Ethiopian Airlines are continuing with its zigarod of growth, with the company going to the Boeing company to order more aircraft.

The airline will be adding twenty Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft to  its fleet.
Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8
Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 – Rendering, The Boeing Company

The order for 20 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, with options for an additional 15.

Boeing are very happy with the order, as this is the largest single direct order in terms of number of aircraft ordered by a African Airline, and will join the existing fleet – which is heavily biased to the Boeing families including 737s, 757s, 767s, 777s, 787s (along with Boeing cargo planes).

The airline also operates Bombardier Dash8-Q400, and are expecting to receive Airbus A350 family aircraft into the fleet.

As the airline continues to grow into a major player in the area, Ethiopian Airlines will hoping these aircraft will help it grow into the leading carrier in the area.

With its Star Alliance connections and the renewal of aircraft within its fleet, this could be a very positive move for the airline.

For Boeing, it’s another twenty aircraft in order book, with the airframer now totting 2294 orders from 47 customers of the Boeing 737 MAX.

Certainly, the battle between Boeing and Airbus in the narrowbody space is continuing apace.


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Posted by Kevincm | No Comments

It’s Saturday, and I’m still at BAcon 2014 (I was there a bit late today – jet lag is still a killer), but as it’s Saturday, it’s time to place your bag in the overhead bin, put your seat in the upright position and stow your tray table as we go to this week’s safety video.

This week’s safety video comes from the airline of Hello Kitty – EVA Air – who are demonstrating safety aboard their Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Without Hello Kitty demonstrating anything sadly.

It’s not bad effort per-say by EVA Air, but it doesn’t stand out in the current war of safety videos, where the swing from CGI videos to “real people” seems to be the flavour of the day.

However, it gets its message across in a reasonable manner. Though I am surprised that with EVA Air licensing such a big property as Hello Kitty, they haven’t integrated her into a safety video.

Another video next week.


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Thai Airways does tend to flip equipment around a bit, chopping and changing the usage of their requirements to meet the expected loads of its routes.

Currently the Bangkok  run is currently operated with a Boeing 747–40o and an Airbus A340–600.

Well there is another equipment switch again, as Thai Airways are are switching operations on the route to a double daily Boeing 747-400.

Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 preparing to take off at London Heathrow
Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 preparing to take off at London Heathrow – Image GhettoIFE.

The revised timetable looks like this, with TG916/917 being switched over:

Bangkok to London
TG910 DEPART BKK 00:15 ARRIVE LHR 06:20
TG916 DEPART BKK 13:20 ARRIVE LHR 1:935

London to Bangkok
TG911 DEPART LHR 11:50 ARRIVE BKK 0610+1
TG917 DEPART LHR 21:35 ARRIVE BKK 1555+1

TG916/TG917 operates with an Airbus A340-600 until 25th October
TG916/TG917 operates with a Boeing 747-400 from 26th October
TG910/911 continues to operate with a Boeing 747-400

Data: AirlineRoute

Thai operates the London route Boeing 747 normally configured with:

  • 10 Royal First seats
  • 40 Royal Silk Business Class seats
  • 325 Economy Class seats

However, Thai Airways has more than one 747 configuration. Be aware.

Whilst a Boeing 747 has more seats than an A340-600, There are two more first class seats, 20 less business class seats and 126 more economy class seats.

The Airbus A340-600 will be switched to operate the Bangkok and Milan-Malpensa route.

As usual, if you’ve got ticket booked on these services, it would be a good idea to check your seating assignments.


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Posted by Kevincm | 2 Comments

Good morning from Las Vegas, Nevada, as I’m recovering from a few flights, and probably the fastest ever transit I’ve done through Chicago O’Hare International Airport on an International to Domestic Connection.

Now, bear in mind:

  • I haven’t got Global Entry
  • Three wide bodied planes arrived within 5 minutes of each other
  • I was in the last section of a Boeing 747 (but near the front of the last section).
  • The plane was late into the dock (landing at 14:33, making to the terminal at 14:45).
  • My onward flight was leaving at 15:50.

So, those odds aren’t what I call “peachy” or “good” – or to put it bluntly, I was prepared to rip up the connection, and wait for the 9PM flight.

Even with an orange expedited clearance ticket

Transiting Chicago - Express pass

Thankfully, there is another method to clear at Chicago O’Hare called “1 Stop Clearance”. The idea is that you can complete all formalities at one place at the airport providing you’re carrying hand luggage only.

Which is what I did today. Even on a 1 hour 45 connection, Transiting Chicago O’Hare can be a nightmare. I therefore on the outbound of this trip as hand luggage only.

The process, outlined at http://www.flychicago.com/OHare/EN/AtAirport/AirportSecurity/Pages/1-Stop.aspx

  • Ensure you’re on hand luggage only
  • Line up
  • Get cleared by CBP agent
  • Exit the secure area, bypassing any further controls.

