Qatar Airways B777-300ER Business Class QSuite Review

In February 2017, Qatar Airways was delivered the first ever Airbus A350-1000 which was fitted with theit state-of-the-art QSuite business class. I was invited on that flight which meant that I was able to sample the incredible QSuite. Seeing as this was a delivery flight for media only, however, a full review wouldn’t have been a fair review so just over one after, a decided the try them out for real on a 9 hour flight from Hong Kong to Doha.

Booking

Booking Qatar Airways in the QSuite can be expensive on this route. If you want to pay cash for Qatar’s business class, it is often clever to route out of airports such as Stockholm where cheap fares can easily be found.

I booked this flight using British Airways Avios which I had earned by using my American Express Prefered Rewards Gold Card. If you don’t know how you can book flights using miles and points click here for my beginners’ guide. 

I booked this flight for a total of 60,000 avios and £92.10.

Check-In

Something i love about flying out of Hong Kong is the ‘in town check-in’ service they offer at Hong Kong Station. If you have a ticket on the airport express train, you can drop your bag and get your boarding pass printed up to 24 hours before your flight departs. I used this service before i got on the train and it was amazing!

Ground Experience:

Because I had already dropped my bag off and printed my boarding pass, I headed straight through security but I couldn’t see a a fast track entrance so simply entered the normal channel and was through in a few minutes.

Qatar Airways business class passengers are able to use the Cathay Pacific business class lounges in Hong Kong but because i had landed the previous day on a Cathay Pacific First Class ticket, I was able to use the first class lounges and you can see the review of The Wing and The Pier. 

I left the lounge when boarding was announced and managed to join the business class queue as the first passenger. Around five minutes later, I boarded as the first passenger and was greeted onboard by the sublime Qatar Airways crew who led me all the way to seat 10A.

The Seat 

Qatar Airways are in the process of retrofitting their Boeing 777-300ERs with the new business class QSuite product.

The QSuite is a private suite and the cabin is setup in a 1-2-1 configuration with alternating ‘real’ window seats and window seats closer to the aisle. In the middle, the 2 seats alternate between being closer together in the middle (perfect for couples as it makes a double bed) and further out towards the aisle. The QSuite has the ability to bring dividers down to form a block of four seats in the middle for familes or meetings!

The double bed in action

Each suite has a table on the left for storage.

Below this are the seat controls, plugs, power sockets, headphone jack and remote control to control the screen.

The screen is a large flat-screen which wasn’t all that responsive but worked well.

On the left of the seat there is a storage box which can be raised and it holds the headphones…

…a bottle of water and reading materials.

Above the seat, also on the left, is a reading light which has several brightness settings and was very maneuverable.

Directly in front of you is the tray table which is released with a catch below. The seat was large and sturdy.

Finally, the suite is made private by the sliding door on the left.

The Flight

As soon as i was welcomed onboard I was offered a welcome drink and opted for the signature Qatar lime and mint mocktail. I loved this drink and proceeded to drink it over the next few hours!

After my hot towel and welcome drink arrived, a crew member came and introduced herself as she talked me through the seat features. She also took my meal orders from the menu (see below) and asked which snacks I would like so that she could reserve them and make sure nobody else ordered them before they ran out! She also informed me that the two seats in row 9 in the middle were vacant meaning that if I wanted, I could try the double bed out!

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Before takeoff, my drink was refilled and my pyjamas arrived which weren’t the best quality but were comfortable enough for the 9 hours.

We took off into the night on time and began our 9 hour flight through darkness to Doha. As soon as the seatbelt sign was turned off, I headed to the bathroom to get changed and when I returned the crew asked if I would like to eat and begun to set my table.

As a pre-meal drink, I opted for the pineapple margarita which was nice but I had to scrape the salt from the side for it to be bearable.

The first course to arrive was the tiny salmon appetizer which took 3 mouthfuls to finish but tasted good.

Next up came the Arabic mezze dish which consists of pitta breads and dips. The pittas were nice and warm and the dishes went well together.

Finally, my main course arrived and I couldn’t of been happier with my choice. The prawns tasted so good and I was even tempted to ask for a refill.

After the meal service, the crew cleared my table and brought a tomato juice and chocolates.

As I finished my meal, the crew set up the double bed for me in row 9 without me even knowing and as my table was cleared, she led me to my new private suite!

The double bed is amazing, you can barely feel the partition and I was able to lie over both beds with a map on one screen and a film on the other.

I asked if my snacks could be delivered to the double bed and the crew were happy to oblige. First up came two small burgers with pineapple juice. The burgers were amazing and came with a small salad side.

Next up came two skewers with a choice of sauces. These were lovely but very much a ‘snack’ and were gone in two bites each.

After this, I was ready for a sleep and nodded off to the King’s Speech playing through my headphones. Around 5 hours later, I was woken to find myself sprawled across the double bed and felt like I had just woken in a small hotel room, it was honestly that good.

Conclusion 

The Qatar QSuite is an incredible product, there is no two ways about it. My flight from Hong Kong to Doha proved just how amazing the Qatar food, crew and seat could be and I can’t wait to fly this product again in the future.

The Wing First Class Lounge | Hong Kong

Flying Cathay Pacific First Class is well known among frequent travellers to be an experience of a lifetime. In fact, when I tried it, I fell in love. More of that love story here.

Part of the experience that makes flying Cathay First so incredible, however, is the ground experience in their base Hong Kong. Because I was flying out of New York on my first class trip, I obviously didn’t have access to these facilities but the next day, I departed Hong Kong with Qatar Airways in their fabulous QSuite cabin.

Because I had landed on a first class ticket, I was granted access to both First Class lounges by simply showing them my boarding pass from the day before. I had been told by lots of people that I had to land on the same day to gain access but trying my luck paid off and I was allowed into both the Wing and Pier First Class lounges. I have reviewed them in one video below but one article has been written for each lounge so be sure to check them both out.

The Wing First Class Lounge

The first of the two lounges I visited was ‘The Wing’. This lounge is both a business and first class lounge with the partition at the top of the stairs. I approached the desk, showed the staff my first class boarding pass and was told to make my way upstairs and turn left instead of right.

Picture by onemoreweektogo.com

Once I got to the top, there was no boarding pass check and in complete honesty, anybody could have wondered in. It would have been nice to see better enforcement.

Once you enter the lounge there is a buffet of rather unappetising food to your right and seating areas overlooking the airport to your left. I assume this buffet isn’t used much seeing as there is a restaurant area to your left after the buffet.

I entered the restaurant area and was seated in the uncomfortably dark room.

I was given a menu which had certain lunch options including lots of different types of noodles. I opted for the Shanghai noodles and a glass of champagne which both arrived promptly. The noodles were OK but I didn’t finish them and left the restaurant slightly unsatisfied.

As you exit this room there are three more seating areas to your right stretching out to the end of the lounge.

The seating areas are rather bland and unappealing and even the self-service champagne bar didn’t scream first class.

There is also a bar with more seating areas overlooking the airport.

My final stop on this review was to the private cabanas. Because I knew what to expect from other reviews I expected the WOW moment not to hit me but as soon as I walked in, I was amazed!

