At a recent air show in UK, this Turkish Air Force F-16 jet came in way too low for some spectators. Free haircuts anyone?

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I have visited my share of airline lounges. From the dump they call the Lufthansa lounge in Chennai (MAA) to the massive United lounge in Tokyo Narita (NRT). But my recent visit to the Turkish Airlines Lounge in Istanbul Ataturk (IST) Airport left me overwhelmed. I had over 2 hours to kill and I don’t think I sat down for more than 20 minutes. I was too busy exploring the lounge. And I found out after chatting with some folks on my flight that I did not find everything! I totally missed the massage therapists…

First of all the lounge is massive. Two floors, with a food or drinks station at every turn. That too different foods at every station – from freshly prepared pasta to an olive bar. From a Latte station where they hand craft your warm beverage, to a selection of at least two dozen desserts. Popcorn anyone, they have it. Turkish street food – yup. Pizza – got it. Nuts with your cold beverage – just walk around the corner.

The seating is comfortable and widely spread out. Different kids of sofas, couches and chairs all over. I saw at least one station with iMacs, another with TV screens with (I think) Playstations and a large kids play area. Heck, there is even virtual golf.

I took tens of pictures as I walked all over. There are so many, I created a gallery. Check it out.

Now, is this really the best lounge in the world? The best I have visited till date for sure. I am looking forward to seeing who can top this one (Emirates, how about a pass for your lounge next time I am in Dubai?)

What is your choice for the best lounge in the world? Leave a comment below. If you have any pictures to share, do leave a link.

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I have flown thru Frankfurt airport (FRA) tens of times. Living in the DC area, it is one of the best connected cities in Europe with 4 flights every day – 2 each by United and Lufthansa. (London’s Heathrow (LHR) has the best connectivity with 7 flights per day, thru three airlines – United, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic). Given it is a Star Alliance airlines’ hub (Lufthansa), Frankfurt is my 1st choice to transit thru to destinations in Europe and India. Every time I do get to Frankfurt, I use one of Lufthansa’s many lounges. This time however, as I walking to the Lufthansa lounge closest to my gate, I happened to notice the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge. Just for a change, I stepped in. I was glad I did.

First, it was not crowded at all. This was peak time in the early morning and the Lufthansa lounges are typically full to the brim. The Maple Lounge, not so much. The lounge had a vast selection of food. Having slept thru breakfast service on my incoming flight, I made my way to the food real fast.

The lounge was beautiful, with a ultra-modern decor that I loved.

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More importantly, it was spacious, comfortable, with a relaxed atmosphere and had good food and beverages. I am sure I will be stopping bye again on future flights that happen to leave from near the lounge.

Location: Frankfurt Airport, Terminal 1, Departure Area B.

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Other Airline Lounge reviews:

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The Barclaycard has become my default card for free travel, especially free taxi rides, meals and hotel stays. I charge all my day-to-day expenses to my Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, earning 2 per dollar spent. Then, after I travel, I redeem my points earned to get statements credits for most of my travel. In reality, I have not paid for a taxi ride or a hotel stay in over 6 months since I got my card!

I wrote about how to leverage the points in this post.

The card has been updated and the new card has a chip in it.That is an essential feature when traveling in Europe and hopefully will be in the US too. I have actually been in a situation where a card with no chip was turned down by a cabbie in Paris. Luckily I had another card which had a chip. I am waiting for my new card with a chip. I just git a letter saying it is on its way.

Current offer:

  • 40,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days
  • 2x miles on each purchase
  • 10% miles back when redeeming points for travel
  • $89 annual fee waived for the 1st year

Apply here: Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

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Air China is starting service to Washington Dulles (IAD) from Beijing (PEK) from next month – June 2014. It will operate 3 times a week on a 777-300ER aircraft. United already flies non-stop to Beijing from Dulles, so this adds more flights on this busy route. Air China is the first Chinese carrier to start flying to IAD.

Air China is a Star Alliance member. This is a big boost for IAD which already has 12 other Star Alliance members already flying here:

  1. United
  2. Air Canada
  3. Lufthansa
  4. Austrian
  5. Turkish
  6. SAS
  7. Copa Airlines
  8. Ethiopian
  9. South African Airlines
  10. Avianca
  11. Brussels Airlines
  12. ANA

Planned Air China schedule (source: airlineroute.net):

CA817 PEK1300 – 1435IAD 77W x357
CA818 IAD1635 – 1815+1PEK 77W x357

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The US Airways card has always been a generous card with a good earning program. I personally did not promote it much given my issues with US Airways. However, the merger with American Airlines is changing everything. Once the twi mileage programs have merged, these miles can be combined with your AA miles. More importantly, you can redeem them today on OneWorld airlines, including Qatar!

