This post isn’t your typical “useful review” or “tips and tricks” post, but rather for those of you that have been following along with our journey at Young Travelers of Hong Kong.
As 2024 has started, we’ve been doing some front-end planning on how we approach reviews this year at Young Travelers of Hong Kong. After starting work at a consultancy post-COVID, I’ve got more freedom to strategically use my time and resources to give you guys the most valuable reviews. Jason also has plans to move around throughout the year, and is actively contributing to our plans as well.
I thought I’d share some of this strategy, as well as some upcoming travel.
We want our strongest expertise to be on good-value premium Europe-Asia travel
Our site joined BoardingArea in late 2022, and we’ve joined a team of incredibly experienced bloggers that collectively have the internet’s largest expertise in the premium airline travel sphere. This is true all across the world, though a vast majority of our blogs are based in the U.S., so there is a skewed focus on transatlantic and transpacific travel, especially in first and business class.
Business class continues to be a great-value use of miles (especially with programmes like AAdvantage where you can book up to four segments on a single ticket), though lower-cost paid premium economy travel is becoming an increasingly lucrative market. I’d call the gap between economy and premium economy class the biggest in terms of seat comfort and inflight experience, and I’ve learned through my few premium economy flights this year that the experience can really vary from airline to airline. These can often become our most read reviews on this blog, and they’re also the ones I enjoy writing the most.
I made an AAdvantage redemption last year with four legs, from Phuket to Doha to Abu Dhabi to Rome to London. This would’ve allowed me to review Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa First Class lounge in Doha, as well as the new Etihad business class lounge in Abu Dhabi. That being said, there are already great resources out there (linked above), and I’ve reviewed the Qatar Airways and Etihad business class experience in depth before onboard their flagship fleet.
So (slightly painstakingly) I cancelled both business class itineraries I made to Phuket, including my outbound from Stockholm to Singapore via Doha in Finnair A330 business class and Qatar Airways’ QSuite, as I was able to reinstate my AAdvantage miles and get taxes refunded. I’ll still be spending time with my family in Phuket, though I’ll be flying there in KLM premium economy, and back in Qantas’ A380 premium economy. Eventually I’m hoping that in a few years’ time, I’ll have flown premium economy on most major airlines that offer the product.
(I booked a reasonably priced KLM premium economy ticket from Stockholm to Singapore, and Qantas heavily discounts their ex-Thailand premium economy fares, where I’ll first be flying a leg on Jetstar. Oh, and I did put a minimum bid upgrade request, in case Qantas’ flagship flight randomly has some business class seats available – I’d find the reviews to be equally valuable, and I personally wouldn’t mind a flat bed.)
Finnair’s no-recline business class is intriguing, though I’ve flown the product before; Jason has reviewed Finnair’s longhaul business class product multiple times on this site
This isn’t Qatar Airways’ QSuite, though more and more people will be excited to fly KLM premium economy on their holidays and business trips
Fear not, we’ll still be hunting down some business class products to review, especially on miles – I’m heading to the U.S. for the first time in Virgin Atlantic’s A330neo business class later this year, and am keen to compare it to British Airways’ Club Suite. I’ve also got a ticket booked in Singapore Airlines’ 737 MAX from Singapore to Phuket, where I’ll be able to review the airline’s refurbished lounges at Changi Airport’s Terminal 3. When I eventually visit Etihad’s new lounges at Abu Dhabi Airport’s Terminal A, I’m hoping to find a way to fly there in their new 787-9 business class.
Here are a few other products I’d love to try that would fit in this category:
- Emirates’ A380 premium economy
- Air France A350/787 business class/premium economy
- KLM’s business class
- Austrian 777 premium economy
- British Airways’ new premium economy (on their A350s, 777s, and 787-10s)
- SAS A350 premium economy
- ANA 777 business class/premium economy
- China Airlines business class/premium economy
We’ll be increasing our focus on European leisure travel
Last year I flew Easyjet for the first time, and got off the plane wondering why I didn’t fly low-cost airlines more often. I’m avoiding flying for the sake of flying (for environmental reasons), though I did take up opportunities to go on trips with friends/visit other friends/attend commitments in other European countries, partially so I could review more airlines. So in the next couple of months I’ll be flying Ryanair, Norwegian (to Stockholm, to position for my KLM itinerary), Wizzair, Aer Lingus, and more.
Despite living in Europe for 4.5 years, I’ve yet to fly Ryanair
I did book one trip to hunt down an airline. Specifically, I crafted a weekend trip around flying Loganair, Scotland’s airline (or flag carrier?). They seem to run a boutique airline approach where they offer all passengers checked bags and a snack onboard, and I’m really keen to review them. Specifically, I’ll be reviewing their flight out of Heathrow, partially to report back on what it’s like to fly Loganair on a flight from Heathrow, but also because I’m very intrigued by the prospect of flying a turboprop out of one of the world’s 10 largest airports. I’m also hoping to book another trip on their ERJ145 from Southampton to Edinburgh soon, though am hoping I’ll find a good reason to spend an extended amount of time in Edinburgh first.
I’ll be flying this cute little plane out of Heathrow
As intra-Europe business class is just economy class with a blocked middle seat, I don’t think I’ll be purposefully chasing intra-Europe business class products, or seeking out economy class products where I’ve flown the airline’s intra-Europe business class. For example, having flown Finnair’s regional business class on their E190 and transited through Helsinki Airport, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good idea of what flying their economy class will be like on a shorthaul flight, without having to try a separate flight. I could be wrong, though, so feel free to come back at me.
The hope is to get some Hong Kong leisure travel in as well
I don’t live in Hong Kong anymore, though I’m still a Hong Konger at heart – in fact, my blog is still named after the city. I’m hoping that we can get a few more reviews in for Hong Kong leisure travelers, including Hong Kong Airlines’ economy class product, as well as economy class on Cathay Pacific’s A321neo. Jason reviewed Hong Kong Express a while ago, though I’m keen to join in on the party.
The airline I’m most intrigued by is the new low-cost airline player in the market, Greater Bay Airlines. They’re operating an increasingly large network out of Hong Kong, and I’d like to try them next time I’m back. In fact, I might even consider using them to position to a premium economy/business class one-way flight out of a southeast Asian airport.
I’d love to comprehensively review Greater Bay Airlines
We’re sharpening our review strategy this year at Young Travelers of Hong Kong, with a greater focus on Europe-Asia premium economy and business class travel. In addition, we’re hoping to build our review portfolio of intra-Europe travel, from low-cost leisure carriers such as Ryanair and Wizzair, to boutique airlines such as Loganair. At the end of the day, we’re hoping to be a resource for our readers whenever they’re booking flights, so they know which airline to fly, as well as what to expect.
As part of this strategy, I cancelled some QSuite flights and a visit to Etihad’s brand new lounges at Abu Dhabi Airport, because I felt like a review of KLM and Qantas premium economy would be more valuable. I’m hoping to review more premium economy and Europe-Asia business class products this year.
What else would you like to see us review this year?