Hainan Boeing 787 Economy Review

Those of you that follow the @londonspotter Instagram page will know that Raj is currently jetting around China reviewing brand new airlines and aircraft types exclusively for us. Earlier in July he flew from London to Changsha in Hainan’s 787 business class. Wanting to give you guys, our dedicated readers, the best possible coverage of a new airline to the website, I decided to jump on-board with them to check out their Boeing 787 Dreamliner economy class.

B-2729 lining up for it’s departure from Dublin

With Chinese tourism having contributed a whopping £26.5 million to Edinburgh’s economy, It makes perfect business sense for an airline to launch a direct air link between Scotland and China. When Hainan Airlines entered the Scottish aviation market, they initially flew the route on Airbus A330-300 aircraft. However, demand has proven so popular that the airline took the decision to upgrade the service to a 787 Dreamliner.

Hainan fly from Beijing to Edinburgh then onto Dublin every Tuesday and Saturday under flight number HU749, and from Beijing to Dublin then Edinburgh every Thursday and Sunday as flight HU751. With each sector bookable individually, I hopped on from Edinburgh to the Irish capital to try them for myself.

Having never flown from Edinburgh before, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. After boarding the airport shuttle from the hotel to the terminal, I immediately noticed the array of carriers that stood parked waiting for the mornings first passengers. Regionals such as Loganair and Flybe had a presence, but the most noticeable tails were that of the British Airways jets waiting to make the short flights back to London’s airports. All were dwarfed however by the distinctive red and yellow tail of the Hainan 787.

Hainan’s 787 sitting at the gate in Edinburgh

Inside the terminal, check in desks 41-45 were allocated for flight HU749. With only a handful of passengers checking in for the Edinburgh to Dublin sector, and even fewer staying on until Beijing, the airline could of easily coped with just two desks open. Security on the other hand wasn’t as quiet. I had expected it to be fairly busy but with an expected queueing time of 20 minutes, I decided that spending just £5 for the fast track security was worth it. After passing through security I made my way to the departure gate which was just a short walk away.

HU749 Edinburgh – Dublin:

I have flown my fair share of Dreamliners in past, but none of them in economy; for this simple reason, I was intrigued to see how it compares to my previous economy long haul flights on the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777.

Seat selection came free of charge when booking my flight, so I knew that I need not worry about getting seat 37K, a window seat with a superb view! Luckily for me when boarding only the aisle seat was occupied on my row, leaving both myself and my fellow passenger relieved that we wouldn’t have to do any fighting for the middle arm rests. After a quick photo shoot of the cabin, the Captain of the flight made his introductions in both Chinese and English and shortly afterwards we pushed back. He explained that he had 37 years of flying experience and that we would be climbing to a cruising altitude of 34,000 feet on our short 46 minute flight to the Irish east coast.

The view from seat 37K!

Upon take off from Edinburgh’s runway 24, I opened my hearty In-flight meal which consisted of a sole Ham & Cheese sandwich and a bottle of water that was handed out by the crew upon boarding. It was a rather odd meal choice I thought, especially considering the listed meal service for this flight was ‘Breakfast’. With the flight being so short I wasn’t expecting a full hot meal service to be offered, but the food choice could have been tailored to the flight timing better in my opinion.

Not quite what I expected as my In-flight meal…

As most of the passengers from the Beijing – Edinburgh sector had disembarked in Scotland, It gave me chance to have a wonder and grab some photo’s. To my surprise the business class cabin directly in front of economy was completely empty! The 2-2-2 configuration gave it a really spacious feel; but I won’t go into too much detail, you can read all about Hainan Business Class in Raj’s review here. Heading back to economy, the cabin is set in a 3-3-3 layout. This for me works a lot better on long haul aircraft, it gives the cabins a smaller more intimate vibe but doesn’t leave passengers feeling as if their personal space is being invaded by the person next to you. With 177 sitting in economy when fully loaded, this Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner offers a generous 31-32” of legroom per seat. This was more than ample for me to get comfortable and have my giant pink rucksack underneath the seat. Quite simply, It’s a seat that I would be more than happy to spend a long haul flight sat in.

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Between grabbing some photo’s and beginning to type up this review, I didn’t have much time to check out the In-flight Entertainment options offered. A quick flick through gave me many films suited to both Asian and European travellers. In terms of the latest Hollywood releases I was struggling to find them. The seat back screen is some 15” which gives a clear picture to anyone watching. In the seat pocket was the In-flight magazine and, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t read or understand any of it as It was all printed in Chinese!

Other than pointing out the emergency exits on the aircraft, myself nor many other passengers had any interaction with the flight crew. They were however, proudly showing off their brand new uniform which looked immaculate.

Almost as quickly as we had taken off, the Captain began our descent into a rather gloomy looking Dublin and before long we had touched down. We taxied then waited for a Qatar 787 to vacate from our gate so we could pull onto stand.

On final approach into Dublin

As I disembarked, I left feeling satisfied with my Hainan experience. For a mere £70 I had flown from Edinburgh to Dublin with a 5* Skytrax rated airline, and not with a certain low cost Irish carrier that need not be named. I would certainly love to fly with them again to experience their economy product In full swing on a much longer flight to more exotic destination than Dublin!

Note: This review is independent and not endorsed by Hainan Airlines In an way.

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Qatar Airways 787 Business Class Review




For our regular readers out there, you will know that we have tried and tested our fair share of Qatar Airways’ products. Our view of the airline is simple, we love it! In February, Raj was invited on board the delivery flight of the Airbus A350-1000 from Toulouse to Doha. It’s fair to say I was very jealous of this, so when I was given the opportunity to fly out to Doha and cover the opening day of the IATA International Ground Handling Conference, I jumped at the chance!

Qatar Airways fly daily from Birmingham to Doha using Boeing 787-8 aircraft and directly compete with Emirates for the crown of best long-haul carrier from BHX. Flying to over 80 countries and serving more than 150 destinations, Qatar certainly do their best to be the number one choice when flying long haul. Having flown on both British Airways & Air Canada 787 Dreamliner’s in recent months, I had high hopes that this Qatari jet would live up to the standard of those fantastic flights.

As a frequent flyer, I tend to book all my flights through SkyScanner for great prices and Momondo for amazing business class deals. Try it for yourself!