I was very lucky in that there was no waiting list for the cabanas as I am told there often is so book one before you eat if you’re visiting this lounge.

The private cabanas are the most extravagant I have seen in an airport lounge featuring a bathroom, sink area, large sofa, enormous open shower and finally the crown jewel: a bath tub!

The amenities don’t fall short either. Each cabana is equipped with shaving kits, dental kits, creams, slippers, a bath robe and more.

Both the bath and the shower have shampoo, body wash and a stupid amount of towels.

Finally, to your left is an oversized cupboard where you can hang your whole wardrobe and a desk with charging ports and a large wall mirror.

The bath is nice and big and for picture purposes I filled in with shower gel to create some privacy bubbles! Honestly, it was the perfect way to relax before a long flight and I loved it.

After I had taken a bath, I tried out the shower which has three nozzles. I decided to turn them all on at once and got blasted with cold water from every angle!

Once I was definitely clean I lounged around in my bathrobe on the comfortable sofa before leaving the lounge and heading to the Pier.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Wing First Class lounge isn’t the most impressive. The seating areas are unappealing and the restaurant areas dark. The buffet selection didn’t look the best and most of all I did feel comfortable in the lounge which can definitely be said for its sister lounge the Pier.

The cabanas are, however, an absolute game changer. They are the coolest rooms I have seen in an airport and the bath is novelty like no other.

If I were visiting again on a short stopover I have to say I don’t think I’d visit the Wing but skip straight off to the Pier.

The Pier First Class Lounge | Hong Kong

Flying Cathay Pacific First Class is well known among frequent travellers to be an experience of a lifetime. In fact, when I tried it, I fell in love. More of that love story here.

Part of the experience that makes flying Cathay First so incredible, however, is the ground experience in their base Hong Kong. Because I was flying out of New York on my first class trip, I obviously didn’t have access to these facilities but the next day, I departed Hong Kong with Qatar Airways in their fabulous QSuite cabin.

Because I had landed on a first class ticket, I was granted access to both First Class lounges by simply showing them my boarding pass from the day before. I had been told by lots of people that I had to land on the same day to gain access but trying my luck paid off and I was allowed into both the Wing and Pier First Class lounges. I have reviewed them in one video below but one article has been written for each lounge so be sure to check them both out.

The Pier First Class Lounge Review

With about an hour until my Qatar Airways flight and having just had the bath of all baths in the bang average Wing First lounge, I headed to gate 62 on the underground train and into the Pier lounge. On arrival, two women greeted me and instead of scanning my boarding pass, I flashed them my one from the day before and was granted entry.

Picture by travelingwellforless.com

The moment you walk into the Pier you know it is going to be a more luxurious experience than the bland Wing lounge. The entrance takes you into a well carpeted corridor fit with oak tables in the middle and plants standing on them. The walls are decorated with lamps and artwork making passengers feel really at home.

As you walk down the corridor, exits to the right and left lead you to different areas of the lounge.

At the start of the corridor is an exit on your left taking you through the ‘library’ into the main seating and bar area. The bar is well stocked and placed nicely in the middle of the room.

The seats all look lavish and comfortable and some are set up around tables.

The next exit to your right takes you into the ‘bureau’ which has 6 small office type rooms equipped with Mac books.

The next area along the corridor takes you into the ‘retreat’ area. Here, passengers can book day rooms, foot massages and showers. Seeing as my time was extremely limited in here, I opted for a day room which didn’t disappoint.

The rooms have excellent privacy, are extremely comfortable and most importantly have fantastic views of the airport.

As I was seated, an Emirates A380 pulled up right infront of my window!

Passengers passing through here are entitled to a free 15 minute massage in ‘The Retreat’. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to visit so stayed in the day room.

Finally, at the end of the corridor is the real gem! The restaurant area is amazingly lit unlike the its counterpart in the Wing and the menu looked extensive for both food and drink. I didn’t stop here as I only had a small amount of time.

 

The views from the restaurant are lovely and it makes the lounge well lit by natural lighting.

Final Thought

The Pier lounge oozes with comfort. Whether it’s walking through the quiet, carpeted and well decorated corridor, sitting in the well-lit and well-stocked restaurant or watching an Emirates A380 pull in from your private day room, you’re guaranteed to enjoy your stay in the Pier.

The only thing stopping you from visiting the Pier is the bath option in the Wing lounge. My advice would be exactly what I did. Allow yourself 3 or so hours to visit both lounges.

Start by visiting the Wing, have a bite to eat but don’t fill up then head to a cabana for your amazing bath and shower and once you’re feeling refreshed, head to the Pier for a proper meal service and relax with a foot massage and a visit to the day rooms!

16 Hours of Luxury: Cathay Pacific B777 First Class Review

My flight from New York JFK to Hong Kong was to be the second trip on my round-the-world adventure over Easter and I have to say I was looking forward to it the most out of any flight. The mammoth 16-hour flight wasn’t being dreaded at all but the opposite. I couldn’t wait. Below you can see my in-depth video review so why not sit back, pour yourself some wine and watch this!

After landing in New York with British Airways in their First Class cabin, I had around 24 hours in New York and a night to adjust. In that time, I collaborated with FlyNyon, a helicopter company who operate doors off flights over the city. The experience was simply magical. Check out my video of that here.

The private queue for First Class was totally empty when I arrived

The next morning I headed to the airport bright and early even though my flight didn’t depart until 2.50pm. The reason for this? American Airlines’ Flagship First Lounge. I had heard excellent things about this lounge and wanted a full review out of the visit. Instead of extending this already long review you can read the separate review of that (coming soon).

Booking

There are several ways to book Cathay Pacific first class and I have written a separate article on how to book which you can read here to see how I paid only $103 for this ticket.

Check-In

Arriving three hours prior to my flight seemed like a great idea but when I arrived at the Cathay Pacific bag drop desks I was greeted by a woman who told me it ‘wouldn’t be long’ before the staff showed up. I was the only passenger in the First Class line and cracked a small smile as the other queues filled up. 30 minutes later the check-in agents arrived where they told me the flight was 30 minutes delayed. I already knew this from a text Cathay Pacific had sent me the day before.

The check-in agent checked my bag in, gave me my boarding pass and lounge invitation card and sent me on my way through fast track security. The fast track line isn’t a separate channel like you’ll find at London Heathrow or Doha but simply a route that takes you right to the front of the queues. After a typical American thorough security search and a hopeless attempt to chat the attractive girl in front of me up, I headed to the flagship lounge which is positioned just in front of security, on the left.

Access to the Flagship First dining area is granted with your First Class ticket

The lounge is accessed by a lift and stairs and I was welcomed at the top of those stairs in such a friendly manner. The woman who scanned my boarding pass led me through the lounge showing me all the different areas I may wish to use before delivering me to the flagship first dining area to feast on Krug champagne. My hopes for this lounge were very high but the lounge was a let-down in many areas. Read the full review here.

