Cheers: The fact that I slept through most of the flight is probably one of the best reviews possible. Jeers: I want to see out the window. Bottom Line: It is confusing to figure out if this really is a Business product or First Class.
The “window” seats face away from the window, which isn’t so great for AvGeeks, but does provide more privacy.
Earlier, I posted my experience flying Air New Zealand’s Premium Economy from LAX to LHR. I was impressed with the product and was looking forward to how their Business Premium would compare (note: the airline covered my airfare and I paid the taxes). There are many similarities between Premium Economy and Business Premiere, but there are also key differences. Both can check-in at a priority line, get free alcoholic beverages and priority boarding. The extra money spent to upgrade will get you lounge access, premium wines on board, additional food options, a larger screen (10.6″ vs 12.1″) and a fold flat bed.
This was actually my second flight on Air New Zealand’s Business Premier, but only my first “real” one. My previous experience was taking the airline’s first Boeing 777-300ER from Paine Field down to Los Angeles, which was only a 2.5hr media flight. I was happy to try out the product in a “real world” situation and I had a good 10.5 hours to do it. Are the extra features and product worth the ticket premium (or miles)? I think it depends on how you want your flight experience to go.
Each seat has quite a bit of privacy for its occupants.
When first walking into the cabin, it is obvious that the Business Premier class is an upgrade. Instead of a 2-2-2 layout in Premium Economy, Business gives you a 1-2-1 layout, but really it feels more like a 1-1-1-1 set up since you are so isolated.
If you are traveling with someone else, you won’t be able to easily interact while sitting in your seat, but have no worries. The seats easily allow two people to sit and talk at the same seat. This isolation also gives every passenger access to the aisle, which means you don’t have to crawl over someone while they sleep to use the bathroom.
Each of the seats is angled to give passengers extra privacy. The biggest downside is not being able to look out the window with ease. Where the Premium Economy seat actually tilts you towards the window, the Business Premier tilts you away. Although I enjoy looking out the window, I much rather have the privacy and space, since the windows are shut after take off anyhow.
A larger laptop on the tray table gets in the way of the entertainment screen.
Now, the purpose of my flight was to check out the product, but I ran into a big problem… I fell asleep… for over six hours. That might be one of the best compliments when reviewing an airline’s product, right?
At first I was a bit confused about the seat. I kept hitting the recline button, but the seat would only recline so far. Turns out, it is one of those seats where you have to get up and fold down the bed. What a great Airline Reporter I am, not paying attention and thinking my seat was broken for a few minutes — oh well.
Yes, it takes a bit more of an effort to convert your seat into a bed, but I think it ends up being worth it. Once you have your seat folded forward, you are able to put a memory foam mattress on top. Then add the fluffy duvet and full size pillows and you are ready for a good night’s (or day’s) sleep. If you have any trouble or want some help, just hit the call button and the flight attendants will have no problem assisting.
I had plenty of room to roll around and get into multiple positions. If needed, I was given an eye mask to block out the light, but I didn’t need it. The soft glow of pink lighting was perfect for setting a sleeping mood.
This broke a record for me, since previously, the longest I have slept on a flight was four hours straight. I wasn’t even that jet-lagged, since I had a week in London and was more or less caught up on sleep. Oh well. That still gave me four hours to check out the product, food and drinks.
My dinner starter: prawns. I think I am watching Up in the Air here.
The meal service started shortly after take off (and before I went to sleep). I decided to watch the movie, Up in the Air (it seemed appropriate) and enjoy my meal. I started with coconut prawns with rice noodles and plum sugar dressing. Then I had a choice between lamb, salmon, chicken or eggplant. I decided to go with the lamb that was on cabbage and potato mash with field mushrooms and minted yoghurt. All amazing.
Then I finished it off with a little vanilla and chocolate ice cream. On my previously flight, dessert was served with the appetizer, which was a bit odd for me, but this time, it came after the meal with some dessert wine.
