EasyJet A320NEO Flight Review Gatwick – Lanzarote



I have had the EasyJet A320NEO on my radar for some time and now a whopping 5 aircraft are based around the UK and luckily for me 3 of those found themselves flying out of London Gatwick. I happen to have a few inside contacts at EasyJet and on a late Friday night, UZHA (EasyJet’s first NEO) was scheduled to flight to Lanzarote the following morning. The temptation to fly this beautiful bird was too overwhelming and I found myself booking seats for the early Lanzarote flight. Unfortunately, the flight was oversold so I used my connections to get on standby, although my chances were already not looking too great.

Although I was travelling on a standby staff ticket today, as a frequent flyer i suggest booking my tickets through SkyScanner (low fares) or Momondo (great business class fares)

Descending into ACE

EasyJet bought into the A320NEO back in 2013 in order to maintain a modern and efficient fleet with improved levels of passenger comfort. The new EastJet cabin was fitted to aircraft delivered from May 2016 and all existing A320s will be retrofitted by the end of Spring 2018.

“In 2013 easyJet confirmed an order for 100 new generation Airbus A320neo aircraft for delivery from 2017 to 2022 and has taken purchase rights on a further 100 aircraft. These aircraft, equipped with CFM LEAP-1A engines and wing ‘Sharklets’, will be 13% to 15% more fuel efficient than existing aircraft types.” – Easyjet

Back to the Flight

I had to arrive at Gatwick the following morning with plenty of time. First I got my security pass to get to the gate where I had to patiently and nervously wait while all the passengers boarded the aircraft as it is only after all the passengers have boarded that you find out if you have been successful or not.

In this case, I got on! I was going to be flying on the orange NEO! The huge downside of flying standby is that you don’t get a seat choice, you fit in where there is space and in this case, it was arguably the worst seat on the plane: an aisle seat right at the very back directly next to the toilet. The charming EasyJet crew came to the rescue, however and after a great chat with the flight crew during pre-flight checks, the lead cabin manager sourced me a free window seat right at the front, offering the best engine view around!

View from seat 4F

Push back from our remote stand was on-time and we were lining up perfectly on our STD. Gatwick was using 26 operations today and after a powerful and sporty take-off by the brand new CFM Leap 1A engines we banked left, heading south towards France.  The inflight service began soon after take-off, I had not yet had anything to eat today so I ordered the EasyJet meal deal, opting for the feta and rocket sandwich as the main.  The meal deal at EasyJet is reasonably priced at 7€/9£. This ended up satisfying me quite well, the sandwich is of reasonable size and quality and I couldn’t fault it!

Meal deal section of inflight Bistro magazine

For most of the flight my eyes were fixed on the gorgeous wing view, those huge engines really added something to the flight experience, not to mention the fact that the flight was super quiet, I could actually listen in on conversations seats in front of me, unheard of on CEO A320s. I recently flew to Gibraltar on the CEO A320 and any form of conversation is drowned out by the noise of the old CFM56 engines. I couldn’t talk to my neighbour without raising my voice, but on the NEO such conversation was now possible! After nearly 3 hours in the air we were staring our descent into sunny Lanzarote, it was gusting quite heavily on short final but the fantastic flight crew pulled off a greaser despite of the wind conditions.

Once again another successful and enjoyable flight on EasyJet and I still believe that they are up there as one of the best low cost airlines, with friendly crew willing to engage in conversation and inviting, chatty pilots.

While EasyJet may not be part of any alliances or have a points system, they truly are a great low-cost airline. While the old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ may be true to some extent, the cheap prices make up for that.

 

Spring 2018 Guest Review: Etihad A380 Economy Review

London Heathrow – Abu Dhabi | Etihad Airways Airbus A380

Having flown with Etihad on their A380 numerous times before, I was excited to see if their soft product had improved since the last time I’d flown with them.

Here at LondonSpotter we generally choose SkyScanner for booking economy tickets and Momondo for business class tickets as that is where you can usually find the best prices.

I arrived to the gate at the supposed boarding time (1 hour before departure) but the gate agents told us that our flight was delayed by 20 minutes. Boarding was called at exactly 14:20 and passengers were boarded using zone numbers via 3 different doors; two doors on the lower deck and 1 on the upper. Boarding was not chaotic in the slightest and quite efficient for such a large aircraft.

The economy cabin onboard the A380

I boarded through door 2L where I was warmly greeted by 1 of the 26 flight attendants operating this flight to Abu Dhabi. I was directed to my seat and to my surprise, it turned out I’d snagged one of the best wing-view seats on the plane!

What a view!

On paper, Etihad offers 17.5” of seat width and 31” seat pitch which felt very spacious and comfortable. My only criticism is that the recline is substandard and, when the person in front of you reclines, you have no space to put anything on the tray table. Regardless of the recline, the seat was fully equipped with everything; A USB charger, a 110V socket, a coat hanger, 2 screens including a 10” wide screen (which I find extremely impressive for an Economy class seat), and a fantastic entertainment system. They offer fast and reasonably priced WiFi, which is especially convenient for passengers travelling on business.