Transiting Chicago - 1 Stop Clearance

Now, there can be a bit of a queue as there is only one agent to handle this – however the queue goes at a fair pace as the officer filters people through (in my wait – I noticed no refusals), and I was through in about 15 minutes flat.

The rest of the transfer was pretty normal – run up to the Airport Transit System (and I did run to get aboard), head over to T3, enter the Express Connections queue, clear security (with time for a pat down), and onto the plane where boarding was in full swing.

With 20 minutes to spare.

Transiting Chicago - Connection made

Extremely short connections aren’t an impossibility when travelling, but good planning and a little luck goes a long way.

Also, if you’re travelling through O’Hare with hand luggage and not holding Global Entry, this can be a saver.


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Posted by Kevincm | 2 Comments

One thing I hate when travelling are things like the USA ESTA progamme, Australia’s ETA programme, or things that pretend not to be a visa when they so blatantly are.

Well, it seems from April 2015, you’ll be asked to cough up C$7 for what they call an “eTA” to enter the Dominion of Canada.

Modified Canada Flag with $7

The publicity blurb states that travellers will be able to apply online, and collect the basic information that is collected already in the immigration forms, with the application promised to be “quick and easy”, and  having got an eTA, “travellers to Canada can expect faster service upon arrival at the border”

That I’ll believe when I see it with my own eyes.

Of course, security bods will love this as they can pre-screen who enters Canada.

The eTA charge of C$7, which will be valid is for five years. Introduction of the programme will commence from  from April 2015, with publicity going into high gear from January 2015.

And this again, like the US ESTA programme -  stinks of a money grabbing exercise by the Canadian government, with a vernier of security and the hope that your clearance time into Canada will be quicker.

Full publicity material at http://newsletters.canada.travel/archive/uk/2014-09-16_2015m45m11579.html

Although frankly, if you’re planning to go through Canada next year, budget a few extra coins for this.


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Posted by Kevincm | 5 Comments

Whilst my Airbus A320s hydraulics are sounding like a barking dog (whilst an engineer fixes things), this could be a good point to look at last nights hotel stay.

For €50, I lucked out on the Bewleys Hotel near the airport.

Looks pretty enough in reception

IMG_8320.JPG IMG_8327.JPG

However, the room could be best described as basic – with the highlight being three single beds in a room

IMG_8321.JPG

Whilst the room was clean, there were lots of stain marks on the chairs – I honestly don’t know what they did on them, but I for one wasn’t going to be sitting on them!

_MG_6798 _MG_6800

Ew.

Shower and bath amenities were limited to a single shared pumpy thing of gel.

At least the free shuttle works as advertised – but it’s a long trek to Dublin T2 in it. Going to Dublin T1 is a bit easier

As always, look out for the full trip report later.


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Good evening from Dublin’s Fair City. Or rather the outskirts of it as I’m in an airport hotel.

A quick wrap up from my first flight – with Aer Lingus.

Check In.

Aer Lingus Check in at BHX.

The Serviair team were in good form tonight, with the check in staff joking and chatty. Always a good sign. Even better when they offer you an window seat in an exit row.

Security was its usual BHX self – not annoying, but functional, along with the usual gauntlet of going through duty free.

Meanwhile BHX has seemed to target itself more for the holiday flyer, with fashion chains taking up residence.

Boarding

Whilst it looked like a jetbridge, it was a case to exiting the tarmac and up again. Still, it’s nice to get a wiff of Jet1A in the evening.

Aer Lingus A320 on the tarmac at BHX - Image GhettoIFE

A slightly newer Airbus cabin greeted me, with the newer style overhead panels. Interesting, slimline seats have been installed, and they’re not bad.

They’re even better in the exit row (from the first set of two on an A320). Whilst there was no recline in this row, it isn’t needed for a 40 minute flight.

Aer Lingus Exit Row Seating

Aer Lingus Airbus A320 tray deployed
Oh yes. Aer Lingus Seats are GhettoIFE compatible.

 

Aer Lingus Airbus A320 Cabin
Aer Lingus Airbus A320 Cabin” width=”580

 

Aer Lingus Airbus A320 overhead pannel

And of course Aer Lingus’s biggest asset - it’s crew. And in all my flights with Aer Lingus, I still haven’t found a duff crew. All friendly, talkative whilst knowing to keep respectful distance and delivering great service to passengers. And this is where Air France falls down compared to Aer Lingus on a similar length leg – the honest warmth of the crew.

It changes a “meh” flight into something remembering.

That and the flight was early into Dublin with a 40 minute leg. What more can you ask for?

More tomorrow. Including some rather worrying hotel photos, and a few more legs…


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Posted by Kevincm | 2 Comments

Well, with the summer period over, I’m back on the road (in more senses than not), but in this sense, I’m back into the air for a trip to Fabulous Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Strip from the air - Image GhettoIFE
The strip from the air – Image GhettoIFE.

However, unlike a lot of my fellow bloggers who be taking directish routes, my route on the road to Vegas will be a bit more.. well… budget saving.

