Finishing out the Royal Air Maroc saga

When last I wrote about Royal Air Maroc it was not a pleasant scene. They had just dumped us at a dingy hotel for the night after preventing us from connecting to our flight from Casablanca to Tunis, Tunisia. As hard as it may be to believe, things got worse before they got better.

The Atlas Airport Hotel has all the external trimmings of a fine property. The pool area and one of the restaurants actually looked quite lovely. We tried to have lunch using the voucher provided to us by the airline and it was, to say the least, a disgusting affair. We arrived late so that somewhat excuses the limited food still available but it was still a buffet with scraps burnt onto the sides of the chafing trays that we were offered. We spent several minutes trying to find a table that wasn’t still covered with someone else’s meal scraps. The waiter apologized profusely, moving us from one table to the next but they were all filthy. We finally decamped back to the other restaurant that was at least clean.

The room situation was not much better. In addition to being a bit dingy and tiny there was the issue of the towels. I hadn’t bothered to check if there were towels in the room when we dropped our bags initially because it never occurred to me that there might not be. There weren’t. A perky maid was roaming the hallways and stopped by as I went in. She noted that we had just checked in and offered to get me some towels. After bringing one towel in she asked if there were two of us staying. When I answered in the affirmative she indicated that the only way I was going to get a second towel was if I paid her for it. Yup, a shakedown by the maid. I declined her offer.

IMG00614-20101230-1922Dinner was no better than lunch, though at least we got some food before it was baked into the serving trays. They managed to overcook some pasta and remove anything resembling flavor from it though there were at least some fresh vegetables available. There was also a gruel of some sort on offer that was quite disgusting looking.

The WiFi wasn’t working but I found an unsecured wired connection in the lobby that was free and we camped out in the lobby – at least the sofas were comfortable and not too filthy – watching a movie until bedtime. Had we not been faced with a 4:45am wake-up to get to the airport early enough for our flight to Tunis we probably would have gone into town at the lunch fiasco but it just wasn’t worth it for the few hours we were there.

Once back at the airport we still had to deal with the terminal transfer issue. The shuttle bus from the hotel only operates to the two main terminals and our flight was still departing from the third, the one we didn’t make it to the prior day. The “every 30 minutes” free shuttle apparently does not exist. After standing around for an hour I spent my very last few Dirhams and paid a cabbie an extortionate rate to drive us around to the other side. Had we not paid there was no way we would have made that flight.

Boarding consisted of the agent opening a door and a crowd rushing through. No announcements and no indication of where the flight was going other than that ours was the only flight leaving that early.

IMGP8476Once on board things were a tiny bit better, though the in-flight service is certainly nothing to rave about. A small meal, somewhat nasty seats with armrests that don’t go all the way up and a rather indifferent flight crew completed the Royal Air Maroc experience. Or so I thought.

Despite promises from the agent the previous day the missing bag was nowhere to be found in Tunis. We tried the lost luggage room (they let passengers just wander around looking) and filed a claim with the agents there, leaving a phone number and address and then moved on, knowing that our time was more valuable and that we could buy some replacement clothes along the way.

It turns out that they found the bag almost immediately but never bothered to call me to let me know. I called a few times and no one ever answered the phone. Eventually I reached out to a friend in San Francisco for some help. She was able to look up the claim and discover that the bag was located days prior. Well before the couple hundred dollars were spent on replacement clothes.

Ultimately we got the bag back and everything was inside. And our time in Tunis, while a day shorter than expected, was tons of fun. The Royal Air Maroc experience, on the other hand, was anything but.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.