The US Airways Premier World MasterCard® current offer gets rid of the minimum spend requirement of the past. It does however also get rid of the 1st year fee waiver. It’s $89 from day one onwards. Here are the details:

  • 40,000 Bonus Miles after first purchase and payment of the $89 annual fee
  • First checked bag FREE on eligible bags for you and up to 4 companions on domestic US Airways operated flights
  • One companion certificate good for up to two guests on US Airways operated flights at $99 each, plus taxes and fees
  • Priority Boarding Zone 2 on US Airways operated flights
  • Earn 2X miles on all US Airways purchases and 1X miles on all other purchases
  • Check in at the First Class counter for all of 2014
  • One complimentary US Airways Club day pass
  • Redeem flights for 5,000 fewer miles on US Airways
  • 0% introductory APR for 15 months for each Balance Transfer made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR currently 15.99%, 19.99% or 24.99%3 depending on your creditworthiness.

Apply here: The US Airways Premier World MasterCard®

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As a follow-up to my last post on all existing 787 flights to North America, I wanted to post all the future planned 787 flights to North America. Here is the list I found sources from airlineroute.net. Some interesting facts:

  • New airlines added to the list – Air Canada and Royal Jordanian
  • Airport to get most additional 787 flights – Orlando Sanford (total 6 flights – 5 new)
  • Airline which will have the most 787 flights to North America – Norwegian (total 16!)

Air Canada Toronto Montreal (One time service)
Air Canada Toronto Zurich
Air Canada Toronto Tokyo Haneda
Air Canada Toronto Tel Aviv
British Airways London Heathrow Philadelphia
British Airways London Heathrow Calgary
Hainan Airlines Beijing Boston
LAN Airlines Santiago de Chile Miami
Norwegian Bergen New York JFK
Norwegian Stockholm Oakland
Norwegian Oslo Oakland
Norwegian Oslo Orlando
Norwegian Oslo Los Angeles
Norwegian London Gatwick Los Angeles
Norwegian London Gatwick New York JFK
Norwegian London Gatwick Ft. Lauderdale
Royal Jordanian Amman New York JFK
Royal Jordanian Amman Chicago
Royal Jordanian Amman Montreal – Detroit
Thomson Airways Glasgow Orlando Sanford
Thomson Airways Birmingham Orlando Sanford
Thomson Airways Newcastle Orlando Sanford
Thomson Airways Edinburgh Orlando Sanford
Thomson Airways East Midlands Orlando Sanford
United San Francisco Chengdu
United Los Angeles Melbourne

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The latest aircraft to enter the flying fleet of commercial airlines is the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Touted as the most efficient aircraft on the planet, the 787 is extremely well suited for ‘thin-long routes’ – routes with long distances but low traffic. This has resulted in some interesting routes (Oslo – Ft. Lauderdale!) and of course, many typical routes. No reason to not use it for short-heavy routes…

Well, I have not yet had the opportunity to fly on a 787. I have taken lots of pictures. So, I went and looked for ways I can fly it. As I live in the US, I started by looking at routes to and from North America. Here is the list (Source: airlineroute.net).

Some interesting stats:

  • United and Norwegian (yes Norwegian) have the highest number of flights (8)
  • North American city with maximum # of 787 flights – New York JFK (6 – no surprise)
  • City most connected to North America by 787 – Tokyo (8 – 7 to Narita and 1 to Haneda)
  • Non North-Amrican airline with flights to most North American cities – JAL (6)
  • City most unexpected to be on this list – Ft. Lauderdale (Norwegian – 3 flights, from Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm)
  • Airport least expect to be on this list – Orlando Sanford (Thomson Airways – from Manchester)
  • Only non-mainland city on list – Honolulu
  • Classic examples of a ‘long-thin routes’: Addis Ababa – Toronto (Ethiopian – 7,154 miles) and Guangzhou – Vancouver (China Southern – 6,351 miles)

