IAG Take Step Towards Norwegian Takeover

British Airways’ parent-company IAG has bought a near 5% stake in low-cost airline Norwegian Air with a view to buy the airline outright. 

The 4.61% stake acquired by IAG, who are the parent-company to British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Vueling and Level, seems to be the first step in a possible takeover.

“The minority investment is intended to establish a position from which to initiate discussions with Norwegian, including the possibility of a full offer for Norwegian,” IAG

The move shows how Norwegian’s entrance into the long-haul market has ruffled feathers in recent years. In the last few years Norwegian have begun offering long-haul flights across the Atlantic for as little as £99 – something IAG just couldn’t compete with.

I reviewed Norwegian’s premium offering last year-check it out.

Norwegian are able to offer these low fares because of the ‘pick and choose’ business model they have established. While no-frills travel has become the norm in short-haul flying over the past 10 years, this model has only recently taken to long-haul flights. While passengers flying with British Airways would be given extras such as checked baggage and food included in the ticket, Norwegian would make passengers pay extra.

National carriers have been battling with the issue of being priced out by low-cost carriers a lot recently with Air France launching ‘JOON‘, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic launching basic fares without checked baggage and BA going 10-abreast out of Gatwick. This move certainly shows how Norwegian are a large threat to the industry as we know it.

737MAX

With Norwegian’s large route network it is easy to assume they are doing very well but their results suggest otherwise. While a profit was made in 2016, Norwegian posted results for 2017 which showed they had made a net $38.5m loss. In March, Norwegian announced plans to raise more money by selling aircraft and its frequent flyer scheme.

Whether this takeover is finalised or not, it shows the impact that low-cost carriers are having on the aviation market.

Will this bid develop into a Norwegian takeover? Get involved by using the hashtag #londonspotter on all platforms.

March 2018: Delivery Report – Boeing Boom



In February’s Delivery Report we began a new feature: Delivery of the Month. In February, the award went to Airbus as they delivered a bigger, better version of the A350 to Qatar Airways. This time, however, the award goes to Boeing as they delivered a bigger and better version of the Boeing 787.

Delivery of the Month: Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10

The delivery of 9V-SCA to Singapore Airlines on March 26th was one that made history. Singapore are the first airline to receive this aircraft and will be flying it to Bangkok, Osaka and Kuala Lumpur. Reservations for this beautiful aircraft can be made here. 

This delivery was a major success for Boeing and highlighted how the month would pan out for the US based manufacturer. Boeing had an amazing month in March as they delivered 16 787 models, seven 777s and 20 737MAX aircraft.

Singapore 787-10 by Singapore Airlines

While this was the only -10 model to be delivered, Boeing also three 787s to Norwegian Air, two to both Xiamen and TUI, and one to El Al IsraelVirgin Atlantic, Air Europa, Saudia, ANA, British Airways and KLM. Another notable delivery was that of LOT‘s first ever B787-9 aircraft.

LOT picked a lovely day for the delivery! Photo by LOT

Boeing’s MAX project also boomed in March as they delivered three MAX aircraft to Air Canada, two to Westjet, American and Shanghai Airlines and one to Oman Air, Thai Lion Air, China Southern, TUI, Hainan, Southwest and Smartwings.

Notable MAX deliveries included the first 737MAX aircraft to Icelandair and one to SCAT. The delivery to SCAT was initially meant for Monarch Airlines but as they went bust, they had to give up the order.

This livery really suits the MAX in my opinion. Photo by Boeing

At the 777 plant in Seattle, Boeing handed over the keys for seven aircraft. These included two to both United and Korean Air and one to both Qatar and Air India.

The most notable 777 delivery was to SWISS Airlines who received their 10th and final 777 on order.

Photo by Swiss

Over at Airbus, the month wasn’t as successful. They continued to struggle with engine problems on the NEO and thus only delivered nine models and only handed over four A350s, five A330s and one A380.

The NEO delivers went to returning customers. Two were delivered to both Frontier and Air Asia and Vistara, Avianca, LATAM, Easyjet and Pegasus all received one.

The A350 project delivered four models with one each going to Delta, China Airlines, Thai and Vietnam Airlines.

Photo by Airbus

Airbus did make one headline in March as they delivered the first A380 of 2018. The model went to Emirates who have the largest number of super-jumbos.

The Bombardier C-Series project delivered four CS300 models with two each going to SWISS and Korean.

Want to know what being on a delivery flight is like? Click here.

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Qantas Launches First Aus-UK Non-Stop Flight



Today, Qantas made aviation history as the first ever non-stop flight linking Australia and Europe touched down at London Heathrow. Only 70 years ago, people that traveled to Australia went by ship over a period of 5-6 weeks. Now, for the first time in history, passengers can travel between the two countries without stopping in as little as 17 hours. This truly is a remarkable development in the world of travel. Since launching, this flight has jumped to one of the top spots on my bucket list. If you want to do it too I found the best prices here.

