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Royal Jordanian Business Class: BKK > KUL (2/9)  
User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1843 posts, RR: 19
Posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 12141 times:

This is the second part in a series of nine trip reports. You can find part I here:
SWISS_FIRST_CLASS: Zürich > Bangkok (1/9) (by Knightsofmalta Sep 15 2012 in Trip Reports)

INTRODUCTION
Two hours after my arrival in Bangkok from Zürich I’m scheduled to depart to Kuala Lumpur. This is my fourth visit to the city and I am finally going to see the Petronas Towers from up close.

Date: 31. August 2012
Airline: Royal Jordanian
Aircraft: A330-200
From: BKK
To: KUL
Cabin: Business
Seat: 4K, window


CHECK-IN
I’m standing at the Royal Jordanian transfer counter. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a complicated check-in process. First the agent needs to see the original credit card with which I paid for the ticket. Then she does some more typing to verify if I, as a Maltese national, am eligible to travel to Malaysia without a visa. Once that’s done, she makes a couple of phone calls in Thai, no idea what that’s all about. And then she also needs to see the confirmation of my ticket to leave Malaysia to prove that I will only be staying for two days. Another phone call and then she issues me a boarding pass for a seat in the middle row. I explain to her I would prefer a window seat, so she tears up the boarding pass and issues me a new one for a window seat on row four, the last row of Business Class. That is printed on a Royal Jordanian branded boarding pass. But she also needs to print a lounge access pass, which is however printed on a Thai Airways document…I’m half expecting her to look up from her screen at some point and say ‘the computer says no’.

But all is well and after some 20 minutes of hammering into her keyboard like the crazed woman locked up in the attic, I’ve finally managed to get myself checked in. God knows what it must me like there when there is more than just the one passenger to check-in!

Incidentally, the Swiss ground attendant, duty-bound, stays by my side while all this unfolds. Eventually she collects my boarding pass and lounge access and asks me to follow her to the Royal Silk Thai Airways lounge.

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THE LOUNGE
The lounge is rather empty when I arrive. The Swiss agent hands the lounge access to the Thai Airways receptionist, wishes me a safe onward journey and then takes her leave.

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By this time it’s 15h20, so in theory I only have 40 minutes before departure to Kuala Lumpur. But amidst all the typing and other shenanigans, the transfer check-in agent did find the time to inform me that the flight to Kuala Lumpur will be delayed by some 45 minutes.

While I wait in the lounge I help myself to some dim sum and a Coke Zero. At around 16h15 my flight is showing as ‘go to gate’. I’m also feeling a bit bleary eyed as the jetlag set in, so I decide it’s best to go walk a little.

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BOARDING
My flight is scheduled to leave from E5, which is in the same wing as the lounge and means I don’t have too far to walk. When I arrive at the gate, the aircraft is nowhere to be seen. So I ask the gate agent how long the delay will be, figuring we won’t possibly be leaving at 16h45. But she tells me the aircraft is on its way to the gate. Departure will be at 16h45. I doubt it.

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Outside it looks as though the apocalypse is about to unfold. Dark and thick rain clouds are visible in the distance and the wind has picked up.

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Eventually the aircraft arrives. I get all excited, the way I always do before trying a new airline (What a nerd!). The A330 is such a beautiful aircraft that wears the Royal Jordanian livery well. Unfortunately the lighting conditions and the grubbiness of the windows are not conducive to producing photos that will fully do this gracious bird justice.

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The aircraft carries the name of the River Jordan.

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The best seat at Suvarnabhumi...

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Eventually boarding starts at 16h50.

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At the door I am welcomed by a female flight attendant wearing Royal Jordanian’s striking red uniform, which does have a certain retro chic.

THE CABIN
The floor area around the galley and doors has this rather odd wood-like finish, although it’s obviously not wood. Apart from that, the cabin is not exactly shabby, but it looks kind of neglected. It’s little things really. I notice that there are a few screws missing in the seat back in front of me. Apart from that, the cabin design and colour spectrum is equally boring and bland to what you find on Lufthansa’s European fleet these days, shades of grey in grey.

