N595JB, an Airbus A320 named Rhythm & Blues at SLC airport

N595JB, an Airbus A320 named Rhythm & Blues at SLC airport

In part one of this series I provided an overview of my airline sampler trip (five airlines over four days) and offered my thoughts on my very first flight with Virgin America, from Dallas (DAL) to San Francisco (SFO.) For part two I reviewed United’s 787-8 BusinessFirst service from SFO to Los Angeles (LAX). Today we pick up just a stone’s throw away from LAX, at Long Beach Airport (LGB), for a quick journey to Salt Lake City (SLC) with JetBlue.

Let me first say, I’ve always been fond of JetBlue. Except their route map. They simply don’t exist in my neck of the woods, so the opportunity to check them out never presented itself. When opportunity doesn’t knock, we’ve got to go looking. Enter the Airline Sampler, a trip focused solely on getting out and experiencing new things. I was excited to find a way to incorporate my first B6 (their airline code) flight into my adventure.

02 - ET504 787 taxis to Gate 134

Ethiopian’s 787 taxis at LAX to gate 134

With the arrival of flight ET504 into the new Tom Bradley International Terminal on June 20th, Ethiopian Airlines officially kicked off its service between Addis Ababa and Los Angeles, via Dublin.

The festivities, punctuated with live music as well as traditional Irish and Ethiopian dancing, celebrated the first time a carrier based in Africa has served Los Angeles.

These service additions are part of Ethiopian’s overall strategy to dominate the African market. By maximizing fleet utilization and picking up a route that Aer Lingus abandoned in 2008, Ethiopian Airlines has smartly connected the large Ethiopian and Irish communities in Southern California to their respective native homelands, proverbially killing two birds with one stone.

My Ride to Newark, the First Boeing 747-8i (D-ABYA) to enter service commercially. Seen here from Ground Level!

My ride to Newark — the first Boeing 747-8I (D-ABYA) to enter service commercially. Seen here from ground level!

I have been lucky enough to fly a few different airlines in first class. I am referring though to international first class here, not domestic “first class.”  An airline that I have been obsessed to fly in first class is Lufthansa.

My flight on Lufthansa would be two firsts for me: flying their first class and being a passenger on the updated Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental. Having one first is normally exciting enough as it is, but two? Yes… one could say that I was excited!

Lufthansa First Class seats 1A & 1K, in the nose of a 747.  Can't get any far further into the pointy end than this.

Lufthansa first class seats 1A & 1K, in the nose of a 747. Can’t get any far farther into the pointy end than this.

The benefit of departing Frankfurt with a first class ticket starts when one arrives at the airport. I was given access to their first class terminal, which was amazing.  When it was time to board my flight, I was driven in a Mercedes Vito van that took me on a quick ride across the tarmac to my gate in the A/Z concourse.

Riding along at ground level and looking up at gate after gate of 747s is pretty special.  When we pulled up to our gate, the very first 747-8I (D-ABYA) was looming above me.  Being able to step out onto the ramp and snap a photo is nice.  Being ushered all the way up to the aircraft by our driver is even better.  Even though boarding was already underway when we arrived, our driver created a hole in the crowd and had us at the front in mere moments.  Now THAT is service.

The Air Serbia A319-132 I flew on into Tivat, leaving Tivat. - Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

The Air Serbia A319-132 I flew on to, leaving Tivat – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

There are no non-stops to Tivat Montenegro from Prague, so on a recent trip, I had made my way to Belgrade on an Air Serbia ATR-72-500. On my previous flight, I was impressed with what the airline had to offer in economy on a turboprop and I was very much looking forward to see what Air Serbia had in their premium cabin on an Airbus A319.

I had arranged to learn more about the airline for my review, and when I landed at the Nikola Telsa Airport (TIV), I was greeted by Ivana with the airline. I was quickly escorted to the airline’s Business Club to wait for my next leg.

The Belgrade Business Club. - Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

The Belgrade Business Club – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

The lounge was comfortable and nicely decorated, but I felt that the food was a little uninspiring. It didn’t surprise me too much, that the lounge was not actually owned or operated by Air Serbia.

I imagine that the lounge will be improved as Belgrade builds its status as a regional hub.