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.

 

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?

QANTAS LONDON LOUNGE TERM 3 LONDON HEATHROW: REVIEW

Alliance: Oneworld

Location: London Heathrow Airport, Terminal 3

Lounge Rating: 4 Stars

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For years Qantas relied heavily on its Oneworld partners to provide their top tier frequent flyers with lounge access from British Airways to American Airlines. Whilst the business lounges from the respective airlines did the job, they lacked character and were no where near the standard set by Cathay or Emirates. Fast forward to late last year and hello – Qantas opens its first dedicated Qantas lounge.

From the dine-on-demand from set menus to a sexy gin and cocktail bars, the Qantas London lounge has really raised the bar in terms of lounge offering at Heathrow Terminal 3. A few of my friends have already frequented it and all have glowing reviews of it. I was keen to see what all the fuss was about and hopped on in for a look.

 

Lounge access options

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Lounge access is available for passengers who are:

  • first class and business class passengers on Qantas flights and those of Oneworld airlines departing from London Heathrow Terminal 3 (American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Royal Jordanian, etc)
  • Qantas Platinum One, Platinum and Gold frequent flyers (and one guest) and their Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire equivalents, on Qantas or Oneworld flights
  • Qantas Club members (and one guest) on Qantas flights
  • Holders of a Qantas Club lounge invitation who are on a Qantas flight
  • Emirates Skywards Platinum and Gold cardholders on Qantas flights.

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

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The Qantas London lounge is known at Heathrow Terminal 3 as  ‘Lounge B’. Simply follow the signs for Lounges or Gates 1-11, take a left turn shortly after exiting the central core of the terminal’s duty free shops, cafes and seating. It’s open daily from 8am to 8.30pm.

 

Ambience

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The first thing I notice upon entering the lounge is the striking staircase that ascends up to the gin and cocktails bar. Glimmering so bright it ‘almost’ looked like a staircase to heaven…almost! The lounge is split between two levels with the ground floor housing a dedicated dining area with table service whilst the upstairs space contains the bar and more relaxed seating arrangements alongside a buffet food station.

Both levels offer views of the tarmac but be warned – unless you are near the windows you are unlikely to see much due to the way the lounge is positioned.

On the upper floor there’s six large showers suites with both rain and wand shower heads and Aspar toiletries – the usual Qantas lounge amenities suspects!

Due to the large open layout you’ll find that the noise carries around the lounge and during peak hours can be quite noisy. If you are looking for somewhere more quite to relax or work I would suggest you visit the Cathay or British Airways lounges instead.

 

Bread and butter (food and drink)

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Whilst I wasn’t there to enjoy their dedicated table service menu, I did manage to sample some of their buffet options as well as enjoy a sneaky glass of their champagne which is provided to Platinum passengers. The choices on offer had a good focus around British and Australian cuisine. The scones and jam accompanied with my champagne went down a real treat! They were so good that even her Majesty would approve these!

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There’s also espresso machines at both bars for the coffee aficionados while tea fans will find can brew themselves something lovely from the large selection of Dilmah teas on offer.

Being a hybrid business/ first class lounge, some of the food options were a little underwhelming compared to the offerings found in Qantas first lounges.

 

Verdict

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The Qantas London Lounge is quite a flashy, shiny new product. The lovely furnishings and wooden tones that meld well with marble really is a sight to behold when one first walks into the lounge.  It has the vibe of a savvy upmarket London bar as opposed to an airport lounge.

Food and drink wise is a bit hit and miss and that is due to the airline catering for both business and first passengers. Qantas has definitely stepped up the food and drink offering for business class passengers but for those who frequent the Qantas first lounge may find the food on offer a tad disappointing.

The gin and cocktail bar is a fantastic touch and the girls and guys behind the bar know their drinks well. It’s almost a spectacle in itself to watch them behind the bar work their bar tending magic to create to fantastic looking (and tasting) gin and cocktail creations.

The lounge in conclusion is solid offering. I would definitely consider returning (should the Cathay Pacific First Lounge be full next door).

 

Comments

Have you experienced the Qantas London Lounge in Terminal 3 at Heathrow? 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