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Our flight reviews of 2019

28 Dec 2019 by BusinessTraveller
British Airways A350

From “basic economy” to business (OK, mainly business), here’s what the team found on-board our flights around the world this year.

British Airways A350-1000 Club Suite business class, London-Dubai

This is an excellent seat which addresses all the problems of the existing Club World seat. It offers direct aisle access to every passenger, has privacy – unlike the current one you don’t have to make eye contact with anyone, and it is comfortable for sitting, working and sleeping. I hope it is robust. There are certainly teething problems with it at the moment, but perhaps that’s to be expected with the first delivery. Read more

BA A350 Club-Suite-as-a-bed

Air France A350-900 business class, Paris-Toronto 

A solid, well thought-out fully-flat business class seat. It isn’t world-beating, but good service from the flight attendants, an above-average choice of food and wine and the benefits of the A350 – a quieter aircraft, better air and pressure, a smoother ride, and wifi for working on day flights – raises it in the rankings. There’s also a strong table and some storage areas around the seat (more than the Virgin Atlantic seat, for instance). It will certainly be welcomed by Air France flyers. Read more

Virgin Atlantic A350-1000 Upper Class Suite, London-New York 

This seat is preferable to Virgin’s existing one, since it reclines straight into bed mode without having to flip it over, and has a very comfortable padded bottom sheet. It also adds a sliding privacy screen. This is definitely not a door, as you can exit the seat and get into the aisle with it “shut”, but it does provide extra privacy and is very welcome if you’re in one of the centre seats and don’t know (or want to know) your neighbour. As always, the Virgin service was superb. Read more

Qantas A380 first class, Sydney-Hong Kong

Qantas undeniably has a comfortable offering in its A380 first class offering, especially with its lounge. Though the seats are beginning to show their age a little they are certainly worth trying, even if it is as a treat through point redemption. The somewhat disappointing main meal was a shame, but not enough to tarnish the experience. Read more

Qantas A380 First Class

Singapore Airlines A380-800 new business class, Singapore-London

This is a great new seat, but after complaining about the flipping mechanism for the older seats, I now realise how hard the seat you sit on is when you sleep on it. The staff were once again, as good as I have ever met on any flight. Singapore Airlines is consistently voted (by our readers) as having the best service, and after over 40 hours flying with them in five days, I can see why. Read more

Singapore Airlines A380 new business class

Singapore Airlines A350-900 Ultra Long Range business class, New York-Singapore

This was a very comfortable flight, and the seat, IFE and excellent staff made the 18-hour journey seem more like a regular 12-hour sector. The fact that the flight was full is hopefully evidence that people are prepared to pay more to have a direct service between New York and Singapore. Let’s hope that the new aircraft means this time the route can stay viable. Read more

Singapore Airlines A350-900ULR business class

United Airlines B767-300 Polaris business class, Chicago-London

Relaxing in the Polaris lounge is a great start to a trip, and the United Club lounge at Heathrow is very nice too. The best part of the flight was the stylish design of the seat and how comfortable it was as a bed, as well as the quality of the bedding and amenity kit. Read more

United Polaris seat

KLM B777-200ER business class, Amsterdam-Hong Kong

The seat might be a little old-fashioned now, but it is very comfortable and easy to operate, and works well for either working or eating at or sleeping. The crew were always there when needed, and seemed to enjoy the flight as much as the passengers. Recommended. Read more

KLM World Business Class The-seat-2K

KLM B777-200ER business class, Hong Kong-Amsterdam

Another excellent flight. While previously my preferred one-stop carrier to Asia was Finnair, I would now compare prices with KLM as well. I also have caught the bug of collecting those Delft houses.

My one problem with it from a work point of view is that since it’s a day flight, I missed a whole day’s work in the Hong Kong office, when compared to better flight times (Cathay Pacific and British Airways being the best, obviously, since they fly direct last thing at night, but also Finnair which flies overnight into Helsinki.) Read more

A KLM Delft Blue House

Aeroflot B737-800 business class, London-Moscow

The seat is comfortable and allows you to work throughout the duration, and the inflight entertainment has a wide choice. The only disappointment was the food, but perhaps I was just unlucky. On other Aeroflot flights it has been better than this. On this and the other flights I took that week with Aeroflot, the service was uniformly excellent. Read more

Aeroflot-short-haul-busines

Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER business class, Los Angeles-Hong Kong

A very long flight made relatively effortless with this comfortable seat and great food and beverage offering. The service is very good, with some thoughtful elements and the staff going above and beyond to ensure the customer is happy. An added mattress topper would perfect the seat-bed on this flight, so let’s hope Cathay does end up adding that soon. Read more

Cathay Pacific B777-300ER business class Los Angeles to Hong Kong / photo by Michael Allen

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER business class, Bangkok-Hong Kong

Well worth it for the price of admission. The schedule is decent, though it will eat up most of your working day. But for the competitive price, reasonably sized seats, quality of service and lounge access, I’d be tempted to book this routing for future trips between Bangkok and Hong Kong. Read more

