Virgin’s Number One Frequent Flyer Out Of This World

Virgin Galactic Competition

In an interesting new Virgin press release it’s been announced that their number one frequent flyer will be gifted a free seat on Virgin Galactic’s flights to space.

The competition starts from today and all members of either Virgin Australia, Atlantic or America’s frequent flyer program have until August 7th 2013 to accrue as many points as they can to win this flight valued at more then $200,000. You can learn more about the competition here Virgin’s dedicated webpage.

In other Virgin Galactic news Virgin is looking at adding competition into the “launching satellite” market  with Virgin Galactic craft also being able to deploy various satellites.

With the launch of the Virgin space flights starting in December 2013 it will be interesting to see just how many people are willing to pay the price for a true “trip around the world”.

Dr George

 

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Emirates A380 Service Added To Singapore

emirates a380

Emirates A380 Service Now Added To Singapore

In a great new announcement Emirates has decided to increase capacity on their Singapore route adding the world famous luxury of the Emirates A380 for a daily flight to and from the hub of Asia.

It has been said that of all the airlines flying the A380 Emirates has been the airline that has really added full luxury to their first class. So far Emirates is the only commercial airliner to offer first class passengers the opportunity to shower in the air, a luxury previously limited to exclusive private jets.

Other Asian destinations serviced by the Emirates A380 include Bangkok and Hong Kong.

As noted in The Business Times the Emirates A380 will soon be flying to Melbourne Australia from October and Moscow from December.

This will now mean that both Sydney and Melbourne as serviced by 3 companies flying the A380, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Qantas.

Currently Emirates flys as far as Auckland however they do not have the additional leg across to the east coast of the USA. Making an Emirates only round the world fare no yet possible. I hope in time a full A380 only round the world fare would be a viable option. Now that would be pure luxury of travel.

Dr George

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A Case Of First Class Disappointment

Qantas First Class Luxury

Almost on the laughable scale is news that an Australian expert in industrial and organisational psychology, a man who focuses on employee well being,  managed to delay a Qantas A380 load of passengers after demanding to be let off the aircraft due to lack of pyjama’s in his size.

While the soft amenities of flying first class are appreciated, nice toiletry bags and pyjama’s are not usually a deal breaker when it comes to my flights. Clearly for this couple it was.

 Twitter Reactions To “Pyjama Gate”

Clionadh PegrumClionadh Pegrum – @ClionadhPegrum
Passengers refuse to fly to LA because there were no XL pjs in first class available http://t.co/i70Qqynr #firstworldproblems

Joelle AlcaidinhoJoelle Alcaidinho – @Joelle_writes
A JUMBO tantrum over first-class pajamas has held up a @QantasUSA flight to Melbourne http://t.co/TEuWI8M5 (via @JohnnyJet) so ridiculous.

While there has been much press on the cost of this delay and many people who have chastised this doctor for his childish behaviour, I have admit that I too would be very annoyed if I had paid the high premium of a first class fare to be presented with a product that not what matched the price tag.

Designer or not, if Qantas had advertised the product to include these touches, any deviation from this leads to potential disappointment in the paying customers mind. This goes not just for items like pyjamas but also availability of food selections and even whether the in flight entertainment is working.

I’ve certainly felt angry when flying first class between Sydney and Los Angles to have the only seat in a full first class that didn’t have a working television. You can imagine how frustrated I felt as everyone else was watching shows and I was left with a blinking screen.

It’s these incidents that lead to a drop in trust of airlines and the integrity of their promises to their customers. If an airline is not able to keep enough stock of their soft offerings what is their spending like in other areas such as maintenance or safety training?

Sure I would probably not hold up all the other passengers to “make a stand”, but I sure know that this would leave an impression on me when I next chose to fly.

Sure, Qantas has a bit of  a monopoly on the Australia to US route in the first class cabin, but that may not be for ever and it’s not the only route.

So what are your thoughts. Was this simply a once off over the top mishap or are people’s expectations of luxury being set too high?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Dr George

As a disclosure, this article was written in my Singapore Airlines First Class pyjamas. 😉

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CNN’s Top Ten Luxury Airline Lounges

CNN today published their top ten list of Airline Lounges.

While I am pleased to see that the expected’s were present there were a few notable absences.

