On the Ground: The representative at the Asiana first class check-in counter was dressed in a white uniform to distinguish her from the representatives checking in business and economy class. That’s not the only thing that makes Asiana’s first class service stand out. Because I was a first class passenger, my bags were tied with a red and white striped ribbon before I was escorted to the lounge and they were taken in a different direction. Asiana shares its lounge with other carriers at JFK. Since it’s located before the security checkpoint, an Asiana attendant made sure I left the lounge with plenty of time to pass through security and swiftly onto the plane. (20/20)
On Board: The 747-400 out of JFK wasn’t new but it was comfortable, with 12 seats in a 2 x 2 configuration in the first class cabin and more than enough space to walk in the aisles. My seat converted to a 180-degree, lie-flat bed with a privacy barrier between my flying companion and me.
The menu on this evening flight offered a four-course meal, including my favorite Korean dish, bibimbap. Since it was late and I wanted to sleep, I reluctantly skipped the desert and beautifully displayed cheeses, but had a cup of tea.
After dinner I put on the pajamas, sweat pants and zipup sweatshirt Asiana provides to first class passengers. When I returned to my seat, the flight attendant offered to do my duvet turndown service —how could I resist? Two minutes later my airplane seat had been transformed into an actual bed, with bottom sheet, duvet and pillow. I slept for more than nine of the almost 14-hour flight.
When I awoke, rested and refreshed, I almost forgot I was still 36,000 feet in the air! The flight attendant brought over some fresh fruit upon my request. Like dinner the night before, breakfast was served on Asiana’s signature fine china. Even my bowl of raisin and bran cereal seemed special. (37/40)
Experience: During my layover in Incheon before my flight to Tokyo, I had access to the first class lounge where there were laptops, sleeping rooms and a breakfast buffet. When I arrived in Tokyo,my luggage was among the first off the plane any my beautiful ribbon barely out of place. A trans-Pacific trip never seemed so short. (40/40)
Total Score: 97/100
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced plans to take over an existing hotel in Switzerland. The property is undergoing extensive renovations in preparation to open at the end of next year as Mandarin Oriental Palace, Luzern. The property was previously Hotel Palace Luzern, on the shores of Lake Lucerne and in the heart of the city; it originally opened in 1906.
United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.
As part of Germany’s climate package, a plan to reduce emissions, the country will raise departure taxes at German airports. Taxes will go up as much as 60 percent, and are expected to raise up to €740 million. The funds will then be used to lower VAT on rail fares from 19 percent to 7 percent.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, ahead of its naming ceremony Nov. 21. The 1,100-foot-long ship boasts a guest capacity of nearly 4,000. Since Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the shi, Oct. 30, Norwegian Encore sailed from Germany to England before making its way to New York City, then Miami, where the christening ceremony takes place next week.
Thessaloniki is the second-largest city of Greece and the most important center of the area. Built near the sea, elegant and refined, the Greek “Lady of the North” is a modern, vivacious city that welcomes visitors eager to learn about its history and culture, and at the same time have fun, relax, go shopping or simply explore the cityscape by the sea.