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We're typing this while sitting at a bar, a bar overlooking half of the apron and one of the busy runways at Hong Kong International Airport. The view is unparalleled, a frequent flyer sweet secret, and it's only found on the upper level at Cathay Pacific's Business Class lounge The Wing.
The Wing itself is nothing new, but the layout and amenities of the place have recently been totally revamped, updated and kitted out with designer furniture, power outlets where you want them, and classic Asian touches like towering bamboo stalks. Even before the renovation, The Wing ranked as one of our favorite airline lounges in the world. Now, with the addition of a cozier lower level, a "Coffee Loft," and sexy wire Eames chairs, our heart starts racing at the thought of spending a few hours within its walls.
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Last week we told you about the slurry of airlines using this year to refresh their aircraft cabins and service. Not a few days later, American Airlines dropped some major news as well, and they supplemented it with Instagram shots of the goods.
AA will take delivery of their first Boeing 777-300ER late this year and, from photos posted on Instagram last week, the big birds will look pretty flash on the inside. Since the airline is the first US carrier to take delivery of the shiny, new aircraft type, the introduction will surely be huge.
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After a challenging year for some of the founding members of the Oneworld alliance, 2012 will surely be brighter. In 2011, the alliance saw American Airlines file for bankruptcy and Qantas' chief grounding the entire network to challenge labor disputes, plus Iberia closing out the year with rounds of employee strikes.
There were some shining stars, however, with the finalization of International Airline Group (the conglomerate that combines British Airways and Iberia), Cathay Pacific offering overhauled cabins and in-flight amenities, and Japan Airlines emerging from bankruptcy stronger and more stable.
As we get going with 2012, we can't help but notice the huge changes happening amongst these airline buddies. Oneworld is the world's smallest of the major airline alliances, yet consistently hits the high marks in passenger ratings. With the addition of 3 new carriers, Oneworld will gain a fighting chance to excel in years to come. Here's what's happening meanwhile:
Frequent Flyer Miles / British Airways / Frequent Flyer Programs / Oneworld / Avios / Britain Travel / Europe Travel / Loyalty Programs / → All Tags
This month means more than just the beginning of holiday travel season; it also marks the beginning of a new era at British Aiways with the re-branding of their frequent flyer program to "Avios." Say cheers to the former loyalty program managed by AirMiles on November 16th.
Basically, BA Miles used to be managed through AirMiles who has done the re-branding. BA is just using the program as a "currency" to redeem flights and hotels. This shift is to align with the frequent flyer programs of its joint venture partner, Iberia, and mirror other Oneworld partner airline programs. Executive Club is sticking around and its members will be accruing Avios points instead of BA Miles. Don't worry, if you have heaps of points in Executive Club, you won't loose them.
The move to Avios is not just a name change, but the program claims to make earning points and higher status levels, as well as redeeming points for flights and upgrades, far easier. Let's see if they're right.
Travel Contests / oneworld / American Airlines / British Airways / Airline News / Airlines / → All Tags
British Airways and American Airlines are teaming up to send you on your way pretty much anywhere around the globe, but of course as with all travel contests, there is a little bit of a catch. For this contest the airlines are requiring a little bit more than an online entry or a post on their Facebook page, as they want to see if you were paying attention during English class in High School—they want you to write an essay.
Both oneworld airline alliance members are looking to help passengers “Cure The Wanderlust” with their latest promotion, and if you’re planning to head across the pond this summer, this contest might help you return again in 2012.
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Something's going on. There have been far too many cheap cheap airfares lately from the USA to Europe for travel through May on Iberia and it's starting to make us think twice. Here's a perfect example: the $250 Milan flights and $290 Paris flights, whichyes, we bookedbut still haven't really gone away. Is Iberia crazy or just awesome?
To be fair, we're flying American Airlines direct flights with their deals via the Iberia website, but you won't find the ridiculously low rates on American's site, nosireebob. Still, it is the low season in Europe and airfares are supposed to get cheap this time of the year, but then these popped up: $689 to South Africa and $478 to Istanbul. What does Iberia know that we don't?
We suppose we'll find out when we fly our $250 Europe roundtrip later this month. Until then, score yourself some equally impressive deals by searching Iberia.com directly, and keeping your dates flexible.
