Do research and avoid surprises
There can be some unpleasant surprises for the unwary traveller — what you assume is not always the reality when it comes to planes and airlines.
The drive from airlines to offer passengers endless destinations means, in many cases, you may not be travelling on the airline or plane you first thought.
Travelling from Perth to a remote destination in the US, for instance, can involve three different types of plane and three airlines — the last probably being a 19-seat turboprop.
This scenario has a host of downsides.
For instance the carry-on baggage that your international airline turned a blind eye to at Perth or Sydney becomes a major hassle at Little Rock, Arkansas, as your board your last flight to your final destination.
And the problem is not just confined to small regional airlines with 19-seat planes.
Many US airlines use 70-seat regional jets which have very limited overhead luggage space, and many carry-on bags must be checked to go into the hold.
But for most travellers, the major issue is the size of the plane, and even with major airlines you may find yourself being downsized at a Middle Eastern hub from a giant 777 or even A380 to a single-aisle plane for the balance of your journey.
Not a problem if it’s a short flight but a major hassle if it’s seven hours.
The confusing part is that in many cases airlines will put their flight number on another airline’s flight. Unless you check what airline and plane is actually operating the service, you are none the wiser until it’s too late.
Airlines must disclose this information and it is a matter of clicking on the actual flight number to see the airline and plane type.
On the Qantas website, for instance, clicking on the flight numbers for your journey will give you a detailed breakdown of the airlines and planes involved.
Selecting airlines such as Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Thai International almost eliminates the problem because these airlines only operate fleets of wide-body planes such as A380s or 777s. All these carriers do code share with other airlines but if you are flying on one of their planes it will be a wide- body type.
Many travellers insist on wide-body or twin-aisle planes for international travel because they afford more carry-on space and the ability to get up and walk around freely.
They also have a number of areas to stand and chat — virtually impossible on a narrow body or single-aisle type.
And from May 1, the widest body of them all — the 498-seat A380 — will be a regular visitor to Perth, with Emirates swapping out one of its three daily 777 flights for the A380.
A lot has been written about the giant jet but seeing is believing. You really do notice the extra space — with all the bells and whistles.
Electronically you are connected to the world or you can watch arguably the best in-flight entertainment system in the sky.
And if you’re travelling in premium classes, there is the now-famous bar at the rear of the upper deck.
Perth passengers will be able to fly the A380 from Perth to about 25 cities across Europe and the US.
Transit is through Dubai International Airport’s new Concourse A, the world’s first purpose-built A380 terminal.
New Emirates A380 destinations include Frankfurt, Dallas, San Francisco, Milan, Los Angeles and Houston.
© The West Australian
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