Royal Brunei Airlines Sdn Bhd or RBA, is the national flag carrier airline of Brunei Darussalam, headquartered in the RBA Plaza in Bandar Seri Begawan. It is wholly owned by the government of Brunei. Its hub is Brunei International Airport in Berakas, just to the north of Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei. Formed in 1974 with an initial fleet of two Boeing 737 aircraft, serving Singapore, Hong Kong, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, Royal Brunei Airlines now operates a fleet of 10 aircraft to 16 destinations in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Australia. Its fleet and type numbers increased dramatically in the 1990s, with great expectations as to the next destinations. Royal Brunei Airlines won ‘Best Foreign Airline’ award in the category “Award For Best Airlines” at the Sabah Tourism Awards 2011. RB has the distinction of operating the youngest long haul fleet in the world with the recent deliveries of the Dreamliners.
Royal Brunei's 787-8 Dreamliner flies in a two class configuration with 18 flat-bed seats in Business Class and 236 seats in Economy Class. Business Class features "Contour" seats with electronically operated seats with leg rest and foot rest and a 4-way adjustable headrest and massage features. Privacy screens are also available for those passengers in Business Class. Economy Class features the Zodiac "Weber5751" seat. This aircraft operates on routes from Brunei to London, Dubai, and Melbourne. I had the pleasure of flying on the airline’s first Dreamliner from London to Dubai, albeit in Economy Class. The Boeing 787 has been dubbed by many as a ‘sexed-up’ plastic version of the Boeing 767.
Route: London Heathrow International Airport to Dubai International Airport
Departure date and time of flight: 17:10 on February 11, 2015
Flight number: BI98 (Callsign: Brunei 98)
Flight duration: 6 hours and 55 minutes
Cabin: Economy Class
Aircraft type: Boeing 787-8 (Dreamliner)
There are four variants of the A340. The A340-200 and A340-300 were launched in 1987 with introduction into service in March 1993. The A340-500 and A340-600 were launched in 1997 with introduction into service in 2002. The A340-600 is the longest version in the A340 airliner family.
The ageing Airbus A340-300 aircraft were withdrawn from service in April 2015, as rising costs had made it less economical to run the type. Virgin had begun to replace the A340-300 on routes with the two-engine A330-300 and 787-9. The final Virgin Atlantic A340-300 flight was made on 9 April, landing at London Heathrow early on 10 April.
Aircraft registration: V8-DLA (this aircraft was the first 787 delivered to Royal Brunei Airlines)
Delivery Date: October 3, 2013
First flight: September 16, 2013
Engines: Two x Rolls-Royce Trent 1000
Aircraft serial number: 34785 LN:128
18 Business Class flatbed seats with 180 degrees recline (2-2-2 configuration)
236 Economy Class seats (3-3-3 configuration)
Punctuality of the flight:
The flight departed on time from London Heathrow’s Terminal 4 on a sunny afternoon in London and landed around 10 minutes early in Dubai in the early hours of the morning (4am). The difference between taking Emirates or Royal Brunei to Dubai is that Emirates have a dedicated terminal which is efficient, well-managed and provides an less troublesome experience for passengers when they land at Dubai, whereas if you are flying with Royal Brunei then expect to wait in a long queue for customs along with passengers from other airlines (can get very crowded, noisy and not a good experience if you have arrived at 4am in a hot and humid country- there is a long walk from the aircraft to the customs checkpoint as well)>
Any baggage issues:
No issues- the bags arrived on time and in one piece.
Comments on the check-in:
No check-in issues. Everything went smoothly at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 4, which is usually quieter and a much better user-experience for passengers than the other busier terminals.
Comments regarding the pre-meal service:
Camel cracker peanuts served with a choice of drinks (standard- tea, coffee, orange juice, apple juice, lemonade or cola). As the sale of alcohol is forbidden in Brunei, Royal Brunei does not serve alcohol on board its flights. Passengers are however, permitted to bring along their own alcohol for consumption on board. All inflight meals served are halal.
