Qantas offers first plane bookable with points only

One of the biggest complaints for many frequent flyers is the inability to redeem their points/ miles for reward seats on airlines. The frustation of lack of availabilty means in turn frequent flyers are having points simply sit in their accounts. Qantas has been pushing the envelope of late when it comes to passenger experience. When they made an announcement on their next venture, it came at no surprise it’d be equally compelling.

The Australian airline has announced they’ll offer a series of dedicated frequent flyer redemption flights across their network with seats only available to those redeeming Qantas points. The innovatively titled Points Plane initiative will see the first plane to be bookable only on points depart 21 October 2019 from Melbourne to Tokyo Narita.

Using my personal favourite Qantas aircraft the A380, Qantas Frequent Flyer members will have the chance to book all 484 seats on this flight (14 first class, 64 business class, 35 premium economy, and 371 economy seats) at the ‘classic’ award level.

Redemption costs for the flight are:

  • Economy seat – 35000 Qantas points
  • Premium economy seat – 54000 Qantas points
  • Business class seat – 72000 Qantas points
  • First class seat – 108000 points

The seats are available on a first come first served basis. Those fortunate to be successful in booking a flight on the Points Plane can expect to be treated to a special inflight service that includes a cocktail and meal service, pajamas for all passengers (not just those in the front end or in the A380s case the top end) and inflight giveaways.

A return leg is also on offer for 26 October 26 2019 but those hoping for an A380 experience again will be disappointed to find the aircraft is an A330. Qantas believes those returning may stay beyond the initial date as part of their trip and so the aircraft does not require the same patronage.

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What do you think of the Qantas announcement? Would you be keen to book a trip on the Points Plane? I’m eager to hear your thoughts.

QANTAS INCREASES CARRY ON ALLOWANCE (CUE EXCITEMENT)

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Now here is an announcement or more ‘enhancement’ that I can get behind. Qantas this week announced that domestic passengers will soon be able to board flights with heavier carry-on bags after responding to pressure from passengers over its ‘limiting’ 7 kg allowance.

Commencing March 25, travellers will be allowed to carry on one item weighing as much as 10 kgs and a second piece up to 4 kgs, bringing the total cabin allowance to 14 kgs per person. In addition passengers are allowed to bring one small personal item bag (ie. handbag or laptop bag).

This is quite generous and shows for once an airline actually listening to what people want rather than telling people what they should have. That said any cabin baggage weighing greater than 10 kg will still need to be checked in.

Well done Qantas. This is one move that I hope other airlines won’t be weighed down in making a reactionary decision and following.

EMIRATES A380 BUSINESS CLASS CHRISTCHURCH – SYDNEY: REVIEW

Flight: EK413, CHC-SYD

Loyalty Scheme:  Emirates Skywards

Frequency: Once daily

Duration: 3 hours and 20 minutes

 

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I’m a creature of habit. If I like something strongly enough I will naturally be inclined to return for more. In this case it’s Emirates and their SYD-CHC route. As a fifth freedom route, for many including myself it is the number one option when it comes to flying to New Zealand’s south island from Sydney. Emirates previously also serviced flights to Auckland from Sydney and Melbourne but they were culled by the airline a couple of years ago in favour of their partner Qantas. Sadly the experience and joy of flying with Qantas on the same route is the same. Again thank goodness for Emirates flying to the south island (for now). Nine months on I was keen to seeing if lightning struck twice in terms of a good business class experience on the same route – then again are all business class flights equal? I flew Emirates CHC-SYD on the biz to find out.

The Seat

On this flight I was seated in 9K, a window seat. All business classes have direct aisle access on this 1-2-1 configuration. The seat offer a 48 inch pitch and 18.5 inch width. Upon sitting down I can’t help but notice that signature Emirates use of buried wood trim around the seat. Whilst a tad OTT, it’s nonetheless distinctive and adds a touch of class. Surrounding the seat there’s a console housing an entertainment tablet and mini-bar. Underneath the console are the seat controls which include the all important ‘lie flat’ configuration button. With no overhead storage areas on the window seats side, there’s handy storage bins against the seat.

Awaiting on my seat is an array of amenities including a pillow, blanket and noise-cancelling headphones.

Entertain me

 

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Every seat has a touch-screen Wireless Integrated Passenger Seat Controller which not only handles seat position but also the in-flight entertainment on a 17-inch screen. With more than 1100 channels of entertainment, I was spoiled for choice but settled in over my meal to catch up on the movie Venom.

One winning advantage the A380 has over it’s B777 counterpart is it’s knockout onboard.  Serving a range of drinks and canapés, the space is a great way to mingle with new found friends or for those wanting to catch up live sports and entertainment, there’s a large flat screen TV for their viewing pleasure.

Complimentary Wi-Fi is also provided but it’s for a very small amount of data. If you wish to get download heavy on your flight, you’ll need to take out one of the priced options.

