SKYTRAX 2018 World Airline Awards: Who are the winners and losers?

Today in London, SKYTRAX held its annual World Airline Awards ceremony, which involves 20 million travellers voting on over 335 airlines across the globe, deciding which airline deserves titles ranging from ‘Best UK Leisure Airline’ to ‘Best Business Class’. Airlines often use SKYTRAX ratings as massive marketing tools, so it is important to know: who are the winners and losers of this year’s awards?

Winner 1: Singapore Airlines – wins ‘World’s Best Airline’

Taking the most prestigious award is the Singaporean carrier – SIA. The airline has won the ‘World’s Best Airline’ title three times previously, but not for over a decade, as airlines such as Qatar Airways and Emirates swept past them in terms of luxury and innovation.

The SKYTRAX CEO said a real ‘wow’ factor for Singapore Airlines was consistency and the airline scored highly in ‘product and service’. Singapore Airlines also won the separate titles for ‘Best Airline in Asia’, ‘Best First Class’ and ‘Best First Class Seat’.

Winner 2: China Southern – wins ‘Most Improved Airline’

The Guangzhou-based airline has won the ‘most improved’ award, an accolade Saudia won last year. This award goes a long way in determining the success of an airline and is a significant source of pride for the airline, as it jumps from 23rd to 14th in SKYTRAX’s 1-100 airline league table.

Loser 1: Etihad Airways – drops 7 places in airline league table

Etihad Airways has found itself plummeting in SKYTRAX’s 1-100 airline league table, from 8th place in 2017 to 15th place this year – behind the likes of China Southern, Swiss, Qantas and EVA Air.

Etihad Airways has recently announced a massive restructuring plan.

This comes amid a stringent restructuring of the airline and cost cutting measures (such as increased fees for seat assignments) in order to steer the airline through its financial woes.

Loser 2: US Airlines – no airlines from the USA picked up a headline award

No US airline has left with a major award from SKYTRAX this year, as Air Canada pick up the coveted ‘Best Airline in North America’ award, Air Transat take ‘World’s Best Leisure Airline’ and WestJet get the ‘Best Low-Cost Airline in North America’ title.

WestJet 737MAX cabin (Photo by WestJet)

American Airlines, United and Delta all took home a single award each for ‘Best North American First Class’, ‘Best North American Business Class Lounge’ and ‘Best North American Business Class seat’ respectively. No US Airline made the top 10 in the world.

From a UK perspective – TUI UK, British Airways and EasyJet are all winners

British Airways collected the award for ‘Best Cabin Crew in the UK’, despite Virgin Atlantic beating British Airways in the overall league tables. EasyJet was named the ‘UK’s Best Low-Cost carrier’, whilst TUI was voted the ‘UK’s Best Leisure Airline’.

British Airways was awarded ‘Best Cabin Crew in the UK’

Across Europe, Lufthansa was the only airline to make the top 10 (having recently been awarded the five-star ranking by SKYTRAX), Aegean retained its title as ‘Best Regional Airline in Europe’ and Air France won ‘Best First Class in Europe’ for its La Premiere product and several awards for their culinary excellence.

Aegean retained its title as ‘Best Regional Airline in Europe’ for yet another year.

Japan Airlines recieved a five-star rating from SKYTRAX

Whilst separate from the awards ceremony, it was also announced today that Japan Airlines has gained a five-star ranking putting it on a par with its Japanese counterpart All Nippon Airways, which already holds the five-star title.

JAL boasts spacious seats in Economy Class with some of the widest in the industry.

JAL becomes the 11th five-star airline around the world with this announcement, and I’m sure the ranking is one Raj would corroborate from his recent reviews of the airline’s Boeing 787 product.  

“Japan Airlines has worked extremely hard over the last 5-years to truly transform their product and service experience for customers. Without doubt, JAL are now delivering some of the best standards of inflight seating and IFE hardware, and this has been well paired with staff service quality that continues to increase in appeal for both the domestic and International markets.”

skytrax ceo on jal’s five-star ranking

Overall, SKYTRAX ratings provide a good idea of how airlines across the globe are performing on an annual basis, but airlines are allowed to promote voting for themselves so results can be skewed. Additionally, the five-star rankings are not decided by votes from the public – however I think that JAL thoroughly deserves the accolade, considering its 2-4-2 seating arrangement on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Economy Class and Apex Suites in Business Class.

What do you think about SKYTRAX’s 2018 Airline Awards?

Aviation Round-Up: 16th July 2018 – New Routes, Deliveries & More


Routes News

EasyJet

One of Europe’s leading low-cost carriers has announced a raft of expansion from the UK, beginning this winter. The new winter services will add 358,200 seats to EasyJet’s network, with over 248,600 of these being to and from the UK. Within the expansion, EasyJet has announced its 1,000th route – a new connection from Manchester to Bordeaux. The airline is also expected to open a new route from Manchester to the Greek city of Volos next summer, following the great success of its Gatwick connection (which I broke the news of last year).