Indeed the First Class Terminal of Lufthansa is amazing. While I have not yet travelled through it I have recently had a change of heart with Lufthansa. Indeed they are now an amazing strong airline and they seem to have dropped the stuffy pretence of years gone by.

Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal Frankfurt

I absolutely love the idea of being taken in a Porsche from the door of the terminal to my flight. Absolutely the best way to start a flight.

Of note in CNN’s report is the lack of one airline lounge that I think is truly world class, The Private Room by Singapore Airlines.

I love The Private Room, so much luxury and an oasis in busy Singapore airport.

The Private Room Singapore Airlines HamburgerThe restaurant is amazing and if you are looking for a touch of pure decadence you have to try the “hamburger”.

Of course it’s no standard hamburger, that’s chopped filet minion, truffle and a quails egg to top it off! Pure luxury.

While a think that this report by CNN does cover many of the standard choices I think there are many other lounges that are great and sadly not included.

What is your favorite lounge?

Dr George

 

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Congratulations Qatar Airways On Winning Airline Of The Year

Congratulations to Qatar Airways on winning airline of the year 2012.

As reported in The Age newspaper:

For the second year in a row, Qatar Airways took out the Airline of the Year award for best airline in the world.

Skytrax CEO Edward Plaisted said the awards were “something of a victory over the more established legacy carriers that have previously taken the top prizes in these categories”.

Interesting is that Australian carrier Qantas has fallen in the rankings.

Qantas fell out of the World Airline Awards’ top 10 for the first time, dropping to number 15 from number eight last year. The airline’s ranking has sunk every year since 2008, when it peaked at number three. This year’s drop comes in the wake of last year’s industrial dispute that saw CEO Alan Joyce ground the airline’s entire fleet in October, affecting about 68,000 passengers worldwide.

Qatar Airways service was recently reviewed in The Age:

Lounge access For business passengers transferring in Doha, the Qatar Premium Terminal is more akin to a five-star hotel than a holding pen. Along with complimentary fine-dining restaurant and drinks, there’s a bakery, a couple of bars, business facilities, comfortable seating, shower rooms, smokers’ lounge, children’s nursery and games room and attentive attendants. There are no loudspeaker announcements — instead, attendants will seek you out and let you know when it’s time to board your next flight

Service Very attentive; crew address business-class passengers by name.

Food and beverages La Grand Dame Champagne is offered before take-off with leather-bound menus. The food, served on mini linen tablecloths, is of high quality and includes Arabic mezze platters (dips and flatbreads) and paperbark smoked barramundi with wild rosella and wasabi couscous. Desserts are equally exotic. Snacks available any time. The wine selection includes French champagne, New Zealand sauvignon blancs and Australian shiraz.

Sounds like a wonderful airline and I am keen to try Qatar Airways some time soon.

Dr George

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Virgin Atlantic Opens For Moscow Tourism

By far one destination I am very keen to go to is Moscow.

So much history, still complete with the feel of Eastern Europe Moscow is an exciting destination complete with many aspects to explore.

Good news is that Virgin Atlantic has pounced on lost British Airways slots into Moscow opening this destination for more travelers out of Heathrow. As reported in The Guardian:

Virgin Atlantic intends to start flying from Heathrow to Moscow next year as part of plans to build a broader network of short and midhaul flights connecting at the London hub.

The airline said it would operate daily flights to the Russian capital should it win the slots British Airways has to give up at Heathrow.

The merger of the two British airlines which served Moscow, bmi and BA, means a competitor will be given rights to start services, and Virgin’s announcement shows it believes it is pole position. Traffic between the two cities has trebled in the last 10 years and demand on the route continues to grow.

Steve Ridgway, Virgin Atlantic’s chief executive, said the airline believed it should win all 12 remaining slots: “Linking these two cities will be an important part of our strategy to run short haul flights into Heathrow thus feeding our long haul network. It will also radically improve competition on the route.”

Now may be a great time to fly to Moscow and enjoy one of the last of the Eastern Block countries without too much western influence.

Dr George

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Peninsula Hotel Shanghai: High Tea Luxury

Throughout Asia, The Peninsula hotel has made a name for itself for sophisticated luxury. High tea is extremely popular with lines of people waiting to enjoy an afternoon of decadence.

While I have not enjoyed high tea at The Peninsula Shanghai, I have enjoyed similar at The Peninsula Hong Kong.

Having stayed as a American Express Preferred Guest our package included a booked table for complimentary high tea. It was amazing and perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Known for its luxury The Peninsula Hotel Shanghai is also noted for their attention to detail.

