Category Archives: Europe

British Airways to give away airmiles for delays

British Airways today introduced a new program where they “generously” give away 5,000 airmiles when your flight from Heathrow Terminal 5 is more than 15 minutes delayed:

As part of our commitment to giving you outstanding service, we do everything we can to get you to your destination on time. So if in spite of all our efforts we can’t depart from Terminal 5 within 15 minutes* of scheduled departure time over the coming weeks, we’d like to give you more than just an apology:

When you fly Club Europe, Euro Traveller or Domestic Flights on a flexible ticket (booking classes JCDYBH) departing from Terminal 5 between now and 02 September 2008 you’ll receive
5,000 BA Miles if your flight leaves later than 15 minutes* of its scheduled departure time from Terminal 5.

BA actually has been doing this for quite some time, but you only received the miles when you actively complained about a particular flight. This offer now sounds fairly generous since manymost Heathrow flights these days suffer a delay. In fairness this delay is often not the result of a problem caused by the airlines, but more because of the airport’s severe capacity constraints. And, surprise, surprise, the small print of BA’s offer then exactly excludes those kind of delays:

British Airways reserves the right to exclude at its discretion any flights where disruption occurs beyond the reasonable control of British Airways. Non–exhaustive examples include severe weather conditions and their ongoing or consequent effects, air traffic control delays and industrial action.

With that, this offer all of a sudden sounds more like a common PR exercise than an innovative and generous customer centric solution.

[Picture from Flickrsome rights reserved]

Crowded house at London Heathrow Terminal 3

Even in full anticipation of a delayed flight, I left my home well in time for check-in at London Heathrow‘s Terminal 3 – home to Virgin Atlantic. It’s funny how this blog can change your whole expectation (but then this was part of the idea anyway). So, was my flight delayed? Technically yes, but I have to admit, it was a close call. The Boeing 747 left the gates about 20 minutes after the scheduled departure time and took off 11 minutes later. In fact, that’s a very acceptable delay, especially for a 10 hour flight.

So, what was there to do in Terminal 3? Quite a bit: Until the recent opening of Terminal 5, this terminal was probably the best Heathrow had to offer, especially in terms of shopping and amenities. It’s still pretty good, however, the one thing that is striking every single time I get there, is the sheer amount of people in one space. The main area is ridiculously undersized for the amount of people and as a result you will have a tough time finding a seat even during quiet times like this morning.

However, there’s good news as well. Having been in this Terminal a couple times before I already know you can find the usual newspaper, electronics and book shops, a large duty free shop, a Harrod’s outlet, the only Yo! Sushi restaurant in Heathrow, TGI Friday’s, Brasserie Chez Gérard, a handful of Designer shops and four coffee shops. Four coffee shops? Yep. And with that insight, I told myself there must be quite some competition among them, so I took a closer look and compared the prices for a regular sized latte (or in new coffee lingo it would be a “tall” sized drink):

  • Bagel Street, £1.80
  • Eat, £1.90
  • Starbucks, £2.05
  • Caffe Italia, £2.10

If you are looking for a soy milk latte, this changes the game slightly as both Eat and Starbucks charge extra for this luxury health choice (Eat £0.30, Starbucks £0.35) where as the two others don’t.

But if price was equal, which one should you choose? Which coffee is the best? Well, personally I favour Eat for regular coffee and Starbucks for Soya as they have the better soy milk. But in line with my previous post about eating healthy while travelling, I only tasted these two this time. I will update this post when I’m back to taste the other two.

Oh, one more thing: From now on we will add a little price index to our airport short facts where possible. I’ve chosen the two most useful likely products you would find in every duty free around the globe: Chanel No 5 Eau de Parfum and Veuve Clicquot Champagne. Prices will be shown in local currency and US Dollars.

Facts

Airport name: London Heathrow, Terminal 3
Website: http://www.heathrowairport.com/
IATA Code: LHR
Design factor: 2/5
Shopping factor: 3/5
Toilets factor: 3/5
Overall factor: 2/5
Chanel No 5 Eau de Parfum: £57.70 (click to see other currencies)
Bottle of Veuve Clicquot: £28.25

[Picture from Flickr]

What the hell can you do at Berlin’s Tegel Airport?

Despite its capital status Berlin has no representative airport so far – which leads to the hassle of few direct flights to international destinations and the question of how to spend your time at Tegel or Schönefeld when your flight is delayed since both airports are very small.

When you have several hours, go back home or to the city center as both airports are close to the city. If you have less time try this:

  1. Find out that “Tegel” is only one label – which man is honored by giving his name to the airport as well? (No internet research allowed!) One tip: He died in a plane crash.
  2. Find the Starbucks in the airport (This is a tricky one! I once thought I was at the wrong airport when somebody told me to meet at the Starbucks.)
  3. Walk around the circle of Tegel and count your steps. Add some entertainment for the other passengers by a) counting loudly b) running c) running trailing your luggage behind you! I assume that should take less than 3 minutes when you shout out loud enough so people jump out of your way (“Bahn frei, Osterei!”).

 

Please write down your records and I will try to beat them next time I fly from Tegel!

Christiane

Facts
Airport name: Berlin Tegel Airport.
IATA code: TXL
Website: http://www.berlin-airport.de/EN/
Design factor: 1/5
Shopping factor: 1/5
Toilets factor: 2/5
Overall factor: 3/5 (because it’s just 10 minutes from my home and easy to reach!)

