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.

 

CATHAY PACIFIC FIRST CLASS LOUNGE TERM 3 LONDON HEATHROW: REVIEW

Alliance: Oneworld

Location: London Heathrow Airport Terminal 3

Lounge Rating: 4.5 Stars

 

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The Pier is highly regarded not only as one of Cathay Pacific’s best lounges but also one of the best on the global stage. It really isn’t hard to see why the moment you step into a Pier lounge from the high spec fittings to the quality of the food and beverage. I was recently in London where I had the opportunity before my international flight to spend an hour in the highly regarded ‘Pier mini’ lounge equivalent. Sure it isn’t on the large grand scale of the Hong Kong version but everything in terms of quality is matched. My question was despite its size, was it big on the wow factor?

Lounge access options

  • first class passengers on any Oneworld airline flying out of T3 (including Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Qantas, American Airlines and JAL)
  • travellers holding Oneworld Emerald status in their respective airline frequent flyer scheme (ie. Diamond and Diamond Plus tiers of Cathay Marco Polo Club)

 

Lounge location and opening hours

Cathay Pacific’s London Heathrow T3 lounges sit on the left corner of the terminal.Keep your eyes peeled after clearing security for a ‘Lounge C’ sign. The lounge which is positioned nearby to the British Airways and Qantas lounges is accessible via an elevator. The lounge operating hours are 5:30am–10:30pm daily.

 

Ambience

 

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The ambience of the lounge is striking, warm and engaging. I almost got sensory overload trying to soak in all the grandeur of this lounge. The pocket rocket packs a lot of sophisticated punch with its à la carte menu dining room and gorgeously appointed shower suites which includes Aesop shampoo and body wash (a win for me as an Aesop fan).

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The cosy environment is made possible thanks to its Living Room, which wraps around the lounge to face the tarmac in an L-shape layout. The beautiful wooden tones and greenery creates a sense of tranquillity and harmony – a godsend considering the lounge is situated in one of the busiest airports in the world. The lounge is served well with a lot of natural light from its floor to ceiling windows and for this avgeek, some fantastic runway views.

The only downside if anything is hopping in and out of the lounge to access the bathroom area which is also shared with the Cathay Business Lounge. Fortunately for me I was not here during peak hour but can imagine the traffic issue this bathroom would experiencing during peak times.

 

Bread and butter (food and drink)

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Like the Qantas First Lounge and BA Concorde lounge, there’s a restaurant dining space for those who prefer to enjoy a sit down meal in the Dining Room. My timing in the lounge saw me quickly obtain a seat but was also sadly at the mercy of the kitchen who were between meal serves (breakfast and transitioning into lunch). I didn’t want breakfast again so worked with what I could order from the menu. Since it was after midday in this part of the world I ordered a glass of Moet and Chandon.

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I wasn’t feeling too peckish but was inclined to sample some of the menu. I decided on a Shrimp Cocktail starter and a Wonton Noodles in Soup. Both were delicious and took my tastebuds back to my Hong Kong trip last year. Yes they were that pretty darn good; especially when paired with one of the best champagnes from France! It’s a shame I didn’t not get to sample any of their dessert menu due to the transition from breakfast to lunch service but based on what I enjoyed the dining experience was still a solid effort.

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For those wanting something more express and easily accessible there’s a small buffet section within the Living Room as well a a self pour drinks station. For those seeking a tended bar and greater food buffet selection I’d strongly recommend you visiting the Business Lounge next door instead.

 

Verdict

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For a ‘scaled down’ Pier lounge equivalent this lounge really wows. Food and drink is limited in the buffet area but then again the First Class lounge experience here is all about the Dining Room.Only negative about this lounge is that the small space it possesses can be a major issue during peak periods with overcrowding and line ups for both the bathrooms and dining space. The Cathay Pacific First Class lounge is the best option (Qantas isn’t far behind) in terms of the best lounge offering for Oneworld Emerald travellers flying from Terminal 3.

 

Comments

Have you experienced the Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge at Terminal 3 in London? Love to hear from you about your time in lounge – did it shine or were you expecting something better?

