for about an hour or so before heading for the showers.
I saw the kids facilities on my way to the shower rooms.
To use the showers, I needed to deposit my boarding pass.
After surrendering my boarding pass, the counter staff handed me a towel and some toiletries. (Oh, did I mention that this was actually my first time showering in an airport lounge?)
Anyway, the washroom was borderline clean. The floor was a little sticky (just a tiny little bit) and there were shreds of tissue papers evident on the floor.
So the cleanliness of the toilets wasn't top notch, but I guess it was still acceptable?
This was the shower cubicle with a detachable shower head. There was also a hair dryer available in the dry section of the cubicle.
Anyway, look closely at the following picture and do see you a crack on the wall? Halfway through my shower, the entire shower head support became lose and came falling right on my head!! Fortunately I dodged quickly and avoided it. Seriously, MH?
I was proud of my reaction speed though!
A shower is a shower and I still felt refreshed despite the incident. Thankful nevertheless that I had the opportunity to freshen up before my first ride with RJ!
At about 9.30pm, more people began to stream into the lounge and thus more seats were taken. I was glad I went to the lounge earlier.
I guess I was enjoying myself too much in MH's Golden Lounge and accidentally stayed a little too long. When I left the lounge at 9.30pm, my flight was already boarding!
If this was any other airport, leaving the lounge at 9.30pm so as to meet the boarding time of 9.40pm for a flight at 10.10pm seems perfectly alright. But for KUL it just felt a little bit rushed, probably because: - The satellite terminal was quite huge - It was kind of troublesome to get from level 2 back to level 1 - A full security check was conducted at the boarding gates
So yeah, this was a shot from level 2 of the satellite terminal and at that time I was trying to find a down-riding escalator, and it really took me quite a while.
Thank goodness Gate C2 was the first boarding gate down the long corridor.
When I got to the gate, most of the passengers had already boarded the aircraft, and it was just 9.36pm! Pretty impressive eh?
(Anyway, Gates C2 and C4 had the same boarding lounge, that's why the picture below shows C4 instead.)
I was seriously contemplating not including this photo in the report. But this was really the only possible shot I could get of my aircraft that night.
Many passengers "boarded" but were still stuck on the aerobridge. Only a single door was used for boarding, but for a twin-aisle aircraft, the amount of time we spent waiting on the bridge was on the long side.
I was probably really looking forward to stepping into the aircraft at the moment I took the following photograph.
The FA at the door checked my boarding pass and directed me towards the left. For me, it definitely felt weird because I will usually turn towards the right with the main body.
Anyway this was my first impression of RJ's B787 Business Class cabin. It was a new product on a new aircraft so naturally the cabin looked spotlessly clean.
Another shot of the cabin from my seat. I will get back with more details about the cabin and Business Class seat later on in this report!
Not long after I boarded, it was announced that all passengers were onboard! And you know what, I was the only revenue Business Class passenger on this flight.
There were two other passengers in the cabin with me - one was an RJ staff who disappeared and stayed in the cockpit all the way till landing after the meal service, and the other was a pilot deadheading back to Amman.
The only FA serving Business Class came to me very soon to welcome me onboard, and went on to confirm that my destination was Bangkok and not Amman.
She then passed me the menu and wine list for the flight, which will also be documented in a later part of this report.
I got myself an apple juice before the aircraft started to taxi; and it tasted rather… Unique? Just not the usual taste I would expect from apple juices.
The serviette had the nice RJ and Oneworld logos printed on it.
Here is a recording of the welcome announcement made by an FA.
^ PROOFREADING COMPLETED FOR THE ABOVE PARTS CAA 18 FEB 2016
The aircraft was generally clean but some corners were still missed out.
Thailand arrival cards were distributed while we were still on ground.
The safety video also started playing in both Arabic and English.
We began our push back when the safety video was still playing.
The route we took to taxi to the runway:
The really empty business class cabin! This was the first time I flew in such an empty cabin.
Looking at the map, it doesn't seem like we taxied for a long distance. But the speed the aircraft taxied from the gate to the runway seemed excruciating long. It felt as though we weren’t moving at all. But before I knew it, we were already rocketing down the 13,000ft long runway, getting quickly on our way to Bangkok.
After taking off at 10.21pm (UTC+08:00), we were met with rough weather for quite a while. Expectedly, the seatbelt signs were left switched on for a very long time.
