TAT Blog

DAN LOUNGE BEN GURION (ISRAEL) REVIEW

Alliance: N/A

Location: Ben Gurion International Terminal 3, after Passport Control follow signs to Concourse C.

Lounge Rating: 2.5 Stars 

 

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Enter a quick search online and you’ll be quick to find stories floating about the Dan Lounge in Israel and the poor hospitality it offers. To have such a reputation, especially outside of Israel for the wrong reasons is quite concerning. Naturally due to my frequent flyer membership, lounge access to the Dan Lounge was offered and being curious, TAT simply had to try some of the best and worst there was to offer in terms of aviation experience. So how did Dan Lounge fare? Was it as horrifying as some bloggers have made out or was it more a storm in a tea cup?

Lounge access options

  • Lounge access is available for passengers who are:
    • Higher tier members of frequent flyer programs/ alliances
    • Priority Pass
    • Paid entry

Lounge location and opening hours

The lounge is located in Terminal 3. After clearing Passport Control follow the signs to Concourse C. The lounge is open 24 hours.

Ambience

 

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One thing you notice upon entering the lounge is how small the space is. Considering the lounge is accessible to pretty much anyone from frequent flyers on alliance airline programs to paid entries, this lounge can easily get quite full and in the case of my flight that morning it did. I initially struggled to find a seat and had to stand around ten minutes before some people cleared for a flight that was called.

In the lounge there’s a handful of toilets, a small buffet area and mostly seating. Those looking for a shower mid transit or prior to a flight will have to look elsewhere as I couldn’t find any in this lounge.

 

Refresh Me (Bathroom/ spa facilities)

As mentioned prior there are no shower facilities and limited toilets. I found whenever I went to the bathroom there was a line for the toilet (no good). Bathrooms were generally clean but nothing outstanding in my opinion.

Bread and butter (food and drink)

 

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The food and drink section here was very underwhelming. The buffet area was tiny and only offered a handful of food options from salads (sorry mostly salads), some pastries and eggs. On the drinks side of things, there was sadly nothing alcoholic that could help you erase the memories of spending time in this lounge. Instead fridges were stocked with soft drink, juice and water. Also on hand was a couple of coffee machines that looked like they had seen better days. I noticed a couple of patrons struggled to get boiling water to pour from these machines and the coffee from them didn’t look too enticing either.

If there was a redeeming feature about the food/ drinks section it was the large glass bottles of sparkling Perrier water on offer. Simply take the bottle to your table and enjoy. For me this was certainly not a bad way to hydrate oneself prior to boarding.

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The area could be dramatically improved with a wider range of options and more space but again this is something that would require a total lounge redesign/ revamp.

Verdict

Dan Lounge sounds appealing on paper as a 24 hour lounge, giving those in transit an option to relax instead of sitting around the rather unfriendly Ben Gurion Airport for hours on end. However the food and drink options were disappointingly slim and lack of seating and time spent waiting around for seating to free up was terrible, especially after getting up for an early flight. In general the lack of space and poor seating design makes this lounge fall flat in terms of an enjoyable experience.

If you’re not a Priority Pass or top tier airline alliance program member I’d avoid this lounge as I wouldn’t pay entry for this lounge, instead looking at a the range of food outlets within the airport for a drink/ snack. Overall the lounge isn’t as horrifying as some of the stories online but it certainly doesn’t shake some of the key negative aspects that have been echoed on these forums either. A very average experience not worth arriving at the airport earlier for.

Comments

Have you experienced the Dan Lounge in Ben Gurion Israel? If so how was your experience in the lounge? Love to hear your thoughts and what you think has been your best lounge experience to date.

 

ROYAL JORDANIAN CROWN LOUNGE AMMAN: REVIEW

Alliance: Oneworld

Location: Upper Floor, Queen Alia International Airport

Lounge Rating: 3.5

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The brand Royal Jordanian (RJ) had been largely foreign to me until now. A partner of the Oneworld alliance, naturally one is intrigued on who they are about and what they offer. Surely the standard of the airline had to be good, especially when they throw around the terms ‘royal’ and ‘crown’. TAT had a chance to visit their flagship lounge in Amman Jordan during a transit to Tel Aviv. Was the lounge as shiny as the king’s crown jewels collection or was RJs lounge the Sarah Ferguson of the royal family?

