Booked: China Eastern And Royal Air Maroc Business Class!

As I’ve explained many times before, the content of this blog is focused heavily on the journey rather than the destination. So while there are many places I really want to visit, I try to prioritize new airline reviews first. At the beginning of the year I shared 16 airline products I want to review in 2016, and I’ve been making good progress on that list.

I’ve already reviewed Finnair business class, Air India first class, Iberia business class, LAN business class, Oman Air business class, and Air France business class.

Oman-Air-New-Business-Class - 4
Oman Air A330 business class

On top of the airlines I’ve already reviewed, over the coming weeks I have trips planned in Aeromexico and Avianca business classAir Canada and South African Airways business classSAS and Aeroflot business class, and Fiji Airways and Air Tahiti Nui business class.

Avianca-Business-Class
Avianca 787 business class

As I look at my list of airlines left to review, I realize I’m almost there. Beyond that, I’m not limiting myself to the 16 airlines on the list, but am also trying to review other new airlines.

Well, I’m excited to report on the trip I just booked yesterday, which includes business class on China Eastern, Royal Air Maroc, and Qatar Airways.

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Let me explain how I ended up booking this (and my friend Matthew from Live and Let’s Fly is joining me, and will also be sharing his thoughts):

Colombo to Casablanca on Qatar Airways/Royal Air Maroc

Yesterday I posted about the incredible ~$620 business class fare which Qatar Airways published between Colombo and Casablanca. That’s an insane price given how many American AAdvantage miles you can earn, though of course the issue is that most people aren’t in Colombo, so there are positioning costs.

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Personally I wouldn’t have done this for the miles alone, given that I’ve already more or less requalified for Executive Platinum with American.

However, what really intrigued me about this fare was that you could fly Royal Air Maroc between Doha and Casablanca, which is a roughly seven hour flight. While I won’t earn AAdvantage miles for the flight (at least technically, since it’s a codeshare on a non-partner airline), for me it’s totally worth it to be able to fly Royal Air Maroc on the 787. Yes, their product is definitely significantly worse than Qatar Airways’ business class product, but that’s part of the fun, right? 😉

I’m even more excited after reader Massi left the following comment:

Lucky, as a person who had to take Royal Air Maroc several times becuase it was the only option, I can say: don´t do it! It´s disgusting, the service is unfriendly and rude, the hardware dirty and smelling like a old carpet.

Then I’ll also get to fly Qatar Airways’ A340-600 between Colombo and Doha both ways, which features their new business class product as well (similar to what they have on their A320s).

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Business class product on Qatar Airways’ A320s and A340s

Los Angeles to Colombo on China Eastern

The next order of business was getting to Colombo. Getting home from Colombo is always easy, given the cheap fares published out of there. However, they’re significantly more expensive when flying to Colombo.

One airline I’ve been wanting to try is Shanghai-based China Eastern, which has beautiful new 777-300ERs with reverse herringbone seats in business class. They’re great about releasing business class award availability as well. I looked up availability on them, and had no trouble finding business class award space.

I figured getting across the Pacific would be the easy part, while getting to Colombo would be the hard product. However, I was really pleasantly surprised to find they also had award space from Shanghai to Colombo on a well timed flight.

So I managed to book that routing for 70,000 Delta SkyMiles plus $190 in taxes/carrier imposed surcharges one-way, which is a fantastic value. I’m very excited to be able to review both their 777-300ER and A330-200 business class products, both of which are fully flat.

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Colombo back to the US

Stay tuned for a follow-up post, where I’ll be asking you guys how I should fly back to the US. There are three options we’ve come up with, so I’m curious which routing you guys would rather read about. The return has the potential to be as interesting as the outbound and Colombo to Casablanca roundtrip combined.

Options include Kuwait Airways, Royal Jordanian, Saudia, EgyptAir, or a combination of those. Stay tuned for a follow-up post on that.

Bottom line

I’m super excited to finally review China Eastern business class, which seems to be a really solid product, and is also extremely practical for redeeming SkyMiles on transpacific flights. I’m also curious to try Royal Air Maroc’s 787 business class. Everything I’ve heard about service on Royal Air Maroc has been negative, so I’m curious if I find that to be the case when I fly with them.

Stay tuned, this should be a fun one!

Comments

  1. Looking forward to the Air Maroc review – and definitely hoping for Kuwait or Saudia on the return. Seems to be very limited reviews of those two airlines.

