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? 

 

QANTAS LINK SET TO FLY INTO BENDIGO 6 DAYS A WEEK

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Regional Victoria is set to get another travel option boost with QantasLink set to fly between Bendigo Airport and Sydney from March next year.The announcement by Qantas and the state government is an exciting one as it helps service a growing area in Victoria that for many is a long distance from Sydney and vice versa when you factor in flying and driving.

Until now passengers from Sydney would have to fly into Melbourne Tullamarine Airport before making a two hour drive onward to Bendigo.

From March 31, 2019 QantasLink will operate flights six days a week with its 50-seat Q300 turboprop aircraft, with daily services operating during the peak summer season.

Flights from Bendigo depart between 6.30am – 9.10am, Monday – Saturday, whilst services from Sydney depart at 5.25pm and land in Bendigo at 7.25pm on weekdays and Sundays. Flights will take from an hour and 10 minutes to two hours.

QantasLink is currently offering special fares of $129 one-way between Bendigo and Sydney, for travel from March 31 to October 26, 2019. The sale ends 17 Dec 2018.

 

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.

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.

 

The AirAsia inaugural flight takes off from Avalon Airport

000350_airasiaavalon0590_1170.jpgMelbourne Avalon Airport this week saw its first AirAsia X international flight take off. The new flight sees AirAsia X move its twice daily Kuala Lumpur – Melbourne Tullamarine flight as part of a 10 year deal with operator Linfox Airports, which the airline signed early this year.

As part of the deal, a new terminal was built to facilitate international operations (the airport had only previously catered to domestic operation) in partnership with the Commonwealth and Victorian governments. The new terminal features border processing facilities, two duty free stores, tax refund facilities, as well as a bar and cafe spanning across 6,370 square metres. The airport anticipates 500,000 passengers will pass through its newly built international terminal during its first year of operations.

AirAsia X is the only airline currently offering international flights from Avalon. Whilst the move from some in the sector feel that shift to Avalon is risky for AirAsia, the large subsidies from the Victorian Government will ensure that the move from Tullamarine to Avalon is at least cost effect. Combined with Geelong experiencing a large spike in population growth in recent years due to its close proximity to Melbourne and housing options, the move to me seems quite a smart one. I don’t envision that the move will pay dividends instantly but give it one to two years and I believe Avalon will be a viable option for price conscious flyers looking to fly between Melbourne and Asia.