Review: Royal Air Maroc Business Class – Amman to Casablanca to São Paulo
In this review: Royal Air Maroc business class featuring 2 different offerings, as well as their flagship lounge in Casablanca. I flew Amman to Casablanca on the Boeing 737 and then B787 from Casablanca to São Paulo. The two planes couldn’t be more different, and I’ll cover the key differences. The review focuses on the hard product (stuff you can touch) and soft product (services).
Back in July, I wrote about learning of this amazing sweet spot to cross the ocean for only 44,000 points one-way in business class. 22,000 points if you’re going in economy. That’s a deal. I got so excited about it that I booked this ticket (Amman-Casablanca-São Paulo) for early November PLUS a trip for my wife and I to Europe for mid-December AND the ride home on January 1, 2020 after we jump down to Cairo.
I called, got my availability confirmed for the flights I wanted, and then transferred my 44,000 Amex MR points to Etihad for the booking on their partner Royal Air Maroc. The transfer was instant, and I had the confirmation email within 5 minutes.
I paid 44,000 Amex MR points + $292.74 in fees (they add carrier surcharges). With a cash price of $3483.80 for this ticket, I got 7.25 cents per point of value for this trip. Unfortunately, Etihad has changed the bookings for Royal Air Maroc to be per segment now. For longer flights, this has essentially doubled the amount of points you’d need now. (Note: now that they’re flying Casablanca to Beijing starting January 2020, 44,000 miles for that flight in business class still isn’t a bad deal)
Review: Royal Air Maroc Business Class — Hard Product
I flew 2 different products in this itinerary. I had a 6.5-hour flight from Amman AMM in Jordan to Casablanca CMN in Morocco. From there, I flew to São Paulo GRU in Brazil. That flight was 9.5 hours. The 2 flights had wildly different products, which I’ll cover.
Check-in at AMM was quick and easy, especially since my bag was still lost. There was no one in line when I checked in, so I was out of there in less than 5 minutes.
B737 Amman to Casablanca
As a first impression of Royal Air Maroc, this plane isn’t a good one. It’s old — not just outdated. It was decently comfortable for the 6.5 hours, but this plane falls on the list of when business class isn’t worth the extra points.
I didn’t expect lie-flat seats for a flight of 6.5 hours. However, the signs were everywhere that this plane is old. The seats were decent and had been reupholstered. It was comfortable enough to sleep, though that also may be because of the early take-off.
Seat layout was 2-2 with 4 rows of business class. There were only 3 people in business class, however. I was in row 1 left side, a woman in row 2 right side, and a man in row 3 left side. Pretty sparse.
Key signs of the age of the plane were the advertisements on the bulk head to use their wifi entertainment system, since the seats didn’t have their own PES (personal entertainment systems).
And the plane did still have legacy TV screens that had been used so much for so long that the colors were washed out badly. Above the aisle, there was also the old drop-down TV monitor that they left up but was playing duty free ads.
Business Class Amenities on B737
I still received slippers and an amenity kit on the flight, which were at my seat already during boarding. I was actually surprised that I received these on a medium-haul flight with an older aircraft. This was the most PACKED amenity kit I’ve ever received.
The stickers to alert the flight attendants whether or not to wake you up for meals are a great touch in the amenity kit. There were no blankets on the seats during boarding. I fell asleep shortly after take off, but I did wake up with a blanket on top of me later on. Good work, flight attendant team.
Business Class Lavatory on B737
The lavatory was clean and looked like your average airplane toilets. However, it did have higher quality toiletries plus fresh flowers.
Business Class Breakfast on B737
I’ll say that I wasn’t impressed. I requested a vegan meal and then even confirmed it a few days before the flight. Half of the meal wasn’t vegan. It not only doesn’t match the description of the meal on their website, it came out tagged with the international code VGML. That’s airline code for a totally vegan meal, so they got this all kinds of wrong. I’m of the opinion that airlines shouldn’t offer services they can’t fulfill and should provide the things they advertise. Airlines making these mistakes are annoying. Additionally, the greens were super soggy and mushy. What I ate ranks as mediocre.
B787 Amman to Casablanca
Boarding was super disorganized. They started boarding, sent people down the steps to the jet bridge, and then the jet bridge wasn’t open yet. We all stood around in the steps area for 15 minutes before we could go in. Once they opened the jet bridge, they were asking everyone to hurry hurry hurry, so we could take off on time. The flight was 9.5 hours total.
This was a much superior product in every way. When people think of business class, this is probably what you’re thinking of. The plane has a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone layout. There are a total of 26 seats in business class, and there were less than than 10 passengers in business class on the flight. There is no first class.
The seat had good space and a comfortable foot rest when putting the seat flat to lie down.
Storage space for small items was abundant in small cubbies. There were also USB ports for charging, as well as using your device on the personal entertainment system (PES). The window-side storage also had a universal outlet and the touch screen device for controlling the PES.
Aisle-side storage was in the arm rest, which could go up and down. It wasn’t large enough for my 15″ laptop but comfortably held the airline headphones.
