2018 Travels

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  • capetonianm

    Although it’s not a ‘new’ airport, I travelled from LTN on Wednesday for the first time for some years, having done my best to avoid the place, which many people say is ‘unfit for purpose’. That was my last planned flight of 2018.

    Access to return a hire car was pretty bad, with large sections of the M1 with works and narrow lanes (that was approaching from the north, I believe from London it’s even worse.) I waited 25 minutes for the shuttle, which ‘runs every 15 minutes’, from the car hire centre to the terminal.

    There appeared to be huge queues for check in but on inspection it turned out just to be people dithering and blocking access. I went straight to the easyJet Plus counter and was checked in within 2 minutes by a very pleasant Italian lady who also kindly assisted the person behind me who had a problem with her booking. She had to go to EZY customer services where she was quickly sorted out.

    There were long queues for security but they moved fast and the ’11 minutes’ queuing time indicated was pretty accurate. The security staff were noticeably unpleasant and sullen, unlike LGW, and I heard one man barking quite aggressively at someone who didn’t understand the instructions. This type of behaviour has always been the weak point of LTN security. That said, have no complaint about the way I was treated.

    A long and annoying walk through the snaking shopping mall to the central area, and then a few minutes walk to the departure gate.

    Overall, not as bad by a long way as I had been led to expect, and it suited me to go from LTN as I had driven down from the Midlands.

    The news about LGW being closed broke while I was airborne. As I had originally been booked on an evening flight from LGW, I considered myself to have had a lucky escape, so on that basis I consider my 2018 travels to have ended on a high note as I was so much more fortunate than at least 150,000 people, whom I hope will get safely to their destinations, albeit late.


    My stats are:
    77 sectors for the year which is similar to last year but quite a different mix of travel and far more to North America over SE Asia as it was in 2017
    3 new airlines – 9W AI GA QR

    Most of my travels is business although some leisure trips in there, only 1 long haul trip I have paid for myself but a couple of far aware of holiday I have piggy backed off a work trip. 🙂

    Best flight – CX in F from HKG to ORD. Purser was amazing and her crew followed her lead.I managed to balance the sleep timing right with the Purser’s advice so my jet lagged was minimised and I didn’t feel like I had been run over by a bus for days like I had done a few weeks before hand when I crossed the Pacific from HKG-DFW.

    Worst flight – the AA connecting flight to the above in J ORD-TYS. The crew member serving the cabin was beyond rude to two passengers in close proximity to me for no apparent reason. On the other hand she treated me like royalty which made it seemed worse. My skin colour was the same as hers whereas the other 2 passengers were not. I wonder if she still working for the airline and all credit to AA they phoned me after I complained to discuss the situation in detail. A second AA flight was definitely up there, again in J from MXP-JFK. I (politely) approached a crew members who was chatting to another in the galley.He put his hand out in a stop sign to my face without even turning around and told me to wait a minute. The Purser got an earful from me after this. I have flown a lot on AA metal this year and it is mixed bag, some amazing crews and some truly dire.

    Status – I will hit BA GGL for this first time on my next flight in a couple of days. A focus on OW flights, as a result have seen me drop to Silver on S* on Miles & Bonus this year although I did hit Silver on SkyTeam on Millemiglia this year but that really means nothing as well.

    One definite observation this year, and quoted on this forum before is whilst I think BA crews in nearly all cases are super friendly, recognition this year has been hardly there apart from a couple of times a CSM/CSD stopping by and say hello but not much else. I did once say I found the whole thing embarrassing so I wonder if that got entered into the system somehow “as leave him alone”. On the other hand without fail on CX and QR and most of the time on AA I have had it including some definitely embarrassing welcomes on AA. One of which included on a full AA all economy flight from TYS-DCA; the 1 crew member takes the trolley down to the middle of the plane to my seat where I am and loudly thanks me for my loyalty, shakes my hand and serves me but no one else around me. She then returned to the front of the cabin and starts service for everyone else. I could almost hear those around thinking who does this Brit think he is. Oh and being OneWorld Emerald on AA I get free service unlike BA in economy. As I said before AA is really a mixed bag.

