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A Better Fly Onboard the Boeing 787 with Royal Brunei Airlines

Royal Brunei Airline's Boeing 787 Dreamliner

I stopped on the gang way and glanced out of one of the small windows at the aircraft before me. I could see the painted white body, wings curved gracefully upwards like that of a bird and with that my name was called and I was drawn from my day-dream as smiling faces greeted me from beneath the cathedral-like ceilings – or as cathedral-like you could get on an aircraft – at the door.

This was my first time flying Royal Brunei Airlines, the first of 6 flights I’d take with them, and I didn’t know what to expect.

Late last year some of my friends flew from London to Melbourne with Royal Brunei and, upon catching up for a coffee, declared them to be a great option, well priced, comfortable and offering exceptional service. This piqued my interest even more when they told me about the Dreamliner – Boeing’s newest airplane that was more environmentally friendly, offered mood lighting and declared that they offered a better fly for all; a bold choice of words.

Little did I know that just 6 months later I to would be boarding a Royal Brunei flight bound for London, with a few stops on the way.

Onboard Royal Brunei Airline's Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Seats in Business Class

Welcome onboard Miss Smith,” a smiling attendant greeted me and offered me a drink as I nestled into my Business class seat. Glancing around I was quite pleased with the space. Not only did the overhead compartment sweep upwards, eliminating some of the claustrophobia you can experience on planes by creating a greater sense of space but there were plenty of nooks to place items that I’d need inflight.

For easy reach there was a small storage space under the centre console, that included a USB outlet, power socket and earphone plug; there was also a silver button that can be pressed which will raise the arm rest turning into a screen to offer just a little more privacy during sleep.
I did find that the position of the power socket a little bit bothersome and wish it had retained its position at the base of the centre console like in older Boeing models.

One of the most attractive parts of Royal Brunei’s Dreamliner is that the chairs turns into full flat-lie beds, which of course was the first thing I tested out as soon as we were airborne! The control panel also offers a massage function which was well used throughout the flight, especially as I tried to get some work done.
When sleep finally called – or even just a nap after the five course lunch, more about that below – the cabin crew provided me with a soft sleeping pillow and cosy quilt to curl up into. In fact, one cabin crew member went as far as tucking me in on one of the flights.

Inside the spacious business class bathrooms are motion sensors for the flush and sink, smart closing seats and bidet functions (more about that in this post).

Royal-Brunei-Airlines-Panorma-Cabin

Royal-Brunei-Airlines-Business-Class-Chicken-Rice

Food Onboard

I wasn’t sure what to expect on the menu onboard Royal Brunei. What is ‘Bruneian’ cuisine? Over the course of the flights, as well as during my time in Brunei, I discovered that Bruneian cuisine borrows heavily from its neighbours – Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

At the beginning of each flight I was presented with a dining card with the options for the flight and just before take-off I was asked which meal I’d like for a main. By ordering before take-off it meant the food could be cooking and I could relax and just let my meal come to me.

On the first leg, Australia (MEL) to Brunei (BWN), I enjoyed all five courses that was offered to me, and boy was I glad I skipped breakfast!
To start were hors d’oeuvre; a rosemary skewer with lamb and pineapple alongside a piece of brie and chutney atop toast. The entree was a delicious soup which I think was a broccoli and stilton with garlic croutons. Bread and breadsticks were also provided. The main was a chicken dish with a side of steamed Asian greens and rice. Dessert took part in two courses with a pineapple tart sided with custard as well as a fruit and cheese plate. (More food pictures below!)

There is also a light selection, which varied from panini’s to noodles, and also a Dine Upon Request option.
The Dine Upon Request option allows Business class passengers to order anything from the menu to enjoy at any point throughout the flight, though 30 minutes will be needed to prepare hot dishes.
On one leg I gratefully ordered the noodles with strips of grilled chicken after falling asleep while we were still on the ground and while catching up on a favourite TV show I couldn’t say no to a Haagen-daz ice cream!

Just a quite note on beverages. Royal Brunei offer a range of beverages including soft drinks, juices, iced drinks, coffee and tea but they are a dry airline. This means you will not be able to purchase alcohol onboard. I have heard that you can bring duty-free bottles onboard and drink but this may not be the case for all flights.

Royal-Brunei-Airlines-Business-Class-Cheese

In-Flight Entertainment

This was the one area I felt a little let down by Royal Brunei. Although the screen size is quite good – Business class passengers are treated to 15.4″ screens and Economy offers passengers a 9″ screen – the pixel quality is a little grainy. They also edit a lot of the TV shows.
The Big Bang Theory is not quite the same without the sexual innuendo and a lot of the Big Bang Theory shows fail to make sense after the editing. Same goes for movies. I only watched one movie but the way it was edited left gaps in the plot line and it wasn’t as enjoyable as I had hoped.

