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Let me preface this review by saying that, these days, when an airline gets my family and I safely to our destination, it was a successful flight and I’m deeply grateful. Get me there on time to boot and bonus points ensue.
But, we do have the choice about which airlines to fly and one can’t help comparing the amenities that are offered and extra fees that are charged when spending hundreds of dollars (or valuable airline miles) on flights.
That said, we flew United Flight 1251 to Montego Bay from Chicago O’Hare April 4 - which arrived safely and on time so the major tenets of a good flight were, indeed, accomplished - and the WiFi wasn’t working, the crew ran out of immigration forms, there were no free snacks (no surprise here), and the ones they were selling ones were rather overpriced (Pringles for $3.99, for example).
Flight Reviews / SWISS / Business Class Travel / YUL / ZRH / Seats / In-Flight Entertainment / In-Flight Meals / Zurich Travel / Montreal Travel / → All Tags
We had the chance to fly with SWISS Airlines from Zurich to Montreal in Business Class not so long ago and all we can say is that we wanna do it again.
Aside from the tasty food and good service, their new international biz class seat has it all going on. Done in a stylish grey tartan and light wood, it’s a generous size for generous hips, becomes a 6’7” lie-flat bed and has a spot to plug in your electronic gadgets. We liked the fact that each seat has a large side table that not only gives you separation from your neighbor, but can hold all of your books, mags, water, wine, headphones and No Jet-Lag tablets (we do like to spread out!). If you’re traveling solo, have a good look at the seating chart when you’re selecting your seat: Some of the single window ones have not one, but two tables per seat. You’ll feel like you’re King (or Queen) of the Universe.
Besides the expected array of movies and music that is part of the in-flight entertainment system is the unexpected ability to use the screen to view your own stuff from your cell or iPad. The system is controlled by a convenient handset that you can, as well, leave handy on that large side table.
We recently declared our undying love for Southwest Airlines. But now that Southwest has gone international, are we still feeling lovey-dovey? Here's the scoop on our recent Jaunt on Southwest from Chicago Midway to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic:
The Food: Peanuts and pretzels are still among the snacks served for free, and during our four and a half-hour flight they threw in some other choices too -- cheese sandwich crackers, packets of vanilla cookies and Chex mix. But here's the beauty. The flight attendants didn't just ask us to choose one. No! They displayed the basket full of goodies in front of each person and encouraged grabbing several.
And then they repeated this process three times during the flight. Some people were kind of
greedy hungry but the flight attendants just smiled politely. There was nothing available for sale but if you've tried some of those over-priced snack boxes on other airlines perhaps you, like us, consider that a good thing.
Flight Reviews / PEOPLExpress / PHF / Williamsburg Travel / BOS / Budget Travel / LCCs / Virginia Travel / → All Tags
Newport News-based budget airline PEOPLExpress flew for only three months in the middle of 2014, and was itself a re-launch of a 1980s airline. They abruptly ceased operations on September 26, and were finally evicted from Newport News Airport in late November. We booked a ticket and flew with them from Boston to Newport News and back before that untimely end, and this is the flight review we wrote at that time.
PEOPLExpress. What it sounds like: A new social media network for Adderall fans. What it is: An ‘80s-born, revived low-cost airline brand that launched direct flights between Boston’s Logan International Airport and Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, where the company is based. In September we scored a sale fare of $39 (inclusive tax and fees) each way; the standard fee was $79.
There’s certain poignancy to connecting Boston and Williamsburg, Virginia. Boston is, after all, where the American Revolution began. (Shot heard ‘round the world, and all.) And it’s down in the so-dubbed “Historic Triangle” of Virginia, which is anchored by Williamsburg, where the war wrapped up: Specifically at neighboring Yorktown Battlefield, where we kicked British booty and finally got them to surrender. #MURRICA.
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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...
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[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.
Flight Reviews / Air Berlin / Business Class Travel / Seats / Germany Travel / Oneworld / → All Tags
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.