Category Archives: Trip reports

The Milelion’s RTW Trip 2017: Ethiopian Airlines B787 Business Class ACC-ADD

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
Sheraton Casablanca
Royal Air Maroc Business Class Lounge CMN
Royal Air Maroc B737 Business Class CMN-ACC
Ethiopian Airlines B787 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
W Doha
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


Image result for ethiopian airlines changi

For those of us in Singapore, Ethiopian Airlines is probably as exotic as they come. Although the airline does fly to Singapore (and operates a strange 5th freedom route to KUL on a 787 no less), it’s more likely than not that the average Singaporean will go through his or her entire life without stepping foot on an ET jet. And based on the reaction I got when I told my colleagues my itinerary, it’s probably safe to say that Ethiopia isn’t a country most Singaporeans would expect a good airline to come from.

And they’d be wrong. Ethiopian has a fleet list that would put many “first world airlines” to shame, with spanking new A350s and B787s (even on their older 777 jets they’ve finished refitting full flat business class). It’s been a proud card carrying member of Star Alliance since 2011. And it constantly wins various best airline in Africa awards.

Ethiopian-Airlines-A350-Business class
Ethiopian Airlines A350 Business Class
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Ethiopian Airlines B787 Business Class
Image result for ethiopian airlines business class
Refurbished Ethiopian Airlines B777

It’s definitely not in the same league as an ANA or SQ, but it’s also not something you should actively try to avoid. I had to get from Accra to Dar Es Salaam and since oneworld has no African presence, my natural choice was Ethiopian.

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Sure, it involved a layover in ADD, but amazingly there are no non-stop flights between Accra and Dar Es Salaam. That’s probably on account of Ghana having no national airline since 2015, and Tanzania’s national airline being domestic only.

Check-in at Accra airport was…an experience to forget. There were random checkpoints and queues that doubled back on themselves. There were even queues just to queue to check in, if that made sense. One thing I’ve noticed about airports in the less developed world is they display an unhealthy appetite for repeated document verification checks. Whether this is for genuine security or just to provide employment is a puzzlement to me, but every passenger had to show their e-ticket and passport to an airline official before joining the check-in line. The same thing happened in Dar Es Salaam, for what it’s worth. Five minutes after my colleague and I got in line, a whole army of passengers appeared and the line for business class check in stretched till the end of the terminal. Fortunately we avoided all of that and got our boarding passes without further incident.

I should mention here that you require a Yellow Fever vaccination card to get in and out of Ghana. The enforcement mechanisms, however, are shall we say no the most robust. I, like a good Singaporean traveller, had done my research and got all my shots before I left Singapore. I presented my vaccination card and duly proceeded to immigration.

Image result for yellow fever vaccination card

My freewheeling American colleague, however, did not. The official told him he needed to get vaccinated before leaving the country. “Sure,” he said. “May I go ahead and tell my colleague I’ll be delayed?” He was waved through and never went back to get his shot. No one cared. And people wonder how patient zero happens…

Ethiopian uses a contract lounge in Accra called The Adinkra Lounge (Wikipedia tells me that Adinkra are visual symbols that represent concepts or aphorisms. Adinkra are used extensively in fabrics and pottery among the Akans of Ghana and Cote d”Ivoire. Wikipedia also tells me Halimah Yacob may or may not be Indian).

I didn’t think it warranted a separate trip report so I’ll cover it briefly here.

The lounge is a good place for sitting and not much else. It’s a contract facility used by pretty much every airline flying in and out of Accra plus Priority Pass. The good news is that the lounge is very big and it never felt crowded.

There was also a lot of local artwork on the walls, if you were into that sort of thing.

The bad news is that there’s no hot food. The food selection is limited to some cold sandwiches. Protip: if you want to enjoy your trip, never eat anything with mayonnaise in it, even if it’s refrigerated. Trust me on this one.

The highlight of the selection was probably the bags of Famous Amos cookies, although I don’t know how anyone can eat the bagged stuff when the freshly baked ones are so superior.

Banana chips. These sounded more promising than they actually were.

And an odd mix of pastries.

Selected hard liquors were available but no wine.

And soda, water and domestic beers.

There are two computer terminals but no printing facilities.

That’s all there is to the lounge, really.