ANAANA

AeroMexico

NaritaNarita

Mexico City

San JoseSeattle

New York JFK

British Airways London Heathrow Austin
British Airways London Heathrow Newark
British Airways London Heathrow Toronto
China Southern Guangzhou Vancouver
Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa Toronto
Hainan Airlines Beijing Chicago
Hainan Airlines Beijing Seattle
Hainan Airlines Beijing Toronto
JAL Tokyo Haneda San Francisco
JAL Tokyo Narita Boston
JAL Tokyo Narita Honolulu
JAL Tokyo Narita New York JFK
JAL Tokyo Narita San Diego
JAL Tokyo Narita Vancouver
LAN Airlines Santiago de Chile New York JFK
LOT Polish Airlines Warsaw Chicago
LOT Polish Airlines Warsaw New York JFK
LOT Polish Airlines Warsaw Toronto
Norwegian Copenhagen Ft. Lauderdale
Norwegian Copenhagen Los Angeles
Norwegian Copenhagen New York JFK
Norwegian Oslo Ft. Lauderdale
Norwegian Oslo New York JFK
Norwegian Stockholm Ft. Lauderdale
Norwegian Stockholm Los Angeles
Norwegian Stockholm New York JFK
Thomson Airways Manchester Orlando Sanford
United Airlines Denver Tokyo Narita
United Airlines Houston Denver
United Airlines Houston Lagos
United Airlines Houston London Heathrow
United Airlines Houston San Francisco
United Airlines Los Angeles Shanghai Pu Dong
United Airlines Los Angeles Tokyo Narita
United Airlines San Francisco Osaka Kansai

Follow @unroadwarrior on Twitter for ongoing updates on airlines, hotels, reward programs and deals.

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There is speculation by Reuters and other new agencies that a US Air Force U2 spy plane caused the massive outage at FAA’s LA Central facility last week. The outage, positioned as a ‘computer glitch’ in FAA radar system, caused massive delays all around the US, spawned by ground by almost every airport in Southern California and Nevada. The LA Central facility for the FAA managed high altitude air traffic control. Apparently the Air Force U2 flew into the air space managed by LA Central causing the computer system to proactively reroute aircraft to maintain safe distances. This caused the system to crash, causing a radar outage. This is surprising as the U2 typically flies at 60,000 feet, well above the typical 35,000 foot range for commercial aircraft.

I was personally impacted by the outage. I was trying to get out of Las Vegas airport when they had the ground stop. I finally got home, several hours late. I was lucky. I made my connection, despite the delay, as my connecting flights incoming aircraft was coming from San Diego, which had the same group stop.

All said and done, this is unacceptable. The FAA’s system should not be so fragile that a single unplanned aircraft can cause it to crash. The FAA is technologically well behind the Europeans in the air traffic control systems. They still rely on old 50s era radars and radio, in todays world of satellite, GPS and digital communication. Congress needs to fund the FAA for an upgrade.

I do not know if someone should be help ‘responsible’ for this mess. Its not the airlines fault, for sure. The FAA? The US Air Force? Did they not coordinate well with the FAA? Congress, for not funding the system upgrades the FAA needs. The world looks to the FAA, for leadership in airline safety. While we may not be missing 777s mid-flight, we should be having radar system outages either.

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One of the advantages of passing thru Heathrow airport (LHR) in London is the chance to see some of British Airways big planes. Somehow I love the livery. I my opinion, the planes look bigger, but I am sure that just me… Here are some pictures I look on my last trip thru Heathrow.

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A closeup of a BA 767, which I was flying on.

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BAs workhorse for long-haul flights – a 747.

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a BA 777 passes bye.

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and the moneyshot – the new BA A380. I actually saw two pass bye my plane as we were taxiing.

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I wish I could have flown one of these – a BA Concorde. This is a retired plane parked on the tarmac.

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Virgin-Atlantic-A340-at-HKG.jpgEarlier today I heard an excellent interview of Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta Airlines, and Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, on NPR. They had a lively discussion (Sir Branson more so than Mr. Anderson) on customer experience, what customers care about, the future of airline travel and yes, the Delta – Virgin Atlantic relationship. For those who may not know, Delta owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic, which it bought from Singapore Airlines. Furthermore, the two airlines announced a partnership last year which was a revenue sharing model with cross-benefits to each others frequent flyer programs.

You can listen to the entire interview here.

Related Posts:

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