The range of movies, TV programs, audio and games was quite good but for all of my other flights I instead chose to watch TV shows from my iPad, mainly because when I fly if the only time I have to really immerse myself in a TV show and not have outside distractions so I wanted to ensure I enjoyed the show and not just 80% of it.

I understand that Royal Brunei, and Brunei as a country, is a Muslim nation and that some censorship is not uncommon but I think they should choose TV shows that don’t need as heavy editing or perhaps country specific. It’s also something that I feel Australian, British or other nationalities should be aware of.

Royal-Brunei-Airlines-Business-Class-Lounge

Stopovers

Between Australia and London Royal Brunei Airlines makes two stops. The first in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei’s capital, and the second in the UAE, in Dubai.

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

At the time of visiting the main airport of Brunei (BWN) was undergoing extensive renovations and upgrades. Currently, there are only a few stores including a cafe, convenience store, souvenir store and perfume store open on the airside though a larger selection of stores are open before customs, including a Burger King which is opening soon, restaurants and pharmacy.

The airport also features Royal Brunei’s Sky Lounge for Business class passengers and members of their Royal Skies mileage program.
It’s a comfortable space and includes a buffet, a selection of local and international newspapers, cold drinks, free locker storage, free WiFi, and TV’s dotted throughout the lounge with different programs screening.

Dubai, U.A.E

I experienced two different airports when flying through Dubai. On the way over we landed at Dubai World Central Airport (DWC) due to runway upgrades happening during the month of June at the main airport, but returning we landed at Dubai International Airport (DXB).

DWC currently is a mainly cargo airport though a few regional and seasonal flights do fly in, including Wizz Air and Qatar Airways, so there isn’t a whole lot to do. There are a few duty-free stores and food outlets, as well as a Business lounge on the first floor.

DXB, Dubai’s main airport, offers a comfortable stopover experience. I’d only ever experienced Terminal 3 – Emirates and Qantas’ terminal, a wealth of duty-free shops and home to Shake Shack, my must stop in Dubai – but Terminal 1 offers a completely different experience.
Terminal 1 spans across three floors, with the small choosing of well-stocked duty-free shops. In particular, there is a lot of lollies and chocolates, make-up, alcohol and cologne or perfume to buy. There’s also a small Emirates pop-up store, a few cafes including a Starbucks and a Coffee Bean, and a lounge for Royal Brunei Business passengers use during the stopover.

Royal-Brunei-Airlines-Business-Class-Tarmac

Royal-Brunei-Airlines-Business-Class-Windows-Cutie

Does Aircraft Type Make a Difference on Flight Experience?

I’d never really considered purposely choosing one type of aircraft over another, even being a big Boeing fan. I love being on a B787-400 but then flying an A380 for the first time was also quite an experience but I wasn’t blown away.

I was pretty impressed with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

When I initially flew the Dreamliner I thought it was good. Lots of space, beautiful LED lighting system that is said to help reduce jet lag, spacious design that eliminated much of the claustrophobia you really notice on long-haul flights and of course the windows that are 60% bigger than other commercial airlines which help connect passengers to the flying experience. The other things seemed sort of irrelevant until I flew another airline and I realised how lucky I had been onboard the Dreamliner.

One thing that was a huge difference was how I felt getting off my Royal Brunei flight in Melbourne versus arriving in the USA on another airline with a different model plane.
Getting off the Royal Brunei flight I felt refreshed and rejuvenated, in need of a shower after nearly 24-hours of flying, but not all dried out and stuffy. At the time I put that down to being well prepared onboard and just having a really good skin day generally, but I didn’t once touch my make-up bag and I didn’t drink nearly half as much water as I usually did.

Fast-forward 18-hours when I touched down in the USA on another airlines plane and I felt drained, dehydrated and exhausted. I wasn’t sure whether to put it down to two long-haul flights in such close proximity or if there really was something different. Returning home from the USA to Australia on the same airline I had the same experience; despite sleeping onboard I felt dehydrated and just gross, so I did a little more research.

On the Boeing website it claims that the Dreamliner’s cabin environment technology allows for lower altitude levels and higher cabin humidity levels that help combat the feeling of dryness alongside their new air filtration system that eliminates smells and airborne bacteria. (Trust me, after the whole cabin has eaten the chicken curry for a main you will notice the smell. Wait another 5 minutes and you’ll find it’s disappeared completely!) One of Royal Brunei’s crew that I had chatted with mentioned that “[her] skin, it feels so much nicer, less dry, after flying the 787” and I really do agree with her.

