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Different kind of comparison of products (CX vs. AY)

Different kind of comparison of products (CX vs. AY)

Old Jan 1, 08, 2:09 am
  #1  
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Different kind of comparison of products (CX vs. AY)

First of all, little bit background and a disclaimer. I used to fly with AY quite much when I begun my flying, then I got fed up with the service and switched to SK. There I learned to actually appreciate status but then I got fed up with their "service enhancements". Today I fly personally on the best schedules, fares and interesting routing/airlines. For business travel, I travel with those flights my employer prefers.

Past year I collected quite much miles for BAEC, clearly went over the Silver level and almost hit the Gold level but didn't get any status because I didn't have any qualifying BA metal flight.

I don't try to get any status any longer, I gave up the whole FF thing for the moment and I just try to enjoy flying. My SK EBS will turn to ordinary EBB soon and same thing happens to my VS Silver.


Okay, to the topic. I was about to fly HEL-BA-LHR-CX-HKG-CX-LHR-BA-HEL. The main point was the legendary CX and they had some nice fares for the past Christmas time (25 Dec onwards). So much good things have been said about CX and so far my best ever flight has been with VS Upper Class, quite amount of SK Business but I don't consider that anything fancy compared to VS UC for example (which is also in my opinion a cool experience).

I was one of the victims of the LHR fog, on the 24 Dec I got a text message from BA that my evening flight to LHR was cancelled and I should call them or check my itinerary online. BA Finland number, which was given in the text message was of course closed for the Christmas and it was completely impossible to get through to BA UK. So I logged to check my itinerary and noticed that I had been rerouted to HEL-AY-BKK-CX-HKG. Bad thing that I wouldn't get long-haul CX on my way to HKG. And I would have to suffer the BKK flight with AY and like some have pointed out then it must be one of the most restless flights among AY routes. Good thing was that I was supposed to arrive HKG about 12 hours earlier ... which of course caused a little bit hassle in the morning with the hotel and limousine transfers and getting my girlfriend to change her travel arrangements from mainland to HKG. But nothing too impossible anyway. I give points to BA for handling the situation in such way that I had a new itinerary right away and I didn't have to postpone my trip.

Before noon the Finnair customer service called me personally to make sure that I had been notified about the changes and that I am aware that I need to go to ticketing before check-in to pickup my Flight Interruption Manifest. Good service from Finnair too. Sometimes you see complaints that in these cases you just queue in the airport and nobody helps you, in my case everything was handled for me without too much hassle on my side.

Arrived to HEL airport early enough and got the FIM and proceeded to check-in. I heard that the flight was going to be completely full, which wasn't so happy news. It was really quiet at that time so we chatted a little bit about how I had waited for my first ever CX flight for about two months and now LHR fog managed to ruin that. She noted my PNR that I was BA transferred passengers and also she informed me that the gate hadn't opened enough seats so she wasn't able to assign me a seat. My luggage got Standby tagged, which got me really worried and she calmed me down that there wouldn't be any possibility that I wouldn't be flying. Well, I hoped the best and proceeded to Fresh Gateway Lounge in the International area (no AY/OW status so PriorityPass comes handy).

During my time in the lounge I decided to ask if they are able to check if I have already a seat or whether AY policy is that I should be queuing at the gate early enough, I have no idea how AY handles that kind of situations so asked the lounge staff for some help. She checked my seat assignment and then checked it again, 5J. Hmmm ... must be an error. Why would they upgrade someone with restricted Economy ticket without any kind of status? Yeah, sure I was transferred from BA and I was probably one of the best dressing passengers on that flight (business casual) but I wasn't expecting any upgrade, I had prepared myself to be seated in the middle of the 5 seats and be stranded around some Thailand destined Finnish vacation people.

I didn't believe that before the gate the same check-in lady confirmed me that indeed I had that seat. The flight was pretty uneventful but of course there was even some "happy" people in Business class so I can also sign that BKK flight might be a little bit more restless compared to many other flights, couldn't sleep because the guy next to me decided to go to the galley to complain every 30 minutes how they didn't serve him more alcohol and jumped over me all the time waking up me. 5.5 hours wait in BKK wasn't fun either but then I had a nice CX Economy flight to HKG.

