First up… have a look at the video below:

YouTube Preview Image

The bags appear to be gate checked, and have promptly been tossed from the jetbridge down to the loading area

The location of the incident has not disclosed, but it’s made the media on CBC News.

Air Canada has given a response on the Youtube page:

We apologize for the totally unacceptable mishandling of our passengers’ baggage captured on video. We are in the process of identifying the employees involved whose employment will be terminated pending the outcome of our investigation. Their actions clearly contravened our standard baggage handling procedures which require gate-checked bags to be hand carried to the ramp.

We take matters involving the protection of our customers’ personal possessions very seriously. The actions of these individuals are not representative of the vast majority of our employees who work hard every day to take care of our customers.

The following appeared on Twitter too:

ac

https://twitter.com/roachjames/statuses/457506935953424384

Well, whilst this isn’t on the scale of United Airlines breaks Guitars, it does put forward a salient point when you gate check your luggage…

… do you know exactly what’s happening with it?

Posted by Kevincm | 2 Comments

It’s Saturday again, and it’s time to put your seatback in the upright position, ensure you luggage is in the overhead bin and your tray table is stowed as we go to this week’s video.

This week, for those of us who have flown aboard A380s (or with some airlines, Boeing 777s and A330s) one of the more interesting flying sights is the pilot’s view when coming into land. On some aircraft, they broadcast the landing sequence.

This video by PilotEye.tv takes it one step further, with the view inside the cockpit as they complete the final 10 minutes of the flight, landing into San Francisco International aboard the inaugaral Lufthansa Airbus A380 service.

YouTube Preview Image

It’s not a view often seen (and its a big get up with the amount of GoPro cameras mounted).. but its impressive.

Another video next week!


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Following Iberia’s lead, Lufthansa is to set about trialling a new “Print at Home” Luggage tagging service.

The service – known as “Home Tag” will be rolled out initially on the Frankfurt to Tokyo route.

The idea is you check in at home, then print your luggage tag too (for both outbound and inbound segments if you choose). You then take your prints to the airport, fold it in four and place it in a pouch. This is then attached to your luggage.

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A fully load home-tagged luggage item – Lufthansa Rimowa case not included. Image Lufthansa AG.

The printed luggage tag contains the required information  – flight route, passenger name, baggage item number, which is also encoded as a bar code, allowing the item to be scanned. Meanwhile the Hometag holder has an RFID chip that can be encoded with the details of the baggage.

For those who like to do everything at home, this could be a nice timesaver – requiring you to do the printing and then just drop the item off.

There’s a lovely demo video at Lufthansa.com with more on the system.


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Ryanair is opening a new base at Cologne Bonn Airport with five new routes joining the Ryanair network from October 2014.

Ryanair 737-800 taxing at Birmingham Airport – Image GhettoIFE.com.

The routes that will be joining the wide and far Ryanair network include:

  • Cologne to Dublin – Once Daily, Commences 26th October 2014
  • Cologne to London Stanstead – Twice Daily, Commences 26th October 2014
  • Cologne to Riga -  Three times weekly, Commences 28th October 2014
  • Cologne – Rome Ciampino, Once Daily, Commences 28th October 2014
  • Cologne – Madrid, Four times weekly, Commences 29th October 2014

All routes will be operated by the Ryanair fleet of Boeing 737-800s.

Cologne Bonn Airport is home to Germanwings, with them operating the bulk of the services there. Ryanair operates five services currently to Cologne (mainly from Mediterranean destinations).

Whilst it’s a minor attempt to irritate Germanwings, in a minor broadside attempt to grab traffic, it could be the start of a very interesting war between the two low cost carriers….


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The Boeing 737 series is by far the one of the best-selling airplanes in the sky. Today, that number was re-enforced as Boeing delivered the 8000th series aircraft.

The Boeing 737 has been through multiple iterations, from the initial 737-100, the 737-200, to the introduction of the 737 “Classic” series featuring the 737-300, -400 and -500 (featuring differing lengths and capacities), to the current 737 Next Generation series (featuring the short -600, the -700, the -800, -900 and -900ER), as well as being used for various military platforms.

The 8000th Boeing 737 delivered is a 737-900ER, and its owner will be United Airlines.

8000th 737 Renton B1 Take off United Airlines
The 8000th 737 in United Airlines livery – Image The Boeing Company

The plane is specially marked for the occasion with a logo on the side of the plane door:

8000th 737 Renton B1 Take off United Airlines
Special logo showing the 8000th plane – Image, The Boeing Company.

United and Continental have operated variants of the Boeing 737 fleet in the past, with the airline currently operating a mixture of the Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft (the 737-700, 737-800, 737-900 and 737-900ER) – making up 264 of the airlines fleet.