QF9, carrying more than 200 passengers and 16 crew departed Perth at 6.50pm and landed in London at 5.03am UK time – a whopping 17 hours and three minutes after lifting off. On arrival, passengers were met by Australian and British flags, chocolates and loud applause by Qantas staff.

The flight marks a huge step in aviation history. In 1947, the iconic ‘kangaroo’ route joined Australia and Britain by air with seven stops in between. However, due to modern aircraft such as the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, the flight can now be made in one giant leap across the globe.

The Boeing 787 aircraft that operated this route has only recently been delivered to Qantas. The jet is so fuel efficient that it will burn approximately 20% less fuel than traditional aircraft of the same size. This makes the flight both economically viable for Qantas and cheaper for passengers. Alan Joyce, Qantas Group CEO, mentioned to me how he is expecting the new flight to ‘stimulate business traffic’ because of this.

The service from Perth to London is the third longest commercial flight in the world by distance. It covers 14,498km and is the world’s longest Dreamliner flight. The flight may have only just begun but preparation for this route has been in development for over ten years already. Qantas have been studying weather patterns over the last decade in order to work out which route is the most fuel efficient. Last October I flew from Tokyo to London on the same aircraft and I was surprised at how little jet-lag I felt after landing. Many people think it is a myth but the 787 really is better for your health. You can read more on Qantas’ expansion plans here.

The plane is configured very lightly in comparison to other airlines. Whilst I was chatting with Alan Joyce he stated that the product onboard is ‘the best they’ve had on any aircraft’. The aircraft is split into three cabins – business class, premium economy and economy.

The business class seats cover rows 1-12 in a 1-2-1 configuration over two cabins, the premium seating covers rows 20-23 in a spacious 2-3-2 layout while economy fills the rear two cabins in a 3-3-3 setup.

Photo by airliners.net

Would you be able to sit in an economy class seat for 17+ hours? Get in touch via social media by using #londonspotter on your posts.

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photos provided by Qantas and taken by James Morgan.

How I Fly Wide-Body Aircraft on Short-Haul



Flying short-haul on the usual A320 and B737 family aircraft can easily become both boring and uncomfortable, even in business class. A question I receive almost every day from my followers is the following:

“How can I fly a wide-body plane with international business class on a short-haul route and where is the best place to book it?”

Where to book:

Whenever I book flights purely for the aircraft, I use Kayak. The benefit of using Kayak is that whatever flight you search for, it will show you which aircraft is operating that flight. Lets say we wanted to fly a wide-body between London and Edinburgh we would do the normal search but then check the aircraft like this:

Here you can see it states the aircraft and also if it is a wide-body jet or not. Give it a go!

However, when booking a business class fare, I often book through Momondo. Momondo tends to have the best business class fares around which is really worth doing if you want the full experience of these wide-body jets.



SkyScanner is another useful website to check and since its recent update it has a very user-friendly interface.

Routes:

Moscow-Stockholm-Moscow

This flight is operated by the extra wide-body Airbus A350-900 aircraft with Singapore Airlines. The cheapest tickets I found were on the DME-ARN route and were under £200 in economy and just under £600 in business class. Before booking I would double check both the aircraft type and the ticket here.

London-Madrid-London

Now if you want to fly a wide-body in Europe then this is 100% your route to look at. At different times of day, British Airways send a B767, B777 and B787-900! Iberia on the other hand send an even bigger wide-body – the A340-600!  Note that these reviews were among the first I ever did so don’t rate them for quality!

Prices on this route can be really really cheap if booked in advance and you can usually kill two birds in one stone for a day trip. If you have never booked with Iberia before then I would advise in doing that as Avios can only be moved to an Iberia Plus account when 1 Avios point has been earned on your Iberia account. If you have booked with Iberia before then head straight over to Momondo and Kayak to check out the business class fares. They tend to be the cheapest for me.

Prices in economy start at around £80 return which is incredible and business class fares can be found for £325 which is also pretty damn good for those aircraft.

Its not everyday you see that on a 2.5 hour flight right?

Madrid-Frankfurt-Madrid

This route is a very cheap way to fly a B787 in business class. LATAM fly once a day between the two European city on a fifth freedom flight. You can, of course, redeem Avios on this route but it seems pointless when the flights are so cheap anyway.

Be sure that you are booking the correct flight by using Kayak to search for the flights and check the aircraft then book!

