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Did you know…Air France unveils redesigned and expanded Business class lounge at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport?

Air France announced today the reopening of a completely redesigned, much larger and totally renovated Business class lounge. With an open kitchen, private saunas and a detox bar, the company has created a real bubble of well-being for its Business customers and Flying Blue Elite Plus cardholders in Hall L at Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Terminal Two.

 air france business class lounge

The 3,200 sq. m. lounge will open in two stages. The first part of 2,180 sq. m. was unveiled on January 25 and the second section, which will reveal new areas, is set to be unveiled in July 2018.

“This lounge is perfectly in line with Air France’s strategy to move upmarket, in the same way as the lounge at Terminal 2G,” explained Anne Rigail, Customer EVP. “It has been designed to surprise our customers with innovative services on the theme of well-being and gastronomy.”

A subtle balance between elegance, comfort, and creativity, this lounge reflects the identity of the Air France brand. In the choice of materials, furniture and with a palette of bright colors, Air France and the agency Brandimage have designed a refined new lounge, a new ambassador of chic French style.

The largest well-being area in an Air France lounge 

For the first time, an Air France lounge is devoting more than 550 sq. m. entirely to well-being. In a refined setting, everything has been designed to immerse the customer in a cocoon where time seems to stand still. The well-being area provides customers with:

·         An “Instant Relaxation” area to relax comfortably on loungers or in mini-suites for optimal rest;

·         A detox bar to relax, with a selection of fine teas;

·         An area dedicated to facial treatments with two private cabins where customers can benefit from the expertise of Clarins beauticians;

·         Two private saunas to freshen up between flights;

·         Large luxury showers.

Fine dining on show

 air france business class lounge

The lounge highlights the finest French dining experience:

·         A “La Table Gourmet” dining area, designed in the spirit of a Parisian brasserie, with an open kitchen where a Chef prepares tasty hot dishes by putting the final touch on the dish in front of customers;

·         A self-service offer which invites customers to discover seasonal flavors for all tastes, with simmered casseroles, salads and pastries;

·         A selection of wines and Champagnes chosen by Paolo Basso, world’s best sommelier in 2013.

Digital art at the heart of the customer experience

In collaboration with French start-ups Superbien and Tetro and the agency Brandimage, Air France has created a real immersive and sensory experience thanks to digital services:

·         In the entrance hall, a series of screens accompanies customers and takes them into a world of travel with soft and airy lighting effects;

·         A three-dimensional digital creation is on show in the center of the well-being area. A surprising art form that changes shape, intensity and color throughout the day;

·         A sky with soothing lighting, in a light therapy style, for a moment of complete relaxation.

Unique spaces

To meet the needs of all customers, Air France has also come up with:

·         “Le Club”, a private area, to spend time alone or with others in a warm atmosphere;

·         “Le Petit Salon” to take time out in a place where all is quiet and smartphones are silent;

·         An “At Your Service” area, to be assisted by Air France staff in the lounge to reserve showers and saunas, change seats or flights, etc.;

·         “Air France Shopping” showcases to discover and purchase a selection of unique Air France-branded objects.

 

Business Traveller Magazine and frequent flyers weigh in with top tips for better air travel

If you’re a frequent business traveler, odds are you and your colleagues compete for bragging rights when it comes to getting the best perks and deals to make life in the air a more pleasurable experience. We tapped some seasoned business travelers who are also elite airline loyalty program members to draw out their proven schemes and best practices for flying better.

“I’m a big fan of the stopover. There are about a dozen airlines that now do it covering Asia, parts of Europe, and the Middle East. So, if you’re traveling the globe, what a great way to actually add a couple of days on your trip and see a part of the word you might not have seen before.”

— Ross Atkinson, Chief Marketing and Product Officer, Business Traveller Magazine

WATCH our video interview with Ross Atkinson, Business Traveller Magazine

Dave Poplin is a sales executive with an international technology company. He flies every three weeks, on average, and holds Platinum-level status on Delta Airlines.

According to Poplin, there is no reason for a Platinum or higher level Delta flyer to ever pay for a Delta Comfort Seat. “Once you book coach you will get an upgrade to Delta Comfort the next day for free.  But, be careful on what Comfort seats are available, there can be some risk that you go from an aisle in coach to a middle seat in Comfort. Look at the seat maps, if there are a lot of First Class open, then Comfort customers will get moved up and open aisle seats again.”

“Remember, Comfort gets free movies and drinks. Aside from meals being included on a 2+ hour flight in First Class, there is really no difference between Comfort and First Class, especially on Delta.”

gregg ellman

Gregg Ellman

Gregg Ellman, co-owner of Ellman Photography, does about 35-40 roundtrips per year as a freelance photographer and journalist. With over two million flying miles, he’s a Platinum Pro level member of American Airlines Advantage loyalty program.

“When your flight is canceled or delayed, etc., the worst thing you can do is stand in line.  Call the airlines directly and use your status to your advantage.  If the person you have on the phone is not helpful, asked to speak to their manager. It works almost every time.”

Ellman says his American Airlines executive card is worth every penny.  “Along with the monthly miles, you get 10,000 yearly qualifying miles and your yearly
membership to the admirals club is included.”

