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Showgirls in their scanties and an open champagne bar aren’t what you’d normally expect at London-Gatwick Airport at 9am on a Monday, but what happens in Vegas came to London this week, as Gatwick came over all Sin City in honor of British Airways’ inaugural LGW-LAS flight, which left on Monday.
Showgirls, Cirque du Soleil-style performers, a pianist and a bar, Oscar’snamed after former mayor and Vegas man about town Oscar Goodmanwere doing their stuff in the check-in hall, while, through security, an Elvis impersonator (attended by two more showgirls) took up residence at Duty-Free. There were speeches from Silla Maizey, BA's Gatwick Managing Director, as well as the Vegas tourist board. There was even a cake cutting ceremony! Unsurprisingly, most people gravitated to the sequins and champagne.
June 27. That's the date to mark on your iCal for the first arrivals of airplanes to Las Vegas-McCarran International Airport's new Terminal 3. From this day, T3 at LAS will host domestic flights from seven airlines and international flights from fifteen airlines.
We've been following the progression of this new, $2.4 billion project for some time now and finally the 14 gates allowed the public in to push buttons, flip switches and sniff the new airport air during an Open House this past weekend. Our sister site VegasChatter was in da house, reporting back with observations like, "the WiFi will be free, but the 3G won't be easy" and "it's huge. And, sprawling. In the shape of a double-decker 'H.'"
VegasChatter was lost...and then found, and then confused about the parking situation. Still they emerged with some excellent preview shots of the space and some constructive criticism for those putting finishing touches on traffic signage. Head on over to the full report this-away.
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Smell that? That's the scent of brand new airport, as Atlanta's Airport opens the doors to their brand new Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal today. The building is 1.2 million square feet with 12 gates, and cost $1.4 billion to complete. Now that is finally completed, however, what can you expect as a traveler winging your way to or from far-away destinations?
Yummy, convenient food options. Pei Wei Asian Diner, The Varsity (classic American burgers and hot dogs), Ecco Kitchen, Jekyll Island Seafood Company, Lorena Garcia Tapas Bar, Maison Mathis, Sweet Auburn Market Café, The Pecan, and The original El Taco will fill out the terminal, and of course there will be a Starbucks. Notice no Sbarro for reheated, overpriced pizza slices! Progress!
(Hopefully) faster, easier security. There'll be two security checkpoints in the new terminal, with a total of 13 lanes. Of course those won't all be in use at the same time, but we have high hopes for an airport that's been designed after 9/11, after the introduction of mobile boarding passes and after years of new security rule after new security rule.
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June in Las Vegas. It's gonna be hot, it's gonna be full of pool parties, and it's gonna have a brand new airport terminal to welcome everyone traveling to Sin City to enjoy those high temps and cool pools. The new Terminal 3 at Las Vegas-McCarran International will open for flights on June 27, becoming home to domestic flights from seven airlines and international flights from 15 airlines.
This thing has been a $2.4 billion dollar project several years in the makingfrom late 2007 to now, in factand the massive building even required a major road be moved to allow space for its 14 gates and 8-level parking structure. When it opens, the terminal will already be at capacity with international arrivals for the summer season, so it's about damn time.
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How to identify BA's mixed fleet cabin crew: they smile
You may remember the saga. First we were die hard British Airways haters. Then a flight to Vegas changed all that. It was our first experience of BA’s new mixed fleet (in operation for a year now) and boy, did it make a difference. We were entranced. Was it a one off? We prayed not.
Our return flight from Vegas had just as nice a crew (a full review on that another time). But we wanted to wait until we’d taken a couple more flights until we declared an official crush on the new mixed fleet. Now, though, since our trip to Budapest last weekend, we've seen enough to declare ourselves: British Airways appears to have transformed under the mixed fleet crews.
Staff are friendly, smiley. They give the impression of wanting to help you. They give the impression that they are happy to be on board, and that they actually like each other. They are as far away from the dour crew of old as Rick Perry was from knowing his government agencies. They are great. So because they’re great, we’ve got the lowdown on them. Here’s your mixed fleet 101.
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You might remember our surprise (understatement: we nearly had a stroke with shock) when we flew British Airways from Heathrow to Vegas on Christmas Eve, and were confronted, instead of the usual sullen frowns and can’t-do mentality, by smiles, extra booze, cheery greetings and an atmosphere that didn’t send us screaming for the emergency exit handle.
Back then, we told you about the crew, and promised more on the flight later. Sorry about thatit’s taken three weeks to process the shock of a pleasant BA flight. But anyways. Did the flight-our first longhaul in BA economy for a couple of years-live up to the crew? Let’s see.
