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?

Alaska Airlines raises checked baggage fees

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Seattle based Alaska Airlines has sadly decided to take a leaf out of its larger American rivals like American Airlines by increasing the fees it charges to checked bags. Coming into effect 5 December 2018, the carrier will raise checked bag fees to $30 from $25 for the first bag, to $40 from $25 for the second bag, to $100 from $75 for the third and to $100 from $75 for oversized luggage.

Elite loyalty members of Mileage Plan and Alaska Airlines credit card holders are not exempt from the changes. Whilst Mileage Plan members will continue to enjoy free baggage for their first two bags, they will now be charged for the third bag which  increases to $100 from $75. Likewise Alaska Airlines credit card holders can still check the first bag complimentary but will see fees rise to $40 from $25 for second and $100 from $75 for the third bag.

The move will bite many passengers. The airline despite the greedy price hike was timid in mentioning the new rates with the announcement made via a tiny link on Alaska’s homepage. The airline claims the new charges were made due to increased pressure in operations and fuel costs.

 

ALASKA AIRLINES AS931, LAS VEGAS-SEATTLE: MAIN CABIN REVIEW

Flight: AS931, Las Vegas – Seattle

Loyalty Scheme: Mileage Plan

Frequency: Multiple flights daily

Duration: 2 hr and 35 mins

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Despite its namesake, the base for Alaska Airlines is not in Anchorage but instead Seattle (my destination for this flight). As the hub for Alaska, the city of Seattle is quite strategic as not only is it close to the Canadian border but well connected on the west coast in terms of big tech business (Alaska even has priority check-in for Microsoft employees).

A couple of years ago the airline took over Virgin America, which was viewed as many as the shining beacon in American aviation. Now that the airline has sadly merged into Alaska I was curious as to whether the airline incorporated the better traits of the once great Virgin America into their own brand.

Seat

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Today I was flying on a B737-800 aircraft. This particularly aircraft has two cabins (12 first and 112 main cabin seats). The grey and white tones of the interior were a stark contrast to the more vivid purple, red and white tones of Virgin America with the seats looking nowhere near as plush. Leg room and seat pitch is satisfactory with 32 inches offered in the main cabin. Despite the relatively average pitch the seats were a lot more comfortable than they looked.

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Entertain me

Alaska Airlines offers free entertainment via your own personal device. The entertainment selection of movies and tv series were relatively weak. I struggled to find anything that was of interest to me. A larger catalogue of options would have been more welcome on this flight considering the relatively long flight from south to the north of the USA.

 

Wine and dine me (the food)

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Basic snacks and drinks were complimentary in the main cabin. Those craving something a little stronger in terms of drink (alcoholic) or more substantial in terms of food would need to buy on board.

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What I did like was the partnership between Alaska Airlines and Seattle based Starbucks. The coffee in turn was better than the average inflight filter coffee and did the trick in terms of keeping me refreshed and alert after an early start that morning. Snack wise (I always prefer something more substantial) was a biscoff biscuit to nibble on.

 

Summary

Despite the flight being delayed an hour, the flight experience was surprisingly better than expected. It’s hard to not compare it to Virgin America especially when an airline such as Alaska takes over its fleet and operations. I was concerned the airline would unwind all the good work that VA did to make flying in America a decent experience. Sure it’s not VA but it does work hard compared to some other American competitors to give the passenger a relatively premium experience, whether you are in first or the main cabin.

Food and drink offering was satisfactory. The nice touch of Starbucks coffee was welcome and made the Seattle experience, well, more Seattle. The only negative I would have to say is the entertainment offering. It was quite poor and could offer a better selection for passengers. I would definitely consider flying Alaska again when I next choose to fly in America.

 

Service: 4 Stars

Seating: 3.5 stars

Food: 4 Stars

AMERICAN AIRLINES AA1771, DALLAS-LAS VEGAS: MAIN CABIN PLUS REVIEW

Flight: AA1771, Dallas – Las Vegas

Loyalty Scheme: AAdvantage (Oneworld alliance)

Frequency: Multiple flights daily

Duration: 2 hr and 55 mins

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American Airlines has usually been my first choice when it comes to flying hopping airport to airport within the USA. The staff are generally efficient (and mostly friendly) and the offerings of food and drink whilst simple are generally more generous than its competition. American Airlines recently introduced complimentary enhancements to their Main Cabin Plus passengers including free alcohol priority boarding and storage. I was keen to give their newly enhanced product a try to see if it was truly ‘enhanced’.

Seat

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The aircraft has two cabins (16 first and 165 main cabin seats). There are 18 main cabin plus seats on this aircraft. The interior was fresh and relatively new with IFE seatback entertainment and smart leather seats. Leg room and seat pitch is more ample with 34 inches in main cabin plus as opposed to 31 inches in the main cabin. The only negative was that the bottom cushion of the seats was relatively thin and when I got up to leave the aircraft I felt rather sore. The seats despite looking the goods in terms of design do not feel comfortable after a certain period of time.

