AA unveils executive lounges and check-in areas at new JFK terminal

Yesterday (August 29) saw the official opening of American Airlines’ $US1.3bn terminal at JFK Airport, which has been eight years in the making. Although the terminal has been open for flights for the last two years (along with the old American Airlines terminal building) this week saw the opening of two new lounges and a private check-in section for first and business class passengers.

Gerard J Arpey, chairman, president and CEO of AMR corporation and American Airlines said: “This new terminal gives us room to grow and expand. We have the new curbside check-in for international flights which aims to get you from check-in to the gate in less than 30 minutes.”

The new terminal will have the capacity for up to 13 million passengers a year, an immense leap from the eight million at the old terminal. Other additions are: 44 self-service check-in machines for both domestic and international flights, 36 immigration officers (seeing seven B777 planes-loads of passengers per hour), and 53,000 sqft of shops, including Hugo Boss, Estee Lauder and Lacoste, as well as various food and beverage outlets. The old AA terminal at JFK will cease all flights on September 15, and will then be knocked down.

AA premium passengers will also benefit from the two new lounges, which opened yesterday and are located on concourse B, near gate 12. Both lounges have floor to ceiling windows with views across the gates to the other side of the terminal building (where another Admirals Club is housed). The artwork in both lounges is by local artists and is available for purchase.

The Admirals Club (the business class product) is 11,300 sqft and has 171 seats with 135 electrical outlets for computers or phones. Décor is neutral beige and cream with leather chairs. There is a separate television area, full service bar and snack food area, both on a paid-for basis. The business centre has a member of staff on hand and there are 25 computers with free internet access or you can use the wireless network through T-Mobile.

One new feature in the lounge is the “Global Print Solution” whereby you can send documents to the printer in any of the 44 Admirals Clubs across the world by entering a special code. There are also seven spacious showers with hair dryers, toiletries, towels and shaving mirrors. A first for American is a children’s room with three computers, games and a television. Passengers can purchase a pass to the Admiral club for US$50 per day and US$25 for every guest.

Next door is the brand new Flagship Lounge, one of only four in the world, the others being at London Heathrow, LA and Chicago. It is smaller at 7,000 sqft but has the same décor and amenities except the food, drink and internet access are complimentary. There are seven showers, a business centre with six Lenovo computers and another three Lenovo laptops in the cyber café. The lounge is exclusive to full-fare first class ticket holders, OneWorld Emerald level cardholders and American Executive Platinum cardholders travelling internationally – day passes cannot be bought for the Flagship lounge.

With current restrictions on international travellers entering the US, one of the aims of the new terminal is to make New York more accessible to international visitors, making transfer and immigration times shorter and a more pleasant experience.

Jonathan M Tisch, chairman of the board of directors of NYC & Company (the city’s official tourist board), which is working closely with American Airlines, admitted: “It’s very difficult to get a visa and we have found that travellers are more concerned about customs and immigration at the airport than about crime and the threat of terrorism. Of course we understand we need secure borders but we also need to open doors.”

New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: “The experience of entering the country has to change. Travellers complain of immigration officers being rude and disrespectful, not all of them but some of them, and this has to change.” When asked about the continuing increased security international travellers face, he added that while the safety of the American people should not be dismissed “this country cannot survive if we cut off the rest of the world. We want to make New York a destination that you can come and go to easily.”

For more information on American Airlines see americanairlines.com and for information on New York see nycvisit.com.

Report by Felicity Cousins

AA announces second daily flight from Stansted

American Airlines will be flying twice daily from London Stansted to New York JFK by April of next year. The US carrier is due to start its first flights from the Stansted on October 29 (see online news July 13), and will add the second flight on April 7, 2008.

This second flight (AA129) will depart Stansted at 1635, arriving in New York at 1930, with the return leg (AA129) departing JFK at 2230 and arriving in London at 1030 the next day.

