Worst A380 Economy? Qantas Flight Review

Our keen readers will remember that in my last flight review, I flew to Dublin and back for near to nothing with Ryanair. Last week I decided to step it up a notch and booked last minute on a super cheap return fare to Dubai with Qantas on the A380 superjumbo! With Qantas changing their base to Singapore in the coming months I jumped at the chance of getting on the A380 for such a bargain! The stage was set, I was to depart London Heathrow at midday on the Saturday, on QF10 to Melbourne, hop off at Dubai, and return to London 3 hours later on QF1!

It was the big day and I arrived at Heathrow a few hours early so decided to use the pay to enter lounge at Terminal 3, the No.1 lounge, of which I have visited before on my flight to Los Angeles. As it was before, the lounge was quite packed although I managed to grab a nice window view overlooking Runway 27L/09R. No.1 lets you have a free snack, ordered at the bar using your menu (of which you get the complimentary meal/snack). Usually you can pick from the likes of, Beans on Toast, Fish finger Sandwich etc. There are also other cold items on offer, of which you can help yourself. My service was of poor standard today and after a 30minute wait for my beans on toast it was apparent that they had been sent to the wrong table. After explaining this to the barman another one was ordered and after another 20minute wait I had my food. It had seemed they have significantly downsized the portions since my last visit, if I was only paying for entrance for the food, I do not think that at the price of £40 (for 3 hours) this is justifiable.

With 1-hour till boarding, I parted ways with the No.1 lounge and headed to gate 1, where my red A380 awaited me! When I arrived at the gate I still couldn’t believe I was soon to fly on this beast. I have never had the chance to fly the A380 before as most of the long-haul sector is dominated by the 777 and 787, but today was to be different! As I arrived at the gate, I got talking to the lead cabin manager for today’s flight and he sorted me pre-boarding so I could get shots of the empty cabin. Economy passengers are seated in the lower deck (in a 3-4-3 configuration), with a few rows at the back of the upper deck (in a 2-4-2 configuration). The economy product on Qantas is very poor in my opinion, it was designed during a time Qantas was in some tricky water, the seat pitch offered is 31’ and width 17.8’, the seat itself feels very old and the IFE was, well there is no other way of putting this, the worst I had ever used, but I’ll come back to that later.

But one thing I couldn’t fault was the crew – great hostesses made every passenger feel welcomed as they stepped on-board. Furthermore the cabin itself felt very roomy, signature to the A380. Awaiting me on my seat was a blanket, a pillow, and the worst headphones ever. There were some small cracks in the overhead panels above me, of which I could peep through and see the installation. These A380s are starting to show their age. All this was forgiven when I looked out of the window, just WOW! My view from seat 49A was incredible and I had a fantastic view of the 2 left Trent 900 engines! Totally worth the £25 seat reservation.

After a small but concise welcome brief from the captain, we pushed back on-time from our stand at Terminal 3 bound for Dubai. Kudos to the A380, I heard nothing during engine start.  Heathrow was using westerly ops for today so it was a 27R departure for us. This was what I paid for, the take-off was spectacular and I was in awe of this huge jet, and the simple fact that it can lift off of the ground at all. Conditions today were not the greatest but after piecing the cloud layer we had crystal blue sky.

It wasn’t long after departure until the crew came round handing out water and a menu for today’s flight. I opted for the beef and it was one of the tastiest meals I have had in the sky however, I was a very disappointed at the amount of food offered, especially when compared to airlines such as Turkish. To eat using this awful seat requires the capability to keep yourself in such an awkward narrow position while attempting to use the fork and knife so you don’t knock your co-passenger unconscious. The petite tray table barely fits the  food tray which as mentioned is significantly smaller than most airlines anyway.

As the hours began to tick by I made my peace with the IFE and tried to watch a film, but the process was tedious and the IFE was horribly slow, the selection of films were poor and the remote was very dirty. Considering that Wi-Fi isn’t offered the IFE will be most passengers form of entertainment, Qantas is servery let down by the IFE and that would be a key decision maker in choosing Emirates over Qantas, who are the current leaders in in-flight entertainment (also a direct competitor to QF on this route). After an hour of raging with the IFE I decided to try and get a few hours’ sleep. The blanket provided was larger than I expected and far better quality than ones I have seen before. I was able to get a somewhat decent sleep, despite being in economy. The worst part however is when the person infront reclines their seat. I am quite small at about 167cm but when the seat is reclined, I had close to negative legroom. A very poorly designed seat that induced several backaches throughout the flight.

