As you are reading this today I will be hopefully on my way to Barbados (after BA has cancelled the flight and moved me from a Club Suite at Heathrow to a B777 at Gatwick and Virgin has cancelled my flight home after already rescheduling it in the last week!). I will not be relaxing until I feel the wheels leave the ground! If you are interested to see how my first long haul flight since February goes and my time in Barbados, make sure you follow us on social media. I will also be doing a series of articles about the flights, Barbados quarantine, hotels, covid testing and my time in Barbados. Barbados is one of a handful of places we can still travel to for winter sun, so we will see if the testing and arrival quarantine still make the trip worthwhile.
B737 Max safe to fly in Europe
We all remember the tragedy of the two B737 Max aircraft crashes in 2018 and 2019 and the subsequent loss of life. Now over 18 months since the last crash, EASA, Europe’s aviation safety regulator said they are likely to issue airworthiness documents as early as November to allow the Max to fly again in Europe. This has come as a surprise to many as one of the upgrades EASA wanted will not be implemented for up to 2 years. This means that the Max could be back in the skies before the end of the year.
When the document is published there will be four weeks of public comment. The upgrade originally recommended by EASA was the synthetic sensor that mimics having additional sensors. It does this by taking existing data and running it through software to produce accurate readings. The solution will be required on the new larger Max 10 v before it comes out of production and retrofitted onto other versions.
British Airways parent company IAG announced its intention to purchase up to 200 Boeing 737 MAX jets in June 2019. As only a letter of intent was signed, it is highly likely that the actual order may be for less, delayed or not happen at all. The aircraft were not due until 2023-27, so there is plenty of time for BA/IAG to walk away altogether if they wish. The aircraft were meant to be going to Gatwick to operate some of their short-haul operation as well as other airlines within IAG.
Lufthansa’s plans for First
Lufthansa has revealed what the airline’s current plans for first are in a recent interview. Many aviation experts were predicting the end of first class before the current crisis but a surprising number of airlines have confirmed their commitment to continuing with first class. Part of the issue currently is that first on some airlines only appears on larger aircraft which are not being used. In a statement the airline said “first class will continue to be an integral part of the Lufthansa premium segment in the future, depending on the destination and market demand.””
Lufthansa has reduced some ground services for first passengers due to the lack of numbers of first class travellers. The dedicated First terminal at Frankfurt is closed and valet parking and limo transfers to remote stands are also not being offered.
The only aircraft that is currently flying with first class is the B747-8 as the A380s and A340s have been grounded indefinitely. This means that Lufthansa will not be able to offer first on as many routes. This winter the B747-8 is scheduled to fly to Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, Mexico City, Sao Paulo and Shanghai. This is an interesting selection of routes for first class with no US routes at all.
What happens in the future will be down to what happens with their aircraft. If air travel revives quickly they could well take some of the aircraft out of storage and increase the routes available with first.
HT: TPG US
Mr & Mrs Smith – bookable with IHG
Following on from Hyatt’s SLH integration, IHG’s Mrs and Mrs Smith hotels are now gradually becoming bookable via IHG. IHG Rewards Club members will be able to earn and redeem points at over 500 handpicked Mr & Mrs Smith hotels when booking with IHG direct (including IHG.com and IHG mobile app).
Mr & Mrs Smith is a carefully chosen collection of the world’s best boutique hotels, each personally visited by a team of travel specialists and reviewed anonymously. The integration was first announced in 2019 but finally, we are seeing some action on being to redeem points at the properties. Up to now, you could still book through IHG for Mr and Mrs Smith with cash.
From 6 October 2020, IHG has been trialling the integration of a small set of five to 10 properties into systems. Currently, there only seem to be a couple you can actually book even though there are meant to be around 100 available by the end of October (although the date is changeable). By the end of November, all 400 Mr and Mrs Smith properties should be bookable via IHG with points or cash. As an Ambassador you will be entitled to the usual room upgrades if available, as well as the Smith welcome gift.