New York (JFK) to Brussels (BRU)
On the Ground: I arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport for my evening departure to Brussels around 4 p.m. I was flying the airline’s new Economy Privilege cabin, but the premium-economy service does not include priority check-in, security access or boarding. Luckily, check-in was a breeze, and security was as expected but no worse than usual. All in all, my experience from check-in to the gate was easy, and my trip to Brussels was off to a pleasant start.
Pre-Flight: My departure time coincided with other departing flights; the early evening time slot is popular for trans-Atlantic flights from the United States bound for Europe. As a result, the gate area was busy, but I was able to snag a seat nearby, as passengers were getting up to board the Alitalia flight at the next gate.
After grabbing some pre-flight supplies at the newsstand, I only had about 30 minutes before boarding began. I took out my laptop and logged on to the airport’s complimentary WiFi to send a few last emails before departure. Before I knew it, the gate agents announced boarding was beginning; to maintain an orderly boarding process, Brussels Airlines created separate queues for the various boarding groups, and boarding completed swiftly and efficiently.
In-Flight: I’m usually an aisle seat gal, but as I wanted to catch some shut-eye on my overnight flight, I opted for a window seat on this leg. Additionally, the added perks of Economy Privilege came in handy when it came to a restful flight: an additional 8 centimeters of legroom, double the seat recline, a fleece blanket and an amenity kit.
In fact, each facet of the in-flight experience is enhanced for an Economy Privilege passenger. Better-quality headsets highlight an already ample selection of in-flight movies and television shows. A hot towel after take-off and a glass of Laurent-Perrier Champagne before dinner give the experience a more exclusive feel, further heightened by the upgraded dining experience from the traditional economy-class meal service. I also appreciated a bottle of water before the cabin lights were dimmed. However, without a separate cabin, it was apparent to passengers where the enhanced service started and where it ended. I can imagine the disappointment of passengers a few rows back when they realized they weren’t receiving a hot towel.
As we prepared to land, I was gifted a small Neuhaus chocolate box — a sweet finish to the flight, but also a sweet beginning to my Brussels experience.
◆ I experienced Brussels Airlines’ new Economy Privilege service shortly after its launch in 2016. While not in a dedicated cabin, the premium-economy service does offer passengers a significant amount of added amenities and comforts.
◆ Economy Privilege is available for an additional $149 per passenger per flight. The benefits far outweigh this nominal fee.
◆ Economy Privilege replaced the first 32 seats of the economy-class cabin on the Airbus A330 aircraft and is available on long-haul routes between Europe and Africa, the United States and Canada.
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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.
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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.
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