I awoke 1 hour before landing for the last snack to be offered to us economy passengers. Today it was some kind of weird sausage roll, I didn’t take to it and just left mine in its box. Passing Iran and Kuwait on our way into Dubai we had the most insane view of the blood orange moon. Cruising at 39,000ft also gave us an incredible view of all the bright Arab cities on approach to Dubai, note there was not a cloud in the sky on this night.

We started our descent very close to Dubai itself and I could certainly feel it. The time was now approaching midnight and it was pitch black outside. After making a right turn over the Persian Gulf near Dubai we touched down smoothly onto Runway 30L, and it was a short taxi to our Gate at Terminal 1A. As per all my flights I made my way to the flight deck for a small tour from the captain and then unfortunately disembarked the whale. It was not long, however, until I would be back on-board OQB for the return flight to London!

Dubai airport itself was not as large as I was expecting, there were A LOT of duty free shops in my concourse of which I was expecting. Being a homesick brit abroad I made my way to McDonalds for a snack before my flight back to the UK. However, when about to check out I find out my debit card had been blocked, fantastic news to hear while in different continent thousands of miles from home in the middle of the night. I remained cool and unpassed and just decided to wait at the gate for the next flight and just wait for some food on-board. Before I knew it we were boarding QF1 back to London.

I’m going to spare your time as this flight was near identical to the first but it was dark the entire flight and I was asleep so nothing to really talk about there. I also somehow managed to miss the meal service, leaving me weak and hungry while waiting at immigration back in the UK.

Overall I would call my last minute trip a success considering my primary aim was to experience the A380 which was extremely pleasant, but if I was to fly to Australia and had the choice of Emirates or Qantas, there would be no hope of me ever picking Qantas over such a passenger focused airline like Emirates. The economy product on Qantas’ A380 was very uncomfortable for me, and as I mentioned previously am quite small at 167cm weighing around 50kgs. Now imagine what this will be like for an average sized person. I would fly Qantas again as I could not fault the crew, my flight deck tour on the ground at Dubai was ace and the crew were super engaging and happy to chat, but I will never be booked onto their A380 again unless I can go first class.

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As Bad as it Looks? Ryanair Flight Review

Being the avgeek I was, I was sitting at home on a cold Tuesday night, laptop on, browsing cheap deals on Kayak when I noticed that I had never actually flown Ryanair. I was stumped, this incredibly successful and influential low cost European giant and I had never had the full O’Leary experience. I only had 1 lesson at college for the next day and so I plugged in tomorrow’s date and BAM! London Gatwick – Dublin – London Gatwick for only £35! Result! By far the cheapest return airfare I have ever bought. By this time, it was nearly 11pm at night so I decided to get an early night for the flight to Dublin the next day.

An early morning lesson at college surpassed and I was on the Gatwick Express to the Airport, to embark on my low cost adventure! Ryanair uses south terminal at Gatwick, personally my favourite out of the 2. Check in was done the night before to avoid the dreaded £50 airport check in fee. By this point it was late morning and the security lines were tiny, I was through in a few minutes and inside Nandos for an early lunch. After some inside information from friends that work on the ramp at Gatwick, I headed to gate 14M, to await the arrival of my 7-year-old Boeing 737-800 EI-EMH, sadly no sky interior on this one. Only registration FXX are fitted with the new sky interior. I arrived at the gate, but there was no yellow and blue 737 to greet me, the aircraft was in fact holding due to worsening weather conditions down here on the ground. The winds today were incredibly strong and as I awaited the arrival of EI-EMH I saw several go-arounds and missed approaches. Then, 30 minutes late, the aircraft pulled onto stand, and within minutes’ priority boarding had begun. Now I was curious to see if Ryanair would enforce the proriety boarding and to some extent they did, but by the end it was just chaos and it didn’t matter what priority you had.

Ryanair do not use jetways, as a cost cutting measure, so it was a short walk out onto the apron and over to the aircraft in the pouring rain. As I walked up the steps into the aircraft, I received somewhat of a cold welcome from the most senior cabin crew member, and made my way to my pre-reserved seat, 6A. The most expensive seats at the front seem to be the emptiest, as a lot of passengers avoided reserving seats and were all pre-assigned seats in the rear. Ryanair’s 737s are configured with 189 seats in an all economy configuration with a width of 17” and pitch of 29.9” (no recline). I was quickly becoming un-attracted to the cabin, the seats were sticky and the cabin felt tacky and stuffy.  The blight yellow branding tainted my vision, quite literally. However, a welcoming briefing from the captain was a nice surprise.