Ground Experience

I headed down to the gate having showered and shaved 10 minutes before boarding was meant to begin and the gate was about a 10-15 minute walk away.  I arrived at the gate to see very long queues and to my surprise, I saw the cabin crew sitting at the adjacent gate which is strange for a flight that is meant to begin boarding in 5 minutes.

Nevertheless, I queued up in the first class line which had 3 other passengers present and waited. The first announcement we heard was that the flight would be delayed a further 20 minutes and that passengers should take a seat. Around 5 minutes later, one of the ladies at the desk started informing business class (not first class weirdly) passengers that they should go to the Admirals Lounge located 5 minutes away and wait for a boarding call. I joined the business class passengers and we all walked to the lounge where small snacks and a bar are located. The lounge is quiet compared to the flagship lounge but has nothing to offer in terms of food.

I sat in the Admirals lounge for what became about 40 minutes twiddling my thumbs and eager to get onboard until I heard a boarding call and quicker than I’d ever left a lounge, I was out like a bolt and down to the gate to board.

Priority boarding was strictly enforced and I marched onto the plane as one of the first passengers to board. I was greeted at the door by check-in agents who led me directly to my seat, 1A.

The Seat

Cathay have configured their 777s in a 4 class configuration with 6 First Class seats, 53 business class seats, 34 premium economy seats and 182 economy seats.

The 6 First Class seats are laid out in a 1-1-1 configuration with each seat offering a whopping 36 inches of width and 81 inches of pitch.

The seat has fantastic storage space with the left side being almost entirely dominated by a shiny, wooden surface for drinks, amenity kits and anything else.

The huge wooden table top to the left provided the perfect storage space

If this isn’t enough, there is a deep bin for your passport and phone directly to your left.

To your right is yet another storage area (take note airlines that think you don’t have things to store) for literature, your safety card and other items such as your menu.

Next to this are more seat controls which are easily accessible from a lying position.

This storage bin to your left is located just below your remote control which was amazing and the another screen which adjusted your seat and lighting.

Above this is one of two reading lamps.

About half way along the large side wall on the left is a plug and USB port for charging your electronics.

The tray table is ejected from the table surface on the left and is simply massive.

Between the windows on the left wall is a flower (yes, it’s real! I was sceptical too) which is so extra but so cool and really sums adds to the elegance of the seat.

There are no overhead bins in the first class cabin but each seat has its own storage compartment much like on British Airways… just much bigger and better. The storage compartment is located to the right of the seat ‘entrance’ and has ample space for a suitcase, shoes and your clothes (see video).

To the front right of the seat by the ‘entrance’ in the television screen. The screen is built into the seat but easily released by pushing the black button next to it. This brings it out to directly in front of you.

Speaking of directly in front of you, the footrest in place at the end of the seat (tough to see in foggy conditions) which acts as the end of your bed or a seat for a fellow passenger to join you for the food service.

Below the TV is…you guessed it… another storage compartment. This one is larger than the one on your right and fits a laptop or iPad comfortably.

The Flight

Once onboard, I was spoilt with cabin crew offering me everything under the sun.

First off was the offer of a welcome drink: champagne of course. I was under the impression that this would be the splendid Krug Vintage 2004 champagne but was disappointed when the arguably better Taittinger Comtes De Champagne from 2007 arrived. This champagne retails at around £100 a bottle and tasted great! The drink was accompanied with warm nuts.

Second was today’s menu. The menu was served on a lovely bamboo board which made me feel like I was dining in a very fancy restaurant. Once this arrived, the absence of Krug was made official. You can see the full menu below.

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Next up came my pyjamas. What I like about Cathay is that the crew will look at you to decide how fat you are instead of asking you.

I was brought a medium whereas I would have gone for a large and they fitted perfectly. It goes to show that the crew know the sizing best!

After the PJs I was brought Cathay Pacific headphones which were super comfy and noise cancelling.

Following the headphones was my amenity kit or ‘male travel kit’ by Aesop. The contents of the amenity kit were pretty weak (see contents in the video).

Before we took off, top ups of the Comtes came around and the lovely crew introduced themselves. One even told me that she had watched one of my YouTube videos before and recognised me when I stepped onboard (it’s the small things in life!).

We took off after a short taxi in rainy New York to some horrendous turbulence. The captain even made an announcement informing passengers it was nothing to be alarmed about but that he had asked the crew to delay service by 30 minutes because of it.

The routing of our flight took us north over Canada, Greenland, the North Pole and down through Russia and China into Hong Kong and it was amazing looking out the window as everything gradually became more and more icy. I’d never flown an ‘over the top’ route before so this was quite a novelty for me.

Over Canada, the crew were finally released to commence service and seeing as they knew my order, they simply started by pouring another glass of champagne.

Around 10 minutes later, the first meal service arrived: Caviar and Champagne! I’d seen so many pictures of this service before and it tasted just as good as it looked.

The caviar was served blinis, chives, crème fraiche and chopped eggs. The service was so good that the crew asked if they should bring some more toppings which I eagerly accepted.

The meal was served with a lovely little hand-written note from the crew welcoming me onboard. It is gestures like this which really separate airlines. Cathay Pacific were so attentive and the attention to detail was incredible.

The crew had suggested that I stuck to wither Chinese or International dishes after my caviar instead of mixing but for some reason I really wanted to try the duck salad before the Hong Kong style chicken. This was the only meal that didn’t amaze me and I was left awaiting my next course eagerly.

The crew were so fast that I knew it would be a matter of minutes maximum before my next meal arrived. Next on the list was the ‘Hong Kong style chicken curry, broccoli and steamed jasmine rice’. This meal was excellent in terms of both presentation and taste.

Following a recommendation from the crew, I also had the signature mocktail called ‘Cathay Delight’. The cold drink is a kiwifruit based non-alcoholic drink with coconut milk and fresh mint and damn it tasted good. Three more of them please!

Finally, the crew brought me a plate of cheese, grapes, crackers and nuts which was a lovely way to finish an excellent meal service.

Once the meal service was complete, I was instantly brought a small box of chocolates, a hot towel, a pot of chinese tea and some toothpicks.

My bed was then promptly made with the super comfortable bedding used by Cathay. The mattress topper was amazing and I could barely feel the seat below. The duvet was equally as nice and as we flew over the most northern parts of Canada, relaxation mode was most definitely on.

I put on a film that I had never watched before but heard great things about, Bohemian Rhapsody. The film was a killer and was accompanied by another crew recommendation: Traditional Iron Buddha tea from China.

The film finished and an alcohol induced drowsiness kicked in. Coupled with the super comfortable bedding, eye mask from my pyjama bag and ear plugs from my amenity kit I was out like a light for the next five hours and woke to find the crew had cleared my tea, replaced it with a bottle of water and switched my screen off and placed it back in the seat.

The bed is so wide that it is literally like sleeping in a single bed and the comfort was incredible. I had only been awake 5 minutes before the crew came around asking if I would like to eat or drink. I opted for the same tea and based on a recommendation from a follower, asked for the burger and chips but in an hour. I checked the time in my phone just to see if they were punctual and 57 minutes later the burger and chips arrived. Amazing!