    Hotels – I also hit Platinum Premier Elite with Ambassador Service with SPG/Marriott Rewards this year. However I can’t work out what I get when I am at a hotel that I didn’t get at Platinum Elite or Platinum Premier Elite. I have enjoyed the expanded portfolio of the integration although I do think redemptions are less value for me than when it was just SPG and I find the promotional bonus earnings are less under the new programme. On the plus side I rarely stay in the room I pay for and have had some amazing suites including the one Marilyn Munroe and Joe DiMaggio lived in at the Lexington Hotel in Manhattan after they got married. I value my hotel status more than my airline in many respects as I spend far mote time in hotels generally than on the plane there. Next years goal is to retain at Marriott Platinum Premier and keep my Hilton Honors Diamond status I got through status matching this year.

    Enjoy your festive period folks and I wish you safe and enjoyable travels in 2019.


    I don’t fly as much now, being three-quarters retired, so it is somewhat surprising that I notched up 3 new airlines and 12 new airports/airfields.

    The highlight was a flight BZZ-MPN on the RAF airbridge to the Falklands. It is fair to say that the flight might not be everyone’s cup of tea – 20 hours on hard unreclining seats, no entertainment, no alcohol, and spam fritters for breakfast – but it was a great experience and a destination that has long been on the bucket list.

    I think my flights in 2019 will be slightly more orthodox.


    It is extremely rare for me to be envious of anyone else’s travels.

    The highlight was a flight BZZ-MPN on the RAF airbridge to the Falklands

    ….. but I am!


    45 sectors for me this year, a slight decrease on last year

    Thai Air Asia the only new airline
    Mostly flown on Asian based airlines (Thai, Eva, Cathay, Singapore, Vietnam), with a bit of BA (avios), SAS, TAP, and Lufthansa
    Most pleasant surprise was Thai Air Asia as a LCC, and TAP service on a flight to Toronto
    I achieved lifetime gold on SAS in April, so that eases the pressure to maintain Star Gold in future 🙂 , but I’ve still made Dimond for next year with three months to go

    Focused on SPG/Marriot and Hiltons as I’m Platinum and Diamond respectively
    Not sure if the combined programme is as good as the old SPG programme as I could achieve platinum based on number of stays not just the 50 night target

    Three new airports Phitsanulok (PHS), Oporto, and Leipzig, plus two I haven’t been to for more than 20-25+ years Nuremberg and Belfast


    I am now done for 2018, slightly down on last year, 53 sectors. 2 new airport’s, Phuket and Manchester.

    Most pleasant flights are always on CX, smiling, nothing is too much trouble and they really do consider “To Fly To Serve”..

    Continually worst experience are the Heathrow Airport (non BA staff), who are the most miserable bunch of client facing workers I have ever experienced. The one stationed on the first wing entrance to scan boarding cards this morning certainly needs a lesson in happiness and exercising her jaw into a smile..

    My favourite airline seat (not product) remains BA club world, slept for 9 hours last night from HKG..(wish I could sleep for 9 hours in my own bed)…

    Favourite lounge remains the BA F lounge in T5 – as I mentioned last night, The Pier (HKG) has been relegated from my favourite list, a very sad fall from grace.

    I restart again in January, back to Asia. At 57, I still have the travel bug and consider myself very privileged to not only be able to travel, but also to decide when I where I travel & this is called work.. 🙂

    Happy Christmas to you all and I hope 2019 will bring many more interesting threads, discussions and dinners



    As I check my final e-mails and about to shut my laptop until Hogmanay and wishing my colleagues working beside me a “Merry Christmas “, I’ve realised that I haven’t yet wished my friends on here a Merry Christmas.

    So hope Santa’s sack is full of all of what you’ve wished for when he visits tonight. Drones willing : )


    So hope Santa’s sack is full of all of what you’ve wished for when he visits tonight. Drones willing : )

    I have it on good authority that Santa, on his way to London tonight, is steering well clear of Gatwick. He’s no fool.


    38 sectors this year, which is a little less than last year. No new airports. Work travel to USA and China (mainland and HK).

    Most enjoyable flights have been with CX.

    Most surprisingly improved lounge was AA’s flagship offering in MIA. A noticeable step up on the historical poor offerings of US carriers.

