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From the Flight Deck

In this issue: Virgin Atlantic Expands Premium Economy, An Alternative to Heathrow Airport…

Emirates Airline Buys More Airbus Super Planes
Dubai-based Emirates Airline today announced plans to purchase a slew of new Airbus airplanes, including 11 additional Airbus A380s, the $300 million double-decker super jet that can seat more than 500 passengers. To date, Emirates Airline has ordered 58 A380s, making Emirate the biggest customer for Airbus’ big new plane. The A380 entered commercial operation in October with Singapore Airlines.

American Airlines’ Alternative to Heathrow
If the thought of landing at Heathrow Airport makes you feel slightly sick, there is an alternative — Stansted Airport, just 46 minutes by rail from London’s Liverpool Street station. The airport is popular with business travelers working in the City of London or Canary Wharf, as well as with leisure travelers who like closer proximity to Cambridge and Oxford and other points in the adjoining countryside.

American Airlines has convenient daily nonstop service to Stansted from New York’s JFK Airport, leaving nightly at 7:45 p.m., arriving at 8 a.m. the following morning. The airline uses Boeing 767 aircraft for the Stansted flight, with 225 seats, 195 in Economy and 30 Business Class seats featuring American’s luxurious new motorized lie-flat seats. In April 2008, American will add an additional JFK-Stansted flight, leaving New York at 9:45 p.m. and arriving the following day at 9:45 a.m.

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Virgin Atlantic Expands Premium Economy Seating
Virgin Atlantic has a terrific holiday gift in store for travelers. The airline has announced today that it will expand its Premium Economy seating aboard 747s in its Heathrow Airport-based fleet. The planes will be outfitted by mid-December, in time for the holiday season rush.

At present, Virgin’s five 747s have 32 Premium Economy seats. The expansion will double that number to 62 seats. Premium Economy seating on Virgin Atlantic includes dedicated check-in, a separate cabin, priority boarding, priority duty-free, a dedicated toilet on most aircraft, meal service, individual lap-top power ports, and best of all a leather seat that, according to VA, is three inches wider than Premium Economy seats on other airlines.

Two More Reasons to Fly JetBlue
JetBlue has added two new routes to the Caribbean from New York’s JFK Airport. Starting January 17, 2008, the airline introduces service to St. Maarten, with a flight departing JFK at 9:35 a.m. and arriving in St. Maarten at 2:40 p.m. On January 10, 2008, JetBlue begins service to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. That daily flight departs JFK at 10:30 a.m. and arrives in Puerto Plata at 3:20 p.m.

This is good news for travelers who want a little beach time but who don’t want to arrive at JFK at 5:30 a.m. to catch a plane. Additionally, the flight to St. Maarten should allow for some late-afternoon connections to St. Barths, Anguilla, Saba, and St. Eustatius. Puerto Plata is an increasingly popular point of entry to the Dominican Republic’s north shore, within easy reach of resorts in Cabarete and Sosua, as well as a string of all-inclusives in Puerto Plata itself. (Doug Stallings)

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