Business class fares come in at £150 on the MAD-FRA leg and a little more on the FRA-MAD sector. Economy class fares are ludicrously low at £32 on the MAD-FRA leg and £54 on the FRA-MAD leg. Booking through the airline is a little more expensive in both cabins so I would advise using any of the comparison sites mentioned in this article to book.

Helsinki-London-Helsinki 

Finnair operate their state of the art A350-900 aircraft between Helsinki and London on the morning flight.

Fares for this flight can be very high if bought directly through Finnair. So I would advise redeeming Avios or booking through travel agencies. As there are many flights between the two cities every day, be sure to check Kayak to see if the A350 is operating on that flight/day.

Prices in economy can be found at around £100 return and in business at around £400.

British Airways B767

Although technically a wide-body aircraft, the B767s from BA have been refitted and no longer hold the long-haul interiors they once did. Even so, the joy of flying a 767 is still there. You can read my experience here or try it for yourself on any of these routes: Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Madrid, Stockholm, Zurich, Edinburgh, Nice, Rome, Larnaca and Athens.

It isn’t clear how often they operate to all of these routes so you MUST check Kayak for the dates you wish to travel and book the ones that say B767 on them.

While it isn’t a long haul business class it is still a novelty flying the wide-body.

Larnaca-Malta

Emirates operate a B777-300ER on this route. Business class prices start at around £500. The best prices are available here. 

Vienna-Barcelona

This route is operated on selected days by an Air China A330.

Zurich-Geneva

Again, on selected days of the week, Swiss Airlines operate this route on a B777-300ER aircraft. Remember to check Kayak to which days and which flights are operated by it.

Stockholm-Oslo

If you fancy trying out Ethiopian’s B787-9 product then prices for this leg start at only £57 in economy! For a business class ticket, you’re looking at the £390 mark. Bookings can be made here. This leg is also operated by a B77L on occasions. Be sure to check Kayak before you book.

Barcelona-Madrid-Barcelona

Domestic flights in Spain operated by Air Europa between Barcelona and Madrid are often operated by an A330 or B787.

Not a bad seat for a short hop. BA 787-9 business class.

Of course there are more of these routes around Europe but I wanted to bring you the ones that are most popular and feature the best aircraft. If there are any others that I have missed out then please get in touch using the contact form or message me on Instagram and I will happily add it to the list.

I understand that this is only useful for my European followers and I will be sure to do another one for my Asian and American followers soon!

I hope this article was useful for all of you who ask me this question. If you happen to book any of these flights then let me know! It is always nice to hear that I am helping people.

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Delivery Report: February 2018 – Qatar Goes #Firstin1000



Just as Delta stole the show in August’s delivery report with the delivery of their first A350-900XWB aircraft, Qatar have stolen this one in quite some style.

Delivery of the Month: Qatar Airways A350-1000 – A7-ANA

On February 22nd, A7-ANA, Qatar’s first A350-1000XWB aircraft was delivered from Toulouse to Doha with LondonSpotter comfortably onboard sipping champagne in seat 6J.

Delivering A7-ANA

The aircraft is the first -1000 variant to be handed over to an airline and is fitted with the new, revolutionary Q Suite business class model. The delivery of A7-ANA was spectacular with guests invited to a gala party the night before which included an incredible light display on the aircraft, the ferry flight and a few nights exploring Doha courtesy of Qatar Airways. You can read about the full event here.

Qatar now fly the A350-1000 to London on flight QR15/16 which you can book through comparison sites such as SkyScanner or Momondo. 

Personally, though, when booking a flight for a specific aircraft, I use Kayak as they show you straight away what aircraft operates that flight.

You can now fly to London on the A350-1000

Other A350s delivered went to: Ethiopian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Lufthansa, Delta, Hong Kong Airlines and Thai.

Picture by Your Heathrow

The B787 project had a solid month as Air Canada, United and Norwegian received two and Air China, American and El Al Israel received one.

The 787 delivery of note went to Air Europa as they took delivery of their first 787-9 variant. The delivery comes alongside news that Air Europa will be opening up a London Gatwick – Sao Paulo route on the B787-8 aircraft. As of October 2018, the -9 model will operate to Tel Aviv. Bookings can be made here.

Photo by Alvaro Lanza

Both the A380 and A330 had quiet months in February. The A380 project is still to deliver a superjumbo since Qatar Airways received one on December 18th 2017 and the A330 project since January 29th to China Eastern.

Boeing churned out only one 777 this month to Korean Airlines.

I flew on the beautiful A380 in February from DOH-LHR

At Airbus, Pratt and Whitney issues continued to slow delivery of the A320 NEOs. Whilst in Toulouse you could see several completed jets sitting on the ground ready for delivery without engines. With that said, Airbus delivered more than the previous month with three going to Air Asia and one going to SAS, Air China, Air India, AZUL and Pegasus.

