Just had a new flash that the BBC is reporting a plane crash in Taiwan.

 

UPDATESky News is reporting a TransAsia plane has crashed killing 51 people in the Penghu Islands off the western coast of Taiwan.

They say it was flying a domestic service.

BBC report indicates a lower number of dead:

A plane has crashed after a failed emergency landing in Taiwan, killing more than 40 people, local officials say.

Aviation officials said flight GE222 aborted its initial landing and then crashed, local media reported.

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | No Comments

Hyatt Logo

A number of Hyatt’s Diamond members report on Flyertalk they have received an offer from Hyatt to give them a Hyatt Concierge. This produced a lot of consternation as many of the most established Diamond’s already have a Personal/Private Line agent who handles their requests.

However, the Head of Gold Passport has stepped in and explained that the programme is in test and that members will have the chance to shape how it moves forward. You can read his post here.

So, whilst I have not been offered this new service (frankly I am happy with my Private Line Agent), if you have I would strongly suggest you initiate the service and see what it can do for you in different circumstances – rewards, flight cancellations, dinner reservations and local activities spring to mind.

Let me know how you get on if you are in the test group.

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | One Comment

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Heathrow Airport have put up a web site explaining more about their plans to build a third runway. You can visit the web site here.

There is an interesting image of where they propose to put the new runway and how it connects with current airport. It appears to straddle the M25 which will be interesting. There is a feedback form for comments.

LHR Thirsd Runway

 

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | One Comment

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Hyatt has just announced that it is to convert the Dreams Cancun in to an all inclusive Hyatt Ziva Cancun by late 2015. The property contains a ‘swim with the dolphins’ attraction which we are told respects these mammals. The views do look like they could be great from this location.

I should have been staying at the Hyatt Zilara Cancun in September, until American changed their flight times making my stay impossible.

I have to confess I have never done the ‘all inclusive’ experience before and am looking forward to my stay at the Ziva Los Cabos in August. The reviews have been excellent.

Hyatt also has recently announced that the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall and Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall in Montego Bay are scheduled to open in late 2014. The two new resorts will be co-located on Jamaica’s most romantic beach, formerly home to The Ritz-Carlton. Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall will offer an adults-only all inclusive experience that will be separate, but connected to, Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall, which will cater to guests of all ages. 

Adults-only all inclusive – it does seem tempting for the winter!

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | 2 Comments

I use the TopCashBack site fairly often. (This is my affiliate link – here).

They have offered an option to transfer a set amount each year to Tesco Clubcard points. I’ve noticed today that they allow you to also do a direct exchange to Avios or BA Executive Club Avios. But this new option needs to be treated with caution.

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As you can see, for my £10 credit I can have 1050 Avios/BA Avios or 1050 Tesco Clubcard Points.

Tesco Clubcard points convert from 250 points to a £2.50 voucher. This in turn can be exchanged to 600 Avios. (Some long standing members, like me, get 800 Avios).

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So the 1050 Tesco Clubcard points, turn in to 4 * 600 Avios or 2400. If I had taken the direct conversion it would only have been 1050 Avios. Well worth laundering them through Tesco if you ask me.

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | 2 Comments

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Virgin announced yesterday that they were to add more regional flights from the UK for next summer.

  • Belfast and Orlando
    Glasgow and Las Vegas

Clearly using larger planes than the one pictured, the flight from Belfast will be Virgin’s first from Northern Island. Sure to be popular with locals, it avoids the ruinous UK departure tax.

A Boeing 747-400 aircraft will operate these seasonal services on a weekly basis, flying on Thursdays. The aircraft flying to both US destinations will be configured with 14 Upper Class seats, 66 Premium Economy seats and 375 seats in Economy.

Belfast to Orlando service

The Belfast to Orlando service will operate in June and July, with the first flight on 25 June 2015. Seats will be on sale on the Virgin Atlantic website from 25 July 2014.

Glasgow to Las Vegas service

The Glasgow to Las Vegas service will operate in September and October 2015, with the first flight on 10 September 2015. Seats will be on sale on the Virgin Atlantic website from mid-October 2014

So in a little over a week you’ll be able to book out of Belfast.
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Swiss have some of their destinations on sale until 31 July, for travel by 7 September – basically for August.

Booking here.

LCY LX Sale

LHR LX Sale

MAN LX Sale

You can read my recent review of my flights on Swiss, to and from Cairo, on the post here.

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I recently flew from LAX to Miami, on board an American Airlines B-757 with the normal domestic First Class seating.

Unfortunately there is significant works going on at LAX and my flight was operating from Gate 45 – now a bussing gate.

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The boarding was a shambles with the staff only turning up at boarding time, ignoring the fact that we had to go on a bus journey for 15 minutes to the back of the airport. Boarding started with people with disabilities followed by First Class. We all ended up going down the ramp and on to the packed buses.

Upon arrival at the remote gate the plane was not ready and we had to wait a further 15 minutes before we were allowed to walk up the ramp and board the plane, using the forward left door. My seat, 2E had the standard legroom.

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The plane was full and by the time the rest of the buses had arrived we left thirty minutes late.

I had pre-ordered by entree. (Something you can do in First and Business, about 30 days before your flight. In effect they simply guarantee your choice of entree from the menu already boarded. Whether they actually change the balance of entrees as a result of pre-orders I don’t know. However, few people actually pre-order so I doubt it.)

The crew produced dinner pretty quickly – starter and salad:

Entree:

I skipped the ice cream dessert course.

AA has entertainment on screens at the front of the cabin and on the ceiling, which provided a couple of movies and some short subjects. I watched the iPad and there was in seat power.

