Over the past year there have been a great deal of improvements to the airlines that serve our specialist countries. This is fantastic news and we really feel that the upgrades and enhancements will add comfort and convenience to many of our clients holiday experience. With this in mind we thought we’d have a round-up of the most interesting news.
On 2nd September 2015 and after much anticipation, Vietnam Airlines’ brand new Dreamliner aircraft touched down at Heathrow. This is exciting news as the new state of the art aircraft will provide a much improved customer experience for Vietnam Airlines passengers flying between the UK and Vietnam with more space and leg room, cleaner air, lower cabin pressure; and a smoother, quieter ride!
It’s always been a tough call for our clients on whether to fly with Vietnam Airlines out of Heathrow or not. The huge bonus is that they are the only airline to operate direct flights between the UK and Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi but the quality of the aircraft has in the past been eclipsed by indirect carriers like Emirates and Qatar Airways. So it’s always been a choice between journey time and aircraft comfort, with the result going 50/50 – Vietnam Airlines often winning on price (and their excellent local connections in Southeast Asia). With the introduction of the new Dreamliner, customers should benefit from the best of both worlds, the aircraft looks great, we’ve heard particularly good reports about the premium economy cabin which travellers can upgrade to for a surprisingly low price.
A recent Vietnam Airlines press release list all the facts and figures. The new Business Class cabin features 28 fully-flat sliding seats, individual 15.4-inch in-seat TVs with HD touchscreens, individual minibars, noise-cancelling headsets and private reading lights. In Premium Economy, 35 seats offer passengers a 42-inch seat pitch and 7-inch recline. The Economy cabin features seats in a 3-3-3 configuration, with 31-32-inch seat pitch and 5-6 inch recline. All Premium Economy and Economy seats also feature individual 10.6-inch in-seat TVs with HD touchscreens. All 274 seats feature in-seat power outlets and USB ports, and in-flight WiFi and SMS connectivity are also set to be introduced.
Another bit of not so new Vietnam Airlines news is that they recently started operating direct flights between Siem Reap in Cambodia and the tropical island Phu Quoc in Vietnam. This is an excellent way to link the two neighbouring countries and we’ve put together an exciting new itinerary off the back of this route.
It doesn’t seem so long ago that some of our clients would eschew our recommendation that they fly with Thai Airways as despite their legendary service they didn’t offer seatback TV’s. But, things have improved considerably and they have recently introduced a shiny brand new Airbus A380 to their Heathrow to Bangkok route. Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Etihad and others have been operating the aircraft for a couple of years now with indirect flights to several of our specialist destinations but this is the first time it’s been possible to fly on the world’s largest passenger plane directly between London and Bangkok. This is a comfortable, modern flight option for those flying to Thailand and connecting flights means it’s another quality option for visitors to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam.
I won’t get to experience the aircraft for myself until I fly with Thai Airways next March but I’ve flown on the A380 before and can vouch for the extra comfort that the added space and facilities bring to the long journey. The main tip here is to fly on Thai Airways lunchtime flight out of Heathrow (they operate 2 flights a day between the UK and Thai capital cities but only operate the A380 on TG911 at 12.30pm).
At Experience Travel Group our staff and clients must have taken thousands of flight with Sri Lankan airlines over the years, they’re the national airline of our very first destination and the only one to offer a direct route. But in the past the planes have seemed tired and the entertainment and facilities on board have paled in comparison to indirect carriers like Emirates, Qatar Airways and BA. But late in 2014 Sri Lankan Airlines introduced brand new Airbus A330 aircraft to this route. We’ve been getting fantastic feedback from staff and clients alike about the vastly improved cabin features including seat comfort, video on demand and lie flat business class seats. This means that you can now have the best of both worlds on a trip to Sri Lanka, convenient direct flights and comfortable facilities.
EMIRATES TO BALI
Everyone knows that Emirates are a great airline, their aircraft are modern and their service is great. But, the news here is that in June Emirates started flying from the UK to Bali via Dubai. This adds another choice on the well-served route for customers flying from Heathrow or Manchester but it’s particularly notable for anyone living near Newcastle, Glasgow, Birmingham, Dublin or even Gatwick who would like to explore Indonesia. We especially recommend beginning your journey on the amazing island of Java (Emirates fly to Jakarta) and then travelling across to explore Bali and picking up your return flight home there. Additionally, this new route now offers you a unique way to combine a holiday in Indonesia with a few days in Dubai.
The weather in Indonesia is great during summer school holidays and this new option offers a much easier route to the archipelago for intrepid families who live in the Midlands, The North, Scotland or Ireland. Indonesia is a fantastic family destination.