Qatar Airways fly daily between Birmingham and Doha on Boeing 787-8 Aircraft.

Living only 10 minutes from Birmingham Airport meant I could afford to leave the house a little later than normal when catching a flight. After a short taxi ride, in which I happened to see my aircraft (A7-BCX) abandon it’s approach and go around, I arrived at the terminal. When walking into the building, I made my way to the Qatar Airways check in desks, where to my surprise I found them completely empty. After a brief chat with the girls at the desk, I was given my boarding pass and made my way through fast track security and into departures.

Qr34 birmingham – doha:

Whilst making my way up to Gate 45, I was met by the Airport Manger for Qatar. He invited me to pre board the aircraft, explore the cabin and grab some photos. The cabin is set in a 1-2-1 configuration and my assigned seat, 2E, was in the middle of this cabin. Not wanting to miss the views on our way down to Doha, I had a chat with Ida (the Cabin Manager in charge of today’s fabulous crew) and found myself now sat in window seat 2K.  Boarding was relatively quick as today’s flight was only half full and soon after boarding was completed the crew armed the doors and cross checked them in preparation for our departure.

The immaculate Business Class cabin set in the 1-2-1 configuration.

Seats in the Business class cabin can convert into a fully lie flat bed if required. Adjustable armrests and lumbar support ensure that all can be comfortable when flying with Qatar. A 17” television equipped with the Oryx One IFE System is located above a folding table which can be extended fully when dining or working. Storage compartments are seemingly everywhere but are designed perfectly to blend in with their surroundings and a universal plug and USB socket offer the tech savvy travellers the option to stay charged and connected during their flight. This cabin definitely oozes class but perhaps falls just a bit behind the brand new and innovative QSuite. See the pictures in the slideshow below to check out the awesome cabin.

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Unfortunately due to the go around on the inbound sector to Birmingham we had a delay to our scheduled departure time of 16:00, and found ourselves pushing back at 16:45, 45 minutes late. Fortunately due to the close proximity of the terminal building to the runway, we were soon lined up on Runway 33 ready to start our 6 hour 40 minute journey to Doha. Climbing up to 41,000 feet, our routing took us north out of Birmingham and then out east over the North Sea and across Central Europe.

The crew had come around prior to departure and taken our orders from the Business Class Menu. Qatar operate a “Dine on Demand” system onboard with a wide selection of appetising dishes which were made available and would be served fresh accompanied with a selection of warm breads and olive oils. Choosing to eat not long after take off, the crew came around to set my table and  offer me a drink before my Arabic Mezze appetiser arrived. This was soon followed by the Paneer Tikka Masala and Gourmet Ice Cream. Most people would have you believe that plane food is disgusting, today this definitely was not the case. Look at the pictures below to see the incredible display.

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My attention soon turned away from food and onto the Inflight Entertainment. A noise cancelling headset is provided free of charge for all passengers and is only compatible with the Oryx One system. Oryx offers the latest Hollywood, Bollywood and International films as well as a selection of classics. TV shows are offered although the selection wasn’t as wide as the films and various different music albums covering a variety of genres could be selected.  The picture and sound quality on the Business Class screen was second to none.

They say time flies when you’re having fun, and it sure did on this occasion. Our approach into Hamad International Airport was signalled by light chop that even Delta Airlines would be proud of! Flying into Doha guarantees a scenic approach whatever time of the day it is. The bright lights of The Pearl, the city skyline and the Iconic Sheraton Hotel guided us all the way onto Runway 16R.

Business Class Cabin Inflight
TO SUMMARISE:

From the moment I stepped on board to the moment the doors opened in Doha, I was made to feel welcome and recognized by the fabulous crew who genuinely care and take pride in their job. An intimate cabin of just 22 seats allows passengers to relax and unwind in comfort and style. Qatar Airways have got this product perfected, and it is one I certainly cannot wait to fly again!

Disclaimer: This trip was provided by Qatar Airways as part of the IATA Conference trip. All of the views that are expressed in this review are my own and have been in no way influenced by the airline.

 

ENJOY THIS?  Why not check out our Qatar Airways Airbus A380 Business Class Review!

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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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American Airlines 787-9 Economy Review

American Airlines’ 787 Dreamliner dominates most international routes out of Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD). I was supposed to be flying from Chicago O’Hare to Shanghai Pudong (PVG) with the service of Main Cabin Extra in seat 11A. However, due to adverse weather conditions and  my previous flight from Dayton being late by 45 minutes, I missed miss my connection to Shanghai. American then rebooked me on a flight to Tokyo Narita (NRT) and then connecting from there with ANA on flight NH921. Luckily for me, the flight to Tokyo is also on a 787-8 Dreamliner. Although I wasn’t too pleased to find out I was moved to seat 19K (a middle seat in the exit row) which American still considers as Main Cabin Extra; they wouldn’t refund me the difference for the seating. I wasn’t happy about being stuck in the middle seat after $189 for my original window seat.

Once on board, I got to my seat and it wasn’t all that bad, I ended up having 8 feet of space in front of me which offered some consolation for the middle seat! Minutes after we finished boarding, the captain informed us that we would have to wait around 20 minutes for deicing which turned out to be a huge lie as we sat for 90 minutes before we even stated de-icing, owing to a large queue at O’Hare.

Deicing was extensive and delayed the flight by quite a margin.

After a long 2 hours of waiting at the gate, we finally started taxiing to the runway – which, surprisingly, took a relatively small amount of time.

Sunset over the Pacific.

Around 20 minutes after departure, cabin crew started serving us drinks. American has a very good selection of drinks onboard and I chose Dr Pepper. Soon after the drink service, they began to serve meals, there was chicken with shrimp or beef noodles, I chose the beef noodles, to my surprise it tasted phenomenal, good job American!

Mood lighting then came on after they collected litter. Although the mood lighting created a very relaxing atmosphere, I wasn’t tired so settled in for a movie. In the exit row of seats, you have to pull the tray table and IFE out of the armrest, thus slightly hampering seat width. However, to make up for that, they offered the movie “IT” which has been one of the films on my “must see” list!

