Edited by: Nick Ellis
& Keri Stooksbury
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Airline: Royal Air Maroc
Aircraft: Boeing 737 MAX 8
Flight #: AT801
Route: London (LHR) to Casablanca (CMN)
Date: July 8, 2023
Duration: 3hr 5mins
Cabin and Layout: Business class; 12 seats in a 2-2 configuration
Cost: 57,500 American Airlines AAdvantage miles + $783.20 (available from ~$5,600 one-way) including a Club Suite flight from Las Vegas (LAS) to London (LHR)
I’ve flown Royal Air Maroc multiple times, including transatlantic flights between Morocco and the U.S. and Brazil as well as flights within Africa and to the Middle East. However, none were on the airline’s Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. I’ve flown most Royal Air Maroc aircraft as well — from its newest Boeing 787 Dreamliners to planes that might be older than me. So what would this newer aircraft offer?
Royal Air Maroc is a hit-or-miss airline, and rebooking or dealing with customer service can be a true test of patience if you have issues with your flight. However, this flight was on the better end of the spectrum. But it almost didn’t happen, given that I nearly missed the flight.
Here’s what it was like flying business class with Royal Air Maroc between London and Casablanca.
This flight was part of a Las Vegas (LAS) to Casablanca (CMN) award booked with American Airlines AAdvantage miles. I flew the new British Airways Club Suite to London (LHR) and then connected to this flight.
The entire itinerary would have cost $5,600 if I’d paid cash. Instead, I booked it for 57,500 American Airlines AAdvantage miles + $783.20. I redeemed the miles from a recently-earned welcome bonus on the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®. I was happy to have AAdvantage miles at my disposal as Morocco is in the “Europe” zone on American’s partner award charts, which means you can save miles on redemptions to this country.
For these flights, I got a redemption value of nearly 8.4 cents per mile, which is much higher than our valuation of AAdvantage miles at 1.4 cents each.
Royal Air Maroc is a Oneworld alliance member, and other options for booking this flight include Avios from British Airways Executive Club, Iberia Plus, Aer Lingus AerClub, and Qatar Airways Privilege Club. You could also use the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, or Etihad Guest programs to book flights.
I originally checked in for my flights in Las Vegas. Upon arrival at London’s Heathrow Airport, I had to do lots of walking, take a train, and then catch a bus from Terminal 5 to Terminal 4. Incredibly, this whole process took over 90 minutes. I was glad to have a 3-hour layover.
Once I arrived at Terminal 4, my gate number still wasn’t showing on the departures board. I Googled which lounge I could use as a Royal Air Maroc premium class passenger and then headed to the nearby Plaza Premium Lounge.
The lounge is located near gates 1A and 1B on the second floor, up a set of stairs or an elevator ride from the ground floor. It was open daily from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The Plaza Premium Lounge was accessible not only to Royal Air Maroc business class passengers but also to passengers on several regional airlines and Priority Pass members. Certain credit cards, including The Platinum Card® from American Express, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, offer Priority Pass membership as a perk of the card (upon enrollment).
At check-in, the friendly employee greeted me warmly and then was confused by my boarding pass. She was certain my airline didn’t provide access and had to confer with her boss.
They checked the computer and confirmed that this was the correct lounge for Royal Air Maroc business class passengers. With that, they returned my boarding pass, indicated the sign with the Wi-Fi password, and went on to help the next guest in line.
The lounge had 2 separate seating areas: 1 to the left of the hallway and 1 at the end of the hallway. To the left was a bar with barstools plus a handful of short, lime green chairs spread around some knee-high tables.
I proceeded to the larger seating area near the buffet. After circling for a few minutes and not finding an open seat, I returned to the bar and dropped my bag on an empty seat to claim it before they filled up.
Seating was at a premium — and the fact people were arriving faster than they were leaving created a “standing room only” environment for a while.
Everything in the lounge was self-serve (except the alcohol, which you had to order at the bar). The buffet had a selection of bread, cold cuts, and a salad bar with standard fixings.
There were several hot dishes from a range of cuisines, such as Singapore noodles, mac and cheese, and dal. Signs clearly labeled the dishes, though only some indicated allergens.
The staff did a great job of keeping the buffet stocked, despite the crowds.
At the end of the buffet, sodas (Coke products), bottled water, and cans of beer were available. These were all complimentary.
