Introduction: It’s the most wonderful time of the year
A Tale of Two Lounges: SATS Premier T2 and the Qantas SIN Lounge
Malaysia Airlines B737 Business Class SIN-KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class KUL-NRT
Japan Airlines Business Class Sakura Lounge NRT
Japan Airlines B77W Business Class NRT-LAX
The Westin LAX
The Westin Westminster
Aloft Boston Seaport
The Consolidated AA Domestic First Class Experience
American Airlines Flagship Lounge JFK
American Airlines B772 Business Class JFK-LHR
American Airlines Arrivals Lounge LHR
The Great Northern Hotel, London
Sheraton Grand Park Lane, London
Westin Paris Vendome
Courtyard by Marriott Madrid Princesa
Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal
The Consolidated Intra-Europe Business Class Experience
Royal Air Maroc Business Class Lounge CMN
Royal Air Maroc B737 Business Class CMN-ACC
Ethiopian Airlines B772 Business Class ACC-ADD
Ethiopian Airlines Cloud 9 Business Class Lounge ADD
Ethiopian Airlines B737 Business Class ADD-DAR
Protea Hotel by Marriott Dar Es Salaam Courtyard
Tanzanite Lounge DAR
Qatar Airways A320 Business Class DAR-DOH
Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge DOH
Qatar Airways A350 “First” Class DOH-DXB
The Grosvenor House Dubai
Qatar Airways B772 Business Class DOH-BLR
The Ritz Carlton Bangalore
Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class DEL-HKG
W Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific’s HKG Lounges
Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class HKG-SIN
If it was RAM’s intention to temper expectations for their flight through their extremely underwhelming lounge experience, all I can say is “mission accomplished”. I left the lounge thoroughly convinced that if the airplane did not catch fire and spontaneously combust, I would consider it to be a good trip.
Casablanca to Accra is a 4.5 hour flight, but thanks to our detour to Lome (see previous post) the total trip time would be just under 6 hours. That’s quite a bit of time to be on a narrowbody 737 with recliner seats, although I firmly believe that once you’re in business class you lose all right to complain about such things. Think of the poor souls in the back.
We were boarding at the furthest gate of Terminal 2. Terminal 2 isn’t that big, for the record, so it wasn’t more than a five minute walk from the lounge.
Boarding was delayed but when it started the ground crew were quite good about enforcing priority boarding.
Although there were a few people in the business class queue, I was the only passenger in the cabin (I assume the rest had frequent flyer status of some sort). Shortly before takeoff, two off duty pilots boarded as well and took up two additional seats, probably being deadheaded to Accra. I can’t imagine premium load factors would be great to such destinations.
As mentioned, the seats in business are 2-2 configured recliners. You don’t see a lot of hard product innovation on narrowbody aircraft (with some notable exceptions), and that’s a shame. But narrowbody aircraft are mainly used to service routes where the load factors don’t justify the economics of widebody deployment, so it’s unsurprising that the form factor of seats has remained largely unchanged since the beginning of air travel.
Legroom is adequate, and unless you’re in the last row of the cabin you’ll have unrestricted recline.
Each seat has an old fashioned footrest. Unfortunately the mechanism that is meant to hold it in place doesn’t work on some seats, presumably due to wear and tear. I had my pick of the cabin though so it wasn’t an issue.
No seatback entertainment in these dated seats.
Every seat had a scratchy red blanket wrapped in plastic waiting.
Plus a flimsy pillow with the type of covering you usually find in hospitals.
The crew came around to introduce themselves. Unlike most of my experiences in Morocco, I found they had pretty good English. I’ve always found communication in Morocco to be a big problem, and vaguely remember reading one World Bank critique of the education system that went to the tune of “it sets out to teach students English, French and Arabic and ends up doing none particularly well.”
Pre-departure beverages were served, but all alcohol was kept sealed until we were airborne. Juice, soft drinks and water.
A loud mechanical whirl buzzed in the cabin as the video displays came down for the pre-flight safety briefing. I mistakenly assumed that this was also going to be the IFE system (See more on that later).
