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RJ domestic flights guide (including connections/AQJ airport transportation)

RJ domestic flights guide (including connections/AQJ airport transportation)

Old Jun 12, 16, 10:06 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: HKG/AMM/LED/LHR
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RJ domestic flights guide (including connections/AQJ airport transportation)

The news of opening of a lounge for AQJ bound pax in Amman caused me to start this thread.

Transit from INTL to AQJ.

As you leave the jet bridge:
-Follow sings to Arrivals/Transfer to Aqaba and not the flight connections;
-Clear immigration;
-Pass thru the baggage reclaim hall (unless your bags were tagged to AMM only);
-Clear customs;
-Go out of the building (just keep walking straight);
-Find an elevator just outside (yes,elevator outside ),you can also use the escalators also located outside;
-Go to entrance "5"

There are a few check in counters for the AQJ flight and a security check point next to them.It opens around an hour before the flight. After you pass security there is nothing appart from the toilets (surprisingly clean) and a vending machine.

If you have some time before your flight I would suggest chilling in the Starbucks in the Arrivals hall and go upstairs 30 minutes before departure.


Transit from AQJ to INTL.

-You will be bussed from the aircraft (100% guarantee) to the baggage hall;
-Go thru customs;
-Go outside and get an elevator or an escalator (both just outside of the building);
-Go to entrances "2" /"3"/"4" or "1"(for RJ business class and Ruby/above flying on RJ.Other airlines (including BA and QR) business class and elites have to go thru 2/3/4.
-Clear immigtation and go airside.

Aqaba airport.

Extremely small,but here is a bit of expansion going on,the check in hall was ercently expanded and now has 8 counters (used to be 4,including 2 that were permanently INOP).

Arrivals

No bus,no jetbridge,you just walk to the building,there will be a Police officer checking ID (Jordanian) /Passports for others,so don't put it too far away.You then go thru a micro baggage reclaim area and then thru customs. There is a small duty free in the arrivals hall,but its selection is much narrower than in AMM arrivals.

All the proper hotels (Movenpick,InterContinental,Kempinski,Radisson Blu,DoubleTree) each send a complimentary shuttle bus to and from the airport,with hotel reps meeting you just outisde of the arrivals. Technically you should have a booking in the hotel to use,but in practice there is nothing stopping you from freeriding I assume because I often book AQJ hotels on the shuttle to the hotel itself.

Shuttles leave the airport after all the pax from your flight left the baggage reclaim (20 minutes or so after landing). On the return,shuttles normally leave the hotel at 90 to 70 minutes before departure,depending on the hotel,so do ask when you check in to your hotel.

Alternatively the taxi costs 10JD to Aqaba and you should be in your hotel 15 minutes after touchdown.

Departure

Check in for AQJ-AMM flights opens 90 mminutes prior to take off,so don't arrive before that (assuming you decided not to use the hotel shuttle),as there is nothing outside,literally nothing and you can't get airside before check in opens.

Don't bother printing your OLCI BP,as the counter staff would have already printed out your BP if you OLCIed so you just collect it from them,unless you want to change your seat or check in a bag.

There is a security check in as you enter the terminal (before check in) and a customs check point afterwards and the latter might also ask you to place your bag into the x-ray machine.

Airside there is a small duty free shop (again the selection is wider in AMM arrivals duty free,which you can access even if you arrive from AQJ,a gift shop (useless) and a caffeteria,which does not sell much appart from chocolate,soft drinks and coffee. It is reasonably priced for an airport (capuchino is 1.5JOD).It is also the only designated smoking area within the airport,so I would just park my self there order a coffee and wait. The guy manning the said caffeteria is also very pleasant and loves to chat,I will never forget how he allowed me to get a free coffee when I did not have anything smaller than 50JD bill and he did not have change (I did oofer to repay him on my next visit,but he refused).

Boarding is called manually and you once again walk to the plane.

Business Class vs Economy Class:

Most flights are operated with E195/E175 (let's say 70%) with an occasional A319/320/321).Business class even on E175 has proper J classs seats,so no euro-J nonsense.

Very ocasionally the flights might be operated by Royal Wings (RJ charter subsidiary) which owns a single A320,it's old and in full Y configuration,but apparently has LH style seats (the last time I have been on it was about 5 years ago).

In Y,the offer is a small carton of juice (mango,apple,orange) and is often distributed prior to takeoff. Coffee/tea and water on request.

In J,welcome drink,a grand total of TWO cookies and hot/soft/alcoholic beverages,not sure if they have the full bar with champagne,but they had Baileys (yeah those who saw my other posts on here know I am obsessed with it).

On the ground in AMM,it's nice to have access to business class check in lounge (Entrance "1" as you enter the ramp by car),which in my opinion by far beats CX and BA First class check in facilities. You can sit down while the agent checks you in and you leave the baggage with a porter. Said facility is also available to Ruby/above members travelling on RJ and if travelling internationally it leads to it's very private security and immigration facility.

