Other Airlines

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While the seats felt a bit outdated, they were extremely comfortable.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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Why I’m Sort Of Obsessed With Azores Airlines

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I have the tendency to get a bit obsessed with random airlines. For example, last year I took an interest in Air Astana, and then a few weeks later I flew them.

Well, my newest airline obsession is a transatlantic airline, and they operate what I perceive to be the most random transatlantic route. They’re also one of the only airlines to operate Airbus A310 passenger planes on transatlantic(ish) routes.

I’m talking about Azores Airlines, formerly known as SATA. As the name suggests, they’re based in the Azores (an archipelago in the mid-Atlantic that belongs to Portugal), and operate flights to both North America and mainland Europe from there. Here’s their routemap:

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Two Weeks Of Unlimited Flying In Norway For $398

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Norway is quickly climbing my list of favorite countries in the world. The entire country is basically one big national park. Or rather one big national park where every food vendor is a farm-to-table restaurant.

So the scenery is gorgeous and the food, all of it, seemingly no matter where you dine, is fresh, natural, and real. It seems they just don’t tolerate crap in their food like we do back here in the states.

OK, so the place is a little on the expensive side. But it’s actually a lot cheaper — at least for Americans — than it was a few years ago thanks to the strengthening of the dollar. When we visited Bergen in 2013, some of the prices were just plain silly. Now they are just on the expensive side, kind of like if you were visiting New York City.

Anyway, Wideroe is back with their annual fly-all-you-want around Norway for a fixed cost in the summer of 2017.

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Introduction: Flying With Royalty (Or Not)

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In 2016 my goal was to review as many new airlines as possible, and that’s something I want to continue into 2017. So I figured I might as well get my year off to a good start, and plan a heck of a trip for the first week of the year.

The primary motivation of this trip was to review as many new airlines as quickly as possible, though I was also excited about having stopovers that allowed me to briefly visit two countries — Jordan and Brunei — for the first time.

I only planned this trip in late December, about a week before I was due to takeoff. Let’s briefly look at the planning process.

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Delta Is Paying $19.5 Million For 5 Weekly Slots At Heathrow Airport

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London Heathrow Airport is one of the most heavily slot restricted airports in the world. There’s a limited amount of capacity, and there’s a lot of demand. As a result, airlines have to purchase “slots,” which give them the right to operate a flight at a specific time.

These slots can be sold between airlines, and in some cases can go for a lot of money. For example, just under a year ago Oman Air paid a record amount for a Heathrow slot. Oman Air paid $75 million to buy a Heathrow slot from Air France/KLM.

The value of a slot can vary significantly based on when the flight is due to operate. Part of the reason the slot that Oman Air bought was so expensive was because it was for a peak early morning arrival and departure, which is generally the most desirable.

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The Next 16 First & Business Class Products I’d Like To Review

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In early 2016 I set out to review as many new first & business class products as possible, as a way of sprucing up blog content. While I figured I’d really miss the repetitive nature with which I flew many of the world’s best first class products, I’ve found reviewing new airlines to be extremely enjoyable. That goal didn’t stop in 2016, and my goal in 2017 is to try even more new airlines.

In the first couple of weeks of the year I’ve flown business class on EgyptAir, Royal Jordanian, Royal Brunei, and Emirates, all of which were new products for me.

As I begin to plot out my next big trip, I figured I’d make a list with the next 16 products I really want to review, in no particular order. I’m always curious to hear what you guys think, because at the end of the day my airline selection is based on what you guys are most interested in reading about.

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Sacrilege: 6 Flights Where I Elected NOT To Earn Miles

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On a day to day basis there aren’t many decisions I make where I don’t consider the implications they have on my mileage accounts. Whether it’s earning points by doing online shopping through a mileage portal, or earning bonus points for dining at certain restaurants, or using the right credit card to maximize my spend, points are always on my mind.

Obviously you don’t (typically) earn miles when you redeem miles for a flight, but as I’ve been going over my travels of the past year, it has occurred to me that I’ve taken six trips where I could have earned miles but elected not to. I know, this sounds absolutely crazy to any miles & points geek, so I figured I’d come clean in this post.

Here are those six trips from the past year, starting with the most recent:

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Royal Brunei 787 Business Class In 10 Pictures

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Hello from Dubai! I just flew Royal Brunei’s 787 for the 8hr25min flight between Bandar Seri Begawan and Dubai. The plane continues to London, though I got off here. I’ve been wanting to take this flight for a long time, and am happy I finally had the opportunity. There were aspects of the experience that were exceptional, while other areas where a small investment would go a long way.

Royal Brunei’s 787s feature a total of 18 business class seats, spread across three rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. The seats are forward facing and fully flat, so they’re not my favorite product when traveling alone, but are perfectly fine. This is very similar to the 787 business class product you’ll find on airlines like Azerbaijan, Hainan, LATAM, LOT, Xiamen, etc.

