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"OMG, you're going to have such a great time" isn't the typical response to someone saying they're about to spend over 14 hours on a plane...in Economy.
Alack and alas, we find ourselves reacting in this way when said travel involves flying Cathay Pacific.
Since Cathay Pacific is based in Hong Kong, a "Special Administrative Region" under China and only 426 square miles in size, it has no domestic flights. Every flight from Hong Kong International Airport is truly international, and thus Cathay is an airline completely equipped for long-haul travel, with a fleet of all wide-body aircraft. On top of that, Cathay only introduced their new Economy seats in 2012, so the interiors aren't as tired as you may have come to expect from long-haul aircraft.
While other airlines may offer some of these perks, it's Cathay's particular ratio of comfort to friendliness that may help travelers be least anxious about spending a 14-16 hour nonstop in coach.
How Cathay Pacific makes Economy Class special:
Flight Reviews / WOW Air / Iceland Travel / KEF / LGW / London Travel / Reykjavik Travel / LCCs / Photo Gallery / Budget Travel / → All Tags
This may sound weird, but our New Years resolution for 2014 was to fly WOW Air, a low-cost airline based in Iceland. Its awesome name aside, WOW intrigued us for its fleet of pink A320s, humor on Twitter, and promise of cheap flights to the notoriously expensive Reykjavik.
To complete that resolution, we booked Flight WW 201, departing Reykjavik-Keflavik at 6.45am and arriving London-Gatwick at 10.50am. That early flight and mid-morning arrival into Gatwick was ideal to then catch the train into town in time for lunch with a friend, followed by an afternoon napthe best way to ease back into London.
So here’s how it went...
Flight Reviews / Air Canada / AC 787 / Boeing 787 Dreamliner / Boeing / Boeing 787 / 787 / Star Alliance / 787 Dreamliner / Photo Gallery / Dreamliner / Tokyo Travel / HND / Japan Travel / Toronto Travel / YYZ / Premium Economy / Economy Class Travel / Seats / In-Flight Entertainment / New Airplanes / → All Tags
[Also check out Part 1, Business Class]
Premium Economy is so hot right now.
Or, rather, the class between Economy and Business has been a popular addition to aircraft for many years now, every since Virgin Atlantic introduced it way, way back in 1992(!!), but some airlines have held off and, in turn, benefitted from the wait by introducing Premium Economy classes with all the latest bells and whistles.
Flying AC00611 hours back from Tokyo-Haneda to Toronto-Pearsonwe settled into a window seat and experienced what this new class for Air Canada was all about.
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[Also check out Part 2, Premium Economy and Economy]
"Whoever said man wasn't meant to fly didn't see this coming."
These were the words printed on a banner welcoming passengers to gate 172 at Toronto's Pearson International Airport on July 15, 2014.
Outside the windows was one of Air Canada's airplanes, sitting chill in her ice blue livery and scarlet maple leaf logo while a flurry of ground vehicles prepared her for a 12-hour flight to Tokyo. Passengers waiting to board forwent selfies and instead pointed their cameras outside, at this aircraft which stars in the celebration of a new era for Canadian aviation.
But, um, hasn't Air Canada been flying from Toronto to Tokyo for, like, decades? Yes, yes they have, but never before to the Japanese capital's other, very recently updated and better located airport of Haneda, and never before with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Flight AC005 is non-stop from YYZ to HND, a lengthy trip which gives the benefits of the 787the greater cabin humidity, lower altitude level, improved personal space, and fuel efficiencya chance to strut their stuff. It was, in fact, the longest flight we've ever done in a 787, and absolutely one of the best in our own travel log.
Now, let's delve into the delicious details:
Flight Reviews / EasyJet / Iceland Travel / LTN / London Travel / LCCs / Budget Travel / KEF / Reykjavik Travel / Photo Gallery / → All Tags
Know what sounds nice? A long weekend in Iceland. While most Americans would chose to fly Icelandair or seasonal non stops from the US on other major carriers, we managed to fit an Iceland trip into a visit to London, all because of the availability of cheap one-ways on Easyjet. What proved to be most notable about the entire EasyJet travel experience is the time spent at the airport, and not actually on the flight.
For the 7.35am departure from London's Luton Airport (LTN), we reserved a £12 4.15am National Express coach bus from Victoria Station, which arrived to LTN at 5.25am. From there, we clutched our print-at-home boarding pass and, with no luggage to check, we headed straight through to airport security. Luton seems better equipped than Heathrow to handle crowds of passengers at security as, despite the morning rush, we were through security and handled (not manhandled!) in under 10 minutes. So far, so good.
Airside, Luton is a massive food court, with the boarding gates located down hallways. Passengers find seats only in the main central area, and then stand to rush and line up at the gate the minute info screens announce their flight. This early in the morning, when budget airlines love to sell their seats cheapest, the terminal resembled a safe house during an evacuation drill. Every available seat was taken, and passengers clutched their luggage on their laps as there simply wasn't room to spread out.