The boarding process was…curious. First, everyone’s passes were checked in a holding area outside the boarding lounge. The ground crew seemed to be carefully scrutinizing certain Ghanaian passports for reasons I didn’t quite understand. My passport and my colleague’s American passport were waved through almost immediately. “That’s white privilege for you”, I told him. He called me a hate-filled race monger.

We also got a sticker on our boarding pass which I was confused about until boarding started. See that sign on the right of the photo below? Apparently it’s easier for them to control boarding by having the ground crew glance at the color of the sticker on your boarding pass than reading the class on the boarding pass. I wonder if it had anything to do with illiteracy though, because if so it’s quite a clever way of circumventing the problem without embarrassing people. When boarding started they said “all green board now”, then “all yellow” etc etc.

We were supposed to be on a 777-200 today but I was delighted to see that there was an aircraft swap to a much newer 787.

Business Class, or Cloud 9 as ET calls it, is configured 2-2-2 over 4 rows.

The seats are B/E Aerospace Diamond seats, full flat and fairly common. You can find them on United and Thai’s 787s, Qatar’s A320, Air China’s 777s and many more.

It’s not my favourite seat because of the lack of full aisle access, but it was perfectly fine for this medium haul flight. Plus, I had a seat in the centre two, so no seatmate jumping was required. Plus, I had no seatmate.

You can see how you’ll have to hurdle yourself out if you’re in the window seat and your seatmate is fully flat.

I was at the front of the aircraft in 1D.

The screen in front of each seat was very high quality, bright and high def. It was also touch sensitive, but touch sensitive IFE screens in business class have never made much sense to me due to the gap between you and the screen. Plus, it can lead to gorilla arm. 

Each seat had a large blanket waiting which fortunately wasn’t the scratchy kind so many airlines cheap out on.

Seat controls were on the centre armrest. There were only two presets, fully flat and full upright. Most seat controls I see have an additional setting for lounging, which was missing here.

The headphones were disappointing. They were just a generic air of over ear, airline-branded kit with no real noise cancelling capability.

The IFE controller is a very old design, which is surprising given the relative newness of the seats. I remember seeing something like this on SAA last year.

There is a storage space next to your head that has a power plug plus a single USB outlet. It looks like they could have fit three USB outlets easily though.

On the other side of the headrest was a reading light (with 3 intensity settings) plus the same full flat/full upright presets.

The tray table was sturdy but not particularly large.

The Ethiopian Airlines amenities kit is a rather eye-catching yellow. When I saw the shape I got excited because it reminded me of one of those Samsonite kits that has a hook inside so you can hang it on a towel rack.

And indeed it was. This made it one of the more useful amenities kits, something you might actually reuse in the future. The downside was that the kit was a bit small and couldn’t possibly hold all my male grooming implements.

The contents were interesting- there was a pen (such an important tool, and I wish more airlines thought about that so passengers wouldn’t keep bugging stewardesses for pens to fill immigration forms), a toohpick, earplugs, eyeshades, a comb, a toohbrush kit, some lip balm and socks. Nothing was branded, but it was functional enough.

The crew came around with magazines and I picked something just to appear well-informed about the world around me.

I like the way Time magazine infantilized me with easy to understand graphics that told me what content each of summer’s thriller novels had.

The crew came around with pre-departure drinks and surprise surprise, champagne was offered on the ground. The business class cabin was full of Chinese businessmen, including one gentleman who insisted on broadcasting his entire conversation to the entire plane. I was annoyed the crew offered him a champagne refill and not me.

Champagne was a Canard-Duchene Cuvee Leonie Brut, nothing premium but nothing too unpleasant either.

The crew also gave out bottles of water.

The captain welcomed us on board and thanked us for flying with Ethiopian. You could tell he was really proud to work there as he emphasized repeatedly we were on a 787, one of the most advanced planes in the world.

Takeoff was smooth and we climbed rapidly to the cruising altitude.  After takeoff, the menu was distributed.

Ethiopian’s menu is simple in design

Lunch would be served on this 5h 30 minute flight.

The beverage list was inside the food menu and had an interesting selection of local coffees.

Before meals were served, another drinks service was done.

Instead of peanuts, kolo was brought around. Perhaps this can be SQ’s answer to future peanut related lawsuits…

What’s kolo? The menu explained it’s a kind of roasted barley grain which is high in fiber and protein. Apparently it’s good for you.

The meal got off to a bad start with poorly plated roast beef with slivers of chili on them. The beef was the definition of dry  and required copious amounts of water to swallow.