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When I arrived at my seat, I found a pair of headphones, a blanket, and a pillow waiting for me. The noise cancelling headphones were pretty nifty, complete with an adapter. The blanket smelt odd but, on the plus side, at least it was in a plastic bag…

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As I waited for boarding to be completed, I browsed the entertainment selection, which was excellent. Etihad’s entertainment system – E-Box –  has a huge variety of movies, and I also liked how many episodes they have of each sitcom in their library. There’s no shortage of good entertainment options on Etihad. I ended up watching the movie ‘Daddy’s Home 2’ which was really funny. Etihad’s A380s are equipped with 3 cameras (a tail, front and down viewing cameras) which other airlines like Singapore Airlines don’t have.

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We pushed back at 15:05 sharp and at 15:26 we were cleared for takeoff. Fifteen minutes later the seatbelt sign was turned off. Our climb was smooth and, soon enough, we broke out of the clouds at 20,000 feet.

1 hour into the flight, the flight attendants served drinks with a savoury snack and an hour later, the dinner service commenced. There were no menus as before. Instead, there was just an option between chicken or pasta but, oddly, the passengers behind me had a choice between beef or pasta. I chose the chicken which came with cold bread, a salad pasta and a chocolate butterscotch mousse. The pasta salad was amazing and the chocolate mouse was even better. The tray tables were cleared 30 minutes after and tea and coffee were offered which I declined.

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After the dinner service was taken, I went to the toilets and to my surprise, I wasn’t the only one with that idea. While I waited for 15 minutes for my turn, the flight attendant offered me any drink/snack I wanted. I took had the salad pasta again as it was just so good. In terms of amenities, there was just a hand sanitiser – on previous flights, they offered face mist.

An hour and a half out of Abu Dhabi, we were offered a light snack and a drink which I said no to as I wasn’t feeling too well but it consisted of chicken and spinach.

Half an hour out of Abu Dhabi, the captain came on the PA to inform us that we would be landing 25 minutes prior to our scheduled arrival, that the temperature was 26 degrees and the forecast for the next few days was pure sunshine; a stark contrast to London’s clouds.  The crew also started to complete their pre-landing checks and collected our headphones. The entertainment system was switched off to only the map view for the last few minutes of the flight.

We had a smooth touchdown at 00:56 and arrived at the gate 8 minutes later. As I was disembarking, I asked if I could visit the cockpit but I was not allowed as ‘it’s against company policy…’ I bid the crew farewell and headed home.

BOTTOM LINE: 
I couldn’t have had a better experience in economy. The crew all had the biggest smile on their faces and were extremely friendly, attentive, and caring. They were a real treat! Etihad has really improved since the last time I flew them. I would choose to fly them every time over any other airline that operates direct flight to Abu Dhabi.

Want to see more A380 Reviews?

Read our review of the terrible Qantas A380 economy class here.

Read our review of the luxurious Qatar Airways business class here.


This guest review is written by Wasim Zemerly. Four times a year, we give one person the opportunity to have their work featured on our platform. If you’d like to apply, email ethanegcc@gmail.com with a proposal. 

Economy to First! My 5* Experience with British Airways on the B777



Many of you have probably read my last flight review where I ended up in a pickle at Madrid Barajas Airport. My inbound flight from Lanzarote had been delayed due to a tech aircraft on the outbound Lanzarote flight. I was, therefore, stuck in the domestic terminal at Madrid and needed to somehow get across Barajas to the Satellite terminal in under 10minutes as my flight to London was already closing. You can see the awkwardness of my situation.

The problem I was faced with was to run for my life clinging onto the slim chance I may actually make it in time, or keep my dignity and walk, moving my flight to the later one. My current flight was scheduled on a Boeing 777-200, so the inner avgeek kicked in, I took the first option and ran for my life, although even that was trickier that I first thought. We were being taken by bus from my inbound aircraft to the terminal and after a painful 10minutes of sitting on the bus, I was let loose and proceeded straight to connections, through passport control and onto the train in seconds. To my annoyance the train moved along at a measly 10mph on the satellite terminal. Lots of painful waiting and fidgeting  followed but we did finally arrive at the Satellite terminal. A small handful of passengers were also running in the same direction as I was headed, so knew I was not alone.

FLIGHT CLOSED read the screen in front of my aircraft, however I was ushered forward and escorted onto the aircraft, they had obviously realised several passengers on my inbound Lanzarote flight were booked onto this 777 and had made the effort to hold the doors. The first of many great surprises I experienced with British Airways on this flight. While many would have been surprised that a large aircraft was on this route, I was not because I had checked Kayak before booking. Kayak is great as it shows you which aircraft will operate every flight! I then booked with the cheapest deal I could find.

I managed to sneak this shot in all the havoc

After my sweaty sticky body made it onto seat 35K we were already pushing back for our departure to London. One thing I noticed when I was going to sit down was the first officer talking to a little boy further up economy about flying, just the little things that make a young boys dream become more of a reality, not something you see nowadays anymore. The captain himself also made a friendly warm welcome brief to the passengers and a few minutes later we were in the air bound for London!

