Fiji Airways officially joins Oneworld Connect

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Fiji Airways this week officially became Oneworld Connect’s first partner. As a new partner it unlocks an array of benefits for Oneworld members. Oneworld Connect is intended to be an option for smaller airlines to join the alliance without having to pay the full membership costs due to the large costs associated with joining an alliance.

So what does this mean for those as part of the Oneworld program?

Prior to joining Oneworld Connect, priority boarding on Fiji Airways flights was reserved only for business class passengers and the airline’s Tabua Club members. The change will now priority boarding benefits expanded to all Oneworld members across all airports when travelling with Fiji Airways.

In addition customers from American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas when flying on Fiji Airways will have the ability to earn and redeem miles (including earning status miles). The benefits will also be reciprocated for Fiji Airways Tabua frequent flyer members when flying on American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas.

However unlike other Oneworld partners, Connect doesn’t offer Oneworld members access to FJ lounges or Oneworld when flying under an FJ coded flight. This means that unless you are flying FJ Business Class, you will not receive lounge access no matter your status. This is quite disappointing considering that Oneworld benefits like lounge access are highly regarded and for many are a main drawcard to being with an alliance.

If that isn’t disappointing, as you could tell not all Oneworld members are treated the same. Below is a chart breaking down the benefits for each airline.

In my view the new addition of FJ is better than no addition with some good benefits there in terms of points and boarding. However with some airlines treated more preferably than others as part of this new deal, I feel this has added a layer of confusion in terms of who is eligible for what. Additionally a lack of airport lounge access is disappointing and one can only hope will be reviewed soon. Time will tell if the Connect concept lasts the distance.

 

BRITISH AIRWAYS TERRACES LOUNGE SEATTLE: REVIEW

Alliance: Oneworld

Location: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Airport Gate S

Lounge Rating: 3.5 Stars

 

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Whilst American Airlines is the dominant Oneworld carrier in America, their lounge product is sadly more sporadic and in parts of the States non-existent. Naturally I thought American would have a lounge in a port as large as Seattle but I discovered that was unfortunately not the case. That said British Airways has a lounge which is the only offering for passengers travelling on a Oneworld carrier. Despite the Oneworld website stating that the BA lounge was open to all Oneworld top tier members, the lounge has been known to pick and choose when they feel like letting partner members in. I encountered this type of attitude the moment I arrived at the lounge but after some perseverance I was fortunately let in. So is the BA Terraces Lounge in Seattle worth the early pit stop for a beverage or two before a flight? I was keen to find out…

Lounge access options

  • Lounge access is available for passengers who are:
    • flying on a scheduled British Airways flight in First
    • a Gold Member of the British Airways Executive Club on a scheduled flight operated by British Airways or one of our oneworld partners
    • an Emerald member of any of the oneworld airline frequent flyer programmes on a scheduled flight operated by British Airways or one of our oneworld partners
    • over the age of 18 years, or if under 18 years you are accompanied by a responsible adult. (Local laws relating to the consumption of alcohol will apply)

    As a Sapphire or Emerald member you are welcome to invite one single guest per each departure flight to join you in the lounge.

Lounge location and opening hours

The BA lounge located at the S gate is open 4 hours before the morning and evening flights with BA. Those with Oneworld flights outside of these times will have to slum it in the terminal.

 

Ambience

The ambience of the Terraces Lounge is dull at best. Whilst certainly not horrific the furnishing were tired and the general design bland. Some of the seats including mine showed signs of severe wear and tear. Overlooking that the location of the lounge provided some nice views across the tarmac (when Seattle isn’t foggy) as well as natural lighting.

The bathrooms were a different story and look like they had been modernised a couple of years ago. Shower facilities were also available to those who wised to have a flight before their international flight.

 

Bread and butter (food and drink)

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Unfortunately this is where the lounge suffered the most with slim pickings being the most apt way to define the food experience. Food wise there was nothing substantial to eat here. Everything was more of the snack variety such as crisps, cheeses and small sandwiches. Admittedly the cheeses sourced from Pikes Place Market were rather tasty.

