Trip Reports

Review: Royal Brunei Business Class A320 Kuala Lumpur To Bandar Seri Begawan

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At the door I was greeted by Fizhal and Leanne, the two flight attendants that would be taking care of the business class cabin for the short flight to Bandar Seri Begawan. Royal Brunei’s A320 business class cabin consists of a total of 12 seats, spread across three rows in a 2-2 configuration.

The airline has a total of six of these planes in their fleet, and I was on the second oldest, which was delivered to the airline in 2004.

While the seats felt a bit outdated, they were extremely comfortable. Apparently the seat pitch on these planes in business class is 44″, which sounds about right — it was a bit more spacious than domestic first class in the U.S., and the seats were also really thick.

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Review: Plaza Premium Lounge Kuala Lumpur

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My Royal Brunei flight to Bandar Seri Begawan was departing at 12:10PM, so I got to Kuala Lumpur Airport at around 10AM. I checked the departure monitor, and easily found the check-in area for Royal Brunei.

Royal Brunei had a business class counter, though it wasn’t staffed. I still queued there for a minute (since the main line was quite long), and after a few minutes the station manager got the hint, and had one of the associates staff that desk.

Within a few minutes I had a boarding pass to Bandar Seri Begawan, and an invitation to the Plaza Premium lounge. I’ve only ever used the Malaysia Airlines first class lounge in Kuala Lumpur, so was curious to see how one of the airport’s contract lounges compared.

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Review: St. Regis Kuala Lumpur

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I had a quick one night layover in Kuala Lumpur. My flight from Amman was arriving at around 4:30PM, while I was departing the next day at around 12PM. I’ve reviewed quite a few hotels in Kuala Lumpur over the years, including the Mandarin Oriental, Grand Hyatt, Le Meridien, and InterContinental.

In this case there wasn’t even a question about which hotel I wanted to stay at. The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur opened recently, and since I’m a huge fan of the St. Regis brand, I wanted to check it out. Best of all, the St. Regis is near the KLIA Express station, which is the best way to get between the airport and the city (it only takes 30 minutes).

The hotel contacted me before my stay to send me the shuttle schedule between the station and the hotel. This confused me a bit, since it looked like the St. Regis was just a short walk from the station, and I always prefer walking rather than taking a shuttle. However, it quickly became apparent what the problem was. While the St. Regis is close to the station, the roads are quite tough to cross. So with carry-ons you probably could walk there if you’re willing to jaywalk across five lane streets, but I can certainly see the merit to taking the shuttle.

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Review: Royal Jordanian Business Class 787 Amman To Kuala Lumpur

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Before I get into the actual report, I should note that I checked the seatmap just a couple of hours before the flight, and it showed just two seats taken in business class (including mine). However, economy was oversold, so there were 22 upgrades from economy to business class.

I boarded through door L2, located right behind the business class cabin. There was a very cool-looking display with the Royal Jordanian crown logo on it, though I don’t think they ever did anything with it during the flight.

While most airlines have proper bulkheads between the main entry door and the cabins, that’s not the case on Royal Jordanian’s 787. Instead the second set of doors opens up immediately to the back of the business class cabin.

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Review: Royal Jordanian Lounge Amman Airport

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I took a taxi from the Grand Hyatt to the airport at around 9:30PM, plenty early for my 1:30AM flight to Kuala Lumpur. About a mile before we got to the actual terminal, there was a security check. They searched some cars, while others they let through after looking into the cars. In my case they asked to see my passport, and when they saw it was German, they waved us through.

Before entering the terminal, I had a bit of an odd exchange with the taxi driver. We agreed the price should be 25JOD before the ride, and I gave him 30JOD (since that’s the leftover currency I had).

“No tip?”

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Review: Grand Hyatt Amman

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I arrived in Amman at around 1:30PM, and my flight out of Amman was the following night/morning at 1:30AM, meaning I had about 36 hours on the ground.

Amman has a few options for Hyatt and Starwood loyalists. There’s the Grand Hyatt, Le Meridien, and Sheraton. While not yet open, there’s also supposed to be a W Amman opening on October 1, 2017, and a St. Regis Amman opening on December 1, 2017.

All the Hyatt and Starwood options were roughly comparably priced, so I ended up booking the Grand Hyatt, given that Tiffany was staying there, as my visit to Amman was overlapping with the tail end of her trip to Jordan.

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Review: Royal Jordanian Business Class Embraer 175 Cairo To Amman

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This flight’s adventure started before I even got on the plane. At the end of the jet bridge there were three guys in hoodies. As I approached them they pointed at my bag and said “we check.” It had been a long travel day and my brain wasn’t working properly, so I thought they were telling me I needed to gate check my bag since it was a regional jet.

“No, it will fit.” After a bit more discussion they grabbed the bag out of my hand, at which point I became a bit irritated, since I didn’t understand what they were doing, and the whole situation struck me as shady, as they didn’t have visible badges or anything. Then the flight attendant apologized and explained that they were just doing pat downs and bag searches on the jet bridge. Ah, that kind of a “check.”

I don’t understand why they don’t have badges and/or uniforms. Interestingly they were actually Jordanian security officials, as they flew back to Amman with us.