AY Business class seat is in my opinion pretty much the same as with SK. And in both cases I don't like that you cannot adjust the seat freely, you will have to let it go towards the bed mode but you cannot for example just adjust the one part of the seat. SK old Business class seat allowed that but the new one is pretty much the same as with AY. And I don't like that it is about 170 degrees and not completely flat so at least I am sliding slowly downwards all the time.

Service onboard was pretty okay, nothing to send compliments but nothing to complain either. Lounge had given me a Christmas gift after they noticed that I had been upgraded so it was a nice gesture from Finnair - otherwise not much Christmas feeling onboard on the Christmas Eve, no special food for example.

Next flight was with CX Economy with B777, no AVOD either but a lot more channels to watch and the service was much more attentive compared to Finnair Business class. But can we truly compared CX to AY? They are not exactly from the same culture and not the same level.

I am now writing this in LHR after the HKG-LHR flight with CX and I must say that the new economy with CX is just marvelous. I have never had 13 hour long flight so nice, I wished it could have lasted longer. You have always guaranteed leg room because the seat-back doesn't recline backwards but internally. You have 9.5" widescreen with AVOD. Lots of movies, lots of tv channels and a collection of CDs to create your own playlists. Meals are very nice and between meals you have a snack bar with sandwiches and noodles (which they also offer in the cabin from time to time if you feel like not walking to the nearest galley). Service is extremely attentive and fast, you push the call button and immediately someone is asking how they could help you. And you have your personal electricity socket. Wow! I was really impressed, I knew that it is impressing but I didn't wish that it would this impressing.

Compared to my recent HEL-PEK flight with MD1 or last year my HEL-PVG with A340 then I must say that you cannot compared AY Economy with CX Economy. Not especially you have the new Economy product from CX - there isn't anyway you could compare these in my opinion, they are from different planets and AY product is looking like ancient history compared to the CX product. I don't say that AY Economy/Business wouldn't be nice and good value for the money, they are quite much similar with SK in my opinion (SK Economy being a little bit better) but CX is just beyond those.

If someone would be asking a choice between AY Business class and CX Economy (new) then I would fly rather choose CX - call me crazy but I really liked my CX Economy flight much more compared to AY Business flight (when we forget the other passengers). And if we compared Economy-Economy then in my opinion CX wins definitely.

Many people will definitely disagree with me and I don't want to create any kind of flame wars. This is just how I experienced my flights, I agree that I prefer different things these days.
miikka is offline  
Old Jan 1, 08, 5:43 am
  #2  
 
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Well, I would still choose AY biz even with the old seats just because of the legroom and opportunity to sleep better. And for the biz class SFML seafood meal that AY does better than anyone else.

But as for economy I have to concur. AY longhaul Y seems to be more geared towards "once a year package tour" tourists than frequent flyers. The roomy bulkheads that one can fairly easy get as an AY "elite" were a slight escape but now they have been sacrificed too in the latest cost cutting round.

And AY longhaul Y meals are lower in quantity and quality than what Dragonair serves on the Shanghai - Hongkong hops in economy.
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Old Jan 1, 08, 11:25 am
  #3  
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Originally Posted by mosburger View Post
Well, I would still choose AY biz even with the old seats just because of the legroom and opportunity to sleep better. And for the biz class SFML seafood meal that AY does better than anyone else.
Ah, good point but then this is an area where it goes to personal opinions. I, for example, do not value leg room so much as long as it is decent and I don't sleep very much on board - few naps are okay but the only time I really actually slept hours was onboard on VS UC. The bed was just too good so I couldn't resist and slept pretty much all the flight.

But because I am one of those who are awake onboard then I value nice service, some snacks and very good entertainment.

Never tried SFML, maybe it is indeed so good as everyone tells. But then again, I don't travel usually in Business class.

Originally Posted by mosburger View Post
And AY longhaul Y meals are lower in quantity and quality than what Dragonair serves on the Shanghai - Hongkong hops in economy.
Agree, they are horrible and I am known to be a person who eats pretty much everything.