The seats on the Dreamliner were fairly comfortable for the 13 and a half hour flight however I would of liked them to be a bit wider. My original plan was to lean on the window to sleep but I found myself having trouble in the middle. I only slept for 2 hours on this long flight which wasn’t fantastic. I did manage to sleep through the distribution of landing cards for immigration in Japan and when I got up to ask the flight attendant about this, she was rude and said she couldn’t help me because she was “busy” for whatever reason. This was disappointing.

The iconic 787 cabin.

A bit later, we got a little snack which consisted of a Turkey Sandwich and some ice cream, the sandwich was great but the ice cream was hard as rock so I didn’t eat that. In the galley, there was a little snack bar with chips, breads, and cookies that anyone could walk up and take, I didn’t take a lot of food but I did hang out there for quite a while, serving as a good place to stretch and walk around on these long trans-pacific journeys.

American’s “Snack” Meal Service.

Soon after, we recieved our final meal service and began our descent, that meal was a ham and cheese filled croissant which was really good, the croissant was soft and the meat was warm along with the cheese. A nice touch. About 20 minutes before landing the flight attendants told my neighbours and I, since we are in the exit row, that we had to put our bags back in the overhead locker and after we did, in what felt like a blink of an eye, we touched down in Tokyo.

Once I got off the plane, there were lots of gate agents helping everyone with connections since our plane was delayed, I had around 25 minutes for my connection which was not enough for me at all but lucky for me an agent helped me rush through security and she took me on a bus to my gate. The bus ride was around 10 minutes and it gave a really good view of the airport but it was night time so I couldn’t snag any good pictures without glare. To conclude the trip, due to the delayed arrival of my flight, I missed my onward connection and wasn’t able to be with my family for Christmas.

In conclusion I have to say this wasn’t my greatest experience in the skies, however not my worst either. The Dreamliner is a fantastic plane to fly on however, I feel that American would have made my trip a lot better if I wasn’t stuck in that middle seat for so long. If you are ever flying to Japan, I would definitely recommend ANA or JAL over a US carrier just because, at least in my experience, Japanese carriers are more enjoyable to fly on.


This guest review is written by Fengning Liu. To apply for our February Guest Review position, go to www.londonspotter.co.uk/guestreview, fill in the form and send us a sample of your work. 

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British Airways B787-9 Premium Economy Review

When British Airways announced they would start to operate the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the Heathrow-Madrid route I booked the inaugural flight for October 29th and couldn’t wait. I was, however, invited to attend the Inaugural JL42 flight to Tokyo which ultimately took priority.

I knew that I wanted to come back and try this route one day so on January 13th I was accompanied by James on BA460 to Madrid onboard G-ZBKN, a Boeing 787-9 model.

James joined me for today’s adventure!

My journey began in a strange way – I was unable to check in online because I had an ‘unmatched E-Ticket’. I, therefore, had to check in at the airport. I was worried that this would mean I was going to be given a poor seat but in actual fact, the flight was pretty empty so I was able to sit where I wanted – the Premium Economy cabin in seat 20K.

The airport wasn’t very busy at all and I was through security in under five minutes. I hadn’t been through normal security for a while at T5 as I had been using ‘Fast Track’ for most of my flights beforehand. I was really impressed with the speed at which we were airside.

Once through security I managed to kill time by having a bite to eat and heading to the Concourse C gates on the transfer train. Flying out of C gates can be very hectic and confusing at Heathrow but I found the procedure easy and care-free this time around. I organised pre-boarding to the aircraft for shots, went for a coffee and before I knew it we were ready to go.

Being such a quiet flight, boarding was organised in a very relaxed manner and we took our seats ready for the flight.

I headed to the back as boarding began.

The Cabin:

British Airways have brought in an updated cabin for the B787-9 aircraft. It differs from the -8 model as it has a First cabin at the front of the aircraft instead of only ‘Club World’ (BA’s long-haul business class). The First cabin has 8 semi-enclosed suites which have been updated from the old First suite. The cabin is laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration and offers 73” of pitch and 22” of width. You can see the difference between old and new below.

 

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The Club section of the aircraft is split into two cabins. The first is a cosier one with only two rows (6 and 7) and the second is a much larger addition covering rows 10 to 13. The Club seats are laid out in the usual formation of alternate staggered seating over a 2-3-2 configuration. Each row has seven seats however, three are facing backwards. Each seat has direct cabin access but seats in the middle of the cabin (E seats) are ones to avoid at all costs. While sitting in this seat I felt a little claustrophobic and closed in which isn’t the feeling you want in business class. Overall the cabin has a really nice feel to it and if you’re flying Club I would definitely recommend getting a seat in the front cabin. The seat offers 72” of pitch (note that is only 1” less than First) and 20” of width.

The second Club cabin. A lot larger.

The next cabin is the Premium Economy cabin or World Traveller Plus as BA call it. The cabin is nicely laid out to feel cosy and at the same time very spacious. The cabin is laid out in a 2-3-2 configuration and covers rows 16-21. The seat to avoid in this cabin is the window seat in row 21 as there is no window. My initial impression of the cabin was good: large seats with a spacious feel. As I sat down it struck me just how good the comfort really was. The 38 inches of legroom is plenty to stretch out your legs and is far better than the Club Europe product BA offer on their short haul fleet.

The Premium economy cabin

The seat recline is the best I have seen on a Premium product which may sound like a positive but I found it to have a negative impact. While most modern Premium Economy products have seat shells protecting the passengers behind when you recline, BA have opted not to install this. Seeing as the recline is so good, you can easily end up with a seat in your face. This is something other premium economies such as Air France and Japan Airlines don’t have. This disappointed me. It is possible to see this from either angle, however. If you need to sleep, the recline really is excellent. The footrest under the seat in front is a fantastic addition to the cabin, too.

Premium economy mid-flight. Very spacious indeed.

The final cabin on the aircraft is the economy cabin or World Traveller. This cabin is configured in a 3-3-3 layout and covers rows 30-43.

The economy cabin feels very big but at the same time very cramped. The 128 seats are crammed in a nine-abreast setup. The legroom offered is 31” which doesn’t seem too bad when compared to other airlines. The cabin did, however, feel tight and no way near as comfortable as the Premium cabin.

Less attractive and less comfortable in my opinion.

