On the Ground: Arrival at JFK via the AirTran was fast and comfortable. Royal Jordanian shares Terminal 8 with American Airlines, and those flying Crown Class or Royal Plus members get full access to AA’s T8 lounge. Crown Class passengers can check bags at the curb, obtain boarding passes and go through immigration processing without queuing, allowing them to proceed through Royal Jordanian check-in quickly. The T8 lounge at JFK has a large selection of food and beverage items, and the space is open and adequate, even at busy periods. Private work booths are a nice touch for businesspeople who prefer to have a little more room and privacy to work.
Pre-Flight: On board, Crown Class crewmembers attended to my immediate needs. As I stepped onto the plane, an attendant extended a hand to take my carry-on and led me to my seat, which was prepped with a pillow and blanket. The attendant made me feel right at home, and I could already feel my shoulders relax as I eased into my seat. A second flight attendant presented me with a warm towel and amenity kit. She also took a few minutes to open the kit and explain the contents, many of which were organic products made in Jordan. Newspapers were distributed throughout the cabin, although all of them appeared to be Arabic. Overall, I felt welcomed by the staff and surroundings, and as I began to get settled into my fully adjustable seat, I felt the tensions of the long drive to JFK begin to melt away. I got the sense this was going to be a great experience.
In-Flight: Royal Jordanian’s Airbus A340 is a 2-2-2 cabin configuration equipped with infinitely adjustable Crown Class leather seats. When adjusted to the fully flat position, the bed measured to just more than 83 inches, meaning I had ample room to stretch my 6-foot, 1-inch frame and relax for the 12-hour flight. Each seat is equipped with a foldaway touch-screen television and full selection of Hollywood blockbusters and classic movie titles, short films and documentaries. The movie selection more than made up for the somewhat smallish screen monitor; in fact, I was shocked to find a sports documentary about one of my favorite professional cyclists within the library of programming. Royal Jordanian’s IFE seemed to be more advanced and more user-friendly than others I have experienced lately.
Immediately after takeoff, the flight attendant presented the evening’s cuisine options and offered a sampling of some of their onboard wines. Crown meals consist of four courses paired by the airline’s menu planners to create a flavorful, well-rounded meal. Dinner was served about one hour into the flight, beginning with fresh breads and sliced vegetables. The main course selection included salmon with dill sauce, rosemary chicken or petit filet with sautéed mushrooms. I opted for the filet and took the advice of the attendant to pair it with a Calvet red wine. Dessert was a simple array of pastries and Arabian ice creams.
Following dinner, I folded the viewing monitor and slept for the remainder of the flight, which is a testament to how quiet and comfortable the cabin was.
The Experience: Royal Jordanian is celebrating its 50th anniversary. To some, the airline may sit quietly in the long shadow of the newer Gulf carriers, but to many who have been flying to the Middle East beyond the past decade, Royal Jordanian is truly the first and only Gulf carrier. It has a fiercely loyal following because of its commitment to outstanding quality and extraordinary customer service. If you are going beyond the Middle East, I highly recommend a stopover at the new Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan. The architecture inside the terminal is beautiful, and the Crown Class amenities will pamper you.
- Less than 10 minutes for check-in
- Friendly and helpful agents
- Priority tagged baggage
- Airport lounge
- Complimentary in-lounge food
- Priority boarding
- Helpful and courteous flight attendants
- Pre-flight beverage service
- Pre-flight newspapers and magazines
- Extensive on-demand entertainment
- Amenity kits
- Lie-flat seat/bed
- Turn-down service
- In-flight menu with three entrée choices
- Top-shelf wines and liquors
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced plans to take over an existing hotel in Switzerland. The property is undergoing extensive renovations in preparation to open at the end of next year as Mandarin Oriental Palace, Luzern. The property was previously Hotel Palace Luzern, on the shores of Lake Lucerne and in the heart of the city; it originally opened in 1906.
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Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, ahead of its naming ceremony Nov. 21. The 1,100-foot-long ship boasts a guest capacity of nearly 4,000. Since Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the shi, Oct. 30, Norwegian Encore sailed from Germany to England before making its way to New York City, then Miami, where the christening ceremony takes place next week.
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