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When we reviewed a flight from JFK to Berlin via Air Berlin a few summers ago, we thought they still had some work to do after joining the One World Alliance. The planes were a bit outdated at the time, but the carrier has since added new A330s and lie-flat business class seats to its fleet for long-haul routes.
Last week, we flew the airline from Chicago to Berlin, riding in economy class one way and business class the other. It was good to see that most of the problems previously reported in economy have been solved thanks to a spruced-up interior cabin with individual entertainment systems. Unlike last time, there was plenty of content (movies, TV, music) to keep our attention, free headphones, and several free alcoholic beverages before and during dinner service.
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Flying on a new airline is so much fun, especially when said airline is slightly obscure and exotic. We ticked both those boxes when traveling on Cambodia Angkor Air around Cambodia and the region, from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City.
The Cambodian capital serves as the new airline's hub, so schedules and frequencies were plenty. The airline doesn't have a fleet as large as most other major airlines and so flies either an A321 or a ATR 72-500 turboprop; we planned our flights specifically for the Airbus and they just happened to be the better departure times.
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The flight: United 106 from Newark to Munich, Germany.
Seated all the way in the backseat 38Kisn't bad at all for a tad over 7 hours to Europe. Heck, we've endured a less comfortable seat for non-stops to Asia, so we boarded the plane already with a sense of "this won't be bad at all." This is regular Economy, not even "Economy Plus," as United calls their premium economy option, offering a few inches more legroom for a hundred dollars or more.
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In case you haven't flown to New York City lately, the metropolis' "big three" airports of JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark are pretty hectic places, operating at capacity most hours of the day. Expansion isn't much of an option since, last time we checked, the Big Apple was pretty skint on available land. Thus, to find cheaper airfares and more flexibility, a traveler can look to airports further out, and perhaps even as far as the other side of New Jersey from Newark.
On Frontier's route map, Trenton-Mercer Airport (TTN) is touted as being an alternative to Newark Airport, and only "1 hour away." If it's an option for Newark, that means it could be yet another airport choice for travelers headed into or out of the NYC area as well.
Currently Frontier flies nonstop to 13 destinations from Trenton: Cleveland, Detroit, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Nashville, Chicago-Midway, Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh/Durham, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood. That's quite a lot of activity for an airport which, up until very recently, didn't even offer restrooms after security. One flyer even joked, in a Foursquare tip, that the tiny airport is "easy to miss, with that bush in the way."
Undaunted, we booked a flight to see for ourselves if Trenton is the new Newark....
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Did y’all cowpokes know there’s a newly crowned “World’s Longest Nonstop Flight?” With the retirement of Singapore Airlines flight 21/22, an unnaturally long 18hr 50min nonstop flight between Singapore and Newark, comes the new champion of distance: Qantas Airlines 7's 15h 25min nonstop from Sydney, Australia to Dallas, Texas.
It doesn’t take a math genius to realize that the flying time difference between the newcomer and the old-timer is a dramatic 3hr 25min. You could watch “Titanic” from start to finish in that exact time (the movie is literally 3 hr 25 min long). However, we certainly don’t want to make light of a 15-hour flight.
Let us not forget that while Singapore’s flights were longer, they were also running a completely business class cabin with no economy option. For Qantas, a few hundred passengers on the new longest flight will be spending their 15+ hours sitting upright in economy, chewing Xanax to make the pain go away. Just kiddingEconomy in one of Qantas’ 747-400ERs really isn’t all that bad (though we’d still suggest spending a little extra for Premium Economy like we did).
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We booked a Business Class seat on one of the world's most sought-after airlines, on a bit of an odd route. An Emirates super jumbo A380 actually flies from Brisbane to Auckland. It's a trip of a little over three hours, but that's plenty time to enjoy a little extra luxury.
As you can expect, everything from time in the Emirates lounge to sitting back in our lie-flat seat on the upper deck contributed to our lack od desire to leave the plane upon arrival in Auckland.
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Los Angeles International Airport had a week like no other last week: a new terminal, a Hello Kitty invasion, a new Star Alliance flagship lounge, and inaugural flights of the British Airways Airbus A380. We’ve been giving you all the details from the front line, now with everything you need to know onboard during a regular long-haul flight.
LAX-LHR may be the only British Airways A380 route to North America right now, but we’re pretty sure that Miami will be the second US destination, beginning some time in 2014. Let’s hope so, because in every aspect the A380 is an improved flying experience, no matter which cabin you are in.
Once the A380 touched down in Los Angeles and received her water cannon salute from the LAX fire brigade, it was our turn to try her out. We waved goodbye to the Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra impersonators at the gate's red carpet and went up the air bridge to an upper deck Club World (Business Class) seat for the overnight flight to London.