2018. Highs and Lows.

As 2018 comes to a close, I thought it was an idea to write a post with a few highlights and lowlights of the year.

At the beginning of the year, I committed to break-up with British Airways.  I think I largely succeeded.  Living in London, you can’t really avoid them, however for the most part, where I spent money, as opposed to miles, I went with the competition.

Heathrow Terminal 2 is great.  The ‘Gold Track’ priority security lane is as empty and efficient as the First Wing in Terminal 5.  The Lufthansa lounges, as I noted recently, are not as good as the British Airways First lounge though.  But both the United Club and Singapore Airlines lounges are decent, if a bit of a walk from most of the short-haul gates.

I still did the odd short-haul trip from London with BA, mainly burning my stash of Avios.  Weekends away to places like Stockholm or starting ex-Europe trips in places like Oslo.

Best Flight

For me, this was Qantas Premium Economy from Sydney to Singapore.  I was very impressed.  Two hot meals on a seven-hour flight.  Glass glasses, wine from full bottles, linen table cloths.  Fabulous service with drinks constantly topped up.  Plus given it was only a reasonably short day flight, the seat itself was pretty comfortable too.

Worst Flight

I’ve been pretty lucky this year in that I’ve had no real disasters, no cancellations and no substantial delays.  I guess the worst bit had to be stuck on a bus on the tarmac at Frankfurt airport, waiting to board a flight to Katowice in Poland for work.  As we left the bus gate, the heavens opened and stayed open.  We were perhaps on the bus for the best part of an hour, before we were finally able to board the aircraft.  It was then a further 30 minutes before we were eventually able to take off.  Given that was the worst of it, I think I got off pretty lightly.  Certainly no-one’s fault in the slightest, just one of those things that happens.

Best Airline

Air Canada.  Yes, I was surprised too.  I did a few flights with them over the summer, on the way back from Seattle – one of their premium transcons and the day flight back from Toronto to London.  Their Signature Suite in Toronto was a great lounge, and I was really impressed with their business class product – both the seat and also the service.  Would certainly be one of my top choices for travel over the North Atlantic from now on.

Worst Airline

British Airways.  Very little has changed.  They have made some incremental improvements to Club World in that both the food and the bedding have got better, but the fundamentals remain.  Service, particularly with Mixed Fleet is inconsistent.  The short-haul product is arguably worse than the low cost carriers in that it’s both expensive and low service, and First Class isn’t competitive.  But given they’re still making money hand over fist, I don’t expect much to change in 2019.

Best Lounge

This is a tough one.  It’s a toss-up between the First Class Terminal at Frankfurt and the Swiss First Class lounge at Zurich.  Both are fabulous places to wait for an aeroplane.  The food was probably better in Zurich, but then you get driven to the aircraft in Frankfurt.  Let’s call it a draw!

Biggest Disappointment

The Singapore Airlines Private Room at Changi.  Singapore Airlines are a fantastic airline; I recently flew their brand new A380 business class from Singapore down to Sydney (which I’ve yet to review) and I was very impressed.  However, their lounge, exclusively for their own Suites and First Class passenger, at their main hub was just an ok restaurant.  Yes, there was some nice wine and Champagne, but there were no other ground services to speak of.  Compared to what even airlines like American will offer to Concierge Key or Gold Guest list members travelling at their hub, this seemed a huge omission for an airline that prides themselves on excellent and attention to detail.

Best Airport

Munich.  This is what an efficient German hub should look like.  Security and immigration only where it’s necessary.

Worst Airport

Frankfurt.  Buses.  Steps.  Security.  Escalators.  Long walks.  It’s just awful.

So what next for 2019?  It’ll start with my journey home from Australia, flying Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa, with the final segment with British Airways.  I’ve also got a Club World flight from Gatwick booked with British Airways (which will be interesting), plus then some more Lufthansa, on their longest single sector down to Buenos Aires for a week with probably some LATAM domestic segments mixed in too.  I’ll of course continue to cover everything on here as always!

So thanks very much for reading my ramblings in 2018 and wish you all the very best for 2019!

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