Aircraft Interiors Expo 2022 – Back in Person, exploring the world of passenger experience
With British Airways
- Redemption seats exist for a reason
- Off to LHR, Terminal 5 South Lounge
- BA0974 London Heathrow to Hamburg (Club Europe)
- Into Germany and IBIS Hotel
- What you might have missed from Aircraft Interiors Expo 2022
- What do I get up to on the off-hours? (or “Do you have a life?”)
- Back to Hamburg Airport
- BA0957 Hamburg to London Heathrow (Club Europe)
- There’s a coach around here, I swear…
- Innovation continues
And once again welcome back to a Hamburg trip. Whilst we won’t do spicy pictures down the Rephabahnn, or some of the livelier sights, my life once again is in the Hamburg Messe as the Aviation Industry gathers again in a trade show, looking at the latest in passenger experience, seating, connectivity and so on.
A lot of our coverage is still ongoing from Aircraft Interiors Expo at the time of publication – As you know we tend to do a lot deeper dives post-event rather than just the headline. As such, some of the headlines from the show will be well beyond the show.
Hence why some articles will get updates beyond the actual trip report going live.
Otherwise, our eyes turn to the passenger experience that British Airways and its suppliers are currently offering, comparing it to just under a year ago and also pondering how the staff shortages in Europe are playing out outside the holidays.
Enough of the preamble. Time to kick this off properly.
Redemption seats exist for a reason
One of the best value redemptions in the British Airways/Avios Programme is the short-haul returns. They give you access to destinations on the cheap, whilst not hitting the wallet hard.
When one is points rich, but cash shy, it can reduce the cost of a ticket to £50 in business class return.
Whilst I’d love to earn some tier points to go with that, BA short-haul can be passable at best to downright disappointing at worst. And that isn’t worth the price they ask for some days, with the constant pairing down of the product.
I priced out a return fare on BA.com, pondering considering paying Economy class out of pocket. I fired up BA.com for entertainment value.
And the prices were exactly where I thought they would be: high.
The base economy fare (With luggage) would have set me back £215. In business class, the best part of £800 on the flights I wanted.
Club Europe isn’t worth that much.
Thankfully this is where Avios bookings come in. I was lucky and found that Club Europe was available and fares for £50+ 18,250 points for the exact flight pair I wanted.
With a healthy balance in the BA account, that is more than sufficient for my needs – as well as my bank account’s happiness too.
The curse of AIX hits – early
There’s an inside … joke… for want of a better term for some of the aviation journalists – we call it the “Curse of AIX”. It dictates something will go wrong in the run-up, or during AIX
Not something might go wrong – something will go wrong.
Some hits from previous years include:
- Leaving a passport somewhere, requiring a double-back from London
- Suitcases broken
- Missed connections home
- Having ultra-long connections
- Luggage going walkies
And I hate to use the term – but this is accurate: “This list is not exhaustive”.
For me, the first hit of AIX2022 was going to be troublesome when I got a message from British Airways that BA0967 saying that my return flight had been cancelled months in advance.
It seems the British Airways people-power shortage is hitting the airline hard if I’m getting notifications months in advance that a flight pair is going to be cancelled.
I had two choices
- Be rebooked on the 15:00 flight out of Hamburg for early arrival home. This would mean me engaging in peak-time traffic, as well as missing out on the last part of the show, which is perfect to annoy people at that time
- Be rebooked on the 21:15 flight and either risk the late-night coach, or find a bed in the Heathrow region
Talk about the devil and the deep blue sea.
I figured that staying later would allow for any security queues to die down, as well as to allow the most time in Germany, as well as deal with a late-night coach home.
So onto hotels. The usual rules apply for Hamburg and trade shows I want to be nearish the Messenhallen, because after a long day of writing, interviewing and reporting, I need a cheap bed to crash into, that also happens to be near a supermarket and ideally – on a cheap chain, as hotels and conference season normally means heavy hotel costs.
Yet here we are. And again, we have minimal choices – mainly down to distance from the venue (laziness is a factor). It’s a choice of the Ibis Budget or the Ibis.
What’s the price difference? £3. At that price, I’ll take the upgrade to the Ibis this time! Even if conference rates are in full effect.
After looking at hotel prices in the Heathrow region, I decided to skip the hotel and risk a late-night coach home and risk the joy of late-night taxis and Uber drivers. Which on an early Friday morning could be great fun.
With the stories and queues building up at airports across Europe (and airlines stumbling at the first step), I decided to get to the Heathrow region early. Considering I would be travelling with hand luggage only on the way out, whilst checking the suitcase on the way home (the amount of paperwork one picks up on these trips adds up quickly), having the baggage lost at Heathrow late at night is of no concern.
This seems to be a big thing with travel at the moment – and considering I intend to go to Germany, there are still COVID-specific rules when travelling.
Most of us have been referring to https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for advice on what to do and not to do. And it seems that on my shopping list of masks is required – as the German Government requires FFP2 masks (or equivalent) on public transport and health settings (but not in conference settings).
Good thing I have a supply of them left.
At least this time I didn’t need to complete any pre-departure paperwork for entering Germany (unlike last time).
With a passport added as well as some shirts, trousers, underwear, socks – as well as my reporter’s notepad and voice recorder, it was time to take to the skies again.
Next: National Express. Oh, Dearie me.
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