Small plane, Big Service to Amman: Royal Jordanian’s Economy

DOH: Dohar, Qatar  to AMM: Amman, Jordan RJ647  Embraer 175
Scheduled Departure: 12:30  Arrival: 14:25 2 hour 55 min flight
Total distance: 1,047 miles / 1,671 km / 902 nautical miles

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Booking: 8/10

On this sector, it was a toss up between Qatar Airways and Royal Jordanian. I figured it was time for a revisit with RJ as I have had more Qatar flights in recent days. While I believe, QR are the superior airline, RJ have a very solid, pleasant product.

RJ’s website has been updated since I last used it. The improvements look visually good. The initial booking page is one of the most visually interesting I have seen.  I like it but the multitude of colours made it feel a little crowded.

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Check in: 8/10

I checked in on line and chose to sit in the first row of Economy. I confirmed that was my seat at the airport check in. The Friday morning check in was quiet and the airport uncrowded. Staff were very pleasant.

Lounge: 9.5/10

I had access to the First Class lounge at Doha airport. Finding the lounge took some working out. I had to ask for directions and was told: “go to the giant teddy bear and turn right!”, by the information counter. Yes, there is a giant teddy in Doha airport! Lamp Bear by Swiss artist Urs Fischer is a seven metre (23-foot)  yellow teddy bear made from bronze, that sits inside a lamp. 

IMG_5330Once there, the welcome and check in to the lounge was a little brusque.  I am not sure whether the staff were attempting professional detachment but that attitude didn’t work for me.

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There were three customers in the First Class lounge,  the whole time I was in there. The staff in there were thrilled to see one new face and kept checking to see if I was okay. They brought me a drink every time my drink was looking close to empty and kept enticing me to the buffet. That is service! Thanks guys.  I had a friendly chat with them. They were mostly Filipinos living a long way from family. As I was shortly off to Cebu, it was good to share information about their homelands. It can be tough, trying to help your family get ahead. 

The lounge has plenty of power outlets and the wifi was reliable. Good shower facilities are available. There is also a smoking room!

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I also transited through the RJ lounge at Amman. The new airport terminal has opened in 2013 along with an updated airport lounge. The lounge is a vast place overlooking the terminal area with a mixture of seating options including sofas and desks. Surprisingly, there are not many accessible power outlets. The lounge seems to have waiters who will bring you your meals for u for a tip ( I think). I have never worked out how it works. There is one shower in the Amman lounge for each gender but it costs an extra fee.

Boarding: 7/10

Somewhere between check-in and Boarding, the woman sitting next to me and myself were both moved to the row behind us, making room for a family with children who used the bassinet ledge in row seven. No staff commented on the change.

Boarding was very speedy and the RJ crew warmly welcomed us on board in English and/or Arabic. A friend of mine said “how do they know which langauge to use?“. They did not look impressed when I said it is a matter of calculated guessing!

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On Board: 8/10

Royal Jordanian are moving to 787s for their long haul sectors such as Amman to Bangkok, Chicago, London and New York. On regional services the airline mostly utilises Embraers or A319s. (although on a couple: Jeddah and Kuwait, you will find the 787 ).  

Today’s service was on a 72 seat Embraer 175 regional jet. Embraers are is one of my favourite aircraft but I do not believe anyone should fly on this size regional jet for more than 90 minutes!  Qatar utilises a Boeing 777 on the same route. 

The plane has 12 recliner seats in Crown Class (Business Class) arranged 1-2.  Pitch is 42″ and width is 19″. The 62 Economy seats are four across arranged 2-2 with a seat pitch of 31″. This is tight for me as illustrated by my knees. Was very disappointed not to be in the row in front of me!IMG_5337 (1)The plane is six years old but looked in nice condition. There were a few spots where you could see the age (witness above my left knee above). I checked to see if I had flown the same RJ Embraer before but this was not the case!

Safety: 9/10

The crew manually demonstrated the safety features with commentary in English and Arabic. They did a thorough check of the aircraft before take off and landing.

Departure

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We departed 15 minutes early which seems to be a common feature on this route! Soon after take-off, we were given a refresher towelette. Both Asian and Middle Eastern airlines are really good at this small feature. It is something that many of the European carriers have dropped as a cost-saving but I think it is one of those small details that says to a main cabin passenger: “welcome aboard“, “you are welcome here” and “this is a civilised airline“.

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We reached cruising altitude of 34,000 feet within minutes and sat at that for the whole flight as we tracked across Saudi Arabia. We had a very smooth trip with no turbulence.

Meals: 10/10

Consider how many two hour flights where you only get a packet of peanuts? Or maybe a pastry and a soda thrown at you as the crew zooms past?

Not on Royal Jordanian! They provide food of the highest quality and largest quantity! You will experience the same when you travel through Jordan. 

We were served a fresh cucumber and tomato salad which was fresh. The bread roll was not too bad for an airline. Often they arrive dry but this was pleasant and it was enhanced with the delicious cream cheese!

The lamb and rice dish was superb.

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The meal was finished off with a cookie. Nice but I would have preferred a Jordanian pastry!

A good drinks range plus coffee and tea was available. What really rounded out the meal was the unrushed, warm hospitality of the cabin crew. 

Entertainment: 1/10

No entertainment available and no wifi. The airline’s magazine is Royal Wings.

The family with the two babies in front of me gave me entertainment with each baby proceeding to cry individually in turn for the first hour and last 2o minutes of the flight. Thank goodness for my noise cancelling headphones!!

Landing

We landed 22 minutes early which seems typical for this flight.

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The Verdict

My Flight Rating:  76%  (3.8 out of 5).

About the Airline: Royal Jordanian was established in Dec 1963 by a Royal Decree issued by His Majesty King Hussein. The airline was privatised in Dec 2007. Its 27 planes connect 56 destinations on four continents.

Skytrax: RJ has a 3 star rating from Skytrax. Skytrax customers rate them at 6/10.

My overall rating of  Royal Jordanian: 79.5% I rate them 23rd out of the 95 airlines I have flown.

Safety Rating: Airline ratings gives the carrier 5 and 3/8 out of 7. The airline reportedly uses ex air force pilots which always gives me confidence.

Frequent Flyer Program: Royal Plus Frequent Flyer, affiliated with One World. I earned Qantas Frequent Flyer points.

Positives:  The Lounge, Meal, RJ Warm Service

Negatives: The legroom

Would I fly them again? Yes. Although if faced with the choice of a Qatar 777 and a RJ E175, guess which one I will go for?!

 

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