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Thursday 18 December 2014

Flying the Crown Jewel from the Middle East and its 787 Dreamliner (Part 1: KUL-BKK)


For my part 2, click here

Royal Jordanian's Boeing 787 had been in my mind for a few months. The airline announced that it would replace the Airbus A330-200 and A340-200 and would also be used for fleet expansion, that means that both KUL-BKK and BKK-HKG route would be using the Boeing 787 in some stage. That came true when 'Airlineroute' announced that the airline would be starting flights to KUL with the 787 from August onwards but was delayed until October. So once that sank into me, I went ahead to do the booking about a month before the departure date. Later on, thanks to "My flights" application, it notified me that my flight's aircraft type was changed to A330-200 on both ways and that certainly caused some panic in me. Not long after, I tweeted to the airline's official account about this change and whether I could change my flights to another date so that I could fly the 787 Dreamliner. No reply from them and at that moment, I was resigned to flying the A330 once again. Fortunately for me, about a week before my date of departure, another update from my application and it was great news for me - the A330 was changed back to the 787. During this time, my seat allocation was not changed, thank God for it! Later on, I discovered that the few flights after mine (RJ180), they were operated by A330! I guess the airline had answered my prayer and deployed on 787s on those days I flew on. Nonetheless, a big thank you to Royal Jordanian! 

Flight route: KUL-BKK

A few days before my flight, the airline emailed me about making a bid to get myself upgraded for business class. Flying on the business class wasn't an agenda for me but I thought maybe I should try my luck. I made the minimum bid of $75 (maybe I should have made a bigger bid) and not a surprise that I got turned down. It ended up to be a good thing because I made a friend on board and more of that to come. 

Tried to do my online check-in but somehow it failed, just like my previous experience.

Since I couldn't do it, I just had to go to the airport to make sure I get my seat, troublesome really. Thumbs down for the trouble. 

At the airport

I spent some time to do some spotting at the viewing mall located at the land side, near to Old Town Coffee Restaurant located a floor above the immigration. You can spot much local traffic and if you are lucky, you get some nice foreign airlines taxiing in front of you. For me, I was delighted to see my aircraft taxiing past me! 

Once the time came for checking in, I went to the check-in row and already there were quite a number of passengers in front of me. You should have seen the number of luggage some of the families had and that caused the queue to go very slowly even though there were 4 counters opened for Y class passengers. 

I had this nice 'Black Forest' cake at Secret Recipe in KUL's main building.

As an aviation enthusiast, I do my usual checking on which aircraft would take me to BKK! The airline's 5th Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, JY-BAF gets the honour. 

JY-BAF landed at KUL's 32L while 9M-AJG's Air Asia's A320 landed on the new runway, 33. This map was not updated at that time. (December 2014)

My flight would be departing from Gate C2.

For those who are wondering, KUL airport offers free wifi but it is limited to 3 hours per day. 

Photos of the check-in counters

Waited for quite a while before my turn came. Luckily for me, my credit card was not needed to be verified. The same manager-in-charge was there but he didn't recognise me. (Check my previous trip report) 

Got my boarding pass and the seat of my choice. 

The queue after I was done. 

Another screening at the gate. It took quite a while to get through it. They should have opened the other security line.

My ride, JY-BAF being prepared for departure. 

More photos of this beauty

Date: 5th September 2014
Airline: Royal Jordanian 
Flight: RJ181 
Route: KUL-BKK
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
Registration: JY-BAF (Aircraft is leased from Aercap)
Delivered on: 19th Nov 2014 
Engines : 2 X GENX-1B 
Config: C24Y246
Line number: 233 
Seat: 31A 
Gate: C2 
Duration: 1 hr 45 mins 
FL: 410 
Load: 90% in Y class 
Departure: 2220
Boarding: 2130
Take off: 2230 
Arrival: 2309 (BKK time) early 
Departure runway 32R 
Arrival runway: 01R 

Boarding was called early and since there weren't many J class and passengers with kids, the rest of us were allowed to board the aircraft after, luckily the passengers didn't make a dash for the aero-bridge otherwise it could have been messy! 

Flying with this airline again, I was just hoping that photography on board was allowed since my last experience with this airline, the crew leader didn't allow me even when his partner tried to talk on my behalf. 

Once I reached the door, I was pleasantly surprised to see Thai crew welcoming me on board and they were a lot better than the previous crew I flew on with this airline. I made my way to my seat, snapping some photos along the way and I wasn't stopped at all. That's great! 

Unfortunately, the 2 seats beside mine were taken by a Malaysian couple. We had a chat and I explained to them about the aircraft and its significance. Always glad to share my knowledge with others! In the end, we exchanged contact. 

Anyway, here are some photos of the cabin. Please enjoy! 

Royal Crown Class

The big screen and the colour of the seats caught my attention. 

The Royal Crown class of Royal Jordanian is definitely an improvement over the previous and I would certainly love to try it one day. Looks very comfy and cosy. 