There is priority bus for the flights to AQJ,just ask the guy standing next to the bus if there is a business class bus and he will direct you to it (they once almost forgot me on that bus when I was the only elite on the flight). There is also a priority bus on the return sector in AMM.

You can purchase an airport upgrade for 25JOD ex AQJ or 45JD ex AMM, but it would not in most cases get you any extra mielage (it did not when I used to be a BAEC member and it does not to RJ). That said in some cases purchasing a J class ticket might be a good option for a mielage run.(80 BAEC TP for 156JOD,does it count as a good deal? )

So if you are Ruby or above I would not spend any money on an upgrade and spend them elsewhere in Aqaba.

Airplane vs bus:

I often have arguments with friends and family as to whether it's better to take a bus or fly to Aqaba. I imagine it's not too difficult to guess on which side of the argument am I?

00:00 leave the house/accomodation/event in Amman
00:30 arrive at the airport
00:50 boarding (check in closes at T-15,it's intresting because check in closes later than boarding starts).
01:10 take off
01:50 landing
01:55 in a taxi
02:05 anywhere in town in Aqaba

00:00 leave the house/accomodation/event in Aqaba
00:10 arrive at the airport
00:12 check in (again closes at T-15)
00:20 boarding
00:30 take off
01:05 landing (actual flight time is 30-40 minutes in my experience,with my record being 28 minutes).
01:10 on the stand
01:15 landside
01:20 in a taxi/car/bus
01:50 arrival at final destination

This can be optimised and one can cut upto 20 minutes,but this timing are realistic. Bus takes at least 4 hours+30 minutes to purchase the ticket e.t.c

If you are connecting from abroad flying is a no-brainer and most RJ tickets allow to add domestic flight for a very small premium and sometimes it can even lead to a small discount.

Lounges:

AMM:Yesterday,I received some communication from RJ which states
A New Distinguished Service awaits Aqaba passengers Crown Class passengers and Royal Plus Platinum & Gold members traveling to Aqaba from Amman or in transit, are invited to enjoy the comfort of Tikram Departure Lounge located at Entrance 5 at Queen Alia International Airport, while a representative assists them with their check in procedures and luggage.
I complained a lot to them about this,as I hate arriving so close to departure and it seems my complain was finally heard and they finally opened the lounge for AQJ bound pax.I saw the facility being build when I was flying to AQJ last month,but I was not sure what exactly it is. It is located just next to AQJ flight counters and security checkpoint and looks somewhat small. I am due to fly to AQJ at some point next week,so will grab some pics and will ask the staff for details about opening hours (useful for those on connections) and whether OWS/OWE gets access as it states that only Gold/Platinum and J get access.5

UPD:09JUL16

So I flew to AQJ yesterday.

The lounge is located next to Entrance 5 (the last entrance as you enter the ramp by car/bus). It is before the police checkpoint (in AMM they check ID/tickets and x-ray bags to make sure only pax enter the check in area). So you enter the terminal,go to the lounge,go thru ID check,check in (if you have not checked in at RJ Business Class check in at entrance 1 already and go thru security. Everything is within a few steps.

Now,the lounge...this is by far the worst and the most pathetic lounge I have ever seen in my life.

Food and beverages:
Cerutti Espresso machine (no latte/capuchino e.t.c,espresso only) and paper cups;
Half empty (warm) pepsi bottle;
Bottled water (have to ask the lounge host to take it out of the fridge under his desk);
Packaged arabic sweets (see pic 1).

That's it.

The lounge is extremely small (pic 2 was taken from the far corner of the lounge and you can see how close the other end is). The capacity is 10 passengers (yesterday we had 3 pax in J and 1 Sapphire in Y,but there was only me and another lady in the lounge.

There are power sockets next to the sofas,but there are no toilets and I can't imagine where is the nearst toilet,appart from the one post-security..Also the lounge is separated from the terminal by glass walls,so everyone passing by can see you. Since the lounge is landside,you can get out to smoke e.t.c. as much as you wish.

The only advantage of this lounge is that you can wait there till everyone else clears security (which is just 30 seconds away),but arriving to the airport more than 40 minutes prior to departure is not recommended. Also it might be useful if you are on a connection,say from Asia and you have an hour or so to kill. In this case I would personally get some coffee/snacks from Starbucks or SNAX mini-market in arrivals and take it to the lounge.

There is also a nice cafe outside by the fountain,located in the middle of the parking complex.

In total,it's a big dissapointment. Yes I am glad that RJ now offers some kind of lounge access,but since it's a third party lounge,I can't imagine how much money is wasted on this. If they are paying so much for rent and maintanance of the lounge,it would not be too expensive/hard to offer some more snacks/refreshments.

