Archive | June, 2011

Top 10 Best Airline Premium Economy Classes

22 Jun

Due to the current economic downturn, smart business travelers who are trying to save but still enjoy a sense of comfort in the air have turned to the various premium economy products introduced by several airlines. Usually costing 1.5x to 2x the original price of a regular economy ticket, premium economy seats boast more leg room, a more exclusive cabin and, in some cases, special dining, noise-cancelling headphones, larger PTV screens, lounge access, priority boarding and dedicated cabin staff.

With most of the perks of business class but with a ticket price that doesn’t break the bank, savvy travelers have begun to flock to the premium economy option and airlines without this product are beginning to take notice. Two airlines with future premium economy classes include Malaysia Airlines, who will be be introducing the new class in their new A380s, and Cathay Pacific, which hinted that they may role out the new product in 2012.

Below is the current list of the Top 10 Best Premium Economy Classes for 2011. Rankings are based on customer reports, SkyTrax rankings, seat pitch, width and comfort, perks associated with the premium economy class seating (is it J- or Y+) quality.

10. ANA (All Nippon Airways) Premium Economy

Seat Pitch – 42″

Seat Width – 18.5″

Aircraft – B777, B747, B787

Extras – Footrest, slippers, noise-cancelling headphones, lounge access prior to flight (http://simpliflying.com/2009/is-premium-economy-here-to-stay-a-brand-review-of-all-nippon-airlines/)

Cons – Service is exactly the same as economy, dining options are also the same as Economy

Rating – C+

ANA Premium Economy Seat

ANA New Premium Economy Seat

9. Air France Premium Voyageur

Seat Pitch – 38″

Seat Width – 19″

Aircraft – A340, B777, B747

Extras – Shell seats, leg rest, amenity kits, pillow and cover are business class standards, meals served before Economy, touchscreen video

Cons – Meals are the same as Economy class, no lounge access

Rating – B-

Air France Premium Economy Seat

Air France Premium Economy Amenity Kit

8. British Airways World Traveller Plus

Seat Pitch – 38″

Seat Width – 18.5″

Aircraft – B767, B777, B747

Extras –  Amenity kits, pillow and cover are business class standards, meals served before Economy, dedicated cabin

Cons – Meals are the same as Economy class, no lounge access

Rating – B-

British Airways Premium Economy Seat

British Airways World Traveller Plus Amenity Kit

7. Japan Airlines Premium Economy

Seat Pitch – 38″

Seat Width – 18.9″

Aircraft – B777

Extras – Amazing meals with Deal&Deluca Ice Cream and champagne available, noise-canceling headphones, amenity kits

Cons – Seats are not as comfortable as other Premium Economy products, more of Y+ as opposed to J-

Rating – B

6. Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy

Seat Pitch – 38″

Seat Width – 21″

Aircraft – B747 and A340

Extras – Priority check-in and boarding, welcome drinks on board, premium dining, amenity kit

Cons – In-seat power requires special adapter for use (Virgin allows you to rent the adapter for a jaw-dropping $100 or 69 Pounds), although dining is considered “premium, meals are very similar to economy class meals.

Rating – B+

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Seat

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Amenity Kit

5. Air New Zealand Premium Economy (Old Seating)

Seat Pitch – 39″ (B777), 38″-40″(B747)

Seat Width – 17.8″

Aircraft – B777, B747, B767, B737, A320

Extras – Priority check-in, Business Premier dining, self-service bar, 8.4″ high-resolution AVOD system, crockery used for dining, 42 Below Cocktails available, amenity kits

Cons – Not as great as the new Spaceseats available on select B777s.