Boeing had a solid month with the MAX as Air Canada received two, American, AeroMexico, TUI and Aerolineas each received one and Icelandair took delivery of their first MAX!

TF-ICE was ferried from Renton on February 28th after taking its first flight on February 7th.

That’s all from me this month. I’ll be back next month with more delivery updates for you all.

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Qatar Airways Luxurious A380 Business Class Review

When Qatar Airways invited me onboard the delivery flight of the new Airbus A350-1000 I was hugely excited. It was to be my first ever delivery flight and my first flight onboard the new, state of the art Q Suite business class product too. To get home from Doha, I had a choice of flying on the A380, 777 or 787. Seeing as I am flying so many 777s this summer and have flown a fair amount of 787s before I opted to fly on the Qatar Airways A380 business class.

Qatar Airways have a fleet of nine Airbus A380 aircraft based out of Doha Hamad Airport and they operate on only a select few routes. These routes are Sydney, Paris, Bangkok, Guangzhou, Melbourne and, of course, London. The London route is operated by the A380 on both the 1.55am QR9 flight and the 8.00am QR3 flight. I opted for QR3.

The beautiful A380 in Doha

Pre-Flight

My taxi arrived at my hotel in Doha at 5.00am and quickly and easily whisked me off to the airport. Upon arrival he asked if I was flying business class and as I said yes, took a ramp to a separate section of the drop off zone for both business class and first class passengers.

The door was opened and bags unloaded by Qatar Airways staff who then walked me inside to the business and first only check-in area. I hadn’t checked in for my flight online so he entered my passport information and sent me away with my boarding pass within minutes.

Another benefit of flying business class was the private security lane. In many airports you will be taken through a ‘fast track’ lane but with Qatar, we had a quiet room which felt more like a luxury hotel lobby than an airport security hall. They sure know how to make you feel special.

The business class ticket holder. Love it.

Once through security I headed to the duty free section of the airport to take advantage of the AMAZING prices they have. From tobacco to alcohol and chocolate to plane models, you can find some amazing deals to take advantage of.

Once I had bought enough to warrant another suitcase purchase I headed to the business class ‘Al Mourjan’ lounge for a very early breakfast. The lounges are all up escalators which make them one floor above security and two floors above the main concourse to ensure maximum privacy. This is a really nice touch. My first impression of the lounge was along the lines of “This is HUGE”. The lounge really was gigantic. I found myself a table and placed down my luggage and jacket before going for a wander. Check out the slideshow below to see my favourite aspects of the lounge.

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At 7.00am, 15 minutes before boarding, I headed down to gate A5 – a short walk of around 5 minutes. While walking towards the gate it was almost impossible not to appreciate the huge A380 standing at the gate ready to ferry us to Heathrow. The gate has two check in areas, one for economy passengers which had a pretty long queue and one for business and first passengers which had a tiny queue and led passengers to a private waiting room upstairs. This was a really nice touch and another way of ensuring the premium passengers had privacy.

Private waiting area for premium passengers

Boarding began on-time and I headed down to the aircraft where I was met by the lovely cabin manager Fiona who led me to seat 18A, a standard business class window seat towards the back of the cabin. Once I had taken my seat I was immediately asked what drink I wanted and if I wanted a hot towel. I asked for champagne (which was an odd choice seeing as it was 1am in the UK) and was almost immediately brought a glass of ‘Lanson Black Label white champagne’ from France. It was a fresh tasting champagne with ‘aromas of flowers and a touch of honey’.

Starting early

The Seat

The Qatar Airways business class seat is the pod seat and is the same seat featured on the B787 and A350-900 models. It has now been outdated by the Q Suite which will be fitted onto all new aircraft apart from the 787s from now on. The seat features 80″ of pitch or bed length which when seated is more than enough to stretch out and store a bag and when lying down enough to fully stretch out in comfort.

The seat

The width is also sufficient with 22″. The seat also has a reading lamp and document storage rack to the left of the seat. In front of the rack is a table with storage space and to the left of that, two extremely deep bins. All in all, you’ll struggle to fill all of the storage space which is a huge benefit of flying the Airbus A380.

The seat has a personal monitor of 17″ which features the highly regarded Oryx One system. The screen has fantastic in-flight maps, films, TV shows, games and much more which is all controllable from your personal remote control on your left.

Large enough screen

The seat features full recline and a very large table which suits both the bold eating spreads they lay out for you and the ability to work.

Such a spacious seat

Finally, business class passengers are given amenity kits by BRIC’S. The kit includes socks, eye masks and a range of sprays, creams and gels. All perfect for comfort in long-haul travel.

The Aircraft 

So the A380 is huge – there is no two ways about it. Each airline chooses to lay the aircraft out in different ways and here is how Qatar have chosen to operate it.