We pushed back and departed from runway 09R at 13.30 before banking right and heading through the Bay of Biscay to Madrid Barajas Airport. We began our descent at around 16.20 local time and landed on runway 32L at 16.51. The landing was slightly turbulent but it was a great novelty being able to complete a two-and-a-half-hour flight on a 787.

Mid-cruise – what a view

Service

Being a European flight, BA operated it just as they would an A320. The economy section was offered the usual buy on board products from M&S and Club was given a complimentary meal. The First cabin wasn’t used for this flight as it is only utilised on short haul when the Club cabin is overbooked.

I found the crew to be a mixed bag. A special mention goes out to both Arthur and Declan who were attentive and a great laugh. The cabin manager, on the other hand, came across as rude and easily irritable. This was disappointing and reinforced my opinion of preferring Euro Fleet crew.

Entertainment

One of the major perks of flying the 787 on short haul routes is the ability to use IFE (In-Flight-Entertainment). The screens are the same in both economy and premium economy which, in my honest opinion, was pretty poor. The screens had a decent selection of films, games and music but were poor in quality, slow and had terrible touchscreen responsivity. British Airways haven’t, unfortunately, rolled out WiFi on their 787 fleet so connectivity wasn’t available during the flight.

Premium’s entertainment.

Another major benefit of the Premium cabin is that you get USB plugs in your seat. This can be very handy for keeping you charged during a long flight.

Bonus points to Premium

 

Overall, I had a fantastic time onboard British Airways’ B787 aircraft and was really impressed with both the Club and World Traveller Plus cabins. I was less impressed, however, with the First cabin, which I thought was a nice improvement from the old cabin but still didn’t impress me as a First Class offering, and the economy or World Traveller cabin which was uncomfortable and seemed very cramped. The crew were impressive but the Cabin Manager really let them down with her attitude.

If you’re interested in flying a 787 but can’t afford to fly it long haul then fly to Madrid and experience the Dreamliner in all its glory. A fantastic aircraft and an awesome experience.

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Japan Airlines ‘Super Economy’ Flight Review



As you read last week, I was onboard the first JAL 787 Service from London to Tokyo in Premium Economy and wrote how impressed I was with that. Well, I wanted to know what went on further back in the aircraft. I knew JAL had incredible reviews in business class so wasn’t too fussed about adding to them. What interested me was what flying from London to Tokyo in economy class was like. This flight is bookable on Momondo.

The economy cabin

For my return journey I was onboard JA841J, another three class 787 just like my outbound leg.

Japan Airlines have focused on the launch of JL41 for a while now and as part of their sales push, have added some immense extras. When buying an economy ticket, you aren’t simply treated to a ticket from A to B, but a range of pre-flight activities to get you in the mood for your flight.  For that reason, I have named this review ‘Super Economy’. Let me take you through my experience of JL41 by beginning with the first perk:

1. Complimentary Heiwajima Spa access to all passengers

Picture by Heiwajima Onsen

The flight times (2.45am takeoff and 6.25am landing) of JL41 may look controversial and horrible at first sight to lots of travelers but this slot has, in fact, been chosen for a reason. The early takeoff means that passengers can and probably will fall asleep almost as soon as the aircraft hits the skies. To help passengers do this, passengers are able to use the spa any time after 6pm on the night of travel. To better the experience, they are also treated to a free bus ride to Haneda once they’re finished.

When I first saw that the spa was on offer, I booked my ticket and thought nothing much of it. It wasn’t until I arrived at the spa that I understood how big a place this was and how out of place I, initially, felt. My first observations of the area were not great, I have to admit. I got off the Tokyo Monorail at around 5.45pm, got the 15-minute walk up on Google Maps and walked through the area of Heiwajima which is basically a huge lorry and cargo terminal. I found the place in good time but couldn’t seem to find the actual spa for a while. It was on floor 2F which wasn’t fantastically signposted until I reached floor 3.

Nevertheless, I walked in, had my name checked off the list and got handed my bag which included soft clothes and two towels. Now call me naive for not fully knowing what to expect but I was amazed by the size of the place. Once I had undressed and entered the spa room I went around looking at the different options. There were around 10 different types of hot tub/baths, a sauna, shower stations and many other points of use. I experienced all of the features of the spa before getting out, and to tell the honest truth, in a state of complete relaxation. I got changed into the clothes they provided, shaved and went to lie down to relax even more. The experience was just fantastic. I was SO impressed. Once I was ready to leave there was still a lot of time to kill before the buses back to Haneda (00.20 and 1.20) so I headed back through the lorry terminal to Haneda feeling very refreshed.

This photo sums up why the spa was a perfect choice before my flight

 

2. Complimentary JAL Sakura Lounge access

The upstairs of the JAL Sakura Lounge

I arrived back at Haneda with plenty of time to spare and headed for the lounge to crack on with some work. Unfortunately, once I arrived at the lounge it became clear that economy passengers were only welcome after 11.30pm. I later realised I should have known this as we were handed a note at check-in letting us know. Oops. With that in mind, I headed back to the terminal and found a quiet spot to work at.

Haneda International Terminal is a long terminal but very simple in its design, which I like. It’s not hard to find your gate with this easy system and there is one food court for all restaurants. At 11.30pm I headed back to the lounge and found the next catch. Economy passengers were only welcome to use floor 5. A quiet area upstairs from the lounge with its own food selection. I am really impressed, however, that JAL have been able to offer economy passengers the lounge experience while keeping their prices competitive. The lounge was a very comfortable experience and it looked as if passengers were in good spirits as we went to board the flight.

Boarding began smoothly at 2.25am and we pushed back for takeoff as soon as we could. Our takeoff time was 2.50, 5 minutes late. We took off to the Northwest but banked right straight afterwards and flew down south before banking again and heading up the left of Yokohama. Lights went out straight after takeoff and the cabin, for the most part, fell into deep sleep. I woke up over central Russia, four and a half hours later, feeling very rested. We were cruising at 40,000ft and were around five hours into the journey. It wasn’t until this point that I realized how important perk number three was.

3. An updated and more spacious configuration

The updated configuration

There is only one economy cabin as the aircraft is premium heavy (lots of business class seats). The cabin has 11 rows of economy seats and is unique from other airlines by offering a 2-4-2 configuration rather than your standard 3-3-3. They are one of the only airlines I have ever experienced to do so and on research, the only airline that operates this cabin on the 787. This dramatically changes the feel of the cabin and helps passengers to feel like they have a lot more space than they normally would. By going eight abreast instead of nine, JAL have managed to increase seat width to 18.9” and seat pitch (gap between seats) to 33”.