Taxiing onto the runway I only just landed on!

I have been on many wide body flights and the best spot on any large aircraft for wing view shots is by the 2nd main door in front of the engine. While snapping away on my camera I got talking to the cabin manager about why I was flying today, my Instagram page and the website! I then asked if I could sit in the first class cabin for the flight as it remains empty on these short haul flights. She thought the idea was great as I could take pictures of an empty first cabin and chat to the crew all the way to London but she just had to check with the Captain. I returned to my seat in Y class while awaiting the verdict. Funnily enough, 5 minutes later I was called to the front of the plane to await my first class seat. This was my first time in first and even though there was no first class dining, it was still a pretty awesome experience. I got some fantastic British Airways hospitality and was offered a free drink and some nuts.

The old first class cabin on the B777

The next great surprise on this flight to London was that the first officer came out and had a chat with me mid-flight! We sat in my little first class ‘suite’ and got talking about flight training, school and the next part of my journey to the flight deck which, again, is not something you get on many flights. The crew were happy to take pictures of me in the seat and generally chat about the flights I have taken, favourite aircraft and all the general avgeeky stuff. Flights are always more enjoyable when the crew actually try to engage with the customer and drum up a conversation rather than smile from a distance. To end a great flight with British Airways we descended into the most beautiful sunset, to an even more beautiful on-time arrival.

What a sunset we had on final approach

To wrap things up I will say that i had a very comfortable and enjoyable flight with British Airways on this occasion, the use of wide-bodies on their London-Madrid route does give that extra special feel to short haul travel. If you want to read our review on the inaugural London to Madrid flight on the larger 777-300ER click here.

Worse than Ryanair? Iberia Express A320 Lanzarote – Madrid

Last week, I needed to connect from Lanzarote to Madrid for an evening flight back to London. I decided to try the low-cost subsidiary of Iberia, Iberia Express.

‘Iberia Express is a Spanish low-cost airline owned by Iberia, which operates short- and medium-haul routes from its parent airline’s hub at Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport, providing feeder flights onto Iberia’s long-haul network’ – Pretty self-explanatory right? I assumed being a subsidiary owned by Iberia it would rate pretty well and perhaps even trump some of the other alternative low cost carries based in Europe, but boy was I wrong!

I was already at Lanzarote Airport and after managing to swap my middle seat to a window seat, I made my way through to departures to find, to my horror, that I have messed up my timings. It turns out that due to time zone changes my 2-hour connection in Madrid had now become 1 hour and to add my worries, the inbound flight from Madrid was 40 minutes behind schedule, presumably delayed after an aircraft swap as it was not the aircraft that was confirmed on flight radar the night before. After a tense period of procrastination as I awaited the arrival of the inbound flight  at ACE, the departure boards read boarding. I made my way over to the gates where I found myself slightly confused. As the jet-bridge was still being attached to the aircraft, passengers were already walking down the jetty way to the plane! It turns out the staff had been premature and so we ended up waiting for around 25minutes in the queue with half of the passenger only meters away from the aircraft.

When we finally made it on-board I could only have assumed due to the delay inbound they had decided not to clean the aircraft. With bottles of water on the floor and crumbs on my seat it was obvious they were trying to claw back time for an on-time departure. I should be complaining here but I wouldn’t have made my connection in Madrid if they had decided to clean the aircraft. It  also turned out that we had left the cool air-conditioned terminal for a hot and sweaty metal tube, operating a full flight to Madrid today. However, surprisingly my neighbours were super interested in my photography and my camera equipment so the tedious delay was made slightly more tolerable. At this point I was sure I was going to miss my connection back to London.

We took off from runway 03 bound for Madrid, 30minutes behind schedule. Once airborne I tried, several times, to connect to the inflight entertainment offered via Wi-Fi. It appeared you had to log into your Iberia Express account which I tried many times, but with no luck. As the flight progressed it seemed encounters with crew were rare, some were polite some not so much. I did end up paying for a bottle of sparkling water during the on-board meal service, for some reason €3 did not seem fair for small bottle of water, but at this point I was roasting alive and willing to make the small sacrifice.

The cabin itself was very old, seats had small bits missing, the leather had seen brighter days and the overall atmosphere was second-rate. The legroom was on par with EasyJet – enough for this 2hour flight to Spain’s capital. Thankfully, the incredible views en-route to Madrid helped me enjoy the flight a little more. Apart from the view there was really nothing else to report.

