Review of Oneworld Carriers

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Jun 20, 2002
I recently had the pleasure of taking a RTW First Class (mix of business and pleasure), encompassing Qantas, Cathay, BA and American Airlines. I realise this will sound excessive to some, but at age 35 and after having a serious cancer scare two years ago (and still not out of the woods but having regular check-ups), I turned to enjoying some of what I have accumulated as I don't want to be the richest person in the graveyard. I'd rather die happy after achieving some of my life goals - this F Class RTW was one of them along with flying Concorde (which I was also able to do).

There were some excellent experiences during a 22-sector, 24 day trip. I wouldn't recommend it to many people, you really have to love flying long haul.

Some of the Qantas planes were the elder statesmen of the 747-400 series, but the crew were excellent. The full recline beds are hard to beat as are the Qantas full length PJ's (two colours, blue and white - perfect to take with you and use - after all you've paid for them!!).

Cathay still takes the cake for friendly, efficient and unobtrusive service (no matter where you sit). Their 747-400's were younger and seats were better (but if you loose something down into the seat, say goodbye to it - can't open them up like the Qantas ones).

Now the best First Class seat I had was surprisingly American Airlines - on their long haul flight JFK/LAX (Flight AA3), underneath the seat ahead you actually have a compartment which has more storage than the overhead bins.

Now Concorde. Don't believe what everybody says about narrow seats. Yes, for a large person it's narrow. Full leather, very comfortable, bigger than World Traveller Plus (BA's new fourth class of travel) but not as wide as Business. Still for a 3 hour 20 minutes flight Heathrow- JFK, who has time to sleep?? Without doubt, the best crew service I have ever received on a flight.

Speed - the only time you notice it is takeoff. You accelerate so much more than any other jet, loking out the window everything is whizzing by, rather than the lumbering feeling of a 747 or 767. Going through the sound barrier is a bit of a non-event on board, other than watching the display at the front of the cabin (readout in kmph/mph and feet/metres) - you don't hear anything so better to watch/hear it from the ground. Hitting Mach 2 (1,460 mph) at 58,000 feet (versus standard 39,000 feet for 747) mean you can see the curvature of the earth and a darker blue sky than normal.

Tips - if you are on an overnight sector with any carrier, try for 1A or 1H. Much less noise in the nose of the plane and the crew don't walk past you with the trolley, so a bit of noise abatement helps you sleep.
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