Wi-Fi in the lounge worked reliably and provided average download speeds of 20 Mbps. Given how many people were using the lounge’s network, the reliability and speed were positive surprises.
There were showers available. Staff at the front desk may or may not ask you to pay for these, depending on how you gained entry to the lounge. If you’re a business class passenger, the showers should be free. Those entering with a lounge membership may need to pay.
I was the last person to get on the plane. The door was literally closed behind me and there was an announcement that the boarding process was complete.
While waiting in the lounge, the departures board kept saying “Gate in 15 minutes,” until it suddenly said “Final call” and showed my gate number. I sprinted down the stairs, out of the lounge, and past nearly 10 gates until I stumbled onto a pair of gate agents calling my name over the loudspeakers.
Boarding was through the front door, entering at the galley near the cockpit. I guess the silver lining here is that I didn’t have to stand in line or face crowds on the jet bridge.
I was happy to see that this was one of Royal Air Maroc’s newer aircraft. While it was 2 years old, it didn’t show the sometimes jaw-dropping wear and tear on other planes I’ve flown with this airline.
Putting a Boeing 737 MAX 8 on this route was a surprise for me. I flew this route in reverse in December 2020, and Royal Air Maroc used a Boeing 787 Dreamliner with lie-flat seats at that time. Here’s what that cabin looked like, so you can note the stark difference.
The seats on the 737 MAX 8 aircraft didn’t recline to the fully flat position. They were arranged in 3 rows of 2 seats on each side of the aisle for a total of 12 business class seats before a divider panel and the start of economy class.
The seats featured geometric patterns and a purple color with white trim. I liked it instantly; it was unique as far as airplane seats go.
I had seat 2A, a window seat in the second row. The seatback in front of me had a hard plastic back and literature in the top section, though you wouldn’t be able to stow anything here.
At the bottom of the seat, there was a traditional seatback pocket for stowing your items.
The armrest on the window side opened to access the tray table.
A latch released the tray table.
However, that just made it pop out of its secured position a little bit. From here, you still needed to pull it out (which was easy).
The tray table was interesting because it had multiple configurations.
A piece could fold out to the front, sitting at an angle. You could use this to hold a tablet for watching movies or television shows.
Or you could unfold the table all the way. It had a nice wooden look and easily held a 13-inch laptop.
The middle armrest was shared with the seat next to mine, and a small tray could slide out from the front to hold drinks.
In an open space next to my leg, I had enough space for my phone and charger, as well as a universal outlet and a USB port for charging my phone. Having this open space that held my phone out of the way while also charging it was excellent.
The side of the armrest had 3 seat controls for reclining, opening the leg rest, and popping out a footrest at the bottom of the leg rest.
The leg rest didn’t extend very far, and I found it more of a nuisance than anything. It basically lifted my feet off the floor, but not high enough to be in a relaxing position. Instead, they just dangled in the air awkwardly.
Overhead, I had standard air vents and reading lights. There were no controls for these on the seat, only the buttons overhead.
Overhead bins in the business class section were large and more than sufficient for the 9 passengers in the cabin.
Business class seats are generally equal, but I’ll run through some tips to help you pick one.
Unfortunately, not every seat has direct aisle access, and the space between the seats isn’t enough that you can easily pass over an extended leg rest/footrest if you’re sitting next to the window.
Row 3 is immediately in front of economy. The divider directly behind it reduces the amount of recline available from row 3 seats.
Obviously, row 1 doesn’t have any seats in front, but this row is closer to the galley, which could create extra noise. Instead of a seatback pocket, there’s a smaller pocket on the bulkhead that’s out of arm’s reach for most people.
Row 2 could have someone reclining into your space from row 1, but you’ve also got the option to fully recline (unlike row 3). I picked row 2 as it was the best compromise of these positives and drawbacks.
Cabin service started upon boarding, and business class passengers were offered welcome drinks.
Options included water, orange juice, mint tea, and a carbonated lemon drink. I tried this and would give it a solid 7/10.
Prior to the main meal service, flight attendants distributed individually-wrapped wet towels.
These didn’t have any scent, and they were surprisingly large.
Flight attendants also gave each passenger a pack of nuts to snack on while meals were prepared.