Taking delivery of new aircraft such as the Airbus A320NEO (above), enables EasyJet to expand into new markets with existing equipment

The expansion will involve new routes from London, Glasgow, Bristol, Liverpool and includes what EasyJet calls its ‘largest ever expansion’ from Manchester, with new routes from the airport to Faro, Barcelona, Lanzarote, Bordeaux and Innsbruck.

“The launch of these 16 new routes across the UK provides our passengers with even more amazing destinations across Europe for both holidays and business travel.’

-sophie dekkers, uk country director

Shenzhen Airlines

Shenzhen Airlines has opened reservations for a new route from its base in Shenzhen to London’s Heathrow airport. The flight will operate with two-class Airbus A330 equipment, on a thrice-weekly basis. This latest route comes amid rapid expansion of flights from China to the UK, following an agreement last December to increase the number of permitted flights per week between the UK and China to 150.

United Airlines

Following great fanfare in October 2017, United will drop its Los Angeles to Singapore route in favour of relocating the US gateway to San Francisco. An additional daily frequency will be added between the tech-hub of San Francisco and Singapore, meaning United’s will offer morning and evening connections on the ultra-long haul route.

Qatar Airways

Raj flew on Qatar’s Airbus A350-1000 delivery flight earlier this year. Passengers originating in Edinburgh and Manchester can now enjoy the Airbus A350 experience, when flying Qatar Airways.

Qatar Airways have recently substituted the Boeing 787-8 for their newer Airbus A350 XWB equipment on the Doha-Edinburgh route, a change which will now be replicated this winter in Manchester. Two of up to three daily flights on the Doha-Manchester sector will be operated by the Airbus A350-900XWB, representing a capacity increase. Meanwhile, overall frequency will increase to 18-weekly flights – a figure expected to increase further to thrice-daily next summer.


Deliveries

This month saw more Airbus A350 recipients receive their new equipment, and EasyJet recieved their first Airbus A321Neo. 

Philippine Airlines

The Philippino national carrier has become the 19th airline around the world to operate the Airbus A350, after its first of six aircraft were delivered. The airline will primarily use the aircraft for routes to Europe and New York JFK, with the inaugural passenger flight currently scheduled for October 28th from Manilla to London.

Philippine Airlines’ first Airbus A350 was delivered from Toulouse to Manilla earlier this week.

The airline’s Airbus A350 is configured with 295 seats in total, with three cabin classes to choose from. Business Class will offer fully-flat seats with direct aisle access in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration. Similarly to other Airbus A350 operators, Premium Economy has a 2-4-2 configuration and Economy Class offers a minimum of 18″ seat width, in a 3-3-3 setup.

EasyJet

EasyJet has recieved its first Airbus A321Neo aircraft, which will make its debut later this month on flights between London Gatwick and Faro.

 

The aircraft is set to have 235 seats, a 30 % hike in capacity from an Airbus A320 and a 50% increase from an Airbus A319. EasyJet’s first Airbus A321Neo is registered G-UZMA and will provide extra capacity from slot-restricted airports, such as London Gatwick and significantly reduce fuel consumption per seat. Airlines such as Wizz Air have already taken the plunge with higher-capacity equipment, taking advantage of lower costs and higher seating capacity on trunk routes.


Other Aviation Stories

Etihad Airways begins charging for seat selection

The Abu Dhabi based carrier is about to embark on a radical restructuring, aiming to resolve the financial difficulty the airline finds itself in. This latest development is an example of the cost-cutting that will have to be implemented in order to turn the airline’s fortunes around.

Etihad is bracing itself for a radical restructuring, announced earlier this year.

Etihad Airways has begun charging for seat assignments in Economy Class for all flights after 15th July 2018. Whilst the airline previously charged for ‘Preferred Seats’ and seats towards the front of the cabin, fees will now be incurred when selecting any Economy class seat – regardless of fare class. The charges are already being implemented on tickets already issued, though passengers will still be able to select seats for free, from 24 hours prior to departure.

The Latest New York Airport: Stewart Rebrands

Stewart Airport, a mixed civil and military airport in Orange County has taken a major step in its rebranding programme to become New York Stewart International Airport. The move comes just over one year after Norwegian started their direct flights from Europe on the 737MAX aircraft.

I visited Stewart in August 2017, just two months after Norwegian started operating and whilst talking to the staff there, I got a huge sense of excitement for what the future could hold for Stewart. One year on, I arrived at Stewart keen to see just how well they were doing.

I had the opportunity to talk to Ed Harrison once again who is General Manager at Stewart. On this wonderful occasion, Ed stressed how important this was for the airport but also for the surrounding location. As I mentioned in last year’s article, the surrounding area in Orange County has much to offer including a new Legoland which will be completed in 2020. I was told that the management team there expect 30% of all customers to come from Europe which could be a total game changer for Stewart. Coinciding with this opening, a new arrivals hall will be opening in 2020 which is part of their major development plan. The arrivals hall will be costing Stewart $30 million to build but with passenger numbers increasing in the 100s of thousands every year and predictions showing Stewart exceeding 1 million passengers by 2020, it isn’t surprising that they have begun to expand.

