Qatar Airways will be the first airline to get the A350
Qatar Airways will be the first airline in the world to receive the A350 aircraft which has just had its first test flight in full Qatar Airways livery. “We are delighted to see the new A350 taking to the skies in our livery,” said Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Mr. Akbar Al Baker. “The A350 will be a very valuable addition to our fleet, and thanks to its extra width, we will be able to offer our passengers even greater comfort and continue to raise the benchmark for service in the sky.”
With a cross-section of 220 inches from armrest to armrest, the A350’s cabin provides the widest seats in its category, offering its passengers a unique experience of space and comfort.
Qatar Airways has 80 A350s on order which will be added to its existing fleet of 137 modern aircraft which service 144 global destinations.
Last Updated on Sunday, 19 October 2014 18:43
Air Arabia to fly to Tbilisi, Georgia
Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, will become the 100th destination for Air Arabia when it starts its twice weekly service to this city of 1.5 million people on October 28 2014.
“The beautiful city of Tbilisi is a tremendous addition to the Air Arabia network and we are confident the route will prove to be highly popular with leisure and business travellers alike,” said Adel Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer, Air Arabia.
Tbilisi is derived from the Georgian word "Tbili" or warm - the city used to have many sulphuric hot springs. Although Persians, Turks and Arabs ruled over the city from 570-1100, less than 5% of the current population of Tbilisi is Muslim. However, there are many examples of Middle Eastern architecture still to be found in this ancient city.
Last Updated on Sunday, 19 October 2014 16:32
Etihad you have lost your sheen - a complaint
TO: Etihad Airways
Date: October 13 2014
My wife and I were traveling from Boston to Abu Dhabi (BOS-JFK on American Airlines and JFK-AUH on Etihad Airways) on Oct 2 2014 and had a very disconcerting experience.
We happen to be practicing Muslims and eat Halal food.
We had an American Airlines flight out of Boston at 2:30 in the afternoon – what with returning a rental car and checking in four pieces of luggage, we decided to skip lunch and leave early for the airport. When we got there we were told that the flight was delayed by two hours - less waiting time at JFK but enough to get some cheese pizza at the airport.
On landing at JFK we noticed that our boarding card for the Etihad flight (issued in Boston by AA) mentioned seats A and B – window and middle seats. Giving in to my wife's unfounded allegation that I go too often to empty my bladder, we went to the Etihad checkin counter at JFK and asked to be re-assigned aisle and middle seats. The girl at the counter said there weren't any. Then she offered to seat us in the Exit rows where there was an aisle seat available but for $120 extra per person. We declined. Made a fuss that we were unable to pre-select our seats on EY as we had bought tickets thru American Airlines. She grudgingly relented and mysteriously an aisle seat became free and she gave us seats 22 F and G.
The EY flight was leaving JFK at 10:40pm. The next day was the Day of Arafat when pilgrims visit mount Arafat for the Hajj. Muslims who are not performing the Hajj are encouraged to fast on this day. I planned to. I was looking forward to dinner on board as after dinner I would begin my fast.
The dinner trolley came. Serving started about 7 rows ahead of us. I noticed someone seated in the bulkhead seat was complaining. Didn't know what about. A few minutes later it was our turn to be served. The menu we had earlier received showed three options, chicken biryani, lamb and vegetarian. I was looking forward to some chicken biryani. The air-hostess said they were all out of chicken. I asked for lamb. She said they only had vegetarian meals. My wife and I protested. The air-hostess said she would check. Came back and said there wasn't any thing else. On further protest she said she would check in Business and get back.
I paid for internet access and tweeted/facebooked and linkedin about my experience on board an aircraft 32,000 ft above sea on a 12 hours flight without much of a meal choice. Maybe someone on the ground below would be listening. Maybe Etihad's kitchen in-charge would get his act together and future passengers would not have to suffer.
Meanwhile, we continued to wait. Food was served to everyone. A little while later the trolley came again to remove the food trays. We asked for our meals. The air hostess said she was getting chicken prepared for us in the Business class galley. It would take time. We continued to wait.
