Airline Reviews

Review: SAS Plus Oslo To London Heathrow On A 737

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We left the lounge and quickly headed over to the gate for our 7:50 AM flight down to London Heathrow. Boarding was already underway, which isn’t too uncommon for us.

Since this was a business class itinerary, we were booked in SAS Plus. I had known that SAS eliminated their business class cabin on intra-European flights, but I’d forgotten they replaced it with something else. I guess you could say my expectations were sufficiently managed such that anything more than economy was going to sound pretty good.

It turns out that SAS Plus has a few features that separate it from SAS Go, which is regular economy.

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Review: Lufthansa A321 Business Class Frankfurt To Oslo

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We arrived at the gate a little later than planned, and boarding was mostly finished. You might wonder how it’s possible to be late when you have a four hour layover, but trust me, it is. We didn’t miss the flight and that’s what matters.

The consequence for our tardiness was ending up on the last bus headed out to the remote pad. This meant we had to sit and wait for all the true stragglers to show up. Our kids were getting a little antsy when finally we started to move.

It was a long bus ride. Like I thought perhaps that the flight had been cancelled and instead they were going to bus us all the way to Oslo. The upside was that we got a great tour of the Frankfurt Airport and saw a good chunk of the Lufthansa fleet in the process.

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Review: United “Polaris” Business Class 787 Houston To Frankfurt

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When we booked this trip, United Polaris was still called BusinessFirst. Last summer United unveiled Polaris and our reservations eventually updated to reflect the new branding on our Houston to Frankfurt flight.

We knew of course that United had only launched the Polaris soft product and that the new seats wouldn’t start appearing for another few months, but still felt kind of lucky to get to try the new service within the first month or so of its debut.

Coincidentally, we had flown United BusinessFirst across the Pacific during the last days of November, right before Polaris launched. That was unlucky. But it gave us a recent reference point with which to compare the new offering.

And that’s what I’m going to focus on in this review — the aspects of the flight relating to the new Polaris soft product. That’s why I’ve put Polaris in quotes in the title to reflect the fact that this isn’t the real Polaris, but it’s what you’ll get if you fly Polaris today.

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Review: Emirates Business Class A380 Dubai To Los Angeles

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I’ve reviewed Emirates first class many times before, though this was my first time in their A380 business class, so I was very excited to see how their business class product compared.

Since I decided to board through the gate rather than the business class lounge, I actually boarded through the door on the lower deck, walked up the staircase through first class, and then found myself in the business class cabin.

Emirates’ A380 business class cabin is massive, with 76 seats. There’s a forward business class cabin with 58 seats, and then a rear cabin with 18 seats. As you can see, the forward cabin is huge.

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Review: Royal Brunei Business Class 787 Bandar Seri Begawan To Dubai

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I boarded through door L2, where I was escorted to my seat by one of the flight attendants. Royal Brunei’s 787 business class cabin consists of a total of 18 seats, spread across three rows in a 2-2-2 configuration.

This is a pretty standard fully flat business class configuration, similar to what you’ll find on the 787s operated by Azerbaijan, Hainan, LATAM, LOT, Xiamen, etc.

Each seat had plenty of legroom, and then an ottoman attached to the seat in front of it that becomes part of the bed when fully reclined. While Royal Brunei’s 787 cabin finishes aren’t the most exciting out there, I think they feel classy.

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Review: Royal Brunei Business Class A320 Kuala Lumpur To Bandar Seri Begawan

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At the door I was greeted by Fizhal and Leanne, the two flight attendants that would be taking care of the business class cabin for the short flight to Bandar Seri Begawan. Royal Brunei’s A320 business class cabin consists of a total of 12 seats, spread across three rows in a 2-2 configuration.

The airline has a total of six of these planes in their fleet, and I was on the second oldest, which was delivered to the airline in 2004.

While the seats felt a bit outdated, they were extremely comfortable. Apparently the seat pitch on these planes in business class is 44″, which sounds about right — it was a bit more spacious than domestic first class in the U.S., and the seats were also really thick.

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Review: Royal Jordanian Business Class 787 Amman To Kuala Lumpur

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Before I get into the actual report, I should note that I checked the seatmap just a couple of hours before the flight, and it showed just two seats taken in business class (including mine). However, economy was oversold, so there were 22 upgrades from economy to business class.

I boarded through door L2, located right behind the business class cabin. There was a very cool-looking display with the Royal Jordanian crown logo on it, though I don’t think they ever did anything with it during the flight.