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Drinks wise was also limited but the selection was well sourced with wines from France to New Zealand. I went with the Italian prosecco which is palatable. The highlight of the lounge was the bar service rather than self pour. The lady behind the bar was making some decent looking cocktails and mixers for those waiting around the lounge when I was there. The Terraces Lounge

 

Verdict

The Terraces Lounge isn’t something to write home about. The bland interior and rather rude reception was disconcerting. Despite the food offering was rather poor the bar service for drinks shone. Overall the experience was satisfactory but if I had to decide whether I wanted to spend more time in the lounge or the option of taking time having a Starbucks in downtown Seattle before my flight, I would take the Starbucks Seattle experience any day.

 

Comments

Have you experienced the British Airways Terraces Lounge in Seattle? Love to hear from you about your time in lounge – did it shine or were you expecting something better?

BRITISH AIRWAYS GALLERIES FIRST LOUNGE TERMINAL 5 AT LONDON HEATHROW: REVIEW

Alliance: Oneworld

Location: London Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5

Lounge Rating: 4.5 Stars

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British Airways lounges, particularly their first class lounges, have always had a strong reputation and are viewed by many as some of the best in Europe alongside Swiss and Air France. Having previously used the BA Business Lounge a handful of times I felt that the standard in those were pretty good so naturally I was keen to see what BA had to offer in terms of their First Class offering.

 

Lounge access options

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Lounge access is available for passengers who are:

  • flying on a scheduled British Airways flight in First
  • a Gold Member of the British Airways Executive Club on a scheduled flight operated by British Airways or one of our oneworld partners
  • an Emerald member of any of the oneworld airline frequent flyer programmes on a scheduled flight operated by British Airways or one of our oneworld partners
  • over the age of 18 years, or if under 18 years you are accompanied by a responsible adult. (Local laws relating to the consumption of alcohol will apply)

As a Sapphire or Emerald member you are welcome to invite one single guest per each departure flight to join you in the lounge.

 

Lounge location and opening hours

The lounge can be accessed through the brand new First Wing area at the south end of the terminal. This allows you to use First class check in, go through a separate security channel and enter directly into the BA lounge. Should you not use this option you can access the lounge by going through either the North or South security check points and then enter the lounge complex on the ground floor at the south end of the terminal. It’s open from 5am-10.30pm daily.

 

Ambience

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The first thing I notice upon entering the lounge is how quiet the space (to the point that you could hear a pin drop). There’s no announcements of flights or the buzz of voices from chatter between people. The lounge felt as a result rather cold and was not helped by its strange configuration. Whilst the break out spaces were good for those wanting to get work done, the ambience of the place was almost nonexistent as a result. An example of this is the Champagne Bar or the new Union Coffee space. Whilst I love the concept for both, the spaces had 1-2 people in them at a time at best.

On one side of the Champagne Bar was a larger drinks bar complete with spirits, wines and non-alcoholic options whilst on the other side was a working space as well as the buffet food area known as the ‘The Deli’ and a ‘wine gallery’. The buffet selection was decent and had some of the best options I have seen in a lounge. The scones with cream and strawberries is so British it hurts but looked too good not to sample (which I did happily).

The area I liked most was the First Dining Room with its table service and great views of the tarmac for those like me who like a decent serving of plane spotting before taking off into the meal.

There’s also the Elemis Spa available to those on the day for those not flying first if there are appointments available. I did not have time to access this option and am unable to provide feedback on this.

 

 

Bread and butter (food and drink)

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The Champagne Bar and the Union Coffee space are great ideas but wasted opportunities. As I mentioned earlier they were both empty and that’s disappointing considering the investment. The champagne being served was Champagne Jeeper in either a Grand Brut or Grand Rose style. I had the Rose and it was delightful on the palate.

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Besides the scones and strawberries from ‘The Deli’ buffet section, I decided I’d dine with the table service at the First Dining Room. The menu is nowhere near extensive as the ones at Qantas or Cathay.

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From the options available I went with the BA Burger. The menu described the burger as having ‘flippin amazing burger sauce’ but when I went to try it, there was anything amazing about the burger. That said it was still quite delicious. If there was anything I would have liked to have seen is that the table dining service offer passengers more options to choose from. It was quite limiting for what BA deems as a ‘ first class lounge’.