I told Ed that I had a special place in my heart for Stewart airport but he simply assumed I say that to every airport I talk to – the truth is, I really do. When I visited Stewart for the first time, it was one of my first ever press trips and I had the incredible opportunity of flying over the airport and into Manhattan with the Stewart based company Independent Helicopters. Who could forget an experience like that? Independent are just one of the many companies based out of Stewart and since my last visit, two new companies have invested in Stewart to be the location for their new hangars.

It is important to stress that the fact that load factors are increasing rapidly isn’t just down to Norwegian. Domestic load factors are also up and Ed Harrison believes this is due to people using Stewart to get to Europe from all across America. With airlines such as Allegiant and American offering routes out of Stewart, people can easily use it as a connection point onto Norwegian’s network. In terms of airline expansion however, Norwegian’s rough financial situation could threaten the airport’s future. With the Edinburgh network already being reduced in size, could the prospect of Norwegian being bought out impact small-aircraft routes such as these? Ed stressed that there is high level of interest from other airlines but I will remain slightly worried until these new routes are announced. On the other hand, Norwegian now operate 28 flights a week compared to 21 last year. Dublin has become a real success and now offers a 2x daily service.

The huge Woodbury Commons – photo by Coach USA

What I loved about Stewart last time and found had been bettered this time is the Stewart Airport Express bus service. The journey can take as little as one hour but often takes longer and only costs $20. It has been improved since last year and a stop has been added – the shopping outlet of Woodbury Commons. Travelers can now land, be picked up by the bus, ferried to Woodbury Commons, shop and then be picked up and finish their journey into New York – cool right?

Stewart is definitely growing and the name change will do much to help it as it starts to be recognised as a New York Airport, the area’s local economy is ‘humming’ and Stewart have proved they can handle larger aircraft. During the winter snow that shut down JFK airport, Stewart successfully handled a Singapore Airlines A380 jet and took all the passengers into New York without trouble. While financial issues may be holding the expansion of Norwegian back, new airlines and routes need to be welcomed into Stewart so that the new developments can be utilised.

The New York airport of the future? I certainly think it’s possible.

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July 2018 Fare Finder

Your guide to the best value airfares for the month ahead!

We all know that finding and booking flights to your favourite destinations without breaking the bank isn’t easy, so here is a guide that gives you the opportunity to take advantage of the best value air fares. This months edition is focused on finding you some of the best value airfares for July!

Looking to save money on last minute flights? Try Kayak!

basel, switzerland:

Switzerland’s third most populated city lies on the northeastern borders with France and Germany.  The cities 175,000 residents live within close proximity of the River Rhine and the riverbanks are lined with Renaissance era buildings. For visitors looking for local attractions to keep them entertained, they need look no further than Basel Zoo, Switzerland’s largest and oldest. Many art museums based here are open to the public and feature a range of traditional and contemporary displays.

BA’s A319 fleet fly multiple times per day to Basel.

British Airways fly four times daily to Basel using their Airbus A319 fleet. Travellers flying with BA will be flying in the Euro Traveller cabin and the airlines lowest economy fare. However for  just £71 per person return, people can’t have any complaints for their cheap getaway to Switzerland. With multiple flights leaving per day, head over to Kayak to pick your prefered flight times.

TOULOUSE, FRANCE:

If ever a city deserved little introduction, it would be Toulouse. Home to Airbus and some of its final assembly lines, avgeeks will feel right at home here. Whether it’s taking a guided tour of the factories and hitting the gift shop afterwards (better leave space in your hand luggage for souvenirs!) or taking in a days spotting eagerly awaiting the latest A350 or brand new A330 NEO to be towed across the airfield, this is a must visit for anyone with even half an interest in aviation!

Aircraft waiting to be delivered at Toulouse (Photo Credit: Airbus).

As reliable as the sky being blue and England being knocked out of a World Cup on penalties (wait a minute…), you can always guarantee easyJet to have low-cost fares waiting to fly willing passengers across Europe. Flying from the Generation easyJet stronghold of London Luton, a return fare can be booked for as little as £67 return! As usual, head on over to the easyJet website to book your next trip!

Orlando, florida, usa:

THE ultimate place for families to visit. Universal studios, Walt Disney World, Busch Gardens and Kennedy Space Centre, these are just a few of the fun filled action packed days out that await you across the Atlantic. With most theme parks offering 14 day tickets for the price of just 7 days, the hardest choice you will have to make will be, where to first?!

Thomas Cook Airlines will be whisking you away to the Sunshine State. Their Airbus A330 will be departing Glasgow as it takes you away on your 14 day vacation. Priced at £460 per person return, many reading this will be thinking that the price is a bit extortionate. Well… If you look at the end of July, flights alone will set you back in the region of £800 per person! Why not head over to Momondo to book, and see for yourself!

