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 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.

 

 

 

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 INCREASES CARRY ON ALLOWANCE (CUE EXCITEMENT)

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Now here is an announcement or more ‘enhancement’ that I can get behind. Qantas this week announced that domestic passengers will soon be able to board flights with heavier carry-on bags after responding to pressure from passengers over its ‘limiting’ 7 kg allowance.

Commencing March 25, travellers will be allowed to carry on one item weighing as much as 10 kgs and a second piece up to 4 kgs, bringing the total cabin allowance to 14 kgs per person. In addition passengers are allowed to bring one small personal item bag (ie. handbag or laptop bag).

This is quite generous and shows for once an airline actually listening to what people want rather than telling people what they should have. That said any cabin baggage weighing greater than 10 kg will still need to be checked in.

Well done Qantas. This is one move that I hope other airlines won’t be weighed down in making a reactionary decision and following.

QATAR LAUNCHES NEW ECONOMY SEAT

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Qatar Airways for a while had teased the world with its plans to introduce a new economy class seat and having seen their revolutionary business class product, I was hopeful they would also be revolutionary in the economy product.

Qatar have a habit of overhyping their launches (ie. their latest video/ film) and sometimes fails to deliver on the hype. This week the airline did it again with their new economy seat and whilst it’s a dramatic improvement to their current seat, it’s more enhancement than revolution.

There’s some great specification in it with the new seat featuring;

  • 13.3 inch 4K widescreens
  • Enhanced connectivity and faster wifi
  • Enhanced legroom
  • Adjustable, lightweight headrest
  • Semi-fixed back shell design with a 19 degree recline system
  • Pre-reclined position of six degrees for takeoff and landing
  • Dual multi-function tables for maximum adaptability and table space
  • USB Type C with high power fast charging capabilities

The biggest takeaway is obviously the widescreen TV and an innovative 19-degree recline system, meaning the seat will not recline by re-positioning the back of the seat and in turn impacting the space of the person behind you. Again these will improve the comfort of the passenger but overall not make a major difference to their journey.

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One thing that has impressed me however is nothing to do with the seat but the new ‘QCuisine’ for economy passengers which will feature new menu items and greater choices, including larger main courses and desserts. Perfect for the one like myself who is always left peckish from the small airline servings on the plane.

The seat which will debut on the A321neo this year will eventually be installed on their rest of its fleet

Innovation or simple enhancement? Keen to hear your thoughts on the new Qatar economy seat.

 

AIRBUS A380 TO END PRODUCTION IN 2021

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For an Airbus and moreover A380 geek like myself, the superjumbo is and remains my favourite aircraft to fly. I purposely go out of my way to book an airline offering the A380 over another aircraft type due to the space, comfort and experience. If B747 was the queen, A380 was certainly the princess. On Valentine’s Day Emirates and Airbus decided to kill my aviation love affair with the airliner by announcing that it would cease production of the aircraft from 2021.

Emirates has scaled back its order of the aircraft, instead option for additional 30 A350s and 40 A330neos as part of a 70 aircraft deal. The airline expressed their disappointment at the change of heart but remained committed to the A380 stating that the aircraft would be a pillar of their fleet well in the 2030s.

Debuting in 2005, the A380 was meant to be a competitive rival to B747 but the landscape changed quickly due to improvements in two engine aircraft like the A350. The aircraft despite being popular with the travelling public sadly wasn’t so popular within the aviation industry.

Airbus will produce 17 more of the planes including 14 for Emirates and three for Japan’s ANA.

Despite being saddened by this development (I feel compelled to make that Airbus factory visit in Toulouse I’ve bene holding off happen much sooner than expected), I’m heartened that Emirates will continue to fly this aircraft well into the 2030s and as such I’ll continue to fly Emirates based on this very aircraft!

How do you feel about the A380 cancellation? Are you feeling this is the last gasp in terms of excitement when it comes to flying? 

 

VIRGIN OFFERS FIRST DOUBLE STATUS PROMOTION FOR 2019

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Fancy a double status promotion?! I certainly do and it looks like the first of the big Australian airlines has taken fire in the first round of DSC promos for 2019. Today Virgin cheekily released a teaser on their social page with the statement “In two days, we’re going to help you soar twice as fast. Watch this space (and your inbox!)”.

Whilst the offer is not yet active, what is known about the upcoming double status promotion is that if you register and book between 1 February to 12 February 2019, you will receive double Velocity status credits when you travel on any Virgin Australia marketed and operated flight before 28 December 2019

These promotions are a great way for those who are always falling shy of the next tier to get over the line. It’s anticipated that Qantas will soon be releasing the first of their double status credit promotions in February/ March but it looks like Virgin has beaten them to the punch. Well played Virgin, well played!

Comments

Will you be taking advantage of the Velocity DSC promotion? Keen to hear your thoughts.