Rating – A-

Air New Zealand Premium Economy Seat

Air New Zealand Premium Economy Cabin

4. EVA Air Elite Class/Deluxe Class

Seat Pitch – 38″ (B747) 40″ (B777)

Seat Width – 18″

Aircraft – B777, B747

Extras – Shape-memory seats, 8.4″ Touch Screen, amenity kits, quilts available, wider selection of meals, Pioneer in premium economy service with numerous accolades

Cons – No Priority Check-in, No Noise Canceling Headphones

Rating – A-

EVA Air Premium Economy Seat

TIE – 2. Air New Zealand Spaceseats (New Seating)

Seat Pitch – 41″

Seat Width – 19″

Aircraft – B777

Extras – Priority check-in, Business Premier dining, self-service bar, 10.6″ high-resolution AVOD system, crockery used for dining, 42 Below Cocktails available, amenity kits, shell seats with privacy compared to business class, a premium economy seat that is almost as great as a business class product, 2-2-2 configuration with direct aisle access, snacks on demand order through touchscreen, freshly prepared pizza or tasting plate, earrings and Complimentary amenity kit including Clarins skincare products Full sized pillow and soft polar fleece blanket for resting

Cons – No lounge access, not many Air New Zealand planes have it, NOT PRICED like premium economy hence its lower ranking

Rating – A

Air New Zealand New Premium Economy Seats

TIE – 2. Turkish Airlines Comfort Class

Seat Pitch – 46″ (B777)

Seat Width – 19.5″

Aircraft – B777

Extras – Very generous seat pitch, pre-flight drink service (champagne available), business-class like service onboard, wide selection of excellent meals, noise-cancelling headphones, amenity kits, 10.6″ personal touchscreen monitor

Cons – No Priority Check-in, No Lounge Access

Rating – A

Turkish Airlines Premium Economy Seat

Turkish Airlines Premium Economy Amenity Kit

1. Qantas Premium Economy

Seat Pitch – 38″ (Middle Seats) – 42″ (Side Seats)

Seat Width – 19.5″

Aircraft – A380, B747

Extras – Footrest, 9″ Recline, 8.4″ Entertainment Screen, Pre-flight Champagne, Comfort Amenity Kit, Priority Check-in. Right price for Premium Economy

Rating – A+

Qantas Premium Economy Seat


		
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Top 10 Longest Non-Stop Flights in the World

13 Jun

With the introduction of more fuel-efficient, long-range aircraft, airlines are beginning to push the limit of human comfort in the air by introducing ultra long-haul flights. Gone are the days of mandatory technical stops, connecting-flight hassle, wallet-zapping Duty Free shopping in a foreign airport and the chance to say that I’ve visited Anchorage…airport.

Below is the list of the top 10 longest non-stop flights in the world.

10. JFK (New York) – HKG (Hong Kong) by Cathay Pacific

Miles Flown – 8,072 miles

Duration – 16 hours 05 minutes

Aircraft – B777-300ER

9. DXB (Dubai) – SFO (San Fransisco) by Emirates

Miles Flown – 8,103 miles

Duration – 16 hours

Aircraft – B777-300ER

8. DXB (Dubai) – IAH (Houston) by Emirates

Miles Flown – 8,168 miles

Duration – 16 hours 20 minutes

Aircraft – B777-200LR

7. LAX (Los Angeles) – BKK (Bangkok) by Thai Airways

Miles Flown – 8,270 miles

Duration – 17 hours 20 minutes

Aircraft – A340-500

6. DFW (Dallas) – BNE (Brisbane) by Qantas

Miles Flown – 8,303 miles

Duration – 16 hours

Aircraft – B747-400ER

5. DXB (Dubai) – LAX (Los Angeles) by Emirates

Miles Flown – 8,339 miles

Duration – 16 hours 30 minutes

Aircraft – B777-300ER and B777-200LR

4. JNB (Johannesburg) to ATL (Atlanta) by Delta Air Lines

Miles Flown – 8,439 miles

Duration – 17 hours 05 minutes

Aircraft – B777-200LR

3. SYD (Sydney) to DFW (Dallas) by Qantas

Miles Flown – 8,578 miles

Duration – 15 hours 25 minutes

Aircraft – B747-400ER

2. LAX (Los Angeles) to SIN (Singapore) by Singapore Airlines

Miles Flown – 8,770 miles

Duration – 18 hours 05 minutes

Aircraft – A340-500

1. EWR (Newark) to SIN (Singapore) by Singapore Airlines

Miles Flown – 9,535 miles

Duration – 18 hours 50 minutes

Aircraft – A340-500

2011 Top 10 Most Beautiful Airline Flight Attendants

7 Jun

After months of in depth research and web opinion polls, Asian airlines dominate this inaugural list of the top 10 most beautiful flight attendants of the world by Air Traxx.

