Flight VS04 London to New York
On the Ground: Returning from a trip to London, we weren’t booked for Premium Economy-class travel. My wife, daughter and I arrived at the airport three hours before our scheduled flight and took our place in a very long line at the check-in counter. After standing in line for about five minutes, a Virgin Atlantic representative approached and led us to a special check-in area where we didn’t have to wait in line. We very much appreciated the gesture. When we checked in, we learned that we were listed for a space-available upgrade, which would be done at the gate. This was a welcome surprise. The gate agent had us wait aside for about 10 minutes before she returned to us with boarding passes for three Premium Economy-class seats. Departure was on time. 9/10
Onboard: Upon boarding the aircraft, we were escorted upstairs to our seats. The flight attendant took our coats and offered refreshments. She had noticed that my wife was on the list for a diabetic meal and asked if we had arranged a children’s meal for our daughter. We hadn’t, so she said she would check into it for us. Our seats were in the upper lounge of the 747 aircraft. The flight engineer told me the plane was scheduled for an overhaul that would include installation of the new flat-bed business-class seats. Food was better than average. I enjoyed beef stew-quite good for airline food-with a nice red wine. Service was excellent. The afternoon snack left something to be desired. The in-flight controls for the video screen weren’t very user-friendly. Offerings included a selection of games and movies, but it was difficult to access them. I noticed flight attendants regularly helping passengers with the controls. A wide selection of magazines, daily newspapers and financial journals was available. 30/40
Punctuality: We departed just about on time and arrived in New York a few minutes ahead of schedule. 10/10
The Experience: The staff was very professional, but also very personable. Check-in was a bit hectic, but we did board and depart on time. One of the nicer amenities was a bar in the downstairs lounge. It was a nice change of pace to get out of my airplane seat and go to the bar for a drink. Everyone was quite talkative and the conversations were interesting. 30/30
The Last Word: This was one of the better trans-Atlantic flights that I have experienced. The staff on the ground and on the plane was truly exceptional. If this had been a business trip, I know I would have been able to get my work done.
Total Score 79/100
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced plans to take over an existing hotel in Switzerland. The property is undergoing extensive renovations in preparation to open at the end of next year as Mandarin Oriental Palace, Luzern. The property was previously Hotel Palace Luzern, on the shores of Lake Lucerne and in the heart of the city; it originally opened in 1906.
United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.
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.
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.
One of Palm Desert, California’s, signature hotel properties recently finalized its biggest-ever redesign. The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa is home to 884 guestrooms and nearly 250,000 square feet of event space. Every facet of the property has been redesigned ahead of the property’s grand re-opening in January.