Star Alliance

Edelweiss Adds Seasonal Service To San Diego


San Diego will see increased transatlantic traffic this summer, as Edelweiss (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Swiss), is adding direct flights between Zurich and San Diego. This isn’t earth-shattering news, but for those of us in San Diego where we currently have a whopping three long-haul flights, this is pretty awesome.

The seasonal service will operate twice-weekly on an A340-300, with the following schedule:

• Monday | Zurich – San Diego 1:30pm – 5:05pm LX8018
• Monday | San Diego – Zurich 6:45pm – 3:20pm (+1) LX8019
• Friday | Zurich – San Diego 2:05pm – 5:40pm LX8018
• Friday | San Diego – Zurich 7:10pm – 3:45pm (+1) LX8019

Zurich is a fantastically easy airport to connect in, and the flight timings seem reasonable for catching onward flights to other cities in Europe. And for twice-weekly service, a Friday/Monday schedule is pretty much as good as it gets. Edelweiss has historically been successful at operating less-frequent service to leisure destinations, and hopefully that pattern continues.

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Extra Air Canada Award Space For Aeroplan Members (And Less For Everyone Else)

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While there’s rarely a dull moment around here, sometimes the nuances of searching award space or booking flights with miles aren’t that interesting for a broader audience. Especially now that the US Airways Dividend Miles Comedy Hour is a thing of the past.

When we come across something interesting though, we do our best to share it. Sometimes that’s a trick or a great deal, and other times it’s more of a cautionary tale for others who might find themselves in a similar situation.

In this case, after spending several annoyed hours trying to figure out what was “broken,” we realized we had collective amnesia surrounding an obscure Air Canada policy — that they do, theoretically, give extra space to Aeroplan members.

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Star Alliance Announces Their Newest Partner Airline


Star Alliance is the world’s largest airline alliance, though the last few years their expansion has slowed down a bit. Perhaps that’s largely because the importance of alliances as such has decreased, as airlines focus more on joint ventures and strategic partnerships.

It has been about two years since we’ve seen the last airline join the Star Alliance, though it looks like they’ll finally have a new addition… with a twist.

Shanghai-based Juneyao Airlines will be joining the Star Alliance as a Connecting Partner in 2017.

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ACT FAST! Wide Open Business Class Award Space To Europe!


If you have plans to go to Europe in the next 11 months, stop everything! Star Alliance carrier Austrian Airlines has released a ridiculous amount of award space on routes to and from North America, through the end of the schedule.

How ridiculous?

Like 8+ business class award seats per flight, nearly every day, from all North American destinations to the Austrian hub in Vienna.

Typically Austrian only releases space to Star Alliance partners within 90 days of departure, so this is fantastic and rare. Seriously, you want to book this.

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Aegean’s Frequent Flyer Program Really Is Amazing!


A couple of days ago I wrote a post asking which Star Alliance frequent flyer program I should credit my miles to. I’m on a paid business class ticket on Air Canada and South African Airways to Cape Town, which has me flying 24,000+ miles.

While I fly a fair bit on Star Alliance, it’s almost exclusively on award tickets, so I don’t actively maintain status with Star Alliance. I do presently have Star Alliance Gold status through Copa ConnectMiles, given that they were offering status matches last year. But it doesn’t seem worth requalifying for.

So for this trip the first programs I thought of were Air Canada Aeroplan, Avianca LifeMiles, and Singapore KrisFlyer, given that those are the three Star Alliance programs I tend to use most for my redemptions.

However, most people recommended I credit to Aegean Miles+Bonus.

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South African Airways A340 Business Class In 10 Pictures


Hello from South Africa! It’s not often that travel actually exhausts me, but after doing two back-to-back redeyes and traveling for almost 48 hours, I’m just about ready to hibernate.

Last night I flew from Frankfurt to Johannesburg on a South African Airways A340-600 (I was supposed to fly out of London, but that flight got canceled). Even though I’ve heard mostly negative things about SAA, I was still excited to finally fly with them.

SAA’s longhaul fleet has fully flat beds in a 2-2-2 configuration, so the seats are quite narrow, though at least they’re flat. As you’ll see below, it’s not exactly the most stylish or modern product out there.

The soft product is what intrigued me most. The service was… how shall I say… well intentioned. The crew meant well, but there was no flow to their service, and due to them not serving in a consistent manner, I couldn’t really tell whether they were constantly forgetting about me, or if they were just really slow.

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Introduction: The Long Way To Spain

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At the beginning of the year I vowed to review as many new business class products as possible, and in particular named 16 airlines I was eying. I’ve been doing everything I can to review as many of these airlines as possible, and as I’ve gone through the list, I’ve tried to figure out how I can knock out several carriers at once.

I started planning this trip in late March, where I saw an opportunity to fly to Madrid, traveling on Avianca in one direction, and on Aeromexico in the other direction.

I started planning this trip when I noticed that Avianca was allowing passengers to redeem miles for travel between the US and Europe via Bogota. That’s quite a detour. The great thing is that Avianca flies the 787 to Los Angeles, which features their reverse herringbone product. From there I could fly another 787 from Bogota to Madrid, allowing me to experience two fairly long flights in Avianca’s 787 business class.

I booked the following routing:

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I Just Booked A Cheap Business Class Fare To South Africa!