I was running out of time as I had to start fasting and it was already 1:45am New York time and 4:45am local time in the Atlantic below. Finally, our meals came. We did get chicken. No sauce. No vegetables or rice with it. Just plain grilled chicken. I had to fast so I quickly ate it.
Eight hours later we were flying over the Arabian Gulf and it was time for breaking my fast. I took out a candy that I had in my pocket and sucked on it. Then I went to the galley and asked for water. Wasn't particularly hungry and we would be landing in an hour.
Immigration and baggage collection at Abu Dhabi airport was swift. We were out within minutes. It was a two hours drive home (we live in Umm Al Quwain). When we reached home my wife got a pleasant surprise. The wonderful aroma of chicken biryani! I had messaged my son who received us at AUH airport to buy some chicken biryani from our favorite restaurant in Dubai and it was waiting for us at home.
It is good to be back. But Etihad, you have lost the sheen.
Update: October 15 2014
I received a phone call and email today from a Guest Relations Officer of Etihad who mentioned:
1 – Etihad does in fact charge extra for Exit row seats because they have extra leg room. [ I thought this was the prerogative of Low Cost Carriers and not of a full service airline like Etihad. But I now stand corrected. (Etihad, flydubai, Air Arabia) - same bracket - check]
2 – "The limited storage space on board prevents us from carrying as wide a choice of meals as we would like." [On a 12 hours flight on a Boeing 777-300 it is not a question of a wide choice of meals it is more to do with anticipating the needs of your passengers – if within minutes you run out of two out of three meal options you do not have the right mix and somebody erred – the next time anyone plans to travel on Etihad, Bring Your Own Meal]
3 - "I regret that we did not meet your and wife’s expectations on this occasion. I would ask however, that you continue to offer feedback, something we welcome, as this lets us know where we are getting things right, and where there is room for improvement." [You have just got to be kidding! You think I am a flight meal inspector who will voluntarily fly on Etihad again just to continue to offer feedback? Fortunately, passengers have a choice. I will religiously exercise this right!]
Last Updated on Friday, 17 October 2014 01:15
Qatar Airways starts A380 service to London
Qatar Airways has added its first Airbus A380 to its six daily flights to London from Doha. The new aircraft has 517 seats with 8 in First Class, 48 in Business and 461 in Economy. While the premium classes are understandably luxurious and offer flat beds, even those flying Economy can recline their seats back by 7 inches and watch entertainment on a 4th Generation state of the art 10.6" entertainment screen.
Qatar Airways is the first airline in the world to offer an entertainment system that features a touchscreen handset, giving users a “second screen experience” where they can watch a movie on their main screen and follow the flight progress on the moving map on their handset. There are games, films and cartoons for every age group, and passengers can also watch the pilot’s view from the external landscape camera.
A second A380 will be added to the Doha-London route in December.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 October 2014 17:33
Qatar Airways wins Best Middle East Airline award
For the fifth year in a row, Qatar Airways won the award for being the Best Middle East Airline at the 2014 Business Traveller Asia Pacific Awards which were held in Hong Kong last week.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Mr. Akbar Al Baker said: “We would like to thank Business Traveller Asia Pacific for their recognition and look forward to offering our passengers in the region the best in Qatar Airways service and hospitality when traveling with us.”
The runners up for the Best Middle East Airline award was Emirates while Etihad was in third place. Singapore Airlines won The Best Airline in the World award for the 14th year in a row. Singapore Airlines also won the award for best in-flight dining.
The Business Traveller Asia Pacific Awards are based on the opinions of subscribers of the magazine who received poll forms between April and June of 2014. 10 per cent of these subscribers take more than 60 flights a year. Results were compiled by market research firm Ipsos.
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 October 2014 06:49
Air France pilots strike extended to September 26
Air France pilots have decided to extend their week long strike to September 26. More than 80% of the pilots are involved in a pay dispute which has affected the travel plans of over 400,000 people. If you have booked a flight on Air France you can change your travel dates without any penalty.
All flight schedules are being updated on a daily basis and more than 3,000 flights have been canceled since the strike began on September 15. If you have to travel on Air France this week, please check the flight schedule before leaving for the airport.
Last Updated on Sunday, 21 September 2014 12:28
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