MALLORCA, SPAIN:

A stalwart whenever it comes to holiday destinations. Popular and much loved with the British; famed for it’s golden sandy beaches and lively nightlife, Mallorca never fails to leave families flying back home with smiles on their faces. If it’s partying the night away you want, then look no further than Magalluf. Want a relaxed family break? Head up north to Alcudia with its golden stretch of beach that never seems to end!

Primera’s A321 NEOs fly transatlantic from their Stansted base (Photo Credit: Primera).

Regular flyers from Birmingham may have heard the recent news that Primera Air have ceased their BHX long haul operations until 2019. Despite recent negative press, Primera have announced a last-minute summer sale to their remaining short-haul destinations. For £68 round trip, last-minute travellers can be getting away for a whole week before the main school holidays in August. Primera Air flights can be booked here.

 

in next months fare finder:

We’ll find last-minute deals for August!

IAG subsidiary LEVEL goes short-haul, with new base in Vienna

IAG, the parent company of British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling, launched its answer to Norwegian last year as the new low-cost brand ‘LEVEL’ was established. The announcement came amid a multitude of spin-offs announced by full service airlines, designed to appeal to millennials, like JOON from Air France, for example.

The airline initially had a primary goal: to operate low-cost, long haul services, across the Atlantic. Pitched at younger travellers, the airline based itself in Barcelona, offering services with Airbus A330-200 aircraft to Los Angeles, Oakland, Buenos Aires, Boston and Punta Cana.

LEVEL launched its transatlantic services from Barcelona last year, with a fleet of Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

Since then, the airline has evolved. This year, LEVEL has opened a base in Paris Orly, offering services to the Caribbean Islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe – in addition to services to Montréal and New York Newark.

Now, comes the biggest development yet. In less than a month, LEVEL will launch intra-Europe operations from Austria’s capital – Vienna. The carrier will be based at Vienna’s Terminal 1, with four Airbus A321 aircraft initially operating to 14 European destinations.

LEVEL’s new Airbus A321s are believed to be acquired from Air Berlin

Specifically, the airline will offer flights from Vienna to:

  • Palma (PMI), daily from July 17th
  • London Gatwick (LGW), double-daily from July 17th
  • Barcelona (BCN), daily from July 23rd
  • Malaga (AGP), three-weekly from July 30th
  • Venice (VCE), daily from July 31st
  • Olbia (OLB), three-weekly from July 31st
  • Ibiza (IBZ), three-weekly from August 7th
  • Paris (CDG), thirteen-weekly from August 11th
  • Milan (MXP), thirteen-weekly from August 11th
  • Dubrovnik (DBV), four-weekly from August 11th
  • Larnaca (LCA), three-weekly from August 11th
  • Alicante (ALC), two-weekly from August 11th
  • Valencia (VLC), two-weekly from August 12th
  • Bilbao (BIO), three-weekly from August 13th

The flights will operate with a 210-seater Airbus A321 equipment (seized from now-defunct Air Berlin), in an all-Economy configuration. Flights can currently be booked via the Vueling website, with starting fares from just €24.99 one-way. Customers will be entitled to one piece of hand luggage free of charge, with checked luggage, and on-board drinks and snacks on a buy-on-board basis.

LEVEL’s new flights will operate with Vueling’s ‘VY’ flight code.

The proposition for passengers is much the same as that offered by the larger and more established IAG airline Vueling. However, LEVEL will not offer the ‘Excellence’ fare class offered when booking Vueling flights, which offers passengers an experience closer to what you’d find on a full-service airline.

Bottom Line:

LEVEL has certainly gotten off to a flying start, expanding its transatlantic programme rapidly when compared to last summer. This is the latest example of that expansion, which is sure to bring low fares to the Austrian capital (especially when coupled with the recent launch of Laudamotion) and it also continues the trend of low-cost airlines expanding in the traditional territory of conventional full-service carriers.

Boeing Unveils Hypersonic Aircraft

Ever since Concorde landed for the final time in 2003, aviation lovers and passengers alike have long-awaited it’s replacement. Now, Boeing have revealed their concept to the world; a hypersonic aircraft capable of cruising at Mach 5.

Initial reports are suggesting that the as of yet unnamed jet will have a cruising altitude of 95,000 feet, some 30,000 feet higher than Concorde. Current estimates predict that the jet will be able to cross the Atlantic in approximately 2 hours, and flights from Eastern Asia to the West Coast of America could take 3 hours, as opposed to the 10 hours that it currently takes Delta’s Boeing 777s to fly.

First released image of the concept aircraft. (Credit: Boeing).

The plans have received some criticism from environmentalist groups that are concerned what effect this aircraft will have on the Earth’s atmosphere, especially when it comes to the amount of fuel that an aircraft like this would consume. However, the jet isn’t expected to be airborne for another 20 – 30 years, giving Boeing some time to work on a solution that would satisfy its critiques.

Estimated to be smaller in size than a Boeing 737-800, the aircraft will no doubt provide first class service to an elite clientele, much like it’s predecessor Concorde.

