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

QANTAS TO FLY B747 ON SYD-PERTH DOMESTIC ROUTES

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Whilst I’m sad of its withdrawal from most international routes, I’m eager (and gunning) to get onboard with a B747 domestically in Australia. Yes you read right….Qantas will fly the queen of the skies, the Boeing 747 between Sydney and Perth from late July.

The B747 will get a shot at domestic duties before its retirement from the Qantas fleet in 2020. For some like me this is like a John Farnham final tour (but Qantas doesn’t plan on making another surprise tour down the track – retirement sadly means retirement).

Don’t expect to see the Boeing 747 doing the east-west leg daily. It’s rumoured QF581, QF582, QF583 and QF568 will be the flights to get the B747 treatment from August 9.

 

Whilst Business Class passengers will be slightly disadvantaged by the lie-flat Skybed II 2-3-2 arrangement,  top tier frequent flyers booked in economy class will be the real winners here with the change with the ability to pre-select seats in the B747 premium economy cabin based on status.

It’ll be interesting to see where the B747 ends up before retirement. Despite being one of the critics against the retirement, I admit this is one move recently by Qantas around the B747 that I do support.

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.

 

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?

QANTAS ECONOMY CLASS A330 SYD – HONOLULU: REVIEW

Flight: QF3, Sydney – Honolulu (24 January 2018)
Loyalty Scheme: Qantas Frequent Flyer (a partner of the Oneworld program)
Frequency: 4 flights weekly
Duration: 10 hours

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Qantas operate a number of A330 aircraft (200 and 300 series). The aircraft predominately operates on flights domestically within Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Honolulu. The A330 operates in a two class configuration. This particular aircraft consists of 28 full flat business class seats and 272 standard economy seats.

 

 

The Seat

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Economy 26A. Upon entering this particularly A330, I was fortunate to experience the new generation Qantas interior which was kitted out with the Boeing 787 seats. The new seat does look the goods with a dropdown shelf built into the back of the seatback to support your own device, meaning you no longer have to hold your phone or tablet, or lie it on the tray table. 

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Despite Qantas claiming the new seat would offer better space (and to a degree it does), when reclined, the seat in front almost touches your knees and as a result makes it impossible to watch the TV screen nor be able to get out of ones chair.

Sleeping wise I really did struggle in this seat. Again with the seat reclined out in front I felt quite claustrophobic, hot and unable to really stretch out comfortably enough to allow my body to rest despite feeling drowsy during the flight.

 

Entertain me

One of the x factors about the new seat is its new entertainment screen. Much larger than previous Qantas economy seat variants including the current A380, the display is better for the eyes when viewing entertainment in the dark. The selection of movies, tv shows and audio onboard is extensive and good. I found myself struggling to view everything I wanted to watch during the flight.

Sadly there was no wifi on board. Power ports and USB charging ports were available at each seat to charge your devices.

 

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

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Qantas is one who doesn’t do food and wine in halves, even in economy. I have always found the Qantas economy dining product to be very strong in this area. Soon after take off flight attendants came around and offered passengers a refreshing Bickford’s lemon, lime and bitters drink.

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An hour into the flight and dinner service was served. There were three choices for main including a vegetable lasagna and a southern style chicken with polenta. I went with the chicken option and the dish was flavoursome and delicious. However the chocolate pudding for dessert was a tad too sweet for my liking. I couldn’t even finish it despite its small size.

The service during dinner was odd at best with attendants impersonal, rushed and rather rude. When I went to order my dinner the flight attendant did not look at me once even when he went to hand me my dinner. I found that rather rude, no matter how swept off his feet he may have been.

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Before landing Qantas served a light breakfast. There were two choice on offer – a fresh fruit platter and a hot dish of a feta and spinach omelette with pork and apple sausage, bacon and braised beans. I went with the hot option and was not disappointed. It was the ideal meal to hit the spot before our decent into Honolulu.

 

Verdict

Qantas’ flight to Honolulu in economy was adequate but could have been better in terms of the service and comfort. The flight went like a blink of an eye (which is great when one is flying cattle class) but long enough that a bit of sleep would have been great. Sadly this was not the case with the seat generally uncomfortable, especially when the passenger in front is fully reclined.

Food, drink and entertainment earned top marks but again lacked the selection of its 747 and A380 counterparts (ie. no snack bar). I found myself struggling to get an snack other than rice crackers throughout the flight when I was peckish between meals. Again not great.

Overall the flight experience was decent but there was a lot of room for improvement.

 

Comment

Have you flown on the newly converted A330? I would love to hear if your experience was similar or better/ worse.

Qantas Melbourne – San Francisco B787 flights officially on sale

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Launching: September 1 2018

Aircraft type: Boeing 787

Frequency:  Four times daily

Late last year Qantas revealed as an early Christmas gift for Melbournian and San Fran flyers that it would launch its Melbourne – San Fran Francisco flights from September 1 2018. When the 14 hour flight is launched it will be the only non-stop flight to San Francisco from Melbourne; a huge incentive for tech head silicon valley business types.

From Melbourne QF49 will depart 9:40pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, arriving into San Francisco at 7pm.

QF50 from San Francisco will depart 10pm on those same days and arrive in Melbourne at 6:30am two days later. Whilst at this stage it isn’t flying daily the fact that it has a tight turn around time means Qantas is fully utilising its aircraft without it sitting on the ground all day.

Under the Qantas Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner configuration there are 42 business class suites, in a 1-2-1 layout and a premium economy cabin of 28 seats in a 2-3-2 layout. In addition there are 166 economy seats.

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As a result of this new Qantas offering for Melbourne flyers, flights between Melbourne and Los Angeles will be reduced from 13 weekly to 9 weekly. Qantas will maintain the daily A380 flight but cull the 787 flight from 6 weekly to 2 weekly.

Reward me (reward flights)

Right now award availability across all classes for these flights is quite strong with a number of options across numerous flights in business, premium and economy classes. Usually Qantas is quite difficult in obtaining/ linking reward flights as I have found in the past with many of my trips so to find this is quite a nice surprise.

A reward flight one way on business class will set you back 96,000 Qantas Points, 72,000 Qantas Points for premium economy and 45,000 Qantas Points on economy. In addition you will need to pay the obligatory airport taxes on top of this.

Considering the quality of the product and destination being made available there has never been a better time to book a reward flight to the USA.