Brussels

Etihad Guest Hugely Devalues Award Redemptions On Brussels Airlines

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Etihad Guest is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Starwood Preferred Guest, and I tend to think it’s the all around most valuable loyalty program offered by a Gulf carrier, thanks to their mostly reasonable redemption rates.

Beyond that, they had some great partner redemption opportunities. No doubt the single best partner redemption value they had, and arguably the best award prices offered by any loyalty program, were for travel on Brussels Airlines.

To quote what I said last May:

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When An Airline Phone Agent Can’t Help, Try Twitter

Brussels Airport is usually great for connecting.

For decades telephone was the way to contact airlines, whether to book a ticket, change a reservation or voice complaints. However, most airlines now offer online features for everything, including feedback and compensation requests. Of the airlines I fly frequently, I’ve found that United and Norwegian are stars when its comes to online customer service. The six and two times respectively that I’ve submitted requests for compensation of some kind, my requests have all been honored without a word of objection.

This brings me to a recent situation I had with Brussels Airlines. It’s an airline I love and would gladly choose over its competitors. Unfortunately, my last trip with them this summer, a one-way ticket from Gothenburg to Prague via Brussels, didn’t go quite as smooth as usual.

Once I landed in Prague I realized my bags had not arrived. I’ve never had problems with connecting luggage in Brussels before, so I thought this was a little strange given my reasonable connection time.

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Wide Open Business Class Awards To Europe For 36,620 Miles Roundtrip

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This morning View from the Wing wrote about how there’s wide open transatlantic business class award availability on Brussels Airlines and United Airlines to Brussels, Belgium. While 57,500-70,000 miles for a one-way business class award ticket is a decent deal, this caught my attention for a very different reason.

As I wrote about in May, the single best value transatlantic business class award out there is between New York and Brussels on Brussels Airlines when redeeming Etihad Guest miles. Etihad charges just 36,620 miles for the roundtrip ticket in business class. The total taxes and fees per passenger should be under $100. That’s not a typo, you read that right.

That’s the cost exclusively between New York and Brussels, though adding on additional flights within Europe won’t be expensive. For example, a roundtrip award from Brussels to Paris will cost you just 1,550 miles in business class. You can find the full point-to-point award chart here. Of course Brussels has a very central location, so it’s also a great point from which to start a train journey.

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Lufthansa Buys Brussels Airlines… Could It Be The End Of The Brand?

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Despite their overall struggles, Lufthansa is looking at some significant acquisitions. I’ve written repeatedly about how Lufthansa is planning on taking over many of airberlin’s planes and routes. Airberlin is doing horribly financially, so on the surface it seems a bit odd that Lufthansa would want to take over their competitor’s money losing routes. However, Lufthansa realizes that the alternative is that EasyJet and Ryanair could expand to/within Germany, and that’s something they want to prevent.

Well, that’s not the only significant expansion goal that Lufthansa has at the moment. Just this morning it was announced that Lufthansa will be buying the rest of Brussels Airlines, a deal that’s expected to close in 2017. Lufthansa already owns a 45% stake in Brussels Airlines, so through this deal they’re buying the other 55% as well.

Austrian and Swiss are already part of the Lufthansa group, so on the surface this might seem like a pretty innocent takeover, as those airlines continue to operate independently, simply sharing a frequent flyer program with Lufthansa, and operating as part of a joint venture in many markets.

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Yum: Brussels Airlines To Serve Fries & Belgian Waffles Onboard

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I’ve long admired Brussels Airlines, as they’re different than other airlines in Europe. They have some fun edge to them, like their ridiculous Tomorrowland party flights they operate during the annual music festival.

Unfortunately they’ve been hit especially hard by the recent Brussels terrorist attacks, which completely shut down the airport for several days, and greatly limited operations for an extended period of time. That’s especially hard for an airline like Brussels Airlines, which has just a single hub, so they couldn’t easily change their operations to a different airport.

Continuing with their theme of being ambassadors for Belgium, Brussels Airlines will soon be offering fries on intra-Europe flights of over two hours, and in their next catering cycle will offer Belgian waffles.

Per the press release:

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Is It Wrong For ATC To Go On Strike Following An Airport Terrorist Attack?

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The horribly tragic Brussels terror attacks happened on March 22, which caused Brussels Airport to close for well over a week. A part of the check-in hall was blown up and many people lost their lives, so they had to shut down the airport while they regrouped and cleaned up the wreckage. During the closure period, Brussels Airlines regional flights operated from nearby airports, while Brussels Airlines longhaul flights operated out of Frankfurt Airport.