Upper Deck 

The upper deck has stairs at the front and two enormous toilets for first class passengers of which there were two on this flight – one each! The First class seats are open suites and are set up in two rows of a 1-2-1 configuration. Behind first class is another enormous galley with two toilets which leads on to business class.

The huge A380 toilets at the front

The business class seats are also laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration. The seats cover rows 10-22 which makes for a total of 48 seats. Behind the business class cabin is my favourite A380 feature – the bar.

The beautiful A380 bar

For both first class and business class passengers, the bar features sofas with small tables for drinks and a huge amount of space to walk around in. This is such a nice addition to the aircraft as it means you have somewhere to stretch your legs and have a drink or in my case even do some work.

Behind the lounge comes a small economy cabin which differs from the other economy cabins. The cabin features only 56 seats and is laid out in a 2-4-2 configuration. This is a drastic change to the normal 3-4-3 offered downstairs and if flying economy with Qatar Airways, is a trick you should definitely look out for. One of the crew members did mention to me that they try to reserve those seats for OneWorld status members and elderly people, however.

Lower Deck

Downstairs is all economy. I headed down to take a look and the layout is a standard 3-4-3 setup. The seats feature 32″ of pitch and 18.5″ of width. On today’s flight there were 150 economy seats free out of the 461 capacity!

The standard 3-4-3 configuration in economy

The Flight 

After boarding was completed, ground staff left the aircraft and we pushed back and departed at 8.20am. Taking off in the A380 is an amazing feeling unlike that of any other aircraft. The sound is amazing.

Taking off over Doha

The crew had taken my breakfast order before taking off and around 10 minutes after we hit the air Leo, who was looking after me for the day, brought me my drink, a bowl of hot nuts and the meal. Qatar Airways always lay out the meal in a lovely way with a small tray of salt, pepper and butter for the bread basket and even some small candle decoration. It’s lovely to see how much pride they take in their layout. I went for the cheese platter which came with four different cheeses, three types of crackers, some more bread, a pate, some grapes and some small vegetables. Leo also assured me that to compliment the meal I had to try some port wine as they go fantastically together.

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The meal was lovely and a great choice if you’re not overly hungry. Once I had eaten I headed off to explore the aircraft. I started by stretching my legs in the bar before heading downstairs to chat with the crew operating the economy cabins. It was downstairs where I met the amazing Prashant Agarwal from India. He was so sweet and even though he was working in economy, came upstairs on several occasions to chat with me and check on how I was being looked after. It was a pleasure to meet him and the other crew and backed up my amazing impression of Qatar crew from the previous days flight.

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Once I had explored the aircraft I put on my pyjamas and headed to sleep. It took me only a few minutes to get comfortable and then nodded off straight away. The seat is more than comfy enough to sleep but falls short of the Q Suite where privacy is concerned. I couldn’t help but notice that people in the middle seats could see me. This didn’t affect me at all but was a clear indicator on how the Q Suite is a superior product.

Within minutes of waking up Leo was back and asked if I would like tea or coffee. I went for a tea which was lovely to wake up to and headed to the bar to continue working. Inflight WiFi is offered on this flight but I chose not to use it. James, however, bought $20 worth and used it during the flight with great success.

I then headed back for my second meal – the Arabic breakfast. Once again, the display was beautiful and I enjoyed the salad that went along with it. I didn’t, however, enjoy the soup part so much which was a shame.

Looks nice Leo!

Soon after, we begun our descent into London Heathrow and the crew came to give me a ‘Fast Track’ passport control ticket as a thank you for flying with Qatar. This was a really sweet touch as the other passengers weren’t given the same.

The Bottom Line

Qatar’s A380s are fitted with the old seat which has now been outdated by the Q Suite. While the Q Suite is undeniably a superior product, the old seat is still fantastic. With lots of space and tonnes of storage, the 380 is ultimately a fantastic choice. The crew were absolutely incredible and looked after me extremely well. They were attentive, well-dressed and extremely professional. Well done Qatar Airways.

Thank you everyone at Qatar!

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disclaimer: this trip was provided by Qatar Airways as part of the A350 delivery flight trip but the views are fully my own. No pressure was put upon me by the airline to express particular points of view.

Qatar Airways A350-1000 Delivery Flight Q Suite Review



The day had been looming since mid-2007. At some point in the future, the first ever Airbus A350-1000 aircraft would leave Toulouse on a delivery flight. It wasn’t until 2012, however, that it became clear where this flight would depart to. On December 3rd, Qatar and Airbus announced that the original order of 20 Airbus A350-800 aircraft was to be converted into three -900 variants and 17 -1000s. From that moment on, the clock was ticking. I knew I wanted to be onboard the inaugural flight from Doha to London in the Q Suites, which you can book here, but there was one flight a little more exclusive than that – the delivery flight from Toulouse.