At the beginning of the year I wrote a post about the 16 airlines I want to review in 2016. You guys have asked for me to review new airlines (especially in business class), so I’ve been doing what I can to check out new carriers.

So far in 2016 I’ve reviewed the following new products:

— Air France business class
— Air India first class
— Finnair business class
— Hainan business class
— Iberia business class
— LAN business class
— Oman Air business class

On top of that, I have a couple of trips I’ve recently booked, which I’ll be taking in the coming months:

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Ethiopian Airlines Changes Which NYC Airport They’ll Serve


Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s fastest growing airline, and they’re almost trying to turn into the Turkish Airlines of the region, in terms of trying to turn their home airport into a global hub. While they’re great for connections to destinations in Africa, they’re at a geographical disadvantage otherwise (they’re not at a geographical advantage like Dubai or Istanbul).

In terms of service to North America, Ethiopian already flies to Toronto and Washington Dulles. They also fly to Los Angeles, a route they serve via Dublin, where they have pick-up rights (this means you can fly Ethiopian exclusively between Los Angeles and Dublin, if you’d like).

On top of that Ethiopian is soon launching flights to New York, a route which was first announced last year. The flight will operate via Lome Airport, in Togo. Ethiopian will have pick-up and drop off rights there, meaning passengers can fly exclusively between Lome and New York, if they’d like (I can’t imagine demand in that market is huge, but if they’re going to refuel there anyway…).

The refueling stop is necessary because Addis Ababa is at such a high altitude, so the plane is weight restricted on departure. That’s why all Ethiopian flights to North America operate with a stop (meanwhile the flights out of Toronto and Washington are nonstop on the return).

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Introduction: The Long Way Between LA And London

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Welcome to my first new trip report of 2016, as my goal for this year is to sample as many new first & business class products as possible. And I’m sure you guys will agree this is a good start. 😉

The way this trip came to be is sort of funny. In mid-December I wrote about how Finnair was flying the A350 to the US for a limited time in January. They just recently took delivery of their first A350, and are flying them exclusively to Asia as of now. So when Finnair announced they’d fly the A350 to the US for a bit over a week in January and there was plenty of award space, I couldn’t help but book.

Not only is the A350 a gorgeous plane, but Finnair has a new reverse herringbone business class product on their A350s, which looks excellent. I decided to take that award a step further, though.

While intra-Europe business class is typically only marginally better than economy (it’s usually just economy with a blocked middle seat), I noticed that Finnair was flying an A340 to London Heathrow the day after I’d arrive in Helsinki. Finnair’s other longhaul aircraft are the A330 and A340, and both feature the same business class product. So I figured this flight would be a great opportunity to sample Finnair’s other business class product, which they usually fly to the US.

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SAS All Business Class Flights Between Newark And Copenhagen


SAS has just announced that they’ll be discontinuing their all business class flight between Houston and Stavanger, and instead will be adding an additional flight between Newark and Copenhagen.

Last August, SAS launched an all business class flight between Houston and Stavanger, Norway. The flight operates 6x weekly using a wet leased PrivatAir Boeing 737-700, featuring an all business class configuration. The aircraft features just 44 seats spread across 11 rows.

As the world’s longest 737 route, it was a unique one, of course, intended to capture the oil business between the two cities.

Here’s the explanation which is given for the route being cut as of October 24, 2015, which I think is pretty self explanatory:

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Air China Has Stopped Releasing First & Business Class Award Space To The US


Admittedly Air China isn’t the most aspirational airline on earth to fly, though for a long time they’ve been a pretty reliable option for securing premium cabin Star Alliance award seats. I flew them between Paris and Beijing a bit over a year ago, and was pleasantly surprised by their onboard product in business class.

Their service to the US is rapidly expanding, as they now fly from Beijing to Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, with more service to come.

Back in the day Air China would consistently release a good amount of first class award space in advance, and a ton of business class award space in advance. Oddly they would always block out space close to departure which is the opposite of what you’d expect, but I’ve never claimed to understand them.

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Changes To Star Alliance First Class To Sydney

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Australia can be a rather difficult destination to get to using Star Alliance miles, in particular in first class. Finding nonstop award availability between the US and Australia/New Zealand is difficult, given that United releases very little saver premium cabin award space. Air New Zealand is even worse, and releases virtually no premium cabin award space between the US mainland and New Zealand. It has literally been years since I’ve seen a business class award seat on them out of Los Angeles or San Francisco.

That’s why historically the best way to redeem Star Alliance miles for travel to Australia is by routing through Asia, as there are quite a few airlines with service between the continents, and they do seem to release more award space.

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Star Alliance Air India Award Availability


GOOD MORNING! There are certain milestones we all remember in our lives. For some it may be their wedding. For some it may be the day they met Justin Bieber. For some it may be the day they were deflowered by Lufthansa first class. For me it’s definitely the day that Air India joined the Star Alliance, which is today.

The courting process between the Star Alliance and Air India started back when I was still in diapers, and today it actually finally really actually really finally happened…. really! As of today — July 11, 2014 — Air India is a member of the Star Alliance!

Anyway, I’ve always wanted to try Air India’s first class product, which is available on their 777-300ER aircraft. They have a total of four first class seats, so in terms of the overall first class “cabin footprint,” it’s probably very similar to TAM.

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