While most airlines have proper bulkheads between the main entry door and the cabins, that’s not the case on Royal Jordanian’s 787. Instead the second set of doors opens up immediately to the back of the business class cabin.

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Review: Royal Jordanian Business Class Embraer 175 Cairo To Amman

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This flight’s adventure started before I even got on the plane. At the end of the jet bridge there were three guys in hoodies. As I approached them they pointed at my bag and said “we check.” It had been a long travel day and my brain wasn’t working properly, so I thought they were telling me I needed to gate check my bag since it was a regional jet.

“No, it will fit.” After a bit more discussion they grabbed the bag out of my hand, at which point I became a bit irritated, since I didn’t understand what they were doing, and the whole situation struck me as shady, as they didn’t have visible badges or anything. Then the flight attendant apologized and explained that they were just doing pat downs and bag searches on the jet bridge. Ah, that kind of a “check.”

I don’t understand why they don’t have badges and/or uniforms. Interestingly they were actually Jordanian security officials, as they flew back to Amman with us.

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Review: EgyptAir Business Class 777 Toronto To Cairo

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My flight from Toronto to Cairo was scheduled to depart at 12:45PM. In the morning the flight still showed on-time, though like any experienced traveler I checked the status of the inbound flight, as I knew the plane was coming from Cairo. Well, the plane was way late — it departed almost seven hours late, and was due to arrive six hours late.

Fortunately EgyptAir plans a lot of ground time for the plane in Toronto, though I still expected we’d have a 2-3 hour delay, given that the plane was arriving in Toronto 15 minutes after we were scheduled to depart.

I still decided to head to the airport at around 11AM. I took the train to Terminal 1, where I found a long line for EgyptAir check-in. Fortunately I had already been issued my EgyptAir boarding pass in Tampa, so was able to bypass that and head straight to the lounge.

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Review: Air Canada Premium Rouge 767 Tampa To Toronto

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My flight was departing from Tampa to Toronto at the ungodly hour of 9:45PM, which is way past my bedtime. On the plus side, at least it wasn’t a full-on redeye, as I’d have a comfortable bed to look forward to upon landing.

I arrived at Tampa Airport at around 8:30PM, and the entire process of getting to the gate was a breeze, given that most flights had already departed for the night. Perhaps the most entertaining aspect of the experience was that the lady in front of me used her iPad as a mobile boarding pass, which really makes me wonder whether technology is actually making our lives easier or not.

My flight was departing from gate E72, though the inbound plane arrived behind schedule, at 8:55PM. While boarding was scheduled for 9:05PM, it only ended up starting at 9:25PM.

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Review: Lufthansa First Class 747-8 Frankfurt To Boston

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We had an early morning flight from Vienna to Frankfurt, which I won’t be reviewing given that intra-Europe flights are mostly the same. We had a roughly three hour layover, so on arrival we walked to the First Class Terminal, a process that took about 20 minutes from the time we arrived at our gate.

We hung out there for a couple of hours, until the PA fetched us at 10:15AM and told us our flight was ready for boarding. The three of us were being transported alone from the FCT to the plane (if there are other first class passengers or HON Circle members, they’ll typically transport everyone together) in a Mercedes van. The ride took about five minutes, and as usual, I was like a kid in a candy store driving across the tarmac.

While I love the A380 from a passenger comfort standpoint, the 747 will always be the queen of the skies, so as an aviation geek there’s not a plane in the world I’m more in awe standing next to.

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Review: Garuda Indonesia First Class 777-300ER Jakarta To Singapore

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We boarded through door L1 shortly after 7AM, where we were greeted by our smiling first class crew. As was the case on the last flight, the curtain between first and business class was closed, so only first class passengers boarded through door L1.

Rather than sitting together in the center section, like last time, Ford and I decided to take window seats this time around.

I settled into 2A, while Ford took seat 1A.

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Review: Garuda Indonesia First Class 777-300ER London To Jakarta

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Have you ever boarded a flight and known from the very first second that the crew would be amazing? Well, this was one of those flights. At the door we were welcomed by all four first class crew members — Oktaviana, Septi, Henny, and Aziz — with the warmest imaginable smiles and a “welcome aboard, please let me show you to your seat.”

The three ladies had gorgeous uniforms on, all in different colors.

Garuda Indonesia’s 777 first class cabin consists of a total of eight seats, spread across two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. While random, one of the first things that stood out to me was how the curtains between first and business class were closed. Other airlines will board first and business class through the forward door, while on Garuda Indonesia the first class cabin is exclusively boarded through the forward door. As a result, you really almost feel like the plane has just eight seats.

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