 

Lounge access options

  • Lounge access is available for passengers who are:
    • Passengers travelling in Royal Jordanian Crown Class.
    • Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members travelling on Oneworld alliance departures in any class.
    • Priority Pass / Dragon Pass / Lounge Club.
    • Buy access for 30 JOD.

Lounge location and opening hours

The lounge is located above the ground floor of the main terminal and is open 24 hours.

 

Ambience

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The location of the lounge is a standout with the lounge wrapping around the outside of the airport in an open plan mezzanine layout above the food and shopping outlets below on the ground floor. The layout allows the lounge to feel open and sparse, making use of the natural light through the roof line of the airport.

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The lounge is equipped with a range of facilities including laptops, children’s area, magazine library space and some individual television rooms (great for those who prefer a little lounge room style TV viewing experience). Showers and prayer rooms were located on the reception side of the lounge. I have not used the shower facilities here but have been informed that there’s a charge to use these which is disappointing as most lounges tend to offer this facility as standard.

Refresh Me (Bathroom/ spa facilities)

As previously mentioned there’s shower and bathroom facilities. According to some online chats/ forums there’s reports of passengers being asked to pay to use the showers. I did not have an opportunity during my visit to use the showers so sadly I’m unable to confirm or deny that the hot shower rumours are true or false. That said it’d be disappointing if RJ was charging passengers for this.

Toilets wise you wouldn’t want to be there during peak hour with only 2-3 toilets in both the mens and womens. That said the toilets were spotless with an attendant cleaning them regularly.

Bread and butter (food and drink)

One thing I love about lounges is the food and drinks offerings; especially when done well. I state this based on what I’m about to say next,..and for me I was ‘underwhelmed’. Maybe it’s the Qatar or Emirates x-factor but after having visited recently the Qatar lounge in Bangkok, this lounge seemed like a downgrade.

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In the BKK lounge Bollinger champagne flowed and delectable little mezze dishes were in abundance. Here in RJ it’s very simple (little too much simplicity) and basic food offering let it down. On offer was salad, hummus and some individually wrapped plastic sealed wraps and pastries. The majority of this looked largely unappetising but admittedly the hummus did go down a treat with some Turkish bread.

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A wine/ spirits bar is on site but due to the timing of my early morning flight this was closed. Thankfully the non-alcoholic beverages were well stocked but the range of choices again were limited. Expect the usual suspects; coffee machines, tea, soft drink and water.

Verdict

First up the lounge isn’t a Sarah Ferugson but for a flagship lounge belonging to a premier full service airline it was underwhelming. This was namely down to a) charging (rumour) for the showers, b) limited toilet facilities (not good during peak periods) and c) a very basic food and beverage offering.  On the upside the layout of the design and its location with panoramic views of the general airport terminal is eye catching and enjoyable to spend time in. There’s a lot of potential for this lounge to be great and not just average. Sadly at this stage it’s just potential. I can only hope the renovations taking place currently in the lounge will address some of my concerns.

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Comments

Have you experienced Royal Jordanian Crown Class Lounge in Amman? Did you find the space disappointing or was your time more enjoyable? Love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

ROYAL JORDANIAN BUSINESS CLASS: AMM – TLV (FLIGHT RJ342): REVIEW

Flight: RJ342, AMM – TLV
Loyalty Scheme: Royal Plus (a partner of the Oneworld program) 
Frequency: 2 x daily flight
Duration: 25 minutes

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Having flown on Royal Jordanian’s (RJ) B787, I was keen to experience some of the other aircraft variants and services that RJ had to offer. One flight that intrigued me was the Amman – Tel Aviv leg. The flight is one of the shortest in the world and the only one offered by an arabic airline due to the political climate in the middle east. The leg itself flies from Jordan, over the West Bank and into Tel Aviv Israel. The view from the window provides some spectacular insights into the conflict zones. With all that in mind TAT took to the skies on RJs shortest flight.

