Royal Brunei (Re)Launching Flights To Brisbane

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Royal Brunei Airlines is a small boutique airline based in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. They only have 14 aircraft, yet are known, at least in Australian frequent flyer circles, for a few key reasons:

  • Flying from Melbourne to London (their only two long haul destinations) on Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft with fully flat seating; the Brunei to London flight used to stop in Dubai, though now runs non stop
  • Having consistently low premium fares on this route
  • Not serving alcohol, as they are a dry airline

In the past they have allowed passengers to bring and drink their own duty free alcohol on board, even happily supplying ice, glasses and mixers on request.

Ben flew Royal Brunei on the Brunei to Dubai route a few years ago in business class and described it as a ‘very pleasant flight,’ noting that most passengers seemed to be Australians travelling from Melbourne to London.

Melbourne is Royal Brunei’s only Australian destination, though they have just announced a second destination in Australia. Royal Brunei will launch four times weekly flights between Bandar Seri Begawan and Brisbane as of June 11, 2019.

The schedule for this new route will be as follows:

  • BI009 Bandar Seri Begawan to Brisbane departing 7:50PM arriving 4:45AM (+1 day)
  • BI010 Brisbane to Bandar Seri Begawan departing 5:30PM arriving 10:50PM

As you can tell, this is pretty bad aircraft utilisation (the plane sits on the ground in Brisbane for over 12 hours), but the schedule is clearly designed to connect most passengers to the Brunei to London 787 flights.

I didn’t actually know this, but Royal Brunei used to fly to Brisbane until 2011.

Now the bad news.

Unlike their Melbourne and London flights, the route will be operated by an Airbus A320neo aircraft, rather than a Boeing 787 aircraft.

While this is not much difference to the passenger experience in economy, in business class instead of 2-2-2 fully flat seats like Melbourne and London passengers…

The Brisbane flights will have 2-2 recliner seats in business class, that look like this…

So while the seat is not ideal, for any traveller looking to fly between Brisbane and London (or vice versa), I would expect to see some extremely competitive pricing in business class.

These are two cities that don’t often see cheap premium flights, and remember that while an overnight Brunei to Brisbane flight is not ideal, the longer Brunei to London legs will still be on their Dreamliner aircraft with fully flat seating.

Bottom line

Royal Brunei has always been an unusual airline.

Brunei has never been a tourist destination, is a tiny country with a total population of less than 500,000 people, so arguably doesn’t need an airline with five 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

But, like Qatar, it is an extremely wealthy nation thanks to its natural resources, and I’ve always though the point of Royal Brunei Airlines was national pride and ‘putting Brunei on the map,’ rather than any profit or savvy network reasons.

They remain a very good value way to fly business class between Australia and London, and I’d expect some great discount pricing once the Brisbane flights go on sale.

Have you flown Royal Brunei?

Comments
  1. I used to fly RBA as a kid when my father worked in Brunei, mostly between Bandar and Singapore/Bangkok. Back in the 90s I think they had 2 757s and 2 767s. With a population around 400,000 (up to a quarter expats), it’s tough to fill planes to far away places like BNE and LHR with just the residents; you’ll have to cater to connecting traffic.

  2. I live the addition of you, James, to the team; but a look at the majority of your recent posts makes the primary source of your information (AusBT.com.au) a bit too obvious…

  3. What is a ’boutique airline’? You and Lucky have called both BI and WY this when they are just the main airlines of their home small sized countires. By extension is e.g. LG, WB and TA also ’boutique airlines’ as they are all the main airlines of their small sized countires?

  4. I have back in 2000 on a 767. Their first class seats and lavatory were lavish where they had actual gold used in arm rest and washroom sink/knobs. I “only” flew business class on that flight but the crew was lovely and pro-actively offered a refill of bottled sparkling juice and the food was lovely.

  5. @ deepyarn

    I answered my own question. I called Asia Miles support and got a helpful agent. She told me it is possible to use Asia Miles on Royal Brunei (unfortunately there was no availability for the dates I wanted).

  6. Being based in MEL, I’ve flown them quite a few times, both to Asia and London. I actually always enjoyed the extra stop in DXB on the way to London – i found breaking it up into three sectors made the trip manageable. Relax on the MEL-BWN sector (~6.5 hours), sleep on the BWN-DXB sector (8 hours), see how I felt on the DXB-LHR sector. Always competitive fares in business out of MEL, and a totally respectable product (aside from the “dry” aspect).. just wish BWN was a little more suited for the 2-3 hour layovers each way (but it’s getting better).

    Just one small edit to your post James, MEL and LHR are not the only long haul destinations for BI. They still fly to DXB and to JED.

  7. Glad BI are coming back to BNE. Flew them in economy over 10 years ago as a uni student, when they operated the 767 to BNE. Excellent crew and I still remember how excellent the food was, even in Y. Since then, have flown them ex-MEL, still very good. Unfortunately, while I now fly premium I wouldn’t fly BI ex-BNE, that business seat is just not competitive and the lack of comfort isn’t worth the savings given those flight times. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Philippine Airlines uses a narrowbody ex-BNE with proper flatbed.
    Thanks to the poster for clarifying about Asia Miles. Is it still possible to fly BI and credit mileage to Asia Miles?

  8. Their A320neos have new seats that all feature inflight entertainment and wifi. As such, the flight experience is fine.

  9. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen them described as a “boutique” airline! You do realise boutique doesn’t just mean small?

  10. “I didn’t actually know this, but…”

    Strange way of writing a blog post… so all the rest of your posts contain information that was already in your knowledge?

    I’d encourage you to research all of your articles properly. You don’t need to preface a fact this way – the reader doesn’t care whether you were previously aware of something or not. Only that the information is accurate.

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