We were due to push back with a delay of 20minutes, followed by a short taxi out to 27L for departure towards Dublin. We were warned of a ‘Sporty” take-off, and it sure lived up to its description. After 5 minutes of what I can only describe as being in a washing machine, we broke through the cloud layer to the relief of my neighbor.

Ryanair’s vast route network

The flight itself was mostly uneventful, using the magazines handed out on the ground I could order from the on-board food and drinks menu. Prices were not ridiculously high and somewhat reasonable. However, I voted against buying on-board today and decided to wait for some hot food in Dublin. After another short briefing from the captain, we began our descent into Dublin, conditions similar to London, so we knew it was going to get interesting to say the least. After a spectacular landing by the Captain in blustery conditions, we pulled up on stand with only 10 minutes of delay. I managed to bag myself a small flight deck visit and the captain left me grab a few shots before I de-boarded.

Small flight-deck visit on the ground at Dublin

Now, on the ground at Dublin, I had to make my way through to flight connections to catch my flight back to London Gatwick. Passport control in Dublin was smooth and efficient, and security near enough the same. Dublin has quite a variety of restaurants on offer and I selected Burger King as my restaurant of choice as all I wanted was some tasty comfort food. Dublin Airport also has small stands dotted around the airport where you can pick up a water for only €1, a great way hydrate without spending loads in WHSMITHS or on-board the aircraft.

FR126 to London Gatwick, that’s me.

I checked flight radar to see what registration my flight home was going to be and I was pleasantly surprised to see I was going to be flying on EI-FTC! A 1year old 737-800 equipped with the brand new sky interior and new cabin. My flight was also on time and priority boarding was enforced to a T! As I made my way across the apron to the 737 and up the stairs, I was greeted by one of the nicest crew members, I was directed to my seat and boy was I surprised. The new cabin and sky interior eclipsed my impression of Ryanair when I boarded this morning’s aircraft. It felt spacious and the yellow had been turned down considerably. The new thin seats offered more legroom than the old interior.

Boarding EI-FTC

 

After a short taxi to Runway 28 we took off in the evening sun back towards London. After the crew were released and came down asking for hot food orders, I asked for the pancakes but they had none on-board, shame! Instead I ordered from the cold trolley, some pretzels and some lemon drink. Total €6.50 which is quite expensive for what it is, I really should have stocked up in Dublin.

Again, like the last, most of the cruise was uneventful and surprisingly relaxing. I had a full 2 rows to myself! (not that I needed that many seats). As we began our descent into Gatwick we hit some pretty nasty weather and some heavy rain, although the conditions had drastically improved since take-off they were still not ideal. We landed on time at Gatwick and took the bus back to the terminal.

This 2nd flight had been a real game changer, the new cabin, sky interior and welcoming crew had left me with no impression that Ryanair was a low cost carrier. I had very much enjoyed this flight and would jump at a similar opportunity again. However, if I was basing my review solely on the first flight I would not fly Ryanair again! Therefore, I finish this review with mixed feelings, its luck of the draw really with the interior and the crew, but hopefully soon in the future the old interior will begin to be phased out of the fleet, and as for the crew that is down to pure luck.

El AL Up: The Israeli Budget Carrier That Never Took Off

Back in 2013 El Al Israel launched a low cost carrier which initially started flying from its base in Ben-Gurion International Airport to Berlin, Budapest, Prague, Kiev and the Cyrpiot city of Larnaca. They began service with fares as low as $69 to compete with other low cost carriers, Wizz, Easyjet and RyanAir. The narrow-body Boeing 737-800 jet was selected to serve the new routes with ‘Up’ borrowing five of the variant from El Al’s mainline fleet. The aircraft were configured with 144 regular economy seats and an upgraded Tourist Plus class with 36 seats. Tourist Plus travelers have more spacious seating and food and beverages at no extra charge, while passengers flying in the lowest fare class will pay extra for food and beverages.

Up by El Al at Berlin (Credit to @ber.spotter on Instagram)

Up followed the trend of other low cost carriers in forcing passengers to pay extra for checked baggage, pre-assigned seats and changes to reservations in their ‘Up Basic’ fare. Passengers also had the option of upgrading their seats on a space-available basis. The Up ‘Smart fare’ class included a range of services such as checked luggage at no charge, seating in the Tourist Plus cabin, use of El Als King David Lounge at Ben-Gurion airport and more flexible ticketing terms.

But what went wrong?

Just this month it was announced that El Al are to discontinue the Up brand. Up will cease operations by mid-October 2018 and all flights and aircraft will return to the El Al mainline fleet. El Al will, therefore, introduce a new fare structure to replace Up.

