Flight 091 Newark, NJ to Dubai
On the Ground: There was no one in line on the blue carpet in front of the Golden Club check-in counter-and no one behind the counter. Instead, a very pleasant agent behind the first-class counter invited me to step up on the neighboring red carpet, where she readily checked me into my Golden Club seat. Virgin Atlantic shares its Newark (N.J.) Airport clubhouse lounge with Malaysia Air. It’s cozy in a “mod” way. Snacks and juice were set on the bar. Two PCs were tucked into corners affording would-be surfers a modicum of privacy. I was promised boarding would be announced, but about 45 minutes before flight time-with no announcement that I noticed-I looked up from my reading to find the lounge deserted. Deciding my fellow passengers might know something I didn’t, I headed to the gate where I arrived just a few minutes before boarding. 8/10
Onboard: Seating was comfortable, with controls for footrest, lumbar support and recline. At first, the recline seemed generous, but when I tried to sleep, it felt more like a lounge chair. The flight offered broadcast video on larger monitors. Films included recent blockbusters such as Finding Nemo and The Italian Job, as well as an assortment of international selections. Other options included more than two dozen video games and a range of music selections. Golden Club seats are conducive to work. Power points are available at the seats, but the adapter onboard didn’t fit my Apple PowerBook. Satellite telephone and fax services are available in a small business center. Malay cuisine is delicious and the fare served on their flagship airline is no exception. Meal service began with satay in peanut sauce. Of the three main courses on offer, I selected the black pepper beef. Throughout the night, baskets of finger sandwiches, cookies and candies were available in the galley. Breakfast options included a tomato and cheese omelet, but that ran out before service got to me, which limited my selection to a choice of traditional Chinese or Indian breakfast fare. 34/40
Punctuality: Boarding began about 10 minutes prior to scheduled departure. Rollback was 10 minutes late. The winter jet stream gave us a few rough spells and enough tail wind to get us into Dubai about five minutes early. 9/10
The Experience: As we boarded, Malaysia’s award-winning cabin staff was busy distributing newspapers, juice, hot towels and amenity kits. Shortly after takeoff, staff distributed menus and took drink orders. Facing a flight time of just over 12 1/2 hours, I settled down to watch The Italian Job. Lights went down shortly after the completion of meal service. For the next six or seven hours, the cabin was extremely dark. About two hours prior to our scheduled arrival, lights began to come on in stages, gently waking slumbering passengers. On the ground, early morning passport control was a breeze. My bag appeared within five minutes of my arrival at baggage claim. 27/30
The Last Word:Aside from a little discomfort caused by trying to sleep in a recliner at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, the flight was pleasant. I would have preferred on-demand video and a wider range of film options, but the cabin staff lived up to its vaunted reputation. That goes a long way.
Total Score 78/100
United Airlines announces a number of new routes.
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.
Starting in November, guests at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru enjoy new all-pool water villas that offer twice as much outside space as indoor space. The villa expansions bring outdoor space to nearly 2,000 square feet across multiple “zones,” including sun decks, social spots, over-water hammocks, al fresco showers and dining areas. A 40-foot pool extends into the lagoon; nearby, a shaded, ocean-side living and dining pavilion offers unparalleled views.
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.
Even if you are not familiar with Chicago, you may already know the Wicker Park neighborhood is one of the city’s “eat like a local” destinations, especially among young professionals whose idea of local is actually quite global. After a decade of high-concept comfort food and gastro-pubs, the Tan family took over a homey space on North Avenue to mix things up with the opening of Cebu. Cebu is not just a Filipino restaurant, but one focused on Cebuano regional cooking along with its Chinese and Spanish underpinnings.