UPD 24JAN17

I saw from Tikram's (the AMM Domestic lounge operator) facebook page that they have upgraded the refreshments options a bit. It's still is far from being a proper lounge,but better that it used to be.

So now we have a proper coffee machine (still with paper cups) and a fridge with water, Coca Cola, Fanta and Sprite. The pic is in p10.

See lounge pics in post #3

AQJ:There is a lounge,but RJ does not pay for it,so even as an RJ Platinum in J I am not entitled to it,but the RJ rep there told me that TK sends their J/elites there (RJ handles all flights in Aqaba). AQJ airport website states that the entrance fee is 10JOD,but I am not sure if this is up to date info or not.

That said I have never bothered to find out what's the offer there,it's certainly not CX First Class level though. The airport caffeteria is more than adeqate for the 30 minutes that most pax spend in that airport.

Which side is better,left or right?


Normally I am the aisle seat guy,AQJ flights are an exception. Definately sit on the right (G/H/J),the views of Dead Sea are amazing and in 90% of the time you would be landing on runway 01 in Aqaba,which means the plane will fly over Aqaba and turnaround just a bit before the Saudi border and then back above the Red Sea).

Images:

1;2-Domestic depatures area holding pen
3-Service in Y
4-Service in J
5-Pre take off welcome drinks (arabic coffee and juices).

Lounge images here:http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/26889035-post3.html

Kind regards
Rami Tamimi
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Last edited by Rami Tamimi; Jan 24, 17 at 3:17 am Reason: Update
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Old Jun 13, 16, 9:00 am
  #2  
 
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Thanks for the awesome guide!
Now if only RJ makes better connections from AMS to AQJ, I might try it, it's been a while since I was in Aqaba!
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Old Jul 8, 16, 1:27 pm
  #3  
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UPD:

So I flew to AQJ yesterday.

The lounge is located next to Entrance 5 (the last entrance as you enter the ramp by car/bus). It is before the police checkpoint (in AMM they check ID/tickets and x-ray bags to make sure only pax enter the check in area). So you enter the terminal,go to the lounge,go thru ID check,check in (if you have not checked in at RJ Business Class check in at entrance 1 already and go thru security. Everything is within a few steps.

Now,the lounge...this is by far the worst and the most pathetic lounge I have ever seen in my life.

Food and beverages:
Cerutti Espresso machine (no latte/capuchino e.t.c,espresso only) and paper cups;
Half empty (warm) pepsi bottle;
Bottled water (have to ask the lounge host to take it out of the fridge under his desk);
Packaged arabic sweets (see pic 1).

That's it.

The lounge is extremely small (pic 2 was taken from the far corner of the lounge and you can see how close the other end is). The capacity is 10 passengers (yesterday we had 3 pax in J and 1 Sapphire in Y,but there was only me and another lady in the lounge.

There are power sockets next to the sofas,but there are no toilets and I can't imagine where is the nearst toilet,appart from the one post-security..Also the lounge is separated from the terminal by glass walls,so everyone passing by can see you. Since the lounge is landside,you can get out to smoke e.t.c. as much as you wish.

The only advantage of this lounge is that you can wait there till everyone else clears security (which is just 30 seconds away),but arriving to the airport more than 40 minutes prior to departure is not recommended. Also it might be useful if you are on a connection,say from Asia and you have an hour or so to kill. In this case I would personally get some coffee/snacks from Starbucks or SNAX mini-market in arrivals and take it to the lounge.

There is also a nice cafe outside by the fountain,located in the middle of the parking complex.

In total,it's a big dissapointment. Yes I am glad that RJ now offers some kind of lounge access,but since it's a third party lounge,I can't imagine how much money is wasted on this. If they are paying so much for rent and maintanance of the lounge,it would not be too expensive/hard to offer some more snacks/refreshments.
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Last edited by Rami Tamimi; Jul 8, 16 at 4:23 pm
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Old Jul 9, 16, 9:25 am
  #4  
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Updated the OP with a few pics and included the lounge review there.
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Old Jul 9, 16, 12:09 pm
  #5  
 
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AQJ is definitely one of the smallest airports I've ever flown from. The airport is such a sad story with the falling out of the Israelis, and now Jordanians are complaining about the new and likely to be much heavier trafficked airport being built to replace Eilat.

Having said that, as a non-Jordanian I would book to AQJ just to avoid the visa fee via the Aqaba visa and get some extra miles

I also find it's cute that you wrote a guide for a domestic guide transfer for RJ. This is the only domestic flight for the entire country
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Old Jul 9, 16, 2:17 pm
  #6  
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Originally Posted by keitherson View Post
AQJ is definitely one of the smallest airports I've ever flown from. The airport is such a sad story with the falling out of the Israelis, and now Jordanians are complaining about the new and likely to be much heavier trafficked airport being built to replace Eilat.