Up was designed to compete with other low cost carriers and therefore had to keep fares low. They, therefore, lost passengers to the competitors and made Up a loss-making project for El Al.

Credit to @ber.spotter on Instagram)

What now?

El Al has stated that in the next few years it plans to renovate the interiors of its European aircraft, including a gradual replacement of the tourist and business class seats on part of its mainline narrow-bodied fleet.

Instead of a dedicated low cost daughter company, El Al says that tourist class passengers will be given a choice of three types of flight package: a basic package that will allow hand luggage only plus a meal with no possibility of cancelling or changing the flight, a package with choice of seat, checked-in luggage, and the possibility of change and cancellation for a fee, and an all-inclusive package that in addition to the above will allow a second piece of hand luggage, and flexibility over changes and cancellations. All of these terms will be subject to the criteria set by the airline for each ticket and the provisions of the law. Ticket sales in the new format will start during the second quarter of 2018, for flights in the fourth quarter of the year. (globes.co.il)

Enjoyed this post? Why not read our review of the El Al 787 new business class cabin!

Air Senegal Coming Back? Government places MoU for 2 A330NEOs

The reinstatement of a national airline? As far as the Senegalese Government’s ‘Plan Emergent Senegal’, Senegalese President Macky Sall, and Senegalese Minister for Transport and Tourism, Maimouna Ndoye Seck are concerned – Air Senegal could be on the return.

Background

In April 2016, Senegal Airlines ceased operations and Senegal’s Minister of economy, finance and planning said that “Senegal has initiated the process of creating a new airline..in the coming days, we should have a new airline.”

The Senegalese Ministry of Transport issued a statement on Tuesday, April 12 2016 indiciating the airline’s designation as ‘flag-carrier’ had been revoked after it failed to deliver on its mandate. “Despite the ongoing support of the State of Senegal, Senegal Airlines has not delivered on the development objectives assigned to it in its Concession Agreement. It is recalled that this agreement guaranteed the airline the exclusive use of air traffic rights held by Senegal,” it said. (credit CH-Aviation.com)

What next?

The new national airline, Air Senegal will hopefully start operations in December when the new Blaise Diagne International Airport in Diass, Senegal, is finally opened. During the Paris Airshow of 2017 Air Senegal signed up for two brand new state of the art ATR 72s which it plans to use for its domestic network which the airline will start off serving. These will be delivered in November and plans for further aircraft will evolve over three to five years, with the intention of acquiring two medium-haul aircraft for regional routes and a long-haul suitable aircraft for international sectors, like the Paris–Dakar route. Air Senegal then hopes to expand using mixed fleet to serve regional destinations and then International flights at a later stage. Air Senegal hope to operate a Paris – Dakar route in the late quarter of 2018.

The new airline has appointed its CEO as Philippe Bohn, formerly of Airbus Group as senior business-development executive. Mamadou Lamine Sow has been named Chairman of the Board. Air Senegal hopes that this fresh team of professionals will produce much needed confidence in the new airline following previous attempts. Charman Mamadou expressed that “Failure will be the foundation of success. Air Senegal International’s previous problems resulted from trying to operate with outside partners so that’s why today we have acquired our own assets. We are autonomous.”. Mamadou also expressed that he felt that there is enormous potential in West Africa.

The main objective of Air Senegal is to put Senegal on the map as a major hub for air-travel, increasing passenger capacity from two to five million by 2023 and up to ten million by 2035.

Furthermore, Air Senegal has become the latest customer to sign for the Airbus A330neo, with a tentative agreement for two of the type, they have become the first airline in Africa to select it. Airbus has described the deal as a memorandum of understanding (MoU) during the Dubai Airshow. They hope to use these brand new A330neos, equipped with Rolls Royce Trent 7000s, on their medium and long-haul networks providing the regional sector has developed first.

Do you think this plan will work? Let us know by using #londonspotter on Twitter and Instagram.

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Boeing Confirms Talks on Embraer Merger – Exclusive

Boeing is discussing a potential merger with Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer following a Wall Street Journal report. The new comes only 2 months after Boeing’s key rival, Airbus, bought a majority stake in Bombardier’s C-Series programme, the E-Jets direct competitor.

The talks have centered on a takeover, with Boeing offering Embraer a substantial premium over its $3.7 billion market value, the Wall Street Journal said on Thursday. Any tie-up would need to be approved by the Brazilian government, the companies said in a statement.

