Etihad to introduce Economy Space on their A380, B777 and B787 fleet

Etihad Airways for the last two years has been looking at ways to milk the cow so to speak in a bid to recoup costs and get themselves back in the black. The latest announcement will add a few more dollars Etihad’s way with the airline launching ‘Economy Space’. What is ‘Economy Space’ you ask?’ Some are claiming it’s their version of premium economy but it isn’t even close. It’s more akin to United’s Economy Plus, a seat simply with extra leg room.

By December this year, ‘Economy Space’ will be implemented onto 10 of their A380s. The seats will feature an increased pitch of up to 36 inches whilst bolstering the number of extra legroom seats they currently have in Economy from 20 to 80 on the A380. In the new year the airline will focus on redesigning 12 Boeing 777 and 21 Boeing 787 jets with a completion date slated for late 2019.

The airline says it has made the move due to an increase in demand for more space but without the hefty price tag of business or first class.

All ‘Economy Space’ seats will be sold at a premium to passengers. The airline is yet to release details on how much the seats will be priced at. In addition to ‘Economy Space’, Etihad will offer a Neighbour-Free seating option in Economy as well as a range of buy-on-board products.

AMERICAN AIRLINES AA1771, DALLAS-LAS VEGAS: MAIN CABIN PLUS REVIEW

Flight: AA1771, Dallas – Las Vegas

Loyalty Scheme: AAdvantage (Oneworld alliance)

Frequency: Multiple flights daily

Duration: 2 hr and 55 mins

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American Airlines has usually been my first choice when it comes to flying hopping airport to airport within the USA. The staff are generally efficient (and mostly friendly) and the offerings of food and drink whilst simple are generally more generous than its competition. American Airlines recently introduced complimentary enhancements to their Main Cabin Plus passengers including free alcohol priority boarding and storage. I was keen to give their newly enhanced product a try to see if it was truly ‘enhanced’.

Seat

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The aircraft has two cabins (16 first and 165 main cabin seats). There are 18 main cabin plus seats on this aircraft. The interior was fresh and relatively new with IFE seatback entertainment and smart leather seats. Leg room and seat pitch is more ample with 34 inches in main cabin plus as opposed to 31 inches in the main cabin. The only negative was that the bottom cushion of the seats was relatively thin and when I got up to leave the aircraft I felt rather sore. The seats despite looking the goods in terms of design do not feel comfortable after a certain period of time.

 

Entertain me

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American offers free entertainment via seatback or through your own personal device. On the A321 seatback was on offer. The entertainment selection of movies and tv series was strong.

 

Wine and dine me (the food)

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Whilst snacks and non alcoholic drinks are complimentary in the main cabin, the difference with main cabin plus is the introduction of free alcoholic beverages. On my flight was a selection of spirits, wines and beers. I went with a bottle of the Les Papillons Grenache Rose from France which was quite smooth and light. A great choice with the sadly small bag of mini pretzels that was handed out as a ‘snack’.

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American Airlines do offer more substantial sized meals for those feeling peckish but it will cost you. Even after the drinks service has come through the cabin the attendants on board seemed more than happy to offer additional drinks to passengers upon request.

 

Summary

The flight was relatively smooth and despite being delayed an hour, the aircraft did their best to try and make up for lost time. IFE entertainment was good quality as were the selection of drinks for main cabin plus passengers. The pitch despite being 3 inches more than main cabin wasn’t really noticeable and the seats after a certain period of time were a tad uncomfortable. Other than that the flight experience was generally good and one I would fly again on in the future. The big question is would I pay extra for the main cabin plus cabin? To be frank not really. However if you are an Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire member where the seat is complimentary to you, I’d definitely take advantage of selecting this seat as soon as you book your flight as it’s a nice little extra incentive to enjoy on your flight!

 

Service: 4 Stars

Seating: 3 stars

Food: 3.5 Stars

Emirates downgrades Australian flight experience temporarily

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A couple of months ago Emirates announced it would be undertaking a large network reduction from now until June 2019 due to runway works at Dubai Airport. As a result of the airport operating out of one instead of two runways, flights have been impacted. Unfortunately, Australians haven’t been spared with the airline set to make changes to several Australian routes.

The biggest changes will affect Melbourne and Sydney with both cities set to be downgraded from the A380 to a B777. The daily Melbourne via Singapore route will be impacted during the period of 2-20 Nov and 15 Jan to 30 March 2019. Likewise, the Sydney via Bangkok (EK418/EK419) route will switch to a 777-300ER. Whilst this aircraft retains first class it loses the first class shower and more importantly the on board bar and lounge space. Note that the daily non-stop Dubai routes from Melbourne and Sydney will continue to operate on an A380.