As we began our descent into Madrid I was becoming increasingly worried about my connection, as it stood I had 30 minutes until my flight back to London actually took off. Once on the ground in Madrid and surviving the painful taxi across the entire airport we arrived on stand at Terminal M. Jubilant at the sight of the jetty bridge I tried to muscle my way through the cabin as everyone unbuckled their seat belt, however the doors did not open for a further 10 minutes, adding to my long list of problems. After finally disembarking, we were led downstairs at the end of the jetty bridge, not across into the terminal. Oh god, yes… Bus connection to the terminal. My chances of making my connection were at this point close to nothing and after another painful wait for the bus to fill up, I was able to peg it through to the transit train to the Satellite terminal in Madrid, thus making my connection with seconds to spare. British Airways were aware of a couple of passengers on my flight and had kindly decided to hold the aircraft for a couple of minutes.

After slating Iberia Express heavily in this review, I need to fly flagship Iberia to weigh up how they compare against each other, as, in regards to Iberia, all the feedback i have heard has been positive. Hopefully later in the year i will get the chance to fly their new A350 from London to Madrid!

Titan Airways Boeing 737-400 Review



Booking

As with most of my other flight reviews, this trip began late on a Friday night searching Kayak for a flight for the next day. This time I chose to fly with British Airways to Faro from London Gatwick. Seems quite boring right? Well, there is a plot twist this flight was to be operated by Titan Airways. This was to be no ordinary flight, the aircraft taking me to  Faro was a “new” Boeing 737-400 classic (G-POWS) that was just brought out of retirement from Victorville. As it occurs, she happens to be ex-BA as well (G-DOCT). It is indeed ironic that she is now flying for her old airline and from her old base!

Titan Airways

Now, many of you are probably wondering, “Who the heck are Titan Airways? I have never heard of them before.” According to their Wiki page and website, “Titan Airways is a British charter airline founded in 1988 and based at London Stansted Airport. The carrier specialises in short notice ACMI and wet lease operations as well as ad-hoc passenger and cargo charter services to tour operators, corporations, governments and the sports and entertainment sectors.” In this case, British Airways lack the aircraft and crew to be able to cover the Monarch slots they took on after its demise, and they turned to fully crewed Titan aircraft to fill these holes in their schedule.

The Flight

It was the morning of the flight and I had checked in at the British Airways desks at south terminal to discover, to my horror, that the flight was FULL and I had been assigned a middle seat in the back. After some shameful begging at the check in desk they let me have an exit row seat for free…result! As customary to my flights departing from South Terminal, I visited Nando’s in the departure lounge however, during my lunch it appeared that my 737 was now operating the Lanzarote flight! Scary! I went to the BA assistance desk who reassured me that the 737 was operating on my flight and the Lanzarote flight was being flown by British Airways themselves. Why was I so worried about what aircraft I was flying on? Well the reason I booked this sector was because Titan uses old aircraft such as the 737-300/400 for their short haul operations, these aircraft have been retired all around Europe at this point and it is near impossible to find flights on them. With Titan operating for BA on select flights I jumped at the chance to fly on-board one of these classics!

It was now approaching boarding time and I made my way to the gate to find G-POWS awaiting me! Boarding was somewhat organised but still pretty chaotic. Once on-board I was pleasantly surprised by the retrofitted cabin, it was very similar to the cabin on the 757-200 I flew with Titan to Zadar last year. My seat, 13A had fantastic legroom, being an exit row seat and had a fantastic view of the wing. The cabin was not representative of the aircraft’s old age of 25 and I could hardly tell it apart from a Next Generation 737. While on the ground at Gatwick we were reminded repeatedly that this was a Titan Airways flight operating for BA, I found it odd that they needed to remind us so many times. The seatback contained the latest inflight magazine from British Airways but no menu, food on-board today was complimentary.

With a small ATC delay of 20minutes, we pushed back and joined the queue for take-off, Gatwick was on its usual westerly operations today which meant a 26L departure. The classic 737 screamed as we took off for Portugal! Flying conditions were perfect and the cruise was for the most part smooth and uneventful. Shortly after the cabin crew were released the complimentary meal service began and I was handed a small sandwich, flapjack and a drink. All of which were very welcome and surprisingly tasty. Good on BA for opting for complimentary snacks on these Titan operated flights. This was only a 2hour50minute flight so there wasn’t too much to report on, the crew on-board were friendly, on par with the level of service with BA but they were no EasyJet crew.

As we started our descent into Faro, things got a little more exciting, as we hit the cloud layer we hit some pretty hard turbulence and our little 737 sure got thrown around a bit. Wind speed on the ground at Faro was around 30knots but as we touched down it had seemed to have all died down and the landing itself was relatively smooth. The friendly crew allowed me a small flight deck visit even though this flight was actually a training flight. Overall this has been another positive flight with Titan Airways and I wonder at which point we will meet again.

Tailstrike

Just an additional bit of information, G-POWS, the 737-400 I had just flown on, had a tail strike on take-off out of Gatwick just one day after my flight and the airport was closed while the runway was inspected. She is now back in service, still operating for BA out of Gatwick and you can book flights on-board her using Kayak. BA have no pattern to where the 737 is scheduled, if you join the London Area Aviation Spotting Facebook group you can find a document containing the month’s aircraft swaps and changes and in there are the details of the Titan Operating flights.



