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United Airlines to launch nonstop service between Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

United Airlines today announced that it will introduce nonstop flights between its hub at Los Angeles International Airport and Melbourne, Australia, effective Oct. 26, 2014 (westbound), subject to government approval. The airline will fly the route six times weekly with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. United is the North American launch customer for the 787-9, and this will be its first international deployment of the aircraft type.

"We are excited about using the newest version of the Dreamliner, the 787-9, to provide nonstop trans-Pacific service to Melbourne," said Jim Compton, United's vice chairman and chief revenue officer. "Our customers on these new flights will enjoy a more convenient itinerary, as well as improved inflight comfort and amenities. At the same time, we will seek to make changes to our Sydney schedule which will enable faster connections via our San Francisco and Los Angeles hubs from points throughout the Americas."

Flight Schedule

Flight 98 will depart Los Angeles at 10:30 p.m. daily except Tuesday and Thursday and arrive in Melbourne at 9:15 a.m. two days later (all times local). On Thursday, flight 98 will depart Los Angeles at 9:30 p.m. and arrive in Melbourne at 8:15 a.m. two days later (all times local). The flights to Melbourne will not operate on Tuesdays.

On the return, flight 99 will depart Melbourne at 11:15 a.m. daily except Thursday and Saturday and arrive at Los Angeles International Airport at 6:50 a.m. the same day. On Saturday, flight 99 will depart Melbourne at 3:15 p.m. and arrive in Los Angeles at 10:50 a.m. the same day. The flights to Los Angeles will not operate on Thursday.

Flying times will be approximately 15 hours, 45 minutes westbound, and 14 hours, 35 minutes eastbound.

Convenient connecting flights

United has timed the new flights to conveniently connect at Los Angeles with an extensive network of service throughout the United States, Canada and Latin America.  United and United Express jointly operate nearly 200 flights daily from Los Angeles to more than 65 destinations. With this new service, United will provide convenient one-stop service to Melbourne from more than 37 U.S. cities.

Sydney schedule changes

With the launch of nonstop Los Angeles-Melbourne service, United will end service between Melbourne and Sydney. The airline will seek to retime its daily departures from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Sydney in order to allow a greater range of connections beyond the hubs and to provide more convenient arrival times for customers on connecting flights from Sydney to New York and other East Coast destinations.

Onboard products and services

The Boeing 787-9 aircraft operating the new Los Angeles-Melbourne service will offer a total of 252 seats - 48 in United BusinessFirst and 204 in United Economy, including 63 Economy Plus seats with added legroom and increased personal space.

United BusinessFirst offers a superior business-class service. The BusinessFirst flat-bed seat reclines 180 degrees and features an on-demand entertainment system with touch-screen monitors. BusinessFirst amenities include power outlets, USB ports and multi-course meals with complimentary premium wines and spirits.

Economy Plus seats offer up to five inches of extra legroom, and both Economy Plus and United Economy seats feature adjustable headrests, power outlets and personal seat-back monitors delivering a multi-channel inflight entertainment system on demand.

Finnair to open direct service between Helsinki and Miami

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

Next winter Finnair will begin operating nonstop scheduled services between Helsinki and Miami, Florida. The new seasonal flight, operated with Airbus A340 aircraft in a two-class Business and Economy cabin configuration, will commence from December 16, 2014 until March 21, 2015.

AY007 will leave Helsinki (HEL) on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 09:55 for arrival in Miami (MIA) at 14:05 local time. AY008 departs Miami at 16:00 for arrival in Helsinki at 08:50 local time the next day. Starting from January 3, 2015, the service moves to three times weekly with an additional frequency on Saturdays. The flight lasts approximately 11 hours outbound while the return journey takes less than 10 hours. The timetable connects well with passengers transferring from other cities in Finland, Estonia and Sweden.

“Services to Miami with codeshare partners have always been popular, and the time is now right to offer a direct nonstop route in the winter season in addition to these services,” says Finnair CEO Pekka Vauramo. “Finns love Miami and southern Florida, and there is a sizeable Finnish expatriate community in the region. At the same time, this new direct route also gives us the opportunity to develop Finland and Lapland as exotic winter tourism destinations for Americans.”

The route between Helsinki and Miami International Airport will be included in the joint business on transatlantic traffic with oneworld alliance partners American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia. This gives customers the possibility to mix and match flights on the different carriers for the best pricing and scheduling. For example, an itinerary could include a nonstop flight to Miami in one direction, but a connecting flight through New York, Madrid or London in the other, if the timing is more convenient. Finnair’s cooperation with the other three carriers also means that Miami is yet another gateway to dozens more North American destinations.

Miami, with a population of more than 400,000 in a metro area of more than 5 million, is at the centre of the largest urban area in the southeastern United States. The region is famous for its beaches and leisure activities, as well as its top-tier entertainment, sporting and cultural attractions. Miami is also a major commercial and financial centre in the United States and widely seen as an economic and cultural gateway between North and South America.