Perth will be hit the hardest with the airline seeing a reduction in flights from 14 to 11 per week from 7-28 November 2018 and 7 Feb to 30 March 2019. In addition EK424 will not run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays whilst EK425 won’t run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Th aircraft type however won’t be affected.

As they always say there’s a silver lining in some of this news and that goes to Adelaide. The SA capital is the winner out of the changes with the route set to receive the newly reconfigured B777-200LR which possesses the brand new business class seat. A win for customers despite the aircraft still retaining the not so great 2-2-2 configuration. The dates Adelaide will be impacted is 8-30 October and 1 February to 30 March 2019.

All I can say is that I hope these reductions are what they claim ‘temporary’ and not a mere testing of the waters for something more permanent. The Australian market is a strong one for the UAE based airline and the A380 is the best aircraft to service that market from its Dubai hub. Anything less is really a slap in the face of customers, particularly the business class arrangement of a 2-2-2 configuration. As I stated before the only one benefiting here is the Adelaide route.

Consider this a downgrade and if you are on a business class ticket and have had the aircraft changed from an A380 to a B777, I would get in touch with Emirates as soon as possible to see if they can offer another A380 alternative.

Comments

Booked on a downgraded flight? Like to hear your thoughts on this.

 

IBERIA EXPRESS IB3435, PARIS-MADRID: REVIEW

Flight: IB3435, Paris – Madrid

Loyalty Scheme: Iberia Avios (Oneworld alliance)

Frequency: Multiple flights daily

Duration: 2 hr and 10 mins

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I had always wanted to fly the national carrier for Spain but never really had the opportunity to. Iberia from what I had seen and heard had one of the most glamorous and attentive crew in the world as well as one of the best on time arrivals out of any airline. Despite flying to Barcelona from Paris (Iberia only flew to Barcelona via their Madrid hub), I was still eager to give Iberia a go. Stopovers don’t usually bother me unless the stopover is overly long and the connection time poor as opposed to flying direct. My plane today was onboard an A319. So how did the Iberian short haul product stand up? TAT flew Iberia’s metal to find out.

 

Seat

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The aircraft has two cabins (34 business and 84 economy seats). The aircraft on today’s flight was a bit tired and looked in need of a makeover. Despite the dated interior, the tired leather seat was surprisingly still quite comfortable. That said, don’t forget to bring the knee pads for your next Iberia flight. The seat had a pitch of 29″ which is relatively tight for anyone (not just a tall person) but then again I put everything in perspective and for a short flight like this one, the pitch is bearable.

 

Entertain me

No seatback entertainment available but Iberia does offer a free entertainment service via their WIFI service. Due to the WIFI option not being available on this flight meant I was unable to provide a review around their entertainment product.

 

Wine and dine me (the food)

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Despite being a premium airline and part of the Oneworld Alliance, this airline has a budget airline feel about it and it comes namely down to the lack of baggage and food/ drink inclusions. Here for economy passengers on this flight it’s a buy on board system (the likes of which you would see on budget carriers like Tiger and Jetstar).

Fortunately I was seated near the front of the economy section and the business class hostess on that flight was generous enough to provide me with some complimentary snacks and drinks from the business cabin due to my Oneworld frequent flyer status. The gesture from her was quite lovely and made my experience onboard a lot more enjoyable (sadly wasn’t replicated in the connecting Iberian flight to Barcelona but for top tier FFs this is something all airlines should look into offering).

 

Summary

For a short flight the economy seat on Iberia did the job yet I’m not sure if I would fly this type of aircraft or service with Iberia again so soon (that said a newly fitted out Iberia A320 might sway me back). I was fortunate to have a great flight attendant who provided excellent customer service but this is consistent across the Iberian network in terms of recognising frequent flyer loyalty onboard. A bonus was the flight left on time and arrived early into Madrid (Iberia is one of the leading airlines in terms of on time departures). Not outstanding but not disappointing with Iberia meeting the brief in terms of flying passengers efficiently from A to B.

 

Service: 5 Stars

Seating: 3 stars

Food: 3.5 Stars

LATAM FINALLY GOES BUSINESS CLASS DIRECT AISLE ACCESS FROM 2018

Who loves direct aisle business class? I do and so does LATAM Airways apparently with the South American airline set to roll out a dramatically improved business class seat across its international fleet from late 2018.