    Most pointless new enhancement – the ever expanding array of Manhattan hotels that now charge a ‘destination fee’ that are there to allegedly improve ones stay.
    $30 + tax per night for, um, a discount at Macy’s. Or a tour of the hotels rooftop. Just what a busy business traveller has always desired.

    Safe travels and a Happy Christmas to all.


    A quiet year for me, just 40 sectors, with mostly London to Edinburgh, Shannon or Dublin for work.

    Also managed a visit to Sydney via Singapore, trips to Amsterdam, Athens, Prague & Helsinki plus a couple of trips to St Barths via Antigua with a day trip to St Maarten.

    No new airlines or airports, although did get to fly on an A380 for the first time. Managed to retain Gold status with BA.

    Much of the same expected in 2019


    Also tried BA to DXB in J Class this year and contrast between the 2 carriers is stark. I hope for 2019 that BA properly ups its game for longhaul Premium travel (I live in hope).

    BA’s product will see a boost on the Dubai route during Spring 2019.

    British Airways plans to operate A380 to Dubai

    <iframe class=”wp-embedded-content” sandbox=”allow-scripts” security=”restricted” src=”https://www.businesstraveller.com/business-travel/2018/10/07/british-airways-plans-to-operate-a380-to-dubai/embed/#?secret=dtgp7ZCyQe&#8221; data-secret=”dtgp7ZCyQe” width=”500″ height=”521″ title=”“British Airways plans to operate A380 to Dubai” — Business Traveller” frameborder=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”no”></iframe>

    Wow, it is stunning! Are they trying to compete with Emirates, Cause that is what this link is saying. I am not so sure about that but i’d like to see that in spring


    19 sectors taken, with 2 more to go. New airports: CMB, NBO, VIE, ORD(!), BNA.

    Lucky to try to QSuite on both the A350-900 and -1000. Experienced my first airborne bar (at last…).

    Retained BA Gold, and made a concerted effort to sample salt and pepper squid on land. None so far compares to QF’s offering!

    Worst airport lounge: VIE.

    Took one cruise on Viking from/to San Juan/San Juan. Three weeks, one of which was spent cruising the Amazon. Therefore, crossed the equator four times by ship (another first).

    Also crossed equator by land at least twice whilst in Kenya, but not a first as went to Ecuador/Galapagos 5+ years ago.

    Happy 2019 to all, and safe and happy travels


    +- 50 sectors this year. I used to keep a log, but it’s now way out of date.
    No new airport
    No new airline
    No new aircraft

    But I did have a new experience. I sort of traveled Economy from Dubai to Milan.
    Though I had a first class ticket, that sector was in an aircraft configured Business / economy only, with business upstairs (as usual) and where first class normally is, there was an economy section, into which I’d booked and reserved a seat for my son.

    However, I found the Business Class seat to be particularly uncomfortable and seeing my son had a row of 4 to himself, offered to swap, which he readily did.
    I was surprised just how comfortable and roomy the seat was, despite my large frame, and happily sat there for the duration, apart from two visits to the bar at the back (which had I been economy would have been denied to me), and a trip to the bathroom, which is the First class bathroom minus the shower.


    Total of 40 sectors but since we have been retired for 6 years now, it is all leisure.

    New Countries, Cuba, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe

    New airports Anchorage, Havana, Puebla (Mex), Phoenix, Split, Windhoek, Maun & Charleston.

    New Airlines; Moremi Air (brilliant), Air Botswana (hopeless, Joburg gave up on them ever arriving and took them off the board) plus Viva and Volaris in Mexico (both ok).

    Best airport experience arriving in Miami on BA from London and not looking forward to it. New sub terminal and through immigration and customs in thirty minutes – most changed experience ever. Even had David Cameron for company in the que (remember him).

    Worst airport, Split on a Saturday by a mile (they get most of their traffic on Saturday), also to be fair they are rebuilding the place. However the town and the sailing make it worth the agro.

    Lost BA gold though that was because I did most of the long haul on points (which was brilliant) thank goodness for the soft landing to silver.


    Interesting, as I will be using Moremi Air next year, and decided to avoid Air Botswana on the segments into and out of Botswana. Have been warned about their unreliability by several people in the know.

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