Royal Brunei A320neo Economy Class: Better Than What You’d Expect

Hello from Bandar Seri Begawan! Today I had the opportunity to fly from Hong Kong to Bandar Seri Begawan on Royal Brunei. The flight was operated by one of the airline’s brand new A320neos. I was especially excited about this flight because I hadn’t heard much about Royal Brunei’s A320neos prior to booking myself onto the flight, but was intrigued by the cabin photos that I searched up.

Royal Brunei Airbus A320neo Hong Kong Airport

After searching up the cabin photos, my expectations of Royal Brunei’s A320 heightened. I’m glad to say that those heightened expectations were met. While Royal Brunei doesn’t have the world’s most luxurious narrowbody products, this is a great way to spend 3-4 hours.

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NEXT UP: Royal Brunei’s A320neo

I’m in Hong Kong, having spent the last three months on the ground. The last two months have been a PITA – while I’m closer to university life and the prospect of flying between Europe and Asia continually than ever before, it sure isn’t easy to get there, and I’m sorry for the lack of posts in the meantime.

I’ve gotten endless support from a multitude of friends and fans. One of these friends you guys may know is Josh Cahill, who’s one of the most dedicated aviation YouTubers out there; while I’ve continued to get overloaded on all fronts, Josh has been behind me, giving me a plethora of ideas about how I can keep this blog at its best with the schedule that I operate on. The least I could do is give him a little public gratitude, so if you have free time on your hands, check out his video trip reports on YouTube (while I’ve been stuck on the ground for the last three months, I don’t think Josh’s spent any more than three days on the ground throughout the past few months, so a lot of terrific content is being generated on his channel every week).

I’m excited to announce that I’ll finally be off the ground later this week. I’ll be headed to Bandar Seri Begawan for a few days on Royal Brunei.

Royal Brunei Airbus A320 Hong Kong Airport

Continue reading “NEXT UP: Royal Brunei’s A320neo”

Qatar Airways Will “Highly Likely” Leave Oneworld

One of the greatest assets of the oneworld alliance would have to be Qatar Airways. They have an amazing business class product, they’re known for having a quality economy class soft product, and they operate an extensive routemap, if not as extensive as their neighbour (and rival) Emirates.

Qatar Airways’ business class product is all-rounded

However, on the other hand, Qatar Airways’ CEO is kind of a nutcase. Akbar Al Baker is a very smart guy who’s proud of his airline, but sometimes he just says things that others find cringeworthy. As much as I love the airline he runs, I don’t find it enough to back up his ego (and that’s saying a lot).

So while Qatar Airways has always had a good reputation among customers, the same can’t be said for its reputation among fellow industry members, such as airlines, oneworld, and Airbus (they threw a tantrum when their A380s arrived late).

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Revealed: Turkish Airlines’ 787 Business Class Configuration

While I’ve never flown Turkish Airlines, I’ve heard basically unanimous praise about their soft product. In particular, their inflight catering is provided by DO&CO,  which is renowned for having premium cabin catering that rivals anything you’d get in a nice restaurant on the ground. I’ve never actually taken a flight with DO&CO catering, but I may very soon. 😉

One issue where Turkish Airlines quite obviously lags behind is in the hard product. I haven’t flown Turkish Airlines before, but LATAM’s A350 features essentially the same seat, minus the finishes. It’s a good seat, but it’s not spectacular – I ranked it 6th (out of 9) out of the best business class configurations in 2018 last month.

img_2642Turkish Airlines Boeing 777 Hong Kong Airport

Thankfully Turkish Airlines is fixing this by introducing a new business class product on their 787s. While nothing about the product has been revealed yet, Turkish Airlines just revealed their first routes and uploaded a seatmap accordingly, which gives us a few solid hints.

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Worst Premium Longhaul Products: Don’t Let These Airlines Screw You Over

Over the past decade we’ve seen the standard for longhaul flying transition from angled-flat and herringbone seats to reverse herringbone flat beds. A month ago I listed a ranking of my favourite business class hard products flying today. Asia is a joy to fly in and out of when in first or business class, since there’s so much competition between a range of different airlines.