And it’s not hard to see why. Many Asian airlines hold rigorous selection meetings to choose who gets to be flight attendants and who doesn’t. Several also enforce weight maintenance and waistline guidelines to their flight attendants. The lack of unions in Asian airlines coupled with the fact that age-discrimination laws are usually not strictly enforced in Asian nations are all factors that lead to more beautiful women being representatives of airlines in the sky. In fact, unions maybe the biggest reason as to why not a single U.S.-based carrier is not listed. After all, in May of 2011, American Airlines got into a lot of heat from the unions when it ran a “Face of your Base” competition that was designed to find the best looking staff for a company photo shoot. Instead of finding, American unions retaliated by stating that the beauty “competition undermines the real work of a flight attendant -ensuring safety in the air.” Since then, the elusive search for a good-looking flight attendant on a U.S. carrier is still up in the air.

Without further ado, below is the list of the Top 10 Most Beautiful Airline Flight Attendants of the World for 2011.

Points to determine the rankings were based on several factors such as beauty (compiled through opinion polls), service rankings (determined by SkyTrax) and uniform design (based on Airline Polls and Aviation Forum). Beauty and service hospitality were given equal rank with uniform design being used as a final determining factor in case of a tie. Another interesting note is that red really does capture the eye as 4 out of the 10 most attractive cabin crews feature red as the predominant color of their uniforms.

10. Shenzhen Airlines

Probably the greatest surprise of this entire list, Shenzhen Airlines is the only domestic-only carrier represented in the 2011 Top 10 Most Beautiful Airline Flight Attendants of the World. This was largely due to its pick by the Miss World Aviation Association as having China’s “most beautiful airline stewardess, ” a great accomplishment considering it has aviation giants Air China, China Eastern and China Southern to compete with. However, looks alone were not the only determining factor on this list and Shenzhen Airlines’ rank suffered due to its service record which many deem as “in need of improvement.” Shenzhen Airlines attracts over 4000 applicantsfor its 180 flight attendant positions annually so the airline has the opportunity to choose the cream of the crop to represent the company in the air.

Shenzhen Airlines Flight Attendant

9. AirAsia

Low-cost carriers seldom make any list when they have to compete with airlines with international reputations. However, AirAsia makes this list as they are often noted as to having the most beautiful FAs of all the low-cost carriers in the world. As Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Atlantic Airways, got to witness first-hand after losing a bet to AirAsia owner, Tony Fernandes, AirAsia boasts a whole list of rules for its FAs and has a demanding selection process (one interviewee who had slightly crooked front teeth notes that an AirAsia interviewer asked her if she would be willing to have her front teeth pulled and replaced with a crown for a perfect smile!). The beauty of these flight attendants is probably the only thing that keeps people sane on a 13-hour, no-meal, no-blanket, no-water, crappy-seat, low-cost flight from Kuala Lumpur to London.

AirAsia Flight Attendant Behind the Scenes

AirAsia Flight Attendant

8. Etihad

Based out of Abu Dhabi, UAE and the main competitor to Emirates, Etihad has branded itself to be a global luxury airline. Mirroring the meteoric rise of the gulf state of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad has a beautiful flight crew to match its tagline of opulence and extravagance. Etihad also goes through a tough interview process for its FAs. Those who receive congratulatory messages may be sad to find out that they could be placed in “holding pools” for up to six months as to give time to evaluate other candidates. Nevertheless, Etihad hires internationally and, like Emirates, features a very diverse FA crowd. As a relatively new carrier, the majority of Etihad’s hired FAs do not have prior experience in the airline industry (most of them are from the tourism and hospitality industry).Despite their beauty, Etihad FAs have unfortunately been described as to having “no charm or polish” and can deliver “terrible” service. Of 584 reviews from SkyTrax customers, Etihad averaged a rating of 4.4 out of 10, a dismal performance for a 4-star airline. The uniforms have been described as very “sleek” and fit the luxury branding of the airline perfectly.

