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Dominic Howard-Jones. The embodiment of BA’s "To Fly, To Serve" slogan
Zany cabin crew might be par for the course these days (if you fly Southwest or Jetblue at least), but it’s not often you get a pilot who gets the whole plane laughing, especially if you’re flying fusty British Airways, right?
A huge exception would be the man, Captain Dominic Howard-Jones, who flew us from Pisa this last week. Or, as he would say, “drove the beast” down to Pisa. From boarding to disembarkation, he kept us entertained (though never irritated), doing the usual piloty announcements with his own personal twist, as if he was actually happy to be leading this flight, rather than going through the motions.
For example, the cabin crew were “gallant staff,” the plane became “the beast,” the co-pilot was “driving us” and, at Pisa, we may as well sit down again because the jetbridge was making “excruciatingly slow progress” towards us.
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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.
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What's that saying? Ah yes, "the best camera is the one you have on you." Since we're never without a camera and hardly ever not traveling, we've managed to capture a serious collection of travel photos in our numerous Photo Galleries.
Here at Jaunted, we devote a lot of enthusiasm to exploring the the premium airline lounges of the world, but time and time again we're asked about what behind the doors of the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses. Must be the mystique, or you know the fact that their cocktail list is legendary.
Now is as perfect a time as ever to share their interiors with youthe ones we've been inside, at least. That includes the Clubhouses of London-Heathrow, London-Gatwick, San Francisco, Newark-Liberty and the very spicy, very new digs at New York-JFK. Just keep in mind that, coming this October, the Newark lounge reopens with a completely renovated design, with the aim of evoking Manhattan's downtown vibe.
Without further ado:
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If you’re heading to or through the airport anytime soon you might just want to add a little bit of a layover in order to score a decent meal. Of course we’re always partial to the fast food finds we can’t get at home, but if you’re looking for something more substantial there’s a couple of celebrity chefs looking to earn your hard-earned travel money.
Up first is Jamie Oliver, as the ribbon has been cut on his new restaurant at London-Gatwick just in time to welcome and feed the first Olympic visitors. They'll call the North Terminal of the airport home, and the places will feature both a place to grab an entrée as well as a pre-departure beverage. All in all there’s three different places from which to choose, as Jamie's Italian Bakery, Jamie’s Italian, and Union Jacks Bar are all taking up valuable airport terminal real estate.
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We’re not quite there just yet, but if things keep going as they are then eventually we might just be visiting the airport to grab a good meal. Sure there are still plenty of Sbarro slices and sandwiches from Charlie’s Grilled Subs, but those grab-and-go fast food places are starting to be the exception rather than the norm.
Jamie Oliver is the next celebrity chef to head through the metal detectors, as he and his partners are kicking around the idea of bringing a brand new dining establishment to London’s Gatwick Airport. If everything goes as planned—and we’re thinking that it will—hungry airport travelers could be digging into his delicacies just in time for this year’s Olympic games.
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Not too long ago we were going on and on about the possibility of London building a pretty darn huge airport within the Thames Estuary. Well this is certainly still a possibility, but now that accountants and financiers have started to run the numbers and sort the spreadsheets, the bottom line is getting out of han.
Someone must pay for all the construction costs, costs which would be passed on down to the planes and passengers arriving at the new airport. Landing fees could be as high as £100 per passenger for the new airport—oof—a fact which may make the new airportdespite all its bells and whistlesa pretty hard sell. The thought is that the new airport could cost anywhere between like £50 and £80 billion to build, which is way more than what London-Heathrow is even worth (around £12 billion).
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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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Just because Thanksgiving has passed doesn't mean that travel will dwindle much; Christmas and other holidays are now less than one month away, and of course travel to wherever you're heading for them will start sooner. If you're heading home or on vacation, and you can't convince someone to come pick you up from the airport, we might be able to help.
Throughout December, we'll be adding more guides on how to reach airports around the world via both public and private transportation, but for now, here are six guides we've already got for you:
· London-Gatwick (just the Express train featured)
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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.
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Heading to the UK this Wednesday, November 30? Bring a book, a snack and loads of patience because for the second time this year, the UK Borders and Customs employees who stamp your passports will be on strike.
The last strike by the PCS Union was exactly five months ago, on June 30, and we just happened to fly into London-Heathrow and get stuck in the middle of it (and the line's 17 switchbacks). Although Heathrow had obviously prepared well by handing out both bottled water and kid activity packs, the nightmare of standing for nearly three hours in the most boring, bureaucratic environment ever still happened. Just listen for your flight crew to warn you about "industrial action," as our Virgin Atlantic FAs did, just to make sure we were aware what exactly was the holdup.
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There’s always an aspect of holding our breath when we try a new airline, especially if it’s a lowcost one. Sometimes, though, needs must, which is why we found ourselves travelling from London-Gatwick to Florence on Meridiana.
We’ve known about Meridiana for a long time, but heard neither positive or negative things about it. Alas with most other airlines flying into Pisa (over an hour away by bus) or Bologna (90 minutes on the train), we bit the bullet.
Luckily, we had a rather nice surprise. Staff were friendly (though be warned, since it’s an Italian airline, they speak in Italian before English). They gave us a drink and cookies, which was not only free, but probably also better than the inedible snacks BA give out.
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Picture the scene: the end of a boring, two-hour flight from London-Gatwick to Florence on Meridiana. The plane is nearly full, the hour is bothersomely early, the turbulence has been hefty, and the cloud cover means that there hasn’t been a single thing to look at out the window for the entire flight. Oh, and we forgot to bring a book.
And then, approaching the airport for landing, we dip below the clouds and out of the ether springs Brunelleschi’s dome. And Giotto’s belltower. And the spire of Santa Croce. And the Baptistery and the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio. What a view. Sometimes this is why it's worth the trouble to fly instead of take the train.
Know of a more iconic landing view? Let us know in comments below!