The direct competitor to the Bombardier C-Series, the Embraer E2

Last night Embraer’s shares soared around 30% after the joint statement was released in Sao Paulo. Boeing would get a bigger footprint in the regional jet industry. That is something that rival Airbus is already attempting to do after buying a large stake in the C-Series programme a couple of months ago. Embraer is, however, highly prized by the Brazilian government and according to the Wall Street Journal has the final say over any sale. The Brazilian government is already signalling opposition to a takeover, according to the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo. President Michel Temer expressed that he won’t allow control of Embraer to change hands, Embraer has been a source of national pride since its birth in 1969. However, there is no guarantee that anything will amount from these discussions, both manufacturers refused to comment further on the discussions.

One of the current E-Jets in service

If a takeover emerged, Boeing would have a new presence in the regional market, with control over the E-Jet programme, which has already been bought into by many major airlines. This, furthermore, allows Boeing to directly fight back against the C-Series project which has been the centre of many trade disputes this year.

Bombardiers C-Series, the center of many trade disputes this year

The US Department of Commerce sided with Boeing by upholding a proposed hefty tariff on C-Series aircraft imported into the USA. However, the introduction of the tariff is subject to a final decision by the US International Trade Commission, expected around February 2018. Brazil themselves gave also decided to take action against the C-Series programme on the grounds of unfair state subsidies and a World Trade Organization panel is to investigate these complaints further.

SAS A320NEO Flight Review Copenhagen – London

The A320neo has a fuel consumption that is approximately 15% less than the A320CEO. When noting that the A320neo can carry more passengers (as the crew galley has been made smaller), it can deliver around 20% less fuel consumption per seat! This equals around 5,000 tons of fuel saved per aircraft and per year, this makes the A320neo the most efficient narrow isle short and mid-range aircraft in its market. Delivering huge savings potential.

NEO is short for New Engine Option, and the new engines are the CFM Leap 1A, the Neo also comes equipped with 2.4 meter-long Sharklets rising up from the wingtips, giving the NEO lower fuel consumption, and an almost 1000 kilometre longer range.

Inside the cabin, SAS have chosen overhead compartments that are significantly larger the the CEO A320s. Another new feature is the placement of the AFT toilets. ‘Two toilets are placed next to each other towards the aft bulkhead, the lateral one is designed to be more accessible for people with reduced mobility.’

SAS currently have 12 NEOs out of the 30 they had on order alongside 12 CEO A320s. SAS are the largest operator of the A320Neo in Europe and it was about time I got on-board to see what it offered.

I had just flown in from Warsaw Chopin with SAS (CityJet) to make my onward connection to London on the NEO. I have previously connected through Copenhagen and I absolutely love Kastrup – quick and super-efficient. I was at the gate for my flight only 20minutes after deboarding my previous aircraft (which parked on a remote stand). My flight was on time which didn’t surprise me as SAS are the world’s most on time airline!

I had messaged ahead about my flight with SAS and I had been granted special permission to board early to get some photos, see the empty cabin and witness the upgrades SAS had made on their NEO product. I have to say they gave done a sterling job. Seat pitch is now 30” with a recline of 3”. Seats are equipped with new comfort cushions, each seat has an easily accessible high power USB outlet (2.1A) and new mood lighting runs throughout the cabin. Another feature (not yet fully installed) will be high speed Wi-Fi.

SAS Plus
New – high speed USB outlet for charging

The crew were extremely welcoming and engaging and I had a good opportunity to make conversation with the crew while still on the ground. When boarding commenced I took my seat (2F) and begun to set up my filming equipment. I was also offered a hot towel of which I accepted. I was also sitting in SAS Plus for today’s short flight to London. We pushed back on time and made our way to RWY 04R for departure to London. On take-off the engines of the NEO sounded incredible, kind of like a mini GE-90, yet after rotation and airborne they were super quiet. Take-off itself was very smooth and flying conditions were superb, it was a clear night over Copenhagen.

Shortly after take-off the crew started the meal service, unfortunately it was the same meal service as on my flight into Copenhagen from Warsaw. I was not a fan of it the first time either. No need to panic, it was only a 2hour flight to London, so I could get something to eat there.

The flight itself went by very fast and I felt completely relaxed up the front in SAS Plus, by the time the meal had been cleared away and a small snack had been offered, we started our descent into London Heathrow, with an added bonus of no holding! We made the straight approach into 27R passing all the sights as we flew in. The clear night sky made for some incredible views over London.

Over central London descending into Heathrow

We landed into Heathrow and were parked at our gate at Terminal 2 five minutes ahead of schedule, that’s SAS for you! I had another great chat with the pilots in the cockpit before I headed off to passport control.