[Photo: Andres Rueda]
Ever since we scored that $680 direct roundtrip to Tokyo, we've been wholeheartedly in favor of jumping on those ridiculously low airfare deals, when they chance to appear. Now is that time; brace yourselves. Yesterday evening, we saw AirfareWatchdog announce flights to Paris, Milan and Brussels all under $300 total, round-trip from New York. These prices are still available, as we've checked just this morning.
The only catch is that travel for these sale fares is only between January and March, 2011 and you'll be booking on the Iberia site and most likely traveling on their Oneworld partner, American Airlines.
Many dates for a $292 trip to Paris are still open; examples we found are January 20-26, February 17-21 (go for the weekend!) and March 8-14. We scored the Milan flights ourselves, seeing as how they were $250 and we're dreaming of an Italian ski weekend in January.
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For those flying through Denver this holiday season, there’s more to be excited about than just the airport’s freaky art installations. American Airlines and British Airways—since they’re like best friends—have partnered up to create the first joint Admirals Club lounge. It just opened last week, so if you hurry you might even be able to take a whiff of that new airline lounge smell—and take advantage of seating surfaces without beer and red wine stains.
Don’t look forward to anything spectacular here as it still is just a US domestic airline lounge, but we’re all in favor of anything that takes us away from the Sbarros and screaming babies of the main terminal. Expect about 5,000 square feet of hanging out space with touches of Colorado-inspired architecture and design. There’s seating for around 125 guests, and a quiet area where you can escape the ringing and buzzing of electronic devices. There are also computers available for use, food for purchase, and plenty of TVs to watch. And as with pretty much all airline clubs you can expect free booze as well.
New Routes / Airlines / Airline News / JetBlue / American Airlines / oneworld / British Airways / Iberia / EasyJet / → All Tags
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.
· American Airlines:
Teaming up with its buddies in the oneworld alliance this week, American Airlines announced a couple new options for escaping from the United States in search of fun overseas. The first is JFK to Budapest, and this new option will begin to fly next April along with the help of some Boeing 767s. The other is from Chicago to Helsinki which will also start next spring. Prices haven’t been announced for these new routes yet, but don’t expect any crazy deals anytime soon.
· British Airways:
Not to be outdone by American Airlines, British Airways also got into the new route announcement fun this week. The carrier will start new nonstop service between San Diego and London-Heathrow beginning next April. The airline already offers nonstop service between London and Los Angeles, so now Brits on holiday are free to fly into LA and fly out of San Diego after visiting Disneyland, Legoland, and SeaWorld.
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Remember when we told you about LAN’s inaugural SFO-Lima flight last week? Well, before we even went to the gate or got on the plane, we managed to pop into the British Airways Terraces Lounge in SFO’s International Terminal and bring you these exclusive photos of our experience snacking and wi-fi-ing while we waited for our flight to board.
So join us as we continue our Airport Lounges series with this inside look at Terraces and its many amenities.
Around the World Travel / Airfare / oneworld / Star Alliance / SkyTeam / Airline News / Airfare Deals / → All Tags
If the usual travel destinations have gotten a little boring, it might be time to consider something a little more adventurous. Traveling around the world is slightly intimidating, but doing it by airplane isn’t too tricky. There are plenty of options for flying around the globe, and there’s three main ways to get you to and from your home with time for pit stops on most continents. The best part is things are somewhat flexible, so feel free to skip over countries you’ve seen before or ones you’d rather avoid. Here’s a rundown of where to go to get things done.
· Star Alliance
Star Alliance is ready, willing, and able to take you to your dream destinations, and they can do it with help from lots of airlines including United Airlines, ANA, and Singapore Airlines. Tickets are priced depending on total mileage planned for your trip, and you can choose from 29,000, 34,000, or 39,000 miles. For those that enjoy the pain and suffering of a seat in the back of the plane, there’s a special economy option available with a 26,000 mileage allowance—in case you only have a week to finish exploring.
Airline Bankruptcy / Japan Airlines / JAL / Airlines / Airline News / Airline Industry / Japan Travel / Delta / Oneworld / → All Tags
Having finally filed for bankruptcy Tuesday after what seemed like forever, Japan Airlines is free to look toward long-term restructuring rather than short-term "please god let us operate another week" revenue generation. The next big question was how the Japanese flagship airline would decide in the high-stakes poker game between American and Delta, both of whom have been heavily courting JALAmerican to keep them in oneworld and Delta to get them to switch to SkyTeam. Now there are reports precolating out of Japanese media, and we haven't seen them on any of the wires yet, so you're warned, that JAL has just closed the deal with Delta.