Vietnam Airlines Airbus A321 – Photo: Aero Icarus | Flickr CC
After spending the previous couple of cold winter months in Seattle, New York, and Boston, as well as visiting Tokyo (cold), Kyoto (cold and breezy), Taipei (rainy), and Hong Kong (windy and rainy) on this trip, I was glad to have planned a “vacation within a vacation” to spend some time in the sun and sand in the middle of my Asian trip.
Danang (sometimes spelled Da Nang), the third-largest economic center in Vietnam behind Saigon and Hanoi, is famous for its stretches of beaches along the South China Sea. The area known as “China Beach” to American soldiers during the Vietnam War is currently earmarked for luxury resort development.
Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa Danang – Photo: John Nguyen
Danang International Airport (DAD) is also the country’s third-busiest airport and treated as Vietnam Airlines‘ (VNA) central domestic hub, though it has quite a few direct international flights on foreign carriers as well.
I was fortunate enough to book a mid-April stay (one of the best times to be in Danang, weather-wise) at the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa Danang, selected because of its location right on the water and a private beach.
A ray of hope in the darkness of European flying, sitting on the ground at Prague’s Ruzyne Airport – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
No matter where in the world, when you fly economy on a small turboprop, you likely are not going to have high expectations. This will just be some basic transportation to get from point A to point B. I was shocked when I recently flew an Air Serbia ATR-72-500 from Prague to Belgrade.
Often, flying in Europe can be an even-less-pleasant experience than flying in America. When I landed in Europe, after my not-so-stellar international experience, I said to myself, “I bet you Air Serbia can beat this.” And they did!
En route to Nairobi, on a clear day, you can see Mt. Kilimanjaro; sadly, not today – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
As part of a recent trip to Africa, I had to take a commercial flight from Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania) to Nairobi (Kenya). There are essentially two options for this route; either the direct flight with Kenya Airways or via Zanzibar with Precision Air. Normally, I would take the more adventurous option, but as my trip was time-critical, I chose the direct Kenya Airways flight.
As Kenya Airways is part of the SkyTeam alliance, I was able to take advantage of my elite status on the flight. This not only included an additional baggage allowance, but also access to the local lounge (Tanzanite Lounge) in Dar Es Salaam. The lounge access was well worth it, as it was the only room in the whole terminal to be air-conditioned.
Boarding “The Pride of Africa” to Nairobi – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Boarding was on-time and, as expected in true African fashion, was chaotic with no priority boarding enforced. Upon boarding the Embraer E190, I was surprised to find an actual business class cabin in a 1-2 layout. My second surprise came in the form of individual in-seat IFE at every seat, including economy. Whilst the size of the screen was relatively small, the selection of TV programs and movies was more than sufficient for the 90-minute flight.
Stunning livery – airberlin Saab 2000 operated by Darwin Airline/Etihad Regional – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Recently, airberlin commenced flights between Prague and Berlin-Tegel, and I was fortunate enough to be on-board the inaugural service.
The flights are operated by Darwin Airline/Etihad Regional using a 50-seat Saab 2000 aircraft. It was a new type for me having only previously flown on the Saab 340. The Saab 2000 is one of the fastest turboprop aircraft in commercial service, with a maximum cruising speed of 413mph.
I was curious to see what the Etihad Regional product would be like, and if it would live up to the Etihad mainline economy class experience.
airberlin has scheduled three daily return flights on the route. If we look at the route from a P2P (point-to-point) perspective, three flights is a lot, given the numerous train and bus connections linking Berlin and Prague, in about five hours. The justification from airberlin for the three flights per day is that Prague-Berlin will act primarily as a feeder service for their mainline European and long-haul international networks. All the flights are time strategically to connect, in particular with long-haul flights New York and Moscow.