The Week In Travel: 29/6/20

Rather than post a number of posts, mainly of waffle reporting various news pieces, I thought I’d try something new. Each Sunday, I will round up the main news articles that have caught my eye during the previous week. If something major happens, such as the British Airways lounges reopening at Heathrow, then that may warrant a stand alone article. However, smaller articles such as Qatar Airways requiring full face shields will be featured in these round-ups.

The downside of doing it this way of course is that most of the stories won’t be all that new. But hopefully, it will provide of use/entertainment to some. And more importantly, reduce my workload!

PIA banned from EU

Following the crash of a Pakistan Airways Airbus A320 in May, details emerged that a number of their pilots didn’t have valid licences. As such, the airline has been banned from flying to the EU for a minimum of 6 months from 1st July. The airline operated to Barcelona, Paris, Oslo, Milan, London, Birmingham and Manchester at the time of the ban. However, there were a further couple of flights on or after the 1st July – Both London and Milan saw PIA aircraft arrive on the 1st July. Manchester saw it’s daily flight from Islamabad operate on the 2nd July.

The End Of The Boeing 747 Is Nigh

To most this came as no surprise. The Boeing 747 will cease production in 2022. On the outside, this makes sense as the aircraft has had a good innings. However I personally think the timing of this is a little odd. Let me explain.

For the past few years, the only interest the type has had is from freighter airlines. The type was initially designed as a freight aircraft back in the 1950’s – hence the famous hump. As such, it can hold an awful lot more cargo than a number of other aircraft out there, if we over look the few specialist mega Russian freighters.

Due to the current situation in the world, the only money to be made in aviation is from cargo. A number of airlines have ripped the seats from their passenger aircraft in order to transport more cargo. You’d think a mass produced, mass cargo hauler aircraft would be in demand. I guess not. I suppose the huge demand for cargo is only expected to be short lived.

This week in Travel

Will The Boeing 737MAX Return To The Air Soon?

In more positive news from Boeing, their much troubled 737MAX completed a number of FAA certification tests this week. Using a 737-MAX7 aircraft, the company made a series of flights earlier in the week. Whilst this doesn’t mean the type will be returning to the skies imminently, it’s a step in the right direction. It’s unlikely that the type will be re-certified before mid-September. Following this, the airlines that have taken delivery of the aircraft prior to the grounding order will have to make the modifications.

I would be surprised to see the type back into service before 2021.

Qatar Airways Require Full Face Shields In Economy

Whilst most airlines require you to wear a face mask when travelling these days, Qatar Airways have gone one step further. In addition to a face mask, the airline now requires you to wear a full face shield. These will be distributed at check in at Doha airport and at the gate for flights departing from outstations.

The masks must be worn throughout the airport in Doha, and on the aircraft. However they can be removed during meal services – because the virus knows not to infect people while they’re eating….

The only exception is those travelling in Business Class. Due to the fact there is more room to social distance in that cabin, the airline states that the face coverings can be used at the passengers discretion.

Qatar Airways To Start Toronto Flights

Whilst on the subject of Qatar Airways, the Middle Eastern carrier has announced that they will launch direct Doha – Toronto flights. Despite only being announced on Tuesday 30th June 2020, by the time you read this, the first flight would have already taken off. Not only do the last minute nature of the flights come as a bit of a surprise, the timing of the route launching is curious too. Where as virtually every other airline is cutting routes, this is the only route that has actually been launched in many months.

The new flights will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and be operated by the Airbus A350.

This week in Travel

American Moves To T5 At Heathrow

It’s been rumoured for over a year. It has now been confirmed. American Airlines will move to Terminal 5 at Heathrow from 7th July. Initially, I figured it would be a temporary move due to Terminal 3 at Heathrow being closed. However the airline themselves have made somewhat of a big deal about the move. This says to me that it will be more permanent than initially expected. Why make such an announcement over a terminal move that will only be in place for a few months?

In addition, the planned update to their lounges in Terminal 3 at Heathrow were mysteriously canned a while back now. There must have been a reason for that…

With the downturn of British Airways flights that are expected, it’s likely that the entire operation will fit into Terminal 5 going forward. Although I suspect a few BA flights will move back to Terminal 3 in due course.

The downside of American moving out of Terminal 3 however is the loss of their great arrivals lounge! It is far superior to the BA offering in Terminal 5, having only been refurbished in the last couple of years. Hopefully now this will encourage BA to pull their finger out and update their long neglected arrivals lounge in T5.

This week in Travel
American Airlines Arrivals Lounge, Heathrow T3

UK Airlines Restart Flights

Wednesday 1st July saw a number of airlines restart flights in significant numbers. After operating a skeleton service from June, EasyJet restarted their operation more significantly this week. It was the same for Ryanair and British Airways announced that they would ramp up their long haul operation over the coming weeks. TUI and Jet2 are also expected to expand their operations over the coming weeks too.

Aeromexico Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

How things are so different in the Americas. If an airline files for bankruptcy there, as far as the passenger is concerned, it’s generally business as usual. In fact, most airlines in that part of the world have filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy over the years. American and United are two that immediately come to mind. More recently, Avianca has also filed for chapter 11. It wouldn’t surprise me if a few more took this route at the situation sorts itself out. Essentially, it’s to give the company time to get its affairs in order, with assistance from the court.

If we had such a thing in Europe, Virgin Atlantic would undoubtably be in chapter 11 bankruptcy at this time. Instead, if they were to file for bankruptcy, that would be it. No more Virgin Atlantic.

But I digress

News coming out of Mexico this week is that Aeromexico has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. As explained above though, the airline will continue to operate mostly as normal from a passenger perspective.

Hotels Aren’t Always As Clean As You’d Hope…

Earlier in the week, Inside Edition posted the following video:


I mean, I never for one minute thought that all hotel rooms were given a full and in depth clean every single day. But not even changing the sheets between guests? Thats certainly given me something to think about in future.

Part of me is thinking that this was set up somewhat. But maybe I’m just being a bit naive. I remember hearing many years ago that hotel cleaning staff have only a certain amount of time to service each room. And that time wasn’t exactly on the generous side.

When I’ve been in the hotel room when the cleaning staff have been in there, they have mostly done a good job. All have asked me if I wanted the sheets changing. Being in the room for a few nights, I didn’t feel the need to be changing them every single night, so I declined. I don’t change my bed sheets at home every day.

However, the very least I expect is for them to be changed between guests.

Radisson Rewards Offer 5000 Points Per Stay

And finally.

As things start to pick up again in the world, both hotels and airlines are desperate to entice people back to their business. The most generous offer I have seen so far is from Radisson. Despite using the chain sparingly over the past few years, I’m still on their mailing list. On Friday, the following dropped into my inbox:

We know things are different these days and when you are ready to travel again, we’re looking forward to welcoming you back!

That’s why we’re making it easier than ever to earn extra. Now through the end of 2020, earn 5,000 bonus points each and every time you stay at any of our 1,100+ hotels around the world. Award Nights and Points + Cash stays are also eligible.

Radisson Rewards

Keeping in mind, on average, you earn give or take 1000 points per night across pretty much all the hotel chains, this is a very good deal. In the past I have used Radisson points for rooms, and they have come in at around 10,000 or so points for the night, so this deal is essentially stay twice and get the third stay free.

Stay three more times before the end of the year and you’ll earn Silver status with the chain. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that is worth it however. I was Gold status with Radisson for a few years and other than enhanced earning opportunities, there didn’t seem to be an awful lot in the way of perks…

This week in Travel
Radisson Blu Oslo Gadermoen

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