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Review: Cairo Airport Lounge Terminal 2

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It’s funny how this transit worked out. Initially I was supposed to arrive in Cairo at 5:55AM, while my connection on a separate ticket on Royal Jordanian was scheduled to depart at 10:15AM.

Then a few days before the flight I got notice of a schedule change on my Cairo to Amman flight, which was now instead departing at 12:10PM. So I was dreading the layover of six hours, though as “luck” would have it, my Toronto to Cairo flight was delayed by over three hours, meaning my connection would only be three hours.

So you’ve gotta love when stuff goes sufficiently wrong that it actually goes right. 😉

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Review: EgyptAir Business Class 777 Toronto To Cairo

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My flight from Toronto to Cairo was scheduled to depart at 12:45PM. In the morning the flight still showed on-time, though like any experienced traveler I checked the status of the inbound flight, as I knew the plane was coming from Cairo. Well, the plane was way late — it departed almost seven hours late, and was due to arrive six hours late.

Fortunately EgyptAir plans a lot of ground time for the plane in Toronto, though I still expected we’d have a 2-3 hour delay, given that the plane was arriving in Toronto 15 minutes after we were scheduled to depart.

I still decided to head to the airport at around 11AM. I took the train to Terminal 1, where I found a long line for EgyptAir check-in. Fortunately I had already been issued my EgyptAir boarding pass in Tampa, so was able to bypass that and head straight to the lounge.

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Review: Sheraton Gateway Toronto Airport

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By the time I got through immigration in Toronto it was around 1AM, and my flight the next day was scheduled to depart at around 1PM. So I decided to book the only hotel connected directly to the airport, which is the Sheraton Gateway Toronto Airport.

The price for the one night stay was 230CAD (~175USD), which isn’t cheap, but seemed worth it for the convenience. As a point of reference this is a Category 4 SPG property, meaning that a free night costs 10,000 Starpoints. Since I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each, paying cash was the better option.

I was arriving on Air Canada and departing on EgyptAir, and they both operate out of Terminal 1. Meanwhile the Sheraton is connected to Terminal 3, which is the terminal used by most non-Star Alliance airlines.

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Review: Air Canada Premium Rouge 767 Tampa To Toronto

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My flight was departing from Tampa to Toronto at the ungodly hour of 9:45PM, which is way past my bedtime. On the plus side, at least it wasn’t a full-on redeye, as I’d have a comfortable bed to look forward to upon landing.

I arrived at Tampa Airport at around 8:30PM, and the entire process of getting to the gate was a breeze, given that most flights had already departed for the night. Perhaps the most entertaining aspect of the experience was that the lady in front of me used her iPad as a mobile boarding pass, which really makes me wonder whether technology is actually making our lives easier or not.

My flight was departing from gate E72, though the inbound plane arrived behind schedule, at 8:55PM. While boarding was scheduled for 9:05PM, it only ended up starting at 9:25PM.

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Introduction: Flying With Royalty (Or Not)

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In 2016 my goal was to review as many new airlines as possible, and that’s something I want to continue into 2017. So I figured I might as well get my year off to a good start, and plan a heck of a trip for the first week of the year.

The primary motivation of this trip was to review as many new airlines as quickly as possible, though I was also excited about having stopovers that allowed me to briefly visit two countries — Jordan and Brunei — for the first time.

I only planned this trip in late December, about a week before I was due to takeoff. Let’s briefly look at the planning process.

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Royal Brunei 787 Business Class In 10 Pictures

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Hello from Dubai! I just flew Royal Brunei’s 787 for the 8hr25min flight between Bandar Seri Begawan and Dubai. The plane continues to London, though I got off here. I’ve been wanting to take this flight for a long time, and am happy I finally had the opportunity. There were aspects of the experience that were exceptional, while other areas where a small investment would go a long way.

Royal Brunei’s 787s feature a total of 18 business class seats, spread across three rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. The seats are forward facing and fully flat, so they’re not my favorite product when traveling alone, but are perfectly fine. This is very similar to the 787 business class product you’ll find on airlines like Azerbaijan, Hainan, LATAM, LOT, Xiamen, etc.

The flight departs at 8:30PM and gets to Dubai at 1:30AM, so it’s a bit oddly of a timed flight for those terminating their travels in Dubai. That’s because it’s timed to optimize connections to Melbourne and London. To my surprise, almost everyone in business class seemed to be flying from Melbourne to Bandar Seri Begawan to Dubai to London.

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Review: Four Points By Sheraton Havana

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Cuba is not a place you visit because you’re looking for a great luxury hotel. Instead you make the best of the hotel situation that you can.

Since this blog is ultimately about miles & points, I decide to book the first & (so far) only U.S. hotel in Cuba that you can redeem points at. That would be the Four Points by Sheraton Havana, which was formerly the Hotel Quinta Avenida.

We were staying for two nights before New Year’s, so the price was high. We paid $335 per night including taxes and fees, and the rate was pre-paid. That’s because American credit cards aren’t accepted in Cuba, so Starwood is able to charge you for the stay in advance, and then you just have to pay for incidentals when you depart.

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