The burger was amazingly laid out and tasted really good. This was accompanied by another glass of Comtes.

After the burger it was work time. I really couldn’t justify sitting on a plane for 17 hours without doing at least a bit of work. In fact, I am writing this onboard QF1 from Sydney to London where, again, it would be hard to justify doing no work.

With around 2 hours and 15 minutes to go it was time to eat again. How my stomach coped with it I’ll never know.

The dinner service only had one starter option which was the ‘fresh seasonal fruit’ dish. It was nice and cold!

For the main course I opted for the chicken supreme. How could you not with a name like that? The chicken was served with mushroom ragout and a bread dumpling. Both were lovely.

I was stuffed by this point and refused the offer of desert in favour of my favourite tea (I should be buying shares in these guys!)

We began our descent over China as the sun began to set and it was time to get changed into my clothes again which had been sitting in the cupboard for the last 16 hours.

We landed around an hour late into Hong Kong and I departed the aircraft feeling super fresh and refreshed.

You always hope that priority bag tags work and for once they did! My bag came out as the second bag off the carousel and I wheeled it off to the airport express train already missing my small room I had rented for the past 16 hours.

Final Thoughts

16 hours on a plane isn’t fun. That’s what everyone will tell you. While I agree that slumming it in economy may have been a little uncomfortable on this flight, I can confirm I disagree with that statement.

I had the most amazing time on Cathay Pacific’s first class product and was impressed by the super wide and comfortable seat which turned into an even more comfortable bed, the excellent seat controls, remote control and television screen, the huge amounts of storage space, the amazingly presented and great tasting food and finally the incredibly attentive crew who didn’t once disappoint.

In fact, when looking back on this flight I think the only thing I didn’t like was the duck salad.

This flight is so easily bookable with points if you use Alaska Mileage Plan and I couldn’t recommend it more, it really was the luxurious experience I was longing for.

British Airways B747 First Class + New Soft Product Review

I had been looking forward to experiencing BA’s First Class product for some time now and I became even more excited when I saw that British Airways had upgraded their onboard soft product including new meals, cutlery, plates, bedding and service.

While a review like this covers the product in photos, why not sit back and relax and watch the video review from this flight?

British Airways have a fleet of 34 Boeing 747s and are one of the only airlines to still operate the jet as such a prominent part of their fleet.

The aircraft are setup with four cabins and after flying first class, we now have only two reviews on this jet. Check out our premium economy review if you haven’t already our review of the old first class product and club world.

Booking

First class can be expensive, very expensive. In fact, the retail price for this seat at the time of booking was £9,442. I, as you can imagine, don’t have that sort of money to splash so I used what any sensible person would use: air miles.

I booked directly with British Airways using avios which I earnt using my American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Card. The total cost of the flight was 68,000 avios and £445 which I put on my American Express British Airways Platinum Card to receive 3x points and thus returning 1,335 avios to my account.

If you want to see a full guide on booking British Airways flights with miles click here.

Ground Experience

My flight departed Heathrow at 8.30am and I had been told I couldn’t receive my boarding pass online which meant one thing: SSSS (extra security checks). These checks are random for passengers traveling to the USA but the past three times I have travelled I have been ‘randomly chosen’.

For this reason, I arrived a few hours early and entered the ‘First’ check-in area at the far end of Terminal 5.

I am a big fan of this check-in area with seating, drinks and obviously no queues. I checked my bag in, was given my SSSS boarding pass and headed through the private security line in seconds.

The pathway from security takes you directly into the Galleries First lounge.

This lounge is nice but big and busy.

For ultimate privacy and quietness, I headed to the Concorde Room which is reserved for card holders and first class passengers only.

I didn’t eat in the lounge and just had a coffee and some juice in the short time I was there.

You can read my full review of the Concorde Room here.

First class passengers are welcome to book a free 15 minute treatment in the Elemis spa. The spa opens at 7am however and I wasn’t in the mood for a treatment at that early hour.

Boarding

My flight was announced to be departing from satellite B of Terminal 5 which is accessible via an underground train. I headed down as soon as it was called and boarded the train which took 2 minutes to satellite B.

Once I reached the gate, I was told by the check-in agent that boarding would begin in 20 minutes and that if I wanted, I could visit the lounge just two gates down. I took him up on this offer and visited the galleries lounge which was really nice and quiet. There is also a spa here which is much easier to book a treatment at than the main spa in satellite A.

Once boarding was called, I headed down to the gate and into the line for group one passengers which was empty.

My boarding pass was scanned and I was taken downstairs for my extra security checks which seemed to take an age! I had gone from being one of the first passengers to one of the last and ended up queuing in the jetbridge for about 15 minutes (yes, you have to queue in first class sometimes too!). It was annoying that there was only one jetbridge connected to the plane. Other airlines very often have one jetbridge strictly for first and business class passengers so this felt a bit shoddy.

I was greeted by the friendly crew at the door and let to my seat 2A.

The Aircraft

British Airways have set their 747s up in a four class configuration and this specific variant is laid out with 14 first class seats, 70 business class seats, 30 premium economy seats and 185 economy seats.

First class is configured in a 1-1 layout for the first three rows and a 1-2-1 configuration in the final two rows.

While this is good as it allows passengers who are travelling together to sit together, it also limits privacy for the window seat passengers in the final two rows.

The couple seats in the middle

My seat (2A) was perfect, I had more privacy than any other seat would recommend it as the seat to choose if travelling alone.

The view from 2A

The Seat

The seat is very old and there is a reason that many critics call it the world’s best business class. In fact, with British Airways’ new business class seat coming this year, I have my doubts on the future of first class. The seat offers large amounts of legroom and I never thought it wasn’t enough. The width is also good and I never felt squashed in.

Positioned to the left of the seat are the seat controls and a small cupboard for the remote control.

This area is nice as it is placed far away enough to not be knocked by your elbow and change your seat position. There is also a USB charging port here but mine didn’t work.

In front of the controls is a small compartment with reading material such as magazines and the safety card. There is also a little pamphlet showing how to use all the features of the first class seat which I thought was a nice touch.

Above this is a small table area from which the tray table comes. I felt the seat heavily lacked storage space and this small table helped me think that. I found it to be cluttered for most of the flight.

In front of you, there is a footstall which has a seatbelt. This is important as it means a fellow passenger can join you for meal service.

To the left is the screen which folds into the side wall. This is also a shame as it means passengers don’t have the privelige of gate to gate entertainment.

To your far left is the only noteworthy storage area. The small cupboard has two spacious nets which can hold items such as your passport or iPad and below them is an area for your shoes.

The Flight

Once onboard, I instantly knew the crew would do fantastic job looking after me. They were all super upbeat and seemed genuinely happy to be onboard. Once I was seated, the crew asked what welcome drink I would like. I opted for orange juice and it was brought promptly with a bowl of nuts and a hot towel.

Minutes later, my pyjamas and slippers arrived. The pyjamas come in three sizes and instead of the crew sizing you up like on airlines such as Cathay Pacific, we were asked what size we wanted. I opted for a large which was slightly on the baggy side.