There was no menu to order from; my options were “yes” or “no” for lunch. When meal service started, the flight attendant confirmed that I’d ordered a special meal (VGML/vegetarian) and asked if I still wanted that. I thought it an odd question, but I confirmed that I indeed still wanted the meal.
The meal included a small cup of mixed fruits and several different types of vegetable pâté: eggplant, tomato, and something that tasted like a mix of carrots and tomatoes. I also had a mix of vegetable slices with olives, plus a hot dish. This was fantastic.
The entrée consisted of diced potatoes and bell peppers in a slightly spicy tomato sauce, served with turmeric rice that contained raisins. I was bummed I couldn’t have seconds. I could have easily devoured another round of this.
There was an odd moment during the meal when the flight attendant appeared with a bread basket and asked if I wanted anything. I pointed to a wheat roll, and then expected her to place it on my tray with tongs. Instead, she insisted that I open my hands, and then she dropped the roll into my waiting palms. I’ve never seen this on a flight before — Royal Air Maroc or otherwise.
The meal also came with a sanitizing wipe and toothpick to use after eating.
After the meal, flight attendants passed through the business cabin with a cart of fresh cheeses, coffee, and tea.
There was no Wi-Fi on this flight. And there wasn’t much entertainment, either.
While many of my previous Royal Air Maroc flights have included a network to join for watching movies and TV shows, this flight lacked that option. Instead, the only option was a flip-down screen at the front of the cabin that showed the flight map.
This is an area of improvement for the airline. It’s shocking that an aircraft just 2 years old lacks movies and music (and if you’re wondering, Royal Air Maroc’s 787 Dreamliners do have individual screens with movies and TVs in business class).
We didn’t receive amenity kits on this flight, and I was really surprised by that. I’ve received an amenity kit on every Royal Air Maroc business class flight I’ve taken in the past. A passenger across the aisle from me asked for one, and the flight attendants said there weren’t any on board.
There was a single lavatory for business class passengers located next to the cockpit and galley at the front of the plane. It was a standard lavatory with no unique features to set it apart from those found in economy class.
Likely the only difference would have been the bottle of hand lotion and a nicer brand of soap in the pump bottle.
The bathroom also had a surprising amount of mirrors, lining the 2 side walls and the door.
Something was wrong with the drain, and the water wouldn’t go down. After washing my hands, there was even more water accumulating, and I had to notify the flight attendant so the next passenger wouldn’t add to the problem.
Service was average — nothing more, nothing less. In my experience, Royal Air Maroc flight attendants have run the full range of experiences — from wishing they weren’t at work that day to downright chatty — but the business class flight attendant on this flight was simply there to get the job done.
I got “you’re welcome” after thanking her for my meal and a “goodbye” when leaving the plane, but there wasn’t much beyond that. I wouldn’t say the flight attendant was rude, but there was nothing remarkable to note.
We got meals, she cleaned the trays, and then she largely left us alone. The bread incident was the most memorable part, for sure.
Royal Air Maroc is an interesting airline. I’ve flown shiny, new planes with the airline, and I’ve flown some that might be older than me. This was my first time flying a 737 MAX 8 with this airline, though, and it was an overall good experience.
Service wasn’t special, but getting yourself onto a 737 MAX 8 guarantees you a newer aircraft, which means you can avoid the high probability that you’ll fly on a well-worn older 737.
The seats were pretty good and were sufficient for a few hours. Entertainment options definitely need improving, and you shouldn’t fly this airline if you’re expecting top-notch customer service.
However, it’s a decent airline that has good food more often than not, and sometimes “average” is good enough to get you from A to B.
The information regarding the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
Royal Air Maroc uses Terminal 4 at London Heathrow Airport.
If you’re in business class, you can access the Plaza Premium Lounge in Terminal 4 at London Heathrow. Just show your Royal Air Maroc boarding pass.
Yes, you can choose from a selection of French and Moroccan wines in business class.
Royal Air Maroc has lie-flat seats on its Boeing 787 aircraft, which fly primarily long-haul routes. The airline’s 737 aircraft have recliner seats in business class.
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Ryan has been on a quest to visit every country in the world and plans to hit his final country in 2023. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publications including AwardWallet, The Points Guy, USA Today Blueprint, CNBC Select, Tripadvisor, and Forbes Advisor.
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