Emirates B777-300ER business class

Japan Airlines Boeing 777-300ER business class, Tokyo Narita-Los Angeles 

This is a very comfortable, well-thought-out product with an excellent food and beverage offering. Service from the cabin crew was of the highest Japanese standard. The Sky Suite offers a high degree of privacy that ensures you can arrive on the West Coast well rested, particularly if you secure a window seat. Read more

Japan Airlines Boeing 777-300ER Tokyo Narita to Los Angeles business class; photo by Michael Allen

Japan Airlines Boeing 787-8 business class, Hong Kong-Tokyo Narita 

A comfortable product for a flight of this distance with an excellent F&B offering. You would not want to be in this seat for a long-haul flight, but for a four hour daytime flight it was perfectly comfortable. Read more

Japan Airlines Boeing 787-8 Hong Kong to Tokyo Narita business class / photo by Michael Allen

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A320 business class, Hanoi-Hong Kong

An issue with the air conditioning aside, this was a comfortable flight with a good food and beverage offering. It’s a short route, so economy class would be sufficient if you just need to get from A to B, but being in the front of the cabin in this flight certainly makes the experience more enjoyable. Read more

Hong Kong Airlines Hanoi-Hong Kong flight, Wednesday August 7 / photo by Michael Allen

Cathay Dragon A321 business class, Shanghai Pudong-Hong Kong

Having the priority check-in and boarding queues was a nice perk that would be appreciated by business travellers who want to spend less time queuing before a flight and more time working in the lounge.

The food and beverage offering, especially for a flight this short, was excellent. A choice of three main meals and three desserts (well, three flavours of ice cream) seemed especially generous and there was a wide range of wines available. Read more

Cathay Dragon business class KA875, July 17, 2019; photo by Michael Allen

Air France B787-9 premium economy, Paris-Nairobi

Does what premium economy should do in bridging the gap between business and economy. For a really good sleep it can’t compete with the former, but it provides 40 per cent more room than the latter, and the 21-seat cabin means you get a more relaxed atmosphere and attentive cabin crew, as well as nice touches like a menu and amenity kit. The seat is stylish and comfortable, and the fixed-shell recline is a particular bonus. Read more

Air France premium economy

Westjet B787-9 premium economy, London-Calgary

Previously considered a low-cost carrier, Westjet is taking its move into the full-service market seriously. The seat is decent but the standout features of my trip were the food, service and cabin design. Read more

Westjet B787-9 premium economy

Singapore Airlines B777-300ER premium economy, Hong Kong-San Francisco

Probably the most useful way of assessing a premium economy product is whether it is worth paying the extra to upgrade from economy class. If you can secure the unlimited leg room seat, in this case it is worth it. True, it’s unlikely that you’ll get a fully satisfying sleep in this seat. But there are enough touches that make this product different enough from economy class that it feels special: the noise-cancelling headphones, the distinct menu, the larger IFE screen, etc. Read more

Singapore Airlines B777-300ER premium economy Hong Kong to San Francisco, SQ002; photo by Michael Allen

Cathay Pacific A350-1000 premium economy, Singapore-Hong Kong

An improvement on the A330-300’s premium economy product. The seat fixtures are noticeably more sturdy, there is more storage space and the IFE screen is considerably better. Seat comfort is about the same between the A330-300 and the A350-1000, but the latter’s cabin feels newer.

If the difference between an economy class and premium economy class ticket is not too much, you won’t be disappointed. Since the premium economy seat allows you to sleep more easily due to its increased recline and space between you and your seat neighbour, you may want to consider going premium if you are taking an early morning flight or the red eye. Read more

United Airlines A319 ‘Basic Economy’, San Francisco-Las Vegas

This is a perfectly adequate product if you are on a budget and simply need to get from A to B. Although you cannot enjoy some of the privileges available to passengers on normal economy class tickets, the staff still treat you with the same courtesy and friendliness. All the staff and crew on this flight were friendly and helpful.

That being said, if you do have budget for a normal economy class fare, it may be worth going for this. In Basic Economy, you are almost guaranteed to be stuck in a middle seat unless the flight is very quiet. Not being able to bring a full-sized carry on means you have to check in all your bags and then waste time upon arrival waiting to collect your bag, which may be inconvenient if you have a meeting to get to. Read more

United Airlines 'Basic Economy' Airbus A319 San Francisco to Las Vegas / photo by Michael Allen

American Airlines B737-800 economy class, Las Vegas-Chicago

This flight was a very pleasant experience. The seat felt well-designed, comfortable and it’s made of quality materials. The food and drink selection is just right for a flight of this segment. The food was high quality and good value. There was also a great view. Read more

American Airlines B737-800 economy class Las Vegas to Chicago / photo by Michael Allen

Ethiopian Airlines A350-900 economy, London-Addis Ababa

I chose Ethiopian because I was curious about the airline’s product and the Addis terminal extension. The latter was not yet finished, but the flight was an enjoyable experience with strong service. The only snag was my broken headphone jack. Read more

Ethiopian seats
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