After my PJs had arrived, my ‘male wash bag’ or amenity kit arrived.

The kits are new to first class and made especially for BA by Temperley. They were velvety and full of everything you would expect in an amenity kit such as toothpaste, a toothbrush, a comb, socks, an eye mask, a pen, moisturiser etc. The women’s bag featured similar items plus a mirror and the bag had a lovely floral design.

Before we took to the skies, the crew asked what I would like to drink after takeoff and I chose one of the mocktails called Royal Fizz. The drink was lovely and I’m glad I chose it.

We took off on time from Heathrow and started our 6 hour and 40 minute flight to New York. As soon as the seatbelt sign was off, I got changed and the crew came around to ask for out breakfast orders. I decided not to go for any of the starter options and dived straight into the mixed grill breakfast which came with the offer of breads and pastries. I opted for English tea and raspberry juice to accompany the breakfast.

The food service was very good but not excellent. It is the kind of meal I would have expected in business class but not first class. I didn’t finish it thinking how impressive it was but nonetheless, it was a nice meal.

The new crockery and cutlery was incredibly slick and stylish.

After my breakfast I asked the crew to make my bed so I could check out the new bedding BA uses. I have to say, this was really really impressive.

The mattress topper was very thick and comfortable and the duvet was equally as nice.

I slept for around an hour and was woken upon request with the smoked salmon entrée on toast. This was really nice and I was impressed with the layout too.

The headphones in BA First class are really cool and hipster. They were fully noise cancelling and came in a nice, compact pouch.

After the smoked salmon meal, the crew brought round hot towels and a box of chocolates to eat while watching a film. I watched an awesome film called Lion which I would highly recommend and Johnny English which was, well, Johnny English!

The IFE system was ok and very responsive. There was an range of film and audio but I would have preferred an updated system. The maps were great.

Passengers can also buy WiFi onboard and the prices were actually quite reasonable starting at £4.99. It was a shame First Class passengers weren’t offered complimentary WiFi like on Qatar.

Around two hours before landing the crew began setting my table for the final meal service: afternoon tea.

This service is quite famous for BA first class and it supplies the stereotypical British afternoon tea set up which should be illegal to be had without tea!

The service comes with two little sandwiches, two scones with cream and jam and three small sweet desserts.

The sandwiches were nice but nothing special and the scones were lovely! I was so full by this point so just took a bite of the three sweet bits, all were very nice and very sweet! The service was accompanied by Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle champagne.

After the final meal service, I spent some time in the galley with the really sweet crew. There was one woman from Ireland who really made my flight. She was so attentive and so sweet and I have completely forgotten her name. She showed me around the upper deck and I am so happy she was on my flight!

I got changed with around 30 minutes to go and returned to my seat for landing.

Overall thoughts

While I had a really fun time onboard, this wasn’t a first class experience like that offered by competitor airlines. The BA seat is outdated and lacks both privacy and storage space. The food is good but that is as far as it goes which is a shame as it has real potential.

The crew were exceptional on my flight and they really made the experience for me. They were light-hearted, jokey and friendly and I loved flying with them.

Flying BA first class is a really awesome opportunity but unfortunately it doesn’t compare to other first classes around the world and I am interested to see if the cabin gets a refit like business class or is scrapped altogether.

Gulf Air’s NEW B787-9 Economy Review

On March 9th I had the honour of flying to Dubai with Gulf Air on their new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner in economy class.

My aircraft really was new. Being delivered in July 2018, it only had 8 months on the clock and overall I was really impressed with the product.

Pre-flight

Upon booking my ticket (3 hours before departure) I took the bus to Heathrow Terminal 4 and arrived with around 2 hours and 30 minutes before departure. I was nervous as to the line of the queue for check-in as my boarding pass wasn’t available online. I headed to the check-in area which was surprisingly quiet and after a 5 minute wait I checked in and was given my boarding pass all the way through to Dubai. Seeing as I had booked so late I was given seats in the middle row, right at the back in row 50 odd. I asked to change but he said it was a full flight.

I could, however, see that rows 20-27 were blocked on ExpertFlyer. Not wanting to bother the check-in agent, we headed through security which took mere minutes due to the late night flight time and went to the flight connections desk to try and change seats. The woman here was much more helpful and said that the seats were blocked because of balance issues and that I would have to wait until I got onboard to change.

With this new information, we headed to the observation desk in Terminal 4. This place isn’t the best at night but in the day its a real treat and a great way to kill some time.

The Flight

Once boarding was called, we headed to the gate and boarded very swiftly and efficiently as some of the first passengers in economy. Upon boarding, I asked the crew straight away if we could move seats and she said she would let us know after takeoff.

Upon arriving at our seats we were given blankets which I could see being utilised as passengers fell asleep straight after boarding the plane.

The Aircraft

The Boeing 787-9 is set up in a 3-3-3 configuration of modern, slimline seating which feature 17.5″ of width and 32″ of pitch. These figures definitely aren’t industry leading but for a 6-7 hour flight, they were OK.

Each seat is equipped with a tray table, personal monitor, USB port and  very flexible headrest which helped to get comfy while we slept.

The IFE monitor was super impressive and functioned with amazing responsiveness. I spent most of the flight with the screen on the map feature because the selection of films and TV shows wasn’t very good at all.

After boarding was completed, I had a walk to see if the seat were still free and could already see people moving to the empty rows so I once again asked a member of cabin crew if we could move and she said of course but to be quick! We grabbed our stuff and moved to the exit row 40 at the front of the cabin and I was surprised at how easy it had been.

We took off from London Heathrow on-time and once the crew were released, they begun to hand out headphones and small amenity kits. The amenity kits were great and had an eye mask, socks and earplugs inside a little pouch. I thought this was a lovely touch for a night flight.

After the kits were handed out, the meal service begun with a choice of chicken, beef or vegetarian. I opted for the chicken which i have to say was one of the best bits of the whole flight. The meal was fantastically presented and tasted amazing.

As a drink I opted for water and Pepsi. Gulf Air do serve alcohol but seeing as we were headed for Dubai, I opted against drinking to stay on the safe side.

After the food and drink service I headed to sleep, utilising the extra legroom seats to try and get comfy. Once I found a position, I drifted in and out of sleep until we began our approach into Bahrain.

Conclusion

Overall, I had had a very enjoyable flight in Gulf Air’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The product was modern and slick which made the cabin feel very spacious. The food had excelled and the amenities were great for economy passengers. The only touch that hadn’t been as good as I had hoped were the cabin crew who were quiet lackluster in their jobs.

WOW Air ‘Big Seats’ Reykjavik-Baltimore Flight Review

WOW Air has been a pioneer in the transatlantic market in recent years, even being named as the CAPA Low-Cost Airline of The Year 2018 – praised for its innovation and ability to bring inexpensive, long haul flights to the mass market. The airline has grown rapidly and today faces many challenges, but I found that the innovative spirit and modern take on flying at WOW Air are as strong as ever.