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

 

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Prior to departure I was offered by the flight attendant a choice of juice, water or champagne. On today’s flight was Moet & Chandon Brut NV, which was naturally my go to option. I continued to enjoy another glass of the Moet after take off before my order for dinner was taken. The service was surprisingly slow for a half full flight.

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On this flight for main I had three choices; roasted salmon, coconut braised beef ribs or the chicken fillet. I went with the beef and the beef was cooked to my liking. It packed a punch in terms of flavour thanks to the star anise and ginger. Accompanying my main was an appetiser of poached prawns. To finish I enjoy a deliciously velvet espresso mascarpone creme, which went down a treat.

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Drink wise, the choice was strong but sadly the service was lacking when it came to matching my drinks to my meal. I requested the Bordeaux red but it never came. When it came to my dessert I managed to get the attention of a flight attendant and asked for the 1994 Graham’s Single Harvest Tawny Port. The port had a lovely texture with subtle dried fig and toffee notes.

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I wanted to retire to the onboard bar for a drink following my meal but found it was closing up earlier than I anticipated in preparation for landing.

Verdict

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Emirates business class on the A380 really is the way to fly between Australia and New Zealand. When on sale, it’s often quite the bargain in comparison to a 1 hour Qantas business flight between Sydney and Melbourne. Despite the service not being as attentive as my previous business class flight on the same route, the food and drink was on par and of good quality. I would have liked to have again experienced the onboard bar but the early close was a bit of a disappointment an hour out from landing in Sydney.

Overall an enjoyable flight that I’d happily do again if given the opportunity.

Service: 4 Stars

Seating: 5 stars

Food: 5 Stars

 

Comments

Have you experienced flying Business with Emirates from NZ? Did you love or dislike the flight? Hit up the comments section as I’m keen to hear your thoughts

 

Boston gets an Emirates A380 upgrade

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Emirates is a strange and odd beast of an airline. One minute it’s making cuts on what seems like lucrative route and the next moment upgrading and buffering capacity on routes deemed as not so profitable. Go figure! After only yesterday deciding to slash the BKK-SYD route from 1 June this year, Emirates has quietly decided to increase capacity on its DXB-BOS route with the airline switching the service from the current B777 to an A380.

This is somewhat rather good news for those flying this route as it represents across all classes a better flying experience. Oddly enough the service commences the same day as the BKK-SYD route becomes redundant. That said it’s only been upgraded so far from 1 June to 30 September but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s extended beyond this time period.

As mentioned prior everyone is a winner here. First class will be rewarded with a shower suite whilst business class passengers will all be given a fully lie flat direct aisle access seat. Moreover all premium passengers will also get to enjoy the social ambience over a drink in the onboard bar, which is sadly lacking on Emirates other aircraft. Finally economy passengers will fly a little more comfortably thanks to the wider seats on the A380.

Considering that Emirates used to have two daily services between DXB-BOS before it cut one back in 2017, the A380 upgrade is for now at least a happy medium.

Will you be enticed to fly Emirates on this route during this period now that the service has been upgraded? Keen to hear your thoughts.

Emirates culls its BKK-SYD freedom route

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Happy new year and welcome to yet another fizzer rather than a big bang announcement from Emirates. I’m not sure what is going on at Emirates HQ of late but cull seems to be the flavour of the month (albeit for some time now). Emirates has announced that it will cut its Bangkok – Sydney fifth freedom route from June 1 this year and hand the route reigns to its partner in crime Qantas.

Whilst Qantas is a perfectly good airline unfortunately they do not offer the product or service that Emirates offers. Firstly there is no first class product on Qantas and the capacity on its current aircraft servicing there is smaller meaning that consumers in the end will have not only less choice but pay more for it. The withdrawal of Emirates leaves Thai Airways as the only airline offering nonstop first class between Australia and Thailand.

Another downside to the announcement means that those who intend to fly in the evening with the Emirates flight to BKK will now have to leave in the morning with Qantas.

For those booked on Emirates after June 1, keep an eye on your booking as you are likely to be shifted onto the Qantas flight.

 

 

Emirates swings axe into chauffeur service

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Emirates is swinging the axe into its generous (and rather good) chauffeur drive service on business class and first class tickets booked using Skywards miles. Commencing 1 March this year, rides to and from the airport will no longer be available for ‘Skyward classic rewards’ flights. The changes will also include upgrades using miles from economy to business class.

The axe doesn’t stop there with Emirates business class and first class flights booked through Skyward partners such as Qantas also effected. So if you are booked on a flight and are flying after 1 March, I strongly insist locking in your complimentary chauffeur now because once March hits, any changes will not be allowed or accepted.

I find the move disappointing by Emirates who are generally a generous airline. When you choose business and first, you naturally expect all the bells and whistles. Cost cutting in this space is seeing airlines simply making people pay for a chair. Hopefully this will be the last of the cost cutting measures we will see Emirates do to its premium classes for quite some time.

What do you think of the changes? Are you for or against the axing? 

 

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?