On the Ground: Having spent the better part of 50 years traveling by air, I have grown to dislike airports. Security checks are absolutely necessary; but even if one uses the fast lane, they can be frustrating. Virgin Atlantic Airways has done its best to make check-in as easy as possible by having its own dedicated check-in channel. On this journey I arrived on foot rather than via the transport provided by the airline, and it was only a matter of minutes before I was through the security check and on my way to the lounge.
Pre-Flight: There are lounges, but without a doubt, Virgin is top-of-the-class. The Clubhouse, as it is called, cannot be bettered anywhere, in my experience. As soon as I was seated, I was approached and asked if I would like a drink. It was morning, so I ordered a tomato juice and a light breakfast — delicious. Plenty of magazines and newspapers were available, and the decor was relaxing. I did not use a fraction of the services on offer. Any regular traveler must try the Virgin Clubhouse at least once in their traveling life.
In-Flight: Upper Class passengers board the plane via their own entrance, which avoids the endless standing around. I was greeted by cheerful staff who immediately showed me to my seat and were on hand to explain where the various seat controls were. Although the seat was long enough for my 6-foot, 6-inch frame, I have to say I found it too cramped. Frankly, I dislike the herringbone pattern. I happen to be a non-drinker these days — especially important when flying — so the ever-helpful cabin staff brought me sparkling water, and there was an endless supply. Both the food served and the cabin staff were excellent — no complaints. I can’t comment on the entertainment offered, as I never use it but prefer to work or read a book, which I did in perfect peace!
◆ After a fraught journey through London traffic, the Clubhouse is a real haven of peace. Well worth flying with Virgin for this alone!
◆ Excellent and cheerful service and, above all, a good safety record
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.
As part of Germany’s climate package, a plan to reduce emissions, the country will raise departure taxes at German airports. Taxes will go up as much as 60 percent, and are expected to raise up to €740 million. The funds will then be used to lower VAT on rail fares from 19 percent to 7 percent.
Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, ahead of its naming ceremony Nov. 21. The 1,100-foot-long ship boasts a guest capacity of nearly 4,000. Since Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the shi, Oct. 30, Norwegian Encore sailed from Germany to England before making its way to New York City, then Miami, where the christening ceremony takes place next week.
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Swiss-Belhotel International boasts an impressive portfolio throughout 22 countries, including 10 ASEAN member countries. This growth is continuing with the group’s new plans to debut four properties in Thailand.