Flight Profile: WOW Air 118 – Reykjavik (KEF) to Baltimore/Washington (BWI)

Aircraft: Airbus A321 (SL), TF-NOW

Seat: 2A, in WOW Air’s Big Seat cabin


Having previously arrived from Dublin, I got the chance to sample the connections experience that had made Reykjavik so famous for stopovers. Both Icelandair and WOW Air have taken advantage of the airport’s strategic location to offer transatlantic flights and this showed. Reykjavik Keflavik was orientated almost entirely around the connecting passenger – the process was so simple. WOW Air checks your hold luggage onto your connecting flight and there is no requirement to pass through border controls or security. The departure hall was sleek and easy to navigate, with all gates being within a five-minute walk of each other. I could not recommend connecting in Reykjavik, as opposed to a US airport, enough.

Once onboard the aircraft, the modernity of the cabin was evident. Although TF-NOW is not one of WOW Air’s A321neo aircraft, it is only 1.6 years old and reflects the youthfulness of the airline’s fleet. In fact, the average fleet age over the entire airline is just 2.9 years.

Boarding TF-NOW in Dublin.

The cabin featured mood lighting, and strikingly purple Recaro seats – all of which were fitted with adjustable headrests for passengers’ comfort. The seats offered ample comfort, with suitable recline for the 6-hour flight.

The cabin was modern and reflects WOW Air’s vibrant brand, setting the airline apart in the industry.

WOW Air’s Airbus A321 aircraft are configured with 8 ‘Big Seats’ at the front of the aircraft and 200 standard Economy class seats.  ‘Big Seats’ at the front of the cabin, which I sampled on this flight, are in a 2-2 configuration – similar to a US-style First Class cabin. These seats offered 37″ of seat pitch (more than many legacy airlines offer in Premium Economy), with a footrest and headrest. Each seat also provided charging ports, to keep your devices powered up for entertainment purposes. This is increasingly important as we live more of our lives through technology, so I was glad to see WOW Air offering this.

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In rows 3-7, WOW Air offered extra legroom seats. The ‘XL Seats’ in the first few rows also offered a 2-2 configuration, with the middle seat blocked by a tray table. This is a similar product to an intra-European Business Class on airlines such as British Airways and Lufthansa. These seats are fantastic value, as they also offer significantly more legroom at the front of the aircraft.

If you don’t want to pay the full ticket price for WOW Premium, guests can also take advantage of WOW Air’s new initiative – ‘WOW Me Up’. This allows you to bid for XL seats or ‘Big Seats’ at a lower price prior to your flight – yet another example of WOW Air’s trend-setting attitude.

When in the Big Seats, guests receive complimentary drinks and snacks. Prior to the flight, you can also purchase the WOW Biz bundle, which includes drinks, snacks and checked baggage. The cabin crew were proactive in asking me whether I wanted a refill and efficient at completing the meal service. Passengers can choose from Margherita pizza, the WOW club sandwich or a Ham & Cheese Baguette.

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On my return flight, the cabin crew allowed me to choose anything from the breakfast selection as my complimentary meal. WOW Air also offers Icelandic ‘Skyr’ yoghurt onboard, which is a nice nod to the airline’s home nation. The crew passed through the cabin with drinks many times throughout the journey, offering refills, which was fantastic, as it kept passengers hydrated throughout.

On the subject of the cabin crew, there is almost nothing to say. The crew on my flights with WOW Air were truly exceptional and had a real passion for their job. Daniel and Iris were especially attentive and provided service worthy of a world-class airline – keen to offer Icelandic chocolate to passengers and to explain the iPad renting scheme WOW Air offers.

The overhead panels were adorned with phrases such as ‘Honk if you’re hungry!’ or ‘Gimme a ring!’

The crew also emphasised that guests onboard should push their call button should they need anything at all, which is something you wouldn’t hear on many transatlantic carriers.

The crew were also extremely proud of WOW’s achievements to allow more people to travel across the Atlantic and explained the fare customisation that WOW Air offers. WOW’s pricing structure allows each passenger to pay for only what they want, whilst still achieving cheaper overall costs than conventional legacy airline competitors. If you want a cheap flight to Europe (with fares as low as $49 one-way!) or the US, travel light. If you want a luxurious flight, book a WOW Premium fare. Today, as more and more airlines introduce ‘Basic Economy’, flying with WOW Air is the obvious choice as you get better service, for a lower fare.

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One point to bear in mind, however, when flying with WOW Air is there is no in-flight entertainment system. Despite this, WOW AIr rents iPads loaded with 16 games, information about Iceland and 10 movies with a range of genres to guests onboard.

WOW AIr has a practical seat-back design, with tablet holders perfect for holding your iPad.

Additionally, I really like the fact that WOW Air embodies Iceland in the air. Although not the country’s official flag carrier, WOW Air acts as an ambassador for its home nation. From Icelandic chocolate, to allowing passengers to ‘take a piece of the blue lagoon’ with them, WOW Air had a wide-range of duty free items available on board that reflected Iceland.

My flight arrived into Baltimore/Washington ahead of schedule and I was sad to leave behind the memorable crew who made the flight so enjoyable.

Bottom Line:

My experience with WOW Air was almost faultless. The airline’s ‘Big Seats’ are a fantastic cost-effective, yet comfortable way to fly trans-atlantic – without the eye-watering prices of Premium Economy tickets on legacy carriers. Moreover, WOW Air guests receive service that is polished, proactive and worthy of a world-class carrier. Of course, there are elements that could be improved – such as the onboard meal selection, but WOW Air achieves what all passengers want: a low-cost fare, without the low-cost service.


Disclaimer: This flight was provided by WOW Air. All opinions expressed are my own. 

British Airways Concorde Room at LHR Review

The Concorde Room is notoriously hard to enter. Either rack up 5,000 tier points a year to receive a membership card to the room or spend £5,000 and fly first class out of London Heathrow and you will be able to enjoy the elite room of Terminal 5.

On a recent day-trip to Berlin, I was lucky enough to be accompanied by someone who had racked up enough tier points to have that card. Luckily for me, members can take in one guest with them so when Paul rocked up with me, not a single eyebrow was raised and we walked into T5 paradise. See my full video review below!

There is no other way to describe the CCR than luxurious. The moment you walk in, luggage is taken from you for storage, your coat is hung up and you are personally welcomed to your seat. Paul passes through the lounge so often that Mo (the lounge manager) knew him by name and had a lengthy chat with him as we walked to our seat.

Once seated, he brought us two glasses of cold Laurent Perrier Vintage champagne which retails at a whopping £110 a bottle. It was the perfect way to sit down at 8am.

The lounge isn’t huge by any stretch of the imagination but it also doesn’t need to be. There were probably 10 people inside when we got there but that number did increase over the three hours we were inside. Once you walk in past the storage area, there is a piano sitting there waiting to be played.

To the right of the piano is the large seating area which occupies most of the room. To one side of the seating area is the bar.

To the other side is the Concorde dining room.

The dining area has a handful of small booths where passengers can dine in ones or twos.

We opted to dine outside the dining area which the staff were completely ok about.

Outside the main room is the terrace. As Mo explained to me, the terrace is filled with ‘Moroccan style furniture’.