Concorde famously flew JFK-LHR in a record 2 Hours, 52 Minutes and 59 Seconds. (Credit: British Airways).

The Chicago based aircraft manufacturer has a record of working towards hypersonic flight, with their experimental X-51 Waverider drone reaching Mach 5 whilst cruising at 70,000 feet back in 2013.

With the supersonic and now hypersonic aircraft market already facing fierce competition from companies such as Boom!, Virgin and even NASA; Boeing will surely be hoping that their concept takes off.

What do you think of the Hypersonic Jet? Is it a good idea? Let us know on social media by using #LondonSpotter!

Aviation Round-Up: 27th June 2018 – New Routes, Deliveries & More

Over the last year, a cornerstone of LondonSpotter has been the signature Route Reviews and Delivery Reports. Now, with a new concept, we will combine the two. The new fortnightly ‘Aviation Round-Up’ will be your one stop shop for all the breaking news across the aviation industry – from routes to deliveries and even scandals.

So, let’s dive in, with my pick of the most recent developments in aviation…


Routes News

Norwegian Air

Norwegian will make its debut in the Canadian market, with a new transatlantic service from Hamilton to Dublin. The daily service will inaugurate on the 31st March 2019, and will be operated by a B737MAX aircraft, with 189 Economy Class seats. It will be the first direct, nonstop route between the two cities, and Norwegian’s first service between Europe and Canada. Fares start from €189 each way. It is hoped that the service will prove popular with lower-yielding travellers heading to Downtown Toronto, but also will serve communities in Niagara Falls and across the US border, in Buffalo.

Norwegian’s 787-9 will operate the new London Gatwick to Tampa route.

On a separate note, the airline has announced  a new route between London Gatwick airport and Tampa, starting from October 31st. The route will have direct competition from British Airways, who have dominated the market between the UK and South West Florida for several years. The airline will also increase its services from London Gatwick to Boston, Orlando International and Fort Lauderdale and hike capacity on its newly-launched Buenos Aries service – increasing it from four-weekly to a daily operation.

Guy Stephenson, Gatwick’s Chief Commercial Officer, said:

“Norwegian’s new Tampa service, a new daily schedule for the existing Buenos Aires and Boston routes and increases to other services, all give our passengers yet more choice and flexibility.”

Virgin Atlantic

In recent years, Virgin Atlantic has consolidated its network, ending flights to Tokyo and Sydney and focusing on its transatlantic joint venture with Delta. The daily flight from Heathrow to Dubai will cease to operate from 31st March 2019, as the airline says the route is no longer viable.

Virgin Atlantic will no longer grace the runways of the UAE. Passengers can now choose between Emirates, Etihad and British Airways to fly from the Britain to the UAE.

Hainan Airlines

Following the successful launch of the new Beijing-Edinburgh-Dublin connection, Hainan Airlines will operate its new Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet on the triangular operation. The route will be operated by B787-9 Dreamliner aircraft for most of July, before switching over to the lower capacity B787-8 variant from July 20 for the remainder of the summer season.

Credit to anna.aero – Hainan Airlines now serves Manchester, London Heathrow and Edinburgh in the UK.

LOT Polish Airlines

The Polish national carrier has announced a duo of new routes out of London City Airport – the most convenient airport for accessing central London. On January 9th 2019, LOT will launch a new service from Warsaw-Chopin to London City, to be operated with Embraer 190 aircraft – configured with 106 seats. The new twice daily service will add to present thrice daily flights to London Heathrow.

Just over a month later, LOT will also launch services from Budapest – the Hungarian capital – to London. Again, the service will operate with Embraer 190 aircraft on a twice daily frequency. This means LOT will serve two destinations from two London airports going forward, which is a significant presence for a small player in the industry.


Aircraft Deliveries

A350s dominated this month’s star deliveries, with the Spanish flag carrier receiving its first example of the aircraft.

Iberia receives its first Airbus A350XWB

The Spanish flag carrier has today recieved its first Airbus A350-900XWB aircraft, registered EC-MXV. This is the first A350-900 to include the new higher winglets and aerodynamic improvements.

EC-MXV departing Tolouse, bound for its new home in Madrid. Picture – Airbus.

The airline’s aircraft are equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines and will be configured with 348 seats. All seats, regardless of cabin class, will offer in-seat entertainment screens, power outlets and Wi-Fi. As this is the first of 16 A350 aircraft Iberia have on order, the airline will carry out crew familiarisation flights, with the first commercial flight taking place on the 20th July, with services from Madrid to London Heathrow and Paris CDG.

Cathay Pacific is presented with its maiden A350-1000 aircraft

In more Airbus-related news, Cathay Pacific has recieved its first Airbus A350-1000 variant, registered B-LXA. Similarly to Iberia, the aircraft will initially be deployed on short haul regional services such as to Taipei from its Hong Kong base. From then, the aircraft will stretch its legs on long haul operations to destinations such as Washington-Dulles and Manchester.

