EMIRATES EK412 SYD – CHRISTCHURCH: ECONOMY REVIEW

Flight: EK412, Sydney-Christchurch

Loyalty Scheme: Skywards

Frequency: Once daily

Duration: 3 hr and 10 mins

 

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Recently Emirates has been making a lot of changes to its operations and networks, majority of them in my opinion bad decisions from the downgrading of aircraft to the recent cutting of their fifth freedom route SYD-BKK. Despite this one of their most popular fifth freedom routes is their SYD-CHC. Like many I go out of my way to fly the airline compared to its rivals because a) their service is class leading on that route and b) it is serviced by an A380. If you fly with AirNZ or Qantas you’d be lumped with an A320 or B737 at best. My love affair with this Emirates route aside, how did the airline fare the second time around for me on this route nine months on? I boarded Emirates (tough task) once again to find out.

Seat

 

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One of things that instantly catches my eye is the amount of leg room as well as the seat pitch. I feel an instant sense of space (yes even in economy). Perhaps I’m used to airlines cramming as many seats as possible onto the plane that space is something that’s expected to be compromised when travelling economy. Economy seats on the Emirates A380 have 32″ of pitch and are 19″ wide from armrest to armrest.

Entertain me

 

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All economy seats (bar front row) features a 13″ in-flight entertainment (IFE) screen in the seat back. There is a large selection of films and music to offer. The choice was so large in fact that I struggled for a while deciding on what I should watch or listen to first. Kudos to Emirates on this as a lot of airlines I have been on lately have had such a poor selection that I simply choose to sleep instead.

Wi-Fi service is also offered on its A380 aircraft with all passengers given free 20MB to use for up to two hours of the flight. If you burn through that you can also choose to purchase on of the two paid options to continue browsing.

Wine and dine me (the food)

 

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Prior to taking off the flight attendants came through the cabin with a menu. On AirNZ or Qantas on the same leg you would not even be serviced with such a menu nor given such a selection. Being a morning flight naturally a breakfast service was offered. There were two main options on offer. I went with the scrambled eggs western breakfast. The eggs and accompanying sides were quite delicious and far from dry which can occur regularly with airline food. The fruit plate was fresh and complimented the yoghurt. It might not be business but the food offering was a hell of a lot better than the comparative Qantas offering when I flew them AKL – SYD. Coffee and tea as well as basic drinks/ spirits were also on offer if you were happy to have a drink at 9am in the morning.

Summary

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Economy isn’t the easiest class to fly but when an airline does make the experience a lot more bearable it should be commended. That’s why I choose to fly Emirates on this route every time because it blows the competition out of the water. The seat and food is decent as well as the service for such a large aircraft. A winner all round. I will be flying with them again next time I fly this route!

 

Service: 4.5 Stars

Seating: 5 stars

Food: 4.5 Stars

 

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? 

 

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.

 

QANTASLINK UPGRADES Q200/300/400 AIRCRAFT SEATS

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The first of Qantas’ newly upgraded Q300 turboprop aircraft took flight this week at QantasLink’s hangar facility at Tamworth Airport with the remaining fleet of 45 Bombardier (Q200, Q300 and Q400) aircraft to be upgraded by late 2019.

The fleet upgrade is part of a multi-million dollar commitment to providing regional passengers with a better overall travel experience.

Taking ten days to upgrade each, the improved turboprop experience includes new ergonomic seat cushioning, leather upholstery, tablet device holders, a refreshed colour palette of greys and charcoals and new floor coverings.

The first Q300 that’s been upgraded was repainted with the airline’s updated Kangaroo logo and named ‘Birdsville’.

Having flown the aircraft previously throughout regional Australia, I look forward to seeing the different in terms of the product comfort next time I fly on Qantaslink.

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.

Qatar Business Class – Seat Comparison Roundup

Qatar has many differing Business Class seats depending on the type and age of aircraft. With Qatar offering multiple frequencies for its most popular routes, finding the right seat for your trip makes all the difference between thoroughly enjoying versus simply passing the time. So how do they compare?

