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    Flight Test: Royal Air Maroc economy, Marrakesh to Marseille

    17 Jun 2017

    THE ROUTE

    Marrakesh to Marseille. Marrakesh, a tourism hotspot in the former French colony of Morocco, is popular with French holidaymakers and businesspeople.

    THE PLANE

    Airbus A320-200. The plane, belonging to Tunisian carrier Nouvelair, is leased to Royal Air Maroc. The rest of the 56-strong fleet, liveried in RAM's distinctive red and white, is almost all Boeing. RAM's CEO has said the airline will need as many as 30 new aircraft by 2020 to update the ageing fleet.

    THE LOYALTY SCHEME

    Safar Flyer. Royal Air Maroc passengers can also earn points on flights with Etihad, Qatar, Iberia and other airlines.

    CLASS

    Economy, aisle seat 18D.

    DURATION

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    Two hours, 35 minutes. The flight took off 40 minutes after its scheduled departure time.

    FREQUENCY

    Schedules change with the seasons. During the peak tourist season in the cooler months (October to April), the direct flight is available on four days of the week. Direct flights operate on Tuesday and Friday outside of peak season. Connecting flights, through Casablanca, are scheduled on other days.

    SEAT

    With an overall capacity of 177 passengers on the aircraft, all seats are in Economy class. The one-aisle, 3-3 configuration cabin feels reasonably spacious. The leather seats have a pitch of 73.7 centimetres and width of 45.5 centimetres.

    No bells and whistles here: the seats are not equipped with power points, USB connections or decorative flourishes.

    BAGGAGE

    Economy class passengers may check in one piece of baggage weighing up to 23 kilograms. An additional bag may be checked with payment of 55 euro. Carry-on bags were not weighed.

    COMFORT

    More than adequate on this short flight. The grey leather seats were comfortable and provided enough room to stretch out my legs and take a short nap.

    ENTERTAINMENT

    Be sure to BYO entertainment if you want distraction. This aircraft was not equipped with TVs (seatback or otherwise), Wi-Fi or in-flight magazines. The complimentary lunch was the best entertainment.

    SERVICE

    Warm and hospitable Arabic service was offered by the one female and three male cabin crew members. Dressed in classic navy suits (for him) and a navy tunic over a patterned shirt (for her), they presented as a professional and stylish team. Every one of them multilingual, the cabin crew members interacted with passengers in English, French and Arabic. Announcements over the PA, however, were in Arabic and French.

    FOOD

    In a sign of the times (or perhaps too many flights on US airlines), I was pleasantly surprised to be offered a full lunch service, including complimentary wine and beer, on this short flight. Beef or chicken stew with beans, for main; vegetable salad, bread and cream cheese on the side; chocolate cream cake for dessert. Soft drink, tea and coffee was served. Requests for second serves of wine were accommodated with a smile. As my flight cost 110 euro, I considered the complimentary meal and free checked baggage to represent good value.

    ONE MORE THING

    Marrakesh Menara Airport regularly ranks highly in lists of the world's most beautiful airports. A gorgeous blend of Islamic architecture and sleek modern design, the airport was completed nine years ago. You may recognise it from scenes shot for the Sex and the City 2 movie (audiences are asked to believe the girls are really in Abu Dhabi).

    Security is tight and lines are long – even to get through the airport doors – so arrive with plenty of time to spare before your flight.

    THE VERDICT

    With so many airlines nickel-and-diming passengers with extra charges for checked baggage, meals, drinks and assigned seats, it's refreshing to pay a low-cost price and receive a full-service flight.

    OUR SCORE OUT OF FIVE

    4

    Tested by Kristie Kellahan, who paid for this flight and travelled in Morocco with assistance from By Prior Arrangement.

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