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My Rant: The Definition of Premium Products is Changing – Not for the Good

Singapore's new Business Class will be tough to beat.

Not every airline, nor every customer, is wanting to try to go bigger and better, like Singapore’s new Business Class.

I recently ranted about how people get what they pay for  when it comes to air travel, but I feel that I have a few more things to say. I have come realize that there is downgrading trend going on in the industry that needs to change. Let me explain.

What if you get to a situation where increasing volumetric efficiency becomes done for reasons other than combating cost? After all, a business is in business in order to make a profit. It’d be irresponsible to not seek greater margins, right? Especially when passengers are already prepared to accept pain in economy class.

What’s sparked my continued rant is that I am starting to worry that European-style business class may be getting a foothold in North America.

Continue reading My Rant: The Definition of Premium Products is Changing – Not for the Good

Three Flights in a Day on an A330-300 – Czech Airlines’ Promotional Tour

OK-YBA basking in the warm spring sun after arrival in Ostrava Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

OK-YBA basking in the spring sun after arrival in Ostrava – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Czech Airlines (CSA) has one Airbus A330 (with a special interior) and it wanted to show it off. At the end of February, the airline announced a series of three promotional flights on-board their A330-300. The idea of these flights was to showcase the aircraft in Ostrava and Bratislava, which are both key destinations in the Czech Airlines network and provide a substantial amount of connecting traffic for the A330 Seoul service.

The flights were scheduled to take place on the 1st of April. Obviously, the date in question made many think it was a joke, but true to their word the flights did take place as planned. I was fortunate enough to experience all three flights, as well as a media event in Ostrava showcasing the aircraft and network to numerous travel agents and key figures in the region. The routing of the flights was Prague (PRG) – Ostrava (OSR) - Bratislava (BTS) -Prague. All in, the flight time was less than two hours.

Continue reading Three Flights in a Day on an A330-300 – Czech Airlines’ Promotional Tour

SAS to Operate Business Class-Only 737 to Houston

A standard SAS Boeing 737-700 without a fancy interior.

A standard SAS Boeing 737-700 without a fancy interior – Photo: Aero Icarus | Flickr CC

For many, taking a ride on the 737 is nothing to write home about. How about flying on a 737-700 with only 44 seats in it? That spark your interest? Typically you will see the 700 with 128-140 seats, so that is a big change.

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has announced that they plan to start operating a business class-only 737-700 from Houston (IAH) to Stavanger (SVG) starting on August 20th of this year. The 737 will be wet-leased from PrivatAir and it will wear the SAS livery. According to their press release, the inside of the plane will offer, “SAS Long Haul Business Class concept on board… along with modern in-flight entertainment system and full-service meals and service.”

Continue reading SAS to Operate Business Class-Only 737 to Houston

Flying a Czech Airlines A330-300 With a Korean Air Business Class Product

The one and only Czech Airlines A330. Photo - Jacob Pfleger.

The one and only Czech Airlines A330 – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

In May of last year Czech Airlines (CSA) took delivery of their first (leased) Airbus A330-300 aircraft from Korean Airlines. The sole purpose of this aircraft delivery was for Czech Airlines to re-enter the long-haul market on the Prague-Seoul route. Recently, I was fortunate enough to be booked on this aircraft from Prague to Seoul in Business Class and wanted to share my flight experience.

CZECH AIRLINES PRE-DEPARTURE

Being a non-schengen flight, the departure was from Terminal 1 at Prague Airport. I arrived about three hours early; it was interesting to see that Czech Airlines had dedicated check-in for the Seoul flight, with two dedicated business counters. My bag was priority-tagged and I was on my way to passport control within five minutes of arriving at the airport.  The security check takes place at the gate for all flights originating from Terminal 1.

After clearing immigration, I made my way to the lounge. The lounge itself was quite modern and well planned out, with numerous phone/device charging stations. It would be nice to see the addition of some hot meals/refreshments, as only cold sandwiches and salads were offered.

Boarding commenced 30 minutes prior to departure. The load today was completely full in economy (majority of travellers were Korean tourists returning home) and only 3/18 in business class. There were two jetways available for boarding.

The empty Business Class cabin on my flight to Seoul. Photo - Jacob Pfleger.

The empty Business Class cabin on my flight to Seoul. Photo – Jacob Pfleger.

ONBOARD THE CZECH A330-300

Once onboard the aircraft, I was greeted by the purser and escorted to my seat. As the aircraft is an ex-Korean Air bird, the interior and layout is identical to their A330-300’s; the only difference with this one being the paint scheme on the outside is that of Czech Airlines.

Continue reading Flying a Czech Airlines A330-300 With a Korean Air Business Class Product

Christmas in Poland? Nah, I’ll Fly Qatar to Singapore

One of Qatar's two Oneworld 777s taken through the window of a QR A320 photo by Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

One of Qatar’s two 0neworld 777s viewed from the window of a QR A320 – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

A few days before departing for Warsaw, I had a stark realization – I actually had no reason to be in Poland other than a milage run. Polish Christmas is not what we are familiar with here in North America. Indeed, the idea of potentially-radioactive Belorussian carp as my main feast for such a joyous occasion caused me some dismay. I admit, there are plenty of amazing things to do in Poland (including two great military and aviation museums) – just not on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Both days, the entire country – including the trains – more or less grinds to a halt.

Now, I could have spent a couple of days in a hotel in downtown Warsaw, and maybe gone shopping before my return home. But practicality is not, and never will be, how I solve problems. My original goal was to fly on Biman’s DC-10 from Kuala Lumpur back to Dacca, but I couldn’t make the times work.  After a call with my usual travel agent (who has come to understand that I have a flare for the weird), I discovered that I could, within the window of my original British Airways fare to and from Poland go on a day trip to Singapore! I also had another goal – could I do it for a similar cost to a week of peak rate hotel time at a luxury hotel in Warsaw? Thanks to Polish currency (3 Zloty =1 USD) I could, and what an itinerary I booked!

We at AirlineReporter have always been fans of Qatar Airways; it was high time I found out what the fuss was about, starting with their Airbus narrow-body fleet. To say the least, I was excited. I had heard nothing but great things about Qatar’s business class from our other staff members. I am, probably, the harshest and most pedantic critic on the AirlineReporter staff. If you are already bored of the article, I can summarize my experience with QR in one word. AMAZING! If you are interested in why, please do continue.

Continue reading Christmas in Poland? Nah, I’ll Fly Qatar to Singapore