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Airline and Flying Links.

 

Discount UK Air Ticket Agents.

   Airline Network.

 

Discount Air Ticket Agents in Japan.

  

  Number One Travel.

   Ikon Travel.

 

Airports.

 

   Tokyo Narita.

 

   Manchester.

 

   Leeds/Bradford.

 

Airport Transportation.

 

  The Keisei Skyliner, a great train

  between Narita Airport and Tokyo centre.

 

Airlines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

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Ehbygum’s Airline and Flying Page.

A Commuter’s 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 it’s 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.

 

He’d 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.

 

 

The Keisei Railway: Ehbygum’s recommended route from Tokyo to Narita Airport.

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 it’s always worth shopping around.  One of the best places to start is Airline Network’s 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 A’cross 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 he’s 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 you’re interested in flying yourself, a very good place to start is the Cessna homepage.

 

 

 

Comfort on the Cheap.

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 it’s 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, it’s 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 it’s 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 he’s  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.  There’s nothing lost by asking the check-in person if the plane is over-booked, and then mentioning that you’d 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, he’s 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.

 

Air France.

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 carrier’s 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Air France and KLM

Flying Blue Blues

Ehbygum likes KLM, partly because of the convenience of being able to fly from his local airport in Yorkshire, and partly because of the jovial Dutchpersons who make flying KLM a jolly experience.   And one other great incentive to fly with Royal Dutch Airlines was their excellent frequent flyer programme Flying Dutchman.

 

The Great and Good at KLM felt that their small but beautifully formed airline was too small to survive in the cut and thrust world of international aviation, so they merged themselves with Air France.  Technically a merger, it’s more like KLM being taken over by the much bigger company.  One of the worst consequences of this change is that the wonderful Flying Dutchman programme has been replaced by a new and fairly awful scheme which is shared with Air France and run from somewhere near Paris by Frenchpersons. 

The name of the new programme beggars belief.  Flying Blue.  The most amazing thing about this is that someone will have been paid to think up this ridiculous name, committees will have sat long hours to select it.   A real Lulu. 

 

And it really is a case of Flying Blue Blues.  The new scheme is very much less generous than Flying Dutchman.  On Ehbygum’s long-haul routing the mileage incentive to buy business class tickets has been severely reduced, and it has become effectively impossible to use miles to upgrade most economy class tickets.

 

Ehbygum’s experience of Flying Dutchman was uniformly good.   The benefits were generous and the service was good.  He flew a lot, and was well rewarded for it.  The incentives really worked – it did encourage him to fly more and to fly with Royal Dutch.

To date, Ehbygum’s experience of Flying Blue is uniformly bad.  It is very considerably less generous, and the service is appalling.   Previously Flying Dutchman staff in the Netherlands answered the phone quickly, were friendly and efficient, and the system worked well.  And they all had excellent English.  Calls from the UK are diverted to the Flying Blue Call Centre in France.   Callers are kept waiting on hold for a very long time, and most of the staff are markedly less friendly than their Dutch predecessors.  Ehbygum may just have been unlucky, but he often seems to be dealing with persons who have extreme difficulty with both understanding and making themselves understood in English.  And not only that, there are some very definite technical problems with the system.

The Japanese staff who man the Flying Blue helpline in Tokyo are entirely different.  Polite and friendly, efficient and very helpful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On other pages.

 

Ehbygum’s Home Page.   Ehbygum’s Tokyo Page.   Ehbygum’s Yorkshire Page. 

 

Ehbygum’s Motor Page.   Ehbygum’s Train Page.  Ehbygum’s Pigs Page.   Ehbygum’s Flying Page.

 

Ehbygum’s Links.   Email Ehbygum.   Ehbygum’s Sitemap.