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The seat seems okay for the short hop to KL but I’m not sure I’d want to sit in it all the way back to Amman. First of all, the pitch seems awfully tight. Secondly, the seat covers are leather, which has a tendency to make you sweat more, I find.

There is also a blanket and a pillow at my seat when I arrive. In the empty seat in front of me both blanket and pillow have not been used and are still in their plastic covers. Mine are not so I can only presume that they had already been used by the previous occupant of my seat on the Amman to Bangkok leg. And that I find rather an off-putting thought.

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I guess it doesn’t help that there is a faint stench of old sweat in the cabin, the kind of smell that somebody emits who probably last had a wash a few days before getting on a plane to Bangkok. But Royal Jordanian can’t be blamed for that and once the air conditioning comes on again, the pong nearly vanished completely.

DEPARTURE
Eventually we leave Bangkok at around 17h25, more than an hour behind schedule. The cabin manager is an elderly gentleman who sounds as though he’s been smoking Gauloise sans filtre for the last 50 years or so and has a somewhat questionable work ethic. He makes the usual welcome announcements in Arabic and English and obviously hasn’t got the faintest intention of apologising for the delay.

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SERVICE
The crew on this flight consists of a combination of Arabs and Thais. The Thais seem friendlier. Even so, it’s difficult trying ‘to make contact’ with any of the crew. They’re not rude but they’re not overly friendly either. They’re just doing their job without any ambition of excelling at what they do.

Service begins with a welcome drink while we’re still on the ground in Bangkok. I have an apple juice with an ice cube in it. Don’t think I’ve ever seen such dark apple juice!

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After take-off we are served hot scented towels.

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Shortly after that the table is set with nice crisp linen.

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THE MEAL
In preparation for this trip, I read some of the previous reports on this 5th freedom flight and on Royal Jordanian in general. And to be honest, as far as both the crew, their service and the food were concerned, I was expecting very little or close to nothing from this flight. But perhaps that isn’t a bad thing, and perhaps that is also the reasons why I am very pleasantly surprised by the meal service.

A side note. When I enrolled for the BA Executive Club at the beginning of 2012, I somehow ended up with a Hindu Vegetarian meal stored in my profile for reasons I still do not fully understand. In fact, I only noticed when I travelled from Amsterdam to New York on BA at Easter and I was served a Hindu Vegetarian meal on the Amsterdam to London City sector.

In any case, at the time I booked this leg with Royal Jordanian, the special meal was still in my profile. I have since removed it but obviously the change was not transmitted to Royal Jordanian. I did consider contacting them for a while, but then I figured I probably wasn’t going to get much to eat on the flight anyway, so that it really didn’t matter.

In hindsight I must say I’m very glad I didn’t have the special meal removed from my booking because it’s a very tasty and spicy meal I receive in the end.

The meal is served in three courses. The tray arrives with a side plate with a bun on it, as well as a mixed salad with French dressing. As a first course there is also a plate of curried pumpkin served on a leaf of red cabbage.

The pumpkin is okay but a bit bland.

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To drink I stick with still water and a Coke Zero.

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Once I finish the first course, the plate is removed and I am brought the hot meal, which consists of a Dhal, a spinach and cheese dish, white rice and a roti. Not only is the food very flavourful and spicy, what I particularly like is that it the dish is piping hot when it arrives.

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After that the whole tray is removed. Dessert and tea/coffee are served from the trolley. Coffee is served in big mugs.

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The dessert is tasty and quite unusual. It is some kind of rice and pistachios in a saffron and cardamom custard. I’ve never tasted anything quite like it.

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Outside the sun has already started to set. So I just lean back and sip my coffee while I watch the view and the beautiful spectacle of colours unfold as night descends upon Malaysia.

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The meal concludes with another hot towel.

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And shortly after the descent begins.

ARRIVAL
I have not taken any pictures of the arrival because it was already dark by the time we landed.

Passport control is a quick and easy affair. From there I head through customs and then I am landside. I take the escalators two floors down to the basement of the building to catch the KLIA Ekspres for Sentral Stesen or Central Station. From there I grab a taxi to my hotel. This time I am staying at the Trader’s Hotel, with excellent views of the Petronas towers and only a stone’s throw away from Marks & Spencer.