The salad didn’t inspire the imagination either.

It didn’t get much better from there. The main I picked was meat ravioli with putanesca sauce. I knew it was a bad sign when they misspelled puttanesca in the menu. I’ve recently started cooking Italian food at home and my friends and family will attest that I am the most difficult to please (more on that another time). But I can guarantee you I wasn’t pleased with this.

I’m sure it’s a lighting issue, I said to myself. Let me tweak my ISO.

That didn’t work. I asked the stewardess if they could swap it for the peppered chicken instead. “Sure”, she said, and then disappeared. The swap never happened.

Instead, cheese, crackers, and a really artificial tasting vanilla cake were served.

They brought about chocolates and Ethiopian coffee after the meal but misunderstood my declining of tea to mean I didn’t want chocolates either. I had to request them separately, but eventually got them.

I know that Lily O Brien’s is supposed to be some fancy pants brand, but I thought the chocolates were just alright. Way too much liqueur in one of them for my liking.

I checked out the loo after the meal. My favourite feature in the 787 loos is the no touch flush system. Just wave your hand infront of the sensor and it does the rest.

But fortunately the sink was also no touch. Sadly you still need to touch the grubby door to exit. I’m waiting for some manufacturer to come up with the solution to that.

By the way in case you were wondering, Ethiopian doesn’t have any special branded toiletries in its loos.

The IFE system on Ethiopian is very impressive with a big selection of international and  African movies. As I said earlier, the screen was extremely high def and the system very responsive.

I decided to bunk down for a quick nap and converted the seat next to me into bed mode. You can see that there’s plenty of room for your legs (unlike some airlines’ business class design where there’s only a small cubby) and that you do have good privacy when fully reclined.

You definitely won’t be seeing anyone in the aisles, plus if you turn to your left it’s difficult to see your seatmate too because of the way the centre divider is positioned.

It definitely wasn’t the best flat seat ever, but perfectly functional and, if you think about it, way more than what SQ currently offers on regional flights.

We landed slightly behind schedule at ADD where we now had a 3 hour layover before our connection to DAR. ADD airport was quite an experience in itself, as you’ll soon see…

The Milelion’s RTW Trip 2017: Royal Air Maroc B737 Business Class CMN-ACC

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
Sheraton Casablanca
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
W Doha
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.

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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?

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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.

The Milelion’s RTW Trip 2017: Royal Air Maroc CMN Lounge

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
Sheraton Casablanca
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
W Doha
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


After a couple of days in Morocco I had to head over to Ghana. This would be my first time in West Africa, and I had little idea what to expect. I’d be flying from Casablanca to Accra, but would only be in Accra for a night before heading out to Tamale, an even smaller city in Ghana, for a site visit. I knew the sum total of zero about Ghana, save for the fact that IE Singapore has an office there. I briefly considered reaching out to the point person there to set up coffee, but the thought of meeting new people was scary and intimidating so decided otherwise.

Image result for royal air maroc

The most straightforward route to Accra from Casablanca was to fly direct with Royal Air Maroc (RAM). It was my first time flying with them and let me just say- wow, these guys don’t know the first thing about keeping a schedule.

I flew a total of 3 flights with them during my RTW trip (2 domestic and this international one that I’m now writing about) and I got a constant barrage of emails about schedule changes.

First, my 8pm flight from Casablanca to Agadir was cancelled for “operational reasons” and I was given a seat on a 10.40pm flight instead (they send all these alerts in French with no English version, so good luck if you’re not paying attention. I google translated the excerpt below)

Hello XUAN MING AARON WONG,

Royal Air Maroc informs you that your AT426 flight on 05/06/2017 completing the route AGA – CMN is canceled due to operational constraints. We have postponed you on flight AT482 of 05/06/2017. The departure will take place at 22:40 with an arrival in local time at 23:45. The registration of this flight will start at 20:40 and end at 22:00.

Second, I got a notification that my 12.50am flight from Casablanca to Accra (which was scheduled to arrive at 4.20am) was now departing at 10.45pm the day before and arriving at 4.40am.

(Notice how in the email below their automated message system even managed to get the dates wrong. A flight departing 06/07/2017 replaced by one departing 07/06/2017?)

Hello XUAN MING AARON WONG,

Royal Air Morocco informs you that your flight AT515 06/07/2017 performing route CMN – ACC is canceled, due to operational constraints. We have carried on the flight AT515 07/06/2017. The departure will take place at 22:45 with arrival at 4:40 local time. The recording of this flight will start at 19:45 and end at 21:45.