The original plan was to deliver the aircraft towards the end of 2017 but due to the ‘unbelievably high standards’ of CEO Akbar Al Baker, the fitting of ‘Q Suites’ (Qatar’s new state of the art business class) on the aircraft delayed the delivery further. On January 22nd, it was rumoured by Reuters that the delivery would take place towards the end of February. They were correct.

On Tuesday 20th February, I flew out to the Airbus factory in Toulouse where I was met by an Airbus chauffeur who shuttled me straight to a press conference hosted by Qatar and Airbus. It was here that Al Baker announced that they are considering converting some of the -900 orders to the larger -1000 so as to receive even more of the larger variant. The conference was also special as it was Fabrice Brégier’s last day as Airbus President.

The press conference was hosted by Airbus, Qatar and Rolls Royce

So What Makes the -1000 Different?

In basic terms, the A350-1000 is a bigger version of the -900 model. It features a larger cabin and new Trent XWB 97 engines. The engine differs from the XWB 84 model in that it delivers an extra 13,000lb of thrust to carry the bigger jet. The engines are made by Airbus’ trusted partner Rolls Royce.  The major difference, however, is that the -1000 jets are all fitted with the new Q Suite product, unlike the old -900s. This is, however, about to change as Al Baker announced that all future aircraft deliveries apart from the 787s will be Q Suite fitted. The 787 will also feature an upgraded product, he announced. He also confirmed that First class will stay on the A380 but not feature on any other aircraft.

The Trent 97 is HUGE

Tuesday:

After landing in Toulouse and attending the press conference, we were whisked off to the Airbus Delivery Centre where we visited A7-ANA, the first ever A350-1000 aircraft to be delivered to an airline. My first impressions of the aircraft were positive. As we walked around the jet you could sense it was new by the way that everything was as clean as a whistle. The aircraft really was beautiful. As we entered the plane I was hit with a strong smell: new aircraft. If you have ever had a chance to smell an aircraft which is just months old then you will know what I’m talking about! If not, I’m not crazy, don’t worry.

Ultimate cleanliness for the tour

The visit on Tuesday was a really great chance to check out how the product looked so here is my review of both cabins:

Business Class Q Suite

In Tuesday’s press conference, Al Baker and Brégier both pressed the point of how revolutionary the Q Suite was. When I got on board, I finally knew what they were talking about. The Q Suite has a fantastic look to it and is a massive upgrade from the old business class product. The suites feature full privacy with sliding doors, bigger TV screens, hi-tech electronic blinds and are pretty damn comfy, too.

The revolutionary Q Suite product

The Q Suite layout is designed in such a way that a double bed can be made out of the two middle suits if travelling with a partner and a small meeting room can also be made. By lowering the middle blinds, four people can join tables to make a large one in the middle. By keeping the blinds on the sides up, a fully private meeting room is created. Genius.

The dividers are moved on request to create the conditions you want

The idea behind the Q Suite truly is revolutionary and it requires you to see it in person to really appreciate it. The Q Suite covers rows 1 to 12 and the configuration is 1-2-1. You can read my review on the old business class to see how they compare here.

Economy Class

The economy class on the A350 also really impressed me. With no premium economy product, the two economy cabins have the task of impressing those who normally would choose premium. In a typical 3-3-3 configuration, the seats are slimline and modern.

A standard 3-3-3 configuration. Very spacious feel.

The seat pitch felt sufficient when I tried it (albeit mid-flight for about 5 minutes) and width was more than acceptable. Because of the slimline seats and clean feel to the aircraft, the cabin felt really spacious which I liked. The economy class fills up the rear two cabins. As someone who has flown a lot of premium economy, I thought the cabin felt fantastic and is on par with many of the premiums I have flown.

Great look to the cabin too!

Once our tour was over, we headed back to the hotel and prepared to finish our evening in quite some manner. We were all brought back to the Delivery Centre where we were offered champagne and little snacks that made me feel as pompous as ever (they did taste incredible though…) before entering into the dining hall for a wanderful dinner and unbelievable light show.

Gatecrashing the big boys at the Gala!

The aircraft was revealed in a spectacular performance of strobe lighting and then the drama came inside as projectors lit up our tables in incredible fashion. It was truly spectacular.

The stunning light show blew my mind!

Delivery Flight:

Having been out the night before at the Gala it was incredibly hard getting up at 4.00am to head back to the Delivery Centre. So hard, in fact, that I didn’t do it. After waking up half an hour late I dashed outside, got a taxi and paid an extortionate fee to arrive for check-in. The irony was, however, that my taxi driver drove so fast that I actually arrived earlier than everyone else!

