Another leg from my epic Middle Eastern holiday - and perhaps the pleasant surprise of the trip. I found this leg to be oddly expensive for being a one-way and being so short, especially with more than on airline on the route, but c'est la vie, I guess.
Royal Jordanian 502 CAI-AMM - January 5 - E-195
Duration: 1hour 20minutes
Cairo's international departure hall at Terminal 1 looks the most like a modern airport of anything I encountered in Cairo. The check-in area was very crowded and hectic. There was no real line at the counter setup for Royal Jordanian. The staff was neither particularly friendly or unfriendly and efficiently enough got us all checked in. It was the first time anyone in Egypt had weighed our luggage, which I found interesting. We made our way through the throngs of people to immigration - which went quickly and uneventfully (oddly the gentleman said nothing to me at all, despite my greeting him and thanking him Arabic, as poor as my few odd phrases of Arabic may be). In any event, it went smoothly.
The duty free was somewhat unimpressive for being in the international departure hall in the airport of one of the world's 10 largest cities. I can tell you that Egyptian wine isn't particularly good, though I didn't know that when I bought 2 bottles.
The lounge area in the departures hall was full of smoke, even in the no-smoking areas. Again, I didn't care for this as an asthmatic person. There were numerous restaurants though and the facility was modern enough. The gate area was considerably less modern and more dingey. Boarding was not particularly organized. After an indecipherable boarding call made verbally (again, no PA), the gate agent motioned for everyone to come get on the bus. There was no really checking of boarding passes until we got to the airstairs. Boarding was smooth and the cabin crew was impeccably put together, young, attractive, friendly, and efficient in helping everyone get seated.
Ground: 7/10 - Modern facilities. Mediocre duty-free. Smoke everywhere, no-smoking or not. Boarding was not entirely organized. No PA or jet bridges. Friendly and nice though.
RJ's E-195s are not only attractive on the outside - the inside has a respectable domestic first-class and a very stately looking Y section. The leather seats look great and the cabin is impeccably clean, smelled clean, and was all-around nice. The seats are reasonably roomy for short-haul flying, are comfortable, and have adjustable headrests. The lighting is bright and blue, the windows are large, and are nicely aligned with the seats. The pitch felt larger than the Egyptair E-170 I had flown on. All-in-all, a very nice ride.
Airplane: 8/10 - no IFE, but none needed. Comfortable seats, reasonably spacious, airy feeling, bins of reasonable size, and beautifully clean.
Cabin crew had beautiful uniforms - both male and female. They were very nicely put together. There was not only a tea/coffee and then full drink service offered on board, but also a light meal/snack - consisting of two rolls, a tray of cold-cuts to make sandwitches to personal preference, a fruit plate, and an orange juice. It was perfect - I had no expectation of such a nice touch on a short flight, but I was fully appreciative. All the members of my party agreed the service on this flight was the pleasant travel surprise of the trip.
Service: 10/10 - A nice light meal, full drink service, absolutely polite, respectful, and engaging crew, and very well put together service. For a flight so short, I cannot imagine nicer service on any airline.
The takeoff was smooth, though a longer takeoff roll than I expected. The GE CF34-8E's sounded exactly like CFM56's, true to the heritage of much of their design. The flight had a few light bumps, but nothing noteworthy. The flight path went almost due East from Cairo - over the Red Sea, Sinai, and then the Gulf of Aqaba - over which the aircraft made a fairly stiff and very pronounced left turn to the North. I asked a flight attendant about what we were flying over and she told me that we fly out over Egypt to the Gulf of Aqaba and then northerly into Jordan to avoid Israeli airspace (I'm not sure what that is about). We made a fairly straight and direct descent into Amman and taxied very directly to the gate. It was nice.