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A snow-covered part of the Grand Canyon
”Why are you flying to Albuquerque?” were the words on most people’s lips last week when we told them we were cutting short a trip to Vegas to hit New Mexico.
Why Albuquerque? Well, to start with, for the flightone of the most spectacular ones we’ve ever been on.
From Las Vegas to Albuquerque we were looking south, and got a prime view of the snow-covered high desert, mountains and miniscule trees poking out of the snow. All very beautiful, except we heard the pilot announce that “on the left, you’ll see the Grand Canyon.”
So on the way back, we swapped sides to face north, and were greeted by snow-covered mountains, snow-covered plains…and then, yeah, the Grand Canyon. We flew pretty much all the way along the Grand Canyonfrom 40,000 feet we picked out the famous South Rim, less famous North Rim and, we think, possibly the West Rim, too (though we didn’t see the Skywalk).
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Comedy hats and smiles. Two things you don't normally expect to see British Airways staff wearing
When we told people last week we were flying British Airways from Las Vegas to London overnight on New Year’s Eve, they were aghast. Why weren’t we partying? Why were we flying alone? Why were we leaving Vegas on the best night to be in Vegas?
We told them they were wrong on several counts. First, NYE in Vegas is horrendo, period. Second, after the Christmas Eve mini party we experienced on our flight out, we suspected the return journey could actually be fun. Thirdlysince there are few things we enjoy less than forced festivitythe idea of spending NYE at 40,000ft watching crappy movies was highly appealing.
And fourth, we coolly assumed we’d fly past loads of fireworks and cross so many timezones that we’d witness the year turning about six times before we reached London.
So how was it?
Oh hai Christmas flight attendants, you look fun! You also look like you're in the wrong uniform. That nail varnish, lipstick, smiley faces, santa hats indicative of a fun disposition...you belong on Virgin Atlantic, right?
Wrong, because, and you may need to sit down for this, we snapped this on our Christmas Eve flight from London-Heathrow to Las Vegas on British Airways. Yes, BA of the grouchy staff who fling inedible food at you and snap if you dare to ask for so much as an extra glass of water. But these British Airways FAs were differentoh so different. In fact, they were the highlight of the flight.
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You may remember we told you a little while back about a rather underwhelming experience in Virgin Atlantic's economy class from London to Vegas. Luckily, we're pleased to report the food was much, much better.
First, a bit of background. This member of Jaunted is not a fan of airline foodeven in business class. We were also seriously unimpressed with the meals consumed in premium economy a couple of years back, with the exception of a recent excellent Full English Breakfast. Alas, we still didn't have much hope for economy.
But what do you know...for economy, it was actually very decent.
Every frequent flyer worth his or her salt has a history of how-I-got-my-upgrade stories. We've got another one to throw on the pile, but it's also a cautionary tale for the next time you think you can swing a comfy seat at the very last minute.
Picture this: it's morning in Las Vegas and after a few days of taking care of business in Sin City and enjoying the nightlife, we've not slept and are facing three flights over a span of 20 hours to reach Southeast Asia, all in Economy. On top of it, we've got to spend at least a solid three hours working on our laptop on the flights. What to do?
Using the check-in kiosk as Las Vegas-McCarran, United popped up a sweet offer: Upgrade to Business Class for an extra $619? We'd already upgraded to Economy Plus for one leg, and were impatient to check in, so we turned down the offer and zipped through security to the gate. By then, the upgrade was looking pretty good and since United hadn't asked for any miles in addition to the money, it became a serious option. It's not like we'd have many United MileagePlus miles to offer anyway; we're not huge United flyers in general (though we do love us some Star Alliance).
Some things, sometimes, we take for granted when we travel longhaul. That we will over-indulge on sub-par food. That we will overimbibe so that we snore a little when we finally drop off. And that we will inevitably be sat next to an armrest grabber with an aversion to showers. But at least we will catch up on all the movies we meant to see over the past couple of months on our on-demand seatback TV.
So far, so predictable. Until we boarded our 10.5-hour flight from London-Gatwick to Las Vegas last week and realized that, yes, there were seatback TVs, but no, they were not on demand. There were 10 channels, with each one continually screening the same film on repeat. There were also about four music channels.
How very 1998! In this day and age, if you’re going to subject yourself to the indignities of patdowns, immigration lines and flatulent neighbors, the very least an airline can do is take your mind off it with your own TV set. But who was the culprit? Useless Continental? Snooty British Airways? Please-don’t-let-my-booking-be-with-them US Airways?
No, it was Virgin Atlantic.