When I woke up, the cabin was still in sleep-mode and I was thirsty. I was able to fire up the ‘ol in-flight entertainment system and order from a nice selection of food and drinks. I decided on some Diet Coke and sparkling water. The cool part is I was able to customize how my drink was served. Why, yes, I will take ice in both and a lemon wedge in my water. Less than a minute later, my drinks were delivered.
Near the end of the flight, we were served a second meal, which was quite a bit lighter. I had a choice of smoothie, fruit, wraps or scones.
Ordering additional drinks or food during non-meal service is quick and easy.
When I received my ticket to fly, the Business Premiere section was filled. I was hoping to get a window seat, but there were none left. Even after checking multiple times before the flight and again at check-in, there were still no other seats. I would have preferred not sitting in the first row, since many times, when my feet were up, the curtain would hit them anytime anyone passed.
So, is upgrading to Business Premiere worth the additional money over Premium Economy? Well, that depends. If you need to sleep well, there is no question that it is worth more. However, if your game plan is to stay up the entire flight and maybe talk to the person next to you, then maybe Premium Economy will do what you need.
But the fact that on average, Business Premiere seats cost $4000-5000 and Premium Economy cost $2000-$2500, that is not a bad deal. Especially when you compare these products to other international seats that cost much more. If you are a person who has the ability to either pay or use miles to upgrade to the front of the plane, it will be hard to find an upgrade per dollar that gives you this good of a deal.
ADDITIONAL PHOTOS OF AIR NEW ZEALAND’S BUSINESS CLASS:
Recently, I had the ability to ask Patrick Brannelly, Emirates Airline Vice President – Corporate Communications, Product, Publishing, Digital & Events, some questions about Wi-Fi and the future of entertainment on the airline. Here is our discussion:
AirlineReporter.com (AR) How many Emirates aircraft currently have Wi-Fi available?
Patrick Brannelly (PB): The whole A380 fleet (currently 21 aircraft) has Wi-Fi. We’ll be getting another 10 A380s before the end of 2012 and they’ll all have Wi-Fi as well. We’ll also be introducing the ability to use your own mobile phone next month on our A380s – a service that we already have on over 90 of our other aircraft (we launched that service in 2008).
AR: What is the schedule for the entire fleet to be fitted?
PB: Going forward, all A380s will have the service and we aim to start fitting the rest of the fleet with internet before the year end. It will take some time to equip the entire fleet but we are working on accomplishing this as quickly as possible.
AR: Are new Airbus/Boeing aircraft equipped with the Wi-Fi?
PB: Yes for our A380s and we hope to have our Boeing 777s equipped from mid-2013.
Why did Emirates choose OnAir? OnAir was the only option offered by Airbus for equipping the A380 fleet straight out of the factory – they have provided a good service and we are happy with them.
Emirates plans to install Wi-Fi to their 777 fleet in the future.
AR: Currently, Wi-Fi pricing is set up based on the amount of data used and how do passengers patrol/control the amount of data used?
PB: Customers buy a package of data, either 5MB or 30MB for mobile or 30MB/100MB for laptops. They can see their current usage and decide whether to buy extra MB or cut off at the limit.
AR: Is Emirates looking at offering an unlimited plan?
PB: The above packages are often more than most people need during their flights. Over two thirds of passengers use less than 20MB and only 1.6% of passengers use more than 100MB.
AR: A recent APEX story shows the record being at 680MB, has that been broken yet?
PB: It’s still a record – 680.51MB was used on our New York flight on Valentine’s Day. Someone in love perhaps!
AR: What is the current pricing structure?
PB: We may tweak this pricing in time, but currently users can connect a mobile from as little as $2.75 for 5MB of data. This is more data than most will need to connect socially throughout even a long flight. We also have a heavy (30MB) mobile package available for $15 but few opt for it. Laptops can connect from as little as $5, and there is a heavy user package for $15 for 100MB. These prices are low for satellite connectivity, but we see this as a service to our customers rather than a profit centre (in fact we lose money).