More spacious than other economy cabins I have flown

As this is the case, JAL only offer 88 economy seats on the whole aircraft. I did a bit of research into other economy products to see how this compared. ANA, JAL’s major competitor on the Tokyo-London route, operate the B777 to London Heathrow. Their economy cabin is setup in a 3-3-3 layout and the seats offer 31” of pitch and only 16.5” of width. A huge difference for this mammoth flight.

Only 88 seats in the whole cabin!

JAL have promoted this new night flight saying that you arrive in London feeling refreshed and ready to start the day. To confidently say this, JAL needed to ensure passenger comfort to all passengers, not just those in upper cabins. I can confirm that, after flying both economy and premium economy, JAL’s evident policy of ensuring comfort over cash has worked.

But increasing seat space isn’t all that JAL have done. The new Sky Suite product is unique from other economy class products in other ways, too. New earphone plugs have been fitted to allow passengers to listen to the IFE using their own headphones instead of the double plugged airline ones, AC power plants have been fitted underneath every seat, accessory holders have been added to the seat back pocket, screens have been updated and now carry 10.6” of width and space under each seat has been completely cleared to allow unobstructed space to place your briefcase or backpack.

My screen was slightly smaller than the others as I was at the front of the cabin – still sufficient

The JAL seat is hands down the best economy seat I have ever sat in. JAL have boasted that they ‘strived to create the world’s largest class of space and comfort in economy class’ and, in my opinion, they must have come close or even done so. The Sky Suite economy seat was amazing.

Around six and a half hours after taking off, still somewhere over Russia, the crew began the days inflight meal. To be totally honest, I was a little disappointed with the choice of meal the crew gave. Seeing as it was around midnight UK time and 8am Japanese time, what was offered was very strange. The choice was between ‘Hamburg Steak and Fettuccine’ and ‘Stir-fried shrimp in Chilli Sauce with Rice’. This struck me as a choice I would be offered for dinner and not breakfast. I went for the steak and fettuccine and have to say I was more impressed with the sides and pudding than I was with the main course. My favourite side dish was an octopus and potato salad which was presented fantastically and tasted great. Other sides included a basic salad, bread roll, miso soup and a chicken dish which was stone cold. For pudding was a coconut mange with apple compote. The octopus dish and pudding were both very impressive offerings for an economy product and something I would highlight. That, however, didn’t take away from the strange choice of ‘breakfast’ that I assumed would be offered.

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After meal service, an ice-cream was served and the cabin lights were slowly re-dimmed for the cabin to fall back asleep. Service was then halted, snacks were laid out at the front of the cabin and people slept until the next cabin service one hour and ten minutes before landing. The final service offered a chocolate brownie and any final drinks requests. 

The final service

We then cleared the floor, were offered hot towels and descended into London Heathrow where we landed bang on time with a beautiful nighttime approach over London Heathrow.

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I have to say I was extremely surprised and impressed with what JAL’s economy class had to offer. Before getting onboard I wasn’t expecting the levels of comfort or space that I had. I knew that JAL had striven to better their economy product but I can now confidently say that they succeeded. JAL’s economy class isthe best long-haul offering I have ever used and would highly recommend it to all of you.

When travelling from Tokyo to London it seems to me that JL41 and JAL are the obvious choice. With spa access, lounge access, flight times that encourage rest and one of the world’s best cabins, why would you not choose to fly Japan Airlines?

I would like to thank Eva who looked after me during the flight really well. One of the sweetest and nicest cabin crew I have ever encountered. Thank you Eva.

disclaimer: this trip was provided was wholly provided by Japan Airlines.

More Boeing 787 Reviews on LondonSpotter:

Japan Airlines B787 Premium Economy Review

On October 29th, Japan Airlines increased their operations between London and Tokyo by adding a new direct, early morning flight. This time, however, it was utilising their state of the art B787-8 Dreamliner over the bigger, four class, Boeing 777.

The first departure with me onboard! Andy Caterall

LondonSpotter was lucky enough to be onboard this flight and be involved in the celebrations surrounding it. So here’s my story of the first ever JL42.

Lets hit it! Andy Caterall

The ticket I flew on was a premium economy option. This was something I was really looking forward to as I had previously reviewed other premium economy products in the 787 and this was to be a nice comparison.

Japan Airlines have a fleet of 35 Boeing 787s with a further four on order. These Dreamliners are a mix of -8 variants and the slightly longer -9 variant. Only eight of the 25 -8 models are equipped with the premium economy cabin. It was decided that these models would operate the London route. I flew onboard JA837A, a two year old aircraft, in almost mint condition.

JA837A was in perfect condition. Andy Caterall

My day began nice and early as I rocked up for the opening of the check-in counter for the new flight. I was proudly told by the check-in agent that I was the first passenger to ever check in at the airport for JL42. How exciting! I headed up the stairs and through security at Terminal 3, which I hadn’t flown out of in quite a while, to head straight off for breakfast.

Premium perks. First to check-in.

JAL make use of their OneWorld partner British Airways’ lounge in Terminal 3. The lounge resembles the galleries lounges at T5 and I  have to say I quite like these lounges. The food and drink on offer is usually very good. I was lucky enough to get chatting to the chief B747 pilot at Carglux over breakfast which was a lovely surprise.

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Gate 31 was the setting for the inaugural ceremony and JAL staff from both the UK and Japan were dressed up for the occasion. Two actors, dressed up as the Queen’s Guards, led the entertainment and people flocked to get a picture with them. After speeches from the captain, JAL Senior Vice President of Europe, Africa and the Middle East and an appearance from the Japanese Ambassador, the ribbon was cut and JL42 began preparing for its first ever LHR departure.

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The mood on the flight was definitely one of excitement as we boarded the aircraft. Each passenger was handed a bag of JAL goodies and wished on their way by dressed up JAL employees. I thought it was great how the mood wasn’t too serious and everyone had an enjoyable time.

So, onto the flight (literally).

Once boarding and ground prep was complete, we pushed back and departed runway 27R at around 9.50am after a long taxi. This began our 11 hour and 22 minute journey.