The flight departs at 8:30PM and gets to Dubai at 1:30AM, so it’s a bit oddly of a timed flight for those terminating their travels in Dubai. That’s because it’s timed to optimize connections to Melbourne and London. To my surprise, almost everyone in business class seemed to be flying from Melbourne to Bandar Seri Begawan to Dubai to London.

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Royal Brunei A320 Business Class In 10 Pictures

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Hello from Brunei! I just flew Royal Brunei for the quick 2hr5min flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bandar Seri Begawan. The flight was operated by an A320, so it’s not as exciting as the 787 they fly, but I still figured I’d share my general impressions.

Royal Brunei’s A320 features a total of 12 business class seats, spread across three rows in a 2-2 configuration. The legroom is a bit more than you’d find on a U.S. airline, and the seats have legrests. However, the seats do look a bit outdated.

While the seats don’t have built-in IFE, the crew distributed iPads after takeoff, which had several movies and TV shows on them.

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Horrible: Allegiant Flight Attendant Power Trip Prevents Sisters From Seeing Dying Father

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Ugh, here’s a sad story. We hear all of the time of people getting kicked off planes for a variety of reasons. Some of them are valid, some of them aren’t valid, and some of them are somewhere in the middle. For better or worse, flight attendants have virtually unlimited authority since 9/11. If they don’t feel “comfortable” with someone aboard, they can have them removed from the plane.

I support that concept in theory, because situations have a tendency to only escalate more once a plane is in the air. The problem is that it assumes all flight attendants are level headed, compassionate people, and sadly that’s not the case (a vast majority are, but like every industry, there are bad apples). Sometimes I can’t help but shake my head at what goes down, like this story.

Two sisters were flying Allegiant Air from Orlando, Florida, to Asheville, North Carolina, on Monday, to visit their father. Shortly before the plane left one sister received a text saying that the father had only hours left to live, and wanted to console her sister. They were understandably an emotional mess.

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A (Mostly) Dry Trip: EgyptAir, Royal Jordanian, And Royal Brunei Business Class!

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Earlier today I wrote about my seven favorite airlines I flew for the first time in 2016. I’ve really loved trying new airlines, so in 2017 am hoping to review even more new and interesting airlines than I have this year.

I’m also making a point of trying to visit as many new countries as possible, and in 2017 am hoping to make it to my 100th country (I’ll have a separate post with my progress towards that).

With that in mind, I’ve planned my first major trip of 2017, which I’m really excited about! I think some of you will be interested in the airlines as well.

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My 7 Favorite Airlines I Flew For The First Time In 2016

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One of my big focuses of 2016 was reviewing as many new airlines as possible. Given that I’ve flown most of the world’s best first class products, this came primarily in the form of trying more business class products. Furthermore, with so many airlines having devalued their award charts, often the sweet spot for award redemptions is shifting from first class to business class.

At first I figured I’d miss products like Cathay Pacific first class, Emirates first class, Lufthansa first class, etc., which almost began to feel like second homes.

However, I’ve found it so enjoyable to try new airlines. In many ways, airlines reflect the cultures of their respective homes, so even if you’re not visiting a country, flying a country’s airline gives you a good taste of that destination. I’ve enjoyed flying new airlines so much, and my goal for 2017 is to review even more new airlines than I did this year.

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Must See: AirBaltic’s Nutcracker Airplane Ballet!

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Around the holidays we often see airlines release special themed videos to get people thinking about them. Well, Riga-based airline AirBaltic just published one such video, and it’s incredible.

AirBaltic is the launch customer for the Bombardier CSeries 300, and is just in the process of taking delivery of their first of 20 of these planes.

To celebrate the holidays and this new plane, they’ve done what they call the first ever ballet performed by an airplane. The video is both funny and adorable, so it’s well worth a watch, if you have a few minutes:

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America’s Most Corrupt “Airline” Has A New Plane & Business Plan

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In 2014 I first wrote about Baltia Air Lines, which is America’s oldest startup airline. They’ve been in “business” for over 25 years, except they’ve never actually flown a commercial flight, despite having owned a 747-200 for over 20 years (which they finally dumped earlier this year, after hiring a consultant who told them it might not be the ideal plane with which to launch an airline — who would’ve thought?!).

Their business plan was to initially fly between New York and St. Petersburg, Russia, with plans to later expand to other European capitals. For years Baltia has been pretending that they’re actually going to start flying some day soon. Bizarrely enough, some people actually believed it, as the airline had a market cap of $70 million in 2014.

Finally earlier this year the SEC filed charges against one of Baltia’s executives, who was accused of misleading investors.

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