Air France unveils its new Business Class seat

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

Air France is continuing its move upmarket and unveiled today its new Business class seat, for a completely renewed travel experience. In total, 2,102 seats will be installed between June 2014 and summer 2016 on 44 Boeing 777 aircraft, the core of Air France’s long-haul fleet.
Every detail has been specially modelled to give the seat its unique design. The passenger is instantly enveloped in its graceful curves into a cocoon-like state of special care.

This real cocoon, with its particularly refined finishing touches (leather upholstery, topstitching) provides an ideal level of comfort and offers the prospect of a perfect sleep.

The new Air France Business class seat was developed around the concept of 3 « F » :

• Full flat - the seat converts to a fully flat bed - for crossing time zones without fatigue;

• Full access - direct access to the aisle, regardless of the seat’s location in the cabin;

• Full privacy - a protected area through the seat’s enveloping curves, providing a true bubble of privacy in the sky.

Specially designed for Air France, this seat was developed in collaboration with Zodiac Aerospace, a world leader in the manufacture of aircraft seats. Its unique design was specially created by designer Mark Collins of Design Investment, specialized in the world of high-end transportation and by the design and branding agency, Brandimage.

Seeking to offer the ultimate in comfort in the sky, Air France engaged customers, company employees, designers and ergonomic experts in the seat’s cooperative design effort.

A 16-inch (41 cm) high definition touch screen with more than 1,000 hours of entertainment

In the Business cabin, customers have a wide touch screen offering a high definition image. This 16-inch (41 cm) screen offers a unique onboard navigation experience similar to a tablet. With a completely redesigned user interface and available in 12 languages (French, English, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German, Italian, Dutch, Russian and Arabic), choosing an entertainment program from over 1,000 hours of entertainment has never been so easy and intuitive.

At a glance

• A seat that converts into a completely flat bed for maximum comfort;

• Direct aisle access for every passenger; • An enveloping structure of curves, providing a feeling of privacy;

• A seat that features all of the latest technology: a wide high definition touch screen, a touch screen handset, electrical outlet, USB port and new noise-reduction headphones;

• A padded headboard, an Air France signature feature;

• An adjustable soft leather headrest; • Space and multiple storage areas close at hand;

• A delicate-to-the-touch duvet, a XXL feather down pillow;

• High quality, down to the finishing: leather, choice fabrics, stitching

Best & Beyond, Air France’s long-haul ambition

Within the framework of its Transform 2015 plan, Air France is continuing to develop the move upmarket of its entire range of products and services called “Best & Beyond”. With an investment of over 500 million euros, this project aims to place Air France at the best possible level in terms of products and to make a difference with a caring attitude towards its customers.

United Airlines unveils new amenities for top customers at Newark Liberty International Airport

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

United Airlines earlier this week opened a new Global Services reception lobby for its top frequent flyers at the airline's New York hub at Newark Liberty International Airport. The new lobby offers personalized check-in and travel services to members of United's invitation-only Global Services program, and to customers traveling on long-haul international flights in United Global First.

Customers will access the new lobby via the Premier Access entry located at Door 4 of the Terminal C mid-level departures area. Adjacent to the C-2 security check-point, the reception area features four full-service check-in positions staffed by Global Services representatives wearing easily identifiable uniforms – gray suiting with gold ties or scarves. The reception area provides direct access to four newly constructed security lanes, which can be used either as TSA PreCheck lanes or standard lanes for customers who are not PreCheck-eligible, depending on demand. Customers using these lanes will have convenient access to the United Club in concourse C-3.

The decor of the new space closely mirrors the new United Club design concept that United introduced last year.

"United's new Global Services reception area at our New York hub will enable us to provide the high level of service our most loyal customers expect, while the expanded number of security lanes will expedite screening for all customers," said Jimmy Samartzis, United's vice president of customer experience. "This project is the latest step in our continued efforts to offer a more flyer-friendly premium travel experience for United customers."

Mercedes Flight-Connection Service

The airline also announced it will expand its tarmac transportation service, currently offered in Chicago and Houston, to Newark Liberty beginning today. United will offer the chauffeur service, using Mercedes-Benz GL-Class vehicles, to some Global Services members and United Global First customers who are connecting at Newark to a domestic or international flight. Where feasible, representatives will meet Global Services and United Global First customers with applicable itineraries who may have tight connections and will drive them across the tarmac to their connecting flights.

United offers the service to surprise and delight its top customers who may have a tight connection or who have a substantial distance to travel between connecting flights.

United launched the tarmac transportation service at its Chicago and Houston hubs in July 2013 and plans to add the service at other U.S. hubs later this year.

