I'm passionate about discovering new countries - I've been to 121 independent countries, dependent territories and partially recognised countries so far. Some countries get many tourists, some others get less, an some others do not get almost any at all. Such country is Saudi Arabia which basically hasn't issued tourist visas at all until very recently. But when it was finally announced that tourist visas were available with an easy online application I quickly decided to go. The visa application took five minutes to fill, there were no tricky questions, I paid SAR 463 (about 111 € including insurance) and I got the visa by e-mail half an hour later. I believe that tourism makes countries more open so I think that this is a very positive step.
Business class flights to Riyadh are almost always more expensive than to Dubai or Abu Dhabi. The best choice was eventually to book an open jaw Royal Jordanian flight from Paris to Riyadh with a return to Istanbul for which I had a very reasonably priced deal in business class.
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I took a taxi from downtown Paris for 50 €. Royal Jordanian uses Terminal 2A. My impression is that this terminal became nicer since my last visit a couple of years ago.
I like that the flight display shows the destinations in the alphabet used in that countries as well (Arabic, Hebrew or Cyrillic).
I booked this Royal Jordanian flight online and so I paid by credit card. I received an e-mail shortly after from the airline and I was asked to send a copy of my card which I did. My bank however blocked my card as they tried to check it which made me a lot of hassle: I had to ask for a new credit card and my booking was still not valid even my card was already charged at the time of booking.
I got to the check-in desk three hours before departure. Check-in flor Royal Jordanian (and British Airways) is one floor down from street level and is actually between terminals 2A and 2C.
I was told my booking had been suspended and I had to go to the airline office at a different part at the airport. An Irish not-so-gentleman was shouting over the phone with I guess his travel agent as he didn't have the card used for the booking with him but he eventually got on the plane. My booking was validated in a few minutes. So have your credit card ready at the airport if you book Royal Jordanian on their website.
There’s a Crown (business) Class check-in desk.
I was eventually checked in and I got an invitation to the Cathay Pacific lounge and No1 access. I used the automated passport control which was quick and my No1 access to jump the queue at security which was very useful. Unfortunately, there was a lady working there probably as a supervisor who was extremely rude both with the passengers and her colleagues.
A very friendly gentleman working at the duty free shop showed me the way to the lounge which is one floor above the shops.
The Paris CDG Cathay Pacific lounge is very, very nice. It's spacious, clean, has fantastic apron and runway views and the choice of food is very good.
Some of the seating areas at the lounge:
Some food are available as a self-service buffet:
And some others can be ordered:
I had a wonton soup which was ready in two minutes. It was really good.
The choice of drinks is less impressive.
Boarding was very quick as there were not many passengers. Priority boarding was available.
Royal Jordanian flies an A320 on this route with four rows of proper business class seats in a 2+2 configuration. The load on this flight was 9/16. While many people would prefer a widebody aircraft with full-flat beds on a similar route I found this configuration very good for a daytime flight of about four hours and 30 minutes. Although the seat itself was not in a perfect condition it was nevertheless very comfortable and legroom was especially good.
Arabic coffee and water were offered immediately after boarding.
And amenity kit was distributed soon after although it had a somehow limited content.
Push-back was at 15.22 and take-off at 15.35 from runway 26R for a scheduled departure time of 15.35. Perfect!
A hot towel and the menu card was distributed about 20 minutes after take-off. A four-course dinner with a choice of four main courses – extremely impressive!
I first had for some Tattinger champagne.
Meal service started about 50 minutes after take-off. Appetizer and salad were first served. Both of them were very fresh and tasty. I’m not sure what exactly the appetizer was as there was no description but I believe it was sashimi pastry.
I had chicken honey mustard as a main course. Although the presentation was not especially attractive the meal tasted very good.
The third course was cheese. It was served from a cart so I could choose exactly what I wanted.
A chocolate cake was offered for dessert.
Meal service was completed two hours after take-off. I have to note that the cabin crew was working very hard, was quick, efficient and very friendly.
In-flight entertainment was not as I expected. There are small fold-out screens but no content was available at all. The cabin crew helped all business class passengers individually to download an application on their own mobile phones which allowed to watch movies – there were about 35 of them under the Hollywood category. While I’m afraid more and more airlines will do that I prefer the traditional screens with good headphones (you have to bring your own ones to watch movies on your own device).
I was sleeping and working in the remaining time.
We had a nice view over Amman by night and we landed at 20.40 for a scheduled arrival time of 21.10.
Business class passengers were taken to the terminal building by a very comfortable bus.
Thank you for reading my flight report. Please feel free to comment.
Cathay Pacific Lounge
Paris - CDG
Amman - AMM
While in some ways this plane did not offer what you would normally expect from a flight from Europe to the Middle-East such as flat beds or a wide choice of entertainment, the four-course dinner and the professional crew more than made up for it. I definitely enjoyed my flight a lot.
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