Turning left for Less’s top 5 flights of 2017

my flights 2017

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As the year draws to a close I have been looking back on our travels for the year. I have travelled on more flights than 2016 but been far less exotic than usual in my locations due to my kidney transplant in 2016. Next year I will hopefully be back to usual! Over the next few days, I will be looking at some of our highlights for the year and also what is coming up next year for us and travel in general.

Today I will look at the Turning Left for Less team’s best flights of 2017. The list is in order of the best flights first, based on check-in, lounge, seat, service, food, drinks and entertainment.

Etihad A380 First Class Apartment Abu Dhabi

Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360 #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

What we loved

The whole experience was one of my most luxurious first class experiences despite the lack of caviar or chauffeur driven cars to the plane like some First Class flights. This was mainly down to the Apartment itself and the onboard service. The Apartment had the largest bed I have slept in on a plane. It felt almost the size of a single bed and there was plenty of privacy too.

Etihad First Apartment A380 review

An enormous bed for sleeping on

I also loved the Six Senses spa at the First Lounge in Abu Dhabi and the table service in the lounge restaurant. On board, the chef made me the best steak on a plane to date, which he cooked to order medium rare. It truly felt like a restaurant experience.

Etihad First class apartment A380 review

Etihad First steak and chips

What could have been better

The chauffeur experience was definitely not First class and I would have liked the onboard shower service to be managed better as they had run out of slots when I asked about the availability.

What it cost

66,000 miles transferred from Amex Membership Rewards plus approximately £260 cash one way.

Find out more

You can read my full review of the Etihad First Apartment here.

Qatar Airways business class B787 and A350

Roving Reporter has been on several ex EU Qatar Airways flights this year.

What we loved

Qatar business class review B787 A350

Qatar A350 business class

Value for money has to be one of the top reasons to love Qatar. Providing you are willing to start your long-haul flights outside the UK you can get some absolute bargains in business class. Even without the bargain prices, it is still a fantastic product on Qatar’s newer aircraft. The B787 and A350 are almost identical, though for me the A350 has the edge. Both aircraft leave you feeling better than many long-haul flights when you get off due to the higher humidity levels and lower cabin pressure (providing you haven’t overindulged in the wine!).

On Qatar, they have the reverse herringbone seats in 1-2-1 configurations. Food, wine and service on board are all very high quality and generous.

Qatar business class review B787 a350

Ice cream Qatar style

What could have been better

Qatar business class review B787 a350

Al Mourjan lounge Doha

We like the ‘wow’ factor look of the Al Mourjan lounge but now that it has lost the Krug it has taken a bit of the shine off.

What it cost

This ex EU trip to Singapore cost approximately £1000 not including positioning flights. This gained 560 tier points exclusing positioning flights.

Find out more

You can read the full review of the Qatar A350 and B787 here.

 

Virgin Atlantic B787 Upper Class London to New York JFK

Virgin B787 review upper class and upgrade bids

It’s the cute little touches that make the difference

Mrs B went on her first Virgin Atlantic B787 to New York in Upper Class in September. I had flown on the B787 last year and been equally impressed.

What we loved

Virgin are full of fun touches such as the salt and pepper shakers shaped like planes that say ‘pinched from Virgin Atlantic’ on the bottom. The cocktails on board are also fun and taste pretty good too. The Clubhouse in London is arguably the best lounge in the UK and is also amongst the best business class lounges worldwide. The salon and treatments are particularly impressive compared to BA’s Elemis spa.

Service from staff is consistently good but also with a bit of personality thrown in which makes a more enjoyable experience in our book. The food on Virgin has improved a lot of over the last couple of years and although not overly fancy, is well presented and tastes great.

What could have been better

Redeeming using miles on Virgin Atlantic Upper Class availibility

Upper Class seats

The seats on Virgin’s B787 are OK but not fantastic. They all have aisle access and the ‘a’ seats on the B787 are pretty private too. Having to flip over the seat to sleep and the limited recline when seated could be better. The bed is also slightly harder than the non-flip over type of seats. Some also find the seats a little narrow with the high sides.

What it cost

Mrs B got these on a combination on Virgin miles, an upgrade voucher and bidding for an upgrade. She paid 20,000 miles for the original economy ticket, used the upgrade voucher from her Virgin Amex to upgrade to Premium Economy and then bid on an upgrade to Upper. The total cash cost was around £1250 including the taxes and charges plus the upgrade to Upper Class.

Find out more

You can read Mrs B’s full review of the B787 Upper Class here and my review of the B787 to San Francisco here.

British Airways new Club World food service

BA new Club World catering review

BA new Club World food – Loch Fyne smoked salmon tartare with wasabi creme fraiche

I have done the BA new Club World service to New York twice now. But as they say – ‘It’s never as good as the first time’

What we loved

BA new Club World catering review

Beef main course

As this was in the first week of the new service the crew serving were all very excited about the new service and they had subject matter experts on board to help them do it correctly. I had fantastic service from the cabin crew member serving me. This was BA crew at their best – professional and efficient but also charming and fun. The food was also extremely good and the starter – salmon with wasabi creme fraiche – was my favourite airline starter this year. The steak was only just below the quality of the Etihad First class one. The beef fillet was cooked medium and full of flavour – no mean feat compared to the shoe leather I had been served on BA before.

I liked the new china and stemless glasses too. The whole service felt much more personal and luxurious. Being able to see the starter and desserts on the trolley was useful and looked attractive. As it was a super high J B747 it had the refurbished seats and entertainment system which makes a big difference for me.

BA new Club World catering review

Starter display

What could have been better

BA new Club World catering review

Gin and tonic with nuts on the new drinks tray

BA had had to replace the planned drinks trays at the last minute with a non-slip plastic tray. I think these look a bit tacky. The service is also slower than previously. On my latest flight to New York in December on the B747 upper deck they were reasonably fast but coming back on a night flight it takes too long and there is too much traffic up and down the aisles as the crew hand deliver everything.

What it cost

26,000 Avios plus a Lloyds Avios card upgrade voucher to Club and approximately £300 in taxes and charges one way from the UK.

Find out more

You can read the full review of BA’s new Club World food service here.

 

American Airlines B777-300 business class Los Angeles to London

American Airlines B777-300ER review

What we loved

The seats on AA B777-300 are the same as the Qatar reverse herringbone seats. This means that you get a 1-2-1 layout with aisle access for every seat. I also like the layout with the mini cabin of just 8 seats which feel almost like a first class cabin. The AA bedding is currently my favourite in the sky (though the new BA White Company is on a par) and they are now upgrading it even further in conjuction with Casper mattress company. Food is plentiful and tasty if not fine dining.

BA cheap tier point runs

AA B700-300ER business class

What could have been better

Service is somewhat perfunctory. All the flight attendants were polite and efficient but I wouldn’t call any of them friendly. The wine and champagne selection is a bit low rent and uninspiring but it was drinkable. Seeing as they have Tito’s vodka and Bloody Mary mix, I will forgive them the wine.

American Airlines B777-300ER review

BBQ chicken main course on AA

What it cost

I did this as part of an Ex EU from Dublin to Honolulu. The price was around £1500 and got me 780 BA tier points (all excluding positioning flights to/from Dublin).

Find out more

You can read my full review of the AA B777-300ER business class flight here.

How have your travels in 2017 been? What were your best flights in 2017? Let me know in the comments below or on social media.

 

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