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Author Topic: Read Up Before You Next Fly - Especially Overseas
Gilbert B Norman
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Thursday's Wall Street Journal has an article of interest to all who 'take the plane to the train' - and especially if that train awaits you overseas:

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304384104579141941949066648

Brief passage:

  • Airlines' push to lure high-paying fliers with flatbed business seats and premium economy loungers is leaving economy-class passengers with less space.

    A push over the past decade by carriers to expand higher-fare sections has shrunk the area devoted to coach on many big jetliners. But airlines don't want to drop passengers. So first airlines slimmed seats to add more rows.

    Now, big carriers including AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, Air Canada, Air France-KLM, and Dubai's Emirates Airline are cutting shoulder space by wedging an extra seat into each coach row. That shift is bringing the short-haul standard to long-haul flying.

    For almost 20 years, the standard setup in the back of a Boeing 777 was nine seats per row. But last year, nearly 70% of its biggest version of the plane were delivered with 10-abreast seating, up from just 15% in 2010
Even the various premium economy services, such as United's Economy Plus, are not going to help this seat width matter - they only address seat pitch, or in 'talk to me like I'm a three year old', legroom.

Finally, as I sit here writing this in my 20" wide office chair, it appears that Business Class may not prove to be all that overpriced. All I know is that if I ever had reason again to fly overseas in this life, consideration of Business Class will be 'on the table'.

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palmland
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quote:
Originally posted by Gilbert B Norman:

Finally, as I sit here writing this in my 20" wide office chair, it appears that Business Class may not prove to be all that overpriced. All I know is that if I ever had reason again to fly overseas in this life, consideration of Business Class will be 'on the table'.

I do believe my preference would be the Queen Mary. An oceanview stateroom (who needs a balcony in wintertime North Atlantic) sailing on January 3 will set you back $1199. That's the last sailing before spring.

Economy coach on American is $1061 for the same date. Sticker shock warning: Business class is $7500. Top of the line 'Queen's Grill' cabin on the ship is $3999.

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Henry Kisor
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I'm with you about the Queen Mary. One of the reasons I hate to fly commercial is a bad back, and this niggardliness about seat space just makes it worse.
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Railroad Bob
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I'm done with over-the-ocean economy flying. My last taste of it was in July this year on a China Eastern Airbus 340, an "old" one to boot. Not only incredibly small seats, but the seat pads were so soft, you could feel the plastic "seat pan." Sub 6 footers knees would brush the forward seat backs, even with those seats in the "UP" position! In short, a nightmare.

I was able to finagle a bulkhead emergency row seat both ways, and it was still miserable. And expensive, to boot. That's it, I'm done.

I had to make the trip, due to having family in China. That part of the trip was just fine, plus I got to ride one of the new Chinese high speed trains. And Mr. Norman, had my first look at "PVG" International (Shanghai Pudong.) It must be in the world's Top Three in sheer size. The ground taxi control systems were amazing; controlling an incredible amount of multiple moving aircraft in perfect harmony and safety, like a plane ballet.

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smitty195
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Business Class is $7500??? Are you serious????? Is that one-way or round-trip? Don't tell me that's one-way. No way!
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palmland
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Smitty-Actually it was $7550 - but that was one way. After your comment I checked roundtrip and it was much different - coach $1660, business $2359 but economy comfort was $4184?? Guess they don't want you take the ship one way!

So, if you have the time, why not take the ship roundtrip - still come out ahead over business.

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DonNadeau
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If you have time like me, consider positioning cruises. These move ships back and forth between Europe and the Caribbean peak seasons. These cruises normally take 13 - 15 nights via various ports (If heading to/from southern Europe: Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, various ports on the Portuguese and Spanish mainlands, as well as the Bahamas and some Caribbean ones depending on your U.S. port).

Best of all, these are so very often super bargains, even more so if booked last minute, often well under $100 a night per person even if booked ahead months--transportation, room, meals, and entertainment included. Unlike the Queen Mary, these ships tend to be less formal.