Madrid, Tel Aviv, Amsterdam, Manchester and Zurich will be served by the new aircraft. Photo – Cathay Pacific

B-LXA is the first of twenty A350-1000 aircraft Cathay Pacific has on order, of which eight are expected this year, four next year, with the remainder due from 2020 and beyond. Cathay Pacific is also an existing operator of the -900 variant; twenty two are in service with the airline at present.


Other Aviation Stories

British Airways cancels error fares from London to Tel Aviv & Dubai

In a spectacular PR blunder, British Airways has revoked the tickets of passengers who booked flights with the airline from London to Tel Aviv & Dubai. Two weeks ago, BA flights to Tel Aviv and Dubai were put on sale through online travel agents with what the airline called ‘manifestly incorrect’  fares: £200 return to Tel Aviv, and £220 return to Dubai. Whilst it is common for airlines to revoke error fares for long-haul first class, for example, these fares were not clearly erroneous and definitely not ‘manifestly incorrect’. For example, Wizz Air consistently offers prices from London to Tel Aviv that are well below £200.

Wizz Air offers services from London Luton to two destinations in Israel (Tel Aviv and Eliat-Ovda, the latter from Winter 2018).

Call it opportunistic but Wizz Air and Virgin Atlantic have both capitalised on the mistake. Wizz Air particularly are offering so-called ‘rescue fares’ to those affected by British Airways’ error with prices of £80 each way between London and Israel. Wizz Air’s chief corporate officer pulled no punches as he used the occasion to convince travellers to turn their backs on conventional airlines such as British Airways:

“Wizz Air is delighted to give new customers who’ve been left in the lurch following the cancellation of their BA flights to Tel Aviv the opportunity to break with tradition. We’re confident that our new customers will realise that there’s no need to pay high prices to travel to some of the most exciting destinations in Europe and beyond.”

Emirates will operate the WORLD’S SHORTEST A380 flight

Emirates has a reputation as a record breaker, and the airline is certainly not showing any signs of slowing down. Not only is Emirates the world’s largest ‘superjumbo’ operator but the airline will also break the record for the world’s shortest A380 flight this week. In celebration of Emirates’ 25th anniversary of serving Oman, the airline will roster its double-decker A380 onto the Dubai to Muscat route on Sunday.

The double-decker Airbus A380 forms the backbone of Emirates’ fleet.

The following flight will be operated by an Airbus A380, with a distance of just 217 miles:

EK862 Dubai to Muscat departing 8:25AM arriving 9:35AM
EK863 Muscat to Dubai departing 12:05PM arriving 1:10PM

This flight will beat the previous record by 18 miles and flying on the world’s shortest flight of the largest commercial aircraft will certainly be a surreal experience.


Enjoyed this article? Do let us know what you think about our new ‘Aviation Round-Up’ concept and stay tuned for the next round-up, in two weeks time.

Miles and Points Lesson One: Generating

This blog is part of my miles and points series where I will be teaching you how to generate miles, use miles and ultimately travel for free around the world sitting in the world’s best business class cabins.

Lesson One: Generating Miles and Points

Welcome to lesson one of this airmiles series. Firstly, I’d love to start off by introducing this series to you all and laying out what it’s going to look like. I’m going to be writing about the basics of points and miles, namely: how to generate miles and how to spend them. I will then be writing weekly reports on deals and tips for redeeming on different airlines as well as updates on the world of miles for all my readers. My goal: teach all of you to travel the world for ridiculous prices.

Generating Miles: Method #1 – Flying

Arguably the easiest way to generate airmiles is by flying. Unless you’re flying a low cost carrier who isn’t part of an airline alliance or have a miles program of their own then you will receive miles for every flight you take which you can then use on flight with that airline and their partners.

Example: If I were to fly from London to New York with British Airways in business class then I would use the British Airways Avios Calculator site to work out how many miles I would earn. It looks like this:

 

This is how it will look for a British Airways Blue Executive Club Member when flying one-way on the LHR-JFK route. In business class I will earn 5187 avios points which will be credited to my account after I take the flight.

Throwing in a Curve Ball: Crediting to Different Airlines

Now, you are not only allowed to credit miles to the airline you are flying but also partner airlines. Airlines usually have lots of partners in this respect and the best way to find out who you can credit to is by going to my favourite website – wheretocredit.com

Not only does the website tell you who the airlines’ partners are but they also tell you how many miles you will earn for this flight. So if I were to credit this flight to Alaska Airlines instead of British Airways I would essentially earn 2.5x the miles which would be 2.5 x 5187 = 12,967 – a big difference.

Now, this is only a brief explanation of a very complicated and multi-faceted concept. Other the next few weeks, months, years and who knows, maybe even decades, I will be sharing with you, through my weekly blog posts, different ways of mastering the art.

Generating Points: Method #2 – Credit Cards

Flying in business and first class can be expensive and is definitely not the option for a lot of people. What may seem more attractive, is the concept of earning miles while spending the amount you would have usually spent anyway on a debit card.

There are many different credit cards floating around the market. Some are from companies such as American Express and others are directly from airlines such as Virgin Atlantic.

