Qantas weighs in on hand luggage

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Qantas has begun weighing carry-on luggage of passengers at the gate as part of a crackdown on hand luggage exceeding the bag limit of 7kg. Baggage found to be overweight will be compulsorily checked in at the boarding gate. Not even Business Class passengers and Platinum One frequent flyers are exempt from the crackdown.

With the rise of a virtually contactless check in experience to the boarding gate, the process of weighing or checking in baggage has become nonexistent. Despite skipping check in due to checking in online, baggage should still meet the size and weight requirements of the airline’s baggage policy. However this often goes unchecked by full service airlines at the boarding gate.

Qantas is an airline that from living memory rarely ever weighed hand luggage at the gate but have decided that the growth of online checkin has seen the baggage policy sometimes abused by passengers. I can understand where the airline is coming from and there are some occasions where the hand luggage policy has been clearly abused but the weighing of all items, particularly if they’re only say 1-2 kgs over is a bit petty. For me on domestic flights I use hand luggage all the time, even when on a full service airline that includes checked luggage for free. It’s fast and convenient, especially when travelling for business as you don’t want to spend half an hour at baggage collection waiting for your bag.

Qantas says the random checks ensure each passenger has their fair share of overhead space whilst looking out for the safety of cabin crew who could potentially injure themselves lifting overweight luggage.

I’m divided on this issue as I can see both sides of the argument. In all fairness 7kgs is pretty light and pathetic. If hand luggage was increased to 9kg a piece I think anything over weight that should be stored underneath. As the expression goes, if you can’t lift it put it away.

It’ll be interesting to see how Qantas handles this new hand luggage in the months to come and whether it’ll further impact departure times for the airline, which for the majority of my QF flights are generally delayed.

Do you Qantas has gone too far in terms of randomly weighing hand luggage? I’m keen to hear your thoughts.

Qantas First Class Lounge Los Angeles: Review

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Alliance: Oneworld

Location: LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal

Lounge Rating: 4 Stars

Qantas possesses some of the best lounges in the world, namely their first class international lounges in Melbourne and Sydney. Outside of Australia the Qantas first class lounge experience is unfortunately scarce. A couple of years ago Qantas opened up a new first class lounge in LAX. Reviews, particularly from American media were highly favourable. I was recently in Los Angeles and was keen to see if the great ‘Australian lounge experience’ was indeed alive and well in the States but more importantly do they do Neil Perry’s salt and pepper squid the justice it deserves? I checked into the LAX Qantas First Lounge to find out.

Lounge access options

  • Qantas first class passengers, plus first class flyers of Oneworld partners British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines from Los Angeles
  • Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge frequent flyers travelling on a Qantas or Oneworld flight, including Qantas codeshare flights
  • Connecting passengers arriving on long-haul first class Oneworld flights
  • American Airlines’ first class passengers
  • Other Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers
  • American Airlines Executive Platinum and ConciergeKey members
  • Single-use Qantas first class lounge pass holders
  • Air France first class passengers

Lounge location and opening hours

After clearing security at the Tom Bradley International Terminal, proceed over the indoor ‘bridge’, turn left, and then take the lift up to level five, where you’ll arrive in front of the roo branded lounge entrance.

 

Ambience

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Initial impressions of the lounge is that it has a relaxed and unpretentious ambience. It doesn’t feel cluttered or people busy as first lounges in Australia. The rectangular shaped lounge space offers two main seating areas each furnished with quite comfortable large armchairs and a self serve wine and coffee area. Towards the back of the lounge is the dining room which is complete with a sit around bar that’s looked after by a bartender.

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Next door to the dining area are shower and toilet facilities that are equipped with Aspar wash products. I decided to take a shower prior to dining a la carte but found there was a line up for the shower spaces. Unlike the Emirates Dubai lounge I found the turn around of showers was quite speedy which is handy for anyone in a rush.

A big criticism is sadly the lack of natural lighting in the lounge with no tarmac views. As a result the lounge feels a tad dark but nowhere near as oppressive as the Qantas International Melbourne Business Lounge.

 

Bread and butter (food and drink)

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One thing that I always love and look forward to at a Qantas First Lounge is the cuisine. The airline’s partnership with Rockpool culinary king Neil Perry is one of the longest chef airline collaborations in aviation history. The dining area is an a la carte space where passengers are treated to restaurant service and quality. Being a late flight out of LAX the service was dinner focused.