Laptop storage space is only possible in the magazine rack on the window side. There’s also a small reading lamp that flips out and comes on automatically.
I was surprised to see that the middle section of the plane has no overhead bins. The bins are all on the window sides of the plane.
The tray table folds up and then slides under the PES for storage. It had 3 different positions for how far it slides out, which I really liked. Having a different location for the meal vs. using a laptop was handy. Seat controls were simple and easy to use.
The seat lies completely flat, and blankets were distributed after the meal service. It felt sufficiently spacious. Comfort was better than the previous flight and actually softer than the seat on the A330 I flew with Lufthansa.
Maybe I’m easily impressed. For me, the coolest feature was the window shade. There’s nothing to actually close, it just tints the window by pushing up and down on the control. The window became 100% black during the middle of the day. Look at it compared to the next window in the middle of the day.
Business Class Amenities on B787
I received the same kind of slippers and same amenity kit as what I received on the first flight. I also received airline headphones.
Meal Service on B787
Immediately after take-off, we had snack service. It was OK. Dinner: disappointing. This is almost exactly a meal I would make at home when I tell my wife that I’m tired and don’t feel like cooking anything that takes effort. Boiled lentils: no effort. Steamed rice & veggies: no effort. Seasonings were minimal. This is not only something I could make at home with no effort, not needing effort is the point of this meal. Also, the broccoli was so soggy I could’ve drank it with a straw. This plus my meal on the earlier flight has a combined review: Royal Air Maroc business class meals are a let down.
The menu looks great for people ordering from the menu. Maybe they just lack imagination on the special meal requests.
Business Class Lavatory on B737
Similar to the first flight, it was a standard lavatory. It was clean, had higher-quality toiletries, and fresh flowers.
Overall, the hard products are really different. The B787 is superior to the B737 in every way, especially in terms of age of the aircraft. The amenity kits, pillows, slippers & blankets are the same. Seat space and comfort are far superior on the 787. Neither impressed me with meals — not in the least. Hard product overall review: Royal Air Maroc business class is good but could make improvements to be great.
Review: Royal Air Maroc Business Class — Soft Product
Despite taking 2 different flights on 2 different aircraft, the soft product was quite identical. Service from the flight attendants was multi-lingual. Service was friendly and prompt at all times. I like that they put a blanket over me while I was asleep on the first flight (blankets weren’t distributed until cruising altitude). I like the ability to use a sticker to signal whether you want to be woken up for meal service or not.
While the 2 flight attendants on the first flight and 3 flight attendants on the second flight were all friendly, I will say I couldn’t stand the senior flight attendant by the end of my second flight (Casablanca CMN to São Paulo GRU). She talked to everyone in that baby voice you use to talk to a 2-year-old. I kept my headphones on and pretended to be listening to music, even if I wasn’t, just to not talk to her. I took them off when I wanted to interact with the other flight attendants.
Luckily, the other flight attendants served the meal on my side, so I had minimal interaction with this one I didn’t like. It was just for coming around to check on passengers. Since my interactions with her were limited, and everyone else was great (from check-in to boarding, first flight to second flight), she doesn’t drastically affect my review: Royal Air Maroc business class soft product is 8/10 for service. Friendly, helpful, and the majority of staff were fantastic.
Review: Royal Air Maroc Business Lounge and Casablanca Transit
On arrival at Casablanca CMN airport, there was a separate van for the business class passengers. Since there were only 3 of us on that first flight, we quickly de-planed and were off to the terminal. Larger jets use jetways, but the smaller planes use shuttle service.
Passing through transit and airport security was pretty fast. Downstairs on the lower floor, follow the easy signs to get to the airport lounge at the end of the hallway. It’s the Royal Air Maroc Zenith lounge, which is their flagship.
Inside the lounge, there’s luggage storage then a large room with plenty of seating. Next to this room is the kids’ play area. Around the corner, there are tables with outlets for charging and then the food area.
Food offerings were mostly sample-sized desserts, finger sandwiches, and a few chopped veggies. I wouldn’t consider this a place to have a “meal” but more like a snack before a flight.
The bathrooms were quite small and felt cramped. Next to the bathrooms, there were stairs and an elevator to the upstairs area. There’s more seating, it’s quieter, and the bar is up here, as well. Views out to the tarmac were quite good, also.
I’m glad I started with the B737 and then finished with the B787. For my first flight in business class with Royal Air Maroc, I moved up, rather than down, when it was time for the 2nd flight. It’s a decent product and provides good value for the 44,000 points I used. The trans-Atlantic product with the Boeing 787 is a competitive business class product. It will be a good product for their new 12-hour flight to Beijing in January, also. The outdated planes used for short- and medium-haul flights definitely bring down the overall ratings. I have an outbound and return flight with Royal Air Maroc in a few months. With the devaluation, it’s unlikely I’ll book more long-haul flights with them, but I’m not opposed to flying with them in the future if a good deal is available.