The first thing that struck me was the amount of amenities we were given in the premium economy cabin. On my seat waiting for me were slippers, a moisture mask, toothbrush and toothpaste, an eye mask, ear plugs, a warm blanket and a cushion. This really impressed me.

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Straight away after taking our seats the crew were round offering the daily papers. The first round was Japanese and the second was English. I took both before realizing I didn’t speak a word of Japanese. Oops. Once the crew had been round with the papers, they brought around the premium economy menu for the day. Although there wasn’t a whole range of choice, it was nice to see premium economy passengers being given a menu.

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Hot towels were also delivered around the cabin which is where the crew slipped up. All other crews I have witnessed will deliver the hot towels then return straight to the front of the cabin where they will take them back. I ended up binning this one in my empty coke cup. No big deal.

One place JAL really pleased me was through the snack options. As soon as we were seated, newspapered and hot toweled we were given a small unbranded bag of nibbles. They were amazing! During the whole 11 hour flight they stocked up a basket of them behind the premium economy cabin and I have to admit I probably took the majority of them. The other snacks were all Japanese bags of small bites and they were all excellent. This, too, impressed me.

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The premium economy seat is part of the ‘Sky Suite’ series cabin on the 787. The seat bears certain resemblances to the seat used by Air France on their 787 in that the seat itself is within a hard structure. What this means is that you can recline all you like but the person behind you doesn’t get a screen in their face. A great feature. I was at the front of the cabin which carries the obvious bonus of a having heaps of legroom. This was, I admit, a privilege. Being able to fully stretch my legs made the 11 hours a lot easier. While this was great, premium passengers behind me didn’t have it too bad off either with a very respectable 42” of pitch. You can tell JAL have put lots of work into improving this seat because of the little details they have added.

The fantastic premium cabin

The seats are equipped with coat hangars, cup holders, AC power points, USB power points, centre dividers (which give better privacy) and finally my favourite feature of all – the reading light next to your head. This little light has far more power than that from over your head and while it lights up your keyboard or magazine perfectly, it doesn’t affect your neighbour if they are trying to sleep. I used this lamp a lot and loved it. The screens in premium don’t disappoint, either. With 12.1” of width they are more than sufficient.

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Something that instantly struck me when I reached my seat was the interesting layout of the cabin. The rows don’t correspond at all and are, instead, in a staggered system. I’m not 100% sure as to the reason for this but it struck me as soon as I saw it. Nevertheless, the cabin is set up in a 2-3-2 configuration allowing plenty of aisle width. The seat is one of the best premium seats I have ever witnessed. The 42″ of pitch and 19.2″ of width provides all the comfort you’ll need for this flight. What really impressed me was the recline. When you push the little button on your seat, it rolls out into your bed. The seat doesn’t become lie-flat but it gives it a good shot by all means. This was something that surprised me but also one of my favourite things about the seat. The second button corresponds with the footrest. When held down, a footrest comes up which provides awesome comfort and is a great feature JAL have added.

The beautiful premium economy cabin.

The IFE was a choice between films, audio, games, news or flight map. I, obviously, went for the flight map and enjoyed the level of interaction the system offered. Toward the end of the flight I watched Top Gun and the beginning of Now You See Me 2. I thought the choice of films was a little disappointing and needed some updating. A huge win, however, when flying JAL is that onboard WiFi is available. While the cost may be considered a little high ($18 for the entire flight or $10 an hour) it makes a huge difference on such a long flight. I used the WiFi on my laptop to connect to my website and emails and on my phone to blog the flight live (which had tremendous feedback I was happy to hear). Having WiFi is a complete game changer for me as it meant I barely used my IFE and instead was connected for the whole flight.

Around 1.5 hours into our flight the food service began. Another perk of being at the front of the cabin is that you are served first! (I’ve learnt the hard way by being at the back on many occasions) The choice for our lunch was ‘Slow cooked Beef with Red Wine Sauce’ or ‘Chicken Curry’. I knew which one sounded more appealing, so went for it. “Number one for me, Arigato Gazaimas”

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It was served instantly and was occupied by a lot of sides. For what is basically an economy meal, it was really impressive. The best part was probably the added miso soup which was amazing! The side wishes were a varied choice yet complimented the meal greatly. Overall, not a bad meal at all. Pudding was delivered quickly after with a choice of green tea or coffee and Hagen Dazs Vanilla ice-cream.

After lunch the light went down as the sun begun to set over Russia. I decided it was time to crack on with some work but couldn’t help feeling the urge to go to sleep, just as the sun was. I quickly remembered it was 2.30pm and ploughed on.

As I was working my lovely crew member, Asuza, came over with the routing chart and facts from our cruise that the pilot had filled out for me. This was a really nice touch as I wasn’t expecting it at all. During the remainder of the flight she brought me some lovely udon noodles and some model planes from the shop. It was really sweet how attentive she was.

Thank you Mr. Captain

Around two hours before landing, the lights came back up and another hot towel was delivered and not collected. Our final meal tasted fantastic but was an odd one. It was hard to know if I was in the time zone of Japan (around 4.30am) and if so why was I having breakfast? Or if in the time of the UK (8.30pm) why was I having an omelet for dinner? Nevertheless, I thought the omelet was fantastic, as was the sausage on top. The meal was accompanied by a mango and vanilla Yeo Valley, always a good choice, a croissant and some fruit (which I ate with my chopsticks to impress the Japanese woman next to me). While this service seemed a little strange because of timing, it was great meal service.

Really good meal

As we began our descent I filled in a landing card (worrying that the border guards wouldn’t like that I was only in the country for a day) and gazed into the distance at the tiny glow of light of the following day.

We packed away, cleared the floor and experienced one of the most amazing approaches I have ever witnessed including the sunrise, Mount Fuji, Tokyo, and the morning ships.

A beautiful view on approach

Once we had landed I stayed behind to thank the crew for their amazing service. It had been an incredible flight with JAL with almost no hiccups one would expect on an inaugural flight.

JAL outshone any competition in my eyes with almost flawless service, an overwhelmingly comfortable cabin, inflight WiFi, and good food.

The premium cabin had fantastic levels of comfort for such a long flight and I couldn’t recommend it more to you all. A fantastic cabin by a fantastic airline.