The Seat

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Business 3J. There are 12 recliner business class seats in a 1-2 configuration within the Crown cabin. The leather has a neutral cream tone and the seat itself is quite plush and comfortable. There is a centre armrest that allows for drinks to be served on as well as a power outlet underneath that to allow electronics to be charged through.

Entertain me

This is a case of use your own imagination (or bring your own media device) because there’s no entertainment or wifi on offer on this plane.

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

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For a business class cabin I didn’t know what to expect here. I expect on such a short flight some sort of snack and a quick drink but surprisingly that wasn’t the case. Upon boarding business class passengers were offered a juice or water before departure…and that was the end of the service.

There was no communication further on any additional service by the cabin crew. The lack of service was quite disappointing for a business cabin. It wouldn’t have made any difference where you were in business or economy.

Verdict

The flight was pleasant and literally flew by. I have never flown on such a short route. I never imagine the old joke about flying back down as soon as you have taken off was exactly what this flight was. Due to the seat belt sign being on the entire time there was no preparation for landing nor any sort of service. In the business cabin the pre-departure drink was the only service you would receive. In context it would be hard to offer anything substantial but a simple drink, surely a snack could have been added. Not worth the additional as you’re pretty much provided the same type of service as the economy cabin.

Comment

Have you ever flown RJ Crown (business class) on one of the world’s shortest routes? Was your experience comparable or better than expected? Keen to hear your thoughts.

 

ROYAL JORDANIAN BUSINESS CLASS: BKK – AMM (FLIGHT RJ183): REVIEW

Flight: RJ183, BKK-AMM 
Loyalty Scheme: Royal Plus (a partner of the Oneworld program) 
Frequency: 1 x daily flight
Duration: 9 hours and 30 minutes

Royal Jordanian (RJ) is one of those unknown, mysterious Oneworld airlines. There’s not lot about it online nor talked about in the community. Naturally intrigued, when the opportunity arrived due to the airline being only one of a very small handful of airlines that flew into Tel Aviv it felt only right that TAT finally broke its RJ virginity. So how did RJ fair? Did it take off with flying colours or did it lose its Crown class title for being something less than regal? TAT decided to be an RJ business king for half a day to find out…

The Seat

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Business 3A. Royal Jordanian has 24 lie flat business class seats across four rows in a 2-2-2 configuration on the 787-800. The seats which are B/E Aerospace Diamond seats, have a pleasant neutral colour tone and despite the 2-2-2 layout, the seats felt rather private thanks to its slightly staggered seating arrangement. Thankfully I had a spare aisle seat next to me so that made access to the rest of the cabin for stretching, bathroom breaks etc far easier. Had someone been there next to me at the time I would have had to awaken them to hop over them (which is never a good thing in business).

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The foot area felt right tight and made it slightly difficult to feel comfortable when it came to laying down for a nap. Also at my fingertips was the seat controls in the centre armrest and at the back the seat an exposed storage compartment with a power outlet, headphone jack and USB outlet. Noise cancelling headphones and a rather drab Acqua Colonia amenities kit was handed out by flight attendants prior to departure. The attendants at this point seemed rather rushed and whilst not unfriendly, they did come off a little cold in terms of service. A pillow and blanket was provided but I found I had no use for them as I only really had a power nap. Being an overnight flight I was disappointed that RJ did not offer pyjamas especially for a flight that was almost 10 hours long.

Entertain me

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I love a good sized TV and RJs 787 screen did not disappoint. Sure it didn’t have the screen clarity or sound or even the range of entertainment like Emirates but it was still a fairly solid IFE offering. I did not struggle to find options to enjoy whether it be a premiere film or listening to audio. The IFE was very responsive and intuitive. Additionally unlike its competitors like Emirates and Qatar there was no wifi on this flight.

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

When I first boarded I was offered a choice of juice, water or an arabic coffee as well as a hot towel to refresh myself before takeoff. Being an arabic coffee connoisseur I went for the arabic coffee and even enjoyed a refill because that’s what you do when you fly an arabic airline. Unlike Emirates and Etihad the coffee was not complimented with dates which was a shame as the sweetness of the dates make the coffee taste less bitter.