In conclusion SAS have done a fantastic job with their NEO and I had a great experience. The flight was one of the best short-haul offerings I have experienced. The punctuality and expertise of the crew created lovely conditions onboard and I will be sure to fly SAS again in the future. I would love to try their long haul A340 product and one day maybe their A350!

SPECIAL: Inaugural LOT B737MAX LHR-WAW

On December 4th 2017, aviation history was made, LOT Polish Airlines flew their brand spanking new 737MAX for the first time with paying passengers, only 2 days after delivery. It was also the very first time for a 737MAX to visit London Heathrow. I could not miss such an important event, so I booked a seat.

Photo Credit: Boeing + FlyLOT

In 2012, LOT were the very first airline to operate the 787 Dreamliner, the most advanced twin isle long haul jet, in Europe. Now in 2017, LOT are the first airline to operate the 737MAX8 in Eastern Europe. The new 737 MAX will fill LOT’s short and medium haul flights out of their hub in Warsaw Chopin Airport, operating the morning and afternoon flights to Heathrow to begin with. It will then help to expand their route network as they receive a further 8 orders of the 4th Generation 737 from Air Lease Corporation, with all MAXs delivered by May 2019. The 737 MAX is a new iteration of the hugely successful 737 narrow aisle jet, now more economical and efficient than any other aircraft in its class. It also brings new levels of passenger comfort with Wi-Fi and the new Boeing Sky Interior. The average fuel consumption of a 737Max is 15% less than that of a -800NG. However, a huge benefit of the MAX is the new engines, CFM Leap1B, which produce 40% less noise, reducing operating costs at airports like Heathrow where there are strict noise policies.

787 First Flight Air to Air – LOT were the first airline in Europe to fly the Type
The MAX will replace LOT’s older 737Cl and Ngs (Photo Credit: LOT)

After arriving at London Heathrow I went straight through to Lufthansa’s Lounge. The lounge isn’t a very impressive one and boasts lots of available food, plenty of free seating and a nice view of the southern side of London Heathrow. The lounge is particularly good as it serves hot breakfasts. I was able to access the lounge via my star alliance gold status as I was only flying economy on this leg.

The LH lounge at Terminal 2 Credit: Businessclass.co.uk

Today I was also filming with ITV’s Britain’s Busiest Airport, this gave me early access to the new plane and got to take a look at the empty MAX. LOT’s new MAXs are configured with 186 seats in a 3-3 and 3 class configuration. The first thing that hit me when walking in was the new aircraft smell. The cabin was immaculate and I was all for LOT’s new seat design. It features a plug socket and USB socket on the seat which makes travelling so much more convenient as you will never run out of charge. The seats themselves were the most comfy I have experienced to date, they felt very well built yet soft and comforting and the leather gave a premium feel to the cabin. A fantastic cabin design. It is clear LOT spent a long time considering the passenger experience when designing the cabin. The main cabin itself was very sleek with the Sky Interior creating a welcoming aura. Today’s flight was quite full however there were still a few middle seats free, my row being one of them, GET IN!

We pushed back 40 minutes late from T2 gate A19 (mainly due to our filming) and took off bound for Warsaw from Heathrow’s 27R. The climb out was incredibly smooth and quiet. I barely even realized we had taken off! Shortly after the cabin crew offered snacks and drinks. I bought myself a Twix and a Pepsi. However, there was a second service which was free and you got a water or coffee and a wafer biscuit. My only complaint was that the menu was relatively small compared to some other European carriers, I would have liked to have seen more hot food offerings.

When in the cruise the cabin was extremely calm and quiet, making it one of the most relaxing flights I have taken. The new aircraft feel combined with the fantastic cabin design really put this airplane in another league to current narrow bodies that visit Heathrow.

To combat the sound from the engines Boeing, General Electric, and NASA developed chevrons for the back of the nacelle and the engine exhaust nozzle. The chevrons reduce jet blast noise by controlling the way the air mixes after passing through and around the engine. The acoustic liners and chevrons are such effective noise suppressors that several hundred pounds of sound insulation may be eliminated from the fuselage.

Cruising at 39,000ft

The flight was only 2 hours and 10 minutes and before I knew it we were starting our descent into Warsaw.  The descent was quite steep, and the weather conditions in Warsaw were worsening. It was snowing and visibility was low, regardless, the captain made am amazing landing. I could still see some snow in on the ground at Warsaw however it looked like it had just been raining so most had disappeared.  We arrived on stand only 20 minutes late. Bravo LOT.

Overall, the 737MAX Lot is offering provides the most passenger comfort for short-haul travel within Europe. Smooth, quiet and incredibly comfortable. The crew were talkative and friendly yet professional. I would defiantly fly LOT again and I hope to fly on their flagship Dreamliner product one day!