Great comfort onboard

Well done and congratulations Japan Airlines!

 

A massive thank you to Andy Caterall for letting me use his pictures. He’s a photographer at LHR and you can check out more of his pictures on Instagram.

Want to read about JAL’s Economy Class? Click here to see why it is the BEST ECONOMY IN THE WORLD.

disclaimer: this trip was provided by Japan Airlines

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Virgin Atlantic 787 Economy Flight Review

On Friday 6th I was lucky enough to go to San Francisco for a United family day thanks to ThePointsGuy! As this was a last minute trip, I booked an economy ticket with Virgin Atlantic as it was the most efficient way of getting there and it gave me a stopover in LA, too.  I knew it was going to be a very long flight so had prepared for it beforehand in Terminal 3s No.1 Lounge. You can read all about it in my upcoming lounge review. The original flight time was meant to be 10hours and 20minutes however it turned out to be 11hours 30minutes. The aircraft operating my flight was a brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner going by the name of “Pearly Queen”. She was delivered to Virgin in March 2017 and is the newest of Virgin’s 787s.

G-VBOW at her gate

We boarded on time from Heathrow’s Terminal 3 and were greeted by a warm welcome and the classic purple glow that Virgin’s B787s use. My seat, 51k, had perfect window alignment, 31″ of pitch and 17.5″ of width. This legroom was sufficient for the long flight but nothing to brag about. Being at the back of the first economy cabin made it feel more spacious than it was as I had nobody behind me. The mesh material and large areas of brown exposed plastic on the seat made it feel very cheap, in my opinion. The cabin is laid out in a three class configuration. The setup holds Virgin’s Business Class product, ‘Upper Class’ in rows 1-11 in a 1-1-1 configuration, their premium product in rows 21-25 in a 2-3-2 configuration and finally economy in rows 45-68 in a 3-3-3 configuration. The aircraft has six toilets and three galleys.

The front economy cabin
The rear economy cabin

The IFE was very responsive and the matte screens allowed only the person sitting directly infront of the screen to see what was being played. The variety of movies was sufficient however choice of TV series were very limited. Each TV episode was met by a small 2 minute advert and the movies a 6 minute advert. The headphones provided were comfortable as they were on ear headphones however they crackled when the volume was maxed out, which was needed most of the time.

The inflight cockpit map

The meal service began shortly after take-off about. The meal itself was fine for me however they provided butter but no bread which I thought was very strange as nothing else with the meal could have been supplemented by butter. The choice of meal was beef or chicken. I went for beef and was impressed.

Chicken or beef? I went for beef.

Whilst crossing Greenland we experienced some moderate turbulence. The 787 handles turbulence very well but to the inexperienced flyer, the flex on the wing would have been a daunting sight. It was an impressive sight to behold. During the flight we received a few snacks at set intervals, these included a pastie, an ice-cream and pretzels. The flight attendants were, however, rarely in the cabin during the flight, so you couldn’t easily ask for something to eat. Unlike Norwegian’s 787s, Virgin have no option to purchase from your seat which disappointed me. I found myself getting very hungry during the cruise.

Beginning our descent
Land ahoy!

Even though it was a daytime flight there were no announcements from the flight-deck nor the cabin crew. Only a acknowledgement of our descent into LA. Landing into Los Angeles was buttery smooth and we parked at Terminal 2 with no trouble. Walking through security was a breeze and before I knew it I was outside the airport.

I always love flying on Boeing 787s and this flight didn’t change my opinion of them. The quieter engines, larger windows and modern feel are all factors that make me so inclined to choose it on a long-haul flight. Based on this I would choose Virgin Atlantic again. I was, however, disappointed with the service offered. The crew were rarely in the cabin during the flight which meant I was left hungry for most of the cruise.

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Norwegian B787-9 in Premium Class- Flight Review

If you’ve been reading my delivery reports recently, you’ll know that Norwegian are receiving B787s at a rapid rate. They currently have 32 on order but that will most likely be rising in the future. I flew one of their 787s on DY7016 – New York JFK to London Gatwick – in Norwegian’s ‘Premium’ cabin to see what they were offering.

Norwegian have both B787-8 and B787-9 Dreamliners in their fleet. The -8 variant has 32 premium seats and the -9 has 35. I flew on G-CJUI, a 787-9 model that was delivered to Norwegian in April 2017. The aircraft is setup with 42 rows – the first 5 rows are fitted with ‘Haeco model 3050’ premium seats in a 2-3-2 configuration and the following 37 with economy seats in a 3-3-3 configuration.

The comfort of the premium cabin really impressed me

The Premium seats offer a generous 46” of pitch and 19” of width. The legroom offered is actually the most you will find on any premium economy product on any airline behind Open Skies who offer an inch more. This gives you an idea of the generosity of the product. This compares to the economy seats which offer only 31” of pitch and 17” of width. My seat for the transatlantic flight was 3J.

The 787 Dreamliners boast a complete overhaul in onboard product from the old aircraft people are used to flying. Ranging from windows with automatic dimming to a state of the art cockpit, the 787 really is how the next generation of flying will look. The flight deck is similar to that of the B737MAX which I flew a few days earlier in terms of automation.

The flightdeck during ground preperation

The aircraft is powered by two Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines which generate a whopping 74,000lbs of thrust each. With that said, they are some of the quietest engines in the industry, thanks to noise reducing chevrons fitted to the rear. The aircraft has 3 galleys and nine toilets. The toilets are also fitted with mood lighting which automatically changes when the doors are locked and unlocked. The crew rest is fitted at the rear of the cabin above the rear galley.

The Trent 1000 engines that power the aircraft are one of the most silent in the industry

Premium passengers are treated to complimentary lounge access at available airports. One of those airports is New York JFK. Norwegian used to use the Korean Air lounge but have recently moved to the Alitalia Lounge at gate 3. I’d heard mixed reviews of Korean Air’s lounge but was eager to find out what the Alitalia lounge offered. The lounge offers complimentary WiFi which I found a little slow at times. There is no hot food available, just sandwiches and salads from the fridge, crisps and other light snacks and quite a wide range of soft drinks and alcoholic beverage. The lounge windows offered a view of a few gates and it was nice to watch the sun go down and some evening departures.