Air Canada Boeing 787 Premium Economy Review



When flying between Vancouver and Toronto, there certainly isn’t a shortage of airlines to choose from. Following my Premium Economy flight with British Airways,  I decided to hop on board with Air Canada to review their Premium Economy product. I booked this fare through SkyScanner which is undoubtedly the best after its interface upgrade.

Originally when booking this flight, I was supposed to be travelling in the economy cabin. However when checking in using the Air Canada mobile app, it gave me the option to upgrade Premium Economy for $295 CAD.

Premium Economy passengers can check in using the Priority desks, usually reserved for Air Canada frequent fliers or Business class passengers. The morning of my flight from Vancouver, there had been a number of cancellations to scheduled services, meaning the queue for economy check in was full of people trying to get onto alternative flights to their destinations. Luckily for me, the priority desks were almost empty meaning just 10 minutes after arriving at the domestic terminal, I was through security.

Ac34 vancouver – toronto:

The flight I was booked onto, Air Canada 34, doesn’t start it’s journey in Vancouver. It is actually the long haul service from Sydney to Vancouver then Toronto. Today the Sydney to Vancouver sector was being flown on a Boeing 777 that was delayed leaving Sydney by approximately 3 hours; rather than delay the service onto Toronto, a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner was put onto the route.

Air Canada also implement a zonal boarding system, much like that of British Airways. Being in ‘Group 2’, I was on the aircraft in no time at all, and took to my seat 14A. Immediately I was very impressed with the modern look and feel of this cabin, something you would expect from an aircraft that is just under 2 years old. Already, this put it ahead of the British Airways Premium Economy offering on my flight to Vancouver.

Seat 14A (As indicated by the big pink bag!)

After settling into my seat and getting a few pictures from my window seat, I was offered a choice of orange juice or water as my boarding drink. Shortly after the Captain came over the PA and announced that we would have a short delay in departing Vancouver as we would have to be deiced. At 9.20am local time we pushed off the stand and taxied to a remote part of the airfield for deicing.

Departing from Runway 08R at 9.43am, we started climbing to our cruising altitude of 41,000 feet. The seat belt signs were switched of promptly after take off and a crew member came around the cabin to hand out our breakfast menu. This mornings options were either Pancakes or a Parsley Omelette. Unfortunately as I was the last to be served in the cabin, my first choice of Pancakes were all gone, leaving me with little choice but to sample the Omelette.

Before choosing from one of the many blockbuster films on offer to watch, I decided to wake myself up with a freshly brewed Lavazza coffee from the drinks service. Only the Brave (A brilliant must watch film that’s based on a true story) was my selection from the In flight Entertainment System. Watching on my Panasonic ex3 system, the latest addition to Air Canada’s IFE offerings, I was impressed at both the screen size and clarity of the image. Just as the film was reaching it’s mid point, breakfast was served.

The IFE system found in the Premium Economy cabin

The Parsley Omelette was accompanied by a chicken sausage, potatoes and relish. Also offered were fruit, yogurts and a warm bread roll with butter and jam. As appetising as the omelette looked, it wasn’t quite to my taste. Leaving the Omelette I enjoyed the rest of my breakfast. Much to my annoyance, the passenger seated next to me (who had ordered the last Pancakes dish available), decided to leave his breakfast after taking only one bite. It was only after long deliberation that I decided not to try and steal the remains!

Breakfast served in Premium Economy

As we reached the mid way point of our 3 hour 50 minute flight, I decided to stretch my legs and take a wonder around C-FGFZ, the 787-9 Dreamliner I was flying on. After being given a few odd stares when walking through Business class in my hoody and trainers, I went into the galley to find that the crew had laid out a selection of complimentary snacks to choose from. Picking up a Kit Kat, Bacardi and a Coke, I headed back to my seat.

There are 21 seats in the 787-9’s Premium Economy cabin. All with a legroom of 38″ and a seat width of 19″. Found at every seat are power ports that can be used to charge devices via USB or Canadian plugs. Most of the seats can recline approximately 7 inches, however row 14 is slightly limited due to the bulkhead located behind. Seats 14A and 14K do offer some superb shots of the Dreamliner’s wings and the General Electric built GEnx engines. With seat selection complimentary to Premium Economy passengers, it would definitely be my recommendation for anyone travelling with Air Canada in the future.

Cruising at 41,000 feet

As we descended into Toronto, the crew passed through the cabin to clear our waste and prepare us for landing. It was at this point that I felt my good experience throughout the flight was ruined slightly. I had asked the Cabin Manager if it was possible to visit the flight deck after arrival on stand, a request that was met with a short, sharp “No”. I am fully aware that flight deck visits are strictly on a request basis, but the fact that the Captain wasn’t even asked annoyed me.

The rest of the flight passed without incident and as we touched down at Toronto Pearson International, I was left feeling that the upgrade had been well worth the money.

When compared to a similar product such as the British Airways’ World Traveller Plus, It certainly leaves me with no doubt in my mind which airline I would choose to fly with when planning my next trip to Canada. BA however were spot on with the customer service, and certainly made me feel welcomed and valued as a paying customer. Ultimately when flying comfort has to be a number one priority, and that’s where Air Canada comes into a world of its own.