AA will be competing with two all-business class carriers on the Stansted-JFK route – Eos and Maxjet. The former is increasing its flat bed offering to 44 flights per week from September, while Maxjet currently plies the route six-times weekly, with a Saturday service starting on October 20. AA will however be the first airline to offer an economy product on the route.

In other news AA has announced it will launch new routes from Milan and Barcelona to New York JFK from May next year. The new flights will add to the carrier’s established transatlantic services to JFK from Brussels, Rome, Zurich, Paris CDG, London Heathrow, and the forthcoming London Stansted route.

For more information visit americanairlines.co.uk.

Report by Mark Caswell

Schedule for AA’s forthcoming Stansted-JFK flights:

Rocco Forte’s Le Richemond to reopen next month

Geneva’s prestigious Le Richemond hotel is to reopen on September 21, following 18 months of refurbishment. The hotel was purchased in 2004 by the Rocco Forte Collection, and since December 2005 has undergone a €28m renovation programme

Geneva’s prestigious Le Richemond hotel is to reopen on September 21, following 18 months of refurbishment. The hotel was purchased in 2004 by the Rocco Forte Collection, and since December 2005 has undergone a €28m renovation programme.

The newly refurbished hotel includes a seventh floor added to the building, housing the 230sqm Armleder Suite with two terraces and views across the Alps, Jura Mountains, Lake Geneva and the Old Town.

Elsewhere Le Richemond has had a complete redesign under the directions of John Stefanidis and Olga Polizzi, and will reopen with 83 rooms (with an average size of 36sqm) and 26 suites. For dining guests will have a choice of Italian restaurant Sapori and Le Cottage Bar and restaurant, as well as Le Bar which opens out onto a terrace area.

For meetings there will be three function rooms and a ballroom, and Le Spa will offer guests three individual treatment rooms, one room for couples, a wet room with Vichy shower, a sauna, Turkish steam room, relaxation area and fitness centre.

Le Richemond is located on the Quai de Mont-Blanc by Brunswick Gardens, overlooking Lake Geneva and the famous Jet d’Eau, and is around 20 minutes from the city’s Cointrin airport. Business Traveller will be carrying out a full Tried and Tested review of the property in a forthcoming issue.

Le Richemond, Jardin Brunswick, 1201 Geneva, Tel: +41 22 715 7000

In other news the luxury chain will follow Le Richmond’s reopening with its new-build property in Munich, the Charles Hotel (named in honour of the late Lord Charles Forte). The property will open on October 4, and will feature 132 guest rooms with original paintings by 19th century artist Franz von Lenbach and measuring a minimum of 40sqm, plus nine junior suites, 18 master suites and a 100sqm presidential suite on the 8th floor.

There will be an Italian restaurant, spa facilities including a 15m pool, sauna, steam room and five treatments rooms, and seven meeting rooms with capacities up to 400 delegates. The Charles will be located in the city centre, on the edge of the Old Botanical Gardens in Lenbach Gärten, near Königsplatz.

The Charles Hotel, Sophienstrasse 28, Munich 80333

Visit roccofortecollection.com.

Report by Mark Caswell

ANZ celebrates 25th anniversary of London-Auckland flights

Air New Zealand is celebrating its silver anniversary of flights from London to Auckland, by offering passengers discounts of up to 25 per cent on fares across its routes. The carrier is also running a prize draw giving 25 passengers the chance to get their flight completely free.

Lead-in promotional fares include:

– £659 for a return economy flight London-Auckland (for travel April 16, 2008 – June 15, 2008),
– £366 to Hong Kong (September 1, 2007 – December 14, 2007 and December 25, 2007 – March 31, 2008)
– £348 to LA (September 1, 2007 – March 31, 2008)

All prices include taxes and are applicable for online bookings – to be entered into the prize draw customers must book before October 2. The airline says that since its first UK flights were launched, it has flown over 12,000 journeys, travelled more than nearly 144 million miles, and served over 48,000 meals.

