And so Ladies and Gentlemen, From the guy who brought you Flight Report's first PIA and Shaheen Air reviews,first Kuwait review,first online Istanbul-Lahore and Lahore-Bangkok reviews…I am now proud to introduce the internet's first Royal Air Maroc Manchester-Casablanca review !
Morrocco has always conjured up images in my mind of an exotic,mystical country with bright colour,legendary hospitality and friendly people ! So much so that I have wanted to visit for almost 2 decades. In the mid 90s I lived in Holland and there was ( and continues to be ) a large Morroccan diaspora settled there.
Marakesh Bakery………………………………………………………….in The Hague ( Den Haag ) Holland !
Royal Air Maroc continues to this day to have significant daily, year round services to France,Belgium and Holland to serve 3rd and even 4th generation Moroccans based there as well as the growing number of European travellers visiting this amazing country.
RAM's French connections past and present show how committed the carrier is to France
It was indeed welcome news in late 2016 that that Royal Air Maroc would add Manchester to it's network. When I moved from Holland to the UK in 1995, Moroccan decor and Moroccan food had not yet taken off and was not anywhere near as popular in the UK as it is today.
The Manchester - Casablanca 737-800 service began 3 x weekly ( Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday ) on 27th March 2017 operating as follows ( the very first flight was operated by a 737-700 ) and the schedule remains the same at the time of writing.
AT 818 CMN 1230 – 1600 MAN
AT 819 MAN 1700 – 2020 CMN
RAM Manchester launch in March 2017
Having closely observed past niche routes at Manchester ( Tehran,Dhaka,Minsk to name a few ) I believed that Casablanca wouldn't last and instead,Royal Air Maroc would commence service to the more popular Marrakesh.
Tallinn in Estonia, another niche route ( was formerly served from Manchester by the now defunct Estonian Air). The route then stopped for many years but restarted with Ryanair and continues today ),
Despite my doubts however, in March 2018, it was announced that the Manchester - Casablanca route would increase to 4 x weekly ! It sure has proved popular and may be about to go 5 times weekly at the time of writing ! Casablanca is RAM’s main hub connecting you to Africa and the Americas. New York and Rio De Janeiro bound passengers get a free transit hotel.
Chinese passengers do not need a visa for Morocco and this makes Morocco a unique destination for those visitors. If they miss a flight to Morocco ,it is impossible to reroute them on a new booking on another airline as they cannot transit any European airport without a visa. So this means that they can only travel direct to or from Morocco normally only on RAM or Air Arabia or any other carrier that flies nonstop to Morocco. The Visa Free policy makes Morocco an attractive destination for Chinese visitors therefore.
For the summer 2018 season, RAM Manchester flights will mainly be operated by Boeing 737-800 aircraft, although selected flights will see Embraer E190 aircraft . More on this later !
I made my booking on Skyscanner via Jetabroad. 2 tickets were issued as per Skyscanner's mashup concept ( 2 separate tickets for the best fare ). I paid GBP166.00 whereas on the RAM website the fare would have been 272.00 ! I would have meals and baggage / seat assignment included.
The routing would take me as follows ;
Manchester – Casablanca with an immediate connection to Marrakech ( where I stayed all of 1 day ! )
After getting a train from Marrakesh to Casablanca and staying in Casablanca, I would fly nonstop from Casablanca to Manchester
A beautiful,colourful website, easy to use and navigate.
The website remembers dates and past searches although this is the norm on upgraded devices with Autofill these days.
The website doesn’t allow seat selection for certain fares although selection is free via the Contact Centre.My own seats on the outbound to Morocco remained unavailable but then suddenly became avaiable to choose a few months before the flights.
The Passenger fee to book a RAM ticket online from the UK is GBP4.00 and is included in the fare but is actually shown as an extra.
There is a very useful country section for all destinations, something I wish every airline had and this covers up to date information on ;
Soon after making the booking, I called the RAM London Office and spoke to Ms Maryse Bergel who will celebrate 45 years in RAM in 2018 . An aviation fan and passionate employee, she used to keep all RAM timetables brochures,magazines etc. Very enthusiastic and friendly in an old school way ! - a prime example of someone who is devoted to their job and proud of their airline - extremely rare today.
On 1st April 2018 I noted that my first ever flight on Royal Air Maroc would be on the Embraer 190. Initially I thought yikesm but having flown the Finnair/Norra Embraer 190 a few weeks earlier, I knew that I would have good legroom and only 1 seat next to me.
I called the UK Contact Centre ( connects you to Morrocco ) - the agent was meant to update my Date of Birth ( DOB) as it was apparently wrong on the booking ( I don't know my own DOB ?! )
The agent greeted me in French until I asked if I can speak in English - she did the bare minimum,there were longsilences and she did not sound enthusiastic but also wasn't rude.