LATAM has chosen the Thompson Aero Seating Vantage XL seat with styling by London-based PriestmanGoode. The changes will be noticed on their Boeing 767 and Boeing 777 fleet as well as their new fleet of Boeing 787-9s and Airbus A350-1000s.

In addition to direct aisle access, the seats will offer passengers to rest easy on a new fully lie-flat bed. The design is very similar to fellow Oneworld partner Qantas who has a similar layout and design on the A330, 787 and soon A380 fleet.

Having flown the current LATAM business class 2-2-2 configuration I can say the new changes will really enhance their product offering. Sure the current seat hasn’t aged and still provides some decent space but there’s a lack of privacy, let alone the not so fun game of hopping over your neighbour should you be seated against the window.

I look forward to seeing their new product rolled out across their network as it’d really give not only Qantas a run for its money on that hop between Australian and Santiago but also offer passengers another decent business class option when travelling abroad.

ETIHAD DOWNGRADES SYD FROM A380 TO B777

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Ah Etihad Airways you’ve done it again! The Abu Dhabi based airline of late has been putting the knife into his product offerings, slowly killing off its ‘premium’ experience in a bid to fast track its way back to profitability after posting losses the last two years in a row.

What I thought was a cash cow for Etihad, the Sydney – Abu Dhabi leg, is not safe from its cost cutting measures. This month the airline announced it would remove the crowd favourite A380 with a downgrade to a B777 on one of its two daily Sydney-Abu Dhabi flights from October 2018 to late May 2019.

The flight affected is EY451 which departs Sydney 3pm and the returning EY450 leg back. The downgrade will take place 20 October 2018 to 4 December 2018, and then again from 7 February 2019 to 30 May 2019. Between the December-February dates listed above, EY451/EY450 will get a reprieve with the return of the A380.

The airline’s other daily service (EY454/455) will continue to feature the superjumbo, so if you are planning on flying the superjumbo note this before making a booking.

The change particularly isn’t great for passengers across the board with the B777 displaying the last gen seats for all classes. Moreover the B777 lacks the A380s lobby social lounge/bar area.

Etihad Airways announced that the change of aircraft was due to routine maintenance and has said  it’ll notify guests booked on these services of the changes.

Whilst disappointed by the news (I’m an avid A380 fanboy), it sadly isn’t unexpected. My concern is how much further or for that matter low can the airline go in order to cut costs?!

QANTAS STRUGGLE FOR ROOM AT THEIR SINGAPORE LOUNGE

When Qantas first entered its partnership with Emirates, it in turn saw the removal of Qantas using Singapore as its stopover hub between Australia and London. Instead that honour was given to Dubai. During that time Qantas opened a new lounge in Changi Airport, creating a single class premium lounge.

Fast forward to 2017 and Qantas as part of its Emirates 2.0 partnership decided that it would give Dubai to Emirates for QF coded flights and fly Qantas metal back into Singapore. Whilst this is quite strategic (due to the important Singapore business market for Qantas), it in turn has shot Qantas in the foot with the airline’s Changi lounge not built to meet the requirements of the new influx of people traffic into the lounge.

With three daily flights from Singapore on an A380 service ( Melbourne, Sydney and London), Qantas lounge capacity of 460 passengers was certainly going to experience issues. Added to the fact that Oneworld lounge options are slim unlike Hong Kong or the hotel-esq space of the Dubai Lounges, hundreds of passengers were bound to descend onto the Qantas lounge.

The struggle is real for Qantas with the airline now having to take measures in restricting access to the lounge. Before the restrictions came into play those travelling from first class right down to Qantas Club members (and even single use lounge passes) could enter.

To address peak crowding Qantas will turn away Qantas Club, lounge pass and to a degree some  Gold members from the lounge and direct them to the nearby SATS Premier lounge, also in Terminal 1. Qantas says that the redirection of traffic will be in place until September this year but judging by the lounge and what they can do in this time period I believe the restriction will be in place well beyond this time.

To compensate, those Qantas Club and Gold members who are redirected will receive 5,000 Qantas Points for their troubles but those holding Qantas single use lounge passes won’t be compensated but still offered the redirection.

This is part of a plan by Qantas to ensure that their top tier frequent flyers as well as first/ business passengers are ensured entry into the lounge.

I will be keen to see how Qantas addresses this but honestly you would think based on passenger numbers and the influx of flights they would have seen this coming. Naive perhaps? Yes but in the interim at least Qantas has a solution that should satisfy (most).

Have you experienced the squeeze at the Qantas Singapore lounge? Were you turned away?