Having said that, as a non-Jordanian I would book to AQJ just to avoid the visa fee via the Aqaba visa and get some extra miles
Why sad story? Is not it good to be able to arrive at the airport at T-20min and still have some time for a coffee? They also renovated the airport a lot,so it's much more pleasant than it used to be.

I also find it's cute that you wrote a guide for a domestic guide transfer for RJ. This is the only domestic flight for the entire country
I am just frustrated that there is very little info avaialble online about it. Many may be scared to book a 80 min INTL>DOM connection,when it is perfectly fine for AMM.
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Old Jul 9, 16, 3:10 pm
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Originally Posted by Rami Tamimi View Post
Why sad story? Is not it good to be able to arrive at the airport at T-20min and still have some time for a coffee? They also renovated the airport a lot,so it's much more pleasant than it used to be.
Aqaba was supposed to be a joint Israeli-Jordanian run airport with shared border crossing and a big project to attract international carriers. Unfortunately, that never happened, so now it's nearly always empty, other than the daily AQB-AMM flight.

I am fine with small empty airports but I prefer ones that have more amenities and carriers to fly to
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Old Jul 9, 16, 11:37 pm
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Originally Posted by keitherson View Post
Aqaba was supposed to be a joint Israeli-Jordanian run airport with shared border crossing and a big project to attract international carriers. Unfortunately, that never happened, so now it's nearly always empty, other than the daily AQB-AMM flight.

I am fine with small empty airports but I prefer ones that have more amenities and carriers to fly to
Well,there are not that many airports with shared border crossings appart from BSL and the recently opened airport in the US (not sure about the name),so the project never promised to be an easy one.

AQJ is good now,16 flights/week to AMM+3 weekly IST on TK,both offer a lot onward connections.Lots of charters coming in too nowadays after the Metrojet's incident in Egypt.
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Old Jan 24, 17, 3:11 am
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I saw from Tikram's (the AMM Domestic lounge operator) facebook page that they have upgraded the refreshments options a bit. It's still is far from being a proper lounge,but better that it used to be.

So now we have a proper coffee machine (still with paper cups) and a fridge with water, Coca Cola, Fanta and Sprite.
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Old Jan 24, 17, 3:18 am
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A few more pics of the lounge,credit to Tikram Facebook page:
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Old Feb 21, 17, 2:14 pm
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Originally Posted by Ditto View Post
Thanks for the awesome guide!
Now if only RJ makes better connections from AMS to AQJ, I might try it, it's been a while since I was in Aqaba!
There is will be an additional frequency from 1st of April,departing AMM at 1:15AM on saturdays. Pefect for LHR flights 23:05 or 00:05 arrival (depedning on season) and some other European flights with close to midnight arrival (MAD,AMS e.t.c.)
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Old Aug 8, 17, 2:12 pm
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Have not been to Aqaba for a few months. It's not that much has changed there, but a few aspects are perhaps worth highlighting, so I thought I would make a small trip report.

-The renovation process in AQJ is now complete. The airside waiting hall is now slightly bigger and the check in hall now has a grand total of 8 check in desks (with the majority of them being unmanned most of the time). RJ flights normally use 1-3 desks depending on the loads. There is also a nice sitting area outside with chairs/ benches from the old terminal. Don't rush to go inside too much.

-There is now more seating space airside, but the "facilities" are the same: 1x Duty Free store +1x Gift Shop + 1x Cafeteria. The latter is a bit overpriced as far as prices on the street go (Coffee for 1.5JD, water for 1JD in the airport vs 0.5JD +0,2JD in town), but it's not too bad. Smoking is no longer permitted in the cafeteria, there is now a separate area for that. On the whole, the terminal is now marginally nicer and bigger, but it still retains the charm and the convenience of a micro airport.

-The going rate for taxis between the airport and Aqaba is still 10JD (slightly more for Tala Bay). The 5* hotels still provide free shuttles and their schedule matches the flight movements (see the OP for more details).

-The domestic lounge in AMM still retains my award for the worst lounge on the planet. I thought it could not get any worse that, but it did because the coffee maker was out on my last visit. Spoke to the host (it's always the same guy there) and he said that the lounge only fills up in the winter (when the snow makes it difficult to get to the airport) and that the average occupancy of the lounge is 1-2 people because everyone prefers to arrive at the last minute...makes sense.

-RJ can now issue same day return BPs, provided you are on a single reservation.
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Old Aug 8, 17, 2:14 pm
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.....
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Old Aug 8, 17, 2:21 pm
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......
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Old Aug 12, 17, 4:45 am
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Are there any other domestic flights with Royal Jordanian? I confess in advance to having limited knowledge of Jordanian geography. But my curiosity is piqued!
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