I then checked the booking and she had deleted the Advanced Passenger Information ( API )as opposed to amending it.
The next agent answered in English and was willing to update my API details however I didn't have my Passport to hand.
About Royal Air Maroc – The Wings of Morocco
In 2017,Royal Air Maroc celebrated its 60th birthday in grand style with a beach party in Morocco. Established in 1953 following the merger of Air Atlas and Air Maroc, the carrier officially took the title of RAM in 1957. It is fully owned by the Moroccan Government and based at Casablanca Airport.
60 years of bringing Morocco to the world ! Free commemorative postcard which was distributed in the inflight magazine in 2017.
The previous cabin interior with Arabesque / lattice designs
In the UK,traditionally,Royal Air Maroc had always flown from London Heathrow to Casablanca and various Morroccan destinations. RAM then began it's foray into having a lowcost arm "AtlasBlue" which flew 2004 from both London Heathrow and London Gatwick until AtlasBlue was fully merged back into RAM in 2009.
AtlasBlue had used RAM mainline aircraft with large blue Atlas blue titles. These were later merged back into RAM as the Atlas Blue brand was dropped. The A321 aircraft have also since vanished from the RAM fleet.
The Royal Air Maroc livery has only undergone subtle changes in the last few decades. Aircraft used to have two tone red and green band across the window areas ( inspired by the Moroccan flag ) this then made way for a red and green wavy line. The tail used to state RAM along with a shooting star, again from the Moroccan flag.
RAM has since been removed from the tail. Despite such a simple livery, it is very much Moroccan although I hope that any future livery will capture the colourful feel that Morocco exudes ! The Port ( left side ) of the aircraft carry titles in Arabic and the Starboard ( right side ) carry Royal Air Maroc titles in lower case. The font was thinned a few years ago but has since gone back to the bold font.
About Morocco - in Arabic "Maghreb "
Morocco's landscapes have been an inspiration for many artists and soul seekers that either installed her or come here for inspiration. This is a beautiful country considered one of the best tourist locations.
The Atlas Mountains are the most impressive feature of Morocco landscapes. They are divided as Middle Atlas, High Atlas and Anti Atlas. The High Atlas have vast fertile valley where you would fall in love with the rivers and waterfalls. There are hiking trails as well as mountain biking tails. This is the home of the Berbers a friendly,proud and hospitable people.
Moroccan cuisine is reputed to be amongst the best in the world, with countless dishes and variations proudly bearing the country's colonial and Arabic influences. Moroccans do not generally eat out in restaurants so choice is generally limited to international fare such as Chinese, Indian and French cuisine.
The official language in Morocco is Arabic . French is spoken by about half the population, while a small number speak English or Spanish. A little effort to speak the local language goes a long way.
British nationals don't need a visa to enter Morocco for the purpose of tourism for up to 3 months. When entering the country, the UK’s gov.uk Travel advice section states “make sure your passport is stamped ; some tourists have experienced difficulties leaving the country because their passport bears no entry stamp”. Quite how you would get past immigration without any stamp any way is a mystery. But hey. Forewarned is forearmed !
AT 819 Manchester to Casablanca Mohamed V
24APR18 EMBRAER 190 Registration CN-RGR The flight diary just before and after my flight
My brand new TRIPP Hardshell case which arrived a few days before the trip - new airline,new country and new case !
Enroute to Manchester Terminal 2.
jet2 is slowly moving into Terminal 2 - a sign of the gradual end of Terminal 1 ( not before time I say ! )
I arrived Manchester Terminal 2 15 1520pm where Swissport handle Royal Air Maroc. The lady advisedthe next seat is free – she offered to sit me further forward due to my connection but I declined. Checkin and security were done in a whopping 5 minutes !
All checked in for my first ever Royal Air Maroc flight and first ever trip to Morocco!
Time to head upstairs to do security ! Security staff were jovial yet efficient ! A first for Manchester Airport surely.
Once airside I collected some preordered Euros from Travelex and I couldn't believe it that I could buy a Rubicon Mango Juice bottle for just GBP1.00 considering prices at this airport are highly inflated. A young guy approcahed me in Terminal 2 to ask for L31 and Zone 3 ? I saw he was departing on a longhaul flight and told him that 31L is his seat and zone 3 is his boarding zone !
Never have I ever seen an airline Station Manager ( Airport Manager ) at a gate. I had a nice chat with the RAM Station Manager and discussed the route, He advised that despite things quietening down ahead of Ramadhan, there are usually close 80 passengers connecting to Lagos alone !
A true Manchester welcome for a North African guest ! AT818 landed sometime after 1600pm and made her way to gate 207 where I was surprised that an airbridge would be used !