Do you like the look of the new business class seat? I certainly do! 

Economy class 

Looks pretty full! Some of the passengers did notice the difference between this aircraft and the older ones. 

The passengers at the rear cabin, most of them were heading to Amman. 

Cabin crew at work! 

The photo was taken from my seat. To avoid, row 33 as its windowless on both sides. 

Thales's TopSeries AVANT system

I am quite impressed with it. The touchscreen is responsive and using the system is quite easy. The in-flight map, on the other hand, took me quite a while to figure but its better than the others I feel. 

The USB connector for you to charge your electronic devices is located just below the screen. Do take note there is no remote controller on the seat, so only the touch screen can access the menu. The bad thing is playing games for some would be disappointed to know there aren't many varieties on this airline's system at least. The light lamp, calling for the attendant button, switch the screen off/on the button, volume and home button are located below the screen, so it is not too difficult to figure things out especially if you are new to this system. 

Thank you for flying with Royal Jordanian! Some photos of the airline's IFE system. 

It is a shame that there weren't many choices of movies as I wasn't interested in most of them. 

The in-flight map is my favourite feature of this system, you can use your fingers on the touch screen to change whichever angle you want to see. Pretty neat! 

The fold-able tray, if only there is a drink holder without opening this up.

The legroom space which is adequate for me, but on the long haul, I would take the aisle seat especially on the 3-3-3 seating configuration. 

The legroom space is adequate for me (6 foot 4). It is about 32 inch. 

This was my seat, next to the window. It is a good thing, I didn't get row 33. 

The random red seat mix with the white ones matches the cabin very well. 

Cabin seats and the crew's uniform matches too! 

Heading to the cabin for the first time is always exciting for aviation enthusiasts. 

The airline is celebrating its 50th anniversary at this time! (Dec 2014)

I tried the seat at the emergency row. Avoid the so-called "window" seat, not only you don't get the outside view, you don't have much legroom space. The middle or aisle seat would be much better. As for those who don't know, the IFE system is stored at the compartment below, you need to pull it up to use. 

Every row has an AC plug, so if you need to work on your laptop, there is one available for you.  

The ample legroom space! If the crew is nice, you might be able to chat with him or her during take-off and landing. 

The Dreamliner's mood lighting certainly makes every part of the cabin much nicer, for this case in the crew's workplace. 

Photos inside the toilet 

This Boeing 787 Dreamliner has something new that other aircraft don't have for now. That is the hand sensor system. Wave at it, the toilet seat will close and it flushes automatically. 

Oops, I suppose to be back at my seat! 

What's inside the seat pocket? 

The safety card (Back and Front)

The airline's magazine

What's on the screen? 

Airline's vomit bag 

After take-off, we were given the earpiece and towel.

Even though you are allowed to take home the earpiece but the problem is why use 2 pins? Most of the gadgets use only one. The quality of this is average but you shouldn't have any problem listening to whatever program you are watching. The low cabin noise of the 787 Dreamliner certainly plays a part.

Cold towel for every passenger. 

In-flight meal

Since the flight was at such a late hour, I didn't mind sandwiches but they were cold and the meat was a bit tough therefore I didn't quite like it. The dessert, on the other hand, was delicious - lime cake. 

In-flight service

This set of Thai crew was mainly reserved but at least they were friendly enough to make me enjoy every minute on board the aircraft. I talked to a couple of them and they told me how much they enjoyed working on this aircraft. Even though the flight was almost full in Y class, the crew were seen working their socks off on this short flight, their last flight for the working day. No complaints at all about them but they could certainly be opened up, more smiles and being warmed to passengers could certainly help themselves. 

Window-shot photos

As the cabin lights were switched off, I was able to photograph some decent night shots. Please enjoy! 

Took off from KUL! 

On approach to Bangkok. 

My rating: 

Website: 5/10 
On ground service (KUL): 6/10
In-flight service: 6/10
Cabin interior: 10/10 
Seat comfort: 7/10 
Cleanliness: 10/10
Punctuality: 10/10
In-flight meal: 6/10 
IFE System: 6/10 (Lack of movie choices) 
Aircraft condition: 10/10 
Overall rating: 76/100


My experience with the airline is definitely more positive than my previous. I am just grateful that I can sample the airline's 787 Dreamliner even though the flight was too short to enjoy it. I would say the airline has done well to upgrade both of its Economy and Royal Crown Class, taking advantage of the advanced technology of the aircraft which makes it competitive against the largest airlines in the world and of course its Middle-East rivals: Qatar, Etihad and Emirates. Even the Airbus A330-200's cabin is not that outdated and if you get that aircraft instead of the 787 Dreamliner, don't feel disappointed. Eventually, the 787 Dreamliner will replace the Airbus A330 and A340s. So thinking of flying this airline? Go ahead. It is reliable and is getting better. 

Thank you for reading this trip report. As usual, feel free to ask me any questions. 

For my part 2, click here


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