 

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Cobalt Air Business & Economy Airbus A320 Flight Review

Featuring Cobalt Air’s New Airbus A320 Business Class & Economy Cabins




At 0920am, the gate was announced, and I made my way to the boarding area. After already completing one five-hour rotation from Larnaca, my aircraft was enjoying some well-earned rest on the tarmac. Cobalt Air flies to Manchester year-round and has done since 2016. In the winter season the route operates twice a week and, in summer, increases to three-weekly. Having been met by the dispatcher at check-in, I was able to take some photos of the empty cabin before the rest of the guests boarded and have a chat with the cabin crew.

5B-DCY sitting on Manchester’s apron at Terminal 1.

As I stepped onto the aircraft, my initial impression was that the cabin looked airy, comfortable and welcoming. It was also modern, fitted with Recaro seats which offer adjustable headrests and a substantial recline. Although a minor detail, the boarding music enhanced the relaxing and tranquil atmosphere onboard; as the flight was not full – boarding was done in an orderly and efficient manner, without being chaotic.

the cabins:

My Cypriot chariot for the outbound flight – 5B-DCY – is one of 6 aircraft in Cobalt’s fleet and is fitted with 12 Business Class seats in a 2-2 configuration and, as with all Airbus A320 aircraft, economy class was fitted in a 3-3 configuration and began in Row 4, with 144 seats. Obviously, the bulkhead seats were very comfortable; the rest of the Economy seats offered 30” of seat pitch, adjustable headrests and substantial recline. All of the Business Class seats offer a 40” seat pitch and lots of width – with a foot rest and several seat controls, allowing you to find a comfortable position. On my inbound flight, I flew on one of the airline’s Airbus A319 aircraft which are configured in an all-economy class setup with 144 seats. Cobalt received this A319 (5B-DCU) in November 2016 and had a much more dated cabin, but equally comfortable.

The Economy Class cabin. All economy class seats offer adjustable headrests and substantial recline.
business class: cobalt shines above its competitors

The new Business Class – introduced in December 2017 – is where Cobalt really shines above its competitors. British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France and others offer an Economy Class setup, with a blocked middle seat. Whilst this is convenient for the airline and easy to amend depending on the load of a flight, for passengers, it offers little to no more comfort than those sitting at the back of the plane. Contrastingly, Cobalt’s Business Class looks more like a short-haul premium product you’d find in Asia or a US airline’s domestic ‘First Class’.

Cobalt Air’s fantastic Business Class in a 2-2 configuration.

For longer flights, this really does offer all of the comfort you would need. When flying in Business Class, guests will experience several amenities offered by the airline which make the experience more seamless and tailored around you:

• Express Check-In Lanes & Priority Boarding
• 2x 20kg Baggage Allowance
• Dine On-Demand Menu (just ask a crew member when you are ready to eat!). Of course, when flying on a Business Class ticket, you receive a full complementary meal service. If you are on a flight when you can simply upgrade to the seat, you will have the same food choices as economy passengers.

Cobalt’s Business Class offers 40″ of seat pitch onboard.

The full Business Class service is currently only available on routes to Gatwick, Heathrow, Athens, Abu Dhabi & Moscow – but I found you can upgrade to the cabin on other flights for just €75, without the additional benefits. This offers an attractive proposition for business travellers and, if I were to travel regularly between Europe and Cyprus/Middle East on business, I would undoubtedly choose this Business Class product over Cobalt’s other competitors. I simply cannot credit Cobalt enough for the introduction of this “proper” Business Class and its introduction reveals the pioneering and innovative attitude at the heart of the airline.

The comfy recliner seats also had all the amenities you’d expect for Business travellers; large tray tables, a power port and lots of space.

It’s also interesting to note that Cobalt is also now offering connections through their Larnaca hub. For example, you can now book flights from Manchester through to Tel Aviv & Beirut – providing a more comfortable, seamless and relaxing alternative connecting through the modern and simplistic airport of Larnaca, in comparison to other major European airlines with often chaotic and confusing hubs.

onboard service: reflecting cyprus

The Out of the Blue menu included Grilled Chicken, honey and mustard wraps, halloumi and lountza (a Cypriot meat), baguettes and a variety of Primo Gusto Pizzas. There was also a range of alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, hot drinks and the obligatory Pot Noodle selection. The prices were quite reasonable – in line with most other airlines – and the airline accepts both British Pounds & Euros onboard. Although I was impressed by the menu, as the airline makes the transition from a low-cost carrier to a full-service operator with the introduction of a designated Business Class cabin, I would like to see complementary beverages and snacks available, or at least at a lower price – especially on longer flights such as mine from Manchester & London to Cyprus.