Etihad Flight Attendants

7. Lufthansa

Lufthansa is one of the few European airlines that made this list and with good reason. The German airline company features some of the most striking beauties in the air. Although the cabin crew is indeed international in flavor and very diverse, Lufthansa predominantly features its blond, blue-eyed FAs as the “poster girls” of the company. They are also well-known for their overall friendly staff and fine service attitude that should be emulated by other European airline companies that don’t do so well in the customer satisfaction rankings (aka Ryanair and Aeroflot). With great attention to detail and comfort to on-board pillow fights in Y class, Lufthansa FAs stand among the best in care and service. The uniforms are crisp and uncomplicated and are dashed with a hint of color on the necks. However, these uniforms are among the least popular with air travelers according to a recent poll done by Skyscanner.

Lufthansa Flight Attendant

6. Thai Airways

Eye candy isn’t exactly the words you would use to describe Thai Airways flight attendants. They have a more calm and reserved manner of service compared to their counterparts in AirAsia and Lufthansa. Their professionalism is best embodied in the airline’s motto “Smooth as Silk” and the perfect words to describe them would be gracefully elegant. Thai has won numerous awards for their exceptional quality of service. As one of the airlines that provides possibly the best care in the air, Thai’s FAs make it to the sixth spot mainly because of their attention to detail in providing the best comfort for all their passengers. Their unique purple uniforms are also often cited as one of the best flight attendant uniforms out there.

Thai Airways Flight Attendant

5. Emirates

Much like Harvard has the best choice of high school graduates annually, UAE-owned Emirates Airlines always gets to pick from the cream of the crop of aspiring flight attendants worldwide. With a diverse crew that represents 120 different countries and has the ability to speak 80 different languages, Emirates was able to hand pick its amazing list of 10,000 beautiful FAs by advertising a glamorous lifestyle fit for a Hollywood celebrity. Emirates offers free accommodation for all its FAs in luxury apartments, offers free transportation to and from work, comprehensive medical coverage, travel stipends, 50% OFF bars and lounges and much more. The glitzy lifestyle has allowed Emirates to attract 93,079 flight-attendant applications in one year alone. Although conservative in its looks, the FA uniform of Emirates screams chique and high fashion coupled with no nonsense practicality.

Emirates Flight Attendant

4. Virgin Atlantic

Voted as the Most Attractive Cabin Crew by an overwhelming 53% of passengers by Britain-based Business Travel and Meeting Show in February, Virgin Atlantic’s “Red Hotties” are amongst the best in the sky. “Elegant glamour” and “cheerful attitude” are just some of the phrases used to describe Virgin’s supposedly amazing cabin crew. However, after doing some digging around, it seems that their service attitudes are not up to par with their beauty. Several SkyTrax members have noted that the cabin crew can be “indifferent” and “apathetic.” On June 7, 2011, seven Virgin Atlantic cabin crew members were even arrested for taking $5000 in cash for a passenger’s upgrade to first class. Out of 939 reviews on SkyTrax, Virgin Atlantic’s cabin crew has averaged a 4.2 out of 10 for customer satisfaction with countless 1 out of 10 reviews. Compare this with a 7.5 average for Cathay Pacific and a 8.5 average from Singapore Airlines and we have a reason as to why Virgin has slipped to #4 on the Top 10 Most Beautiful Airline Flight Attendants of the World.