I have one upcoming HEL-PEK-HEL trip coming in couple of weeks for pleasure and I booked it just because it was a really nice weekend fare. Transfer in LHR isn't always fun but for CX it could be worth the extra trouble, have to consider my options for the future.
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Old Jan 1, 08, 12:07 pm
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Ah, good point but then this is an area where it goes to personal opinions. I, for example, do not value leg room so much as long as it is decent and I don't sleep very much on board - few naps are okay but the only time I really actually slept hours was onboard on VS UC. The bed was just too good so I couldn't resist and slept pretty much all the flight.
Yep, we are definitely on subjective territory with these issues. For me most important is the comfort level of the seat followed by a healthy and tasty meal and newspapers & magazines. I almost always fly the same routes so not much interest left in the journey itself apart from safe travel.

But because I am one of those who are awake onboard then I value nice service, some snacks and very good entertainment.
AY cannot compete with CX in the two first categories but the new AVOD system is not bad. If it weren't for the horrible seats in Y...

Never tried SFML, maybe it is indeed so good as everyone tells. But then again, I don't travel usually in Business class.
It fits my taste perfectly but then I would eat fish and seafood only if possible.

Agree, they are horrible and I am known to be a person who eats pretty much everything.
It's quite surprising AY has sunk this low as they have a rather good catering operation. But then maybe a decision has been made to concentrate on the package tourists in Y.

I have one upcoming HEL-PEK-HEL trip coming in couple of weeks for pleasure and I booked it just because it was a really nice weekend fare. Transfer in LHR isn't always fun but for CX it could be worth the extra trouble, have to consider my options for the future.
If/when you get status on CX LHR and especially HKG get much more likeable. The lounges CX has built are pretty impressive. ^
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Old Jan 1, 08, 3:42 pm
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Sure, I think everyone would choose CX for service & hospitality, but the lie-flat product from Finnair ought to give a better sleeping experience. Still, some people may prefer a recliner of an angled lie-flat...

CX all the way! Or SQ...
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Old Jan 2, 08, 1:26 am
  #6  
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Originally Posted by mosburger View Post
It's quite surprising AY has sunk this low as they have a rather good catering operation. But then maybe a decision has been made to concentrate on the package tourists in Y.
This is the case for foreigners for sure but not for their Finnish clientele. Most Finnish companies do not allow corporate J travel (even for long haul) so people are forced to travel in Y for business. Service doesn't matter as on most Asian routes many will take direct flights for business when available. But as mentioned earlier, the masses on AY long haul Y are non-Finnish anyway (except M11/BKK).
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Old Jan 2, 08, 4:11 am
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Originally Posted by NoWindowSeat View Post
This is the case for foreigners for sure but not for their Finnish clientele. Most Finnish companies do not allow corporate J travel (even for long haul) so people are forced to travel in Y for business. Service doesn't matter as on most Asian routes many will take direct flights for business when available. But as mentioned earlier, the masses on AY long haul Y are non-Finnish anyway (except M11/BKK).
So I can come back to my pet peeve of economy plus lacking on AY planes. It would solve many of those problems and save the corporates money while getting their people to the chosen destinations a little less roughed up.

Let's see how aggressive Air Berlin will be marketing their new China routes in Scandinavia and Finland. Together with their existing FF program and good value LCC product this could make inroads into the cost conscious market.
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Old Jan 2, 08, 4:31 am
  #8  
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Originally Posted by mosburger View Post
So I can come back to my pet peeve of economy plus lacking on AY planes. It would solve many of those problems and save the corporates money while getting their people to the chosen destinations a little less roughed up.
No, it wouldn't. Many companies at least in Finland and maybe also in many other European countries want to use cheapest Economy when possible. So Premium Economy isn't used in those carriers where it is available (such as SK). Some companies though uses that instead of Business class but still there are many companies, which prefer ordinary Economy.
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Old Feb 12, 08, 8:37 am
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A pretty gruesome AY longhaul economy trip report a German member of a planespotters forum(?) has written; http://www.airliners.net/discussions...ad.main/119610

And just as he notes, while AY longhaul quality and comfort has been sinking rapidly also on the new Airbuses, shorthaul can still be a very enjoyable experience. Especially if one uses the generous upgrade by points offer.
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