These will be configured as two class aircraft, containing First Class and Coach, with an Economy Plus section aboard the plane.

For passengers, new aircraft are always welcome… and for the 737 programme – it’s another step forward as it marches on to the 737 MAX series of aircraft…


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Posted by Kevincm | One Comment

There’s one city in the world that I have been to so rarely, but has left an indelible impression on me – and that’s Sydney.


Sydney Airport as seen from the Sydney Tower – Image GhettoIFE

Sydney Airport however is a pinch-point in some ways – the biggest one for airline operators who have to either wait for either the more curfew to lift, or to get their aircraft on the ground before the night curfew becomes active.

The curfew runs from 23:00 and 06:00 (with limited moments for one hour either way).

In addition, the airport is limited to 80 movements per hour, which when bad weather hits or at peak hours can lead to delays.

As a result, the Australian government has taken the decision rather that to expand the existing Sydney airport any further, they are to build a second airports.

The new airport will be located at Badgerys Creek, approximately 45km (28 miles) from Central Sydney, with construction to begin in 2016 at a cost of A$2.5billion.

New and upgraded road infrastructure will be put in place for the airport to operate, with a new East-West motorway to be built. No indication of public transport infrastructure (such as a Sydney Trains link) will be built as such.

Whilst Sydney Airport will have its existing three runways maintained, initially the new airport will only have one runway – however with no night-time curfew. This should appeal to the low cost carriers, point to point carriers and freight carriers (but not overly to the legacy carriers who might see this akin to the London Heathrow and London Gatwick situation – which prestigious airport do you wish to land at is the question).

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce seems happy about this, stating:

Qantas has long supported the building of a second airport at Badgerys Creek, as have a number of detailed studies. After decades of debate, we applaud today’s announcement by the Prime Minister

The role of second airports has been well-established in several of the world’s major capitals. Sydney is the key gateway for air traffic in-and-out of Australia and the benefits of having two major airports will be felt nationwide.

Airports are key pieces of infrastructure that facilitate a huge amount of economic activity, and they take a lot of time to plan and build. We look forward to being part of this process as Badgerys Creek moves closer to reality”

It’s going to be a while until we see the results of this, but the new airport could provide a reasonable relief for the existing limited infrastructure. For those carriers who do choose to fly late night and very early morning flights, this could add extra capacity.

However, that lack of public transport infrastructure is not what I would call a good sign, unless plans are afoot for a coach network to clog up the roads more…


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Posted by Kevincm | 3 Comments

In disappointing news it seems Lufthansa is introduced advanced seat reservation fees on long haul flights.

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Lufthansa Long Haul Boeing 747-8i parked at Lufthansa Techik hangers at Frankfurt – Image GhettoIFE.

These fees will be applicable in the lower value fare codes from the 28th April 2014, with the following fare buckets attracting the new charge:

  • W
  • S
  • T
  • L
  • K

The charge for assigning your seat will be €25 per segment. The ticket code is the first letter of the booking as can be seen from this screenshot:

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 06.01.15

As shown on a Lufthansa flight…

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As shown on a United Airlines code-share.

Lufthansa already charges for advanced seat assignment on its German Domestic and European networks which runs you €10 a segment.

So, how do you avoid this wonderful fee? It’s not going to be easy by any means:

  • Buy a higher value ticket that is outside the ticket codes listed (which if we look at the examples above, this could double the cost of your fare)
  • Be a Lufthansa Senator or HON Circle Member
  • Wait until check-in opens at T-23 hours before departure and gamble on seat availability.

The upcoming Premium Economy Class will be free to assign a seat, whilst Business and First Class also remains free of charge.

It’s never a welcome sign when an airline decides to charge more fees for something that was free, and the charges are slightly higher than thought when the short haul charges were brought it.

Lufthansa’s slogan is “Non-Stop You”. More like Non-Stop to your wallet…


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One of things I bemoan is the increasing uptake by airline operators deciding to go from passenger comfort to profits.

This can be seen with operators switching from nine abreast seating to ten abreast seating in economy class aboard the Boeing 777 aircraft.