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CONCLUSION
Royal Jordanian was somewhat hard to place. On the one hand, there is nothing overtly wrong with the product. And the meal they offered on the short leg from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur was pretty much on a par with what I experienced with Malaysia Airlines one year previously on the same route.

Even so, I can’t really say I liked Royal Jordanian. The cabin was slightly grubby and the loos were even worse. The crew were reserved but at least not unfriendly.

Would I use them again? Well, certainly not as a first choice.

To be continued...

[Edited 2012-09-21 23:28:36]

12 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinereifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1383 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 11385 times:

Thank you very much for giving us insights about this fifth freedom route. A mixed bag somehow, but quite ok in the end it seems. What a hassle with the check in though. I heard about other airliens as well which want to see the original credit card with which the payment has been made - probably for fraud reasons - but I don't get it what would happen if this credit card has been cancelled in the meantime (let's say you book 6 months in advance but when you fly you changed credit card company) or if someone else paid for my flight (i.e. my company with company credit card).

Looking very forward to the following flights down there  


User currently offlinedeltamartin From Sweden, joined Dec 2010, 1061 posts, RR: 7
Reply 2, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 10660 times:

Hi William!

Great to read about RJ's short little intra-asian hop. As I mentioned, I too did consider this route, although in Y.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
The A330 is such a beautiful aircraft that wears the Royal Jordanian livery well. Unfortunately the lighting conditions and the grubbiness of the windows are not conducive to producing photos that will fully do this gracious bird justice.

Indeed, the RJ livery is very stylish.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
Secondly, the seat covers are leather, which has a tendency to make you sweat more, I find.

I tend to prefer Fabric seats as well.

Martin


User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 16
Reply 3, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days ago) and read 10394 times:

Hi William

Nice to the second part online as well (I have replied a bit of a dislogical order).
RJ seems to be ok, looks a bit better than your TK expecience. Just apart from the rather cold crew food looks great.
Seating looks ok as well (at least better than any Y seat)

Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineabrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5129 posts, RR: 55
Reply 4, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 10160 times:

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
Mine are not so I can only presume that they had already been used by the previous occupant of my seat on the Amman to Bangkok leg. And that I find rather an off-putting thought.

= This is really poor for a premium cabin. There are not that many seats in RJ's JCL and a lot of crew members. One would think basics such as these would be caught when they secured the cabin.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
Eventually we leave Bangkok at around 17h25, more than an hour behind schedule. The cabin manager is an elderly gentleman who sounds as though he’s been smoking Gauloise sans filtre for the last 50 years or so and has a somewhat questionable work ethic. He makes the usual welcome announcements in Arabic and English and obviously hasn’t got the faintest intention of apologising for the delay.

= These cabin managers are found in several Middle East airlines and I personally do not think they were ever trained for service. Sadly, they overshadow the hard working women who usually work under them.

Thanks for writing this report. I am not surprised by the content. RJ is an "also-ran" airline in my view and recent experiences from those not connected to it seems to confirm the same.

Glad you finally got to enjoy Petronas!

Saludos,
A.



Live, and let live.
User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1843 posts, RR: 19
Reply 5, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 9778 times:

Hi Reifel

Quoting reifel (Reply 1):
Thank you very much for giving us insights about this fifth freedom route.

Certainly my pleasure!

Quoting reifel (Reply 1):
A mixed bag somehow, but quite ok in the end it seems.

I think that sums it up very well. There was nothing really wrong with the flight, it just wasn't anything exceptional either.

Quoting reifel (Reply 1):
What a hassle with the check in though. I heard about other airliens as well which want to see the original credit card with which the payment has been made - probably for fraud reasons - but I don't get it what would happen if this credit card has been cancelled in the meantime (let's say you book 6 months in advance but when you fly you changed credit card company) or if someone else paid for my flight (i.e. my company with company credit card).

I've been checking up on this. Apparently the policy is that if you fail to present the credit card with which the ticket was booked, you have to provide an alternative credit card as guarantee. Although in practice this means the new credit card is billed and the credit card used to pay for the original ticket is refunded.

Hi Martin

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 2):
Great to read about RJ's short little intra-asian hop. As I mentioned, I too did consider this route, although in Y.