CATHAY PACIFIC BEIJING INT BUSINESS LOUNGE: REVIEW

Lounge: Cathay Pacific Business Lounge

Alliance: Oneworld

Location: Beijing International Airport

Lounge Rating: 3/5 Stars

 

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Beijing International Airport is monolithic. So large in fact that you find yourself spending hours either trekking across terminals or sitting on runways. The impression one first gets when entering the airport is the stunning architecture and I can definitely say it is one of the best airports in terms of design globally.

With an airport so large one could a) spend their time pre-flight merely exploring it or b) hit one of the lounges with tarmac views at the end of the terminal. Going with option B I hit up the Cathay Pacific Lounge before my flight to Sydney to see if lounge was the place to be at Beijing Airport.

 

Lounge access options

  • First and Business class flyers with Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Dragonair and other Oneworld airlines
  • Gold, Platinum and Platinum One Qantas frequent flyers travelling with the airlines above
  • Marco Polo Club Silver members flying with either Cathay Pacific or Dragonair
  • Marco Polo Club Gold and Diamond members travelling with Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Dragonair or other Oneworld airlines
  • Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members of other programs travelling onwards with a Oneworld airline

 

Lounge location and opening hours

Once you have cleared customs and taken the second stop on the train line to the International terminal make a detour to Terminal 3E, opposite Gate E21. The opening hours are00:30 – 03:00, 05:30 – last flight departure.

 

Ambience

 

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The experience from the beginning at the lounge was strange at best. At reception I handed over my boarding pass and lounge invitation, and was promptly admitted before being shown an automated machine that produced me a wifi code. It was from there that I was left to my own devices and didn’t not experience any form of contact from staff for the rest of my stay in the lounge.

Having arrived a few hours earlier to my flight, the lounge was empty and felt rather sterile. The furnishing were pleasant and the setting intimate but the lounge ultimately lacked atmosphere. The lounge has a number of partitions dividing the rectangular space and whilst this allows the creation of more peaceful break out areas it also creates a design issue with some the spaces not even noticeable to the majority of passengers.

The bathrooms were also slightly disappointing with only two toilets each for both the men and women across the entire lounge space. On the occasion that I was in the lounge there was no toilet paper in the men’s room and the liquid soap had almost run out. The neglect of these showed a lack of attention given to the daily upkeep of the lounge.

 

Bread and butter (food and drink)

 

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In terms of the food and drink I was quite disappointed as Cathay Pacific standards are generally quite high. When I arrived into the lounge I just missed the chef A chef serving up Hong Kong culinary delights like wonton noodles and fishball noodles as the service for these delicious delicacies finished at 8pm. I arrived in at 8:05pm.

 

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With the noodle bar closed I had one of two buffet areas to choose from. There was a small buffet on the right side of the lounge which featured instant noodles, packaged snacks, soda, water, juice, liquor, and  wine. Everything in this section was limited and lacked any real diversity nor any hot dishes. I went with the packaed noodles but found after pouring hot water in it, the noodles seemed stale and I questioned how long they had been sitting on the shelf.

 

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On the far left of the lounge (where the noddle bar was) is a larger  buffet which contains a handful of soups, dim sum, croissants, and three hot dishes. Again hardly appetising but does hit the spot (just). The dim sim option of the buns was the best of the hot dishes with its doughy meat texture going down well with my green tea.

 

Verdict

I was expecting more from the Cathay Pacific Business Lounge after previous experiences with Cathay lounges in Hong Kong. The one I walked into felt like a world away from the brilliance and class leading product that Cathay is renown for. Perhaps it is something to do with the fact that the lounge was formerly a DragonAir Lounge and that the product offering was merely an update rather than a total renovation.  Whatever the case the lounge interior was basic at best.

In addition the lack of customer service and personalisation is almost non existent once you walk through the lounge doors.  Again this is something Cathay prides itself on and would be seen as the norm at their Hong Kong lounges.

If there were any positives to the lounge it was the sense of privacy thanks to the partitions and small break out spaces. Sometimes some lounges can often feel more like shopping centre food hall than a premium business and dining space and this lounge certainly puts the ‘quiet workspace’ into this space.

 

Comments

Have you experienced the Cathay Pacific Business Lounge at Beijing PEK International? Love to hear from you about your time in lounge – was it a star or was it a dud?