The Delivery Centre has its own little check in area with two desks. We all queued in excitement, got our boarding passes and seats then ventured upstairs to where we had attended the Gala party just five hours previously.

Check in queues!

Laid out for us was a very spectacular spread of pastries and nibbles with small bar areas to get coffees and juices. A really professional looking layout, I thought.

Some small snacks for us!

Once we had eaten I went through the small security lines and boarded my first ever delivery flight! Exciting right? The atmosphere was fantastic; a good mix of journalists and excited young bloggers meant that wherever you were on the plane you had a wide variety of people to chat with and share your enthusiasm.

My seat for the 7-hour ferry flight was 6J, a window seat in the larger front cabin. The crew were amazing in showing me around. They began by offering me a drink, hot towel and asking about my food preferences before showing me around my seat and telling me all about the features of the Q Suite.

Going non-alcoholic lasted for an impressive one drink

What an impressive suite! One of my favourite features was the little area between my seat and the window. If you pull the tab it reveals a storage area but when down can be used as a table for your camera or bag. At one point it even became a seat for James until I kicked him out! With that said, the table area in front is already extremely impressive. With a little shelf below the actual table it provides plenty of storage space. Be sure to clear it before takeoff though or everything will fly off and hit you!

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We pushed back and departed Toulouse at around 9am so as to arrive in Doha in daylight for the press. Departing at 9am meant breakfast was served pretty much straight after takeoff. I opted for the ‘platter of seasonal cut fruits’ as a starter and the ‘cheddar cheese omelette with sausages’ for my main. The meal was really beautifully presented by the wonderful crew but took about 30 minutes to arrive! As this wasn’t an ordinary flight, however, I didn’t mind as I was up wandering the aircraft anyway.

Breakfast is served!

While walking around chatting to everyone it was amazing to see just how enthusiastic the Airbus and Qatar staff were. It was really nice to see just how confident they were in this new jet. As we neared the end, we were lucky enough to step inside the flight deck. This moment is one that I had wanted to do ever since I was a young child and it didn’t disappoint. Sitting in the flight deck at 41,000ft was amazing and I can’t thank Captain Konstantinos Iliakis enough for allowing the visit.

Childhood dream come true

My final meal came from the snack platter menu specially devised for this flight. It was a selection of meat, fish, vegetables and tasted even better than it looked.

A final meal. Excellent. I took the photo after greedily eating one piece of chicken. Oops.

As we descended into Doha we did something I have never done before. We descended to 1000ft and circled Corniche to show off the new plane! The views from the inside were spectacular. After Corniche we cruised towards Hamad airport where we performed a fly-by. Just as we neared the end of the runway, the captain applied full throttle and we powered out on another loop. It felt incredible from the inside.

The fly-by was spectacular

Upon touchdown in Doha we were met by the world’s media and airport staff. It was an amazing feeling to be part of the media team actually onboard the aircraft.

This flight was very special to me as it was my first ever delivery flight. I had an absolutely amazing time onboard the flight thanks to the amazing company and fantastic crew. I want to make a special mention to Daryn from the Philippines who treated me so nicely onboard. I will remember her for a very long time for sure!

I’d by lying if I said this shot was easily planned…

The A350 really is a remarkable aircraft. With the -1000 variant under their belt, Qatar are in a very strong position. The revolutionary Q Suite is a state of the art product that people will, undoubtedly, start to choose over other outdated business class products. Mix this with the fuel efficiency of operating the A350-1000 and I can see Qatar Airways increasing their dominant hold over luxury air travel in the future. Well done and thank you Qatar Airways.

 

Thank you for reading! Feel free to subscribe below for more awesome content! I flew home on the A380 and you can read my review here.

Be sure to check out some of my friends websites who were also on this trip!

Josh Cahil – gotravelyourway.com

Stefan Unterwegs – globaltraveler.tv

Brian Kelly and Zach Honig – thepointsguy.com

Sam Chui – samchui.com

 

Hainan to Expand UK Network with a UK-DUB Route in Development

The privately owned Hainan Airlines who are currently China’s fourth biggest carrier have announced plans to expand their UK Network.

The news comes after Britain and China signed a deal to increase flights between the two countires by 50% to 150 per week. The Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling said that the the agreement will support a rise in routes from regional airports.

Hainan’s ultra-modern business class! Looks amazing.

The route application Hainan have put to the UK government includes three new routes, all of which are currently unserved. They are as follows:

1.  Changsha – London on a three times weekly service starting in March 2018

2. Beijing – Edinburgh – Dublin / Beijing – Dublin – Edinburgh on a twice weekly service starting in June 2018

3.  Guangzhou – Manchester on a three times weekly service from December 2018

Hainan currently serve England on only one route: Beijing to Manchester. The route is operated by the airlines A330 aircraft and is reported to be worth £250 million in economic benefits to the UK over the next decade.