Comments regarding the first meal:
Meals are served on all of Royal Brunei's flights, except on those to Kota Kinabalu. Long-Haul Business Class passengers may also utilize the "Dine Upon Request" service, in which Business Class passengers can dine anytime they choose, up to 90 minutes before landing.
Since this was an all-night flight, the crew did not delay in distributing the dinner meal- and so the dinner service commenced only around 30 minutes into the flight- which was great! Dinner consisted of a choice of “beef and rice with boiled vegetables” or “chicken biriyani with basmati rice”. I went for the latter. The rice and biriyani chicken were well-cooked, too. Side dishes included salad (consisting of grated mooli (white carrot), tomatoes and lettuce), a soft bread (bun) with anchor butter, and cream crackers. Royal Brunie provides plastic cutlery in Economy Class.
The dessert consisted of a cup of Lovingtons’s ice-cream The meal will filling, and perfect to eat on a medium-haul flight such as this.
Comments regarding the drinks service:
A second round of drinks were offered after the meal.
Comments regarding the in-flight snacks (if any):
Comments regarding the second meal (if any):
Comments on the in-flight system (if any):
The in-flight system was working without any problems. All the channels were showing the same as it was listed in the in-flight magazine. All seats in Business and Economy class on the Boeing 787 are equipped with personal touch-screen TV's with Audio and Video on Demand. Business class offers a 15.4" TV screen, and Economy Class offers a 9" TV screen. The Panasonic eX2 IFE system features 55 movies and 59 TV programmes. Sky Show is Royal Brunei Airline's in-flight entertainment system based on the Thales Group i-4000 series.
110-volt AC laptop power ports are available at each seat in Business and Economy Class. USB power ports are also available with charging capability at each seat in both classes.
On the Boeing 777, these are offered through the 10.4-inch personal TV on the Sky Dreamer seats in the Business class on B777s and 6.5-inch personal TV in Economy class.
Comments of professionalism of the cabin crew:
The cabin crew were all natives of Brunei and were very professional, hospitable and friendly.
Comments on the interior of the aircraft (including seat comfort):
Royal Brunei offer a standard 3-3-3 layout in Economy Class on their Boeing 787-8 aircraft. For a short medium-haul flight it was perfect. Added in the fact that the air pressureisaton of the aircraft
A nice amenity kit bag containing eyeshades, socks, earplugs (both of which I never use), and a tiny toothbrush with toothpaste (which I did use!).
Royal Brunei brand livery
Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) revealed its new livery and logo on 30th October, 2012 at an event held at Hangar 1, Brunei International Airport. The new livery and logo was revealed on an Airbus A319, which was painted by RB’s own in-house engineering team.
Attending the event was the Minister of Communications, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdullah bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar as Guest of Honour, as well as RB’s Chairman and Board of Directors, staff and other invited guests.
Prior to the revealing of the livery, Royal Brunei Airlines had been releasing teasers of its redefinition of travel to in local markets, both via print and online adverts and the ‘Smile Squad’; who have been sparking public curiosity over the weeks leading up to the event. The Smiles Squad had been spotted in different parts of the country, spreading genuine smiles and good cheer to the public. Mr. Dermot Mannion, Deputy Chairman of RB, said at the time, ‘Over the next year, we will be redefining the Royal Brunei Airlines flying experience, starting with our classic styled new livery and logo. This redefinition is not merely an ad campaign, but rather a long term commitment to our passengers to create a family-like, peaceful and tranquil atmosphere with high class customer service.’
The new livery and logo was the first step on RB’s rebranding journey. Over the next year, the national carrier rolled out a new website experience (including new social media experience), new uniforms and new lounge and ticket office environments. The completion of the rebranding process was timed to coincide with the entry into service of 787 Boeing Dreamliners in 2013 (the aircraft which I reviewed for this flight was part of that experience), making RB the first airline in South-East Asia to take delivery of this ultra-modern aircraft.
