Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 201,532
2013: 330,818

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Flying on Sun Country Air Surrounded by Children

A Sun Country Boeing 737-800 at SEA

A Sun Country Boeing 737-800 at SEA

If I had to sum up my recent Sun Country Air flight experience with one word, it would be: “kids.”

It is not the airline’s fault that I was surrounded by kids on my over three hour flight from Seattle (SEA) to Minnesota (MSP), but it did make my experience a little less enjoyable.

Now, I am not one of those who complains every time a kid is next to me. I know I was there once and I know that parents are just trying to get somewhere with their family. But when I have a gaggle of kids surrounding me and not behaving, I can’t help but take notice. Luckily the airline came through and over all I would still say I had a good flight experience.

Continue reading Flying on Sun Country Air Surrounded by Children

Review of Business Class on American Airlines’ Transcon A321

Business Class on the American A321. Image: Eric

Business Class on the American A321 – Photo: SouthpawCapture

I live in the Dallas area, and don’t often fly transcon flights. However, I recently needed to go to both LA and New York close to the same time, and I thought it would be fun to try American’s new Airbus A321”T” they are flying between JFK and both LAX and San Francisco.

I am an Executive Platinum AAdvantage member (American’s top-tier elite for the unitiated) so I can often, but not always, upgrade on a regular coach fare. I looked for the flight with the most available seats in business class, reasonably figuring that this would give me the best chance of upgrading. It was a midweek flight leaving LAX at 1 PM, arriving at JFK at around 10 PM local time.

If it’s not obvious, I am a typical top-tier elite member – very spoiled. Sitting in the back of the bus is for the great unwashed, not I. Seriously, no, I am not above sitting back there, and as I make lots of last-minute changes, I often wind up squashed in with everybody else. Plus since I own my business, travel costs come out of my pocket. No high-end business class fares for me.

American's A321 in flight. Image; Eric.

American’s A321 in flight – Photo: SouthpawCapture

So when you have the opportunity to take “AAdvantage” of the few perks you get with business travel these days, you grab it. Considering this was a five-hour flight and I was already very tired, I was REALLY hoping for the upgrade, to say the least.

When I got to LAX, the upgrade still wasn’t there, and I was pouting. To make things worse, the flight was listed an hour late due to weather in JFK. But about 45 minutes before the flight left the gate, the clouds parted, the sun shone, and the upgrade gods smiled on me. Business class it was, Seat 8F on the new A321.

Continue reading Review of Business Class on American Airlines’ Transcon A321

Flying First Class…On a United Q400

United Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 at Durango - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

United Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 at Durango – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

As a Silver Premier member with United Airlines (their lowest-level elite tier), getting a complementary first class upgrade happens almost as rarely as spotting a unicorn.  In a year and a half of being an elite, I’ve gotten two first class upgrades.  Recently, upgrade number two came in an unlikely form; on a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400.

That’s right, folks – United is offering a first class cabin on planes with propellers.  I caught my upgrade on a quick business trip from Denver (DEN) to Durango (DRO), Colorado.

All of United’s Q400s are actually operated by Republic Airlines, one of many regional carriers for UA.  They are configured with 71 seats; seven in first class, 10 in Economy Plus, and 54 in economy.  As to be expected on a regional plane, “first class” really only meant a wider seat, more legroom, and a free beer.  Well, we got some pretzels too.   Continue reading Flying First Class…On a United Q400

When a Good Product Gets Dinged By Misses In Customer Service

My Comfort Class seat on my Turkish Airlines Boeing 777-300ER

My Comfort Class seat on my Turkish Airlines Boeing 777-300ER out of LAX

Introduction

When I first saw I was booked in Comfort Class on Turkish Airlines, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I knew it was a premium economy product, but that could mean anything from a few inches of extra leg room to having an almost-business-class experience.

Being able to check out the product during my recent flights to and from Los Angeles to Istanbul, I was impressed overall by my whole experience.  I enjoyed the comfortable seat, my amenities, the delicious food, and the access to the in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. However, I felt let down by the service that I received during certain points of my trip, which left me wanting a bit more.

Turkish Airlines' Boeing 777-300ER sitting at Istanbul

Turkish Airlines’ Boeing 777-300ER sitting at Istanbul

It was nothing that horrible, but just added up enough to make me disappointed overall about the experience. I think some of the things could easily be avoided or changed to make the passenger experience a bit better, and make people who feel like they shelled out some additional money for a premium product feel a bit more special.

One of the main reasons that I was flown to Istanbul was to work with Turkish to help them look into the future of their business – and part of that was related to customer service. I am grateful to work with an airline wanting to learn, and I hope that they are listening.

Continue reading When a Good Product Gets Dinged By Misses In Customer Service

Virgin Australia Reborn – Flying Business Class from Brisbane to Sydney

Virgin Australia's new livery showcasing their transition to a corporate carrier - Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Virgin Australia’s new livery showcasing their transition to a premium-focused carrier                       Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

VIRGIN AUSTRALIA BUSINESS CLASS REVIEW BASICS:

Airline: Virgin Australia
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800 (VH-YIF)
Departed: Brisbane Airport (BNE)
Arrived: Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (SYD)
Stops: Non-stop flight
Class: Business class
Seat: 1F
Length: About 1.5 hours

Cheers: Fresh and funky looking cabin interior and great catering for such a short flight
Jeers: No foot-rests and no curtain divider thus limiting privacy
Overall: A great new business product on the Australian domestic market which with a few improvements will give competitors a run for their money.

During the last two years, perhaps no other airline has gone through as much transformation as Virgin Australia. Starting off as the first true low-cost carrier (LCC) in Australia in 2000 (then known as Virgin Blue) it quickly became a popular choice for leisure travelers. As the Australian market became more saturated with LCCs, Virgin decided it was time to remodel and focus more instead on the premium market. This transformation included the introduction of a business class across the fleet, with all aircraft having completed the re-fit by the 3rd quarter of 2013.

Continue reading Virgin Australia Reborn – Flying Business Class from Brisbane to Sydney