As reviewed in Stuff New Zealand:

My black shirt hadn’t had the very top button in place for months.

It had come off and I’d left it in the top pocket promising myself I’d, actually, my wife (I have a terrible fear of all things sewing thanks to primary school home ec classes) would sew it back on some time.

So when the shirt came back from the Peninsula Hotel Shanghai’s laundry service within two hours cleaned, pressed and with the button back in place, it was like having a new shirt.

It’s the little things that make a big difference when staying in a hotel. It’s wonderful to see that The Peninsula Hotel brand continues to flourish with it’s new location in Shanghai.

Highly recommended.

Dr George

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Emirates A380 Inflight Shower. Amazing!

How is this for the ultimate in luxury, showering after a long fight… Before you have landed!

With the amazing  Emirates A380 First Class is the opportunity to enjoy full shower facilities. Don’t get too lost in the dream world though, there is a 30 minute time limit! Easy for many guys, but some galls <cough cough my wife> may want to plan their time 🙂

 

Great news for our USA East Coast friends is that the Emirates A380 will be arriving to NYC twice a day from January 2013.

As reported in ETurbo news:

“Emirates is experiencing very high demand for its New York flights and the start of twice daily A380 service to JFK will enable us to offer more choice for our customers to benefit from the Emirates A380 experience,” said Thierry Antinori, Executive Vice President of Passenger Sales Worldwide.

“Given the popularity of this giant aircraft, known for its quietness, spaciousness and award-winning on-board product, we are confident that this news will be well-received by our customers.”

I have a passion for luxury flights and the Emirates A380 First Class product looks amazing. With their flights to Europe, Australia and now twice daily to New York, you can enjoy the  Emirates A380 on more regular flights. I hope soon they will have flights to west coast of the USA making round the world on Emirates only a possibility.

Dr George

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The Mandarin Oriental Hotel San Francisco For Luxury

Not sure if you get to San Francisco often but hotels there can be very hit and miss.

For true luxury in San Francisco you have to check out The Mandarin Oriental Hotel. It’s amazing.

Night an tall, beautiful views and it’s just been renovated so it’s lovely and fresh!

One of the many reviews of The Mandarin Oriental Hotel at TripAdvisor:

The remodeled Mandarin Oriental Hotel San Francisco continues its excellence. The lobby and downstairs lounge/bar have been completely renovated and updated to an understated calm elegance, and this is also reflected in a renovated room suite I enjoyed during a recent business trip.

The service in every department is personal, prompt, warm and professional, as always.

I am hooked.

San Francisco has so much to offer. From it’s great eating, amazing shopping and many cultural districts. Now the Mandarin Oriental is positioned well for all the tourist elements but I highly recommend the following tip: Just pack some water and get walking. There are so many amazing areas. I love Mission Hill, The Castro, and the back streets of Russian Hill. If you get a chance pack a lunch and enjoy Golden Gate Park, it’s so wonderful and serene!

San Francisco is massive, take your time, you won’t be able to do it all it one holiday. For me I make The Mandarin Oriental Hotel as my base camp, and the fun begins from there.

Dr George

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Beautiful Shangri La Hotel Bangkok Completes Renovation

Congratulations to the Shangri La hotel Bangkok on the completion of their renovations.

If you are looking for a wonderful hotel with beautiful views a little away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, you have to consider the Shangri La

 

I have always been a huge fan of the Shangri La brand. The Shangri la Bangkok brings that brand to a whole new level.

On my last stay I was met at the airport by a dedicated limo driver. Given the heat and humidity I was thrilled he met me with a cool hand towel as well as a cold bottle of water for the drive. Having flown some 14 hours it was nice to relax into the leather seats watching the kaos below as the car zoomed along above on the express way.

Upon arrival I was greeted at the door by my name and walked straight up to my upgraded suite complete with beautiful river views.

The room was immaculate, full amenities and a surprise bonus massage voucher had been gifted to me.

Every day complimentary buffet  breakfast was amazing. So many exotic fruits and Asian fare. While the western standards were present I can’t see why you would choose it with the amazing selection.

Full access to Bangkok’s hot spots are available a short monorail trip away.

For me The Shangri La Bangkok is a perfect choice for relaxation, rest yet close enough to the action for plenty of fun.

Dr George

 

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