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.

 

 

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?

QANTAS INTERNATIONAL TRANSIT LOUNGE PERTH: REVIEW

Alliance: Oneworld

Location: Perth Domestic/ International Airport

Lounge Rating: 4.5 Stars

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Qantas has invested heavily into making Perth their new ‘it’ thing for flying long haul international flights. For this coming from the east coast like myself the non stop flight really isn’t non stop when you are saying flying from Sydney, Brisbane or Adelaide where you can stopover instead in Dubai or Singapore and still be in London at the same time.

As such with this move Qantas created a new transit lounge and it’s strictly for that – transiting! As part of my flight to London from Perth on QF9 I had access (and a rare opportunity) to visit this lounge and see what all the fuss was about!

 

Lounge access options

Lounge access is for business-class passengers travelling on flights QF9 from Melbourne to London via Perth, or QF10 in the opposite direction. Passengers joining QF9 in Perth but aren’t flying the Melbourne leg can also use the lounge.

Qantas Platinum One, Platinum and Gold elites as well as Qantas Club members travelling to London on QF9 or transiting on QF10 between London and Melbourne can also access the lounge. As part of Qantas’ partnership with Emirates, those with Emirates Platinum and Gold Skywards members and Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire elites on QF9 are also welcome.

 

Lounge location and opening hours

The lounge is located after security opposite Gate 19 in the International Concourse of the T3/T4 terminal. It’s open daily 1:00pm to 2:45pm when the inbound flight from London arrives, and 4:45pm to 6:50pm before the return flight from Perth to London departs. The one thing I found frustrating is the access time to this lounge. As I have learnt from this experience, if you have an earlier flight, you’ll have to stay in the Domestic Business Lounge in the Domestic section until the International Concourse is open.

 

Ambience

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The lounge is new and as a result quite striking. From it’s lovely wooden fixture entrance with the kangaroo illuminated in a golden light to the outdoor bar with barbecue, this lounge is a nice space to spend a few hours. There’s a stand up bar near the outdoor area as well as plenty of indoor dining space. The real x factor goes to the outdoor barbecue area as well as the yoga space called the ‘Wellness Studio’ – these are two things I’ve not seen done in a lounge before but both looked fantastic.

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In fact I even gave the Yoga session (there are two run during this time) a go despite being a yoga novice, which made this choice all the more interesting. Partnering with Perth spa group Bodhi J, passengers can stop by for a 15 minute stretch and meditation session. I found most of the positions relatively easily but some did push my body limits. That said I hoped it would better me for the 17 hour and 20 minute flight ahead.

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Bathrooms also were taken to the next level with Qantas adding a fantastic new addition called the ‘Refresh’ area. This space allows passengers to give themselves a skin treatment to relax and refresh before or between flights by following instructions underneath the respective Aspar products. It’s a simple but very nice touch. In addition there were the usual toilet and shower facilities for those needing a quick freshening up.

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Bread and butter (food and drink)

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Qantas is priding itself on providing passengers with a menu that promotes wellness by providing passengers with a selection of light, fresh food and drink options.

There’s a small buffet of fresh food with one corner hosting a hydration station called Quench with lemon and pink-grapefruit syrup to mix into water as well as water infused with lemon myrtle, parsley and lemon. Next door is DYI tisanes which offers Rockpool’s signature blend. A hot and cold buffet is also on offer with delicious options including barbecue corn with chipotle butter, chicken and vegetable skewers, seasonal fruits, salads and Aussie dessert favourites including wait for it… lamingtons (and they were rather good)!

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Despite the offerings there, I found myself spending most of my time in the outdoor area near the barbecue. The wursts with various toppings were too good to ignore and were the x factor in terms of food in the lounge.

I couldn’t provide much feedback in terms of the drinks bar as I was saving my body for the business class drinks menu on QF9 but from what I could tell there was a decent selection of Australian sparkling and wines as well as a barista coffee station.

 

Verdict

I enjoyed this lounge and whilst it didn’t offer the perks of the Melbourne or Sydney First Class lounges it did offer some nice touches like the Refresh amenities area and Wellness Studios still set it apart from most of the other Qantas lounges. If there’s any criticism of the lounge it was their strange, restrictive policy of who could and couldn’t use the lounge and the times it was open. I understand this might work for them currently but if Qantas does expand with more flights in the future as they plan to from Perth, then they seriously need to rethink this area.

 

Comments

Have you experienced the Qantas International Transit Lounge? Love to hear from you about your time in lounge – did it shine or were you expecting something better?

 

 

QANTAS B787 BUSINESS CLASS PERTH TO LONDON: REVIEW

Flight: QF9, Perth – London

Loyalty Scheme: Qantas Frequent Flyer (Oneworld alliance)

Frequency: Daily

Duration: 17 hours and 20 minutes (aka extremely long!)