 

Malaysian Airlines to Axe the A380 by Early 2018

Malaysian Airlines to Axe the A380 by Early 2018

All Malaysian Airline A380 services will cease in the first quarter of 2018. This is happening only six years after they took delivery of their first A380. Their remaining sole A380 service to Heathrow will be swapped to an A350-900 in January 2018 on MH4/5 leaving only 1x daily flight as an A380. Then, in March 2018, the prestigious MH1/2 flights will be swapped to an A350-900 as well.

Malaysian A380 Credits: Alex Beltyukov – RuSpotters Team

Malaysian Airlines (MH) has six A380s in its fleet carrying a 3-class configuration of 8 First class, 66 Business class and 420 Economy seats. Only Paris and London were destinations where MH could hope to sell all of those seats, and now only London remains.

MH have attempted to sell/lease their remaining Super Jumbos, however very few airlines are interested in operating the 4 engine double decker, with most airlines opting for the hyper efficient twin engine wide-bodies. MH does see a future for the A380, however, providing charter flights for pilgrimages under a subsidiary company “Project Hope”.  Offering flights from ASEAN countries to Medina in Saudi Arabia. These A380s will be configured in a high density Economy class configuration. This new company is expecting to arise early 2019.

Malaysia Airlines Airbus A350-941 F-WZHE (9M-MAC) (msn 165) (Negaraku) TLS Credit: Eurospot

MH currently have six Airbus A350-900 aircraft on order with an expected configuration of more than 300 seats. For comparison Cathay Pacific A350s are configured with 280 seats, and Ethiopian with 343 seats. The A350 will be a blessing for MH on the London to KUL route, as it was “soul-destroying” for the MH staff to see some A380s with only 60-70 passengers on-board during early 2016. The A350 is also 40% cheaper to operate than the A380 and will offer a superior product to travellers in all classes. CEO Christoph Mueller has already flagged an interest in adding more “in order to reach a critical fleet size, allowing standby aircraft for any scheduled maintenance and enabling future network expansion.”

Malaysian 777 Copyright: Gustavo Petullo

MH also expects to lease multiple 777 aircraft and will potentially look at re opening old routes such as Istanbul and look to open new routes such as Manchester and Amsterdam. However, MH will not return to Paris as it is “extortionately expensive”.

Is this the end of the line for the A380? Let us know by # your tweets or instagram stories with #futureofa380

featured image by Wael Al-Qutub

Qantas to Launch ‘Project Sunrise’

Australian national carrier, Qantas, have unveiled their plan to fly the world’s longest commercial flight and are looking at the 777X or the A350ULR as possible aircraft to use. Qantas have dubbed this plan the “last frontier of global aviation”.

Qantas are already set to break the world’s longest flight record with its new Perth-London route, launching March 2018, but the Australian carrier hopes to take things one step further and fly from Australia’s Eastern seaboard to Europe and the West Coast of America. They are also said to be eyeing up Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town as future destinations.

The plans to expand further have been dubbed ‘Project Sunrise’, and the two aircraft manufacturer heavy weights, Boeing and Airbus are working on planes that are capable of doing the job – the 777X and the A350ULR. Qantas’ Chief Executive, Alan Joyce, believes that a time where this type of ultra-long haul travel is accessible for Australian’s is not far away, “We believe that advances on the next few years will close the gap,” he added. “This will be one of the most strategically important aircraft orders in the history of Qantas.” The non-stop flights would take four hours off the journey from Sydney to London route, which is currently sitting at just over 24hours.

The current longest nonstop commercial flight is operated by Qatar Airways (Doha-Auckland) with a distance of 14,535km and a flight time of more than 16 hours. Qantas’ planned Sydney-London flight would be about 17,000km, smashing this record.

The Launch of Non-Stop Services to Europe

The Australian airline took delivery of the first of eight 787-9 Dreamliners from Boeing a few weeks ago. Qantas is pinning its future on the success of the 787 and hope to turn things around after a poor financial year. Gareth Evens has been explaining how this jet allows Qantas to overcome its disadvantageous geographic position.

787-9 Paint Hangar Roll-Out

The new Perth–London route that is set to launch March 2018 will be flown with this brand new 787 Dreamliner. Alan Joyce expressed the beauty of this new ultra-long haul market when he said, “Australians have never had a direct link to Europe before so the opportunities this opens up are huge…our modelling shows that people from the east coast as well as South Australia would fly domestically to Perth to connect to our non-stop London service…Some will take the opportunity to break their journey, whether it’s for business meetings in Perth, to holiday or to visit family.” The 787 Dreamliner will soon replace Qantas’ existing 747 aircraft. This is the only plane that Qantas has on order at the moment.