It was extremely colorful and the seats were as comfortable as inside.

Finally, in the corner of the lounge is a corridor which takes you to the cabanas and washrooms.

There are four cabanas. The cabanas are available for up to four hours and give passengers the opportunity to sit back and relax during their layover.

Each cabana is fit with a sofa/bed and TV

A table for eating on.

And a bathroom fit with a shower. There would be no need to leave the cabana as each one has a button for calling a member of staff.

In terms of food options, the meals are fantastic. Seeing as we were there so early, it was the breakfast menu we could use. You are given two breakfast menus, one for the lounge and one for the dining area.

The lounge menu included croissants, cereal and yogurts while the dining menu had hot food options such as a full English which I tried.

The English was good but wasn’t served with toast which I’m sure I could have requested. During breakfast, the staff made sure to keep refilling our glasses so that we never ran out.

After seeing me filming the menus, a member of staff asked if I would like to see the lunch menu too. When I agreed he came back with every single menu they had and talked us through each one. What it showed was that you’d struggle to go hungry in a lounge like this.

The Concorde staff were really what made the lounge stand out to me. They were welcoming and friendly throughout and knew the regulars by name. This really helped to show me how exclusive this lounge is. Once we had finished eating, snacks were brought to us which tasted fantastic. My personal favourite was the stuffed red peppers.

Once we were ready to leave, Paul asked the staff for two of his favourite drink. I had no idea what was coming but suddenly two Espresso Martini’s arrived and I was over the moon! The drink is amazingly presented and tasted just how it should.

After knocking back the Martini we were ready to go and left the lounge feeling slightly less sober than when we had entered it.

Conclusion

The Concorde room is exclusive and very hard to access. It is probably the most luxurious lounge I have ever been to even though the food and drink were no better than some business class lounges (ie: the Clubhouse). The staff were the best I have ever seen and I can’t wait to come back here in the future.

Vueling A320 ‘Space Plus’ Manchester-Barcelona Flight Review

Throughout this year, I have embarked on a quest to sample every major low-cost airline in Europe. Previously, I have flown with Ryanair, EasyJet, Wizz Air & Norwegian – though there was one notable exception: Vueling. I reviewed Vueling’s new ‘Space Plus’ seats  on the airline’s Manchester-Barcelona route to find out how Spain’s largest budget airline compared with the competition.


Flight Profile:

Vueling 8749: Manchester (MAN)-Barcelona El-Prat (BCN)

Aircraft: Airbus A320SL, EC-LVS

Seat: 2A (Space Plus)


EC-LVS would take me from Manchester to Barcelona that day; an Airbus A320, fitted with emission-reducing sharklets, that has flown with Vueling for 5 ½ years (barring a brief stint with Jetstar Pacific in 2016).

EC-LVS awaiting boarding in Barcelona.

My aircraft was one of 114 in Vueling’s fleet – comprised of Airbus A319s, A320s, A321s and A320neos. Currently, Vueling operates just three Airbus A320neo aircraft, with 44 further examples on order. My Airbus A320 was configured with 180 seats in a single-class configuration, with Vueling’s more spacious seats in a sub-section at the front of the cabin, marked by a ‘Priority’ divider behind the seats in row 4.

Vueling’s aircraft feature a divider after row 4, distinguishing the ‘Space Plus’ seats from the rest of the cabin.

After arriving at Gate 44 in Manchester 15 minutes behind schedule, getting the flight pushed back on-time would be a challenge. This was not helped by the fact that the boarding pass scanners at Manchester were dysfunctional, meaning that all passengers had to wait for traditional boarding cards to be printed. Additionally, minutes prior to boarding, it became apparent that the doors to the front hold of the aircraft were broken – all checked luggage would have to be stored in the rear holds of the aircraft. This meant that all passengers seated in rows 28-31 had to have their seats reallocated at the gate, causing further confusion and chaos. However, all of this was handled professionally, and the flight pushed back just 20 minutes behind schedule – an impressive fact given the challenging circumstances.

Once onboard, I settled into my allocated seat: 2A. Rows 1-4 are marketed as ‘Space’ seats.

Vueling’s ‘Space Plus’ seats offer 10% more legroom, with ample recline.

Rows 2-4, specifically, offer 10% more legroom than other rows on the aircraft and can be paid for onboard for just €15. If purchased prior to departure, these seats include priority boarding in addition to more space – allowing me to comfortable work throughout the flight with a large laptop. This new concept replaced Vueling’s previous answer to Business Class – ‘Excellence’ where the middle seat in the first row was blocked, allowing for a 2-2 configuration.

Row 1 is branded as ‘Space One’. Seats in this row have 20% more legroom and can be reserved for an additional fee.

The new ‘Space Plus’ offering is more affordable and accessible to Economy Class travellers and still offers significantly more comfort. For a low-cost carrier, it is refreshing to see an airline allocate more real estate to comfort rather than profit, available at a reasonable additional fee.

I would certainly recommend Vueling’s ‘Space Plus’ seats, which offer more legroom than many intra-European Business Class products.

The option of selecting roomier seats, including priority boarding, is a fantastic initiative, and I would recommend them to anybody considering flying with Vueling.

If these seats are not available, the exit rows (12 and 14) can be reserved for the same price and offer 20% more legroom.

Rows 12-14 also offer extra space.

In terms of pricing, Vueling follows the ‘pay for what you need’ model. This allows customers to fly for less and only pay for the amenities they want.  If a passenger, chose a ‘TimeFlex’ fare with an extra-legroom seat, the Vueling experience is akin to or better than that of almost any legacy airline across Europe. When comparing Vueling with other low-cost airlines across Europe, it is important to note that extra fees for luxuries like selecting your own seat or checking in luggage were inexpensive and the baggage allowance of 23kg was very generous.

The slimline Recaro seats were sufficiently comfortable, and were well padded, offering a good amount of recline. To provide more legroom for passengers, the lower seatback pocket has been removed and replaced with a literature pocket behind the tray table at eye level. Also provided was a coat-hook at each seat. It would be good to see Vueling take steps to install power-ports at each seat in the future allowing every customer to stay powered-up on the go. As our lives our increasingly conducted online too, Vueling could install Wi-Fi on newly delivered aircraft – catching up with competitors like Norwegian who are already rolling out the technology.

Vueling’s newest Airbus A320s feature Airbus’ SpaceFlex technology – meaning they are configured with 186 seats, rather than 180.

As part of this change, Vueling also introduced two new fares designed to meet the needs of the modern traveller: ‘Timeflex’ and ‘Family’. The airline’s new Timeflex fare offers priority check-in, fast-track security, priority boarding and free seat selection in standard seats, all in addition to flight time and date flexibility.

The Family fare type includes a dedicated check-in area at Barcelona, 1 checked luggage bag free of charge (with an allowance of 23kg), priority boarding with children under 2 and guaranteed seats together onboard.

This sort of innovation in air travel is something to be commended – making the entire experience easier for families travelling together and business people who frequent airports.

