Air travel points to consider

Air travel remains a key element in our business, whether we issue tickets for travelers or they arrange themselves. Regular travelers are very familiar with many of the changes which have occurred domestically in recent years; more regional jets (read smaller), busier flights, more invasive security, etc. All this has changed at a time that international air travel has also gone through many changes.

When I travel internationally I usually take a little more time than I would on short domestic flights to consider my options and decide on best alternative, given the various elements to consider.

Items that I consider when travelling internationally include;

1. May I use a low level Business or First Class award for travel on my preferred dates with good routing. If the answer is yes, then no more work required! High level awards are a great way to burn miles if your goal is to empty your account! Low level awards are great value.

British Airways Club World Cabin - not all Business Class is so luxurious

2. Is there an airline either I like, or I would like to try that flies the route I intend to use. Not all air travel experiences in premium cabins are created equally…far from it. Flat seats/beds as opposed to angled, old seats with dated entertainment options is a consideration. Historically surly flight crews or dirty planes are also good reasons for overlooking.

3. Lounge access may seem like a small issue, but some airlines deliver a far superior lounge experience than others. Access to an Arrivals Lounge with shower facilities is key if your plan is to keeping moving after reaching your final airport. For example, when connecting in London, ideally you have sufficient time to take a shower so that upon arrival in Scotland, you can begin your day without delay.

4. Access and availability to book preferred seats is even more important if you cannot secure a Business or First Class seat. Exit row seats work well or the various upgraded economy products more airlines are offering. Generally this entails several additional inches of legroom and complimentary drinks. It may also come with added baggage allowance. British Airways have done a fine job of differentiating this product whereas Delta and United have not created a separate cabin, just more legroom and recline. I have discovered that the new Delta Economy Comfort product is pretty decent if you are careful with seat selection…couple that with a decent high level Delta frequent flyer status (for lounge and security lane access) and you have an acceptable solution at reasonable price. I have become reliant on www.SeatGuru.com for seating advise. While not as important, the right seat can make a difference in First or Business Class but is key behind the curtain….never let a computer decide your seat for you!

5.Far from the defining issue of airline selection, but worthy of considering if your goal is the least expensive fare…what type of luggage allowance do you get, if any…and what re luggage charges.

6. I have noticed that airlines serve up flight options in a variety of ways and it is remarkably easy to book the wrong connection, or at least not the best connection. Conversely, be careful not to select connections which have little chance of success, e.g. 75 minutes to clear immigration, customs and change terminals via train in Newark is not a great call. If you miss your connection, and the next flight is full….then your fun begins. Be realistic in deciding on connections and not always push for the tightest, for invariably you will get burned.

7. Important to never dismiss the upgrade possibilities. Some airlines sell upgrades at reasonable costs on the day of departure or at the check-in counter. Fair to say, every airline is different and that should always be considered a bonus if it occurs.

8. Finally, if you are travelling with a friend or friends and have the option of travelling on the same schedule, ask if any of them have premium status with an airline’s frequent flyer program. If you are ticketed on the same reservation together, you enjoy the same perks, such as seat assignments, lounge access, baggage, etc that your friend is entitled to.

As always, the Air Department at PerryGolf is delighted to offer assistance with your travel needs as we strive to stay abreast of ever changing developments and options for air travel.
 

About the Author: Gordon Dalgleish is the Co-Founding Director of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. You can find him on Google+

Luggage Restrictions

On a trip to Philadelphia in September to watch the Walker Cup at Merion Golf Club, I had booked the flights with British Airways on their excellent business class service. Aware the luggage allowance for all airlines has changed recently, I noted BA allowed three cases up to 23kg each for Club Class; like every airline there is a hefty charge per kilo if you are over this limit. Not being particularly well organised in advance, I had to use my existing luggage and found the larger case was nearly 6 kg in weight, so before even the first (of many) pair of shoes went in I had used up nearly a quarter of my weight allowance. Clearly action had to be taken as I cannot really be bothered with two cases.

British Airways
British Airways

I spent considerable time researching the various options. Clearly I could have gone the ‘kit’ bag route, but my preference is a soft trolley case – however the wheel system and structure of the case can be the main part of the weight. There are new luggage sets on the market which are very light weight, but I felt they would probably not be as long-lasting and robust for the treatment they receive in airports. Also I was surprised at the huge difference in the capacity of cases – definitely go for an expandable case! I finally opted for Antlers New Size Zero range, buying the large case, 30”, expandable, only 3.2kg and has a 100 litre capacity. The medium case is 26”, 2.8kg and has a 66 litre capacity. It is also important to note that Antler include a TSA padlock which is compatible with US Security.

Now for my next trip I have 3kg/6.6lb of extra luggage to pack…think that will be allocated to more shoes…a girl just can never pack enough shoes!

By Anne Filshie. Anne is the Group Director of Operations for PerryGolf.

London Heathrow – T5

By Anne Filshie.  Anne is the Group Director of Operations at PerryGolf.

With Rory McIlroy leading the European Tour order of merit, we decided to travel out for the inaugural ‘Race to Dubai’ – the deciding event.   Rory and Ross McGowan are two players whom we know well and wanted to go and support, so we decided to travel on British Airways from Glasgow via Heathrow to Dubai.  This gave me my second experience travelling through Heathrow’s brand new Terminal Five.  Pretty much the entire British Airways service is based at T5, and while they had their share of teething problems, it is a particularly slick operation.  From the main building there are two smaller terminals, easily reached by a continuous monorail.  Apparently the underground luggage transport system is amazing to see, and my experience would be that it works efficiently even with a very short connection time.

T5 at London Heathrow
T5 at London Heathrow

On the way out to Dubai (as the flight was overnight) we took a 6pm flight to Heathrow to allow us time to have dinner in the BA lounge; we then enjoyed the fantastic experience of First Class.  British Airways Club Class and First Class are utterly excellent, and the service is exceptionally good.  Nothing beats the flat beds; you get a great sleep, and do not miss a minute of your holiday no matter if you travel east or west.  We arrived into Dubai on the Friday morning, travelled straight to the golf course and watched golf all day.

I am very impressed with Terminal Five, lovely experience.

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

As for the golf…well Lee Westwood was on fire and won the tournament, with Ross McGowan taking second place, and Rory McIlroy third; so it turned out a fantastic result for Ross and Rory’s Scottish fans !