Qatar Airways B787 Dreamliner

Pic: Qatar Airways B787 Dreamliner A7-BCC at Brussels Airport (Dec 2013)

Pic: Qatar Airways B787 Dreamliner Flight Attendants at Brussels Airport (Dec 2013)
Sunday Dec 1st, 2013 marked a new milestone for Brussels Airport and Qatar Airways.  The Middle Eastern airline started operating the new B787-8 Dreamliner on its Brussels – Doha route, making them the first airline with scheduled Dreamliner flights at Brussels Airport.  On Tuesday Dec 3th, I was invited by Qatar Airways to have a closer look at the B787 while parked at Brussels Airport Gate B10.

Pic: Qatar Airways B787 Dreamliner Business Class Cabin (Dec 2013)

Pic: Qatar Airways B787 Dreamliner Business Class Seat (Dec 2013)

Pic: Qatar Airways B787 Dreamliner Economy Class Cabin (Dec 2013)
More information on the Qatar Airways BRU-DOH schedule can be found at (in Dutch) Qatar Airways joined the Oneworld Alliance end of Oct 2013, which makes you can redeem your Oneworld miles for flights on the B787!

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Turkish Airlines: A330-300 new Business Class

Pic: Turkish Airlines logo at new Business Class Cabin on Airbus A330-300 (Nov 2013)
On November 4, 2013 I flew Turkish Airlines Business Class from Istanbul to Kuala Lumpur.  Flight TK60 was originally scheduled on an Airbus A340-300 which had the old business class product.  Fortunately, there was a last-minute equipment change to an Airbus A330-300, which had the new business class.  FYI All Turkish Airlines Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A330-300 aircraft feature the new business class with full-flat bed seats, whereas the A330-200 and A340-300 have the old business class with angled seats.

Pic: Turkish Airlines new Business Class seats 4D & 4E on Airbus A330-300 (Nov 2013)
I had been unable to select my seat at the time of booking, which resulted in most seats already being assigned at online check-in (24 hours before flight).  Seat 4E turned out to be a great choice (A330-300 seat map), as it had the nice Turkish Airlines logo in the background, gave me a good overview of the cabin and, the cherry on the cake, an empty seat 4D while all other seats in the cabin were taken.

Pic: Turkish Airlines new Business Class seats 4J & 4K on Airbus A330-300 (Nov 2013)

Pic: Turkish Airlines new Business Class seats 4J & 4K on Airbus A330-300 (Nov 2013)

Pic: Turkish Airlines new Business Class In-flight entertainment on A330-300 (Nov 2013)
Turkish Airlines is famous for its inflight catering by Turkish DO & CO.  All THY long-haul flights have a DO & CO “Flying Chef” onboard, a crew member solely dedicated to inflight catering in Business Class.  No wonder Turkish Airlines won the Skytrax Award for “Best Business Class Catering” in 2013 and “World’s Best Economy Class On-board Catering” in 2011.  End of October 2013, DO & CO started rolling out a renewed catering plan which will be available on all Turkish Airlines flights by the end of Feb 2014.  I was lucky to be on one of the first flights with the new DO & CO catering.

Pic: Belgian Godiva praline to start the Turkish Airlines DO&CO Business Class dinner
Surprisingly, the meal service started with a Godiva praline, something you would expect at the end of dinner.  Let’s have a look at the extensive business class menu.
(dinnerbreakfastwine listchampagne aperitifs digestifsbeverages)

Pic: Mozzarella and Tomatoes with grilled vegetables and pesto sauce (Nov 2013)

Pic: Traditional Turkish Lentil Soup with Olive Tapenade Bruschetta (Nov 2013)

Pic: “Sis Kebab” Lamb Skewer, Grilled Tomato, Green Pepper, Eggplant Puree, Turkish Rice

Pic: Turkish Airlines Business Class Dinner – DO&CO Dessert cart (Nov 2013)

Pic: Chocolate Mousse, Sour Cherry Stroudel, Vanilla Ice Cream, Marinated Berries
After the delicious “Candlelight Dinner High Above The Clouds”, it was time for a good night of sleep.

Pic: Turkish Airlines new Business Class – Full Flat-Bed seat on Airbus A330-300
The full-flat bed seats on the A330-300 were incredibly comfortable.  I also liked the Turkish Airlines blanket a lot, felt great.  The combination of the ultra comfortable bed and my Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones allowed me to sleep 6 hours without interruption.

Pic: Turkish Airlines new Business Class – Full Flat-Bed seat on Airbus A330-300
After a good night of sleep, it was time for my personalized breakfast.  At dinner time, the DO & CO Flying Chef had taken note of my breakfast preferences and served it exactly as requested in the morning.  Great service!

Pic: Turkish Airlines new Business Class – DO&CO Breakfast service (Nov 2013)
Overall, TK60 was an excellent Turkish Airlines business class flight.  The hard product and catering were outstanding with an attentive crew on board.  I had also a great experience at the Turkish Airlines CIP lounge in Istanbul pre-flight.  Unfortunately, my experience on the inbound flight TK61 from KUL to IST was less pleasant.  Upon boarding, I was welcome with ‘no pictures allowed’ by the purser when pointing my camera to an empty business class cabin.  The tone was set for this 12 hour flight with a number of other issues surfacing later on.  I have filed a complaint at Turkish Airlines customer service about my TK61 experiences and expect their feedback soon.  Hopefully, my troublesome TK61 flight was an exception, with my wonderful TK60 flight being the Turkish Airlines Gold Standard.  Have you flown Turkish Airlines before?  What were your experiences?  Thanks for sharing!

