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The Ghan RAIL


BY BEN LERWILL


n DETAILS: Alice Springs to Darwin, Gold Service, 23h30m. n SEATS: The Ghan is one of Australia’s top rail journeys, stretching from the south coast to the north. I was joining the service at a midway point and took a Gold Service sleeper cabin; this category makes up most of the train. It was stylish, private and big enough for my needs, with an en-suite bathroom and a seat that became a comfortable bed. n ENTERTAINMENT: The Lounge Car had a complimentary bar and various books, although watching the country roll by was entertainment in itself. At a stopover in the town of Katherine, all Gold Service passengers were given an excursion to nearby Katherine Gorge, a spectacular spot. n FOOD & DRINK: Dining car meals were of a high standard, with an emphasis on Australian produce and good wines. As a solo traveler, I was asked to sit with other passengers, something I enjoyed but which might not suit everyone. n SERVICE: Efficient and friendly without being overbearing. I was particularly impressed at being brought a fresh cup of tea with my morning wake-up call. n CONTACT: greatsouthernrail.com.au


LAST WORD


A suitably fine way to travel through Australia’s outback, with well- considered touches of luxury making it a very relaxing rail experience


American Airlines LONG-HAUL FLIGHT


BY GERI BAIN


n DETAILS: New York JFK to Paris Charles de Gaulle. Economy. Boeing 757. 7h30m. n SEATS: Economy class seats were laid out 3-3 with a pitch of 31 inches, which felt tight for a long flight even for my short 5ft 1in stature. For $16, the upgrade to Main Cabin Extra, which adds up to six inches, may be attractive to taller travelers. Every economy seat had a blanket, pillow and head support, but virtually zero recline. n ENTERTAINMENT: Monitors showed a map of our progress and for a few hours there were TV shows, but no wi-fi. n FOOD & DRINK: Dinner was a choice of pasta — tasty cheese ravioli in tomato sauce — or chicken with carrots and rice, along with a rather bland roll, cheese and a chocolate brownie. Breakfast consisted of a yogurt, banana and chocolate muffin. Food was served with complimentary drinks, while wine and spirits could be purchased. n SERVICE: The cabin crew were pleasant and efficient in busy conditions. The flight was oversold, so about six people happily accepted an $800 voucher, and hotel and meals, in exchange for flying out the next afternoon. n CONTACT: aa.com


LAST WORD


A punctual flight with decent food and service, despite the very crowded conditions. No major complaints, but no great raves either


LONG-HAUL FLIGHT Delta Airlines


BY STEPHANIE CAVAGNARO


n DETAILS: London Heathrow to Seattle-Tacoma. Business Elite. Boeing 767-300ER. 9h28m. n SEATS: My 18.5-inch wide window seat in the 1-2-1 cabin allowed plenty of privacy, although I felt quite close to the aisle. Generally, the lie-flat seat was comfortable, but when fully reclined, the foot hollow was very narrow. Despite this, a comfy Westin Heavenly duvet sent me snoozing. n ENTERTAINMENT: An impressive film and TV selection included Seattle-themed programs, marking Delta’s new London to Seattle route. I gave up on my noise-cancelling headphones, which buzzed with feedback, and perused Delta’s Sky magazine instead. n FOOD & DRINK: Generous portions of food with free-flowing Rioja Reserva 2000 was served. A fantastic panzerotti pasta with mushroom sauce made up for a thawing Caprese salad and the tasty but lukewarm cream of asparagus soup. An impressive dessert cart included cheese, sweet tarts and towering custom-made sundaes. n SERVICE: Flight attendants were friendly and helpful throughout, and despite occasional forgetfulness, they were generally attentive and happy to fulfill requests with a smile. n CONTACT: delta.com


LAST WORD


A generally solid but not faultless business flight on Delta’s new route between London and Seattle. Service was friendly, if a little forgetful


summer 2014 | ASTAnetwork | 131


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