This is achieved used narrower seats, narrower isles and a seat that weighs less, that propels airline income to dreams of avarice (or something like that)

But which operators are squeezing them in aboard Boeing 777s? I’ve spent time looking through  SeatGuru and SeatExpert, gathering the numbers together in this handy little cut out and keep table:

Operator          Type         Subtype         Seat count
Aeroflot          777-300ER       -            402
Air Canada        777-300ER    High Density    458
Air France        777-200ER    Three Class     307
Air France        777-200ER    Four Class      251
Air France        777-300ER    Caribbean       468
Air France        777-300ER    Three Class     383
Air France        777-300ER    Four Class      303
Air NZ            777-300ER    Three Class     332
Alitalia          777-200ER       -            293
American          777-300ER       -            310
American          777-200ER    New config      254
ANA               777-300      Domestic        514 
Austrian          777-200      International   316    
Emirates          777-200      Two Class NonER 346
Emirates          777-200ER    Three Class     290
Emirates          777-200LR    Three Class LR  266
Emirates          777-300ER    Two Class       427
Emirates          777-300ER    Three Class (a) 354
Emirates          777-300ER    Three Class (b) 360
Etihad            777-300ER    Two Class       412
Etihad            777-300ER    Three Class     300
JAL               777-200      Domestic        375
JAL               777-300      Domestic        500
Jet Airways       777-300ER    Version 2       312
KLM               777-300ER        -           425
Philippine        777-300ER        -           370
Scoot             777-200ER        -           402
TAM               777-300ER    Version 1       362
TAM               777-300ER    Version 2       363

Data SeatGuru and SeatExpert,

And airlines love ten across seating – especially Air Canada who spoke to Runway Girl over their new configuration as they are able to offer more seats on leisure-heavy routes, which allows the to operate 21% less than the equivalent 777-300ER containing 349 seats.

The bottom line – more seats = more cash.

Even Swiss will be deploying their 777-300ERs with 10 across seating in the back when they are delivered.

And thus the passenger experience decreases in terms of comfort down the back of the plane.

I’d love to say “don’t fly on airlines that offer 10 across seats”, but if you have a look at the list above, there are some pretty big carriers (including the worlds largest operator of the Boeing 777-300ER – Emirates), but it can be hard to avoid when these carriers offer tempting fares to far flung places.

The question then becomes – how much do you value your comfort?


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Posted by Kevincm | 14 Comments

Yes, you read that right. British Airways as part of its catering strategy is to offer Fish and Chips in the air according to Business Traveller.

British Airways Short Haul A320 at Barcelona El Prat – Image GhettoIFE.

From this week, the airline is offering fish and chips on short-haul routes (what is sometimes known as Band 4 catering), in Eurotraveller from London to the following destinations:

  • Athens
  • Larnaca
  • Istanbul
  • Kiev
  • Sofia
  • St Petersburg

According to a FlyerTalk thread, the Fish and Chips have already made it aboard planes and are flying on outbound segments from Heathrow.

Oooohkay. I’m going to interject here. I feel sorry for anyone these flights. Allow me to explain. Good fish and chips when added with the usual condiments (namely vinegar, tartar sauce and tomato ketchup) add a certain smell to the air.

Unless you’re odd and like mayonnaise on your chips.

Or lets put it another way. If someone else has fish and chips in the office where I work, I can smell it from the other side of the office – and its not exactly a small floor (although it is open plan which doesn’t help make natural barriers to the smells).

Now, if we imagine the smell of fish and chips of a full shorthaul 767 on a Band Four flight to St Petersburg. If the majority add vinegar with very few barriers and recycled air…

… that flight is going to be quite smelly.

How British Airways will maintain a crispy product is another question – as steam ovens tend to soften chips rather than harden them.

For those on a diet, welcome to hell. The smell and the calories… lets face it – you’re on a looser here.

Still, it’s an interesting choice. Now if other carriers followed their lead (for example, Lufthansa/Germanwings/Air Berlin could offer CurryWurst on their flights), we could have some different regional flavours.

But if you are going to have fish and chips 1) have it on the ground and 2) find a real fish and chip shop. Have a look at http://www.fishandchipawards.com/ (with a good starter for 60 here) for some good starting points….


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Cold Chicago, Warm Planes – To Chicago with AA and BA
Featuring American Airlines Boeing 767-300s, Republic Airlines E-175s and British Airways Boeing 787-8s

coldchicagowarmplanes1

  • Let’s Play “Stacking Discounts!” (The Introduction)
  • We’re going where the air is free (NX210 to LHR), BA Galleries Lounge AA Flagship Lounge
  • AA87 London Heathrow T3 to Chicago O’Hare T5
  • Hyatt Regency O’Hare
  • One Time Exception – Millennium Park
  • Back to O’Hare T3
  • AA4253 Chicago O’Hare T3 to Toronto Pearson T1
  • Toronto, Oh Toronto…
  • The British Airways Galleries Lounge, Toronto
  • BA098 Toronto Pearson T1 to London Heathrow T5
  • Arrivals Lounge, Homeward Bound
  • Warming up slowly…

Let’s Play “Stacking Discounts!” (The Introduction)

Discounts. Lets face it - we all love them, even if they add a tiny bit of inconvenience on our travels. And sales, we love them too when we can save money on something we want.