In this article I will explain how credit cards work and what you can do with the points. In other articles I will go deeper into each card and look at the benefits of signing up.

Photo: AMEX

Credit cards are fantastic and although they may seem complicated to many people, they honestly are very simple. The basic deal is, you spend money as normal and for every £1 you spend you get a certain benefit such as an airmile or point. Now, these points can be converted into lots of things depending on the company. In the example of American Express, you earn Membership Rewards Points – these are basically AMEX’s currency and you can spend them on hotel stays, airfares, upgrades and products. AMEX has a huge range of partners so are definitely a good company to get in with.

My favourite (and most probably the best) credit card on the UK market has to be the American Express Gold Rewards Card which has the crazy sign up incentive of being free in the first year of membership. To read more about how to get involved with that card click here. 

At the end of this post, you should know about the two main ways of earning airmiles – by using credit cards and by flying and crediting. You can return to our miles and points page here to keep reading blogs.

If you’re looking for more specific help on an upcoming trip, best cards or airlines for a certain scenario or anything else that I haven’t mentioned then drop me a message in the contact box. I’ll be happy to help.

Miles and Points Lesson Two: Spending

This blog is part of my miles and points series where I will be teaching you how to generate miles, use miles and ultimately travel for free around the world sitting in the world’s best business class cabins.

Lesson Two: Spending Miles and Points

Welcome to lesson two of this series. In my first lesson, I wrote about the two main ways in which you can generate miles and points- flying and credit carding. Today, I’m going to talk about what you can do once you have those points in your account.

Spending Miles: Method #1 – Award Tickets

Award seats are the cheap way to fly. Effectively, you pay for the flight with miles + taxes and fuel surcharges laid on by the airline and government of that country. Award seats are easy to find on many websites but on most, you will need to be a member of their frequent flyer programme. All of these are free to sign up to and are a great way of starting your miles journey. I remember signing up to about 25 different airline sites on the day I turned 18, it was awesome!

If you read my first lesson on miles then you will remember that if you fly with one airline you can credit the miles you earn on that flight to a partner airline. The example I used was flying British Airways and crediting to Alaska Airlines. It is a great way of increasing the number of miles you earn. Anyway, it is a similar story with spending miles. You can generally book flights on one airline through many other airlines so for instance you can book award flights on Cathay Pacific on British Airways but also on Alaska Airlines (for incredible rates but that is a story for another time).

The booking of award seats is an incredible way of flying business class or first class for next to nothing and there are some incredible ways of doing it through different airlines which I will be exploring in the future.

Spending Miles: Method #2 – Upgrades

Spending your miles on an upgrade is a great way of flying in business class for cheap but also earn the airmiles for the cabin you have upgraded from. For example, if I were to book a flight on British Airways in Premium Economy and then upgrade to business class with airmiles, I would still receive the airmiles for flying premium economy with the added comfort of actually flying in business class!

Spending Miles: Method #3 – Hotels

If you have generated your points with American Express then you can also transfer your stash to hotel partners such as Hilton and redeem them for free nights. As this series is mainly about airlines, however, I won’t go into too much detail on this.

Spending Miles: Method #4 – Products

Again, on American Express you can redeem your points for any product in their catalog such as gadgets.

At the end of this post, you should know about the ways in which you can use your miles and points – award seats, upgrades, hotels and products. You can return to our miles and points page here to keep reading blogs.

If you’re looking for more specific help on an upcoming trip, best cards or airlines for a certain scenario or anything else that I haven’t mentioned then drop me a message in the contact box. I’ll be happy to help.

May 2018: Route Review + Route Development of the Month

As summer is ushered in, most airlines are already in full swing, with their summer schedule finalised. Now, the focus turns to new routes for the winter season, with some carriers already planning ahead to May 2019. Here’s my pick of this month’s route development news:

ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES: MANCHESTER ON THE HORIZON

The route was officially announced on May 14th, and celebrated at Manchester Airport.

Ethiopian Airlines will be expanding its network to serve a second UK destination from December – Manchester. The new service will operate four-weekly with Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner equipment, via Brussels. Reservations opened for the new route this week, with two travel classes available: Business and Economy. It is hoped the Manchester-Addis Ababa connection will encourage more tourism to Africa, with the wealth of onward connections available to the south of the continent.

You can book the new Manchester-Brussels-Addis Ababa flight here to try out Ethiopian Airlines!

VIRGIN ATLANTIC: MANCHESTER EXPANSION WITH NEW ROUTE TO LAX AND A NEW HEATHROW-LAS VEGAS FLIGHT

Virgin Atlantic will further expand its base in Manchester next summer, with the launch of a brand new non-stop connection to Los Angeles. The airline will offer three-weekly flights to LAX, from May 25th 2019, allowing customer’s to connect to Delta’s onward flight network. Virgin Atlantic will find themselves in direct competition with Thomas Cook on the sector, but Virgin will have the monopoly when it comes to business flyers and high-yielding passengers. Additionally, frequencies on the Manchester-Las Vegas and Manchester-Boston routes will increase by up to 50% and the airline will hike capacity from the North of England to Atlanta and New York operating the Boeing 747-400 throughout the summer. The new Manchester-Los Angeles route will be bookable on the 25th June 2018 – cheap Business class fares can be found here.