Royal-Brunei-Airlines-Business-Class-Ticket

I had an amazing time flying with Royal Brunei Airlines. I’m not used to having multiple stopovers on my way to Europe but it was a nice way to break down the flights and, if I had more time, to see a number of exciting cities.
The crew were super attentive to my needs but didn’t feel stifling and definitely rank high amongst my favourite airline crews alongside Cathay Pacific and Hawaiian Airlines.
The Dreamliner is a smart plane and offers a lot for flyers without them even realising, from aesthetics to health benefits and I can’t wait to fly onboard another Dreamliner.

Would I fly with Royal Brunei Airlines again? Yes, in a heart beat.
I find their product to be of a really high quality and value for money compared to some other Asian airlines (Royal Brunei Business class airfares are currently around AU$3,500 Melbourne to London which is the price of some economy airfares!), as well as Brunei being a great stopover point to explore Borneo or to head to other areas of Asia. These factors, along with great service, are just some of the reasons that I do think that Royal Brunei offer travellers a better fly(ing experience!)

Royal-Brunei-Airlines-Business-Class-Snack-Angle

Royal-Brunei-Airlines-Business-Class-Soup

Royal-Brunei-Airlines-Business-Class-Pineapple-Turnover

Onboard Royal Brunei Airline's Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Onboard Royal Brunei Airline's Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Onboard Royal Brunei Airline's Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Royal Brunei Airline's Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Seat chart on Royal Brunei Airline's Boeing 787 Dreamliner

 

 Now it’s over to you

What feature do you value the most when flying long-haul?

Have you, or would you, consider flying with Royal Brunei?

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Details rba

Royal Brunei Airlines 
Notes:
Royal Brunei currently only operates daily from Melbourne, Australia to Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei before connecting to London (via. Dubai) or other countries in Asia.
Discover more about the Boeing 787 on the Dreamliner’s website or in my blog post.
Royal Brunei’s business class seats are arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration with only 18 seats.
If you’re looking for a window seat don’t choose 11A or K because they are windowless seats.

 

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My trip onboard was arranged by Royal Brunei Airlines and Boeing
but this has not influenced my thoughts and opinions about the airline in any way.

Some of these photos are owned by Royal Brunei Airlines.
I am using them with permission because I didn’t want to disturb passengers.

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21 Comments

  • Reply
    Christine
    August 14, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    This post was really detailed, and made me jealous! I so wa t to fly first class one day, beds that you can lie flat in is the dream!! 🙂

    • Reply
      Nicole
      August 27, 2014 at 6:09 pm

      Hey Christine,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      I love flat lie beds, and think it’s fantastic they’re available in both Business and First class now-a-days! (Pending which airline you fly)

      Hope you get to lie flat onboard on a journey soon. 🙂

  • Reply
    Review: Boeing 787 Dreamliner with Royal Brunei Airlines
    August 16, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    […] Royal Brunei Airlines currently operates the Boeing Dreamliner 787 daily between Melbourne – Bandar Seri Begawan – Dubai – London. Discover more about the Boeing 787 on the Dreamliner’s website. Find out the latest flight specials, routes and what more about travel in Brunei at the Royal Brunei Airlines website or read my review of Royal Brunei’s inflight experience. […]

  • Reply
    Afternoon Tea at TĪNG at the Shangri-La London Shard
    August 17, 2014 at 6:26 am

    […] Europe. When Royal Brunei sent me to London for a luxury weekend, including flying their new Boeing Dreamliner in Business class, I knew that one of my stops had to be at TĪNG, the Shangri-La London’s signature […]

  • Reply
    Review: The Empire Hotel & Country Club
    August 21, 2014 at 1:17 am

    […] this time I really didn’t want and I couldn’t even blame jet lag as the technology in Royal Brunei’s Dreamliner, coupled with a good sleep, ensured that I woke feeling fresh. I rubbed the thick linen of the […]

  • Reply
    Patrick
    September 25, 2014 at 6:13 am

    Great article! The RBA 787 sounds great, but I wouldn’t consider flying them because of their new Sharia code and, as you correctly said, censorship of films and music. It’ll be BA via Singapore for me. 🙂

    • Reply
      Nicole
      September 25, 2014 at 9:24 am

      Hi Patrick,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment. 🙂

      The newly placed Sharia Law does not really change anything for visitors, except those visiting during religious holidays (like when I visited during Ramadan where visitors or non-Muslims cannot eat in public). The only other thing I was told – by local Christian friends – is that you must wear clothing that is modest (covers the shoulders/no booty shorts) and respect the name of Allah by not using it in vain. Nothing else really changes.
      I am hoping to write a post on this soon but I wanted to interview a few more people before putting it together to ensure I have all the facts.

