On the Ground: I’ll be the first to admit that no matter how many times I fly first class, the corners of my mouth go up ever so slightly into a smile every time I check in for my flight. The smile is usually subdued for the first few moments of check-in at JFK, but British Airways made even that experience a premium one. Business- and first-class flyers have a dedicated check-in desk and access to a 24-hour concierge. I was early for my flight, and the desk was not busy. The check-in agent was polite and professional. She had my details sorted within minutes and told me I would enjoy the newly renovated lounges. I was escorted through security. This security checkpoint holds nostalgia for any longtime frequent flyer — it was once the boarding gate for the Concorde. As a first-class passenger, I had access to the Concorde lounge, which was gorgeous, decorated in dark wood tones with a separate white-tableclothed dining area. I enjoyed a healthy salmon entrée, finishing just as my flight was called to board. (30/30)
Pre-flight: Once on board, I was welcomed by the purser, and I checked out the enhancements BA recently made to its first-class cabin. I was surprised to see 14 seats in first class, where I often see no more than 12 on the same aircraft, but I was still impressed with the amount of privacy. I had my own closet at my seat, which was handy for hanging my jacket with no worries about leaving anything in the pockets. I changed into the blue BA First pajamas in the lavatory and, back at my seat, chatted with fellow passengers and flight attendants. Everyone was very pleased with the new seats. (30/30)
In-flight: After take-off, my turndown service was completed with a seat mattress and 400-thread-count duvet. As I had taken advantage of a pre-flight dinner served in the lounge, I quickly fell asleep.
I woke in time for breakfast and a movie on my 15-inch TV, which offered more than 100 on-demand films. I really enjoyed the seat, especially its additional width (31 inches when flat) and new built-in technology. I could control the electric window blinds — very futuristic — and the lights adjusted automatically depending on the time of day to help with the time zone change. The seat adjustment was also revolutionary. Instead of separate controls for each part of the seat, a knob controlled all the components at once, taking the seat smoothly from full upright to a bed, allowing me to stop the seat at any position in between.
Breakfast was served on beautiful china and included my own breadbasket filled with every breakfast roll I could imagine. The breakfast choices were well executed; the traditional English breakfast made me feel like I was already in London. The only unfortunate part was that I was traveling alone — I had room for two in my seat and plenty of food to share! (38/40)
The Experience: The British Airways experience is efficient and comfortable. All the luxuries are there but not in an overpowering manner. The new seat offers a true bed for a good night’s sleep. I don’t usually use the products in the amenity kit, but the Elemis selections were excellent, and I have incorporated some into my daily life. I was transiting in Heathrow and enjoyed the new lounges at T5. I highly recommend the hydrotherapy showers in the arrivals lounge. They are a great way to pass the time and help fight jet lag. At the Concorde lounge at T5, I felt more like I was visiting a private club than transiting. The business- and first-class lounges were bright and buzzing with energy — an environment I welcome in my travel routine.
Total Score: 98/100
Without a doubt, the pandemic changed the role of airports in the travel industry. Hamad International Airport’s role evolved in many ways since the pandemic hit. Now, more than ever, airports are responsible for creating a secure passenger experience. As the gateway to Qatar and the world, the safety and wellbeing of staff and passengers has always been at the core of Hamad International Airport’s strategy.
I imagine that when writer Hans Christian Andersen mused, “Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale,” he was standing at the edge of Copenhagen’s historic Tivoli Gardens, one of his favorite haunts, enlivened by the swirl of human happiness that surrounded him: children laughing; carousels spinning; games of chance played for prizes; lovers holding hands; hungry people whispering over sweets, hot drinks, beer and towering, open-faced smørrebrød, Denmark’s quintessential sandwich. That fairy tale lives on today at the second-oldest amusement park in the world, a spectacle of folly architecture, bakeries, gardens, rides, restaurants, puppet shows and joy ... and which also happens to be one of the city’s most storied places to convene for business.
The restored Park Hyatt Toronto reopened its doors, bringing luxury, sophistication and glamour alongside a nod to the hotel’s Canadian heritage. Alessandro Munge of Studio Munge collaborated on the hotel’s refresh, drawing inspiration from Canada’s seasons and natural landscapes.
GBTA’s Convention 2021 will bring the business travel industry together for the first time in a long time. Once again, you’ll learn and connect with experts and each other, along with discussions with leading thinkers, entrepreneurs and change makers addressing the issues that matter most.
I recently dined at Irwin’s in Philadelphia. The restaurant is located on the rooftop of the Bok Building, a former school turned collective of small businesses, non-profits, artist workshops, a bar and restaurant. I previously visited Bok for the bar and yoga classes, and I was excited to experience the restaurant.
Cathay Pacific reaffirms its commitment to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 with a pledge to use Sustainable Aviation Fuel for 10 percent of its total fuel consumption by 2030. The airline has made pioneering efforts in supporting SAF development for more than 10 years.
The Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) Convention 2021 will be unlike any other convention before it, as we come together in person for the first time since the business travel industry drastically changed and look forward to rebuilding and reshaping the future. GBTA Convention 2021 will bring all of us together to learn from experts and each other, in-person at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 17–19. The safety of our attendees is our top priority. View health and safety protocols.
Arriving early afternoon in Puerto Rico, we jumped in an Uber and took a short, 15-minute drive from the airport to La Concha. As it was Tuesday, the streets were not too busy and the hotel lobby was calm. During the weekend, the scene likely would have been more bustling. We were greeted by a staff member who requested proof of vaccination and government-issued ID, and were given a wristband to indicate we were fully vaccinated. All guests are required to be vaccinated and wear masks at all times while moving around the hotel. Hand sanitizer stations were placed around the lobby, in elevators and in each common area.