Airline and Flying Links.
Discount UK Air Ticket Agents.
Discount Air Ticket Agents in Japan.
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Ehbygums Airline and Flying Page.
A Commuters Tale.
Ehbygum has always liked flying, which is just as well because he has become something of a commuter between Tokyo and Yorkshire, making the journey several times each year.
The whole trick of being a happy regular long distance commuter is to find ways to make things easy and keep the stress factor down. Of course flying in the comfort of business or first class is great, but its expensive, and since the Japanese economic bubble burst Ehbygum finds himself more often than not flying in the economy cabin. Still there are ways to make a long ride in an economy seat more comfortable please click here to find out more.
Hed been a patron of Swiss Air for some years, and appreciated the stunning service and wonderful cuisine, but sadly timetabling changes a few years ago moved him back to KLM, which actually flys to Yorkshire the nearest Swiss gets is to Manchester, very definitely on the wrong side of the Pennines.
Please click on the picture to visit the KLM website.
Flying without breaking the bank.
Ehbygum once walked around a plane asking people what they paid for their tickets, and almost everyone had paid a different price. The moral is that its always worth shopping around. One of the best places to start is Airline Networks internet site. KLM tickets are sometimes cheaper on their UK website, but the KLM Japanese website it usually dearer than the Tokyo discount travel agents. For Swiss Air tickets there are sometimes bargains on the Swiss Air Homepage. For departures from Japan Number One Travel and Across Travel are generally among the cheapest, and Ikon Travel have often been competitive, as well as giving excellent service.
Swiss Fly Airbus A340 from Zurich to Tokyo.
Flying for fun.
Ehbygum enjoys travelling by air, and is always excited when the big aeroplane is at the end of the runway, poised for take off, with the wheel-brakes holding it back against the thrust of the jets. Even more exciting, though, is the feeling each time that hes waiting at the end of a runway in a tiny, noisy two or four seater, looking through the whirr of the propeller, about to gingerly edge the little machine into to sky. Being flown in a big, comfortable airliner is great, but has nothing on taking to the sky as a pilot.
A huge proportion of pilots now flying learned on that fun workhorse of the skies, the humble Cessna, so if youre interested in flying yourself, a very good place to start is the Cessna homepage.
The most reasonable discount business class between the UK and Japan costs three to four times as much as do the cheapest economy seats, so the airlines just work on passenger volume when they think about economy class they jam as many passengers as possible into the economy cabins. Business class passengers pay more for space, comfort and convenience. They can check in at less crowded counters, they get ten kilos more baggage allowance, and they can wait for take-off in a quiet and comfortable lounge. Once on board they get better food, free champagne and most important, bigger seats with a lot more legroom.
The mileage programmes operated by most airlines offer the more frequent flyer at least some of these benefits. Most airlines have different levels of membership, and as you accumulate more miles you are promoted to a higher level. The trick is to fly with the same airline as much as possible, and so get promoted. On a long-haul route like Europe-Japan its quite easy to accumulate miles and move up the system, even flying in economy class. With higher level membership some of the business class benefits come for free, even with economy tickets. These can include check-in at the business class counters, free ten or twenty kilos extra baggage allowance, and access to the business lounges. More comfort, less stress.
With a bit of planning and some luck, its also possible to get a seat with a good stretch of legroom even in the economy cabin. Start by checking the seat plan of the plane. There is usually a seating plan in airline timetables, and sometimes on their websites. Many aircraft have seats beside doors which have a great deal of space in front of them. With some airlines its possible to request these seats in advance, and with others checking in as early as possible and requesting one of these seats will do wonders, especially if the airline is reminded that you are a frequent flyer. Generally speaking, older aircraft like the Boeing 747 Jumbo and the MD11 have more potentially comfortable seats than do the newer Airbus and Boeing 777 types, but seating configuration varies between airlines. The trick is definitely advance planning and research.
Ehbygum does have to admit to a partiality to champagne, and when hes in economy class usually carries a bottle of the bubbly brew with him not a bad way to make friends with fellow-travellers, either! Be careful, though, some airlines do not allow passengers to bring booze to drink on board.
At busy times economy cabins can be over-booked, and some passengers have to be upgraded to business class for free. Theres nothing lost by asking the check-in person if the plane is over-booked, and then mentioning that youd really appreciate being up-graded.
Sitting in the confines of an economy class seat for a flight of twelve hours is neither comfortable not fun. Ehbygum tries to mitigate the health and comfort issues by taking a stroll every couple of hours. Modern planes are big, and walking around them is a good way to keep fit and comfortable. A few simple stretching exercises do no harm. Although Ehbygum is partial to a drink, hes learned to forgo alcohol on long flights, and drinks lots of water instead.
Most airlines will serve you whatever you ask for anytime if you go to the galley and ask. In younger days this had Ehbygum arrive in far and distant places extremely happy and emotional, but now it just gets him a great deal of his favourite sparkling mineral water and the odd snack.
With the merger, Ehbygum thought he would give Air France a try, and flew with them for the first time ever from Britain to Japan. This particular flight was in business class.
He has to say that the cuisine was excellent, rivalling First Class in Swiss Air. And the cabin service was extremely good, friendly and efficient.
But the aircraft was awful, old, with cramped seats and a very iffy AV system. It was very much like the business class of a decade ago, only worse.
Ehbygum had to transfer at Paris. The Airport is, frankly, awful. Transfers involve a bus journey along service roads winding through something reminiscent of a run-down industrial estate.
The lounges were crowded, and although the facilities would have been good if there had been about half the number of visitors, the staff were less than friendly.
And, worst of all, boarding was by way of bus to an aircraft parked somewhere quite a long way away from the gate. Not so good for a major long haul route from the carriers home base.
Announcements in the plane were in French, English and Japanese. Much to his shame, Ehbygum has virtually no French. But English is the language of international business and aviation. Ehbygum could not make out the English on the plane, and was very glad of his (limited) Japanese, which enabled him to understand what was being said.
On other pages.