Browsing Tag: Trip Report

Climbing out from Vancouver-YVR on ANA's inaugural flight to Tokyo-Haneda.

Climbing out from Vancouver-YVR on ANA’s inaugural flight to Tokyo-Haneda

In Part 1 of our story, you joined me for the arrival of ANA-All Nippon Airways‘ first flight to Vancouver International Airport (YVR), the celebrations at the gate, and Flight NH 115’s departure for Tokyo-Haneda (HND).

Soon after takeoff, our 767-300ER made a wide right turn, climbing across the Strait of Georgia before turning on course northwest-bound along the center of Vancouver Island. I didn’t notice exactly when it happened, but after the landing gear retracted, the forward-view camera rotated to look straight down. As I looked up at the monitors, we flew right over the challenging little Duncan Airport, where the winds can make it interesting to land even a Cessna 172.

I watched the view for a while, and unstowed my In-Flight Entertainment System (IFE) monitor as we drifted up to our initial cruising altitude.

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.

Etihad Airbus A340-600 taking off - Photo: Jacob Pfleger

Etihad Airbus A340-600 taking off – Photo: Jacob Pfleger

Recently, Etihad Airways had a very attractive sale on business class fares between its European gateways and Australia, including codeshares with Czech Airlines from Prague. This was simply too good an offer to pass up, being the AvGeek I am.

Gear retraction on Etihad A340 - Photo: Jacob Pfleger

Gear retraction on Etihad A340 – Photo: Jacob Pfleger

As I booked via the Etihad website, I was able to partake in the online upgrade auction system. This program is a fairly recent initiative introduced by Etihad Airways, along with other carriers. The program sends out an email approximately a week before the flight, inviting business class passengers to bid on unsold seats in the first class cabin, as well as business class seats for those in economy.  Bids for a first class upgrade ranged from $600-$1500 (USD) for the Abu Dhabi-Sydney flight. I bid $1000, as I was celebrating my birthday and thought it would make a nice present.  Bidders are advised of the outcome 48 hours prior to the flight. The system is still in the trial stage; I only got an email T-24 hours, advising that my bid had been accepted.

Upon arriving at the combined first and business class terminal at Abu Dhabi, I was greeted by a porter who took care of my luggage and escorted me to the first class check-in area. Unlike conventional check-in desks, the first class area is set up like a classy hotel, where you take a seat at a desk with an agent who processes your booking. The whole process took no more than five minutes and I was on my way to the first class lounge.

Even in The Bahamas, the view is always better with AirlineReporter! - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter.com

Even in The Bahamas, the view is always better with AirlineReporter! And no, I did not end up vandalizing the hotel – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter.com

Recently, the Nassau Airport Development authority in The Bahamas opened a new $83.5 million terminal to serve all non-US international destinations, as well as “Family Island” domestic travel (a new US-preclearance terminal opened a few years ago).  AirlineReporter.com was invited by the Bahamian Ministry of Tourism to come tour the new airport and view the sites and some new developments in Nassau (including the $3.5 billion – with a “B” – Baha Mar development project).  Note: While I was a guest of the Ministry of Tourism on this trip, all opinions are my own.

In this part, I will cover the “experience” of getting to Nassau, as well as the amazing cultural exchange opportunity I was afforded on the night of my arrival.