Brussels Airport finally reopened on April 3, though only with very limited capacity — the first day just a few flights operated, and progressively more flights have been operating every day since then.

Well, at least up until today. Brussels Airport was shut down again today… due to industrial action by the Belgium air traffic controllers. Per CNBC:

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Brussels Airlines Starting Flights To Toronto In March 2016

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Last week I wrote about how Jet Airways (an India-based airline) is discontinuing their Brussels hub, out of which they’ve operated transatlantic flights for years.

The airline flew from Brussels to Newark and Toronto, and in the other direction flew from there to Delhi and Mumbai.

In other words, you could fly them one stop from Newark or Toronto to Delhi or Mumbai, given that all the flight times were coordinated.

Jet Airways is really struggling financially, so after it being rumored for a long time, they finally confirmed they’ll be discontinuing their Brussels flights as of March 2016. Instead they will be launching flights from India to Amsterdam, and will then codeshare with Delta and KLM between Amsterdam and the US. That seems like a smart idea, given that they were losing money on their transatlantic flights.

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Review: Brussels Airlines Tomorrowland Flight Frankfurt To Brussels

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Boarding began at around 10AM. In addition to the crew, the “elves” were at the door to greet passengers.

Goodie bags were also handed out, which consisted of Red Bull, sunglasses, keychains, and Tomorrowland newspapers.

It was also pretty cool that all the seat covers were Tomorrowland-branded.

At around 10:20AM the captain came on the PA to welcome everyone aboard “this very special Brussels Airlines flight to Tomorrowland” and inform us of our flight time of 45 minutes. He explained that there would be a departure delay due to some baggage we were waiting on, and promised to keep us updated.

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Review: Brussels Airlines Tomorrowland Flight Frankfurt Gate Party

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As we deplaned in Frankfurt the ground crew had boarding passes waiting for all of us for our return flight, which was in roughly an hour.

I actually didn’t realize till day of that there was also a gate party. In this case it was an enclosed gate, and there were some Lufthansa staff at the door acting as “bouncers.”

The setup was ridiculously impressive. Keep in mind that this entire gate was literally set up for an hour (or so) long party for a single flight. I can’t begin to imagine how much work went into planning this all and setting it up.

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Review: Brussels Airlines Business Class A330 Brussels To Frankfurt

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I can’t even begin to say how excited I was for my sub-400 mile day of flying. As I explained in the introduction, Brussels Airlines has special Tomorrowland party flights from a few cities in Europe to Brussels.

In this case they actually position the plane to Frankfurt empty, given that Frankfurt isn’t a destination that Brussels Airlines serves (instead they just codeshare on Lufthansa’s flights).

I wasn’t originally going to write a report about an empty positioning flight, but it turned out to be pretty awesome, so I will.

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Introduction: Flying Brussels Airlines To Tomorrowland

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In terms of ridiculous but totally worthwhile reasons for taking a trip, this probably ranks pretty high up there. As I explained in the post I wrote when I embarked on the trip, I love electronic dance music, but I’d never dance (no matter how much alcohol I have in me)… at least in public. As a result I limit my dance parties to completely empty first class cabins when the galley curtains are closed.

One of the biggest electronic music festivals in the world is Tomorrowland, held just outside of Brussels. The whole standing on a field shirtless while dancing and using portable toilet thing isn’t really for me, but in theory I’m intrigued by all of it.

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Brussels Airlines Tomorrowland Flight Tomorrow!

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Hello from Brussels! Why am I here?

Well, lets go back to last Thursday for a moment. I was at Amsterdam Airport about to get on my KLM flight to Chicago when I saw my friend Bart Tweeting about Brussels Airlines’ Tomorrowland flight.

Quick background — I love electronic dance music, but I’d never dance (no matter how much alcohol I have in me)… at least in public. As a result I limit my dance parties to completely empty first class cabins when the galley curtains are closed.

One of the biggest electronic music festivals in the world is Tomorrowland, held just outside of Brussels. The whole standing on a field shirtless while dancing and using portable toilet thing isn’t really for me, but in theory I’m intrigued by all of it.

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Brussels Airlines World Cup Flights

While perhaps not especially useful to most, Brussels Airlines has an innovative promotion for the World Cup. They’re offering the opportunity to fly with their football team roundtrip between Brussels and Sao Paulo, and the package even includes tickets to all of the games that the Belgian Red Devils play in. Here are the details:…

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