This is part of my Spring 2018 Asia trip, which you can follow per the below list of prior and upcoming posts!
Review: Royal Brunei Airlines A320 Business Class Bandar Seri – Kuala Lumpur
Luang Prabang, Laos
Review: Avani+ Luang Prabang
Review: Rosewood Luang Prabang
Review: Oman Air 787-9 Business Class Bangkok-Muscat
Review: Qatar Airways 787-8 regional “First Class” Muscat-Doha
Review: Qatar Airways 777-300ER Q Suites Doha-New York JFK
Knowing I was going to Brunei, I ensured that at least one of the flights on this journey would include a flight on Royal Brunei Airlines, because lets be honest, one will likely never fly this airline again and as an aviation enthusiast, its always fun to experience new airlines.
I booked direct on Royal Brunei’s website and my one way economy class ticket from Brunei to Kuala Lumpur was around $250, a tad steep for a one-way fare but I figured rare chance to fly a rare airline.
Next, I learned that some eligible economy class fares are allowed to bid for upgrades to business class. You can enter your PNR and last name and find out if you are eligible for wait for Royal Brunei to email you about 2 weeks prior to departure. You can bid starting at a minimum amount set by the airline and up to a maximum (which is equivalent to the normal upgrade price). There is a meter that changes when you update the amount you plan to bid showing how likely you’d get it based on historic data. I bid about $150, which was on the higher end of the “poor chance” spectrum. Earliest you find out is 96 hours prior and latest is 24 hours, I found out 96 hours before on the dot.
Was the upgrade worth it? Yes.
Royal Brunei Airlines has a dedicated premium check-in zone at Brunei International Airport. I arrived earlier than usual just so that I could experience it all and also just relax at the airport, turns out I was a tad too early as my 9AM flight was the first departure and the staff werent ready until 7AM, I arrived at 6:45. Check-in was smooth, fast, easy and courteous. There is a dedicated premium cabin security lane, but at the time I went through I was the only passenger so no difference.
Royal Brunei operates two lounges with the same main entrance. Business Class lounge with a la carte dining is reserved only for real paying business class passengers or Royal Brunei’s top tie frequent fliers. All others have to pay or use Priority Pass to access the Sky Lounge with buffet dining, there are still showers and even a game room equipped with PS4 and VR units!
The lounge was comfortable, food options decent and tasty, it seemed like during lunch or dinner hours there are probably more options as an entire counter space was unused during breakfast time, and reliable wifi. I was the only one there so it was great and very relaxing.
After a chill time at the lounge, I proceeded to the gate where I spent some time spotting the Sultan’s private Boeing 747-8! Boarding pass said boarding time would start at 8AM, but that was when the crew arrived. But soon enough the started boarding passengers with special needs and assistance as well as those in business class.
I was the first to board the business cabin and snapped a few pics and settled in my old-school but well-cushioned recliner seat. Welcome drinks of water, orange, mango or apple juice came around along with hot towels. Like the country, Royal Brunei Airlines is a dry airline. Menus were then passed out with three choices for breakfast mains. I went with the local flare of Mee Goreng (stir fry egg noodle) with beef stew.
Soon doors were closed, it was not a full flight even in the back, though business was almost full with large amounts of bid upgrade passengers.
Royal Brunei plays a pre-departure prayer before they play their safety video, a nice calmin way to start the flight. After the safety video our meal orders were taken.
The crew along with the cabin leader, Grace, were genuinely friendly. The service was nothing over the top or above and beyond but it was professional, welcoming, friendly and courteous much like the country was!
After we reached cruising altitude, I brought up my in-armrest entertainment screen to find that it was the old-school 12 channel system of rolling films instead of AVOD. But as I was fumbling through that a flight attendant came by with iPads for AVOD selection, though only a limited selection compared to what was introduced in the entertainment magazine (likely available on their 787s). I watched “The Darkest Hour” though was not able to finish.
Soon enough the tray with the fruit plate arrived along with the Iced Coffee that I had ordered. Then another flight attendant came by with a tray fulled of freshly baked pastries, I had a danish and croissant with marmalade. The Iced Coffee is quite delicious and I had read on popular aviation blogs that this was the thing to order on Royal Brunei.
My empty fruit plate was then cleared and my mee goreng main was brought out. The mee goreng part was delicious the beef stew part was just ok, however Im glad the beef was not overcooked and hard!
After my tray was cleared I asked for a cup of teh tarik to wrap it all up.
I then reclined and settled for the rest of the flight trying to catch as much of the film as I could. Halfway through my iPad ran out of batteries, though with a press of the call-button the flight attendant swiftly came by and quickly offered me a full charged one.
Soon we arrived in Kuala Lumpur. Royal Brunei does not offer premium cabin passengers any fast track programs, or maybe KLIA does not have this program in place, not sure. But regardless the 11AM arrival meant no one was at immigration and customs so it was extremely fast.
The 2 Hour 5 Minute journey flew by comfortably. I rather enjoyed my Royal Brunei experience and am glad I bid for the upgrade. It made for an even better rare airline experience.