Royal Caribbean takes delivery Symphony of the Seas – the world's largest cruise ship

Thirty-six months, 4,700 shipbuilders and crew, and one common goal: to deliver the ultimate family adventure. Royal Caribbean International honored the instrumental project team of Symphony of the Seas during the highly anticipated delivery event at STX France shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France today. Michael Bayley, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and Laurent Castaing, General Manager of STX France, led the traditional flag-changing ceremony, which symbolizes the ship’s official delivery from the ship builder to Royal Caribbean. The maritime ritual was followed by a celebration of the industry’s best, the crew whose hard work and meticulous collaboration came together to create the world’s largest cruise ship.

“Symphony of the Seas is the latest example of how our people work to push the envelope of innovation with each new ship,” said Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO Richard D. Fain. “The Oasis Class has been a trend-setting design, but the team has evolved the design to build on that success to provide even more incredible family adventures. We’re thankful to have a partner in STX France that is every bit as ambitious as we are about building technologically advanced ships.”

“It is a proud and exhilarating moment to welcome a new member to the family. Thanks to our stellar crew and partners at STX France, we now are ready to embark on this new boundless adventure that comes to life on Symphony of the Seas,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Symphony will take family vacationing to an all new level with energy and options never before found in one place. This ship is the perfect blend of our greatest hits we know guests love and a lineup of vibrant, new restaurants, activities and unparalleled entertainment – all purposefully designed around vacationers’ preferences.”

“Today is a day of pride for me, all STX France and sub-contractor teams as we hand over Symphony of the Seas to her owner as the largest cruise ship ever built,” said Laurent Castaing, General Manager of STX France. “Symphony will leave Saint-Nazaire yard as the ultimate example of our progress-driven spirit and commitment to innovation, which are at the heart of our partnership with Royal Caribbean, who is always challenging us in this direction.”

The 25th ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, Symphony of the Seas is 228,081 gross registered tons, measures 238 feet tall and spans 1,188 feet long. She will welcome 5,518 guests at double occupancy in 2,759 staterooms, including 28 additional balcony rooms that overlook the ocean or signature Boardwalk neighborhood. One Oasis Class ship, seven distinctive neighborhoods, the tallest slide at sea with the Ultimate Abyss and countless adventures for guests of all ages, the family adventure of a lifetime has surprises at every turn:

New culinary options

– Hooked Seafood: This upscale eatery atop of the world’s largest cruise ship in the Solarium serves up the real taste of New England-inspired seafood and unparalleled ocean vistas to match. Approachable and unassuming, the menu offers classic coastal favorites, such as lobster rolls, crab claws, signature fish sandwich, and a raw bar where oysters are shucked to order.
– Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade: Stretching the length of a reimagined Boardwalk, now touting fresh energy and swagger, the whole family can watch the home team play across 31 big-screen TVs, during the day and into the late night. The indoor and outdoor arcade, packed with over 20 games, offers the opportunity for friendly competition. The on-point menu of classic American bar food features everything from wings, burgers and popcorn shrimp to picture-perfect sundaes; as well as craft beers and cocktails.
– El Loco Fresh: Made-to-order tacos and burritos wrapped with fresh tortillas are among the Mexican “street food” favorites that will hit the spot for adventure seekers looking to fuel up with minimal downtime.
– Sugar Beach: The signature candy and ice cream shop is the sweet spot on the Boardwalk with more than 100 types of candies, a lineup of ice cream flavors and even DIY activities for the aspiring culinary artist.

New ways to play

– Battle for Planet Z: Royal Caribbean’s first glow-in-the-dark laser tag game brings two teams of eight head to head in an out-of-this-world adventure to determine who will claim the last planet in the galaxy.
– Escape the Rubicon: In the ultimate race against the clock, friends old and new must band together in the Rubicon submarine – a sophisticated, custom-built escape room – to solve a collection of puzzles before time runs out.

New family accommodations

Ultimate Family Suite: A two-level, 1,346-square-foot suite filled with awesome thrills offers more than enough room for the whole family – and friends – to come together and catch up on “me time.” Features include an in-room slide, a private cinema with an 85-inch HD TV, a floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall, a 212-square-foot balcony complete with table tennis and a full-size whirlpool. Complete with a Royal Genie, who caters to every whim, there are many more surprises awaiting guests along the way.

Symphony of the Seas will welcome her first guests on Saturday, March 31 for a one-time-only, 5-night preview sailing, calling on Naples and Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy.

The ship’s maiden 7-night Mediterranean voyage departs Saturday, April 7 from Barcelona, Spain, where the crescendo of thrills will be brought to life by the 2,200 international crew members who proudly represent 77 countries around the world. Symphony of the Seas will homeport in Barcelona for the summer, visiting Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Provence, France; and Florence/Pisa, Rome and Naples, Italy. Beginning Nov. 10, Miami, FL. will become the ship’s year-round homeport, making Symphony of the Seas the first new Oasis Class ship to sail from the cruise capital of the world using Royal Caribbean’s new state-of-the-art Terminal A. The 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises will call on Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s newly revealed destination in the Bahamas.

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