Trip Reports

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We welcome your comments and reviews of flights you have taken. Each month we have a review of readers’ comments (see below) and build these up so that we get a consensus. Clearly, the fact that one person did not enjoy the food on a particular airline is unfortunate but could be just bad luck – if several people say the same thing then we have an obvious trend and one which we want to warn readers about.

Trip Reports – June 2012

A reader who spent three weeks travelling around the US on domestic flights told us that nearly all the flights were fairly dispiriting with poorly-maintained aircraft interiors and unfriendly crew. Significantly, he said that the crew on a couple of Southwest flights, a budget airline that prides itself on being both cheap and cheerful, were no better than those on Delta and American. However, his single biggest complaint was about other passengers, “Over the years of travelling in the US, I have got used to people barging on to aircraft with too much handluggage but the new trend of bringing food on is really annoying. I know airlines have mostly stopped serving food and I could accept a simple sandwich but why do they have to bring on smelly hotdogs and beefburgers doused in onion? Airlines really ought to do something about this.”

Airlines have tried lots of methods to fit the large and heavy new Business Class seat units into the limited space available and the herringbone pattern is currently one of the most popular. A reader who has flown in this configuration on a couple of airlines including, most recently, Virgin Atlantic, warns that one of the big problems with the design is that the aisles can be very narrow. This makes life difficult for cabin crew serving and passengers moving around and means that if your foot strays even an inch into the aisle, you will be knocked several times during the flight. It could be worth paying particular attention to the seating plan when choosing a seat on an airline that uses this layout.

Whilst we have had a number of positive comments about the No 1 Lounges at Gatwick, it should be noted that there are occasional complaints about over-crowding and food service becoming unacceptably slow. We have even heard about reception staff trying to turn away someone who had booked and paid for entry months before because the Lounge was too busy. All airport lounges can get busy but if you are paying £20 or so for entry and being promised a hot dish and drink, you need to be sure you will get what you have been sold. If you are travelling at a peak time, it might be safer not to book in advance but just pay on entry, assuming the lounge is worth using.

Trip Reports – March 2012

A reader could not decide what to make of Etihad on a recent trip. “The outward flight was great – actually some of the best food and service I have encountered but the return could have been on a different airline. The food was less impressive but the service was totally amateurish.” Sadly, the Gulf airlines are not always as consistent as they should be. Qantas was praised for its longhaul Business Class, but domestic flights, also in Business, seemed well below standard – “even the long leg between Sydney and Perth where the cabin staff made very little effort”.

Praise for the new Hilton located just beyond Terminal 5 at Heathrow. This hotel is only really suitable for those using Terminal 5 but does offer “a very high standard at a decent price” and is a lot cheaper and more spacious than the Sofitel, which is actually on the Terminal 5 complex.

Do remember we are always interested in your comments and experiences on flights and hotels – especially when they are hotels that other readers are likely to consider using.