The Chinese market has been hotting up over the recent years with eight airlines currently operating direct routes to China, three to Hong Kong and one to Taipei.

While Hainan will be the only airline operating the above routes, they face heavy competition on all Chinese routes from major competitors such as Air China (who I will be reviewing this summer), British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, China Eastern, Capital Airlines, Tianjin Airlines and China Southern (who I will also be reviewing on several aircraft this summer).

Hainan’s economy product on the A330

If these routes are accepted, it will result in Hainan operating an Edinburgh – Dublin route with, hopefully, a Boeing 787 aircraft. This will undoubtedly pull aviation fanatics from all over the UK and Ireland in! With taxes in Ireland being as low as they are, you could be flying the 787 for a real bargain.

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January Delivery Report: A Slow Month All Round

At the end of my December delivery report I made a joke which went along the lines of: “Will Airbus and Boeing workers be slow under the extra weight of Christmas pudding?”.

When rounding up this month’s deliveries I was surprised to say that I think they might have done! January saw three A350 deliveries compared to eight in December, eight 787s compared to 12 in December and five 737 MAXs compared to 20. What happened?

So let’s kick off the month in Seattle on the production line of the B737MAX. The first MAX delivery went to Aerolineas Argentina as they received LV-HKU. Three other airlines made the headlines as they received their first MAX variant. These were TUI (OO-MAX), SmartWings (OK-SWA) and Oman Air (A4O-MA).

pic: TUI

Airbus rivaled this very slowly as they delivered only three A320NEO variants. These went to Thai AirAsia, AZUL and SAS Ireland who operate as a subsidiary company to SAS with Irish registered aircraft.

Air Asia’s first NEO seems like a long time ago now!

The slow month in Toulouse wasn’t just for the NEO. Airbus rolled out only three A350s in January, too. These went to China Airlines, Lufthansa and Thai (who I will be trying this summer!)

Thai’s A350 economy class. Voted the world’s best!

The 787, however, did have a good month. Boeing took a lead in the 787 vs 350 race as they delivered eight Dreamliners to seven airlines.

United took the lead with two while Air Canada, Aeromexico, Norwegian, Qantas and KLM all received one. In addition to this, Virgin Atlantic took delivery of their first Dreamliner since March 2017 as they received G-VWOO.

Photo: Virgin

The B777 production line churned out three 777s to two new airlines this month. Swiss took delivery of HB-JNI while Air India received both VT-ALV and VT-ALW.

Photo: TPG

The A330 was arguably Airbus’ best performing model of the month. The European manufacturer delivered five aircraft to four airlines. Avianca took home two while Biman Bangladesh, Shenzhen Airlines  and China Eastern all settled for one.

No A380s were delivered in January.

Airbus production line by Airbus

On another note, EasyJet acquired three British Aerospace 146-200 aircraft. While these aircraft are by no means new aircraft it is interesting to see their long histories. D-AWBA, D-AWUE and D-AMGL joined EasyJet’s fleet January 10th and are being leased from WDL Aviation. The aircraft are being used to fill the void left by Air Berlin. The oldest (D-AWUE) has been flying since February 1986!

Looks strange right!

That is all from me this month! I’ll be back next month to see if Boeing and Airbus bounce back from their slow starts to the year!

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Norwegian to Add Hong Kong to its Long-Haul Network

According to the Norwegian Facebook page, Norwegian Air will be adding Hong Kong to its rapidly expanding network.

Norwegian’s 787-9 taxiing at Gatwick.

A comment on the airline’s Facebook page asked whether they were planning to expand further into Asia to which Norwegian replied:

“That would be great…actually Hong Kong is about to come…”

It remains unclear exactly when the new route will begin as when we contacted Norwegian for confirmation a spokesperson said:

“As an ambitious airline with a large aircraft order, we’ve made no secret of our plans to expand our long-haul network and deliver affordable fares to other parts of the world, including Asia. However, we have no immediate plans to serve Hong Kong”.

Norwegian already operates to two Asian hubs in Singapore and Bangkok with Singapore only recently taking flight.

If the new route is operated out of London Gatwick then it will, undoubtedly, be using a Boeing 787-9 aircraft. The aircraft is standard for Norwegian’s long-haul network out of London and is fitted in a two class configuration.

The Premium Cabin – with 35 Haeco 3050 seats

Launching this route would put Norwegian in direct competition with Cathay Pacific which operates the Airbus A350 on the Gatwick-Hong Kong route.

You can read our review of Norwegian’s premium cabin here, a review of their new B737MAX here and their prospects of becoming a ‘Transatlantic game-changer’ here.

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