web Musings of The Global Traveller

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Improved booking display for American

Thanks to a heads up by The Cranky Flier on the news that American Airlines will shortly join other airlines like Air Canada, Qantas and Air New Zealand in improving their booking display by showing on the one screen options for different fare categories.

I find these very useful to selecting the right fare type for my circumstances, and even mixing and matching outbound and return flights - eg a more flexible return flight for after the meeting(s).

It is also good for the airline, I think, in that it can highlight inexpensive options for upgrades or more flexible bookings and thus improve revenue.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Grrr London Heathrow

The 2 1/2 day trip around the world went fine, but I was again reminded why I dislike London Heathrow airport.

A tip for those whose connections on international flights requires a change of terminals and who can go through immigration (either have a visa for UK or don't need one) - sometimes it is much quicker to go through immigration and change terminals landside than transferring through Flight Connection Centre (FCC). In this case I have perfect evidence, for I met a fellow passenger on my flight arriving to London that was connecting to the same onward flight, but who had to go through immigration as she didn't have her bags checked through. With no checked luggage I had the option and chose FCC route. She arrived at the onward gate 40 minutes earlier than I did! This despite she not being familiar with the airport and needing to wait for bags to arrive at the claim (which can take a long time at London - my worst being 90 minutes).

Needless to say, I wasn't too happy spending so long queueing for security nor the poor management. More staff were yelling instructions at passengers queueing than were manning the x-rays and walk through metal detectors (WTMDs), with only 2 lanes open at a busy time of day.

The other reminder for me, was how even on a "good" day, delays can spring out of nowhere. In this case it was a passing light shower that lead to a one hour delay on my side trip flights. Fortunately I knew to pad the schedule well and had carefully chosen flights which minimised the risk of misconnecting. Further I had in mind a go-no go timing when I would abandon the side trip. What I had forgotten to take account of, however, was the possibility of boarding on time but then having a significant delay while onboard. Lesson learned, even back up plans may not be foolproof.

On a more positive note, I know the London Star Alliance lounges well enough, and my access rights, to ignore the advice given at check in to use only the United Airlines Red Carpet Club and instead headed to Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge which was much nicer. I then eased my stress away over a nice drink (yes after a shower), knowing I was about to leave London Heathrow behind. Know your rights.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Plane mad

I'm in the middle of a travel schedule so hectic that even with my sheer enjoyment of travel I am left wondering if I have bitten off too much.

I recently flew the 50th and last unflown domestic route of a particular airline. A day later they confirmed 3 new routes will be starting in six month's time! Flying the last dozen or so routes this year was like a challenging jigsaw puzzle fitting in airline schedules, some very inconvenient for me, my available time and reasonable cost. I was great seeing so much of the countryside from the air, much of it flown over many times - seeing the effects of changing weather and seasons in the beautiful landscapes below.

In a couple of days I attempt my fastest round the world (RTW) for fun (and to rack up some frequent flyer miles in a hurry!). Some 2 1/2 days after I head eastward I arrive back (hopefully) where I started. I have a couple of connections I am wondering just how easy they will be, and of course I am already thinking about things that make the trip easier - like where can I get showers en route, where can I check in for onward flights with the least hassle.

More later. Happy travels.

Friday, May 04, 2007

British Airways Global Traveller Advisory Board

According to Business Travel World, British Airways has established a Global Traveller Advisory Board (no, not this Global Traveller!) to give formal feedback on service and trials.

Willie Walsh, BA's chief executive, said: "This board is at the heart of finding out what our customers want and feeding that back into the business.
"The members are not only frequent flyers with BA, but also other
airlines, so they are well placed to offer constructive criticism on our
products and services."

Currently this board has about 15 members, although they are looking to recruit more from Europe, Asia and the Pacific regions.

Is this a concession that normal feedback methods are failing or a savvy marketing gimmick to encourage big business (at least those represented on the Global Traveller Advisory Board) to fly British Airways more? With such a small group I can't help feel it is a gimmick. If BA wishes to invite this global traveller onboard I'd be happy to be proven wrong.