 

Entertain me

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American offers free entertainment via seatback or through your own personal device. On the A321 seatback was on offer. The entertainment selection of movies and tv series was strong.

 

Wine and dine me (the food)

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Whilst snacks and non alcoholic drinks are complimentary in the main cabin, the difference with main cabin plus is the introduction of free alcoholic beverages. On my flight was a selection of spirits, wines and beers. I went with a bottle of the Les Papillons Grenache Rose from France which was quite smooth and light. A great choice with the sadly small bag of mini pretzels that was handed out as a ‘snack’.

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American Airlines do offer more substantial sized meals for those feeling peckish but it will cost you. Even after the drinks service has come through the cabin the attendants on board seemed more than happy to offer additional drinks to passengers upon request.

 

Summary

The flight was relatively smooth and despite being delayed an hour, the aircraft did their best to try and make up for lost time. IFE entertainment was good quality as were the selection of drinks for main cabin plus passengers. The pitch despite being 3 inches more than main cabin wasn’t really noticeable and the seats after a certain period of time were a tad uncomfortable. Other than that the flight experience was generally good and one I would fly again on in the future. The big question is would I pay extra for the main cabin plus cabin? To be frank not really. However if you are an Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire member where the seat is complimentary to you, I’d definitely take advantage of selecting this seat as soon as you book your flight as it’s a nice little extra incentive to enjoy on your flight!

 

Service: 4 Stars

Seating: 3 stars

Food: 3.5 Stars

UNITED TO OPEN HOUSTON POLARIS LOUNGE JUNE 29

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United has had a checkered and messy start with the Polaris concept. The concept is brilliant and rather beautiful for a brand like United but it is flawed in terms of its roll out. They opened the first Polaris Lounge in Chicago and for almost 16 months did not open up another. Suddenly it’s as if United has awoken and is rolling them out of the production line in a quick manner with the San Fran and Newark lounges opening within the last three months. Now United is set to open two more with Houston the next cab off the rank on June 29.

The Polaris Lounge Houston will be open to all  United long haul business class passengers, as well as other Star Alliance first and business class passengers travelling out of Houston to a long haul destination.

Located in Terminal E the new lounge will be smaller than the Polaris Lounges recently opened at SFO and EWR. It will be interesting to see how it turns out in the end but whatever the case, the lounge will be head and shoulders quality wise compared to the United Club Lounge.

Anyone flying first or business long haul on United out of Houston soon? Are you excited about the new Polaris lounge and will you make time for a visit?

Singapore Airlines SIN-NYC flight set to take over as world’s longest

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The age of flying non-stop has been very much in vogue over the last couple of years with numerous airlines trying to outdo each other with the world’s longest flight. Now Singapore Airlines has decided they want a piece of the action by launching what would be the world’s longest non-stop flight route in October. Commencing October 11, the ultra long haul flight will take off from Singapore’s Changi Airport and land at NYC’s Newark Liberty Airport.

What makes this fight even more unique is that the aircraft will not have any economy class seating, instead offering 67 business class and 94 premium economy class seats.

Operating three times weekly, Singapore will use their new Airbus A350-900ULR (Ultra Long Range) plane to make the 19 hour journey that spans a whopping 16,700 kms.

Singapore Airlines originally flew the route on the A340 but fuel inefficiency saw this route shelved in 2013. The reinstatement of the route will see it eclipse the current longest flight route record holder Qatar Airways which flies Doha to Auckland (14,529 kms).

Comments

Would you be willing to fly 19 hours non-stop on a plane if it offered only premium seating? Keen to hear your thoughts.

 

DELTA ‘DELTA ONE’ 777-200LR LOS ANGELES-MELB: REVIEW

Flight: DL41, Los Angeles – Melbourne (27 April 2018)
Loyalty Scheme: Delta Skymiles/ Velocity Frequent Flyer
Frequency: Daily
Duration: STD: 10:25pm (-7) ATD: 10.58pm (-7) Delayed 33 mins, STA: 6:35am (+10)      ATA: 7:00am (+10) Delayed 25mins

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Delta Airlines operates the 777-200LR between Sydney and Los Angeles. On this route the aircraft features the older Delta One product, which is unfortunately the first gen lie flat seat introduced by Delta in Business Class. The plane is laid out identically to the Delta 777-200ERs. It features 37 full flat seats in Delta One (aka Business Class), 36 Delta Comfort+ seats (think economy with an additional 4” of leg room and more recline) as well as 218 seats down the back in economy.

This particular seat is in a herringbone arrangement and is split into two cabins of 26 between the first two doors with an additional 11 seats behind door two, in front of Comfort+. I was sat located in the second cabin in 11A. Delta recently announced plans to refresh their 777 fleet which will see introduced to the planes the new Delta One Suites currently found on the A350.

The Airport

Delta operates out of Terminal 3 and 2 from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The Sky Club in T2 used to be Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge in a previous life and with some minor updates by Delta after the great LAX move. That said it still feels relatively modern and fresh. Arriving from a connecting US domestic flight, I found the showers and freshened up before getting a small bite to eat and some tea prior to boarding the long journey home.

