I recently flew from Amman to Tel Aviv on Royal Jordanian, a 69-mile flight. Is business class worthwhile on such a short hop?
The uniqueness of such a flight did not go unnoticed: Jordan is one of two Arab states that recognizes Israel (Egypt is the other). Thus, the flight represents a fragile act of peace between neighbors.
As is invariably the case, the cost of a flight is not correlated to its distance. One-way fares exceeded $300 in economy class.
Thankfully, oneworld partner British Airways has a distance-based award chart and there was award space on the flight I needed. Economy class was 4,500 miles while business class was 9,000 miles. Taxes ran $42.
I value BA Avios at 1.5 cents each, meaning the cost to upgrade was essentially $67. Thus, I figured it made sense to splurge for business. Not only would it mean lounge access and priority security at the airport, but a more comfortable seat and perhaps a small meal onboard.
But two things changed my mind. First, I realized I would already have access to the Royal Jordanian lounge by virtue of Priority Pass. Second, I find economy class on the Embraer ERJ-195 almost as comfortable as business class.
So I booked economy class.
At check-in, I was assigned an aisle seat in the first row of economy class, a seat that offers even more legroom than business class. It would also position me to observe what kind of service business class passengers received.
Onboard, business class passengers were offered a choice of beverage prior to departure, served in a glass. Economy class passengers were offered a juice box.
The captain informed us that due to Israeli airspace restrictions, the flight would avoid Israeli airspace until the last possible moment then quickly descend into Ben Gurion Airport. Even so, actual flight time was still only 23 minutes.
We took off and I waited for FAs to spring to action and serve business class. Would a full hot meal be served like my recent 90-minute RJ flight from Amman to Kuwait on the same aircraft? On that flight we were served this at 2am:
Nope. In fact, FAs did not even get up during the flight. Even though there was technically time to serve a quick snack, I’m not surprised—it is not like RJ is competing with anyone on this route.
The lack of any in-flight service made me glad I chose not to book business class on this flight.
We landed at TLV…where I experienced a memorable security screening.
The point of this post is this: don’t spend the extra $ or points to book business class on an RJ flight this short. If you do, adjust your service expectations accordingly.