Royal Air Maroc Resume Flights
Royal Air Maroc Resume Flights – An experience not to be repeated: Review of Royal Air Maroc’s economy on the 787-8 from Casablanca to Washington
Benét J. Wilson is a former senior editor at TPG. Known as the queen of aviation, she is an experienced aviation journalist who has covered airports, safety and air passenger experiences.
Royal Air Maroc Resume Flights
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During the COVID-19 crisis, our team has temporarily stopped taking inspection trips. However, we have continued to publish new flight, hotel and lounge reviews from pre-lockdown travel. We’ve also published a number of our most popular reviews from the past year. We hope this helps you choose when we’re all ready to book trips again.
Royal Air Maroc flights to and from the United States are currently suspended; online schedules show that flights between Casablanca and Washington will resume on June 17. Also remember that in the near future, although flights will continue, service on board will be greatly reduced to reduce the risk of contamination, and that the ground experience – with lounges closed or without food and amenities – will also be very different from before the pandemic.
[tpg_rating ticket-class=”economy” tpg-rating-score=”47″ ground-experience=”2″ cabin-seat=”15″ amens-ife=”25″ food-bev=”4″ service=”1 ” pros=”Comfortable seat recline; headrest that slides up and had wings, and solid IFE.” cons=”Older seats; terrible service from the crew and bad food.” /]
On a group trip to Morocco earlier this year, I was looking forward to my flight from Washington Dulles Airport to Casablanca on Royal Air Maroc, having attended the inauguration of the airline’s new Boeing 787 aircraft in September 2016. That was then. , when the airline sold out. This was now – what a difference four years can make.
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From departure from Washington Dulles (IAD) near my home in Baltimore to arrival at Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport (CMN) and the return flight from Casablanca to Dulles, it was a disappointment almost the whole way, although our previous review of the Royal Air Maroc 787 business class showed that the airline can do much better.
This review focuses on Casablanca to Dulles, which was daytime and maximized service interactions, while the eastbound flight across the Atlantic is primarily nighttime.
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There were no great deals between Dulles and Casablanca when I booked my flight in November 2019 for $828.62 round trip. Current fares for this summer are higher at around $1,100 round trip, much higher than New York-JFK and Dulles offers I saw earlier this year at up to $574.
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I booked my flight with American Express’s The Platinum Card® from the airline because I wanted those 5x Membership Rewards points. That netted me 4,143 points, worth $82.86, according to the latest TPG values. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5x points on these purchases per calendar year up to $500,000.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get American Airlines AAdvantage miles for my flight because Royal Air Maroc didn’t become a Oneworld member until April 1st and my flight was in February.
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To get to Casablanca we had a domestic flight from Marrakesh, also with Royal Air Maroc. The group arrived at Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK) at 7:30 AM to check in for my 9:55 AM flight to Casablanca Airport (CMN) for our connecting flight back to the US. My luggage was scanned and I walked. through the metal detector even before entering the terminal. It took 12 minutes because not all doors were available for screening.
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There were eight check-in kiosks and two lines: one in tourist class and one in business class. While I was standing in line, they opened another check-in counter for economy. Logging in took 11 minutes. However, the process turned into 17 minutes for my two traveling companions on the same booking who were sent to help desk after the agent said there was a problem with their tickets.
After checking in, we went through another security checkpoint where the queue lasted another 17 minutes. Finally we arrived at our gate. Seats for our flight were tight, but we were opposite the Illy Coffee cafe and managed to get a table for five.
We quickly walked to catch the Boeing 737-800 flight to CMN and left on time. The flight was so short that there wasn’t even enough time to serve a drink.
We landed 10 minutes early at CMN Terminal 1. Despite having already gone through security twice in Marrakesh, we had to go through security again in Casablanca before we got to the terminal – and there was also the inevitable walk through duty-free shopping on the way.
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Since we all had a five hour layover before our flight to Dulles, I used my Amex Platinum Priority Pass to get me and my four companions into the Pearl Lounge where we could wait until our flights were ready to board. We checked in on the lower level which led to a lounge with a variety of seating, a food buffet and a bar area. Warning: This lounge serves beer and wine only.
The lower level was cramped, but we found a small table. On the way to the restroom, I noticed two unmarked elevators. When I got up, I found the lounge’s larger, much emptier second floor, with much more seating, another check-in desk, a prayer room, and a game room. It would have been nice to have signs stating that there was a second floor lounge.
I got my partner and we moved upstairs. Almost every seat had plenty of power and USB outlets. One of my companions went to a corner, stretched out and took a nap before the flight.
My companions were bound for Boston Logan (BOS) and New York-JFK, so we said our goodbyes and I went to sit at my gate, A1, right at the end of Terminal 1. There was another security check at the gate, as is often the case on flights to the US, I stood in line for seven minutes, then I was forced to the gate agent, who went through my two carry-ons, tried to take my Moroccan spices for no reason, and confiscated the sealed bottle of water I had taken from the Pearl Lounge. People were sitting on the floor because there was so little seating in our gate area.
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After this check, I was directed to the savings line, which strangely split in two and finally funneled back into one line. The business class line was also used for travelers in need, and also had economy passengers for no apparent rhyme or reason.
Boarding the plane, which was seven minutes late, was chaotic. Even though we were at the end of the terminal, we walked down the jetway that led to the holding area where we were forced onto buses. We sat there for at least five minutes and someone asked the driver to open the doors because it was oppressively hot. Once we got moving, we had a leisurely and winding ride to our plane, a 787-8 – the smaller of the airline’s two Dreamliners, which also has a 787-9.
Waiting on the tarmac: CN-RGB, Boeing 787-8 Lens out of CMN. (Photo: Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy)
The chaos continued as we boarded our jet. While we were waiting on the tarmac to board, a special van for business class passengers rolled up. The man standing next to me said, “I’m in business class. It would have been nice if someone had told me there was a van instead of that hot bus!”
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After a few minutes of waiting, after standing on the tarmac, we were forced onto the plane. It took much longer to get on the plane because there was no order for it. I felt bad for the moms with the strollers because they had to wait for help.
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On the way to my seat at the back of the plane, I already noticed cleanliness problems. Although this 787, registered CN-RGB, was a relatively new jet – delivered in January 2015 – it looked tired and worn leather. The frame wall looked like it could use some scrubbing and the carpet had seen better days. I didn’t open the blanket (I’m an unreliable germophobe), but the pillow was good for lower back support.
Legroom was tight – no surprise here – but I had enough legroom as no large inflight entertainment box (IFE) takes up space.
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