Surprise: Heathrow worst performing airport in Europe

What a surprise! According to a study published by the Association of European Airlines (AEA), London’s Heathrow airport is the worst performing airport in Europe:

AEA’s survey of its members’ punctuality at 27 major airports identifies London Heathrow as the most affected, with 44.1% of European departures subject to delays of 15 minutes or more – substantially higher than second-place Dublin with 33.0%, followed by Helsinki, Geneva and Frankfurt – all three of which are customarily to be found in the lower half of the delay table.

This surely comes as a huge surprise to all of us. Not really. Heathrow has long been troubled by lengthy delays many caused by its limited number of runways and overall capacity problems. According to the report 15.3 per cent of outgoing flights delays were caused by problems with airport and air traffic control, while a further 11.1 per cent was blamed on loading and handling issues.

This news couldn’t have come at a worse time for BAA, the owner of Heathrow airport as the Daily Mail writes

The latest figures will add further pressure on the Government to end BAA’s much-criticised monopoly on London’s major airports.

The least affected airport, according to the report, was Munich airport which we already featured in the top 10 most punctual airports worldwide.

 

(Picture by Flickr – some rights reserved)

Girl’s heaven at London’s Terminal 5

Late Departure at London Heathrow Terminal 5

15 minutes delay for my flight to Berlin? GREAT! Because – LADIES – that’s all you need! Head downstairs to the A departure level and check out my Top 3 which are just next to each other:

  • Go to the comfy ladies bathroom and realize by checking your make-up that you look just gorgeous! This wonderful body needs to be treated well with…
  • … chocolate! Stop at the chocolate waterfall of “Chocolate Box” next door and spend your money on your favourite bar.
  • … gems! Your desire for eye candies can be satisfied at “Accessorize”. One can never have too much jewellery!

After all that, head happily to your gate with the nice thought of enjoying your chocolate while looking at London from the sky).

Christiane

Facts
Airport name: London Heathrow (Terminal 5) Short code: LHR
Website: http://www.heathrowairport.com
Design factor: 4/5
Shopping factor: 3/5
Toilets factor: 4/5
Overall factor: 4/5

P.S. I am curious what the guys have to say about Terminal 5! I saw them handing out free shots of Whisky at the Worldofdutyfree, that should make it on to the list. As well as the comfy sofas in the waiting area. But  don’t forget to check out Gucci and Tiffany’s and buy some small souvenir for your lefthome girlfriend! 😉

Reliable Zurich

Well, I think you saw it coming, didn’t you? Of course, there was no delay at Zurich airport on my Swiss flight back to London last night. But don’t be disappointed just yet! As Zurich is kind of home turf to me, I’m still able to give you the lowdown about this airport:

After the major rehaul of the entire airport in 2003, Switzerland’s main hub is now back on the radar of decent airports. Particulary nice is the so called “Airside Centre”, the main area for shopping, restaurants and the starting point to all gates. It offers an attractive high roof and a nice wooden floor. However, the main problem with the airport overall is that other than at most airports, the security checks in Zurich are located close to the actual gates, so after the main shopping area, and not after the passport checks, which means you need to plan ahead and be very contious of your remaining time. Also, if you depart from the E gates you need to take the shuttle train to the midfield terminal which adds another 10 to 15 minutes to your journey. This terminal contains some shops as well but the selection is far smaller than in tha Airside Centre.

But without further adu, here are my top 5 things you can do while waiting at Zurich airport (if that ever happens…):

  1. Choose your favourite “Luxemburgerli” flavour from the Lindt & Sprüngli shop
  2. Hop on the “Gates E”-train and experience the Heidi and alpine scene animations from Swiss Tourism (there’s a different one each way)
  3. Count how many times the friendly Swiss greet you with a “Grüezi
  4. Press your nose against the Rolex glass cabinets in the Swiss watch store and dream of your lottery win on Saturday
  5. Try to find someone who actually can speak the 4th official Swiss language Romansh

Facts
Airport name: Zurich Airport / Zurich Kloten
Short code: ZRH
Website: http://www.zurich-airport.com
Design factor: 4/5
Shopping factor: 3/5
Toilets factor: 2/5
Overall factor: 3/5

Top 5 things to do while waiting in…. Copenhagen

Thanks a lot for all your feedback on my first blog entry. One of many comments was that you would like to see a top X list of things to do. Fair enough, so here’s the one for Copenhagen’s Kastrup airport:

  1. Visit the tiny but iconic Lego store – DKK 0
  2. Decide between the brown and the black leather jacket in the Puma store – DKK 2,000
  3. Drink a large beer at the Sportsbar while watching the Euro Soccer – DKK 67
  4. Make room for the next beer downstairs in the roomy toilets – DKK 0
  5. Watch the gorgeous blond across the hallway – priceless

Again, comments are of course more than welcome 🙂

(Image from Flickrsome rights reserved)

Lengthy wait at Copenhagen’s Kastrup airport

Copenhagen is a beautiful city, especially when you visit it in June where the daylight hours are the longest of the year and even more so if you are lucky and find warm and sunny weather. All of these parameters were true for me when I visited Denmark’s capital last weekend. And for the size of the city there is a lot to do and see. My favourites were the alternative area Christiania or simply a trip with the water taxi around the harbour.

Continue reading Lengthy wait at Copenhagen’s Kastrup airport