WCHR passengers boarded and suddenly a massive line of passengers followed the 1 wheelchair passenger. The Station Manager politely and firmly told everyone to line up on the right hand side and that only those with the wheelchair passenger could board. Whilst waiting in the airbridge the wheelchair attendant was asking a male in a wheelchair "if he could refuse the marriage proposal he was going for " ? Looks like Moroccan brides are the next big rage after Russian and Thai brides !
The Wheelchair Attendant lady made a joke with the Station Manager that still has me in stitches ! In the airbridge he advised a pregnant lady is coming through to which she said " I know I have put on weight but that's a bit too much ! ". Comical timing and really made me smile !
Boarding commenced at 1645pm after a short wait inside the airbridge whilst cleaners came off. It is worth mentioning here that my impression of RAM Cabin Crew before this flight wasn't the best owing to what I have read online. Would the online reviews be proven wrong ?
I said Salaam Alaikum to a very warm enthusiastic Cabin Chief then the same to a smiling Airhostess. I shook hands with the Cabin Chief. Jazz style instrumental music was playing throughout the cabin.
Walking through Business Class - a very Thronely looking seat - then again we are flying on a Royal Airline !
Oh joy ! I am always happy to have only my Suit Jacket as my neighbour ! I had changed from 16F to 18F and there was no one ahead,behind or beside me ! Happy Days !
Some seats were dirty and had longtime stains – the seat is the very basic component of a ticket you pay for. It should of course be clean. One good news – I didn’t need an extension seatbelt unlike on Finnair / Norra on the same aircraft type a month before ! !
The aircraft was fully boarded 1650pm - not bad considering there were only 39 or so passengers on this 90+ seater aircraft !
Legroom was great again having flown an Embraer 190 twice the previous month, I had no issues.
A 3 hour flight time was announced. A Steward near me saw me looking at the Skyshop section of the inflight magazine and said he would be doing the shopping service during the flight – I told him it was my 1st time travelling on RAM and to Morocco which he happily acknowledged.
At 1650PM there was a manual safety demo in English and Arabic – although French is one of RAM’s languages it would be irrelevant to do French announcements on a UK-Morocco flight. The Steward stood at the Business / Economy cabin divider as there were no Business Class passengers.
I had given the Cabin Chief a letter with an aircraft shaped paperclip - I introuduced myself in the letter and how it was my first time flying RAM. He said that before he even opens the letter – that he loved the paperclip!
Pushback was at 1700PM and I was surprised there was no Dua-E-Safar ( Pre travel prayer ).
If Star Alliance and SkyTeam ever merge then these two airlines will become partners ! My new journal and pen - how a Flight Report looks before you see it here !
PIA's 777-200 AP-BGL just landed from Islamabad as PK701 and taxying to gate 207. Although I was never a fan of this PIA livery it looks amazing compared to the Goat Express clipart PIA have recently rustled up. I still think it's a bad April Fool's joke and we will suddenly see the return of the iconic Green tail with bold white PIA letters.
1715pm and after lining up on Runway Two we were off to Morocco ! "We" as in me and the other passengers !
Bye bye Manchester Rain ! It took a good 5 or so minutes before we we were above clouds and into sunshine ! The video I made of take off therefore shows clouds,clouds and more clouds ! Blue sunny skies appeared as soon as I had stopped after 5 minutes of filming !
An Airhostess came by and asked if I wanted a drink - I asked for an Orange juice ; salted almonds were also offered by the crew as a gift ( not part of Economy service,at least not in Europe anyway ! )
The Cabin Chief was passing by and I asked if I could have both meal choices – he advised he would offer me these anyway even before I asked ! I am never shy when it comes to food and having worked for airlines know there is always extra onboard !
Meal service commenced 40 mins after take off. SPMLs ( special meals ) were served first. A Steward served the meals with an Airhostess serving drinks from a separate drinks trolley behind. The cabin smelt of warmly baked bread yet bread rolls were prepackaged ! And Business Class was empty !
Beef with Pasta - I only had the Pasta as I am so not a beef eater ! By the way all meals on RAM are Halal. The starter was an oriental vegetable mix.
Chicken with Rice
Tray as served
Just as I was taking photos of my meals ( Beef and Pasta as well as Chicken with Rice ), I was very happy when the Cabin Chief came by with a nice surprise.
He brought me a Lamb Tagine from ( the empty ) Business Class as a gift – he wanted to be the first to offer me my first tagine before i had even arrived in Morocco !
How the crew see the meal types on offer - Feeling like Chicken tonight ?!
Mango Yoghurt for dessert - different and tasty !
Beverage cups with the 60 years logo !
Trendy Salt and Pepper sachets !
I love the Arabesque / Lattice trayliner design
Mint tea was served – a nice touch seeing as I was heading for Morocco !