  2. Flew Royal Air Maroc from CMN to to ZRH a few years ago in economy. It wasn’t horrendous, but I just wish they hadn’t let the passenger next to me take her dog with them onboard. The food was Moroccan couscous, so at least it had a local twist.

  3. Good luck with your China Eastern Flight. Either fellow passengers will keep you entertained or drive you absolutely up the wall.

  4. Haha, I was sure you will book Royal Air Maroc after my comment from yesterday. But I am pretty sure we all will enjoy the trip report and review. Are you staying in Casablanca for one day or just transfer?

    However, many thanks for the mention. High5!

  5. Given that Delta charges pretty significant fuel surcharges on MU award tickets, I don’t see why you think it’s such a great deal.

  6. @ Daniel M — Out of curiosity, what do you think represents a better value between the US and Colombo in a fully flat seat with direct aisle access with wide open availability in business class?

  7. I would recommend you Royal Jordanian, they have an amazing business class product on their 787 and their lounge in Amman is one of the best One World Lounge there is out there
    I highly recommend flying Royal Jordanian on your way back

  8. Have fun on China Eastern. Their 773s have Panasonic wifi and have a nice and new IFE system, but the Wifi system is heavily blocked and China Eastern doesn’t really know how to “use” the new IFE system as it has many annoying kinks and is not well loaded with content. Their English website is also very bad

  9. So the positioning costs kills the one way business fare you are so excited about so I don’t get why you would promote this at all (except to your readers in Colombo)

  10. Ben, I love your enthusiasm. Makes coming here so fun. Looking forward to your post-trip play-by-play.

  11. Look forward to your review !

    I lived in Morocco for a couple of years (although now I am based in Cairo). I mainly used RAM (in both biz & eco) flying to French & other Moroccan cities from time to time (otherwise always used/preferred BMI or Air France). It’s adequately OK (nothing close to being horrendous or anything IMO) both in service and meal quality (certainly more Moroccan/Maghrebian stuff & vibe than BMI or Air France). Personally I enjoyed more RAM flights than Egypt Air ones (prob. because of sort of French touch in RAM? lol.) Moroccan staffs/attendants always tend to be (much) kinder to foreign passengers so I might be biased. Moroccans love & hate RAM with reasons you can easily imagine (e.g. see tons of complaints from Moroccan community in NYC for CMN-JFK route). In-flight meal/service are def. more sophisticated in Air France flights flying to/from major Moroccan cities, but certainly one could enjoy jolly Maghrebian vibe in RAM flights. You might also want to visit Dakhla by RAM (redeeming Etihad miles now).

    Btw when I flied back QR DOH-CAI last time (in F), much to my surprise, it was a A330 (as you know, it’s B777 most of time) which has the same configuration shown in the pic. I was a bit surprised. Def. slightly more privacy in that configuration, but I do prefer spacious B777 for this route.

    Are you not going to participate in QR Globetrotter promo (100K Qmiles) this year? Prob. fun & easy to you. I myself am considering being based in Cairo as the destination list includes CMB, HBE, LXR, IST etc., but am not sure how valuable QR miles are (I’ve never looked into their FF program seriously). Could you analyze Qmiles redemption chart & value sometime? Who knows QR becomes a MR partner like Etihad? 😉

  12. @lucky – well we all have different priorities. I’m not as obsessed with the particulars of the business class product. For me, the priority is minimum cash outlay. I can spend 85,000 miles and $5.60 to fly NYC to Colombo in business class on Air India.

  13. On my previous flight on Royal Air Maroc (three years ago), they moved up the departure time of the flight by 3.5 hours, 12 hours before new departure time (from FlightStat details), without any notification. Even when I online checked in 24 hours before, the old time was shown. I think many people missed the flight as the plane was pretty empty while it showed all 0 on EF. Luckily I checked status the evening before. I sent them an email but no response so far.

  14. Ben, the video says it is deleted

    Also spelling error? “while getting to Colombo would be the hard product. ”

    and would love to hear your thoughts on saudia!

  15. I love all your reviews lucky, even if it’s a flight you have been on before I like to read about it, look forward to the reviews.

  16. Hey Lucky
    You can use Korean Air
    Try finding a route with their 747-8.
    It has a new First class and the same business class as Oman air
    You could compare the products of the 2 airlines

  17. If you’re looking for a good story filled with drama fly Royal Jordanian so that you can juxtapose your experience to the previous flight from hell nail biter.

