Each week, I’ll be answering your flight and travel questions through an ‘Ask Alex’ segment, here on the website.
You can submit questions in the comments section below, or directly to me on Twitter @AlexInAir, or Instagram @alexlhr.
While I always try to reply to everyone; I’ll choose only specific questions to appear on the site — those of which I think will be of a benefit to all.
Without further ado, let’s start…
M.F asks: What is the difference between A320CEO and A320NEO?
The ‘CEO’ in A320CEO stands for ‘Classic Engine Option.’
These are original A320 aircraft, with the classic engine options that were originally launched between 1996-2003 from engine suppliers IAE, and CFM (and Pratt and Whitney on A318).
With the A320 family aircraft, (A318/A319/A320/A321) airlines have a choice as to which engine manufacturer it will equip its aircraft with.
In 2016, Airbus introduced the first A320neo into service; a new-ish jet.
It’s essentially an existing A320, but re-engined with larger, more fuel efficient engines, hence ‘NEO’ = ‘New Engine Option’.
Z.D asks: Alex, is it true the pilots eat different meals to each other…just in case they get food poisoning?
While there isn’t an official aviation law, or directive, stating airlines must ensure flight crew eat different meals during the flight…it remains a very common policy at most airlines around the world.
It is to reduce the impacts of potential food poisoning (which itself remains very unlikely anyway, given typical food poisoning would take around six-eight hours to ‘kick in’).
If food poisoning were to incapacitate a member of the flight crew, the other pilot would have to take full control of the aircraft. For this reason, it’s better if both (or all) pilots haven’t consumed the same meal
S.A asks: Given that you fly a lot each week Alex, how do you stay fresh during a flight? I always feel dry and tired after even a short haul flight!
This is a good question, as even short-haul flights can leave you feeling a little ‘off’ in terms of freshness.
I adopt a very simple, but worthwhile approach.
Firstly, I drink a lot of water. Before, and during the flight. We tend not to be consciously aware of just how much water we’re losing during the air travel process…so it’s important to keep hydrated.
Also, I only sleep/eat/etc according to the time zone of my destination. I’m quite lucky, as I tend to be able to sleep very well on aircraft…but if you’re one of those that just ‘cant’ – you should ensure the following:
Dress loosely, or in layers – so that you can remove/add depending on the cabin temperature
Have the air conditioning vent (if there is one above you) 25% open; rather than a direct full blast of cold air
Reduce all unnecessary items from your seating space. Whether you’re in Economy, Business or First…don’t let water bottles, bags, etc take up valuable space. Make use of the over head lockers!
F.H asks: I see you’ve flown the A350-1000 a good few hundred times! How do I fly on this jet? And what’s the main difference for passengers, compared to A350-900?
The A350-1000 is a great aircraft, but given that it’s new — there are only a handful of operators.
Yes, I’ve flown the aircraft a lot, but it’s only currently in service with two airlines: Qatar Airways, and Cathay Pacific.
However, these are two, very international airlines – each with a global focus. Each of the airlines operate the A350-1000 in addition to the A350-900…so if you’d like to more route options, you’ll find the A350-900 serves many more destinations.
In terms of main difference for passengers — when compared with the -900, it’s simply a longer aircraft. The same fuselage is maintained, albeit it’s around 7 metres longer.
For Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways, it means a larger rear Economy Class cabin.
P.N asks: “What’s the best feature of the new Singapore A380 First Class Suite, the one from your Channel 4 show?”
This is a difficult question! I think, as I mentioned in the show, it’s the ability to face the window.
During the delivery of Singapore’s first ‘new’ A380 (with upgrades cabins), we flew through a meteor shower above Iran. It was spectacular to watch, and further confirmed the fact that sometimes…the window on an aircraft really is the best inflight entertainment.
G.A-S asks: “Will Iran ever be able to order new Airbus or Boeing jets again?”
If Iran will ‘ever’ be able to, remains unknown. Currently, can Iran order from the two respective aircraft manufacturers you mentioned? They can’t.
US sanctions have returned, and even Airbus (who are European) are unable to continue deliveries to Iran, given they must adhere to US treasury licences.
A.Z asks a follow up question, asking “Why must Airbus and ATR aircraft adhere to US sanctions against Iran, if they are European?”
This is due to the fact that each and every Airbus aircraft contains at least 10% US manufactured content, either in technology, systems, hardware, etc.
For this reason, Airbus (European) falls under the US’ ban on business with Iran.
What are your five favourite airports?
Personally speaking, they are Zurich, Madrid, Doha Hamad International, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Just take a look at the architectural beauty of Madrid’s airport here…
M.R asks: What are your thoughts on Finnair, for transiting through Helsinki, from London to Asia (Business Class).
Finnair offer one of the fastest ways to Asia, given the geographical location of Finland, and the ability of aircraft being able to fly over the North Pole, and down to Asia.
They offer some unique options during transit times, such as a sauna spa in the lounge, and yoga classes.
Finnair operate a mostly modern fleet, try and aim for the A350 XWB flights (it displays which aircraft during the booking process).
L.A asks: Is there really any way to maximise chances of an upgrade?
Well, L.A — stay tuned! I’ll be writing a post dedicated to this, soon.
If you’d like your questions answered, feel free to send them over by commenting on this post, or contacting me directly via social media.