Once in the air service was quite slow. Flight attendants came through with menus and a drink list. For drinks RJ offered two white and two red wines from a range of countries from France to Chile and even Jordan.Champagne of choice served on this flight was the Taittinger Brut Réserve, which is a decent drop and one I quiet enjoy. Once airborne I requested a glass of the Taittinger whilst I waited for my meal choice to be taken. By the time I made my meal request and waited for it to be served I had already finished a second glass of champagne.  

There were four choices for main from the lamb cubes with massaman sauce, a rigatoni pasta to a pan fried tuptim fish as well as a roasted duck with orange sauce. I went with the duck and whilst it was rather tasty I found it slightly tough in parts to eat. The meal was accompanied with a seasonal mixed salad and an arabic date cake with caramelised figs. The salad was rather bland but what the salad lacked, the dessert on the other hand triumphed with an abundance of flavour and texture.

Almost 90 minutes prior to landing a continental breakfast was served in the cabin. Unlike the hot meal/ dinner service at the beginning of the flight, there was no options or choices given. Passengers were served some artisan breads, a fruit salad and some sweet and savoury pastries. Having eaten quite a bit in the hours prior to this flight, the light service worked for me but if you were famished or rather peckish, the offering would be a tad disappointing. I thought I would make it a bit more interesting by making it a champagne breakfast and requested a glass of the Taittinger.

All in all the food and drinks service was solid but not outstanding. The service could have been tied up a bit and the presentation a little more appealing in terms of food.

Verdict

Royal Jordanian was an enjoyable flight. It didn’t stand out compared to business class products like those from Etihad, Emirates or Qatar but then again it didn’t do anything too poorly to make me avoid them as an option. Food and drink offering was good but again not sensational. Perhaps the late departure and early arrival of this particular flight may be limited the service and offerings, in turn making it hard to tell if this was the best that one could potentially get in RJ business. That said RJ is a relatively well priced product and tends to be far cheaper than its rivals. With that in mind it’s quite good value for the product provided. I’d definitely fly it again if the opportunity arose.

Comment

Have you ever flown RJ Crown (business class)? Was your experience comparable or better than expected? Keen to hear your thoughts.

 

 

 

SRI LANKAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS BKK – COLOMBO (FLIGHT UL403): REVIEW

Flight: UL403, BKK – CMB (16 May 2019)
Loyalty Scheme: FlySmiles (a partner of the Oneworld program) 
Frequency: Numerous flights daily
Duration: 3 hours and 25 minutes

For a while I had seen a positive movement in the brand Sri Lankan Airlines. Media and reviewers online as well as friends of mine have flown the airline of late and have come back raving about the great, hospitable service of the airline. Some were quite surprised considering the airline in general seems somewhat a tad daggy in terms of its branding when I compared it to its fellow Oneworld airline partners. As part of my recent trip to Israel I had the opportunity to connect via Colombo and in turn fly on Sri Lankan. So how did the airline fare? TAT boarded Sri Lankan from BKK to find out…

The Seat

ImageBusiness 1K. Being an A320, the general rule of thumb with business is that lie flat is a no go with recliner the choice of many of these airlines who operate this aircraft. The green and brown leather seating looked smart and fresh (the seat seemed as though it was recently reupholstered). Each of the 12 business seats also had a USB port (handy for charging phones etc), a 110V AC port in the seat and seatback IFE.

Entertain me

Like the seating and interior itself the inflight entertainment units (in seatback format) were relatively new. The screen was a decent size but sadly the choice of entertainment was quite limited. I would have liked a larger range of movie and music choices.

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

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When I first boarded I was offered a choice of juice or water as well as a hot towel to refresh myself before takeoff. Once airborne the flight attendant come through with a lovely little menu booklet that was more than just a menu; it also provided a backstory to the cuisine as well as recipes from Sri Lanka should one wish to take the menu home. For a three hour flight the menu wasn’t extensive but the options were decent. For main there was a choice between the Spanish omelette, teriyaki chicken thigh, the red snapper or the vegetarian pad thai. I went with the snapper which was a good choice with the flavours coming through the ginger sauce and soya noodles.