I thought this was strange. Why was I leaving earlier and arriving later? I puzzled over this long and hard, then checked FlightRadar24 and realised that they had added a stop. In LFW.

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Now, hands up who among you can tell me which airport is LFW without googling it. Because I can’t. LFW is Lome, Togo. That’s right, RAM had converted my direct flight into a 1 stop without so much as asking me.

2014-06-16 17-21-49 Togo Maritime - Station Météo.JPG

I can’t help but feel this is a bit of a bait and switch, in the sense that I was willing to pay more to fly RAM so that I could do a direct flight. If they’d sold the flight as a one stop, I’d have booked my flights very differently. But good luck getting compensation out of RAM or even trying to explain the situation to their customer service. I just wrote it off as a cost of doing business with a less reputable airline.

Casablanca Terminal 2 was deserted when I arrived at about 10pm. That was strange, given that my flight departed at about 1am and the evening tends to be peak departure time for long haul flights.

It meant a no-fuss check in for my flight, and my bags were tagged through to Accra. We had the usual “do you need a visa” questions where the staff struggled to find Singapore’s visa requirements on their computer. They seemed to find it hard to believe that I didn’t need a visa for Ghana, but that’s the badass Singapore passport for you.

There’s priority immigration available for business class passengers, but even the regular immigration channels had no queues. Within 5 minutes (and a security screener who was more interested in watching a movie on his phone than looking at bags) I was in the duty free area where there was no shortage of argan-based products, cheap keychains and tourist trappy tchotchkes. Protip: you know a country has crappy currency when its own stores don’t want to take it. Most of the items at Morocco duty free need to be paid for in Euros, only a small selection of items can be paid for in the local currency.

I had no interest in such knickknacks, but had an interest in seeing RAM’s flagship lounge, which was down a flight of stairs from the main terminal.

The lounge is owned and operated by RAM but is also open to a host of other airlines. That’s never a good sign, usually, as it means massive overcrowding.

I was greeted at the desk by a cheerful associate who handed me the Wi-Fi code and told me there were no boarding announcements.

As I feared, the lounge was packed to the brim when I arrived and had a noise level to match. It emptied out a bit as the night went on, which allowed me to take some of the photos below.

I’m just going to give you the TL;DR spoiler version: the lounge is a dump. It’s miserable, there’s nothing of interest, and the F&B selection is awful. This would barely pass for a contract lounge, much less the flagship lounge for an airline.

The lighting is harsh and fluorescent, the chairs are old and worn, and there are no showers available (but given the state of the toilet, that might actually not be a bad thing). The lounge has basically two areas- to sit and to dine.

The dining area has a mix of high tables and communal ones.

I took these photos after the place cleared out a bit- prior to which there was barely any place to stand.

There’s a buffet selection, but no hot food to speak of. That’s right, the sum total of the dining experience is a bunch of pastries, microwaved mini-pizzas and sandwiches. It was miserable.

I’m not quite sure what to write about it. There seemed to be a kitchen attached to the lounge and a good sized catering crew, but they spent most of the time chatting among themselves and occasionally bringing out another cold tray of mediocrity.

Woo hoo they had mass made cheap deserts.

There’s a separate area which I swear was supposed to be the bar, only it had no drinks or bottles (perhaps on account of Ramadan?). Instead there was some local breads and, yup, more pastries. That’s some Arabic French fusion right there.

There was precious little else to do in the lounge. Even the Wi-Fi was so slow that I ended up tethering to my phone.  There were only soft drinks and water available,  and the whole lounge was dry. There’s a slightly more substantial review over on OMAAT (apparently there’s a very limited selection of hot food during traditional mealtime windows), but this is definitely not a place you want to spend any extended amount of time.

I know that no self-respecting airline geek would ever use $kytrax (see what I did there?) ratings as a benchmark, but it still amazes me how they can consider RAM to be a 4 star airline. The customer reviews certainly don’t reflect that in any case.

More amusingly when you look at the lounge reviews you get an overall score of 2/10 (only 2 ratings, but still)

So- RAM’s lounge in Casablanca is bad. Really bad. Hopefully you’ll never have to experience it. The inflight experience, however was better than expected. Perhaps the purpose of the lounge is to temper expectations before boarding!