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I started with the lounge’s signature salt and pepper squid dish which has become my go to starter. It was satisfying but not as good as the one I enjoyed in the Sydney first lounge two weeks prior. Moving onto mains I went with the grilled bass with corn puree. It was a lot more enticing than my entree and went down well with my champagne. I rounded out my meal with the sticky date pudding which was surprisingly lighter than I thought but packed a punch in terms of flavour.

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Unlike the first lounges in Sydney and Melbourne there was a lack of champagne choices which was quite disappointing. Fortunately I quite enjoy a drop of Pommery and managed to savour two glasses before my flight was called.

I do give the lounge big props in terms of turning around dishes after they’ve been ordered. The lounge was busy yet unlike the Australian counterparts, they managed to quickly bring dish to table without taking half an hour. I find that I often have to arrive earlier than I would like to at Australian lounges just so I don’t feel rushed when it comes to dining in the dining area before a flight. The LAX kitchen is like a machine and was a bevy of activity the entire time I was there. Despite the swift service, the staff were still as attentive and courteous as their Australian colleagues.

 

Verdict

The lounge is definitely one of the best in America and sets a new standard hopefully for Americans to follow. Qantas should be proud of its first product. It’s slick, well serviced and flies that Australian flag well in terms of cuisine. Sure there are a few little niggles here and there, particularly the lack of natural light but overall there’s no place I would rather be at Tom Bradley International Terminal to spend a couple of hours whilst waiting for my flight.

 

Comments

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

 

 

 

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?

BRITISH AIRWAYS GALLERIES FIRST LOUNGE TERMINAL 5 AT LONDON HEATHROW: REVIEW

Alliance: Oneworld

Location: London Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5

Lounge Rating: 4.5 Stars

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British Airways lounges, particularly their first class lounges, have always had a strong reputation and are viewed by many as some of the best in Europe alongside Swiss and Air France. Having previously used the BA Business Lounge a handful of times I felt that the standard in those were pretty good so naturally I was keen to see what BA had to offer in terms of their First Class offering.

 

Lounge access options

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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 lounge can be accessed through the brand new First Wing area at the south end of the terminal. This allows you to use First class check in, go through a separate security channel and enter directly into the BA lounge. Should you not use this option you can access the lounge by going through either the North or South security check points and then enter the lounge complex on the ground floor at the south end of the terminal. It’s open from 5am-10.30pm daily.

 

Ambience

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The first thing I notice upon entering the lounge is how quiet the space (to the point that you could hear a pin drop). There’s no announcements of flights or the buzz of voices from chatter between people. The lounge felt as a result rather cold and was not helped by its strange configuration. Whilst the break out spaces were good for those wanting to get work done, the ambience of the place was almost nonexistent as a result. An example of this is the Champagne Bar or the new Union Coffee space. Whilst I love the concept for both, the spaces had 1-2 people in them at a time at best.

On one side of the Champagne Bar was a larger drinks bar complete with spirits, wines and non-alcoholic options whilst on the other side was a working space as well as the buffet food area known as the ‘The Deli’ and a ‘wine gallery’. The buffet selection was decent and had some of the best options I have seen in a lounge. The scones with cream and strawberries is so British it hurts but looked too good not to sample (which I did happily).

The area I liked most was the First Dining Room with its table service and great views of the tarmac for those like me who like a decent serving of plane spotting before taking off into the meal.

There’s also the Elemis Spa available to those on the day for those not flying first if there are appointments available. I did not have time to access this option and am unable to provide feedback on this.

 

 

Bread and butter (food and drink)

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The Champagne Bar and the Union Coffee space are great ideas but wasted opportunities. As I mentioned earlier they were both empty and that’s disappointing considering the investment. The champagne being served was Champagne Jeeper in either a Grand Brut or Grand Rose style. I had the Rose and it was delightful on the palate.

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Besides the scones and strawberries from ‘The Deli’ buffet section, I decided I’d dine with the table service at the First Dining Room. The menu is nowhere near extensive as the ones at Qantas or Cathay.

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From the options available I went with the BA Burger. The menu described the burger as having ‘flippin amazing burger sauce’ but when I went to try it, there was anything amazing about the burger. That said it was still quite delicious. If there was anything I would have liked to have seen is that the table dining service offer passengers more options to choose from. It was quite limiting for what BA deems as a ‘ first class lounge’.

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Verdict

The lounge does the job in terms of keeping me well fed and hydrated in a space away from the crazy activity of the terminal. Food and wine, particular the choice of champagne available in the lounge at the time was good quality. The x factor is all in the table dining service in the First Dining Room with the meals well portioned and deliciously tasty. If there’s any gripe it’d be the configuration. A sense of peace and privacy is essential in any lounge but this one was designed to the point that interaction with other human beings would seem almost non-existent. A livelier environment would have been welcomed. In addition comparing it to other ‘first lounges’ globally, this one doesn’t have the shine or personalised touch like those at Cathay Pacific or Qantas.