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Like the food selection, drinks were also limited.Tats said the choices were diverse with everything from the delectable champagne Piper-Heidsieck to the Swartland Chardonnay from South Africa. I’m a big fan of Piper-Heidsieck for its star fruit and pear notes, so naturally this was my go to choice for my meal and it did not disappoint.

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The highlight of the drinks and meal service was the tea service. With tea so synonymous is Sri Lankan culture, it was only fitting to experience some of its quality teas onboard. There was a tea menu were passengers could selects from several tea options. I order the ginger which came out beautifully presented on a silver tray with some tea condiments such as lemon and peppermint , should I wish to add it to my tea. The tea was divine and made the experience of tea drinking a little more fun.

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Well after meal service has finished I found that the flight attendants were going above and beyond to give their passengers attention with both the flight attendant and cabin manager asking if I would like anything else or a top up of my drink despite not seeking their assistance. For me that showed an airline who puts the customer at then heart of what they do and it definitely beat strongly within Sri Lankan.

Verdict

Sri Lankan surprised me in a good way. Despite its positive feedback from online forums it’s hard to get a gage of the plane and its staff/ services until one is on board. Sure the product from the seat to the IFE didn’t have any major wow factor but their services and food/ drinks were of a strong standard. The tea service was a highlight and I definitely struggled for a while deciding on what tea to enjoy/ try. After this flight I will definitely choose to fly with Sri Lankan next time to Colombo.

Comment

Have you ever flown Sri Lanka airlines in business class? Was your experience comparable or better than expected? Keen to hear your thoughts.

 

 

Qantas offers first plane bookable with points only

One of the biggest complaints for many frequent flyers is the inability to redeem their points/ miles for reward seats on airlines. The frustation of lack of availabilty means in turn frequent flyers are having points simply sit in their accounts. Qantas has been pushing the envelope of late when it comes to passenger experience. When they made an announcement on their next venture, it came at no surprise it’d be equally compelling.

The Australian airline has announced they’ll offer a series of dedicated frequent flyer redemption flights across their network with seats only available to those redeeming Qantas points. The innovatively titled Points Plane initiative will see the first plane to be bookable only on points depart 21 October 2019 from Melbourne to Tokyo Narita.

Using my personal favourite Qantas aircraft the A380, Qantas Frequent Flyer members will have the chance to book all 484 seats on this flight (14 first class, 64 business class, 35 premium economy, and 371 economy seats) at the ‘classic’ award level.

Redemption costs for the flight are:

  • Economy seat – 35000 Qantas points
  • Premium economy seat – 54000 Qantas points
  • Business class seat – 72000 Qantas points
  • First class seat – 108000 points

The seats are available on a first come first served basis. Those fortunate to be successful in booking a flight on the Points Plane can expect to be treated to a special inflight service that includes a cocktail and meal service, pajamas for all passengers (not just those in the front end or in the A380s case the top end) and inflight giveaways.

A return leg is also on offer for 26 October 26 2019 but those hoping for an A380 experience again will be disappointed to find the aircraft is an A330. Qantas believes those returning may stay beyond the initial date as part of their trip and so the aircraft does not require the same patronage.

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What do you think of the Qantas announcement? Would you be keen to book a trip on the Points Plane? I’m eager to hear your thoughts.

QANTAS SYD- SAN FRAN LEG TO GET B787

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Like many of you I’m a fan of the B747 but unfortunately her days are numbered with several of airlines. The Queen of the skies is heading for retirement with Qantas by the end of 2020. Some routes will see her depart sooner in the interim with Qantas announcing that she will be replaced by their Dreamliner B787 on its Sydney – San Francisco route. The B787 will move take off daily from 4 December 2019.

Whilst it’s sad to see the Queen disappear from this route there’s no denying the level of technological (as well as comfort) improvements that’ll be given to passengers flying on the B787. Gone will be the 2-2-2 business class seating arrangement, replaced instead by Qantas superb business suite in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Like anything there’s a downside and it’s Qantas’ new premium economy cabin. The leg room and space feels worse than its economy section yet you’re paying more for the pleasure of feeling squashed. Personally I would rather fly economy over that seat or upgrade to business (yes the design flaw is really that bad).

Mixed feelings of sorts on the new Qantas dreamliner route but at the end of the day, it is an upgrade!