The 787-9 will be configured with 236 seats over 3 classes.

  • 42 business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration
  • 28 premium economy seats in a 2-3-2 configuration
  • 166 economy seats in a 3-3-3 configuration

Qantas opted not to cram the 787 full of seats and have left the plane relatively spacious, with most other airlines opting for 300+ seats in the same type of aircraft.

When looking at the business class offering on their new dream-liners, it is clear to see that they are basing it on their current A330 Business product. The only difference being the addition of an adjustable privacy partition between seats. The “Business Suite” also converts to a fully flat bed and the layout will offer direct aisle access for all business class passengers.

New Business class product on-board Qantas’ 787

For once, economy passengers have also seen an upgrade in comfort, with an extra inch of legroom over the A380 Superjumbo, now at 32 inches. A new personal device holder, extra storage and seat back mood lighting to avoid passenger disturbance.

New economy class product on the Qantas 787

Overall Qantas’ expansion in the ultra long-haul will either be a huge success or a catastrophic failure. Will anyone pay to sit through a 17+hour flight? Will Airbus and Boeing build an aircraft capable of fulfilling the routes of Project Sunrise? Only time will tell.

All photos by Qantas

Air Transat Unveils New Livery – Exclusive

Air Transat unveiled its latest fleet livery last night, which the Canadian airline claims ‘blends innovation with community’, to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Canada’s largest integrated tourism company, Air Transat, now serves 60 destinations in 2 major markets, Transatlantic (Europe and the Middle-east) and Central America. With over 5000 motivated employees, the airline connects 4.5million holiday makers each year.

Jean-François Lemay, President, Air Transat, Jean-Marc Eustache, President and Chief Executive Officer, Transat, Annick Guérard, Chief Operating Officer, Transat (CNW Group/Transat A.T. Inc.)

Air Transat also has made some impressive achievements in its short history, in July 2016, at the Skytrax World Airline Awards, Air Transat was voted, for the fifth consecutive year, Best North American Leisure Airline. In November 2016 Air Transat was ranked for the 6th year in a row, the most climate friendly airline in North America, based on CO2 emission levels, and ranked 12th in the world in the long haul and medium haul categories and 14th over all categories. Furthermore, no fatal incidents involving Air Transat aircraft have been recorded so far. Dominique Anglade, Deputy Premier of Quebec, Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation, and Minister Responsible for the Digital Strategy, said in her address, “The story of Transat’s growth over the past 30 years is a remarkable one. Today, Transat is Canada’s leading integrated tourism company, and Air Transat is the country’s number one leisure carrier. Transat also attracts some 500,000 European travellers each year to Quebec and the rest of Canada, notably from France and the United Kingdom, two major tourism markets. Through its operations, this first-class employer generates substantial economic benefits for all of Quebec.”

Jean-François Lemay, President, Air Transat, Annick Guérard, Chief Operating Officer, Transat, Dominique Anglade, Quebec Deputy Premier, Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation, and Minister Responsible for the Digital Strategyand Jean-Marc Eustache, President and Chief Executive Officer, Transat (CNW Group/Transat A.T. Inc.)

Air Transat currently operates a mixed fleet of old and new aircraft, including 9 Airbus A310s, 11 A330-200s, 4 A330-300s, 1 Boeing 737-700 and 7 737-800s bringing the average age of Air Transats fleet to 18.6 years. However, Ten Airbus A321LR aircraft will be joining the fleet, making it the first North American operator of the longest-range single-aisle aircraft in the world. Air Transat will lease the aircraft through a deal with AerCap, and plans entry into service starting in 2019. The A321LR is based on the highly popular A321Neo of which has over 1400 orders. This new aircraft will able Air Transat to access new markets and launch new ‘long and skinny’ routes.

Air Transat’s new Livery

Air Transat’s new livery is designed to reflect their evolution and long standing brand image, to ‘brighten the everyday with the joy of vacations’.  Air Transat’s recognisable star is to be painted on the rear fuselage, wingtips and tail. The 30th anniversary livery also has a touch of grey, to commemorate their very first livery. It is also to feature graduated shades of blue to ‘evoke the transformative power of holidays’. Finally, it will have their airlines name proudly painted onto the underside of the fuselage, to ‘ensure visibility even when the aircraft is in flight’.

Air Transat new livery (CNW Group/Transat A.T. Inc.)

 

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