A380

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The Seat

The Qatar A380 features forward facing reverse herringbone seats in a 1-2-1 layout with direct aisle access. The seat can also be found in the A350 and 787. The open and airy configuration looks daunting with so many seats spread out before you when you first board. Once settled in the seat does provide a reasonable amount of privacy if not completely shielded away from others. It converts to a flat bed with good space around the knees and is comfortable for both those who prefer to sleep on their sides or their backs/bellies.

The standard Qatar pillow and blanket are provided; both being plush and comfortable. Pyjamas are provided on overnight flights but it would be nice to see daytime flights provided with this as well as many passengers would appreciate changing into something comfortable during a 7 hour flight.

 

Entertain me

Entertainment is on the comprehensive Oryx One System with plenty of movies and TV on demand, showing through a bright HD screen. Controlled directly through the screen or the remote control, the selection whilst not exhaustive does offer enough to pass away the time. In addition, wifi is available on board with 10mb free to all passengers.

Also onboard the A380 is a bar and lounge which is great for socialising with other passengers or for groups of friends/colleagues to spend time together over with drinks and food in a space other than their seat.

 

777 – Q Suites

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The Seat

The Q Suite is the most recent iteration of the Qatar Business Class seat and is currently found only on the newest B777-300ER aircraft (and soon the A350-1000 aircraft). It will eventually trickle down to other aircraft in the fleet like the B787 and A380. There is no other word to describe this seat other than gorgeous. Beautifully designed, it makes you excited the moment you see it and has numerous thoughtful little touches that really speaks to the way every aspect of the design has been considered.

It has shoulder height doors that close while at the same time not making the space feel claustrophobic. Arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, seats on the outside alternate between window and aisle. All seats have direct aisle access.

If I had one bad thing to say it must be the table. Sticking out from under the TV right in front of the seat, it creates an issue where it impinges on space for the knees. So much so that I found it quite difficult to get into a comfortable position whether it was lying down or resting reclined watching TV or a movie. In fact, the table made resting so uncomfortable that on my flight between Doha and Paris (some 7.5hrs), I only managed an hour or two of sleep. Highly unusual considering I struggle to stay awake on flights! Pyjamas by The White Company were provided on this flight and a turn down service consisting of a pillow case and mattress pad is also on offer.

One great thing about this seat is that a family of four (or four friends travelling together) can share a four-way suite and dine/lounge together. Couples can also share two centre Q Suites and in a sense sleep side by side (it technically doesn’t convert into a double bed, but two singles aligned to one another with some parts of the bed divided).

 

Entertain me

Entertainment is the best of the Oryx One system by Qatar. Again a comprehensive but not exhaustive range is on offer. Entertainment is delivered on a large and clear 21.5” HD screen. Control also via the screen or remote by the seat.

On a side note, there is a special tasting platter that is available on the Q Suites in addition to the standard menus. A nice touch for an aviation foodie.

 

777 – Forward Facing pairs

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The Seat

This is one of Qatar’s oldest seats in their long haul fleet but just because it’s old doesn’t mean it is necessarily a bad thing. The seat is still in good condition and arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration. Offering plenty of space the seat transforms into a long, comfortable flat bed. If you don’t know the person you’re seated next to there is a small divider that provides a little privacy. While some travellers prefer more privacy and direct aisle access, these forward facing seats allow for a comfortable sleep, particularly on long haul and ultra-long haul flights.

One complaint about these type of forward facing seats is that you need to step over the aisle passenger to get into the aisle if you are seated by the window. I personally don’t have an issue with this as the gap between the seats allows is more than ample to easily step over your seat mate. Storage wise there is not as much space as the reverse herringbone and Q suite seats yet I managed to stow away my laptop, headphones and shoes.

 

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While the plane also has the Oryx One system, the screens offered in these seats are a generation behind and aren’t as clear as those found on newer aircraft. One downside of having so much legroom is that the screen is further away from you and hard to view. Screens can be operated by touch (if you can reach that far forward), or controlled from the remote. No wifi or lounge available on board.