However, as the entire industry moves and develops itself, there are some routes that are just stuck behind the times. Most of the time, this is due to structural development, when they need to keep their old planes on certain routes due to their new planes not being rolled out at a quick enough pace. At other times, this is simply due to the logistics of the flight working out when an airline operates a route with an inferior product, where the airline doesn’t feel a need to improve its product on the route due to low yields or excess demand.

img_5322Business class in this cabin for 11 hours? No thank you

I thought it’d be fun to point out some of these routes so you guys know which ones to avoid. First of all, this isn’t a list of the worst business class products out there (I’ve heard unanimously bad things about British Airways’ hard product, so you’ll expect a consistently bad experience no matter what – they’re not on the list). I’m focusing on airlines that have done a lot to invest in and advertise a good premium product, but still operate certain flights with an older or inferior product that isn’t half as comfortable. In other words, I’m focusing on airlines with inconsistent premium products, and specifically, I’m exposing the anomalies.

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How To Deal With Cathay Pacific’s Latest Security Breach: “Do”s and “Don’t”s

Over the past few months Cathay Pacific underwent a security breach where details of many Marco Polo Club/Asia Miles accounts were revealed to the public. Airlines are really strict on security and privacy, due to the extensive documentation they require from you in order to fly you safely; these documents were made vulnerable during the latest security breach.

As you’d expect from any airline (I don’t consider their extensive research into the situation to be impressive by any means, though don’t have any complaints), Cathay Pacific immediately jumped onto the situation, and now account holders are receiving rolling emails about their details’ involvement in the situation.

Most of the below is common sense, but I thought I’d quickly compile a list of “do”s and “don’t”s for what to do, since a large number of accounts were breached.

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Cathay Pacific Is Closing Their Arrivals Lounge At Hong Kong Airport

I love when airlines offer arrivals lounges at their hub airports. They’re a good way to prolong the premium travel experience, so the airline continues to take care of you until it’s time for you to get to your hotel. It means you have somewhere to go when your flight arrives at 5 AM and your hotel check-in is at 3 PM (for this reason, a lot of arrivals lounges are only open from 5 AM to 12 PM, and close for the remainder of the day).

Cathay Pacific has long offered an arrivals lounge at Hong Kong Airport, located in one of the passageways between Terminals 1 and 2. The lounge opened in 2008, and is open all day, between 5 AM and 12 AM. It’s also open to everyone flying in first or business class on Cathay Pacific (read: not any oneworld airline), or oneworld Emerald members (Cathay Pacific Diamond and Gold members also have access) arriving on a Cathay Pacific flight.

img_2661Cathay Pacific The Arrival Lounge Hong Kong Entrance

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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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Comparing Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Airlines’ A350 Business Class Seat

Last month Hong Kong Airlines introduced their new A350 business class product, which I had the chance to tour and extensively write about. Hong Kong Airlines’ newest A350s all feature reverse herringbone seats in business class, which Cathay Pacific has operated on a majority of their longhaul fleet since 2011 (including on their A350s, even though they evolved their reverse herringbone seat in 2016). Reverse herringbone seats are my favourite business class configuration out there, due to the smart balance between privacy, comfort, and storage, so you’ll have a comfortable flight either way.

However, as you’d expect, having installed this seat quite late in the game, there are definitely many features to Hong Kong Airlines’ reverse herringbone seat on their newest A350s that differ from what you’d find on Cathay Pacific.

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin

IMG_0580Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin

I thought I’d put these two seats head-to-head, and decide which seat is more comfortable for a longhaul flight. Both of these seats will be deployed on flights of over 12 hours, so nuances in seat design can really catapult your experience in a business class product on such a long flight.

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British Airways Fires All Hong Kong-Based Cabin Crew

Despite making a profit, British Airways has decided to close its outstation at Hong Kong by October 31, 2018. This won’t affect their two flights to and from Hong Kong, though it means 85 Hong Kong-based cabin crew are losing their jobs. British Airways has justified this change by saying that the Hong Kong base has been “commercially unviable for them”.

British Airways Boeing 777 Hong Kong Airport

I’m quite surprised by this news, considering Hong Kong’s quite a big market for British Airways, and it makes sense for the airline to hire local workers as well. At the same time this makes sense. Having ground crew at Hong Kong means they’ll have to comply with Hong Kong’s labor laws and costs, which are ever-increasing, and the airline didn’t see this as a worthy investment.

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