On the Ground: Wondering if weather might delay my flight, I went to BMI’s Web site to find its origin, only to find that the site is Anglocentric and phone center hours limited. Encountering connection problems, I spent most of the day waiting for my United flight between Tampa and Chicago. Although United is nominally a codesharing partner with BMI, its schedules don’t dovetail. United personnel knew nothing about BMI, and in the process of changing my connection, cancelled my entire itinerary. (22/30)
Pre-flight: Once I arrived at the gate for my BMI flight, everything went smoothly. I was quickly checked in, assigned a new seat to replace the one that had been cancelled, and boarded, making a quick left into the premium cabin. As with many aircraft these days, it looks a bit like walking into Circuit City, with large seatback screens illuminated at every seat. Seats are large and comfy, well spaced and have partial privacy screens. The flight attendant helped me stow my carry-on (and pointed out the laptop storage compartment set into the seatback in front of me), and I was handed a welcome glass of Champagne. A water bottle was already waiting at my seat. (28/30)
In-flight: The cabin amenities were first-rate. The leather seats are 26 inches wide and, when fully extended (flat), 80 inches long. Gooseneck individual lights allow reading without disturbing neighbors. The seatback monitors are 15 inches wide, making viewing movies easy. I did wish, however, that the cabin staff had turned off the monitors for the many unoccupied seats, which maintained their ghostly glow — and showed the Channel 1 movie — throughout the flight. The first course at dinner was a delicious pea soup. The fish entrée had a good consistency (a challenge to any kitchen, never mind an aircraft oven), although the sauce had an odd flavor I couldn’t name. Dessert was luscious Irish strawberry ice cream. Service throughout was excellent. The seats have almost infinite controls: electronic lumbar support, all sorts of combinations of leg rest and foot rest height and extension, and various adjustments for the seatback. The controls, however, were a rubber bubble that didn’t work well, something the cabin staff admitted was an ongoing problem. I eventually wrestled the seat into full recline, a lovely flat and comfy bed, and slept most of the way across the Atlantic under a soft, blue, cotton blanket. (34/40)
The Experience: The personnel definitely made this flight; they couldn’t have been nicer, more efficient or more helpful. The flight was on time, the seats/beds very comfortable and the food quite good. The business-class cabin was definitely a first-class experience. But BMI does really have just two U.S. gateways, Chicago and Las Vegas, and I wouldn’t recommend the Tampa–Chicago “connection.”
Total score: (84/100)
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.
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.
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.
TAP Air Portugal is adding 15 new weekly flights from the United States and Canada by summer 2020, a new record for the carrier of 71 weekly flights between North America and Portugal.
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.
United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.