      I’ve never been much a fan of BA (find there’s something lacking in their service and I’m usually a Cathay/Qantas girl) so saying this I might be biased but RBA would be one of my top picks if you are looking to pay for a Business Class seat between Melbourne to London. Why? It’s well-priced, the 787’s are seriously brilliant planes and the crew really do look after you the whole journey.
      If you are part of an alliance you can’t collect points but with airfares at really reasonable prices I wouldn’t turn them down!

  • Reply
    Lillian Birch
    September 30, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    I flew with RB to London earlier this year and it was cheap and comfortable, even in economy. However I won’t be flying with them again because I don’t wish to support the government of Brunei (who own Royal Brunei) with my tourist dollars. For me it’s not about how it affects me as a traveller, but about not directly contributing to a government who passes laws making homosexuality and adultery punishable by stoning.

  • Reply
    Angela Hogg
    November 15, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Looking forward to flying with this airline after reading these comments .

  • Reply
    Mark Speer
    December 14, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    Hi Nicole,

    Thanks for the interesting article.

    Dad flew RB from Auckland to London in 2006 and said it was very good. Unfortunately RB pulled out of Auckland three years ago, so Melbourne is nearest option. RB did offer fantastic deal earlier this year ($1,518 NZD for Wellington – London with Air NZ doing Wellington – Melbourne connection before switching to RB between Melbourne – London), hopefully similar deals return in future.

    Kind Regards,

    Mark

  • Reply
    Frank
    January 6, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Hi Nicole

    So you flew business class eh; free trip? Unbiased report?

    “My trip onboard was arranged by Royal Brunei Airlines and Boeing
    but this has not influenced my thoughts and opinions about the airline in any way.”

    What a posefest:

    “Welcome onboard Miss Smith,” a smiling attendant greeted me and offered me a drink as I nestled into my Business class seat.”

    Your gushing article reads like a hagiography. Have you ever flown business class before for a valia comparison?

    Did you go down the back to economy where the food is inedible and the service is poor?

    • Reply
      Nicole
      June 28, 2015 at 1:37 am

      Hi Frank,

      I apologise for not responding to your comment earlier, it (rightfully) ended up in my spam.

      If you took even a few minutes to look on my site, you’d notice I usually fly business class when travelling internationally. I have flown with a number of airlines, not limited to RBA, British Airways, Qantas, Hawaiian, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines and more. I’ve also flown in ‘premium’ cabins onboard budget airlines, like AirAsiaX’s Premium cabin.
      Furthermore, I have flown in First, Premium Economy and in Economy on a dozen or so airlines.

      As I mentioned as a preface, I am a HUGE AV geek and an even bigger Boeing fan. I have been waiting for the Dreamliner to come out for years and been anxiously following its progress and countless delays.
      I have gone out of my way to fly onboard the Dreamliner, unsuccessfully due to limited numbers currently flying in/out of Australia, so to be given the opportunity to fly onboard Royal Brunei’s Dreamliner is a HUGE deal for me.
      While I have expressed a LOT of excitement and enthusiasm about the product there is a simple reason why: it’s better than the A330’s and A380. Even better than B747 (currently being retired) and B777’s. The technology is advanced, the flight is smooth, and RBA’s cabin crew – like most Asian airlines – are polished, professional, and damn good at their jobs.

      The trip was not free. I spent several thousand dollars in the UK to extended my trip for work commitments, and created content for the brands I was working with – that is part of my job, and I am grateful to the people who read my site for making that happen to me. I’m also grateful that brands consider my blog, my work, and the audience who are following me, worthy of working with.

      As I mentioned, I primarily fly in Premium cabins. On this particular trip, I did not go down to economy. I have, however, linked to bloggers who HAVE flown both Business and Economy, so readers get the full story.

      RBA’s Business product is extremely well priced compared to other airlines. That is a HUGE selling point for them, as most Asian and Middle Eastern airlines charge an arm and leg for Premium cabins.

      It’s so nice of you to think that my writing is akin to hagiography – you do know what that means right? I would not say that my writing is like I’m talking about a Saint, but each to their own.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I had a lot of fun responding to you. 😉

  • Reply
    Graham NZ
    February 9, 2015 at 8:07 am

    My family and i will be travelling RBA in April this year to LHR, and back. I found your article very informative. But you should have written a side article for people who’re not able to afford Business class, and have to travel in cattle class instead. I would love to have known what the seats, and meals are like.

