Coming Up Next – The Ticket I Feel Most Heartbroken About

While I’m trying my best to roll out my reviews (I’m fully aware that I’ve yet to complete my review set of a trip to Bangkok I did in February, though I’m prioritising flight reviews of newer airline products first), I’m also getting ready for my move to the UK. I’ll be getting an engineering degree at Imperial College, so will be based there for a few years, before deciding where to move onto next (yeah, so much for Young Travelers of “Hong Kong”, but…)

I had to get to the UK, and with no award space on any oneworld airline available for my dates, I decided to book a one-way ticket to London. Since my dad was travelling with me and he would be flying back, I focused on finding the cheapest ticket for him, as I knew my ticket wouldn’t be cheap either way. We ended up finding an Emirates ticket into London and out of Paris (where he needed to be), which had us on A380s on all four legs.

Emirates Airbus A380 Munich Airport

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5 Fifth-Freedom Flights From Hong Kong I’d Like To Try

Sometimes airlines find profit in flying a plane to a certain destination via another, so to fulfil two low-demand destinations. These flights were instrumental to the economic viability of longhaul flights prior to the 80s, since planes didn’t have the range to fly ultra-longhaul. Nowadays, with profitable aircraft such as the A350 or 787, there’s much less need for fifth-freedom flights – which makes them all the more fun when you actually get to fly them.

Fifth-freedom flights these days are normally run when there’s insufficient demand for a flight to be run to a single destination, so airlines “tag” the flight onwards to sell the fifth-freedom segment as well (for example, Egyptair can’t justify the demand to operate a direct flight between Cairo to Hong Kong, so they route their twice-weekly flight via Bangkok to generate revenue between Bangkok and Hong Kong as well). Other airlines operate “novelty” fifth-freedom flights, where they’ve sustained a fifth-freedom flight for years and are unwilling to give it up despite the fact that a direct flight may be more viable. Emirates is a good example of that (continue reading to find out more).

Thai Airways’ flight between Hong Kong and Seoul allows the airline to compete on the Hong Kong to Seoul segment (this isn’t one of the more interesting fifth freedom routes out of Hong Kong in my opinion – I’d much rather fly Korean Air or Asiana business class, which is usually reasonably priced)

Believe it or not, I haven’t actually had the chance to fly any fifth-freedom routes. The closest I’ve gone to flying one is Singapore Airlines’ flight between Singapore and San Francisco via Hong Kong – however, I flew the Singapore to Hong Kong segment, whereas the Hong Kong to San Francisco segment would’ve been the fifth-freedom flight. So I thought I’d list a few of the fifth-freedom flights I’d like to try in the coming years.

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Emirates Reduces Flights Out Of Dubai For Runway Upgrade

Emirates operates out of one of the world’s largest hubs, Dubai International Airport. While I’ve never been, I know for a fact that it’s one of the world’s busiest airports. It’s also one of the most hectic, as the airport’s been around for a while, and the airline has had exponential growth throughout the past decade.

Emirates operates a hub-and-spoke model, which means that they focus on serving one-stop flights between a wide variety of destinations at high capacities (they have, by far, the most A380s in operation out of any airline, and have 6.75 times more A380s on order than the next biggest operator, Singapore Airlines), which further adds to how busy their Dubai hub is. They seem to be doing quite well – from Hong Kong alone Emirates offers three daily A380 flights (the most of any airline out of Hong Kong), one of which routes through Bangkok, and an additional 777 flight, and they’ve done so for many years. They also have quite a good reputation in Hong Kong, as many more have heard of Emirates compared to their Middle Eastern counterparts, Etihad and Qatar Airways (both of which also fly to Hong Kong).

img_2580Emirates Airbus A380 Taipei Taoyuan Airport

That’s why they were impacted pretty severely when Dubai Airport announced they’d be upgrading a runway, restricting capacity out of Dubai Airport. For that reason, next year Emirates will be cutting hundreds of frequencies per week out of Dubai Airport, which I thought was worth writing about.

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5 Underwhelming Business Class Products I Really Want To Try

Over the years I’ve been pretty fortunate to try some awesome business class products. I’ve long booked flights based on convenience, though a couple times I’ve been able to go out of my way and try some new business class products as well. Qatar Airways’ awesome business class comes to mind. Over the next couple of months I’ll also get to try a few other business class products that have also been well-liked over the years, and I’m expecting some pretty good flights.

On the other end of the spectrum, I find it very interesting when I try airlines that talk a big game, though deliver an underwhelming product. So far the airline that has done this the most throughout my (rather limited) sample size is Lufthansa (as far as longhaul flights go). Their business class seats aren’t the best, their catering is appalling, and their service culture wasn’t great the last time I flew them (fortunately that has improved since, though the subpar business class seats and catering remain).

img_5495Lufthansa Airbus A380 Business Class Seats 24H and 24K

Now that I fly with parents I’d like to make sure we try some of the best products at optimal values. However, since I’m a year away from flying alone multiple times a year, I’d like to make a point to fly as many products as I can. Simply flying amazing products won’t allow me to properly see the market average and evaluate a product fairly, so here are some of the products that I think will balance out the amazing products that I’ve been able to try so far.
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UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen Cut Ties with Qatar, Airlines Will Cancel Routes To and From Qatar

I know that the Gulf countries have long had beef with one another, but I was still rather shocked at the suddenness of this morning’s news. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, and Yemen have cut ties with the Qatari government over alleged “support of ISIS and al-Qaeda groups”. This has impacted airlines including Emirates, Etihad, flydubai and Qatar.

img_5315Etihad is one of a number of airlines impacted by this incident

The Qatar stock market has plummeted after this, and I’m not sure about the cause yet (though in my opinion, there probably is a reason why only the Gulf countries are getting involved in this dispute).

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Emirates Will Start Pricing For Their WiFi (With A Catch)

While Emirates has long been on my bucket list, I haven’t found the chance to fly them yet (though worry not, I’m currently planning a series of trips and Emirates is one of the airlines involved in my planning). Some of my friends have flown Emirates extensively, and have reported back with positive thoughts – the experience seems like one that’s fun and “blinged” out, if not very polished.

0-weu-d3-4638819b7e3405970ad0c62d88c66fe2Emirates Airbus A380-800 Business Class

One amenity that Emirates offers is probably the cheapest paid WiFi across any airline – they used to give everyone 10 MB of free WiFi, then 500 MB of paid WiFi for US$1 after that. I suspect I’d still use up US$20-30 on a long flight if WiFi worked at a speed I was happy with, but you never know (however, reports are that speeds are rather slow, since everyone is using it). That’s changing.

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Emirates’ New Boeing 777-300ER Business Class

I haven’t thrown much shade on Emirates. While they’ve sure had an outdated 777 business class product, I haven’t taken them before, and their A380 product doesn’t look bad at all.

Emirates Airbus A380-800 Business Class

A few days ago Emirates revealed they’d be unveiling their new business class product at ITB Berlin. Of course, seeing Cathay Pacific had a booth there, I had hopes that Cathay Pacific would follow Emirates’ tracks, but apparently it doesn’t seem like so. 😉

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