Royal Jordanian Airlines Boeing 787-8 Flight Experience: RJ181 from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok
Welcome to my experience of Royal Jordanian Airlines 5th freedom flight RJ181 from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (KUL) to Bangkok, Thailand (BKK).
I had been wanting to fly with Royal Jordanian Airlines, though I didn't quite have a vacation to Jordan in mind. With their recent relaunch of flights between Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, it provided me the best opportunity to sample this airline. The operating aircraft being the airline's flagship Boeing 787-8 was a bonus! I booked my ticket directly on Royal Jordanian Airlines website and my date with Royal Jordanian Airlines was set!
Royal Jordanian Airlines flight RJ181
Route: Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Bangkok (BKK)
Departure: 10.20pm / 10.45pm (actual)
Arrival: 11.20pm / 11.29pm (actual)
Flight Time: 2 hours / 1 hour 44 minutes (actual)
Check-in at Kuala Lumpur International Airport
I arrived about 3 hours before my flight's departure and check-in had just commenced. There was just a trickling of passengers, and it was quickly my turn to be checked-in. I had a rude shock when I was told by the customer service officer at the check-in desk that my ticket was currently suspended! She nicely assured me that "probably, there isn't any issue", but the check-in system prompted a message requiring the airline representative to verify my credit card used in the booking. The staff asked me to come back later when after he arrives at the check-in row. She explained that as the ticket was suspended, there wasn't anything she could do.
I wasn't too concerned, as I had my credit card used in the booking with me (thankfully!). I found a corner to relax whilst waiting for the airline representative to show up. When I went back to the check-in to get my boarding pass issued, I explained the situation to another customer service officer, and he informed me he had to turn away another passenger earlier on the same flight who didn't have the original credit card used in the booking (ie. he wasn't allowed to travel!). I was quite curious why Royal Jordanian Airlines was so strict on this credit card verification requirement. The friendly staff reasoned there might be many credit card fraud scams in Jordan, hence this stringent policy. Anyhow, after the airline representative verified my credit card, he went up to his office to unlock my booking, which was done promptly and my boarding pass was issued. I was all set to fly on Royal Jordanian Airlines!
Another thing to note is that whilst Royal Jordanian Airlines offer a generous 30kg baggage allowance per passenger in Economy Class, it is limited to 1 piece of baggage. There was a couple on the next counter who thought they could check-in their 2 pieces of baggage as long as the combined weight did not exceed 30kg, however, they were denied and had to repack their belongings. I wouldn't have thought checking-in multiple baggage as long as its within the weight restrictions were an issue, but Royal Jordanian Airlines seem to have this strict policy on 1 piece of baggage per person with a maximum weight of 30kg.
After the lack of flexibility at the check-in, I did not muster too high hopes on a fantastic flying experience. Further, I have read about the presence of air marshals on Royal Jordanian Airlines flights who may not be too enthusiastic about me taking pictures for my review of the inflight experience.
I arrived at the Satellite Terminal via the Aerotrain after clearing immigration and a security screening (I'd always love riding on this train - the way the train whooshes between the terminals whilst providing a bird's eye view of the action at the Satellite Terminal excites me so). Arriving at Gate C04, I was awed by the beautiful ebony Boeing 787-8 bird in front of me. With the registration JY-BAE, this aircraft was delivered to Royal Jordanian Airlines in November 2014. Boarding soon commenced and was done by row numbers. Upon entering the aircraft, I was greeted by a female cabin crew dressed in a colourful Jordanian garb welcoming passengers at the door. The other cabin crew wore a bright red uniform. I noticed, aside from the purser who was an older Arab gentleman, the rest of the cabin crew were all young Asian ladies.
I settled right into my seat, noticing there was a pillow and a blanket. The blanket was probably recycled from the previous flight as it was already unwrapped but neatly folded on the seat.
Touchscreen entertainment and a USB port were available.
After boarding was completed, the cabin crew distributed earbuds, as well as immigration forms for passengers disembarking in Bangkok.
The captain informed (in Arabic and English) that flight time would be 1 hour and 55 minutes, and the aircraft would be cruising at 37,000 feet. The announcement was translated into Thai by a cabin crew, as with all other announcements made during the flight.
After the cartoon safety video screening, a tourism video on Jordan was played - which was really upbeat and inspiring (perhaps I should have considered a trip to Jordan after all!). Then, flight RJ181 took off into the night sky.
After take off, the cabin crew offered a refreshment towel packet, before quickly commencing the meal service. Meal trays were quickly dished out to the passengers, as there was only one option for the meal: duo of cold sandwiches, a cake for dessert, and drinking water.
The duo of sandwiches comprised one with a tuna filling and another with chicken breast.
The passionfruit cake was a delicious treat!
The meal, though it was a cold light meal, was nicely presented and a lovely treat for this short flight. I particularly loved the cake!
Drinks are served by another cabin crew, with the full range of drinks available, including soft drinks and wines. I requested for red wine, which was brought to me later, as apparently, the wines were shared between the two drink carts on each aisle.
Later, the cabin crew came round to offer coffee and tea. I had some tea to end my meal.
There were some slight turbulence after the coffee and tea were served in which pre-recorded announcements on the turbulence in Arabic and English was played. The announcement was repeated in Thai by a cabin crew member.
I watched an Egyptian comedy "Satow Mosalath" before switching to a more conventional "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children". I found the entertainment system most excellent - picture and audio quality was crystal clear, and the system itself was highly responsive. Thumbs up to Royal Jordanian Airlines on this.
In terms of passengers, the flight was about half full, and from an observer's point of view, there were a range of nationalities amongst the passengers. Given that the passengers could be shuttling to Bangkok or flying the red-eye to Amman, or from Amman onwards to connect to other Royal Jordanian's destinations, it wasn't surprising.
One inflight aspect I also enjoyed was the soft mood lighting.
Soon, it was time for landing, and we landed smoothly at 11.29pm, slightly after our scheduled arrival time (11.20pm).
The actual flight time was 1 hour and 44 minutes. Passengers heading onwards to Amman were requested to remain onboard during the 45 minute transit in Bangkok. Coincidentally, the aircraft parked next to a Levantine neighbour, an El Al Israel Airlines Boeing 747-400 heading towards Tel Aviv.
Upon exiting the aircraft, passengers were required to show their boarding passes to the groundstaff to verify that they indeed had Bangkok as their final destination. After ransacking my bag for the boarding pass, I presented it to the agent who checked me off her list and I was on my way.
Despite the initial challenges at check-in, the Royal Jordanian inflight experience was smooth and enjoyable. Though it was a cold light meal, I liked how it was nicely presented. I was curious about the availability of alcohol on this short sector but it turned out Royal Jordanian also serve wines on this flight. Amongst the myriad of passengers on the flight, I tried to look out for the presence of air marshals but was unable to identify a potential one. Whilst not as extensive a movie selection as the bigger Middle-East carriers, I would give a big thumbs up on the quality of the entertainment offered. In all, I had a great flight with Royal Jordanian Airlines.
Thank you for reading this Royal Jordanian Airlines review. For the full video experience of this Royal Jordanian Airlines flight RJ181, please see below:
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