For more information visit airnewzealand.co.uk.

Report by Mark Caswell

Ryanair to charge for checking in at the airport

No-frills carrier Ryanair is to introduce a £2 charge for passengers wishing to check in at the airport. The charge will be made for bookings made after September 20 this year.

The Irish carrier says that the charge has been introduced to discourage passengers from checking in luggage, and to cut queues and overcrowding. At the same time Ryanair is to remove the £2 charge previously payable for those wishing to check in online, and as an added incentive those checking in at ryanair.com will benefit from complimentary priority boarding (chargeable at £2 for other customers). Says spokesperson Peter Sherrard:

“Ryanair’s web check-in and priority boarding service has proven very popular among passengers by freeing them from check-in queues and departure gate queues. However clearly charging for this service has acted as a disincentive. We expect that providing this service free of charge will significantly increase usage.”

For hand-luggage only passengers always able to check in online and print off their boarding pass this move may be welcomed. But what about those needing to check in luggage for their trip – they already pay £5 per piece of luggage, and are now faced with an extra £2 charge for the privilege.

The carrier’s “generous” 10kg limit for hand luggage is somewhat less so when compared to Easyjet’s allowance of being “able to lift your bag safely into the overhead lockers without assistance”. And of course if every Ryanair passenger does choose to check in online (and therefore benefit from priority boarding), the service will become slightly obsolete.

For more information visit ryanair.co.uk.

Report by Mark Caswell

United to fit flat beds in business from October

United Airlines has announced it will launch its new business class flat-bed product from the end of October, with the Washington Dulles-Frankfurt route being the first to benefit.

The airline will become the first US carrier to offer fully-flat beds in business class (see online news July 25), with the first retro-fitted aircraft being a Boeing 767. The first flight will take place on October 29, with the aircraft scheduled to alternate on the Washington-Frankfurt and Washington-Zurich routes. United anticipates that the flat-bed product will be seen on a UK route before the end of this year.

The product will be gradually rolled out by the autumn of 2009, with a Boeing 747 following this December, and a 777 next February. The airlines says the rollout will mean on average one reconfigured aircraft joining the fleet every week, until all 97 international planes have been refitted.

Aside from the new business class offering the carrier says it will also spruce up its economy cabins, with new carpets and cushions, as well as an upgraded in-flight entertainment system.

For more information visit suitedreams.united.com.

Report by Mark Caswell

SAS launches LCY-Oslo flights

Scandinavian carrier SAS launched its third route from London City Airport (LCY) this week, with a twice-daily service to Oslo. The new route adds to the existing flights from LCY to Stockholm and Copenhagen.

The flight departs LCY at 1000 (Mon-Fri) and 1800 (daily), arriving in Oslo at 1315 and 2115 respectively. The return leg leaves Oslo at 0810 (Mon-Fri) and 1610 (daily), arriving back in London at 0930 and 1730 respectively.

Says Lars-Ove Filipson, GM UK and Ireland, SAS: “SAS’s new London City route to Oslo is the next logical step following the positive performance of the London City to Copenhagen and Stockholm services. These routes have proven exceptionally popular among London business travellers, especially those working in the Canary Wharf and City districts. The new service to Oslo complements our existing Scandinavian offering at both London City Airport and Heathrow.”

SAS will operate a three-class service on the route – business, economy and economy extra, the last offering business class check-in, fully flexible fares, a complimentary meal and extra loyalty miles.

It’s also interesting to note that the carrier’s one-way pricing structure means passengers can mix and match their London departure and arrival airports, as SAS also offers flight from the Norwegian capital to London Heathrow. The carrier is currently offering up to 50 per cent off business and economy extra fares on the routes from LCY to Stockholm or Oslo – visit flysas.com for more information.