The view from the lounge

I sat down with a light dinner and did some work. While the lounge is a nice way of relaxing before a flight, it is nothing special.

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Once the cleaners were finished I was allowed free access onto the aircraft to photograph the cabin and meet the crew.

 

 

Our scheduled departure time was 23.00 but we were delayed during boarding and finally pushed back 20 minutes late at 23.20 – nothing major and handled very well by the cabin crew. After boarding, I was offered a drink and given a set of headphones by Louise who was operating as one of the two premium crew for the day. We took off from runway 22R at 23.50 and were offered another drink shortly after.

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We began our cruise at 39,000ft before ascending to 41,000ft until we hit the western point on Wales where we began to descend for arrival into LGW. The cruise was smooth apart from some very heavy turbulence over the eastern point of Canada. Dinner was served 50 minutes after takeoff at 12.40 New York time. For dinner, I was given a choice of ‘Savory Grilled Chicken Breast’, ‘Rich and Tender Grilled Beef Filet’ and ‘Seared Shrimp Basted in Creamy Lemon Beuree Sauce’. The meals in Premium are still served in Norwegian’s standard boxes. I would love to see a plated meal introduced to Norwegian’s menu. I went for the beef, seeing as I had chicken on the MAX trip up to New York.

Dinner is served

The meal was well presented and tasted good. I was, without a doubt, full for the rest of the trip. After the meal service, the whole cabin was offered tea or coffee and a choice of either Cognac or Bailey’s. This was a really nice touch.

Premium seats are fitted with flip-out IFE screens which come out of the middle arm rest. The screens are bigger than those in economy class and have a good selection of films and TV programs available. I really enjoyed the different maps that were available to use during the crossing and had these up for most of the flight. The IFE also has a nice feature which allows you to order drinks (complimentary for premium passengers) and snacks.

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Charging points are included in the premium seat which allows to work on the go. This compares to the economy product where there are two plugs per three seats.  The 787s haven’t, yet, been fitted with wifi which is a shame. I’d love to see this coming in the future.

Around an hour before landing  we were offered breakfast. I have to say I thought the breakfast was superb. I wasn’t expecting anything major for breakfast but was greeted with a really nice mix of food. My breakfast included a bread roll, slice of parma ham, ball of cream cheese, two slices of cheddar cheese and a selection of fruit pieces accompanied by a coffee. I was really impressed with the breakfast.

Breakfast was the best meal of the flight I thought

Perks of flying premium include a complimentary blanket, headphones, unlimited complimentary drinks, dinner, breakfast, pre-boarding and access out of the aircraft before economy passengers. Thanks to a good flight time we landed at 11.09am on runway 26L at London Gatwick, thus making up for the delays at JFK. Disembarkation was handled professionally and premium passengers were speedily whisked off the aircraft.

The premium seat offered by Norwegian is a cheaper option than most premium economies. I selected a random date in summer 2018 to compare prices. A premium economy fare with British Airways from LHR-JFK on July 17th will set you back £1707. On the same date, a Premium fare with Norwegian will cost you £502. Being a lot cheaper, you would expect Norwegian’s premium service to be a lot worse than that of its competitors but I didn’t find that. I found that I had a surplus of legroom (46” – more than any of its competitors in London) and enjoyed complimentary drinks throughout the flight. A premium fare also gives you the flexibility of taking two checked bags onboard, seat reservation and fast track access at selected airports. Upgrading to Norwegian’s premium fare from a basic economy fare, on my selected day in summer 2018, will cost you £140.

The comfort and value of the Premium cabin really impressed me

Norwegian’s premium seat offers better levels of comfort at a very competitive price and that should be taken advantage of by all you keen travelers.

Disclaimer: This trip was provided by Norwegian Air.

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Air France Premium Economy Review

Air France’s first 787 was delivered to them on November 26th 2016. When it was announced that the aircraft would operate on the LHR-CDG route, I booked immediately.
It is important to note that I booked the flight for February 14th but due to the aircraft going to tech in Cairo, the flight was operated by an A321. I called Air France who quickly and easily changed my booking to Saturday 25th of February. Very good customer service.

I arrived at Heathrow early enough to see my aircraft land and role into gate 11 at Heathrow’s Terminal 4. I wasn’t surprised to see fellow aviation bloggers and fans watch the arrival. There was a real sense of excitement to fly on this aircraft for the first time. I was allowed to board before Air France’s premium customers to get some photos of the aircraft’s interior.

Once onboard the Dreamliner I was allowed into the flightdeck for a few minutes and then led to my seat by Pascal, who was flying on the 787 for the first time. My seat was a premium economy seat, 10K, and had a fantastic view of the right engine.

In the premium cabin you get a fantastic window view and excellent sense of the huge size of the GEnx-1B engines. The configuration of the premium cabin is very impressive for the small cost at which you can sit in it. The setup is 2-3-2 which differs from the 3-3-3 cabin in economy. This means you can both sit with a friend on either side of the cabin to enjoy the flight together or sit alone in one of the seats and have a decent separation gap between you and your neighbour. The seats are supplied with headphones and reading lights in the middle for you to watch a film or read a book mid-flight. The seats are extremely comfortable and sit in a white shell which helps you not interfere in others personal space behind you. I was struck by both the comfort and the width of the seats which allow you to relax and enjoy the flight. The legroom is also very impressive. Admittedly, I was sitting in seat 10K which is at the front of the cabin but I could stretch my legs out fully and had two windows that I could look out of. Overall, a fantastic cabin on this aircraft and a great job by Air France.

As this was a morning flight, I was given a choice of coffee or tea and a croissant. They were both very tasty, but even better was the cost (free) which is becoming a rare novelty in economy cabins as airlines make cuts to increase their profit and allow reductions in price to oppose the rise of budget carriers.

The crew were one of the friendliest I have seen. Whether this was because they were all newly trained on the aircraft, I don’t know. They were happy to chat to me during the flight and were overly polite while serving customers. The feeling I got from them was one of real excitement to be flying on this new aircraft.

Conclusion

Air France have done a fantastic job with the design of this B787, especially in the premium cabin, and the crew were fantastic. I thought the flight was a really enjoyable one and I would recommend Air France to anyone. Professional, clean and very appealing. Well done Air France.