 

A330

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The seat

This is by far the least spacious of the medium/long haul seats offered by Qatar. Arranged in a 2-2-2 setting, not only do they have less legroom, but are narrower and more compact. The seats face slightly to the left and right towards the windows, depending on the respective side of the aircraft. Those in the centre angle slightly towards the middle. As the seats dovetail into the side of the seat in front, this creates a narrow foot-well, restricting the amount of space for your feet.

In bed mode, the seat while not long as others, the bed is still decent. It lays fully flat and is furnished with the standard Qatar pillow and blanket. Having flown this product twice I have managed to get a decent (if not deep sleep). So, whilst the seat isn’t industry leading, it is still comfortable. As with forward facing paired seats, those by the window need to step over the passenger in the aisle to get out. Again, I don’t have an aversion to this seat but obviously direct aisle access is preferable.

 

Entertain me

At the risk of sounding repetitive, Oryx One is in-flight entertainment found on this product and the content virtually identical to those found on the other seats. The screen is HD and bright, so much so that even at the lowest setting it is too bright to sleep with the flight map running. Controlled again by the screen and remote. No wifi or lounge offered on board.

 

Conclusion

Qatar is a highly regarded airline, and the reputation is justified. Its Business Class products are well designed, comfortable and for the most part offer a consistent experience despite the seat variations. The pillows and blankets provided are lush and comfortable. Amenity packs universal and pyjamas are comfortable to lounge and sleep in (when provided). Food on board is always to a high standard and service even when average is always good and well intentioned. The A380 does get an edge with the lounge and bar area, but for me the seat is the most important aspect.

 

Fourth Place – At the bottom of the list comes the A330. Narrow, tight and not as spacious as the others, this seat comes dead last. Not the end of the world if you can’t avoid it and definitely a #firstworldproblem.

 

Third Place – The Q suites. Now hear me out – it’s the newest, its beautifully designed, its spacious and it’s just damn amazing. BUT (and it’s a big but), the issue around knee space really put me off the seat. I just couldn’t find a comfortable position to lounge or sleep in and getting plenty of rest is probably the most important thing I’m looking for from a flight in Business Class.

 

We have a tie!

The final two comes down to who I’m travelling with. If I was travelling with a friend or partner, I’d surprisingly choose the forward facing pair on the 777. Its spacious, comfortable and allows for couples to travel together and share the experience. However travelling solo the reverse herringbone wins hands down – it might not be breath taking like the Q Suites, but it does everything on an exceptional level. Therefore I declare it a tied first!

 


About the writer

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I’m a well travelled 30 something who blames it all on his father (though really, I’ve taken it to the next level). Travelling from a young age and continuing to do so independently from the end of high school, I am happy to step on a plane headed anywhere. Indeed my colleagues at work don’t ask me if I’m going away in holidays, but where I’ll be headed. They don’t even bat an eyelid when I pop down to Melbourne for the weeknight just to see some show that takes my fancy.

All of my travel is self funded. Through a mixture of great fares and frequent flyer points I’ve developed a penchant for sitting at the front of the plane. However let’s be honest; I’ll just about sit anywhere if it means I get to fly somewhere.

Qatar Airways Business Class A330-300 Doha – Ho Chi Minh: Review

Flight: QR970, Doha to Ho Chi Minh (13 January 2018)
Loyalty Scheme: Qatar Airways Privilege Club (a partner of the Oneworld program)
Frequency: 10 flights weekly
Duration: STD: 2:00am (+03) – ATD: 1:56am (+03) Early 4mins; STA: 1:30pm (+07) – ATA: 1:43am (+07) Delayed 13mins

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Qatar operate a number of A330 aircraft (200 and 300 series). The aircraft predominately operates on flights from Doha to smaller European cities, the Middle East, India/ Sri Lanka and Asia. There are a number of configurations of the aircraft including a three class configuration (First, Business and Economy). This particular flight was operated in a two class configuration of 30 full flat business class seats and 275 standard economy seats. The seats on this particular plane are the B/E Aerospace Diamond seat which face slightly towards the left or right depending on the side of the aircraft you are seated in.

The Airport

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Doha Airport is a lavishly designed and decadent airport. A fairly modern airport, it works well as a large transit hub (pretty important as Doha plays a part of the well-oiled Qatar Airways cog connecting various cities through the one hub). Exiting my previous flight it was a short walk to transit security and through the priority lane for First and Business Class passengers. Once through you go down into the central atrium area (where the large but certainly not soft teddy bear awaits you).