Report by Mark Caswell

Hotel du Vin opens in Cambridge

It has been a busy time for the MWB Group, owners of the Malmaison and Hotel du
Vin brands. July saw the opening of the latest Malmaison in Reading – the newly
renovated Great Western Rail hotel – and this week sister brand Hotel du Vin
opened its tenth hotel in Cambridge.

This latest boutique offering is located in
Cambridge city centre on Trumpington Street, and is housed in a renovated
university building, with 41 bedrooms and suites (some with private roof
terraces and garden areas) complete with Egyptian cotton sheets and monsoon

The hotel’s European bistro serves breakfast, lunch
and dinner and features Hotel du Vin’s inaugural open-style kitchen. Many of the
unusual architectural elements of the interior have been preserved, such as the
labyrinth of vaulted cellar rooms where guests can enjoy a glass of champagne at
the hotel’s bar. There is also a specialist wine tasting room, library and
private dining room.

The Cambridge hotel is the first of a handful of
Hotel du Vin properties slated for the coming months. Next up is York in
November, with 42 bedrooms, private dining facilities, bistro and bar, while
Newcastle, Edinburgh and Poole are all due to be added to the growing list in

Hotel du Vin Cambridge
+44 (0)1223 227 330

Report by Jenny

Ryanair to increase Dublin service

Budget carrier Ryanair is to base two new aircraft at Dublin Airport from this
November, allowing the airline to launch six new European flights and increase
frequencies on a further 12.

The new Boeing 737-800s will bring the number of
Ryanair aircraft in the Irish city to 22. The airline will start flying to
Basel, Szczecin and Budapest in October, on a three-times weekly, two-times
weekly and daily basis respectively. In November, Ryanair will launch daily
services to Nice and Prague, as well as a three-times weekly service to

Ryanair’s expansion has been facilitated by
increased capacity provided by the opening of Check-in Area 14 at Dublin
Airport, as well as the opening of Pier D in October. Says Michael Cawley,
Ryanair’s deputy CEO: “By launching these six new routes, three of which
(Budapest, Nice and Prague) are already served by Aer Lingus, and one of which
(Basel) competes with Aer Lingus’s high fare route to Zurich, long-term access
between Dublin and these cities has been secured.”

The airline will also significantly expand services
on 12 of its existing routes from Dublin. Services to Edinburgh and Birmingham
will increase from three-times to four-times a week, while an extra weekly
flight to Manchester will bring this route to a five-times weekly service.
Flights to Bournemouth will also increase from seven-times a week to

Further afield, services to Bratislava, Kaunas,
Krakow and Riga will soon be operating daily, while the airline also plans to
add extra an extra weekly flight to its existing Gdansk, Rzeszow, Tenerife and
Wroclaw services.

Says Cawley: “With these new routes and additional
flights, Ryanair expects to carry a record ten million passengers through Dublin
Airport in 2008”.

For more information visit ryanair.co.uk.

Report by Karen

Emirates to launch Newcastle-Dubai flights with economy fare sale

Emirates begins its Newcastle-Dubai route from the end of next week (September
1), and to celebrate the carrier is offering reduced economy fares for those
booking up to the launch date.

The route will be the first direct long-haul
flights from Newcastle airport, and will give passengers the chance to connect
to destinations in India, the Far East and Australasia without having to transit
through Heathrow.

Those booking by August 31 can get a return ticket
Newcastle-Dubai from £373, including taxes and charges, while Newcastle-Beijing
via the Middle East costs from £384, and flights to Hong Kong and Bangkok are
from £438 and £439 respectively. Travel must be taken before March 31,

Emirates will be flying a daily service on the
route, using a two-class Airbus A330-200 configured for 27 business and 251
economy class seats. Flight EK036 will depart Newcastle at 1340 to reach Dubai
at 0005 the next day. The inbound service, EK035 will depart Dubai at 0720
arriving in Newcastle at 1210.

For more information visit emirates.com.

Report by Mark Caswell