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Verdict

The lounge does the job in terms of keeping me well fed and hydrated in a space away from the crazy activity of the terminal. Food and wine, particular the choice of champagne available in the lounge at the time was good quality. The x factor is all in the table dining service in the First Dining Room with the meals well portioned and deliciously tasty. If there’s any gripe it’d be the configuration. A sense of peace and privacy is essential in any lounge but this one was designed to the point that interaction with other human beings would seem almost non-existent. A livelier environment would have been welcomed. In addition comparing it to other ‘first lounges’ globally, this one doesn’t have the shine or personalised touch like those at Cathay Pacific or Qantas.

Would I return for another visit let alone another bite of that BA Burger? In response to both – in a heartbeat!

 

Comments

Have you experienced the BA Galleries First Class Lounge in Terminal 5 at Heathrow? Love to hear from you about your time in lounge – did it shine or were you expecting something better?

 

 

 

BRITISH AIRWAYS A320 BUSINESS CLASS LONDON TO PARIS: REVIEW

Flight: BA 322, London-Paris

Loyalty Scheme: Executive Club (Oneworld alliance)

Frequency: Multiple daily

Duration: 2 hours and 15 minutes

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British Airways was once a proud and prestigious airline for the UK and was even for a time a leading airline within the aviation sector. Stiff competition from budget airlines in recent years has seen the airline slowly chip away its gloss and glamour in a bid to become a competitive product. In turn the changes have seen the airline take a turn for the worse where simple things like free seating allocation and food/ drinks on board have been replaced as add on purchases. Whilst economy has suffered the most out of the changes I was keen to see if business class (Club Europe) was still a decent product when I took a recent flight from London to Paris.

 

The Seat

Seated in 2A, the first thing I noticed upon boarding the plane is that the seating is basically configured the same as the 3-3 in economy expect that the middle seat has a table across it (perfect for drinks and snacks when you don’t the tray table open). I take my seat and find that I’m the only one fortunate enough to have a row of three seats to myself in the business cabin.

The flight attendant for the business cabin comes round offering a glass of champagne or water before take off. There was no greeting but instead a a somewhat shouted announcement of the two drink offerings. I choose the champagne which I found was quite delectable. No accompanying canapes were offered as part of the pre-departure service.

 

Entertain me

Other than twiddling my thumbs whilst waiting for our delayed flight to take off, I found the only entertainment offered on boarding was waiting for the food and drink cart to come down the business aisle. Sadly no seat back or WiFi entertainment service was offered on this flight.

 

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

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Not long after the seat belt sign was extinguished the meal and drink service came through. With such a short flight I guess business class passengers want to maximise their time to eat, work or simply have a quick power nap before their destination. Being a early evening service dinner was served on this flight with a choice between a chicken or rice dish. I went with the chicken option and found that the meal was light and tasty. The meal was accompanied with a dessert as well as some bread rolls which the FAs happily kept offering from the bread basket through the flight.

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Drinks wise the options were limited. From the usual white and soft drink suspects I stuck with the champagne. One thing that was pleasing to see was the FAs attentiveness to the business cabin by offering passengers the change to top up or have another drink. Some in my cabin kept the champagne flowing so to speak!

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Whilst the meal is nothing outstanding it certainly did the job. Service was excellent during the segment of the flight.

 

Verdict

The flight experience despite being delayed on both ends was relatively smooth. A poor start to the pre-departure service was more than made up for in the overall service throughout the flight. Food and drink choices were good but nothing memorable. Would I be willing to pay a considerable amount more to be at the top end of a BA plane again so soon? Perhaps not but then again I would definitely consider it if the price point was better on a business class sale for example.

 

Comments

Have you experienced flying Club Europe with BA? Did you love or dislike the flight? Hit up the comments section as I’m keen to hear your thoughts

 

Emirates to introduce premium economy from 2020

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Emirates President Tim Clark has announced the airline will launch a premium economy class on its aircraft from 2020. Premium economy will be on the 20 new Airbus A380s the airline ordered in January this year as well as its B777 aircraft. There are also plans to retrofit some of its existing fleet with the new seat.

