Royal Brunei Airlines

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  • Anonymous
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    Corporate-gal
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    CHECK-IN
    I arrived at London Heathrow at 1400, extremely early for my 1705 departure on BI098 to Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei), via Dubai. Royal Brunei flights depart from Terminal 4. I take this flight on a regular basis so followed my usual routine. After parking my car at T4 Business Parking, I got the courtesy bus to the terminal and walked straight to the Business Class desk at the end of the row of check-in desks; ‘Economy’ and ‘Online Check In’ desks were already open and busy, but I had to wait a good 10 minutes before the Business Class desks were open. As I had already got my travel office to pre-book my seat and I had checked in online, this was only a matter of dropping my bag off and getting my boarding pass. Once they were open, I was processed quickly by a cheery member of staff and promptly on my way through Fast Track security.
    THE LOUNGE
    Business class passengers have access to the Etihad Lounge in Terminal 4, which is close to Gate 10 and beneath the Skyteam lounge.
    Because it is beneath another lounge the Etihad lounge can feel a little ‘in the bowels’ of T4 and although there are floor-to-ceiling windows it is a little dark and there isn’t a great view of the apron. Apart from that though, the lounge is well equipped with comfortable chairs in two areas, separated by a dining are with formal tables, a wide choice of both hot and cold food, waitress service throughout and a Six Senses spa which offers free 15 minute massages. I made use of all the facilities and the excellent neck and back massage in the Spa.
    BOARDING
    Although most flights aren’t called in the lounge, the staff do walk around and notify you when your flight is boarding. I didn’t wait for that, though, as the flight was boarding from gate 2, which was down the other end of the terminal, so I left as soon as the board showed the flight. There was no Business Class queue and it was a bit chaotic, but it didn’t take long to board the new 787 Dreamliner.
    Once onboard a flight attendant said hello and waved me to the left since I was in the front row of the Business Class cabin. This was my first flight on the new 787 Dreamliner, having taken one of the last flights in November on the old 777-200ERs that Royal Brunei used to operate on the LHR-DXB-BWN route, and the cabin layout was noticeably different, more spacious and light.
    I stowed my belongings, and was offer a selection of soft drinks and a set of noise cancelling headphones. I was immediately aware of the increase in storage available on the new 787, especially in the front row of the cabin where there appears to be an additional central column between the 15” TV screens of the two seats, which offers additional storage space ideal for papers and iPads, with a shoe storage area underneath.
    THE SEAT
    The B787-8 aircraft has eighteen (18) business class seats and a 2-2-2 configuration (a marked reduction in the previous 36 seats in the 777-200ER) with a 79” pitch and fully flat beds, and 236 economy seats.
    The business class cabin of 18 seats is in one cabin, runs from 9-11. To see a seat plan of the aircraft, click here. I was in the front row of the cabin in 9K for this flight.
    There are spacious overhead lockers above all the seats, and the seat itself has a small amount of stowage to the side, underneath the armrest, with a space for a bottle, next to the in-flight entertainment console. There is also a table which lifts up and out of the side of the large separating console between the seats. The armrest itself springs up at the touch of a button to become a privacy screen if so desired. In that side area there is also a multi-pin socket (UK, EU and US), headphone socket and a USB port – they are a little tricky to see initially when sat in the seat and I had to get out of my seat and kneel on the floor to really be able to see what was there. Under the tray table there is also a slot for the safety card with the inflight magazines being found in a slot to the front of the seat console.
    The IFE screen is fixed and in front of you at some distance, however the clarity of the picture means it’s very easy to see. Inflight entertainment was available almost gate-to-gate, although it was switched on and available before we pushed back, it was turned off about 10 minutes before landing. The selection of films was excellent and the AVOD system worked without a hitch during the entire flight. I often carry my own BOSE headphones with me and these were easy to fit into the 3-prong headphone socket and worked perfectly.
    When it came time to sleep I found the seat extremely comfortable; it goes fully flat, meeting the footrest underneath the TV screen to add that extra length and was wide enough for me to turn over and even sleep on my front, during my sleep. I found the cushioning comfortable, not too hard and with only the slightest ridge where the various cushions meet. The excellent service of Royal Brunei, offering proper pillows and duvets makes all the difference and I slept extremely well on both legs of the journey.
    WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE?
    In this cabin, avoid 11A and 11K because of the lack of one window, the rest of seats are fine. Even the front row does not suffer too much from galley noise although the seats at 9A/B and 9H/K can suffer a bit from toilet noise.
    THE FLIGHT
    The flight time on both legs was a little over seven (7) hours and we were away from the gate on time on both departures out of LHR and DXB. Food service began about 30 minutes after take-off and was quickly and efficiently done. Since getting their 787 Dreamliners I have noticed a remarkable improvement in the choice of food, the service and the quality of food being offered. The roasted cashew nuts and kerapok (prawn crackers) are always a must if you feel a bit snacky, and they do offer a light meal option as well, if you don’t fancy having the full 4-course meal. An excellent selection of teas is also available for after-dinner drinks.
    Although Royal Brunei is a dry airline, they are more than accommodating if you ask them to store a bottle of wine in the chillers for you and will either happily serve the wine to you, or leave you with the bottle when you ask for it.
    Bottled water was handed out after the meal service on both legs and the stunning cabin lighting system of the 787 cabin came into its own. On the evening flight from LHR-DXB there was no need to dim the windows and only the light blue evening light of the cabin was used. On the early morning/daylight flight from DXB-BWN, the cabin crew took control of the window dimming system and dimmed all the windows in the business class cabin at the same time, as the sun rose over the Indian Ocean. Although it was effective, I found that the sun did come streaming in on my side of the aircraft and did wake me up probably a bit earlier than it would have done with the normal window shades; saying that though, it was a very effective and calming environment to travel in. I also found that, due to the reduction in the cabin pressure to 6,000ft instead of the usual 8,000 – 10,000ft, I did feel a lot more alert and less jet-lagged at the end of the journey.
    We then had an uninterrupted descent into Brunei and were at the gate slightly early. Brunei Airport is undergoing some major renovations currently and so we were ushered through corridors which had been blocked off and cordoned as they carry out the works on the new airport building. Quickly through passport control, bags arrived quickly and I was on my way within about 30 minutes of landing.
    VERDICT
    The seat is very comfortable, and the business class cabin is extremely spacious. Royal Brunei have stepped up their mark since getting their 787 Dreamliners and it shows. Food and drink was excellent on this flight, and the service was generally friendly and professional.

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