Airline Reviews

Review: Philippine Airlines Business Class 777 New York To Vancouver

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I boarded through door L1, where I was greeted by the friendly purser and pointed right, in the direction of my seat.

Philippine Airlines’ 777 business class cabin consists of a total of 42 seats, spread across six rows in a 2-3-2 configuration. The forward cabin has four rows of seats, for a total of 28 seats.

Meanwhile the rear cabin has two rows, for a total of 14 seats. My preference is almost always to sit in the back of the business class cabin, and this flight was no exception.

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Review: KLM Business Class 777 Singapore To Bali

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The only reason we flew to Singapore to begin with was to be able to get onto the Hello Kitty flight from Taipei. We could have flown direct from Taipei to Bali, but that would have meant no Hello Kitty for us.

So we booked cheap paid tickets from Singapore to Bali on KLM. This is a fun fifth freedom route they operate, as it’s a tag-on of their Amsterdam to Singapore flight. The one-way business class ticket cost about $250.

Our connection in Singapore was about three hours. We weren’t able to check-in online, so we got our boarding passes at the transit desk at Changi Airport. Our flight was departing from gate D42, with boarding scheduled to begin at 5:05PM. So we headed to the gate at around 4:45PM, given that at Changi Airport security checkpoints are at the individual gates.

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Review: EVA Air Hello Kitty Business Class 777 Taipei To Singapore

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While I love EVA Air’s business class in general, I was especially excited about this flight, because it was one of their special “Hello Kitty” services. EVA Air operates Hello Kitty themed flights on certain routes, and I intentionally booked my Taipei to Singapore flight for the Hello Kitty experience. I took Hello Kitty flights from Tokyo to Taipei and Taipei to Los Angeles a few years back, so was curious to see how the concept was holding up.

I boarded through door L1, where I was greeted by two friendly flight attendants, and escorted to my seat. I had assigned myself seat 11K, which is the window seat in the last row of business class on the right side.

This is in the rear mini cabin, which has just four rows of seats.

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Review: EVA Air Business Class 777 Los Angeles To Taipei

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This trip report is going to be a bit different than my usual ones. I’ve been on an insane trip the past few weeks for something I’ve been working on, the full details of which I’ll eventually reveal. A lot of this involved flying airlines and staying at hotels I’ve already visited. As a result, I won’t be publishing the typical start-to-finish trip report this time around, but rather will be writing about select flights that I think will be most interesting to you guys.

So for the first installment I want to cover my flight from Los Angeles to Taipei on EVA Air, which I booked using Air Canada Aeroplan miles (Los Angeles to Taipei to Singapore cost 77,500 miles one-way in business class without fuel surcharges). I flew EVA Air back when they first joined the Star Alliance, though this was my first time flying with them in over three years. A couple of years ago EVA Air updated their business class soft product, so I was curious to see how the product compared.

Since my flight was departing LAX I had access to the Star Alliance Lounge, which is excellent, and I’ve reviewed before. At around 9:45AM I headed to gate 155, given that boarding was scheduled for 10AM.

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Review: Emirates First Class 777-300ER Dubai To Amman

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Surprisingly, this was my first time actually transiting in Dubai. Like this one, my previous trips on Emirates had been booked through Alaska Mileage Plan, which allows free stopovers at partner hubs on award tickets.

A stopover wasn’t really a compelling option on this trip, given we’d already delayed our original departure, but we still considered an overnight. And then I looked at the flight schedules.

Emirates has two different aircraft types serving the Dubai > Amman route. They’re both Boeing 777s, but the configurations are different depending on the day and time.

It’s only a ~1,200 mile flight, so it doesn’t matter tremendously, but if your schedule allows you want to choose the 77W plane with this seat map:

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Review: Emirates First Class A380 San Francisco To Dubai

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While I’ve flown Emirates first class on the A380 a half-dozen times (oof that’s an obnoxious sentence, sorry), my husband hadn’t. He had flown Emirates first on the 777 a few years back, and even had the cabin to himself, so he had a general idea of what to expect, but we were still excited to fly together.

Ben has reviewed Emirates first class on the A380 at least a dozen times, and I’ve reviewed it myself as well, so check those out if you’re looking for a comparison in terms of the service and soft product, but I’m going to primarily focus on the updates and changes to the service.

In the year or so since I’ve flown them, Emirates has been engaging in cost-cutting measures, which while they haven’t been advertised as necessarily impacting long-haul premium cabin flights (other than birthday cakes), were noticeable in the catering.

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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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