Or nuttier. Take your pick. There was a £500 saving in it. I’m choosing budget saving. Your mileage may differ. My mileage won’t sadly (A direct flight when I booked this was around £1100. Indirect from London £1050… Indirect from Dublin.. £539).

On the road with a few stops
So, just a few stops on my trip. Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz

So join me for some of the following:

  • Eight Flight Segments
  • Six Airports
  • Three Airlines
  • Four Hotels
  • Two Train rides
  • Two very tight connections
  • One long trip report and continuing coverage

I’ll be doing semi-live coverage when I can, with the highs and lows only live travel can bring.

It won’t surprise you, but you can keep up with what I’m up to on Twitter as well, as I enjoy a adventures with a single carry on bag and maybe the Pan Am Bag if I’m allowed to carry it on.

What I choose to bring back is another matter, but some say what happens in Vegas….

What Happens In Las Vegas....

The kick off is (believe it or not) later today… or when I finish posting this message and get I get a move on!


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There are times in the world where words fail me, or if something so odd occurs. This is one of those times.

Spirit Airlines have got a new paint scheme… and well. What’s the term.

Submitted without further comment.

Spirit new paintwork
Spirit’s new colour scheme – Image via the Spirit Twitter feed.

For hints and tricks about Spirit (the airline that makes Ryanair look like a full fat carrier) head to Heels First Travel, where TiffC gives you the lowdown.

I suggest she adds “buying decent sunglasses to the list” when this paintwork gets rolled out…


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Posted by Kevincm | 3 Comments

What’s that famous song by Queen. Oh yes – Another one bites the dust – as WestJet announces fees on luggage.

WestJet 737-700 at Toronto Pearson - Image GhettoIFE 2014
WestJet Boeing 737-700 at Toronto Pearson Airport – Image GhettoIFE.

WestJet are to charge for for bags on their Econo fare on Canadian Domestic and US <> Canada routes from 15th September, for travel from 29th October, making it another low cost carrier.

Or is it? Note the destinations - Canadian Domestic and US <> Canada routes will get dinged for baggage fees. Other destination inculding Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and European destinations will attract no extra fee for the first bag.

See below – the ticks indicate you have to pay.

WestJet fees
Source: http://www.westjet.com/guest/en/travel/basics/fares/service-fees.shtml

In addition, WestJet Rewards Silver and Gold members of their frequent flyer, as well as those who hold WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCards can check a bag for free on affected flights.

The airline estimates that 1 in 5 passengers should be affected, and if they wish to avoid the fee, they can upgrade to Flex or Plus fares.

There is a fair bit of difference in these fares, that add a fair chunk:

WestJet Fares from 29th October

Econo is pretty reasonable, however the difference between Flex and Plus is…. very small difference (About C$10.70). For that you get two bags, food, extra space seat, and all the benefits.

For those who need to take a bag with them in the hold, it’s still a lot less than a flex fare.

Still, if you’re heading through Canada on WestJet, and have got hold luggage, be prepared to be dinged for another charge.


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Posted by Kevincm | No Comments

Being from Europe, the tipping culture is “enough” – as a reward for good service, and not expected (in which case, it’s what I call a service charge. But that’s by the by).

Marriott International has teamed up A Woman’s Nation, a non-profit organization founded by journalist and former California first lady Maria Shriver to deliver a programme called “The Envelope Please”

Marriott The Envelope Please

The envelopes will be in over 160,000 Marriott rooms in the USA and Canada, spreading across the Marriott brands.

Maria Shriver, founder of A Woman’s Nation states

“The Envelope Please was born from having conversations with women I’ve met who have taken care of my room during hotel stays. Their stories of hard work and perseverance inspired and informed me. They told me that room attendants, who are often the primary breadwinner for their families, are often forgotten when it comes to tipping, unlike other front-of-house employ­ees, since most travelers don’t see them face-to-face. I hope this gratitude initiative will make these women feel seen and validated”

Interestingly, it is suggested by The American Hotel and Lodging Association suggests that hotel guests leave $1 to $5 per night, dependant on the type of hotel, and tipping daily rather than at checkout.

Handily, The American Hotel and Lodging Association had produced a gratuity guide of how much you should tip.


Personal Opinion

Now, I freely admit I don’t tip in hotels much. Some may call it mean – but I’ve paid for a service and a room. As such, I expect what I pay for. If there was an action that went beyond the call of duty, then I’d have no issue with tipping (such as extra amenities, some special service, etc).

But for making up the room each day from a semi tidy state, ensuring the bathroom was stocked and room to keep up to specification? Sorry. Not worth a tip in my book.

This to me stinks of Marriott not paying their staff a living wage, and asking customers to “top up” their wage packet instead.

And that annoys me like hell.

Least of all, the cost of printing these envelopes, placing them in rooms, replenishing them could actually go towards a rise.

Sorry Marriott International. The heart is in the right place, but if you pay your staff a living wage in the first place, this campaign wouldn’t be needed at all. 


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Posted by Kevincm | 8 Comments

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