We arrived at Miami, still about 30 minutes late.

Overall
A typical AA flight, perfectly edible food and friendly staff. Just the most awful ground experience at LAX. Be warned if you get Gate 45.

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The LA Times is reporting that approval has been given to build an additional station on the new Crenshaw Line, near the entrance to LAX. This new station, costing $200 million, will connect to a new people mover system destined to connect a new single Car Rental location, a transportation hub and the airports terminals. So Light Rail is coming to LAX!

The new station will be at 96th and Aviation streets quite close to the airport and many of the hotels on Aviation. The Crenshaw line will link to the current Green Line at the existing Aviation LAX station.

The report also suggests that the new station might offer services beyond tickets and trains. It indicates that there will be check-in desks, currency exchange and information boards. A study on baggage handling in similar locations has been commissioned.

The Crenshaw line, destined to be finished in 2019 will not be delayed by the new station, although it is expected that the station will open later than the new line.

All around a good day for travellers to and from LAX – there is at least some indication that rail is coming to LAX.

The LA Times article is here.
There is also an editorial on the plans here.

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Swiss fly an A340 to and from Cairo once per day from Zurich. An oddly large plane, which when flying on its normal routes, offers a 3 class service. On this segment it is sold as just Business and Economy. The First Class cabin is a crew refuge. The business class cabin has the full flat beds installed.

The aircraft compares well to the smaller airbuses flown by Lufthansa and Austrian.

Lounge

Swiss uses the Egypt Air lounges at Terminal 3 in Cairo. Not the most luxurious, they do provide a haven before the flight.

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The novelty of old fashioned ring-pull cans was the highlight.

The clocks had changed so I was one of the last to board the plane, passing through an additional, and pretty strict security check at the gate.

The Business cabin is divided in 2, with two rows in front of the exit row and the balance of the seats behind the exit. I did not manage to get a seat in the mini cabin on the way out from Cairo, but did on the return.

Seating.
There are basically two types of seats – singles and doubles. Having said that they are arranged in a large number of different ways. The singles, can be next to the aisle with a table at the window or next to the window with a table at the aisle or in the middle with tables on either side. The really nice seats are held back for Senator status passengers but can sometimes be picked up at check-in.

This is a view of the double seats in the centre of the large rear cabin:

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This is the single seat adjacent to the window, in the mini-cabin.

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View of First Class from the mini-cabin

Entertainment

The screen is quite small but there was a decent range of films and TV, especially for only a 3 1/2 hours flight.

The plane pulled back on time and taxied to the runway fairly quickly. The crew came around to take meal orders and I have to say where universally pleasant. They were in the cabin all through the flight, offering more drinks and making sure everyone was OK.

The meal was served as below:

Starter and Cheese – and yes they let me have two rolls:
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Entree:

This was pretty tasty in fact, although not a large portion.

Dessert:

Chocolates – selected from a big box – when did you last get that! Plus, the crew came around with them several times.

We landed at the E gates in Zurich and had to take the train to my connecting flight to London, going through Zurich security. They were chatty and helpful, especially as I was the only one using the x-ray at the time.

On the return, I had connected from Newark and the flight was an early morning departure. There was priority boarding for Business Class and I was quickly in my seat. This time in the mini-cabin at the front.

The menu this time was interesting, as I had expected breakfast but they served lunch:

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I passed on the meal and slept most of the way to Cairo.

There were super views as we left ZRH.

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Summary:
All round a great product. It’s nice to fly large planes on relatively short segments and I hope that Swiss keep this up. There is often United award availability from Zurich on this flight mid-week. Both my segments were mid-week which might explain how quiet they were.

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | 2 Comments

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Over a period of two weeks I took 6 flights with Qatar Airways. About 13,500 miles were flown on a mixture of aircraft types – A330′s, 777 and 787′s in the mix.

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Qatar Airways bills itself as a 5* Airline.

My experience with Qatar was pretty mixed, but if there is a theme it was that the service in the air was superb, whilst the service on the ground was awful. Not just bad you understand but some of the worst I have ever experienced. So, let’s concentrate on what went well – in flight service.

The segments to and from Cairo are operated by the same 2-class aircraft but the up-front service is branded as First Class. The food is pretty much the same, but they do stock Krug.

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This pretty much the standard layout and seating that I found on my flights – except the 787.

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2-2-2 with the centre 2 having aisle access. I noticed a small trick whereby the staff layout the purple menu books for occupied seats before the passengers board. This often gives you a clue about empty seats if you want to move. Check with the staff as they have iPads and can see in real-time whether someone has already snagged the seats.

Most of the seats have the TV screens in the back of the seat in front. However, the front row has them in the arm rest.

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The seats are equipped with blanket, pillow and amenity kit around the seat.

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Row 1 window seats have plenty of leg room to get around a person sleeping on the aisle.

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The seat controls are in the arm of the seat.

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The other trick I noticed is that Qatar often release seats in Row 1 about 36 hours before departure, when check-in opens. Worth snagging if you can as often you get a spare one next to you. With the exception of one flight there were empty seats on each of the planes I took.

787 seats:

Food and Drink

This is a typical menu from one of the breakfast flights:

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The table layouts were done superbly, a lesson for many other airlines.

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Breakfast

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Pre-Landing snack/dinner

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Soups – which was superb I have to say

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Dinner – overnight departure from BKK

Arabic Mezze

Pasta – not the best dish

Pudding

Summary
The staff were invariably attentive, with nothing being too much trouble. They addressed by name on almost every encounter and worked hard to make sure even the most demanding passenger was content.

The seats are comfortable to sleep in and I would recommend the inflight service.

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