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Aviation geeks like myself live for travel and at times are willing to be gluttons for punishment, especially when doing it cattle style in economy class across vast distances just to get the experience of the airline and route. Qantas late last year made a bit of a song and dance about their delivery of new B787s which other airlines had possessed (including Jetstar) before them. That said it was their announcement of their new leg from Perth to London that got my attention with the B787 because wait for it, it’s a staggering 17 hrs non-stop. I thought it’s crazy as hell but let’s give this route a try (but only if I could do it in business class because economy just seemed unbearable at that distance!

 

The Seat

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One thing I love about the new Qantas business class layout internationally is their new 1-2-1 configuration. Gone are the days of hopping over (or worse falling over someone) to get to your seat. The business and premium cabins from what I could see where full and what I would expect on such a long flight. The seat itself was a Thompson aerospace designed seat which also features on Qantas A330 fleet. I like this seat as it is roomy, lies flat, is stylish, comfortable and more importantly private. The seat has several pre-sets, and there’s two options for take-off and landing. This allows passengers to not be completely upright which adds to the comfort level of the seat.

Additionally the seat has a large amount of storage space. It possesses a side table with storage and a decent sized arm rest on both sides. Centre seats enjoy a divider which is up but can be lowered if you want to chat to the passenger in the neighbouring seat. All seats are equipped with USB and power outlets so one can walk off the plane full charged once they arrive into London for a day of touring or business meetings.

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Before take off the flight attendant comes around with amenities kits and their signature kangaroo pajamas. The hostess whose name escapes me now was fantastic, engaging and funny. She made my flight just that little bit more special for her great customer service.

Sleeping wise I did not ask for the turn down service so cannot comment on this but for the  4 hours I did fall asleep I did feel at the end of the flight generally refreshed.

 

Entertain me

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All business class suites come with a 15.5 inch touchscreen television. The choice of movies, music and tv shows on offer is fairly decent but some of the movies I saw on my last international flight (2 months earlier) seem to be lingering around heavily within the ‘premiere’ section of the IFE. A few more new film choices would be welcomed for such a long flight (yes I do keep emphasising that part intentionally).

Noise cancelling headphones are also provided to all business class passengers.

 

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

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I’m greeted before take-off with a glass of Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve and a copy of the inflight food and drink menu. The menu was striking with the design influenced by Australia’s beautiful landscapes. Accompanying the menu was a breakfast card that allowed passengers to order what they wished so that their sleep time could be maximised throughout the flight. An aperitif was served along with Qantas signature Dreamliner cocktail. I am not completely sure what was in it but the FA told me tequila which is something I don’t usually drink but in this case though why not. Summery at best describes it but quite strong.

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An hour into the flight dinner was served.  The three course menu (refer to image) offered a range of light and heavier dishes. I ordered the Tuna Poke Salad with Wakame and Sesame Soy Dressing which I found was quite delicious and light. The perfect entree for me to start with.

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For mains they ranged from Hokkien Noodles with Eggplant to Seared Con Bay Barramundi with Herbed Garlic Potatoes but at the end decided to taste the Beef Fillet with Soft Polenta, Caramelised Onion and Sage. The meat was unfortunately a little tough despite requesting medium rare. The rest of the dish was nice but as a whole I was slightly disappointed.

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For dessert I went with seasonal fruits and Maggie Beer Ice Cream and the combination together was divine and a good way to finish off my meal.

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When it came to breakfast I was relieved I ticked a few options because that long flight had me quite peckish. I went with the Bacon, Egg and Tomato Brioche Roll, yoghurt, fruit salad and a Botanica Cold Pressed Juice. They meal itself was satisfying and whilst simple that roll was the ideal way to help relieve me of any cravings I may have had before that meal was laid out in front of me.

Drinks wise, Qantas is renowned for having a great selection and proudly promoted on the menu as having won this year’s best Cellar In The Sky Award. Generally I would agree but on this flight the drinks list did not grab me. The wine choices disappointed and I would have expected more from the champagne with a better quality one for the business cabin.

Overall the meal service and food was of a good standard but could have had a few nice additions to make it really shine.

 

Verdict

The flight over initially seemed long but half way through it seemed to race by. The business class seat was of excellent quality and sleeping in it didn’t seem too much of an issue for the majority of the cabin who were in the land of nod for most of the flight. The crew were friendly and attentive and the food and drink service was good but could be improved. The question is would I do it again? In business class – yes!

 

Comments

Have you experienced flying QF9/10 between London and Perth? Did you love or dislike the flight? Hit up the comments section as I’m keen to hear your thoughts