Allow me to bring through a quick introduction of RJ's newest Business Class cabin now!
First up, a quick snapshot of the seat. The pillow and blanket were pre-placed on the seat before boarding.
Another view of the cabin and the crew rest area from my seat.
This was the legroom. And you can also see the very tiny ottoman; I'll come back to that later.
On the left side of the seat, there were the power points and USB port. The ports were not very accessible in my opinion; I had to bend my body all the way just to plug my iPhone cable in it.
The reading light, light switch, and two simple buttons to adjust the seat recline.
The centre console was quite a large area.
And also on the centre console were more complicated seat adjustment buttons. Frankly speaking, it took me quite a while to figure them out.
After a while, however, these controls were actually quite intuitive to use.
The privacy divider - a must have for solo travellers. This divider was fixed and couldn't be adjusted, so if a couple is seated on these seats, it will be necessary to bend forward to communicate with each other.
The headrest was very comfortable and its comfort level got better after placing the nice pillow over it. RJ has some nice pillows I would say!
The very large table! At least to me. Haha! (Since I'm so used to the tiny tables you find on budget airlines.)
Anyway, these were supposedly lie flat seats but I am not sure why I didn't manage to take a photo of the fully flat seats. Well, this was good enough and I had a good rest on this seat en route to Bangkok.
It was also nice to have adjustable air vents in this cabin, since I frequently feel warm onboard aircrafts and thus always appreciate having some cold air blowing directly at me.
So far, RJ’s new business class seats were really not bad! However, there's just one main complaint I have about the seat - the tiny ottoman and leg space above of it!
While I am sure this isn't the tiniest ottoman you can find in business classes on other airlines (for e.g. Delta's B767 seems to have an even tinier leg space?), the one on RJ was nevertheless still on the tiny side.
No matter what, a lie flat seat is a lie flat seat, and it will still be many times better than any other kinds of seat! To be fair, the ottoman on the aisle seats were much larger and if you really care about it, choose the aisle seats!
There were quite a bit of storage space but I don't think I will feel safe placing my laptop under the TV screens and then go to sleep.
One more photo of the seat before I wrap up this introduction! All in all, this was a pretty comfortable seat and I enjoyed my flight on it!
Our aircraft ascended pass 10,000ft at about 9.26pm (UTC+07:00). Soon after departing KUL, we adjusted our heading to 360 Deg and headed straight to BKK.
An aerial view of Malaysia about 5 minutes after take off!
This was the aircraft's location: somewhere near Petaling Jaya?
Alright, we are still not done with the aircraft's intro. (I told you this report will be long…!)
Now the IFE. We know that RJ's counterparts in the Middle East (i.e. The ME3 carriers) all have awesome/decent in-flight entertainment systems! How about RJ?
First, the noise-cancelling headsets. I am not the best person to comment on this because I am usually not picky at all and will use any headsets that an airline provides (even SQ's pathetic economy earpiece, as a result of cost-cutting, was fine for me too).
Furthermore, I've only flown twice on Emirates' business class prior to this. So I really don't have a good idea what's “Bose-standard” and what's “lousy”.
But that doesn't mean I can accept headsets with buzzing sounds and some other weird-high-frequency sounds! So, in short, RJ's headsets in Business Class weren't very good, sadly. And since this was just a short flight, I didn't ask for another headset and simply just watched the air show for most of the flight.
The welcome screen in both English and Arabic. It gave a relatively good first impression of the IFE.
The main screen looked a little dull and boring, though.
Let’s start with the movies. The selection of movies were good and included some new films. However, since it was just a short flight, I didn’t want to spend my time watching a movie. (I’d rather lie down and take a nap!)
For the “television” section, there were CNN news, documentaries, dramas, entertainment programmes, sports programmers and so on. I picked a documentary randomly just to kill a little bit of time and to look at the interface of the IFE when a programme was playing.
There were also some comedies which I wasn’t interested in.
And also quite a good variety of “audio” programmes; unfortunately there weren’t any that interest me. Being an Asian, my preferred genre of music would be Mandarin or Korean pop, none of which were available in RJ’s IFE - definitely understandable though.
The games section was divided into three parts - games for kids, teenagers or adults.
And finally, we have a small section of the IFE containing information about the airline’s history and fleet details.
This was the remote control for the screen. I don’t recall using it since it was a touch screen that was very sensitive and easy to use.