I liked the fact that the airline was inventive with its menu choices – reflecting aspects of the country it represents. The crew also oozed typical Cypriot hospitality and were very personable, genuine and polite. Celine (the cabin manager) and indeed the rest of the crew were jovial and welcoming – especially so to the children onboard. Also, Cobalt being a Cypriot airline, I was able to use some of my Greek language skills with the cabin crew. Celine even commented that my Greek was ‘amazing’ – but I shrugged off the comment, being the modest person that I am!!

Cobalt claims to be ‘the favourite airline of the Cypriot people’ and, speaking to the locals, it seems to be so. Many believe Cobalt harvested the best of the now defunct national carrier – Cyprus Airways – then modernised it and instilled ambition. The airline is also growing rapidly, adding routes to London Heathrow, Dusseldorf, Copenhagen, Mykonos, Geneva and Abu Dhabi from its Larnaca hub this year. It appears that Cobalt Air is also committed to improving the medium-haul travel experience more generally. The airline has recently signed an agreement with Bluebox Aviation Systems to offer wireless streaming of in-flight entertainment to passengers onboard. Bluebox provides wireless content streamed to passenger devices in any aircraft cabin, including film, TV, audio, games and other digital content accessed through any web browser. The device can be stored in overhead lockers and each box’s single swappable and rechargeable battery offers the equivalent of delivering 15 hours of streamed video content to 50 passengers simultaneously. Yet again, this is an example of another area where Cobalt have distinguished themselves from their competitors.

my conclusion: cobalt are unique

Overall, Cobalt are a unique airline; in the words of the CEO Andrew Madar, “not LCC, not legacy, just Cobalt”.

Cobalt is certainly a hybrid carrier. With a business class of this calibre, it is clear that the airline is making a transition from low cost to full service carrier.

Medium-haul flying is often argued to be the most uncomfortable and tiring; 4-5 hours on a narrowbody aircraft, with no entertainment, poor legroom and lacklustre food. However, Cobalt seem to be committed to improving medium haul flying – whether that’s from the introduction of a spacious new Business cabin, to the friendliness of the crew. As they grow, with big ambitions for the future (including working intensively on a business plan so as to connect China, Africa and the US with Cyprus), I am certain that their ‘small airline, one big family’ feel won’t wear away. Despite big ambitions, Cobalt continues to put Larnaca back on the map as a regional air hub and contributes massively to the Cypriot economy.

With massive growth and big ambitions for the future, Cobalt is putting Larnaca on the map as an aviation hub of the future.

I hope that more people across Europe can turn their back on traditional holiday airlines and business carriers and sample a little slice of Cyprus in the sky. Flight bookings can be made on Cobalt’s website or here!


Disclaimer: This trip was provided by Cobalt Air, but I was not pressured to express specific opinions in any way. All the views expressed are fully my own and if you would like to ask me any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact me!

Qatar Airways Luxurious A380 Business Class Review

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

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

The beautiful A380 in Doha

Pre-Flight

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

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

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

The business class ticket holder. Love it.

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

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

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

Private waiting area for premium passengers

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

Starting early

The Seat

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

The seat

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

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

Large enough screen

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

Such a spacious seat

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

The Aircraft 

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

Upper Deck 

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

The huge A380 toilets at the front

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

The beautiful A380 bar

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

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

Lower Deck

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

The standard 3-4-3 configuration in economy

The Flight 

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

Taking off over Doha

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

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

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

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

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

Looks nice Leo!

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

The Bottom Line

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

Thank you everyone at Qatar!

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

British Airways Boeing 747 Flight Review

The Boeing 747 will soon slowly begin to fade from British Airways’ fleet. They are due to be replaced by the newer, more fuel efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner and in the not too distant future, the Airbus A350. During the winter season BA operate the 747 to Vancouver in place of the Airbus A380, giving me the perfect opportunity to get a hands on look at the Queen of the Skies.

No1 lounge terminal 3:

Prior to my departure from Heathrow, I had booked myself into the No1 Lounge in Terminal 3 as a nice relaxing way to start my trip. The lounge offers complimentary food, drink and Wi-Fi to all customers, as well as complimentary use of one of the few shower rooms that are on site. After my drive down from Birmingham earlier that afternoon, I thought it would be a good idea to freshen up before my 9 hour 30 min flight to Vancouver.

The shower rooms themselves could not be faulted, all essentials such as towels and shower gels/shampoos were provided free of charge. My only complaint with this is the actual walk in shower itself, it seems the water temperature has only 2 settings: Boiling Hot or 3rd Degree Burns Hot! For anyone who was booked into the lounge in the near future and intends on using the showers, my advice would be to re adjust your hair or makeup in the bathrooms that are separate to these shower rooms as they can become very hot and humid when the shower has been running!

The Fish Finger wrap from the menu in the No1 Lounge

The complimentary meal options at the lounge were limited, I was given a choice between 4 cooked meals and eventually chose to sample the Fish Finger wrap. When served to me at my table overlooking Runways 27L-9R, one issue immediately jumped out at me, the portion size. Now, I know with complimentary food you can’t go In expecting a 5 course feast, but this really did look like something served from a kids menu at a fast food restaurant. With a limited selection of snacks from the self serve counters, the catering really does let the lounge down.

