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Can we please have a moment of silence for airline BMI, which ceased to fly the skies earlier this year as it was sold and snatched up by International Airlines Group (ah hem British Airways).
[Moment of silence].
Okay, now we can be a little happy as it's just been announced that some former slots of BMI at London-Heathrow Airport have been awarded to Virgin Atlantic on the platform that, according to Virgin, "without the remedy slots, [British Airways] would continue to fly from Scotland to Heathrow uncontested but Virgin Atlantic said today that domestic flyers would now have a compelling alternative."
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We all know that bmi ownership has changed hands from Lufthansa to IAG, the parent company to British Aiways and Iberia. When the merger is complete, bmi will be no more, a casualty in the battle that is the European aviation industry. But first, we bid a fond adieu to bmi's low-cost little brother, bmi baby.
With all the necessary signatures put to paper, IAG is starting to figure out the best way to combine operations and surge to airline dominance. The baby painted planes are the first ones to get the axe and it's all happening very quickly.
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It’s not an airline we’d usually think of flying, but since our recent business class flight to Nice, we’re actively cruising the BMI website for future trips. And that’s in no small part down to the lounge, which, quite simply, is a triumph.
If you’re flying BMI and have lounge access for whatever reason, you have two to choose from: the Star Alliance lounge at Terminal 1 (good toilets but otherwise dreary) and BMI’s Great British Lounge, by gate 5. Don’t make the mistake of hitting the Star Alliance one; the GB Lounge is where it’s at. In fact, it’s so good that it’s probably this Jaunted writer's second favorite lounge after the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at LHR Terminal 3. Sure, British Airways' lounges at Terminal 5 are more grandiose, but, small as BMI's is, it ticks the all-important design-focused box.
Are we in a spa relaxation room? A daybed-clad hotel room? No, peoplewe’re in an airport lounge. And not just any airport lounge, it's BMI’s Great British Lounge at London-Heathrow Airport.
On our first visit to the lounge, we didn’t get much further than the awesome runway-facing chairs, but on round two, we noticed two feet poking out from behind a gauzy curtain to our right, and went to investigate. Sure enough, there were three daybedseach large enough to (just) fit two, and gauze between each so it didn’t feel as awkward as lie-flat beds with a middle seat (ahem, Turkish Airlines).
Travel Snapshot / BMI / Morocco Travel / Casablanca Travel / LHR / RAK / → All Tags
Casablanca. Has ever a city sounded so exotic? More to the point, has ever a city had a better advertising campaign than the 1942 film?
Casablanca is so ingrained in our psyche that when we found ourselves powering across the Mediterranean on our BMI flight to Marrakech last week, and found that we hit Africa at Casablanca rather than Tangier, as we’d expected, we felt a massive stomach lurch.
And how pretty did it look? The white city in comparison to Marrakech’s red city. The seaside town on the startling Atlantic, like Essaouira but closer to your heart. You can practically see the art deco buildings and the waterfront mosque!
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Poor old BMI. Rarely is it the first airline on Brit lips when they plan a trip, its routes are mainly Middle East and North Africa-based these days, and any minute now it’ll be swallowed up by British Airways (unless Richard Branson gets his way). It also has one of the most annoying social media teams in the skies (ever ready to retweet praise, but worse than unhelpful when actually being asked a question. Harrumph).
Anyway, this Jaunted member still has fond memories of BMI when it had a more standard ex-UK routemap; we remember a lovely flight to Rome, with them, and business class to Chicago in 2008 was one of our top flights of all time. So when they ran a sweet deal £159 for business class to Nice we gave them another go. And you know what? We’re very glad we did.
Check in was swift, and although we didn’t dig the silent check-in lady (no good morning, no flight chat, the only words she spoke were “have a good flight” as she handed back our passports) we’ll let BMI off, as we subsequently found out the business check in is manned by Star Alliance staff rather than BMI.
Yesterday, we got on a plane from London-Heathrow to Marrakech. Reading the papers on the plane, we noted that it was International Women’s Day, and thought no more of it. That is, until we got off the plane and noticed a line of women at the entrance to the airport, dressed in pink and holding bunches of pink roses. OMG, we thought, either we’re on the plane with someone who merits a pink carpet arrival, or this is to do with IWD.
And so it was. Each and every woman disembarking the plane was handed a pink rose and told, “Happy International Women’s Day, Madame." Once everyone was off the plane, the pink ambassadors came out to baggage claim to prowl around the carousel in case they’d missed anyone. As an introduction to Morocco, they did their country proud.
Airports / NCE / BMI / Nice Travel / Provence Travel / France Travel / → All Tags
Nothing says glam quite like the French Riviera, so it’s fitting that Nice Airportwhile it may be smallis beautifully formed. From the airport buildings that look like a grand hotel to the palm trees by where the planes parked, arriving there is all rather glamorous, but the most glamorous part of all is the runway itself.
See, Nice airport is right on the coastthe runway is actually built out in the seaso landing there, if you’re on the right side, gives the impression you’re in a seaplane. Luckily, we had a hunch and chose our side well; a nice blast of adrenaline as you come in to land over the water, and a nice surge of prettiness as you land with the wing practically skimming the Mediterranean. Views of the surrounding coastline aren’t half bad either.
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Some of our recent shots on Instagram
Yo. We already told you last week that we're now on Instagram (username: jaunted), but we thought we'd give you a fair warning that things are about to quadruple in awesome as we prepare for a late winter and spring insanely packed with international travel. That means more awesome, behind-the-scenes travel shots on Instagram from our writers...wherever they may be on this blue globe of ours.
Not only that, but here's a few additional updates we've noticed among the travel brands on Instagram:
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Even though you might not have British Midland International—or bmi to its friends—flying you anywhere soon, it’s still pretty exciting to hear about an airline adding food and beverage options instead of taking them away.
The airline—they are British after all—plans to introduce free cake to all economy passengers traveling within the UK and Ireland for both elevenses and afternoon tea. The choices will include some pretty decent offerings including victoria sponge, carrot cake, and lemon drizzle—we already are interested if we can request seconds. These treats will be for those flying in Flexible Economy and will be offered between 10am and 12pm and then again between 1:30pm and 5pm.
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Sometimes it’s hard to stay on top of all the new route announcements that come our way, so we’ve complied a little bit of a rundown below. As long as you can afford the fares, this should definitely help add to your passport stamp collection.
· British Airways:
It seems like South America is getting more and more attention each year, and now British Airways is getting in on the potential for some business and tourism action. The airline is starting service from London-Heathrow to Buenos Aires beginning March 27 of next year. It seems like they’re still working out the specifics, as we’re not totally sure if this will be a few times a week flight or a daily flight. However, what matters is that there’s easy access from the UK to Argentina.
· US Airways:
We’re sometimes hard on US Airways, but we still get excited when an airline is eager to expand their overseas options. US Airways is launching not one, but two, nonstop international routes from their base in Charlotte beginning next May. There will be daily summer service to Madrid and Dublin. The Dublin flights will run through the end of September, but the Madrid flights will last a little bit longer and won’t end until October 29. If you miss out on the seasonal options there’s always flights from Philadelphia.
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Jetblue may be the most influential airline currently on Twitter, but it's not just passengers they're impacting. Their popular @JetBlueCheeps accountwhere super-discounted, limited-time-only fares are announced on Tuesdayshas obviously influenced one European carrier enough to start their own version.
Please welcome bmifridays, from UK carrier BMI! British Midlands is the first Brit airline to launch such an offer, and although the super-discounted routes won't be announced weekly like on Jetblue, they budget prices are comparable.