On the Ground: Recently, the new United Airlines, the world’s largest commercial carrier, added its first new route — Washington, D.C., to Lagos, Nigeria — and I had the good fortune to secure a berth on the inaugural flight. I also had the good fortune to get out of Atlanta as snow blanketed the city. Arriving at Dulles International just minutes before the 10:43 p.m. take-off, I was whisked through the terminal to the waiting aircraft, a Boeing 767-300, and took my seat — I mean suite — next to the Nigerian ambassador. (30/30)
Pre-flight: Immediately, as though it might catch on fire at any moment, my jacket was stowed and a glass of Champagne appeared in my hand. The ambassador was immersed in Tony Blair’s memoir, A Journey, so I postponed introductions for a thorough inspection of my personal leisure capsule with its spacious compartments, sleek design and curved silver walls that suggest space travel. The flight attendant brought me a hot towel, made sure I was comfortable (I was) and helped me put on my chest harness for take-off. After a brief taxi to the runway, United’s first direct flight to Lagos was in the air. (29/30)
In-flight: You could fly to Lagos and back five times before exhausting the 150 hours of on-demand entertainment. And I would have gladly done so. Stretched out on the fully flat seat, I watched Inception on the 15.4-inch screen while pondering the only decisions I’d have to make over the next 12 hours — which of the Charlie Trotter-inspired dishes to have for dinner and which of the dozen or so wines, selected by master sommelier David Frost, to pair with it. After dinner, I hooked the noise-cancelling head phones up to my iPod, plugged it into the entertainment system and dozed off to the sound of “Gentle Waves.” (39/40)
The Experience: Upon landing at Murtala Mohammed International Airport, we were greeted with a water cannon salute from the Lagos Fire Department and a cheering crowd of proud Nigerians. Indeed, United’s inaugural flight from Washington, D.C. to Lagos wasn’t just another example of the airline’s top-notch international service. It was historic, the first of many flights to come.
Total Score: 98/100
United Airlines announces a number of new routes.
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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.
Hotel brands all over the world have pushed for sustainability. For many, it began with reducing single-use plastics, like straws. InterContinental recently announced the end of in-room miniature toiletries.