If I had not of booked this lounge at a discounted rate to that advertised on the website, I probably would not have booked it at all. I would however, recommend it to any passengers transiting through Heathrow T3, as those shower facilities are a god send.

BA85 LONDON HEATHROW – VANCOUVER:

Sitting in the waiting area of Gate 31, gave me the opportunity to witness British Airways’ new boarding process by inviting passengers to board by ‘Group Number’ as issued on their boarding card, in this instance I was assigned Group 3. It all worked without a hitch and the time between arriving at the gate and boarding G-CIVA, my Boeing 747-400 aircraft was minimal.

Taking to my assigned seat 15K (a seat that I had to pay £45 to pre book), I was immediately impressed with the amount of legroom a the the World Traveller Plus cabin offered. Seating in this cabin boasts an impressive 38” of legroom. Now the extra legroom is brilliant to have when flying, especially when that flight is long haul. Seat width however is something that needs to be improved in this cabin. Not being the smallest person in the world I found it difficult to sit comfortably in the old style seating with a width of 18.5”. The personal IFE remote is housed on the inside of the arm rest, and can become very uncomfortable when sitting for a long time as it digs into your thigh.

The legroom offered in World Traveller Plus was exceptional

The In Flight Entertainment offerings were impressive, with a range of the latest Hollywood blockbusters and TV series’ available to browse and view. The system did show it’s age however as the software was slow at responding and the screen was tiny when compared to rival products such as the Emirates IFE System. The noise cancelling headset came in handy, especially due to my seat’s proximity to the engines.

The IFE seat back screen

We pushed back from the gate on time, and taxied for 20 minutes down to Runway 27R for our departure. I was very surprised to find that when the throttle was pushed forward to being our take off roll, I wasn’t pushed back into my seat by the power of the engines as I have been in the past, especially when flying on the Boeing 757. Our climb out took us north passing over Coventry and Liverpool.

Once the seat belt signs had been switched off, the first inflight drinks service and small bag of Pretzels was provided by Jennifer, who was fantastic when looking after us in Traveller Plus. As we climbed to our cruising altitude of 36,000 feet and headed towards Iceland, the meal service began.

I had pre booked my meal prior to checking in online for the flight, this service is offered complimentary and allows you to guarantee yourself a tasty chicken or beef option. I opted for the Chettinad chicken with Tadka Dal and Coriander Rice. Passengers in Plus are treated to the same appetiser and desert as their fellow passengers in World Traveller, but get to choose from one of two main meal options offered from the Club World menus. Plane food doesn’t have the greatest reputation amongst fliers, but I can assure you that the chicken option on this flight will not leave your taste buds dissatisfied. For those with a sweet tooth, the Salted Caramel and Chocolate dessert is the perfect treat to enjoy whilst watching a film.

The Inflight meal offered to Premium Economy passengers

Following the meal I grabbed some sleep, but was woken about 90 minutes before landing by the crew handing out snack boxes. These contained a sandwich and biscuit, both of which I chose to leave and decided instead to sit back and take in the beautiful scenery we were passing over.

The descent into Vancouver was smooth and before long the bright lights of the city came into view. We touched down on Vancouver’s Runway 26R and pulled onto the stand at 1830, 40 minutes ahead of schedule. During disembarkation, I was lucky enough to be invited up to the flight deck by the First Officer for a quick chat and photo opportunity. I found out that British Airways intends to keep the Boeing 747 in the fleet for another 5 years before sending them off for retirement.

The World Traveller Plus Cabin Inflight

With a flight like the one I experienced, I can see why BA has become so attached to these aircraft. Their long range and large passenger and cargo capacity makes them favourites for flying to destinations such as Vancouver and Nairobi. World Traveller Plus itself is well worth the upgrade on a long flight, the exceptional service and smaller cabin size have certainly made me think about flying economy again. On a newer aircraft such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner I’m sure this cabin is unfaultable, that being said; I can’t take anything away from the unique charm of the Jumbo Jet.

 

Check out our BA Premium Economy 787 review to see how it compares!

Qatar Airways A350-1000 Delivery Flight Q Suite Review



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

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

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

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

So What Makes the -1000 Different?

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

The Trent 97 is HUGE

Tuesday:

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

Ultimate cleanliness for the tour

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

Business Class Q Suite

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

The revolutionary Q Suite product

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

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

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

Economy Class

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

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

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

Great look to the cabin too!

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

Gatecrashing the big boys at the Gala!

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

The stunning light show blew my mind!

Delivery Flight:

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

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

Check in queues!

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

Some small snacks for us!

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

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

Going non-alcoholic lasted for an impressive one drink

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

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

Breakfast is served!

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

Childhood dream come true

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

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

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

The fly-by was spectacular

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Josh Cahil – gotravelyourway.com

Stefan Unterwegs – globaltraveler.tv

Brian Kelly and Zach Honig – thepointsguy.com

Sam Chui – samchui.com