Lufthansa Miles & More: Earning miles

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be publishing a number of articles about the Lufthansa Miles and More program.  I’ll focus on how to maximize the value of your miles by uncovering the best redemptions.  Obviously, before you can start redeeming miles, you need to earn them.  This post will explain how the Lufthansa Miles & More program works and how you can earn those miles.

There are two types of miles, award miles and status miles.  Award miles can be earned both by flying and via partners.  Award miles can be used for free* flights, upgrades, hotel stays, car rentals and much more.  Status miles can only be earned by flying, the so called ‘butt-in-seat’ miles.  Status miles cannot be spend, they just increase your status miles counter.  After earning a certain number of status miles in one calendar year (Jan 1 – Dec 31), you’ll earn elite status which comes with a number of perks depending on your elite level.  (*you’ll still need to pay taxes & fees)

When flying any of the airlines listed above, you can present your Miles & More card at the check-in counter to earn miles.  In most cases, you’ll have already entered your Miles & More card number at the time of booking.  Still, it’s a good practice to present your card each time at check-in to make sure it’s entered correctly in the system.  For a full list of all airlines on which your can earn miles, check the Lufthansa Miles & More site.  Note that not all partner airlines earn status miles, some airlines might only earn award miles or partial status miles (e.g. 25% on Turkish Airlines).

You’ll notice there’s an earning table for each airline referring to the booking class and how much miles it earns.  It’s important to know which booking class your flights are booked in.  Each flight (segment) has its own booking class and depending on that letter, you’ll earn a certain number of miles.  Booking classes are displayed during the booking process on most sites, but that might not always be the case.  If you can’t find the booking class, contact your OTA (Online Travel Agency).

You can also use the Lufthansa Meilenrechner tool to determine the number of status and award miles you will earn on Lufthansa Group flights: Adria Airways, Austrian Airlines Group, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Luxair and SWISS.

The table above gives an overview of the different elite status levels you can reach by collecting status miles at Lufthansa Miles & More.  If you’re not flying Business or First class (or full fare Economy class on regular bases) I would NOT recommend to pursue status with Miles & More.  There are far better programs to achieve elite status and Star Alliance Gold (e.g. Aegean Miles&Bonus).  In fact, the number of award and status miles you can earn by flying economy class on Lufthansa Group airlines and its partners will be dramatically reduced as of January 1, 2014.  Conclusion: if you’re not flying Lufthansa Group Business class, First class or full fare Economy class on regular bases, it might be more interesting to credit your flights to an alternative Star Alliance frequent flyer program.  Until recently, I would have recommended United MileagePlus, but after their massive devaluation announcement on Oct 31, they are no longer a preferred alternative.  If you want to obtain Star Alliance Gold status by flying economy class, I would recommend Aegean Miles&Bonus.  I’ll have a separate post on this program soon.

For the lucky ones working in the Oil and Gas industry, there’s Lufthansa’s Oil & Energy Club which gives you instant Frequent Traveller status!

Star Alliance Gold is a status which comes with perks valid at all Star Alliance Airlines.  Collecting 100,000 status miles in one calendar year with Miles & More will result in 2 years of Senator Elite status, which includes Star Alliance Gold.

So how do you earn lots of miles at Miles & More if you only fly economy class a few times a year?  Via partners!  You can earn miles with almost anything these days, hotel stays, car rentals, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, telecom partners, … and shopping!

Above are a number of shopping opportunities to earn miles, mainly geared towards Belgians, but Miles & More might have similar or even better offers for your country.

Your main source of miles could/should come from these… Miles & More Credit Cards.  US citizens are the lucky ones here with sign-up bonuses of up to 50,000 miles! Unfortunately, Europeans are limited to way lower sign-up bonuses.  The best you can get in Belgium is 6000 miles with the Brussels Airlines Premium American Express card.  You can earn another 2000 miles by paying your cellphone bill using the card.  And then there’s 1,5 miles per euro spent.  I’ve written an article about the Brussels Airlines American Express cards in 2012 which includes an offer for double welcome miles (6000 instead of 3000) which is still valid.  However, this ‘offer’ might disappear as the distributor of the Brussels Airlines credit cards is currently evaluating its offerings in Belgium.  They already pulled the Brussels Airlines Premium MasterCard as of November 1st and there might be changes to the American Express cards too.  I recommend to sign-up for the Brussels Airlines Premium American Express now, to ensure you can enjoy the 6000 miles welcome bonus.  Note: 1) You can cancel the card at any given time and the remaining fee will (€10/month) will be refunded.  2) Do NOT use this card to pay in foreign currencies as it has a 2,5% conversion fee.  Read more about these fees and a great alternative VISA card to pay in foreign currencies in our Credit Cards for Belgian travelers review.

Hat tip: Illustrations by Thijs Feryn
Full disclosure: By signing up for the Brussels Airlines American Express card using a personalized link, I might receive referral miles.  Thank you for supporting my travel blog.