Global Traveler: Czech Airlines has been flying now for more than 80 years, with flights to North America beginning in 1970. In its first year, 1924, Czech Airlines introduced a flight to a West Bohemian spa area. Over the years, how important a role has the rich culture of the Czech Republic, e.g., spas, music, crystal, etc., played in bringing passengers to the Czech Republic from around the world?
Miroslav Belovsky: The cultural, natural and historical treasures of the country play an important role in the decisions of foreign tourists to journey to the Czech Republic. About 75 percent to 80 percent of CSA passengers are foreigners. Many of them travel to Prague and other CSA destinations in the Czech Republic, and Slovakia to see the natural and historic sites.
Naturally, a large number of visitors stay in Prague, which is a magnet for tourists. Our passengers experience the “magic touch,” which symbolizes the richness of Czech culture. They enjoy classical Czech music and renowned Czech cuisine. Our flight attendants are among the most beautiful and accomplished in Europe.
Regarding our other 72 destinations, no less popular are our direct connections from Prague to Budapest, Vienna, Krakow, Moscow, Sofia, Warsaw, Kiev, Berlin, Zagreb, Split and to the world-famous West Bohemian spa town of Karlovy Vary.
In addition to serving the Czech Republic, Czech Airlines is also the biggest airline to Slovakia, with extensive connections to three destinations. These flights are very popular among tourists — offering excellent access to Slovak spa areas (Sliac, Piest’any) as well as to other attractive localities, such as the High Tatras or the historic towns of Bánská Stiavnica, Levoca and Kosice or the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava.
GT: Czech Airlines joined SkyTeam in March 2001. SkyTeam has recently expanded to include a total of nine airlines. What advantages do you believe the expanded alliance presents for Czech Airlines?
MB: Czech Airlines strongly supports the expansion of the SkyTeam alliance, now the second-largest global airline alliance. CSA passengers may thus enjoy alliance benefits with three additional carriers — Continental Airlines, Northwest and KLM. The addition of these carriers — especially Continental Airlines — is directly related to CSA activities. CSA operates a nonstop flight to
Newark’s Liberty Airport, the home base of Continental Airlines, so passengers traveling through Newark can now enjoy the same CSA advantages as our passengers passing through New York’s CSA on Delta Air Lines connectors to Prague.
GT: One of CSA’s stated priorities is to provide passengers with top-of-the-line service. Tell us about some of CSA’s business and frequent flyer benefits, including your new Crystal Lounge.
MB: The Crystal Lounge is available to our business-class passengers, as well as to passengers of SkyTeam partners and CSA’s contractual partners — and for OK Plus/SkyTeam FFP Silver or Gold Card holders and VIP passengers.
The lounge, located on the first floor of the Prague-Ruzyne Airport transit terminal, has undergone a complete renovation, including a new interior design and a significant expansion of the back office and facilities to allow us to offer maximum care and comfort to waiting passengers. Borek Sípek, a renowned Czech architect and designer, created the new design, which includes three autonomous zones. The Café Zone features a bar, with stools, allowing for quick orders and service of refreshments to waiting passengers. The Standard Refreshment Zone features a refreshment counter, which offers a more comprehensive menu. The Relaxation Zone is furnished with comfortable club armchairs for passengers who spend more time waiting for their flights.
The Crystal Lounge also offers top-of-the-line technology, allowing waiting passengers to access the Internet or to continue their business activities. There are eight computer positions and 21 connections for laptops. With the goal of maximum comfort for waiting passengers, a shower and other facilities for personal hygiene are also available at the lounge.
In addition to the Crystal Lounge, passengers requiring special service and VIP passengers may use a separate, smaller, VIP lounge offering not only complete privacy, but also top-of-the-line technical equipment — video and audio projectors and other information and presentation technologies.
GT: Now that the Czech Republic is a member of the European Union, is it easier for U.S. travelers to transit within Europe after landing in the Czech Republic?
MB: Prague has become the most important hub among the new
European Union members. For passengers from the United States, traveling via Prague is as easy and comfortable as traveling via any other European Union airport. U.S. citizens do not need an entry visa for the Czech Republic — a valid passport is sufficient. If they connect in Prague to a further destination, they do not even go through Passport Control. They remain in the transit area upon
disembarkation and go directly to the gates for flights to their final destinations.
Passengers traveling to the United States may also enjoy duty-free shops located in the transit area at Prague-Ruzyne Airport, which offer a wide range of goods for attractive prices.
GT: What advantages does CSA’s frequent flyer program, OK Plus, present to members who travel frequently with CSA to and from the Czech Republic?
MB: OK Plus is a user-friendly program that’s more generous than frequent flyer programs offered by many other airlines. It is easy to join either online or directly at check-in. CSA offers its new members a welcoming bonus of 2,000 miles and accepts the miles from flights flown during the three months prior to the date of joining the program.
Members earn actual flown miles and the minimum mileage accrual is 1,000 miles for all international flights, including all flights on CSA’s partners. OK Plus members also earn a 100 percent business-class bonus and top-tier members have their respective benefits — 25 percent for holders of Silver Cards and 50 percent for Gold Cards. Members do not need to worry about the value of codeshare flights because these flights have CSA’s or a partner airline’s flight number on the ticket, and these flights qualify for mileage accrual even if it is a marketing flight number operated by another carrier.
Collecting miles is a simple process and has not been made confusing for members.
The benefits of OK Plus membership are so comprehensive and varied that I feel confident directing Global Traveler readers to our Web site at www.csa.cz/en/okplus for complete information.
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