Thanks. Well, as you can tell all in all you're not missing that much with RJ!

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 2):
I tend to prefer Fabric seats as well.

On short-haul flights I don't mind the leather, but on a long flight it's horrible, especially when you sleep.

Hi Marc

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 3):
Nice to the second part online as well (I have replied a bit of a dislogical order).

Thanks. Nothing wrong with that. Reply in which order suits you best!

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 3):
RJ seems to be ok, looks a bit better than your TK expecience.

Yes, in the end it's always a question of what your reference is. and compared to TK they certainly were much better.

Hi A.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 4):
= This is really poor for a premium cabin. There are not that many seats in RJ's JCL and a lot of crew members. One would think basics such as these would be caught when they secured the cabin.

I think that's RJ weakest point. The crew seemed somehow aloof, as though they weren't really focused on what they were doing.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 4):
= These cabin managers are found in several Middle East airlines and I personally do not think they were ever trained for service. Sadly, they overshadow the hard working women who usually work under them.

How very true. This guy behaved as though he owned the plane, and I can only guess he got his job because he knows the right people.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 4):
Thanks for writing this report. I am not surprised by the content. RJ is an "also-ran" airline in my view and recent experiences from those not connected to it seems to confirm the same.

My pleasure.

Thanks for taking the time to post, gents.

Cheers,
William


User currently offlineRJA321 From Jordan, joined Mar 2009, 69 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 9638 times:

Thank you for taking the time to write up this trip report.

It surprises me to find that RJ isn't offering quality service (in terms of cabin crew) on these Far East destinations. I've been flying with them to Europe and other Arab countries from AMM and the quality of the crew etc is much better. At least the food offered looks really good!

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
The A330 is such a beautiful aircraft that wears the Royal Jordanian livery well.

Agreed! Love the RJ livery on the A330, can't wait to see it on their new 787s.

Looking forward to the rest of your trip reports!



Hurry up, before we all come to our senses!
User currently offlineAlwaysOnAPlane From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2010, 305 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 9540 times:

Hi William.

Interesting choice of carrier with RJ, but seems like a bit of a let down in terms of cabin comfort/quality and crew service attitude. I suppose just going through the motions gets the job done, but in a public service environment it gives off a bit of a sour taste to the customer.

I think it's pretty poor form to have passengers re-use pillows and blankets! No one would like to arrive at a hotel room with unwashed bedding for the night.

On a positive, as you mention, the food looks really good. I love those dark, spicy Asian dishes just like your main course, and the desert sounds very interesting  .

Thanks for the write up William.
Cheers, Lee.


User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1843 posts, RR: 19
Reply 8, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 9349 times:

Hi RJA321

Quoting RJA321 (Reply 6):
Thank you for taking the time to write up this trip report.

My pleasure!

Quoting RJA321 (Reply 6):
It surprises me to find that RJ isn't offering quality service (in terms of cabin crew) on these Far East destinations. I've been flying with them to Europe and other Arab countries from AMM and the quality of the crew etc is much better. At least the food offered looks really good!

For sure the food was very tasty indeed: flavourful, spicy and hot when it arrived at my seat.

Quoting RJA321 (Reply 6):
Agreed! Love the RJ livery on the A330, can't wait to see it on their new 787s.

I'm sure the 787 will look stunning. Let's just hope nobody in the marketing departments has the bright idea of introducing a new livery with the new aircraft!

Hi Lee

Quoting AlwaysOnAPlane (Reply 7):
Interesting choice of carrier with RJ, but seems like a bit of a let down in terms of cabin comfort/quality and crew service attitude. I suppose just going through the motions gets the job done, but in a public service environment it gives off a bit of a sour taste to the customer.

as you say, if you work in the service sector it's a bit unfortunate if your not service minded. It's a pity really, because it would take so little to make a difference.

Quoting AlwaysOnAPlane (Reply 7):
I think it's pretty poor form to have passengers re-use pillows and blankets! No one would like to arrive at a hotel room with unwashed bedding for the night.

My sentiment exactly. I confess I dribble in my sleep sometimes. I must assume other do too...

Quoting AlwaysOnAPlane (Reply 7):
On a positive, as you mention, the food looks really good. I love those dark, spicy Asian dishes just like your main course, and the desert sounds very interesting .

