We’ve got a guest on this week’s episode. Josh Zepps is back, bringing his fun accent and even more fun stories to the show, including one about a farewell flight from a Thai Airways flight attendant on his final work trip.
- Orlando is on the way to a $1.8bn new terminal, including rail connections, something almost unheard of in Florida
- Comparing Lufthansa and Thai Airways first class service on JFK-Munich, Munich-Bangkok and Bangkok-Hong Kong (and their relation to a few other products flying) keeps us busy for a while
- We do a pretty bad job of giving advice about what to see and do when visiting India, though Cipro is on the “do” list and for good reason
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Also on the show, how will Vietnam Airlines and ANA integrate given they’re in separate alliances and plenty of other – mostly ridiculous – stories.
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I happen to be visiting The Mouse this weekend. We drove past the construction of the south terminal at MCO, it’s well underway. The tram rights of way are clearly visible from the highway, as is the concrete skeleton of the new buildings. The bus driver said the new terminal would open next summer, for international traffic. Based on building progress I saw out the window, I’m skeptical.
Dear Steven, Fozz, Josh and Seth:
Wow, another fantastic episode (and very cool to get a shout-out at the end). I feel like I complained too much in my comment from last week so I’ll keep things positive this week.
So my thoughts…
1-I am glad Josh brought up the topic of USA domestic first class as something that can be a superior experience than European business class. In some ways, the domestic first class is nicely segmented: from the low end (Spirit Big Seat) to mid-end (AS and VX and non-transcontinental legacy airlines first class) to high end (the new Hawaiian first class and Legacy and B6 transcontinental products that exist between NYC area airports and SFO and LAX). Thankfully Mint is expanding beyond NYC-area which will allow more people to experience that product. My desire is that for even short flights of 0-4 hours there should be a way to get a Mint-like product, or at least a better experience then the mid-end which is basically all that is on offer for much of the country. Is that commercially feasible? I have no idea but it is certainly fun to think about. Clearly AS and VX offer a transcontinental first class product that is not keeping grade with their competitors, and so I feel that will need to change in the future but I don’t see anything major changing in less than 3-4 years time. If I have to think big picture, the best way that first class (and by extension economy in some cases) will improve is the introduction of better and newer short haul narrow body aircraft. In short, CS100/300, the Boeing 737 Max (more than the Airbus neo products), Embraer E-2, and the Mitsubishi MRJ. There are so many old and tattered domestic regional jets and 737s out there that really are not an enjoyable experience. In one area that I feel AS deserves criticism is that they have the Q400 (which I actually like) which has no devoted space for a premium cabin. And 2-2 is tight on the Q400, and I always get shoulder spasms when I fly on Q400. I would gladly ride a Q400 for 0-3 hours in a 1-2 configuration (or 1-1 config if I want to dream big). I think Skywest operates the E-175 for AS do have a premium cabin at 1-2.
Why do I mention wanting a premium cabin on a smaller regional aircraft and better smaller aircraft (so anything smaller than a 737/a320)? Because my family lives in a medium sized Mid-Western city in which the final connection from the nearest Hub is in a regional jet. If my family lived in a Hub city, then this would personally be less of an issue. So that is why I have focused on this issue a bit obsessively. Also, within the NW, the Q400 is an important workhorse of AS and goes up and down the coast and that is an experience that can be improved as well.
My attitude is very similar to what you all have expressed before: “Want first? Buy first.” Domestic first will only improve if it is a profit maker that companies need to compete with each other.
2-So I am keeping my comment short this week and asking to you all: what do you like about domestic first (meal, lounge, shoulder space, etc)? which carrier do you feel has the best domestic first class? All things being equal, with which carrier would you spend your money? where do you see future improvements? Do you feel like there will actually be further improvements and what could that timetable be?
Thank you, and have a great week!
In regards to your talk about later transatlantic flight: I know it’s not the ideal product, but if timing is your first choice, AZ’s FCO-YYZ line is currently one of my favourite timings. The eastbound is 10:25pm-1:00pm and the westbound is 3:15-7:10pm, which still leaves some time for westbound connections elsewhere in North America. Toronto (my home base) has really done a lot in the last few years to position itself as a great transfer point for Americans going overseas, especially with the timings of the flights I’ve found. The early bank for transatlantic flights (not including Iceland because it is much shorter) is often no earlier than 4:30 or so and flights that are this early are generally only high-demand destinations that require multiple daily flights like London, Paris and Frankfurt. Also the flights are about a half-hour to an hour longer than New York because of the city’s position, giving you that extra time for sleep on the red-eyes that you were talking about. The downside is that if you are an F class traveller, New York is a much more F-driven market than Toronto, and more and more carriers are moving to a 2-class or a 2-plus-premium economy product because our market just doesn’t support the European F product (Though we do have some F space to East Asia on Cathay and to the Middle East on Etihad and Emirates).
I’ve never commented, but I absolutely love your podcast! Keep doing what you are doing!