Airlines of the Middle East: Royal Jordanian
The past decade has heralded a transformation in air travel – the rise of Middle Eastern airlines has been an extraordinary story of rapid growth and expansion. Many of these airlines have revolutionised in-flight service and defined “best in class” product offerings. By raising the bar in service and quality on the ground and in the sky, travellers are reaping the benefits.
In this series we review each of the major airlines from the region and dish the goss on what they have to offer the flying traveller.
Hub: Amman, Jordan
Fleet size: 32
Few people in the West know much about the country of Jordan, let alone its national carrier, so it has been an interesting journey for me to read up on and research this airline. The airline was established in the ’60s and has since come a long way for what is a relatively small carrier.
Royal Jordanian (RJ) became a part of the Oneworld alliance in 2007 and by doing so was the first Arab airline to join a global alliance – this has opened up Jordan to the world and the feeder traffic from other Oneworld alliance members has been a valuable asset for the airline. Unfortunately the airline remains a ’3-Star Airline’ so has some way to go until it pleases all passengers who demand world-class service.
The airline has a relatively small fleet of 33, consisting of mainly Airbus and Embraer aircraft, the largest being three A330-200 and four A340-200 aircraft. The airline has seven 787-8 aircraft scheduled for delivery from early 2013.
On the Ground
In Jordan’s capital city Amman, passengers can check-in at the “City Terminal” which allows guests to check-in up to 24 hours before their flights departure. Those lucky enough to travel in Crown Class (business class) or those with RJ / Oneworld status are entitled to use the flagship Crown Class Lounge in Amman.
The lounge has a few sleeping rooms which are a great spot to rest whilst in transit (or before your flight after a boozy last night on holiday) – I’m told that these cost around $50 USD for 4 hours. In other ports, passengers in Crown Class or with status can use other Oneworld carrier lounges (we generally recommend Cathy Pacific lounges where available).
RJ does not have a first class and instead offers a business class for its premium passengers. Scanning through the latest reviews online, many people complain about the angled lie flat seats in the carriers A330 aircraft (and rightly so: for long transcontinental flights the sloped seats are a nightmare).
The A340 appears to have seats that lie completely flat which is great – but the design of the seat makes one feel somewhat exposed to the cabin – there is no ‘shell’ on your seat blocking you from the passenger behind you. The RJ website has an interactive flash tool that shows you what you can expect on your aircraft in this cabin.
From a dining perspective most business class products offer good fare and RJ is no different. Crown Class passengers gets served individually from a cart which really is a blast from the past. It has a more personal feel to the experience rather than just having a tray shoved in front of you like on other carriers. It’s good to see that RJ is still adopts a bit of the old school in this regard.
You can read a fantastic Crown Class trip report here.
Looks like a typical economy class to me and well, nothing really sticks out as being super awesome for travellers at the back of the bus. I’ve read a couple of reviews online and they don’t appear to be rapturous in praise. The seats look somewhat nice in that they are a soothing grey/red design – unlike Thai Airways ‘s vomit inducing rainbow flag design.
Looking at seat pitch data, it appears that the A340 has an Economy seat pitch of 33″ (quite good by Economy standards) but the A330 has a 31″-32″ pitch (read: nasty & unbearable if you get a 31″ row). Go for the A340 aircraft where possible.
You can read an economy class trip report here.
The inflight entertainment won’t win awards but it does seem to have an adequate choice of movies and television programs as found you can see from the airlines website. It is certainly no Emirates which provides 1000′s of channels of content but I believe it would be adequate for a round-trip journey/vacation – for regular journeys the entertainment would get old, quickly. For religious types you may find relief in the special audio channel that entertains with verses from the Holy Qur’an.
From what I read from online resources such as trip reports and airline reviews, the airline isn’t too bad in Crown Class. Economy looks reasonably tragic on the A330 due to tight pitch. I have seen very cheap business fares from Asia – Europe so if you can nab these tickets, i’m sure you won’t be disappointed. One world membership means that you can earn and burn points with RJ and this can be only a good thing.
Have you travelled with Royal Jordanian? What did you think?