Admittedly, the dessert looked like something that had already been previously digested but the taste was stunning, quite surprising.

Thanks for taking the time to comment RJA321, Lee.

Cheers,
William


User currently offlinesultanils From Belgium, joined Mar 2010, 1788 posts, RR: 30
Reply 9, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 8882 times:

Hello William,

Thank you for this nice and informative part 2. For a reason I've always been intrigued by this carrier, but I can't really say why. Perhaps it's that nice and 'royalish' livery on their planes, I don't know? They recently stopped the BRU route, I guess there was too much competition by the likes of EY and QR which I believe have a better onboard product and better connections to other destinations.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
God knows what it must me like there when there is more than just the one passenger to check-in!

Total mayhem? I guess this agent had never seen a Maltese passport before and you were traveling an oddball route as well - at least in her eyes  

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
I get all excited, the way I always do before trying a new airline (What a nerd!)

Ha ha, nothing wrong with that, I know the feeling!

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
The aircraft carries the name of the River Jordan.

Google Translate or do you have some secret Arabic skills 

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
The best seat at Suvarnabhumi...

Oh yes! Replace that bar stool with a reclining plush velvet seat and I'll stay there all day (with headphones on, yes).

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
There is also a blanket and a pillow at my seat when I arrive. In the empty seat in front of me both blanket and pillow have not been used and are still in their plastic covers. Mine are not so I can only presume that they had already been used by the previous occupant of my seat on the Amman to Bangkok leg.

That smells like a serious service flaw and not acceptable for business class travelers.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
Shortly after that the table is set with nice crisp linen.

At least then linen was fresh in comparison to the blanket.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
The dessert is tasty and quite unusual.

Soup for dessert?

Sultanils



In thrust we trust.
User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1843 posts, RR: 19
Reply 10, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 8590 times:

Hi Nils

Quoting sultanils (Reply 9):
Thank you for this nice and informative part 2.

My pleasure!

Quoting sultanils (Reply 9):
For a reason I've always been intrigued by this carrier, but I can't really say why. Perhaps it's that nice and 'royalish' livery on their planes, I don't know?

I know exactly what you mean, same here. I think with me it's a combination of the 'Royal' in their name and that stylish livery.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 9):
They recently stopped the BRU route, I guess there was too much competition by the likes of EY and QR which I believe have a better onboard product and better connections to other destinations.

I can't see them having much of a chance against the likes of QR or EY, as you say. They fly to Zurich and I think they're doing alright on the route.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 9):
Total mayhem? I guess this agent had never seen a Maltese passport before and you were traveling an oddball route as well - at least in her eyes

Strangely enough, I think she was more concerned with the credit card than my passport.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 9):
Google Translate or do you have some secret Arabic skills

I studied linguistics at University, which meant I also had to study a language that was not Indo-Germanic. So I picked Arabic.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 9):
Oh yes! Replace that bar stool with a reclining plush velvet seat and I'll stay there all day (with headphones on, yes).

You see, great minds think alike...!

Quoting sultanils (Reply 9):
At least then linen was fresh in comparison to the blanket.

I think that's where I would have asked to get off the plane again!

Quoting sultanils (Reply 9):
Soup for dessert?

It sounds strange but it was very tasty!

Thanks for taking the time to comment Nils.

Cheers,
William


User currently onlineadamspotter From Netherlands, joined Feb 2011, 1177 posts, RR: 12
Reply 11, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 8512 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hi William,

Nice to be able to read part 2.
Another nice report with great pictures  
I must say RJs food looks quite tasty and nice but the rest of the things you explained dont sounds all too well, not that impressed!

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
CHECK-IN

That is one crazy and complicated check-in/!

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
I get all excited, the way I always do before trying a new airline (What a nerd!).

Haha, well I always have the same  

cheers,

Brendan


User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1843 posts, RR: 19
Reply 12, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 7945 times:

Hi Brendan

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 11):
Another nice report with great pictures

Thank you!

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 11):
Haha, well I always have the same

That's the nice thing about airliners.net. What other people might find strange is just perfectly normal behaviour here!

Thank for commenting Brendan!

Cheers,
William


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