Vueling’s onboard menu was equally impressive. In addition to the conventional buy-on-board options, Vueling offered an ‘Iberic Box’ containing Gourmet Iberian Ham and Breadsticks – a nice touch that alludes to Vueling’s Spanish roots, proving that any trip starts onboard the aircraft.

Vueling’s branding is youthful and is designed to appeal to the trendy traveller, who wants new travel experiences at low prices.

The Gourmet Snack Box contained dark chocolate, rosemary crackers, chickpea hummus, olives, dried fruit and nuts for €7,50, with the option of adding wine for €12,50.

On my flight, I chose Vueling’s Nachos which come complete with Tomato Salsa in a handy travel box. As with almost all low-cost airlines, no beverages or snacks were complementary – if you don’t want to break the bank onboard, you may want to buy ahead of your flight at the airport. My seat neighbour did exactly that and when the cabin manager, Lela, observed my neighbour about to eat an airport-bought meal deal, she offered a napkin. This was a pleasant touch, showing that personable service doesn’t cost anything.

A snapshot of Vueling’s onboard gourmet options

The crew on both of my flights with Vueling were amiable and warm. Throughout the flight, they made very little interaction with the passengers, closing the curtains frequently at the front of the aircraft – creating a sense that they were unapproachable. When they did interact with passengers, however, they offered a smile, with quick and efficient service. This said, the entire Vueling experience, including comfort and crew, was clearly more polished than many of Vueling’s no-frills competitors.

The Bottom Line:

When looking at Vueling through a low-cost airline lens, it is clear that the airline is innovative, polished and convenient. Vueling’s ‘Space Plus’ seats mean that enjoying extra comfort onboard is easy and affordable and their ‘Family’ fare type is something I would like to see more airlines replicate. Additionally, Vueling offers an unprecedented network across the length and breadth of Spain, easily accessible from its UK gateways in London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester & Edinburgh. Whilst there is some way to go before Vueling achieves a ‘Best Low-Cost Airline’ award, I would recommend Spain’s largest budget airline without hesitation.


Disclaimer: This flight was provided by Vueling. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Virgin Atlantic’s Outdated A340-600 Review

After flying on Virgin Atlantic’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Upper Class only five days earlier, I was very excited to fly home from New York on the Airbus A340 and see just how they compared. Alongside this written review, I also uploaded a video review to my YouTube which you can watch below this paragraph.

Booking This Flight

If you want to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class then what are your options? Revenue fares can be quite high, especially at peak times of the year, so I advise to use miles and points. If travelling at peak times, Virgin will charge you £371 and 57,500 miles to book this flight. At off peak times, you can get it for as low as 47,500 miles and £371. However, those fuel surcharges are still very high.

For a seat at peak times

The flight is also bookable through Delta SkyMiles who are an American Express partner with a 1:1 transfer ratio which can help to reduce the surcharge.

Pre-Flight

If you have read my previous reviews extensively, you’ll know that sleeping before morning flights has never suited me all that well. After returning from watching the New York Yankees at midnight, I wasn’t too keen on going to bed for a few short hours before making my way to JFK so instead, I packed, showered shaved and did some work and before I knew it, it was 3am and I decided to head to the airport to see what was going on at this ungodly hour.

I arrived at around 4am to find it dead. There were people already in the Virgin Atlantic queue who had been there all night having missed their flight the night before and I listened as they told me how cold the airport had been all night… I wasn’t jealous at all.

To my annoyance, I realised that check-in didn’t open until 5am so I found a coffee shop and joined the other half asleep passengers while sipping a terrible flat white.

At 5am, check-in opened and I made my way to the Upper Class line which was empty. I ventured through Fast Track security and by 5.10am I was in the quietest airport departures hall I have ever seen. There were barely any passengers around and those that were there looked half dead from lack of sleep.

The signposting at JFK’s terminal 4 was noticeably poor and after walking around the terminal for a good 10 minutes, I finally found the sign for airline lounges. The lounge at JFK is actually really nice and I arrived to find that I was the first customer of the day! You can read my review of the JFK clubhouse here.

See my full lounge review for more

With boarding already in full swing, I headed down to the gate which is around about a 10 minute walk from the lounge. The queue was very large which was surprising as the lounge had still been pretty full when I left it, this shows why Virgin use the A340 on this route which has two Upper Class (business class) cabins instead of just the one on the B787.

I was in the rear cabin. You can see the front cabin infront of the curtains

As I explained thoroughly in my 787 review, the seating configuration is very different from many of the newer business class products on the market today. The seats are set up in a 1-1-1 configuration with each of the seats facing inwards. I found the cabin nice but at times a little claustrophobic. For a more in-depth review of the cabin, see my 787 review.

What makes the A340 different from the 787 is that the cabin is noticeably outdated. While the seats could be said to be comfier, the technology is outdated to say the least. The screen is not touch-screen but controlled by an annoying, hard to use control that lives under the screen. This was a major downside and it became so fiddly and hard to use that I simply stuck the screen on map and left it for the whole flight.

The ancient control

Another annoyance is that the headphones are  double pinned. This means that you can’t use your own without an adapter. This isn’t too much of a problem as the headphones given are noise cancelling and work perfectly well.

Headphones were great but double pronged

The last thing that made this aircraft noticeably old was the lack of power ports. To charge your laptop, you had to ask the crew for an adaptor which went into a plug socket (not a normal plug) under the remote control. Unfortunately, this adaptor was only for a US plug. This meant I couldn’t charge any electronics on the flight.

As soon as I got to my seat I was offered a welcome drink. Breaking with tradition and because I was so tired, I went for an orange juice and a cup of tea and before I knew it I had fallen asleep to be woken by the crew for my first meal service.

Around an hour after takeoff, the crew brought round a bacon baguette and offer of a second drink. The baguette was nothing special but a nice breakfast dish for those who hadn’t visited the lounge beforehand for breakfast.

My breakfast baguette

After eating this, I got changed into my pyjamas and and fell back to sleep for another three hours before being woken again for my main meal service. Being woken up isn’t normally what happens on flights but seeing as I was reviewing this flight, I made sure the crew woke me up for every service.

The second meal service exceeded my expectations and started with a lovely salmon poke. To see the full review, see below.

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The dish was served with tortilla style crisps and avocado and was an excellent dish to start with. I somehow failed to take a picture of this dish so check the video out to see it.

For my main course i opted for the ‘charred steak’.  The dish was served with vegetables and was cooked very nicely.

My steak main course

I decided to skip dessert as I was ready to burst. To finish the meal I went for a cup of tea and headed back into the lie flat position for a couple of hours.

Upper Class passengers are given amenity kits by Herschel. Herschel are an awesome brand that Virgin have teamed up with and the amenity kits definitely didn’t disappoint. See the full contents below.

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We came into land on time and I changed out of my comfortable pyjamas just in time before the cabin was set up for landing.

Conclusion

Overall, I had a great flight with Virgin once again but couldn’t help feeling that the aircraft was highly outdated. The technology onboard is simply embarrassing compared to that on the B787 and the bar is nowhere near as nice. I love Virgin Atlantic but if you are trying to fly this product, avoid the Airbus A340-600.