If this is combinable with our travels, saving extra money always helps.

So, why do I mention this? After finishing The Last Push for Tier points for 2013/2014 – the game begins anew for 2014/2015.

In addition I need to be in Chicago. Again. Why? Well… that’s another discussion on another blog. But anyway with another trip to the Windy City, I decided to try to take advantage what I discounts I could lay my hands on.

First up was the British Airways Sale. Yes, it’s not much off (£20 or so off the normal fare), taking the fare from £500 to £480ish, but it’s better than a poke in the eye.

The second discount – and a not-so-known one for those outside (and for that matter inside the UK) is for those who hold BMI/Diamond Club Credit Cards. This gives an extra 10% off the fare element of a ticket.

This reduced my fare from the low £500’s to £467. It’s better than nothing, and better that paying full price.

For a routing, I decided on a familiar one to anyone who’s read my recent trip reports – on the way out, direct to Chicago, whilst on the return legs, heading up to Toronto and home to Heathrow. I find this routing breaks up the trip, whilst squeezing in an extra 10 Tier Points for £2 extra normally.

This would have a few firsts inside it:

  • The new Embraer E-175s
  • My first flight to Chicago that hasn’t departed at the crack of dawn in years

However, there was minor downside – as the 7:45 flight wasn’t available, I had to take the 10:50 flight… which is operated by an American Airlines Boeing 767-300ER. Whilst these aren’t too bad up front, down the back – they’re a bit more grim – with IFE not exactly a priority and some of the planes quite rickety.

Thankfully, I located a seat in Main Cabin Extra and did the seating dance thing to see if anyone would sit next to me.

The return leg from Toronto to London would be operated by British Airways aboard a Boeing 787. I tried to upgrade my segment on the BA flight between Toronto and London, and I wanted to avoid the nasty 3-3-3 seating down the back of the plane – so my plan was to upgrade with Avios or Cash into World Traveller Plus.

Neither seemed to bite with BA sadly. Oh well. Could be worse.

For hotels it was a usual mix. Sadly, the Hyatt I wanted to stay at was sold out for one of the five days I was there… so it was the old combo of Crowne Plaza and Hyatt Regency O’Hare.

Last time as some of you may remember, Hyatt left a pretty stale takes in my mouth, but there are two important things to note when I’m in Chicago…

  • I at an event that finished 2am at night normally, with daylight saving time readying to bite me
  • I wanted to be in a semi-convenient spot so I can get in an elevator, head downstairs, get a coffee and do things.

So four nights at the Hyatt… and a message to the front desk so my room would be assured this time, and not messed up royally like last time. I’d see how well they did that when I checked in.

One night was booked at the Crowne Plaza, and that was that for accommodation.

Finally – I sort of forgot about the coach, resulting me paying £50 return on National Express.

Oh, and a new suitcase. But you knew about my thoughts on suitcases. More about that later as we go along.

With my wallets still divided after the Paris incident (and me finally sorting out the fraud details with MNBA so I had a brace of working credit cards), it was time to rock and again.

So a map… and another set of fun ahead.


Map by the Great Circle Mapper – www.gcmap.com

What adventures would await me this time? Keep an eye open as always….


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Watching television can provide some minor entertainment occasionally (for example, catching up on a comedy show, or catching a classic cartoon.

Three adverts have shown up with pseduo-niceness and the new side of Ryanair.

This includes their web site:

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Their two bag policy:

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And allocated seating to boot:

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Since late last year, Ryanair have “eliminating things that unnecessarily annoy customers”, whilst trying to give a new look to the airline, as the image of the airline has taken a hit – more than usual since EasyJet have implemented certain features (such as assigned seating).

Ryanair has responded with:

  • A reasonable booking engine that doesn’t kill the eyes when looking at it (although you have to be careful when booking flights

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 04.38.38

  • 24 hour booking grace period
  • Quiet flights during early and late hours
  • Assignable seats
  • 2 bags allowed as opposed to one
  • Reduced fees for Boarding Pass reissue
  • Reduced baggage costs

These are all good things as the race for the customer changes – from the absolute lowest cost to actually realising treating customers with distain isn’t a great long term business plan.

Considering Ryanair’s revenue sources come both from fare and ancillary revenue (be it baggage fees, cancellation charges, boarding pass fees, seat allocation fees, commissions on sales, etc), every bit of “niceness” to its customers can’t hurt.

But is it enough? I’m not sure. Some travellers have been bitten once by the airline, and may not particularly want to step aboard another Ryanair plane again.

Lets see if this campaign changes the public perception of the airline…


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