Talking Travel: Take the Train, Cathay Pacific Named World's Best Airline, and How Airplane Classes Should Be Structured

To begin, the image below is from the cartoon The Oatmeal. He, like Richard Branson, appears to be on the same wavelength with your Talking Travel writer when it comes to the need for reform of air travel.

Never a dull moment here at the Talking Travel desk. News reports earlier this week indicated that increased air delays can be expected throughout eastern China until August 15. If anyone's flying between Beijing and Shanghai or similar destinations, I have to ask, why? Why roll the dice on an on-time arrival, when even the slightest hint of rain, so common this time of year all along that corridor, or the mere threat of air force activity will keep you on the round for hours? Don't do it. Take the train. Really. It's the best part of domestic travel in China.

Congratulations to Cathay Pacific Airlines on being named the World's Best Airline 2014, for the fourth time in 11 years. I mention this because high-quality air travel is one of the benefits of living in Asia. Between Asian airlines like Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines, with a little competition from Middle Eastern carriers like Emirates, we're reasonably spoiled. In any case, you can get to Hong Kong from Beijing on Cathay Pacific (actually most of the flights are on Cathay's sister carrier, Dragonair) during the second half of August for RMB 2,135, including tax. That's a good deal that I'm going to be using, inshallah. Sure, Hong Kong is hotter than hell then and it's typhoon season, but it might just be worth it.

By the way, Air China has delayed adding a planned fourth weekly flight to Pyongyang until August 31. DAMMIT! The outcry from aid workers and journalists will be negligibly deafening.

'Til Tuesday, one road flat safe.

Photo: Wikimedia, The Oatmeal


When an airline that gives a paid-in-full-months-in-advance seat to another customer and then puts the blame on the customer before finally accepting it was their fault but only paying for one's taxi from HKG to Kowloon as a way of saying "we f*ed up", it's hard to see how they can receive such. When subsequent emails AND snail mails to their customer service dept., which are acknowledged and told will be cleared up by a self-imposed deadline, go past due and no resolution provided, such an award is laughable. When no refund or credit for the difference between the business class seat that was paid for and the coach seat that was eventually provided, along with a meek apology intertwined into the less than stellar reply, reading about such an award is insulting to anyone who doesn't own a private jet and has to reply upon the old system of customer-business relationship. The onflight personnel are stupendous but the people at the desks and customer service dept. at Cathay Pacific HQs are enough to make me swear them off for the rest of my traveling days.