    • Reply
      Graham NZ
      June 21, 2015 at 6:43 am

      As an update to my previous post; We found the legroom in cattle class excellent. The food was mediocre. And the onboard entertainment was dire. The seating was hard. And i had a very uncomfortable journey. Onboard staff were faultless. A credit to the airline. Bandar Begawan Sandar airport is something else. There was 1 stall selling perfume. And 1 selling gifts. An exchange, and 2 places to eat, which were like your local cafe. The toilets were terrible. If you needed to go, your lower clothes would get wet, as it’s more like a shower cubicle, than a stall. Thankfully it was only a quick turnaround. Overall, it’s not a long haul airline i would recommend.

  • Reply
    Airline Reviews
    March 28, 2015 at 2:54 pm

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  • Reply
    Andrei
    April 12, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    Can you please tell me what type of socket there is? Is it a UK, US, AUS? I intend to use my Surface to catch up on my studying during my flight and I cam’t charge it from a USB. Thank you

  • Reply
    Geoff cropley
    June 20, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    nicole, ive been lucky enough to travel to london twice with royal brunei and loved it both times, i noticd u mentioned getting off looking for a shower, well i cured that by having a long hot shower at bander seri bagwan in the business class lounge, it made a world of difference, hopefully will be going back to the uk in 2016, subject to the saving regime. Geoff hervey bay qld

  • Reply
    Mike Payne
    August 11, 2015 at 11:47 am

    Have been a fan of RB for many years ,my wife flies with them whenever possible and i recently upgraded my brother ,coming to Australia from UK , to business class ,his first time. His comments were ,that it was like an adventure to him.We are fortunate and fly business class where ever possible and RB ranks with the best airlines and is BRILLIANT value for the money. I am UK ing again in Oct 2015 and can,t wait.

  • Reply
    Russell
    January 13, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    Nicole
    Just flew Melbourne to Shanghai via Brunei business class with RB.
    I rate RB highly, best on board service I’ve experienced in 16 yrs of travel.
    IFE a slight letdown but hey the food, crew and 787 hard product were top notch.
    Best kept secret.

  • Reply
    RP
    February 17, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    Hi Nicole. I found your article very well written and informative. I am planning to take my family to London on a holiday – boarding in DXB – flying business. RB caught my attention as the prices for business was very very different from EK, EY, VS or BA. You mentioned that you’ve flown different airlines. Before I make any bookings, would you be able to advise if I would be losing out on something very big compared to other airlines – like quality of service, food (not bothered about the alcohol) in flight entertainment, cleanliness etc. as the price difference between the competitors is massive. Thanks in advance.

    • Reply
      Nicole
      February 18, 2016 at 1:53 am

      Hi RP,

      Thank you for getting in contact with me. 🙂

      I personally haven’t flown VS, EY or EK, however, I have flown BA, RB, and Qantas on this route.

      The only aspect you are “missing out” on Royal Brunei is uncensored entertainment which means Western movies can sometimes be a little confusing and Since business class have in-seat power, I’d recommend you bring a few DVD’s or download some favourite shows to watch. Aside from this, I loved my Royal Brunei experience.
      Their new Dreamliners which fly the route offer brilliant technology, fully flat-lie seats and comfortable seating, and they always had a high level of service and attention to detail, right down to cleaning bathrooms frequently throughout the flight.

      Qantas flies through Emirates home terminal, usually using an A380, so you have access to a lot more amenities, shopping, and, of course, the Business Class Lounge. I believe (but cannot confirm) that Qantas are still rolling out their next generation seating on this route so you will be seated in their pods. They class them as a flat-lie pod but you are tilted at a slight angle I have always found uncomfortable but for most it appears no issue.
      As always, customer service is among the best in the world onboard Qantas and the food is very much geared for the middle eastern market, not the typical steak and seafood dishes Australians have become accustomed to when onboard the flying room.

      I’ve not had a ‘bad’ experience onboard BA, however, for the price and compared to the service of other airlines, I don’t believe you get a lot of bang for your buck. Their Club World seats are ‘top to tail‘ which means someone is most likely to be seated ‘backwards’ and the window, or middle seats in the centre of the plane, need to climb over the person/s in the aisle to make use of the bathrooms or stretch their legs.

      I’ve had family fly Emirates and they’ve raved about it. My Dad’s one complaint was that, as a bigger guy, the seating arrangement can feel a little cramped.

      Do let me know what you choose and your experience. I’d love to hear an update on options for the Dubai – London route 🙂

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