Virgin Atlantic Flight Attendants

3. Malaysia Airlines

Voted by SkyTrax as being one of the top three best cabin crew staff members for several years, Malaysia Airlines, MH, prides itself by providing Malaysian hospitality on board all its flights. As the newest member of the Oneworld alliance (2013), Malaysia Airlines boasts some of the most beautiful flight attendants of any airline in the world. This is due largely in part to its extremely rigorous flight attendant school. Madam Choong Lee Fong, Malaysia Airlines’ cabin crew training and standards manager, notes that MH’s flight attendants are “ambassadors, not just for an airline, but for an entire country.” MH also enforces minimum height requirementsof 165 cm (5’5″+) for females and 176 cm (5’9″+) for males and requires all cabin crew members to have a weight “within the healthy range determined by the standard body mass index (BMI).” Malaysia Airlines also enforces extra rules for female flight attendants such as no pregnancies within the first 5 years of work and a mandatory retirement age of 45 (10 years earlier than male FAs). MH’s graceful silk uniforms are very similar to Singapore Airlines and are made from a Sarong Kebeya design introduced by the School of Fashion at Mara Institute of Technology.

Malaysia Airlines Flight Attendant

2. Cathay Pacific

With excellent service and numerous accolades to its name, Cathay Pacific is considered as one of the best airlines in Asia. The Hong Kong-based airline also boasts one of the prettiest flight attendants in the industry and, as a major international airline, has the opportunity to choose a diverse crew of the best flight attendants in the world. Cathay Pacific cabin crew uniforms also have a storied past. Starting with conservative uniforms in the 1950s, the airline gradually turned to designers for their classic red uniforms in the 80s and 90s with Hermes and Nina Ricci commissioned to design them. The current uniforms are designed by Hong Kong designer, Eddie Lau and were unveiled in December 2010 along with Cathay’s new business class.

Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants

1. Singapore Airlines

The Singapore Girl has been the face of Singapore Airlines since its inception in the 1970s and for a good reason. Not only does the cabin crew of Singapore Airlines showcase beauty and elegance, but, most importantly, they also display hospitality and service that is often considered as the epitome of the airline industry. Their world-renowned service was once again rewarded with the 2010 SkyTrax Best Cabin Crew award and Business Traveler UK has also chosen it to have the Best Cabin Staff in 2009. A 2009 survey of 1600 travelers done by Seatguru.com also came to the conclusion that SQ had the most polite staff of any airline in the world. Although the uniform for Singapore Airlines’ FAs have largely remained the same for several decades, they have often been the determining beauty factor. Similar in design to Malaysia Airlines, the sarong kebaya of SQ is a dark purple and was once paired with slipper sandals (which have since been changed to Pierre Balmain-designed safety shoes after the 2000 crash of SQ 006, SQ’s sole incident that involved fatalities to date). A FlyterTalk member mentions that “SQ uniforms give their staff an edge in appearance.”

Singapore Airlines Flight Attendant

Honorable Mentions

CSA Czech Airlines

může mít i své číslo? (Can I have your number?)

Ryanair

Looks alone got Ryanair’s FA into the honorable mention list. However, the airline has a long way to go as customers have often noted their terrible service and outrageous fees ($53 to print your boarding pass at the airport, $6 just to use a credit card to pay for your ticket online and crazy baggage fees that I don’t even want to mention) as major deal breakers.

Qatar Airways

Beauty runs deep in this airline. Sadly, there are only 10 spots available.

Top 5 Weirdest Customer Request on Virgin Atlantic Airways

6 Jun

Voted as having the sexiest cabin crew by British-based Business Travel and Meeting Show, Virgin Atlantic flight attendants go out of their way to meet every request that a customer might have. However, there have been some request where even going the extra mile may not be enough. Below are 5 of the must unusual customer request on Virgin Atlantic Airways as noted from an interview by the Telegraph.

5. “Can you take my children to the playroom?”

4. “Is there a McDonald’s onboard?”

3. “Please ask the captain to stop the turbulence.”

2. “Can you open a window? It’s too stuffy in here.”

1. Could you turn the engines down? They’re too noisy.”