The air show was great. Good resolution and lots of different modes to select from.
There was also an interesting function of displaying “points of interest” that were near the aircraft at any point in time!
All the different map views that I could choose from.
There was even a function allowing me to select/deselect the information I want to view on the map - really cool and useful.
We’ve finally reached the part of the flight that I was looking forward to the most: the meal service! I was more interested with RJ’s business class meal service than visiting the MH lounge for this flight, and was hoping that the meal won’t disappoint me.
The menu and wine list were distributed when we were still on the ground. At the end of the flight, the FA actually wanted to get them back from me but I asked if I could keep them and the request was gladly granted.
I was impressed with the menu’s design, by the way!
Unfortunately, there wasn’t any choices to choose from! ):
There were also the Arabic version of the menu.
And here’s the wine list.
I wanted to try this but the FA told me that they ran out of it. Woah, did I choose a popular wine? xD
So I tried the Chardonnay instead.
Anyway, supper came altogether on one tray and it actually looked very presentable!
The fruits were good, nice and sweet! In the bowl of fruits, there were even pieces of pomelo - one of my favourite Southeast Asian fruits! We often eat this during the mid-autumn festival, which take place usually in mid-September.
While it wasn’t a full-course meal like what I actually was expecting, the main course was good! Tasty salmon that went along really well with the avocado, tomatoes and bread. (This meal definitely scores better than those I had on Emirates’ business class..!)
The dessert was unremarkable, however. The rambutan tart on the right was special! But unfortunately too sweet for my liking. Nonetheless, it’s really cool that the RJ catering included ingredients unique to Southeast Asia! Makes me curious what was served in economy on this short flight.
The aircraft was cruising at FL380 as I finished my meal.
Lastly for the meal, a quick look at the tableware. You can spot RJ’s logo on every piece of it.
Anyway, soon after the meal, our pilot gave a really detailed mid-flight announcement. It was. Really. Very. Detailed.
The seatbelt sign finally went off after the meal, so it’s time to take a short tour around this B787!
Business class was configured in 2-2-2. But from what I observed, I think it wouldn’t be too difficult for the window seat passenger to climb out into the aisle if he was seated next to someone.
The ceiling of the B787 seemed much higher than other aircrafts.
And this was the famous Dreamliner window!
It’s a pity my flight was at night so I didn’t get to play with the window controls.
There was also a beautiful bar area at the back of business class, just before the economy class front cabin. Presumably on longer flights, some snacks would be placed on the bar table.
Usually if I am lucky enough to fly in Business, I will feel a little awkward walking back into Economy just to take photos. But this was RJ and I just couldn’t resist walking around the aircraft since I probably won’t get a chance fly with RJ in the near future.
Economy was configured in 3-3-3 and it felt quite okay, I would say. Even though this is the tighter configuration as compared to 2-4-2 arrangement.
According to the aircraft cabin designer, he added random red seats around the cabin just to liven up the interior of the plane - a good design in my opinion!
The galley looked neat and tidy too.
And then I went back to the business class cabin and made a quick visit to the lavatory.
By right, there should be a “sensor toilet flush” but it wasn’t working properly on this aircraft. I had to manually press the blue button to activate it.
Oddly, even though I was the only revenue passenger in Business, the lavatory floor was a little dirty. Hmmm… It wasn’t me who dirtied the lavatory! Really. So who’s the “culprit”… :p
When I went back to my seat, the FA asked if I wanted more drinks and some nuts. Of course I said yes so that I could take more photos for this report. (:
It was a pity that both the nuts and apple juice tasted a little weird. I guess it was just a problem with my own preferences and nothing wrong with the food & drink.
At this point in the flight, we were left with about an hour more before arriving at Bangkok. How nice would it be if I can fly longer in this Dreamliner? I have yet to experience sleeping on business class seats on a red-eye flight before; would really love to try that soon.
Even though it was a short 2-hours flight, the cabin lights were still switched off so that passengers were able to catch a few minutes more of sleep. After all, most passengers aboard this flight weren’t disembarking at Bangkok and will be flying onwards to Amman (or even further).
Technically I could have napped for at least half an hour since the whole business class cabin was so quiet.
But instead I spent more time looking through the seat pocket contents.
Everything was nicely packed in a plastic folder - the safety information card, in-flight magazine, and IFE guide.
The magazine had some interesting articles about various cities of the world; this one on Amsterdam made me more keen to visit the home of KLM!