The yellow swash is a modern take on the original logo. It’s very similar to the ‘Mumm’ Champagne logo you’ll find on bottles of champagne around the world, and is a visual symbolization of Royalty. As the royal silk sashes are worn by many Royal families around the world at state occasions. The yellow swash also echoes the Brunei flag. There seems to be a great modernity in this treatment, and is quite daring for a usually either conservative or radical and relatively young airline industry that is still trying to find its feet in the world of branding. This logo with the traditional crest and modern typeface is actually a wonderful blend of classic heritage and a forward-looking brand.
The livery itself is a little odd. Whilst the logo on the side of the plane is brilliant, and understated (It’d be easy for a designer to get carried away with the yellow element of the logo) the tailfin is sadly really under-developed. The letters RB and crest on a bright yellow tail sound like the perfect recipe for a great tailfin. However, the designers here seem to have missed the mark. The RB lettering is small, and too light, nor is there any real purpose or ‘logotype’ behind the typeface here. The letters look like they could have been just produced in everyone’s favourite ‘Arial’ and tweaked a bit. I would prefer if they had painted the belly of the aircraft in golden yellow, with ‘Royal Brunei’ written in black and large font so that it can be seen from the ground up.
One of Royal Brunei Airlines' Boeing 787-8 (registration V8-DLD) has a special 40th anniversary sticker behind the rear doors on both sides of the aircraft. This sticker was added to the body of the aircraft in late 2014 to mark 40 years of operations.
Royal Brunei announced the latest in their branding developments in February 2014, in regards to their new cabin crew uniforms, replacing the older (and bolder) red and yellow uniforms. The new uniforms follow the traditional Brunei fashion, and as stated by the airline, “the new collection reflects tradition, while evoking a modern simplicity.” The new threads were launched in April 2014 to coincide with their Dreamliner launch to Melbourne. Much of the design work was completed internally to ensure the new ensemble reflects Bruneian tradition. In addition, the fabrics have been carefully selected and tailored by Brunei based Khazanah Lady House, with matching shoes from BATA Brunei.
New female crew blouses have been tastefully detailed with traditional songket patterns along the hem, trim and back and flower patterns on the fabric. Colours range from coral dust to morning sky to ‘fresh’ mint, based on the seniority of the crew. This warm spectrum of colours was designed to reflect the friendly and welcoming nature of the new RB brand. Matching traditional headscarves and flowing chestnut brown skirts completes the updated ensemble.
Male crew members wear three-piece suits in matching brown, with a similar spectrum of Malay-inspired shirts and traditional standing collars. The male uniforms come across more considered in comparison to the girls, where you can see elements such as the shoulder pads hanging off of the shoulder. The previous designs had a print which was bold and striking, but the new designs, with their more subtle and sophisticated look do sit better within the cabin and have a much more modern cut.
There are no references to the yellow sash livery (reserved for royalty), but yellow could have been a great key colour to really lift the uniforms further and modernise them especially in small doses such as the trim or lining. The name tags also sadly feel unconsidered. I think there seems to be a lack of a uniform company being used which may be a mistake, as the uniform fits are a little awkward and there isn’t enough connection with the new brand and the uniform. That said, the airline should be proud of constantly putting its feet forward. No doubt, through wearer trials the designs may be adapted, fine tuning the design to an international standard.
Overall rating 1-10 (worst-best): 10
About Airline PR
This is a special section on Airline Branding, and Airline Public Relations written by me on all the flights I have been fortunate enough to have been on. These are not records taken from somewhere else, but are actual flights I have been on. Most of the flight trips are officially sponsored by the airline companies in order to promote their certain routes, and aircraft. Airline promotion and PR related work in the aviation industry is one of my expertise.
Watch exclusive videos below taken in the cockpit of a Boeing 777-300ER in-flight over Chinese Airspace.
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B777-300ER Cockpit Video 1
B777-300ER Cockpit Video 2
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