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, and some others do not get almost any at all. Such a 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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My flight from Riyadh arrived 15 minutes ahead of schedule. I had to go through a quick security control again after which I headed to the lounge. I already described it earlier in my flight report from Amman to Riyadh. I had about 90 minutes at the lounge. The breakfast spread was quite nice. I was not very hungry after my flight so I only had one of these:
Most of the morning departures are Royal Jordanian flights. Despite the relatively small size of the population (10.5 millions), the airline based in Amman has a large number of destinations due to the increasing number of both point-to-point and connecting passengers. There’s only one domestic destination (Aqaba); a large number of regional destinations such as Abu Dhabi, Ankara, Bahrain, Basra, Beirut, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Erbil, Istanbul, Jeddah, Kuwait, Najaf, Riyadh, Sulaymaniyah, Tabuk, Tel-Aviv; three airports in North Africa: Algiers, Cairo, Tunis; some key European destinations such as Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Berlin TXL, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, London LHR, Madrid, Moscow DME, Munich, Paris CDG, Rome FCO, Vienna, Zurich; only two long-haul Asian destinations (Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur) and several North American airports such as Chicago, Detroit, Montreal and New York JFK.
The morning flight from Amman to Istanbul is operated by E195 on some days, and by A319 or A320 on others. My flight was supposed to be an E195 (if you've read my previous flight reports you'll know it’s one of my favourite aircrafts in business class) but it was switched to an A319 with a 2+2 configuration in business class. No problem as I didn’t have a neighbour, the seat next to me remained empty.
Legroom was good although it was not exceptionally good
The view from my seat before departure
This unusual UN flight was bound for Djibouti and Sanaa in Yemen
We took off from runway 08R
The views of Amman Airport after take-off
The weather was beautiful. The highlight of this flight? The fantastic views. Jordan, west of Amman:
The Dead Sea
The Mediterranean coastline of Israel
Breakfast was served about half an hour after take-off. It was similar to what was served earlier the same morning from Riyadh to Amman, although it was slightly smaller. Was it because it was later during the day? Or was it because the departure was from Amman? Anyway it tasted good and in the end it was enough for me.
Small pastries were served shortly later
I have to note that unlike on my previous flight from Riyadh to Amman service on this flight from Amman to Istanbul was as expected: welcome drink, hot towel, coffee and tea and orange juice were all offered and the cabin crew was friendly and professional.
The Mediterranean Sea between Cyprus and Turkey
A lake in Turkey – I’m not sure which one
We landed on time at the new Istanbul Airport where taxi took 15 minutes
Royal Jordanian Crown Lounge
Amman - AMM
Istanbul - IST
This was my fourth flight with Royal Jordanian in a few days, all of them on narrow-body aircrafts. All flights were on time, the seats were perfectly comfortable for these relatively short flights and the food was tasty. The cabin crews were friendly and professional on three flights out of four. On the other hand there was no real in-flight entertainment – at least I finally had time to read.
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