Further on in the flight, I decided to open my Mango Rubicon bottle….which exploded over my right leg - the RAM logo tissues I had been keeping as a souvenier sadly became the method to get dry !
Card shoved into the ceiling panels ?!
Although there is no audio/video entertainment, the RAM Inflight Magazine is a great read and great source on Moroccan culture and RAM.
SKY RAM - free Inflight Entertainment on your personal device ! I only fully read this article after the flight. No worries I will downlaod the SKYRAM app and tune in on my Casablanca to Manchester flight !
Despite Manchester being a 13 month old destination of RAM during the week I flew,Manchester still doesn't appear on the inflight map !
Enroute scenes !
At 1835pm there was an announcement of the flight plan since take off from Manchester – we had flown over London,France and would continue over Asturias,Oporto and then start our descent into Casablanca with an ETA ( estimated time of arrival ) of 2020pm I noted that announcements mentioned that we were flying “towards” Casablanca !
A Pillow was brought on request and was most comfortable. Looking at the length of this flight I feel pillows should be standard anyway.
A nicely decorated Business Class Menucard and almond packets were given as RAM memorabilia which I had requested.
As well as a fresh cream roulade with lime jam..mmm !
The crew told me I will enjoy Morocco – this was so nice to hear as despite the crew being Moroccan and their homeland being an everyday routine ,it was my first time to their magical exotic homeland.
At 1945pm there was some turbulence – the seatbelt sign went on. After calm restored theer was a Safar flyer announcement and we were thanked for our loyalty and that welcome bonus welcome miles would be offered when joining Safar Flyer and we were advised the no. of miles for Manchester-Casablanca
Twice during the flight I smelt cigarette smoke. I am not confirming who advised the following, but I was told much later after the flight that RAM Captains are allowed to smoke in the cockpit and apparently this is the norm on other airlines ? Truly amazing to hear. When I say amazing I mean shocking.
At 2010pm we were well into descent - the nice light evening sky gave way to pitch black under the clouds ( weird or what ?! )
As Casablanca came into view, we landed at 2020pm.
After the landing announcement, I saw a Saudi 787 and various RAM aircrafts, mainly 737s. American country style guitar instrumental music played throughout the cabin.
I had a very quick pic with crew – there was 1 bus for the entire aircraft so I didn't want to delay my connection or anyone else's !
The bus drove off and then seemed to stop at a RAM Embraer 190 aircraft – I thought maybe we were picking up more passengers ? However it turns out we had driven round and come back to our own Manchester aircraft ! The bus doors opened and I then saw our Airhostess hand a bag to a lady ! Wow ! now that is Super Service !
The lady passenger looked at me and laughed as we drove off again and it made me laugh too !
Enroute to the terminal building, I saw an A320 ( F-HEPJ ) a winglet Air France Airbus overnighting in Casablanca. The Bus stopped at the terminal and I followed the sign for Domestic transfers.
Transiting at Casablanca Mohamed V Airport
45 minutes is the recommended transfer time and below is a nice leaflet on transiting at Casablanca Mohamed V Airport.
You could tell the RAM Amsterdam AT851 flight arrived had just arrived behind us – evident by the sea of yellow Schiphol shopping bags passengers were carrying !
There was a massive queue in the very narrow lane to transit to domestic transfers.
The lady in the grey jacket seen here looks like any passenger - she is calmly waiting to clear security as we all were. I noted a lady carelessly shuttle past and bag her cae on a passenger.
This lady then starts shouting in Arabic ; initially I thought maybe she had been bumped into ?
She then let rip - oh my God what a scene she created by shouting so aggressively ( due to the tight connection ). She wouldn't let passengers past who were bing escorted for immediate departures and by the time Police arrived at the scene she was long gone. Why do some people feel the world revolves around them ? Surely if she was late for her onwards flight it is RAM's duty to rebook and reimburse her etc ?
Plenty of pops were around me ( p**ed off passengers ) – 2 guys who had arrived from Manchester with me were going on to Dakhla in Morocco.
No one advised we need to remove liquids, I had to work this out by the large empty bottles displayed at the checkpoint / scanner – an announcement would be good onboard to prewarn passengers. I had to finish the remains of my Rubicon Mango Soda !
I was worried that I may miss my connection….did I need to worry ? All will be revealed !
Right, drama over, see you at the gate for AT405 and see if I made my flight on time !
Royal Air Maroc
Manchester - MAN
Casablanca - CMN
A beautiful first impression of Royal Air Maroc ; seat cleanliness and cabin comfort need small tweaks and perhaps Airshow could be shown ? Cabin Crew were very friendly and professional. Royal Air Maroc is a great ambassador for Morocco ! A much better transit process is needed as the narrow lane and massive queues cause a lot of unnecessary tension to those on tight connections.
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