I've done two, both eastbound in spring, which unlike westbound is not hurricane season. I also did a positioning cruise Barcelona to Dubai in 2011 via the Suez Canal. What a wonderful experience.

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@DonNadeau

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PullmanCo
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I just flew US Airways twice this month, once to/from Stuttgart, and once to/from Tel Aviv.

I flew a 757 on the Stuttgart eastbound leg, and A330s on the other 3.

The 757 was 7 across 2-3-2. The A330s were 8 across 2-4-2.

There was only First and Coach, no business.

FYI.

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The City of Saint Louis (UP, 1967) is still my standard for passenger operations

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sbalax
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Pullman Co.--

Are you sure you were on a 757? They are not a twin aisle aircraft and would normally be 3-3 in economy.

Frank in cool but clear SBA

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Geoff Mayo
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Sounds like a 767. US Airways don't fly to Stuttgart either.

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Geoff M.

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DonNadeau
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I call those 757's deep vein thrombosis machines.

Hate to be trapped in a seat on long flights. Two aisles encourage passengers to move around.

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@DonNadeau

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Gilbert B Norman
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Oh well, while not really my intent (after all the linked WSJ article does mention a Superliner seat) to start Airliners.net around here, it appears this topic has done just that.

First, a friend recently flew on a United (ex-Con) 757 KEWR-EGPH. He remarked to me (and this fellow practically lives aboard planes) that the Cabin crew (note; Frank) was exceptionally courteous, but that there was 'chop' for the entire EB flight. When he arrived EGPH (Edinburgh UK) the walkway to HM Customs apparently gives passengers who aren't too zonked to even care a good view of the ramps. He saw his 757 parked next to a Virgin 747 and thought 'I just flew over the Atlantic in THAT???'

Also, this past Sunday, saw United, real United, FA friend. I had previously forwarded the WSJ material to her; I remember asking her 'Dear, how are you going to get the service carts down the aisle?. 'They're just going to have to get new ones'.

Wonder why I haven't been overseas in now 24 years.

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PullmanCo
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OK, 767. I flew US Air to Zurich, thence SwissAir Regional the rest of the way.

I know this. the A330 is a better bird.

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The City of Saint Louis (UP, 1967) is still my standard for passenger operations

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David
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Queen Mary 2 off-season crossings - Nov., Dec. and Jan. - between New York and Southampton are currently selling for $799 pp for (your choice) of an inside, outside or a balcony stateroom - in other words, free upgrades. That fare is the same in US and Canadian funds. Yes, it is a very formal ship, which might limit its appeal to most North American railfans. But there is an alternative: a cafeteria/buffet which does not require formal wear, or even a jacket. I have seen the blue-jean and baseball cap crowd go in there, although being a traditionalist, especially when it comes to ships, I have never eaten there. Cunard nights in the main restaurants, particularly the Princess Grill and Queen's Grill, are special.

I take Cunard almost every time I go to Britain. Admittedly I usually fly home. A Canadian carrier, Air Transat, has reasonable one-way fares, even in Club Class. The westbound flights are in the day, which avoids the horror of flying overnight, which is a feature of almost all eastbound flights.

Sadly, there are no longer any boat trains which, for decades, met the ships in Southampton to and from London's Waterloo Station. But the central station is only about a 10-minute taxi ride from any of the piers.

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sbalax
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We've used the National Express coaches from Victoria Station to Southampton twice. On the first trip we were able to book early and got two of the one pound per person one-way tickets.

We've stayed twice at the Holiday Inn located directly opposite the passenger terminal. It is within easy walking distance of shopping and museums. We were able to walk, with rollaboards, to the terminal for check-in the next morning.

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DonNadeau
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@ David

Also check special one-way airfares that are probably available via Cunard. With other cruise companies I"ve used these have been real bargains, especially vis-a-vis regular one-way fares.

Moreover, unlike charter or quasi-charter companies like Air Transat, these are on regular airlines that have far more options if your flight is cancelled due to maintenance or other issues.

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