Takeoff was uneventful and after about 30 minutes the crew started dinner service. Nuts were served, but in a packet instead of a warmed ramekin. I wanted to summon my inner Heather Cho but got lazy.
Given the awful quality of catering in the lounge, I was surprised they had champagne on board, and a pretty decent brand if I may say so myself. Laurent Perrier Brut is not going to win any awards soon, but I’d personally take it any day over NVs from Cattier, Nicolas Feuillatte or Canard-Duchêne.
The glasses they use are really small though. “More ale, wench” was the order of the day.
Menus were distributed by the crew. They were printed on surprisingly high quality paper. I was expecting maybe a flimsy sheet or even no menu.
Dinner was…well…it was dinner. Served over two courses with the appetizer and desert brought out at the same time, then the appetizer switched out for the main.
The starter of a single prawn and mixed veggies wasn’t too bad. At least the prawn wasn’t. I realised later on that this was mean to be “asian prawn”. It’s always marvelous to see what other cultures make of your food.
The main, on the other hand, was optimistically described as chicken tagine with lemon sauce accompanied with potatoes and purple olives. Something probably got lost in translation. The chicken was dry with mushy veggies.
After dinner the crew gave out amenities kits. I was keen to see which brand RAM would partner with. Surely this would be a great chance to highlight some local boutique brands in a region known for argan and other minerals?
No, no it was not. I had a fetching resealable bag with eye shades and a pair of socks which I promptly lost.
I didn’t expect any inflight entertainment, so I was surprised to receive this handheld device from the stewardess. It was a (very heavy) tablet loaded with movies, TV shows and even some games. Fortunately the device had a built-in stand that allowed me to prop it up on my table.
The movies loaded on to it were pretty first rate stuff.
As were the TV shows.
The games were simple, no PS Vita stuff here. I do miss the days when airlines had those Super Nintendo games. Super Bonk and Super Maro Bros were easily two of my favourites, and they really made those long haul trips to SFO go by quickly.
I decided to re-watch the Lego Batman movie. When I first heard of it I thought: oh no cheap sequel cash-in. But having watched it, I now think it’s one of the better movies I’ve watched this year. At least I love how subversive it tries to be.
I love the dig they took at Suicide Squad too. Don’t know how many people caught that one.
Batman: What am I gonna do? Get a bunch of criminals together to fight the criminals? That's a stupid idea. Read more: http://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/movie_script.php?movie=the-lego-batman-movie
The seat was alright for sitting but as we all know a recliner seat on a late night flight isn’t ideal. When I was done with my movie I managed to catch about an hour of shut eye before we landed in Lome.
It was pitch dark outside (worryingly so for an airport) when we landed, and we taxied to a remote part of the apron. The lights in the cabin went on. And we waited. And waited.
No one got on or off the plane, which confused me even more. It seemed to be a refuelling stop, but why would you need to do that when it seems more straightforward to fly to ACC?
Some ground crew came onboard the plane, the pilots got out to stretch, some documents were filled and handed over. But there was no crew change, no luggage offloaded, no nothing. It was altogether strange.
After 30 minutes on the ground the aircraft doors were closed and we taxied again to takeoff. After that it was barely another 30 minutes before we were landing in Accra. The IFE tablet was taken away before we landed in Lome, and no further drinks were served between Lome and Accra. I thought and thought about it and couldn’t figure out what the stop in Lome was for.
One last order of business was to snap loo shots.
There were flowers in the loo. Real ones. I think. I didn’t touch them because I have a constant fear of touching anything in an airline loo.
The toiletries weren’t anything special- they were branded with RAM logos.
Royal Air Maroc wasn’t outstanding nor was it terrible. I think the best word to use would be “forgettable”. I realise a narrowbody aircraft is not really the place for an airline to show off its best stuff (unless you’re on a Qatar A320…more on that in the weeks to come) but I suppose the flight was comfortable enough on the whole.