AR: What are the usage statistics? Is there growth?
PB: Yes – we are still seeing growth. This is probably because awareness is still growing about the service and because increasing numbers of people are carrying on devices that can connect. We see over 4% of passengers connect on the very long flights of over 12 hours (such as New York / Sydney etc.) but much less on flights under 5 hours (less than 1.5%).
Emirates already offers a pretty slick product. Adding Wi-Fi will only make it better. This is First Class seen on a Boeing 777.
AR: Are there any plans to offer on-board Wi-Fi entertainment options (where passengers can access Emirates entertainment from their personal devices via Wi-Fi)?
PB: We are looking at all options – but with over 1,300 channels of the latest and greatest entertainment available on your large screen personal TV for every Emirates customer, the need to play media on your own device is reduced.
AR: Will passengers be able to access the internet through ice (the name for the entertainment system)?
PB: We hope so but not at the moment. There are some technical issues, largely to do with the seatback’s light-browser’s capability to connect to the internet for a good experience. You really need a mouse and a keyboard at the moment and that’s not practical. However, we are working on it.
AR: Are there dark spots where passengers will not be able to have internet?
PB: The OnAir service uses Inmarsat’s geo-stationary I4 satellites which cover the entire globe except for the extreme poles (above about 80 degrees). There are also a few countries that are yet to provide approval to use the service in their airspace, so we have to block it… but these are reducing.
AR: What digital “wonders” from Emirates can passengers expect for the future?
PB: Emirates has led technology in the air for 20 years or more. From being the first airline to install TVs on every seat on the entire fleet in 1992 to today, when we’ve introduced services such as mobile phones and internet inflight, as well as large HD capacitive touch screens onboard our latest 777s. Rest assured we have a lot more innovation coming, but we tend to talk about it when it’s ready to launch rather than before…
I know, I know — two video posts in a row. Not something I normally do, but British Airways is doing some pretty cool stuff right now, that I want to share. It involves a Boeing 777 in places you wouldn’t expect. The video above was posted a few days ago from what I suspect is a “fake” account operated by the airline.
It is not something you would expect and made me wonder what was up — which was probably the point of the video. As expected, British Airways had a game plan.
You might know about this little event where people get together every four years and compete against each other in a number of different sporting events — you might know it as “the Olympics.” You also might have heard that the 2012 Olympics will be held in London. You also might know that British Airways is based in London. The airline is looking to build motivation and support for the Olympic and Paralympic games with this unique ad campaign.
Frank van der Post, British Airways managing director of brands and customer experience, explained to AirlineReporter.com: “We’re rallying the country to get behind Team GB and ParalympicsGB to capitalise on home advantage. Whether it’s delaying your summer holiday, finding where to get behind the country with our ‘best sports bars abroad’ guide, or cheering them on at Park Live at the Olympic Park – we are encouraging every extra clap, cheer and whoop we can get.”
The ad below is the most recent one that comes directly from the airline and is pretty freak’n cool. Who doesn’t like seeing a Boeing 777 driving through London? Well, if it really happened, there might be a few people who wouldn’t be so thrilled, but in a video, it is quite epic.
British Airways also made a third video, highlighting why this idea of “home advantage” is so important to London and the thinking behind the ad concept (notice the British Airways Boeing 787 model in the background of some of the shots).
The airline currently has a fleet of two Boeing 777s, which previously flew for Singapore Airlines. The aircraft are configured in a 2-class layout with 32 ScootBiz seats in a 2-4-2 configuration and the rest in economy with a 3-4-3 configuration.
Scoot is initially planning routes from Singapore to Australia, China and Thailand. The first flight is planned for June 6, 2012 to Sydney and the rest in the following months.
This vibrant yellow livery on a Boeing 777-200 really stands out. I keep going back and forth on this one, trying to see if I like it. In some ways, I really enjoy the fact that a bright livery is on a 777, but in others, it just seems so weird, since we normally see “fun” liveries, only on smaller aircraft like the 737. What do you think?