Would I return for another visit let alone another bite of that BA Burger? In response to both – in a heartbeat!

 

Comments

Have you experienced the BA Galleries First Class Lounge in Terminal 5 at Heathrow? Love to hear from you about your time in lounge – did it shine or were you expecting something better?

 

 

 

LATAM FINALLY GOES BUSINESS CLASS DIRECT AISLE ACCESS FROM 2018

Who loves direct aisle business class? I do and so does LATAM Airways apparently with the South American airline set to roll out a dramatically improved business class seat across its international fleet from late 2018.

LATAM has chosen the Thompson Aero Seating Vantage XL seat with styling by London-based PriestmanGoode. The changes will be noticed on their Boeing 767 and Boeing 777 fleet as well as their new fleet of Boeing 787-9s and Airbus A350-1000s.

In addition to direct aisle access, the seats will offer passengers to rest easy on a new fully lie-flat bed. The design is very similar to fellow Oneworld partner Qantas who has a similar layout and design on the A330, 787 and soon A380 fleet.

Having flown the current LATAM business class 2-2-2 configuration I can say the new changes will really enhance their product offering. Sure the current seat hasn’t aged and still provides some decent space but there’s a lack of privacy, let alone the not so fun game of hopping over your neighbour should you be seated against the window.

I look forward to seeing their new product rolled out across their network as it’d really give not only Qantas a run for its money on that hop between Australian and Santiago but also offer passengers another decent business class option when travelling abroad.

BRITISH AIRWAYS A320 BUSINESS CLASS LONDON TO PARIS: REVIEW

Flight: BA 322, London-Paris

Loyalty Scheme: Executive Club (Oneworld alliance)

Frequency: Multiple daily

Duration: 2 hours and 15 minutes

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British Airways was once a proud and prestigious airline for the UK and was even for a time a leading airline within the aviation sector. Stiff competition from budget airlines in recent years has seen the airline slowly chip away its gloss and glamour in a bid to become a competitive product. In turn the changes have seen the airline take a turn for the worse where simple things like free seating allocation and food/ drinks on board have been replaced as add on purchases. Whilst economy has suffered the most out of the changes I was keen to see if business class (Club Europe) was still a decent product when I took a recent flight from London to Paris.

 

The Seat

Seated in 2A, the first thing I noticed upon boarding the plane is that the seating is basically configured the same as the 3-3 in economy expect that the middle seat has a table across it (perfect for drinks and snacks when you don’t the tray table open). I take my seat and find that I’m the only one fortunate enough to have a row of three seats to myself in the business cabin.

The flight attendant for the business cabin comes round offering a glass of champagne or water before take off. There was no greeting but instead a a somewhat shouted announcement of the two drink offerings. I choose the champagne which I found was quite delectable. No accompanying canapes were offered as part of the pre-departure service.

 

Entertain me

Other than twiddling my thumbs whilst waiting for our delayed flight to take off, I found the only entertainment offered on boarding was waiting for the food and drink cart to come down the business aisle. Sadly no seat back or WiFi entertainment service was offered on this flight.

 

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

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Not long after the seat belt sign was extinguished the meal and drink service came through. With such a short flight I guess business class passengers want to maximise their time to eat, work or simply have a quick power nap before their destination. Being a early evening service dinner was served on this flight with a choice between a chicken or rice dish. I went with the chicken option and found that the meal was light and tasty. The meal was accompanied with a dessert as well as some bread rolls which the FAs happily kept offering from the bread basket through the flight.

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Drinks wise the options were limited. From the usual white and soft drink suspects I stuck with the champagne. One thing that was pleasing to see was the FAs attentiveness to the business cabin by offering passengers the change to top up or have another drink. Some in my cabin kept the champagne flowing so to speak!

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Whilst the meal is nothing outstanding it certainly did the job. Service was excellent during the segment of the flight.

 

Verdict

The flight experience despite being delayed on both ends was relatively smooth. A poor start to the pre-departure service was more than made up for in the overall service throughout the flight. Food and drink choices were good but nothing memorable. Would I be willing to pay a considerable amount more to be at the top end of a BA plane again so soon? Perhaps not but then again I would definitely consider it if the price point was better on a business class sale for example.

 

Comments

Have you experienced flying Club Europe with BA? Did you love or dislike the flight? Hit up the comments section as I’m keen to hear your thoughts

 

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