* The Star Alliance soon will offer a "round the world fare." The
ticket, valid for 600 destinations in 108 countries, will be priced in
three categories depending on class of service and distance traveled.
The fares will remain steady throughout the year, regardless of the
season. A trip will have to begin and end in the same country and
include a flight over both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, with
between three and 15 stops and at least 10 days between the first and
last flights. Passengers will get frequent flyer credits from all the
[Wow! Whatta honeymoonsuite... windows, anyone?]
Airbus and Virgin Atlantic Go Below the Decks to Offer Passenger
Virgin Atlantic will push in-flight offerings to a new level by
featuring private bedrooms, a bar and exercise facilities for premium
passengers in the lower decks of its new Airbus A340-600s. The airline
will begin receiving the aircraft in 2002.
The U.K. carrier plans to install eight to 16 private day rooms
containing single or double beds in the forward lower deck of the
A340-600s. In the aft lower deck, the aircraft will offer a bar and an
exercise and massage area. According to a Virgin Atlantic
spokesperson, the airline also is considering plans for a cafe area
that would allow passengers to make reservations for table dining.
"Virgin is always on the edge and more out of the box than other
carriers," said Chuck Pettis of brand and image consultancy
BrandSolutions in Seattle. "It is all about differentiation which
means being seen as different and better. They will get new air
travelers who want to fly to see this." Pettis added that the carrier
is "continuing its positioning which is consistent with their past
The services will be available for Virgin's upper class passengers
but at an extra cost -- passengers will pay approximately 50 percent
more than the regular upper class fare for the added privileges.
However, Virgin claims even with the additional cost, the fare is well
below its competitors' average first-class fares.
Airbus spokesperson Mary Anne Greczyn said underdeck options are
being offered for the first time on the A340-600 and that other
airlines are considering the new feature. Designers reportedly have
entertained airlines' ideas of housing duty free shops and childcare
centers in the lower decks. Virgin also is considering the idea of
placing all aircraft lavatories on the lower deck to increase
passenger room on the upper deck.
In designing the A340-600, engineers lowered the lower deck floor
approximately nine to 10 inches to give sufficient head room in the
lower deck. Airbus said that adding the lower deck features would not
hinder cargo operations significantly because the A340-600 has
"considerable" more cargo space than the current 747-400. Virgin is
still reviewing the ramifications of substituting increased passenger
facilities in lieu of cargo.
--- Rohit Khare /// MCI Internet Architecture (BOS) /// firstname.lastname@example.org Voice+Pager: (617) 960-5131 VNet: 370-5131 Fax: (617) 960-1009