Of course there was an article on Jordan as well! Seems like a really exotic holiday destination. Anyone has experiences to share?
The article on Kuala Lumpur was mainly on food; after all, Malaysian foods are so super delicious!
Then, there was another section about the airline.
Information about RJ’s frequent flyer programme.
Airport layout map. This page showed my origin and destination on this flight. Haha!
The network map wasn’t very interesting (especially as compared to that of EK’s); it was just the standard world map with a list of codeshare partners for each continent, as well as the contact details of respective RJ offices around the world.
RJ has rather generous baggage allowances as well.
The fleet information along with seat maps for each type of aircraft.
We began our descent at about 10.30pm (Bangkok local time).
This was how I enjoyed the flight - putting different views of the airshow on both wide screens! This also means if a stranger sits beside you, both of you will instantly be able to see what each other is watching on the IFE.
Our approach route into BKK.
My failed attempt on getting a shot of the view outside during our approach.
RJ181 landed 20 minutes earlier on BKK’s runway 19R. This was one of the rare few times where I hoped the flight would be delayed - so that I can enjoy the business class seat longer.
We took just a few minutes to taxi from the runway to the gate.
Anyway, one more screenshot from flightradar24.com - I just wanted to say that the satellite view of BKK’s terminal buildings made the design look a little ugly, haha it’s just my personal opinion.
This was a very clear indication of the tropical heat outside.
We arrived at our gate 15 minutes before the scheduled time, good performance in terms of punctuality. One more shot of my seat!
The farewell image on the IFE screen was quite nicely shot!
Once the aircraft doors opened, I was the first passenger off of the aircraft.
Passengers continuing their journey to Amman need not disembark; thus there was an airport official checking everyone’s boarding pass on the aerobridge, presumably to ensure that Amman-bound passengers don’t get into the terminal to prevent confusion.
It was quite a bit of a walk to the immigration counters, but I made it in about 10 minutes.
I wasn’t expecting the airport to be too crowded. But I was wrong. There has been quite a bit of news coverage about BKK being overcrowded recently, and I think it was so true that the airport’s operating way over its capacity.
There weren’t many checked baggage on RJ181 bound for BKK, as you can see very clearly in this photo.
The priority tag on my bag wasn’t of much use therefore, since all bags were delivered at one go.
Like I said, the arrival hall was super crowded. And it was close to midnight, local time.
The FIDS simply looked amazing; with so many flights on so many different airlines from all over the world.
The hotel pick up service which I arranged for was a mess. It took me so long to spot the person who was supposed to pick me up and send me to my transit hotel for the night, and then another 20 minutes wait before the shuttle bus arrived.
I was quite tired at that point in time. Having left home early in the morning and then spending another 12 hours in Kuala Lumpur.
The hotel shuttle bus FINALLY arrived “the next day”. And it took me another 35 minutes before I got into my hotel room.
Anyway, the (very cheap) budget hotel that I booked for that night’s transit was quite pleasing. The bed was a little hard, but it still served its purpose very well!
I booked a double bed and was given this huge room.
So that’s all for this super long report on Royal Jordanian’s B787 flight in Business Class. Thank you for your patience and I hope you have a better picture of RJ’s product now!
Malaysian Airlines Golden Satelite Lounge - Business Class Section
Kuala Lumpur - KUL
Bangkok - BKK
I am keeping this short since the report's already sooooo long. RJ's business class was comfortable! Not overwhelmingly but really, it's a nice product for short- to medium-haul flights. Only one FA served me and the rest just stayed in the galley. That FA was nice and proactive in her service; but her service didn't leave a deep impression. For the meal, I was expecting a full meal but forgot it was supper time.. ): That said, it would've been nice if choices were available but to be fair I was satisfied with the catering!
I liked and disliked MH's flagship lounge. One important point: it's opened 24 hours a day! So if you are arriving in KUL in the middle of the night on an MH flight, you can use the lounge as an arrival lounge, which is really nice I think. Other than that, the food quality was slightly above-average. There were a lot of seats available but not much privacy in my opinion. The lounge staffs were all rather shy and didn't interact much with any guests. The only reason I disliked the lounge was the washroom and showers - I think MH should brush up on this aspect a lot.
KUL and BKK were both big airports and everything was efficient! The overcrowded Bangkok airport was borderline uncomfortable, though. But in general both airports were good on this trip.
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