Flight : BI 73
Airline : Royal Brunei Airlines
Origin: Bandar Seri Begawan International Airport (BWN)
Destination: Brisbane – Eagle Farm (BNE)
Distance: 3382 miles
Scheduled Dep. Time (Actual Dep. Time): 2110 (2120)
Scheduled Arr. Time (Actual Arr. Time): 0550 (0530)
Class : Economy Class
Load: 73% (22/30) in J, 100% in Y (255/255)
Aircraft Reg.: V8-BLB
Photo © A J Best
Every year my family and I go on a summer vacation, and this year it coincided with my brother’s graduation in Brisbane. Due to my parents’ busy schedule, this was going to be a quick trip of a few days. We had several options to go to BNE eg. Via SIN, KUL and BKK, but how could I resist going on BI’s “new” B772. Unfortunately I didn’t have access to my SLR camera, so I had to rely on my phone and I apologise for the lack of quality photos. Nevertheless, this is the 1st TR on BI’s B772.
Royal Brunei Airlines (Penerbangan DiRaja Brunei), is the national airline of the tiny kingdom Brunei Darussalam. Based in Bandar Seri Begawan, BI offer flights to 17 destinations. BI isn’t a key player in the airline industry but is definitely a player in South East Asia.
Booking was done via my travel agent. We made the booking a few months before hand, and purchased a few weeks later. Luckily the day after we purchased our tickets, the pricing on the exact same flight shot up by a few hundred dollars! By then it was about the same price as SQ and MH.
Brunei’s Bandar Seri Begawan International Airport has come a long way since the 70s, and it still has the same layout from back then, albeit aesthetic renovations and additional gates. Having siblings who are elite members of the frequent flyer program, we were able to use the Business Class check in counters. The agent was friendly and informative, but he couldn’t attend to our request of having seats next to each other. We then proceeded quickly through immigration and an hour before scheduled departure, there was already a long line being formed from Gate 1! Seeing that everyone was getting up and getting in line, we decided to skip the SkyLounge and join everyone else.
30 minutes prior to departure, the ground staff realized that the security check through Gate 1 was going v-e-r-y slowly and with another 150 passengers to go through, they decided to use Gate 2 to complement Gate 1. With Gate 1 opened, security check was a breeze and by the time we arrived at the holding room, ground staff were asking everyone to board.
Being my first time on board the B772 in BI colours, I was excited to see what BI has to offer. Despite seeing photos of the interior beforehand, I was still excited and hoped to see something that differs from what SQ offered. Entering the Y cabin, I realized how old these birds are, and how outdated the Y cabin was. Even though the colors gave a warm and relaxing feeling to passengers, they were definitely not fresh and rejuvenated. I was hoping BI gave their own twist to the cabin, but all I could see were BI headrest sheets.
I knew loads were going to be 100% full since my sequence number was 255, but I didn’t realize it took this long to get everyone on board. At 2100, the captain announced that we were waiting for another 20 or so connecting passengers.
On board service:
Immediately after take-off, drink service commenced followed by dinner. Captain came on board the PA and informed us of the flight and route details. After dinner, the cabin lights dimmed and cabin crew went around offering drinks every hour or so. Breakfast was 90 minutes before landing.
Aircraft & seats:
The B772 looks fresh on the outside, but the same cannot be said for the interior. The purple/blue cabin gave a warm and tired atmosphere. The seats onboard these B772s are known to be notoriously uncomfortable despite the generous legroom and seat recline. The seat quality is good but I don’t know why SQ chose the particular material and seat fillings. I’m not sure if it is just me but after a long flight on these birds, your bottom will definitely be numb. Hopefully after a year or so, the seat cushions will give in.
At the beginning of the flight, the cabin temperature was cool. But after I woke up just before breakfast, the temperature was very warm and the cabin felt very stuffy. The combination of feeling very nauseated and “breakfast” (read below) was definitely not a good experience.
In-flight entertainment services
I’m sure many of you would agree that the IFE system on BI’s B767s were from a previous decade, and only offered the most basic features. Well on the B777s, the IFE is definitely a big leap from previous versions as they are now very easy to use, has a lot more features, more movies/tv-shows/music etc. I don’t remember the IFE system when these birds were with SQ, but they are a definite improvement.
*I tried to rotate the photo but imageshack just wouldn't let me!
Meal & Beverage:
I am always a fan of airplane food, and offerings on board BI have its ups and downs, based on experience. Dinner was either spicy fish with rice or pasta carbonara and I opted for the former. The fish was juicy and vegetables were surprisingly fresh. I was offered a generous supply of drinks too. Dessert was a good chocolate ice-cream and a hot drink.
Breakfast however, was completely opposite. We were offered either tuna sandwich or cheese sandwich, and I opted for the cheese sandwich. Expecting to be a proper sandwich for breakfast, I got a tiny croissant filled with very bland cheddar cheese! It tasted very stale and disgusting; I wouldn’t even feed it to the homeless. Feeling very hungry, I finished off a bar of Oreos instead.
Again based on experience, I know that BI crew aren’t the most consistent, but they can be very nice and helpful. This time however, the crew were boring. They did their services alright, so I wouldn’t say they were robotic. They were nice and helpful, but I wouldn’t say they excelled.
I know that BI has the reputation of being a very cheap airline, but the prices on this flight didn’t say so. BI has the opportunity and the potential to be as good as MH or SQ, as they’ve got the equipment and capacity to do so but they’re not showing it. The very warm cabin temperature was a first for me and I'm pretty sure cabin temperatures are controlled by the crew. The breakfast was just ridiculous for a full-service airline.
I’m not sure if it’s the training that the crew had or just the people at the HQ, but sadly it is dragging them down. I’m sure things over in Business Class are completely different, but back in cattle class, there is nothing more you can expect but pure economy.
Booking System & Call Centre 7/10
Flight Punctuality 7/10
Total Score = 69%
Photos of Brisbane and Gold Coast