JET AIRWAYS: MUMBAI IS NOW CONNECTED TO MANCHESTER

Manchester will be connected to India from November 5th, with a non-stop four weekly route to Mumbai. Jet Airways will operate the route, with Airbus A330-200 equipment, offering Business Class (in a 1-1-1 configuration) and Economy Class. The route will be the only nonstop flight between the North of England and India and will bring an unprecedented economic boost to the Manchester region.

Jet Airways’ new route will offer an economic boost to the North of England and will stimulate new Business and Leisure travel demand.

WIDEROE: FIRST E-2 TO UK WILL FLY FROM LIVERPOOL TO BERGEN

The Scandinavian carrier Wideroe has announced the launch of a new nonstop route between Western Norway and Northern England, choosing Liverpool John Lennon Airport as its gateway. The new services will mark the first time the Embraer E190 E-2 (of which Wideroe is the launch customer) has visited the UK, flying twice weekly on the LJLA-Bergen route from the 17th August 2018.

Wideroe’s Embraer E-2, with a refreshed livery.

ETIHAD: ABU DHABI-NEW YORK FREQUENCY HALVED, BUT ADDS NEW ROUTE TO BARCELONA

Etihad Airways is cutting route and frequencies left, right and centre. Flights to Edinburgh were one of the most recent casualties, leaving Scotland without a direct flight to Abu Dhabi. However, this most recent development represents the largest cut yet. Etihad will end one of its two daily frequencies to New York JFK (both of which are currently operated by the Airbus A380), leaving the airline with 6-weekly A380 flights and 1-weekly B777 flight. This is an extreme cut in capacity and is the most prominent indicator yet that the Middle Eastern airline is experiencing financial difficulties.

Despite this, Etihad is trying to expand in other markets. A five-weekly flight to Barcelona will launch in November from its Abu Dhabi hub, operating with Airbus A330-200 aircraft. It will be interesting to see how Etihad competes on this route with its Gulf rivals both already present; Emirates and Qatar Airways.

You can book the new Barcelona service and find other cheap Etihad flights on Etihad’s website here. 

BRITISH AIRWAYS: ANGOLA SERVICE SUSPENDED, BUT NEW FLIGHT TO DURBAN ANNOUNCED

British Airways has been more adventurous recently with long haul route development- with new flights to New Orleans, Santiago de Chile and Austin in recent years.

British Airways has announced a new non-stop connection to its third South African gateway; Durban. BA previously served Durban with a one-stop flight via Johannesburg, between 1981 and 1999. The new flight, however, will currently be the only non-stop connection between Europe and Durban, operating with Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner equipment thrice-weekly.

Simultaneously, however, BA is cutting one African route, with the suspension of services from London Heathrow to Luanda, in Angola.

ROYAL BRUNEI AIRLINES: LONDON GOES NON-STOP

Royal Brunei Airlines is also revamping its short haul fleet, with the delivery of its first Airbus A320Neo. Photo Credit Dn280 (Airliners.net)

The national carrier of Brunei will de-link London from its Dubai flight, instead offering nonstop services to the UK capital, whilst maintaining flights to the UAE. The new nonstop service to London will then continue to Melbourne, offering a convenient connection to Australia and tapping into the vast yet highly competitive UK-Aus market. The airline’s UK General Manager, Adiel Mambara, predicted that the new one-stop flight between London and Melbourne will see the carrier “become a major player in the UK-Australia market”. This new development comes at an exciting time for Royal Brunei Airlines, as they have recently recieved their first A320Neo.  

WOW AIR: ICELAND TO INDIA NON-STOP

Following rapid expansion in North America, WOW Air will add to its network with a new flight from Reykjavik to Delhi. The flight is estimated to take 10hrs 30mins and will operate with the low cost carrier’s Airbus A330 equipment. It is intended that the airline will attract customers in search of inexpensive fares from its plethora of US destinations to connect onto the new flight in Iceland.

WOW Air will expand to the Indian subcontinent with its Airbus A330 equipment.

EMIRATES: EDINBURGH SERVICE WILL LAUNCH IN OCTOBER

Edinburgh – the only major UK airport without regular direct services to Dubai – will be served by Emirates from October 1st 2018. The new service will complement the carrier’s existing services from Glasgow and Newcastle and comes as Etihad Airways withdraws its Edinburgh-Abu Dhabi service.

Emirates will now serve Manchester, Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh in the UK.

The daily route will launch on October 1st, departing Dubai at 0955 and arriving into Edinburgh at 1450, with the return leg leaving the Scottish capital at 2015 and landing back into Dubai at 0640 the following day. Flights will be operated with Boeing 777-300ER equipment, configured with 8 first class suites, 42 seats in business class and 304 in economy.


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