    I flew Egypt Air a few times. On every single flight they always downgraded the plane (once from business to economy–new plane had no business seats), once from lie flat to angle flat, and once from lie flat to normal seat. You never know when you get the downgrade, oftentimes it’s in advance and once it was at the airport.

    No alcohol served on Egypt Air but they do have guava juice, which is *almost* as good as champagne. There was never anything awful about Egypt Air but there wasn’t anything great about the experience either. Oh, and you do get to enjoy the Arabic video featuring the prayer for safe travels on the ground for each flight, a video that would send panic waves were it to be played on any US carrier.

  18. Also, there is China Airlines out of NY—I just booked a one way from JFK to Bangkok in business class, direct aisle access, with 70,000 miles + $5.60.

  19. YAAAS! You’ll love Morocco. If you take EgyptAir — well, I can’t possibly love your blog more, but I’ll be forever grateful.

    Do CMB-KWI-CAI on KU then CAI-JFK/YYZ on MS (flat bed).

  20. I enjoyed my China Eastern flight in J last year. Hard product is great but similar to all the Chinese airlines except Cathay Pacific, soft product was just so-so. It would be great to have Matthew write a guest blog post on his review as well so we can compare both of your experiences on the same flight. Have fun and safe travels!

  21. I flew China eastern business from Shanghai to JFK back in March. Awesome product but one thing worth noting is that the western cuisine is borderline inedible while the Chinese option was incredible. Not sure how the catering is out of the US though. Exited for your review!

  22. You could knock out 2 MORE products by doing your return something like: CMN-JED(on a Saudia 777) -KWI (on Saudia or Kuwait airways narrowbody)-LHR-JFK (on KU) or CMN-JED-CAI-JFK

  23. I think China Eastern is flying their old 330-200s (code 332) to Colombo which feature the old shell business class (similar to the old JAL one) instead of those new ones (33E and 33H) they fly to Europe, Australia, and North America.

  24. China Eastern PVG-CNS was the worst business class flight of my life. Terrible lounges, terrible communication of delays at the gate, angle lie-flat seats for an overnight flight, food which was really really bad, flight attendants who ignored requests and were rude, and passengers who have no regard for anyone other than themselves. Hope you have a better experience.

  25. I would like to point out that the low mileage redemption you got on Delta SkyMiles (assumption/most likely) was because you were flying on a Tuesday.

    I did the same one-way business class redemption in March on a Tuesday from JFK to Shanghai (15 hours) and immediately on to Melbourne (about 11-12 more hours)…but had I picked any other day of the week, it would have cost a staggering 215,000 miles instead.

    I found the China Eastern business class seat (I had a window on both flights) to be a smidge shorter than usual (I am 6′ 2″). The food was passable but nothing to be excited about. There was no wi-fi on either flight. The flight from JFK left 3 hours late due to torrential rain storms in Shanghai which delayed the outbound flight to New York.

    Business class was less than 50% full on both flights. In fact, on the flight to Melbourne, I think I was one of 2-3 passengers in business class (and there was no first class on the flight to Melbourne).

    I have long wondered about flying Royal Jordanian and that would be my vote for the trip you described above.

    Thanks.

  26. Aw, you should’ve gone with China Eastern First, it the only other airline other than SQ that has a double bed, also, as for new airlines, I noticed you haven’t reviewed Garuda Indonesia yet, you could fly from the States to London with BA on one of their discount flights you mentioned in a later post, and then continue on to Jakarta in Garuda’s 777 first class, it seems really nice, you should really try it!

  27. I’m flying China Eastern from Toronto to Shanghai in two weeks! Not necessarily the best redemption option (70,000+$150tax), but hey, the miles are suppose to be spent to make my life easier and comfortable! Not sure when will you fly China Eastern but really looking forward to it! Hopefully the service at business class will be nice.

  28. Read a lot of negative comments about RAM as well. Took an economy class ORY-CMN-GRU ticket six months ago and was actually surprised by quality of service and food. Sure it’s not Emirates nor Singapore Airlines but I personally found it more or less equal to Air France for example.

    Crew were not very charming but they were professional, food was very good, and the cabin clean (ORY-CMN on B787 and CMN-GRU on B763). IFE movie offer was good, with several mainstream movies.

    Not outstanding but definately not worth the negative comments… Or maybe I just got lucky

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