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There was no wait for a shower and afterwards, plenty of available seating despite it being peak hour for flights. There were a variety of chairs grouped in 2 and 4,  solo chairs and bench seating. Snacks, salads and a small selection of hot foods were available as well as self-pour wines and spirits. The selection was sadly not outstanding, but then again on US standards it was fairly good.

The Seat

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I had originally assigned myself 2A in the forward cabin, however my seat assignment didn’t stick and I was bumped out to 11A. Whilst it was not a big deal, I did prefer to be in the forward cabin as the location of the second cabin is directly in front of Comfort+ which can attract some noise. In all honesty though, the setup of a herringbone seat means you face inwards into the aisles and the sidewalls of the seats aren’t particularly high. This meant that whenever I turned my head slightly to the right, I could see at least 5-6 people in my line of sight. The light coming from Comfort+ would also shine into the Delta One cabin as their meal service timing differed from ours and could prove a problem for those who are light sensitive when sleeping.

Waiting at my seat were Westin Heavenly bedding a pillows, a Tumi amenity kit featuring Kiehls moisturises. Noise cancelling headphones were also found at my seat, but I used my own Beats Studios instead during the flight. During the boarding process, I ordered a glass of champagne. I was also provided menus and pyjamas shortly before push back.

As mentioned, the seat is quite exposed and while in the upright position, I am able to see a number of passengers (and vice versa). In bed mode though, it is quite comfortable owing to the fact that it is exposed. You can see most of the passenger across from the aisle, but others are limited by the shield around your seat. A combination of exhaustion and comfortable bedding ensured I slept well over 8 hours. Sadly there is no turn down service (unlike Qantas or Virgin Australia trans-pacific).

Entertain me

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Being one of the oldest Delta One products out there, the age is really starting to show. The screen at my seat was slow, low resolution and small. Indeed, there was limited content found with roughly 20-30 movies and similar number of TV show episodes available. Music was even more limited, so I ended up listening to music from my iPhone. BYO entertainment if you don’t want to be bored during the 13+hour flights between SYD and LAX. I was not impressed and didn’t bother to show anything other than the moving maps as there was genuinely nothing that appealed to me or that I hadn’t watched.

Wifi streaming is available along with internet. As with all Delta flights, messaging is free on board (limited to certain apps and excludes pictures and videos), while doing anything else requires payment. From what I could ascertain, there were patches along the route where the internet would cut out or become incredibly slow (which makes sense as coverage along the pacific can be patchy).

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

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Once in the air, there was a short wait before the dinner service began. The late evening departure means that many passengers choose to sleep rather than eat. Whilst I had been up very early that morning (and on East Coast time too!), the flight allowed for plenty of time to sleep so I pushed through and had dinner. US airlines aren’t particularly well known for their service, but I have often found that while the flight attendants can be very casual and relaxed about the service, being nice and engaging them in conversation often does wonders in creating a positive experience. Indeed, chatting to the flight attendant working my aisle, she became very animated and ensured I had everything I needed throughout the flight. Top marks to her.

When the dinner/supper service did begin, it started with another glass of champagne and with some nuts as the table was set. Shortly after, my salad, appetiser and soup were all served on one tray. The only choice for dinner was the mains. I ended up going with the chicken (baked with a crust and served with asparagus). The salad and soup dish was taken away after I was done and the main dish replacing them on the same tray. As my appetiser dish and bread dish were left on the tray, general display of food looked tardy but I appreciate it was done so that the meal service could be completed earlier. The meal was finished with the option of cake, cheese or ice cream sundae. I went with the ice cream topped off with caramel sauce and nuts.

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I had some chips and banana as a snack two hours prior to breakfast from the assorted snacks laid out in the galley, but did not order anything from the snack menu.

Just over an hour prior to landing, the breakfast service began. Options ranged from French toast and omelette to muesli and yoghurt. I went with the French toast which sounded much better on the menu that it looked. Whilst fine, I found the portion small and rather uninspired. It was served with some sad looking pieces of mandarin and grapefruit. Flight attendants came around with croissant, bread and carrot cake muffins. I went with the muffins and they were seriously delicious. Overall I found the food offerings rather small in serving and lacklustre in appearance/taste.

Verdict

Delta has a reputation of being the best US based airline. Certainly there were lots of things that have brought it on par with its international competitors. However I couldn’t help but feel that everything was a decade behind. The seats had seen better days, the entertainment system a couple of generations old and the food and beverage service was hardly delightful.

I got a great sleep during the flight for about half the flight and for business class, that’s one factor you’re paying the privilege for. It’s a shame that the other half of the flight was completely unmemorable/ slightly disappointing.

I believe that once the new seat is installed, it would provide a welcome upgrade  in terms of experience for the business class passenger. I can only hope that this flows onto their food and beverage service too. Combined, Delta will truly once and for all shake off that daggy American stereotype (as long as the competition hasn’t moved on again in the meantime).

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About the writer

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

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