News: Emirates Improves Houston Service Significantly, New Ritz-Carlton In The Caribbean & More


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A roundup of some of the latest airline and hotel news announced recently. Includes details of a new Ritz-Carlton resort coming to the Caribbean, news that Emirates will restart its A380 service between Dubai and Houston, information on how you can check-in a case of wine for free on Alaska Airlines & details of when the Malaysia Airlines lounges in Kuala Lumpur will reopen.

Alaska Airlines Will Allow You To Check A Case Of Wine For Free

The bulk of Alaska Airlines’ routes are focused around the West Coast and, as that’s where the bulk of the US winemaking industry is to be found, the airline has made provisions for Mileage Plan members to get a case of wine home without having to pay a checked bag fee.
The free checked case of wine is offered from 29 airports across the states of California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington…..

Image – Alaska Airlines

….and anyone with a Mileage Plan membership (free to join) can make the most of this service.

According to the airline, here’s how:

  1. Buy your wine
  2. Ask the winery/wine distributer you’re buying your wine from to pack your case for travel (up to 12 bottles) but leave the box unsealed for inspection.
  3. Make sure you’ve added your Mileage Plan number to your reservation
  4. At the airport tell a desk agent that you’re checking a case of wine. The agent will inspect the case, seal it and mark it as “fragile”.
  5. Fly
  6. Pick up your case at baggage reclaim after you land at your destination.

Note: this service will only be extended to former Virgin America flights after April 2018.


New Ritz-Carlton In St Kitts

Marriott/Ritz-Carlton have announced that a management agreement has been signed that will see St Kitts get a Ritz-Carlton property in 2021.

Per the announcement:

The Ritz-Carlton resort, which will include 125 suites plus 25 branded villas and residences, will be located on the picturesque Southeast Peninsula of the island facing the Caribbean Sea. From this location there is easy access to the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brimstone Hill, downtown Basseterre and the local beaches of both leeward and windward sides of the Caribbean Sea. The resort will offer a wide range of amenities including a luxury spa, several swimming pools set within the lush tropical landscape, and spectacular indoor and outdoor dining facilities and meeting spaces.

My experiences with Ritz-Carlton properties have been mixed and I tend to prefer the city center properties over the resorts (I’m not a fan of the Aruba Ritz-Carlton which was the last RC to open in the Caribbean) but, given proper oversight, this could be a nice addition to the Marriott portfolio.


Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur Lounges Delayed Again

Malaysia Airlines has three lounges in Kuala Lumpur International Airport – one in the regional terminal (main terminal) and two in the satellite terminal from where the major international flights depart.

Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge (Main Terminal) Kuala LumpurMalaysia Airlines Golden Lounge (main terminal)

The two lounges in the satellite terminal (the Business Class lounge and First Class lounge) have been undergoing refurbishment since October year and were originally scheduled to re-open on 22 January…but that didn’t happen.

A new opening date of 20 February was offered up last week but, apparently, someone at Malaysia Airlines was a little overconfident when announcing that opening date as the lounges are still closed.

AUBT has now reported that a Malaysia Airlines spokesman has confirmed that the refurbished lounges will undergo a “soft open” on 2 March with a full opening ceremony scheduled for 12 March.

Let’s hope this time those dates hold!

I can’t say that I was particularly impressed the last time I visited the Malaysia Airlines First Class lounge in Kuala Lumpur but, from what the airline has said it will soon be offering, things may well be improving.

The KLIA Satellite Platinum Lounge (what Malaysia Airlines is calling the First Class lounge) will offer “an elegant contemporary design and a fine dining area offering a selection of local and continental food”

What passengers may enjoy most, however, is the Laksa bar and open kitchen that is being incorporated.

While the Malaysia lounges remain closed the other options open to oneworld flyers are….

Clicking the links above will take you to a review of each of those lounges but I can tell you now that the Malaysia Airlines lounge in the main terminal is by far the best option.


Emirates Schedules A380 Service To Houston (Again)

Emirates used to serve Houston with an Airbus A380 a few years ago but, in 2016, the A380 was moved to another route and replaced with a Boeing 777 aircraft. Considering how Emirates equips both aircraft that was a big step down in quality.

Image – Emirates

  • The Emirates A380 offers 14 suites in First Class as well as an on board shower while the 777 offers just 8 First Class suites and no shower.
  • The Emirates A380 offers a modern all-aisle-access Business Class cabin with 76 lie-flat seats while the 777 offers 42 old-style angle flat Business Class seats in a dense 2-3-2 layout.
  • The Emirates A380 Economy Class cabin offers 18″ wide seats while the 777’s Economy Class cabin offers seats that are a tight 17″ wide.

The swap to the A380 aircraft will occur from 1 June 2018 and will increase capacity on the Dubai – Houston route by 160 seats/flight.

While the aircraft type may be changing it looks as if the schedule will remain the same:

EK211 DXB 09:35 – 16:50 IAH (Daily)
EK212 IAH 20:00 – 20:00+1 day DXB (Daily)

If you need to get to the Middle East from Houston this is genuinely very, very good news for you as the difference between what the two aircraft offer are significant. The A380 offers everything good that people associate with Emirates while the 777 offering is one that lags behind most other premium airlines.