An exciting (but yet to be confirmed) feature is that the new seats will offer 38 inches of pitch and transform to a deep recline to become a railway-style ‘sleeperette’ as opposed to the traditional angled recliner. In addition it’s rumoured that the new premium economy seats will feature 56 seats in the front of the bottom deck of the A380 and 26-28 in the B777.

Premium economy has for many travellers become the sweet spot between economy class and business class. The announcement means that Emirates will be the first middle eastern airline to introduce that type of class seat, in turn placing competitive pressure on rivals Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways to develop something similar.

Other airlines that already offer a premium economy product include Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qantas Airways and British Airways.

In my opinion I feel the news from Emirates this week is positive but I’m curious as to what will be compromised in the process. Will there be a reduction of business class seats and therefore business seating reward redemption or will they look at culling some economy seats (the bread and butter on seats)? In addition it all comes down to price. If the price is relatively expensive and the difference is not much more to jump into business class, why on earth would people want to pay a premium to lay in what is essentially a economy hammock?

Time will tell I guess. I will keep you guys posted when I hear of new developments regarding the Emirates premium class offering.

Comments

What do you think of the news of Emirates offering premium economy? Would you be inclined to purchase one? Keen to hear your thoughts.

 

Qatar rumoured to loan widebody aircraft to British Airways

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British Airways Oneworld partner and stakeholder Qatar Airways is reviewing whether to loan planes like the Boeing 787 to the British carrier.

The Qatar airline which has a 20% stake in IAG generally has a good relationship with British Airways. This was seen in 2017 when BA crews went on strike in turn forcing a number of cancellations. As a solution to the potential crisis BA wet leased eight A320s planes (this included Qatar crew) from Qatar Airways.

Currently the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines that are being used on some 787s, which has lbecome an operational nightmare for some airlines with the engines requiring inspections and replacements.

BA has 26 Boeing 787s in their fleet which means several of their planes could be grounded. As an olive branch it is reported that Qatar Airways is potentially willing to lease British Airways some of their wide body aircraft.

Whilst this story is being reported by Bloomberg (which I have found to generally be a pretty good news source), I say watch this space. If the rumours are true, BA flyers could be looking at enjoying themselves an upgrade in terms of J class product quality with the Qatar aircraft loan.

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Lufthansa experiments with buy on board meals on long haul flights

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Ah yes, we live in the age of aviation cost cutting. Whilst airlines are happy to trickle down the in-flight experience sadly we don’t see the savings passed on in the ticket price for consumers. It is a shame that aviation has turned this corner, especially on those deemed ‘premium airlines’. British Airways is guilty of this having removed their complimentary drinks and snacks from their internal European flights to a buy on board scheme. The changes have left a sour taste in passengers mouths and subsequently the BA reputation has been tarnished.

Now Lufthansa has decided to join BA in terms of trialling a buy on board scheme for their long haul flights. The scheme will commence May 2018 and offer passengers the ability to purchase one of seven a la carte dishes. The meals must be purchased a minimum 24 hours prior to the flight.

Options on the menu include a bento box, grilled steak, Bavarian snacks, and an Asian dish to name a few. The dishes will be served on porcelain and resemble a dining set up similar to business.

When I first read this I was shocked as I thought the premium airline would being moving to what seemed a budget airline strategy but for now the airline has assured that the purchase offering is an option of top of their complimentary meals for long haul economy and premium economy passengers.

Lufthansa Group partner, Swiss introduced a similar concept a couple of years ago where one could buy on board food in economy on long haul flights but did not come at the expense of their complimentary meals. With dishes prices ranging between 29-49CHF, the offering is quite expensive and something that a lot of passengers would avoid. It is expected that the dishes on Lufthansa will have a similar price point.

My question however is how long before the airline decides to issue one of those media releases stating that they will remove complimentary meals due to the success of their buy on board program. Time will tell. In the interim eat up and enjoy the interim complimentary food service dear Lufthansa economy passengers.

Are you flying Lufthansa economy or premium economy in the future? If so would you fork out extra to have one of these meals?