For those travelling in Business, the lounge provided is the Al Mourjan lounge. Located a few floors up, the lounge is spacious and modern. Midnight/early morning is the busiest time for Doha Airport. My objective was to relax with a hot shower and upon entering the lounge I made this a priority. There was a 15 minute wait for a shower before I was allocated one. By the time I got round to showering it was time to board. I sadly didn’t have time to eat or drink in the lounge.

A point worth nothing is that Doha is a silent airport and no announcements are made for flights. There is also no separate wifi network for lounge guests and at peak times this can be quite slow.

The Seat

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Business 1A. I was initially seated 2A but after a previous flight I knew it would be more comfortable in 1A as the foot well in the bulkhead seats are much wider than those found in other rows. No one was seated in row 1 (which seems to occur quite frequently on Qatar), so moved to row 1 shortly after take off. Other passengers seated in row 2 also had the same idea and followed suit.

The space in the foot well in row 1 certainly makes a big difference. Whilst not particularly uncomfortable it could feel slightly claustrophobic for some people.

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Similar to my flight from Paris to Doha on the A380, I was greeted by the Cabin Manager on this flight who introduced herself . The flight attendant working my aisle came by with my ordered drink (the lemon and mint signature mocktail) and a cold towel (my choice between hot and cold). She also issued menus and followed up with pyjamas. Some flights have the newer ‘The White Company’ pyjamas but this flight had the older standard Qatar Airways grandfather collar version. As usual, a well-padded pillow, thick quilt, amenity kit, noise cancelling headphones and Evian still water were waiting at my seat.

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Entertain me

Very similar to the A380, the inflight entertainment is brought to you via the Oryx One system on a large HD screen which can either be controlled directly on the screen or on the hand held remote. Content was again broad with a diverse mix of movies, TV, music and games. No cameras are available on the A330.

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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Qatar Airways offers a dine on demand service in Business Class. Menus are delivered and orders taken prior to take off (depending on the aircraft and how much time flight attendants (FA) are on board). In most cases passengers still end up ordering food shortly after take-off and prior to landing. The option to dine whenever you please is certainly welcome.

I again chose to eat quickly as possible after take off and requested a meal 80 minutes prior to landing (assuming I’d be woken up around that time). Frustratingly this was not the case and I was again woken from my deep sleep around an hour and 45 minutes prior to landing.

For the meal shortly after take off, I had the Laksa soup which was tasty and not too spicy (even for someone such as myself who’s quite sensitive to heat). That was followed by a bean, asparagus, orange and blueberry salad with glazed chicken breast. The chicken was a tad dry but overall a satisfying light meal.

Before landing I went with the smoked salmon and followed it up with a traditional Arabic breakfast (feta, olives, cucumber and tomato with breads and marinated chickpeas). The meal was accompanied by a side of pastries which were a tad dried out.

 

Verdict

Qatar’s A330 is a comfortable plane to be on for medium haul routes. That said it is significantly less comfortable than Business class seats found on other wide body aircraft in the Qatar fleet. I can safely say this is my least favourite medium/long-haul Qatar Business Class seat.

I still managed to get a decent sleep and the food was top notch. The inclusion of pyjamas on this early morning departure really made the experience more enjoyable despite the somewhat narrower seat. Having the seat next to mine free was a bonus. A solid product overall.


About the writer

26853377_10159979448035061_1168249417_o.jpg

I’m a well travelled 30 something who blames it all on his father (though really, I’ve taken it to the next level). Travelling from a young age and continuing to do so independently from the end of high school, I am happy to step on a plane headed anywhere. Indeed my colleagues at work don’t ask me if I’m going away in holidays, but where I’ll be headed. They don’t even bat an eyelid when I pop down to Melbourne for the weeknight just to see some show that takes my fancy.

All of my travel is self funded. Through a mixture of great fares and frequent flyer points I’ve developed a penchant for sitting at the front of the plane. However let’s be honest; I’ll just about sit anywhere if it means I get to fly somewhere.