Etihad Airlines, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, recently announced that its long-haul flights will feature a flight attendant in a distinctive, bright orange apron whose only job is to assist parents traveling with children, from the boarding gate until the end of the flight.
The airline calls this person a “flying nanny,” and she’s been specially trained at Norland College, a training academy for childcare specialists based in England. Etihad’s flying nanny has kids’ games and activities and can watch a child while the parents catch a snooze, dine, or watch a movie.
They aren’t babysitters, per se, especially since there’s likely to be more than one family aboard a flight. But they’re there to warm a bottle or help a child find appropriate entertainment on the plane’s in-flight television system.
I’ve seen individual flight attendants go out of their way to help parents with kids. But it’s the exception on most US airlines, not the rule. And that’s too bad.
Yesterday I offered a dramatic example of how the airline you choose to obtain an award ticket can make a big difference in how “free” that ticket is. I priced a late October award ticket between Minneapolis and London on British Airways and American Airlines. While both required about the same number of miles or points, British Air wanted to charge me $700 in fees while American wanted $500 less.
Here are a couple more tips.
If you have an airline-branded credit card, find out if you get a break on award tickets. If you carry a US Airways Premier World Mastercard, you’ll get an award ticket on US Airways for 5,000 miles less than someone who doesn’t.
Citi’s credit cards branded with American offer 5,000 or 7,500 miles off mile redemptions on selected—and always changing–destinations posted at aa.com/rma.
Got a Chase Sapphire credit card? You’ll get 20% off airfare, hotels, car rentals, and cruises when you redeem your Chase points. So a $500 flight requires 40,000 points instead of 50,000.
Be sure to check with your credit card if it earns mileage of guest points before you book awards.
I checked for an award ticket on British Airways as well as its alliance partner, American Airlines, for a Minneapolis-London flight on Oct. 24th returning Oct. 31st. British Airways had an award seat for me, as did American. On British Airways, I had to cash in 49,000 Avios points, on American it cost me 40,000 miles.
But here’s the big, big difference: British Airways wanted me to pay a whopping $700 for taxes, fees, and fuel surcharge. American only asked $191.
Which would you choose?
And the difference between paying retail for that coach ticket on BA and paying the $700 in fees for the award ticket was only $457. In short, my award ticket would only save me $457 on British Air.
Not only are the fees often drastically different on award tickets, so are the miles required. For the same dates, American wanted those 40,000 miles and United wanted 60,000. Both charged the same fee of $191 for that London flight. And remember, partner airlines might have award flights even if, say, United, doesn’t. Check Air Canada or Aer Lingus in the case of a flight to London, for example.
Tomorrow: More tricks.
Picking the world’s greatest restaurants is really a fool’s challenge in my opinion. But every year, numerous publications give it a shot. A UK magazine called simply Restaurant is generally regarded as one of the authorities on the subject.
Here’s what its editors have to say this year.
With nine restaurants on the magazine’s Top 50 list, New York made a strong showing. It tied with Paris and had more top restaurants than did all of Denmark, Spain, the UK, and Italy combined. Among the New York winners were Eleven Madison Park, Per Se, Le Bernadin, Daniel, Momofuku Ssam Bar, Momofuku Ko, and Jean Georges in the Trump International Hotel.
For three years now, the best restaurant in the world according to Restaurant magazine has been Noma Copenhagen in Denmark. But it was unseated this year by a restaurant near Barcelona, Spain, called El Celler de Can Roka (pictured) that’s in the town of Girona in northeastern Spain.
El Celler de Can Roca is run by three brothers, boasts three Michelin stars, and features such unusual dishes as ice cream that tastes like Cuban cigar smoke and desserts based on perfumes such as Calvin Klein’s Eternity. Oh, there’s great local seafood, as well.
Go—send me a postcard with your report.
I was reading Danielle Fear’s Cruise Miss blog recently, and came across some interesting facts about cruise ships I thought you might be interested in.
Did you know that cruise ship cabins are pre-manufactured on land and slotted into place and then connected to a ship’s power and water supply? A manufacturer can make 12,000 such cabins in a year.
Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas has its own ZIP code. It’s the first cruise shop to have one, though a Detroit River mail boat that delivers mail to passing freighters has one, too.
Karin Stahre Janson from Sweden became the first female captain of a cruise ship, the Monarch of the Seas, six years ago.
The Queen Mary 2 (pictured) is the only remaining ocean liner offering regular trans-Atlantic crossings between New York and Southampton in the UK.
The same guy founded both Carnival Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Lines. He was Ted Arison, father of Micky Arison who is chairman of the board of Carnival. An Israeli-born, American businessman, Micky spells his name “M-I-C-K-Y.” Carnival is the world’s largest cruise operator.
All the Vista-class ships of Holland-America are named after the four points of the compass. The ms Noordam means “north,” Oosterdam means “east,” Westerdam—well, you know what that means, and Zuiderdam means south.
Feel free to memorize a few of these factoids and win a bar bet or two.