Another tip, book the earliest flight possible, which avoids young kids and makes boarding much quicker. “Since I travel with a lot of camera gear, hassle-free boarding is a big deal,” adds Ellman.

jennifer flowers frequent flyer

Jennifer Flowers, found & CEO of Accreditation Guru, Inc.

Jennifer Flowers is the CEO of Accreditation Guru, Inc., a consultancy that works with non-profits across the country. Averaging two plane trips per month, Jennifer is a Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion member.

“I have both business and personal Delta American Express cards in order to maximize miles earned. Also, because of the amount of travel and other business expenses that are charged against my Delta AmEx, I am able to earn a Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) Waiver (MQDs are a way for Delta to ensure that Elite members have spent a minimum amount of money with the airline, as well as flying a certain number of miles or segments).”

Flowers joined the Delta Sky Club as a way to enjoy the amenities offered (wifi, food and drink selections, comfortable waiting areas, etc.) and ease the stress of frequent travel. “In the past year, I visited Delta Sky Clubs around the country at least 35 times. With the discounted rate of $29 for an access pass that is available through my Platinum Delta AmEx card (as opposed to $59 regular price of a single visit pass), my annual pass has allowed me to save more than 50% off of what the reduced rate access passes would have cost.”

Flying in the midst of Irma

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Hurricane_Isabel_18_sept_2003_1555Z

Irma is striking fear and panic in the hearts of many Americans, particularly those who have lived through other natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, Sandy, and most recently, Harvey.  Many residents are fleeing extreme danger zones and business and leisure travelers are trying to negotiate plans to get from point A to B on pre-planned trips. Here’s what to expect if you’re flying in the midst of Hurricane Irma.

Flight Cancellations

In an interview with Mark Miller, Global Industry Leader, Aviation for The Weather Company, Mr. Miller said, “Airlines began canceling flights in South Florida and Carribean earlier in the week and there will be significantly more disruption in the next few days as Irma approaches Florida and the storm track becomes clearer.   Airports and the FAA towers halt operations when winds reach 55 mph and airlines generally do not operate in sustained crosswinds that exceed 35 mph.  The safety of employees and passengers is paramount.  There are a number of major airports in the region that will likely reach these thresholds.   Airlines will cancel sooner to ensure a faster recovery when the winds and storm impacts subside, as opposed to having aircraft and crew out of position.   Cancellations combined with reduced airport and airspace capacity through the region can lead to significant delays, propagating to other airports outside the direct impacts of the storm.”

Soaring Ticket Prices

The Verge recently reported on airline price gouging out of Florida. No surprise as the entire region is under a state of emergency.

According to the report, one woman searching Expedia was shown a Delta itinerary between Miami and Phoenix for $3,258. (Delta later directly reached out to her and she was able to book a seat at a lower price.) Someone else trying to book on American found their flight jumped almost $600 within the span of a couple hours. Another on United’s website was presented with a round trip fare between Miami and Denver for $6,785.

What can airlines can do in this type of situation? Some have added additional flights, but there’s only so much that can logistically be done within such a short window of time. “It’s like Christmas,” says Chris Lopinto of ExpertFlyer.com, “except instead of having five months to figure things out, you’re trying to figure this out over the course of five days.”

Lopinto also says airlines can file different fares every hour, so they have the ability to bring down the price for tickets. Some airlines have committed to capping the prices of remaining direct flights. JetBlue and American both said they are selling remaining direct flights this week for $99, while Delta is capping direct flights at $399. These flights, though, were already sold out or nearly sold out. As of 4:21PM ET, ExpertFlyer.com showed just one seat available on JetBlue from Fort Lauderdale to New York over the next couple of days.

Ultimately, even with the extra push from airlines, there simply aren’t enough seats available. If you still need a flight, look now, or start planning to drive.

 

 

 

U.S. Customs & Border Protection encourages travelers to “Know Before You Go”

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

us customsAs the busiest three months of international travel approach, U.S. Customs and Border Protection encourages travelers to “Know Before You Go” when traveling to the United States or returning home this summer. CBP officers at international airports, cruise terminals and land border ports of entry around the country and at Preclearance facilities around the world are prepared for the additional traffic expected this summer. Last summer, CBP processed more than 108.3 million international travelers at U.S. ports of entry.

“The United States has been and continues to be a welcoming country and CBP remains committed to facilitating lawful travel to the United States,” said Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. “In the spirit of this commitment, CBP has deployed innovative programs and technology including Trusted Traveler Programs, Automated Passport Control kiosks and Mobile Passport Control to make the arrival process as efficient and as quick as possible while maintaining our dual mission of border security and travel facilitation.”

CBP encourages travelers to plan ahead to ensure a smooth and efficient processing experience. Use these tips to help you prepare. Continue reading →

“Did you know…What do ‘Lucille’, Game of Thrones and Sea Horses have in common?

lucille bat TSA“Lucille” has been sighted at airports — and TSA agents are pulling her off the security line along with some other insidious luggage items.  CNN.com recently reported on a stunning array of lethal and or just plain creepy carry-ons that never made it past the TSA’s X-ray machines this year.

The list includes “Lucille,” a replica of the infamous barbed wire wrapped bat wielded by Walking Dead star, Jeffrey Dean Morgan; a grenade and bladed dragon claws. Read the full story here.