Latest news from Qantas, Gotthard Base Tunnel and BA

Los Angeles Qantas have opened a new business class lounge at Los Angeles International designed “to reflect the culture of California”. As well as regular lounge facilities such as showers and workstations, it features mid-century US furniture and, drawing on the city’s thriving “food-truck” scene, offers dishes such as cod tacos and chicken wings served from carts. Most eye-catching is the designers’ interpretation of a beachside fire pit – a large circular fireplace, with an artificial fire that emits vapour to mimic smoke, around which passengers can “relax and socialise”.

Switzerland The first phase of test runs in the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the world’s longest rail tunnel, have been successfully completed, with trains reaching 220km/h on a 13km section. Tests over the tunnel’s full 57km are now scheduled for next year, with completion due in June 2016.

London British Airways has unveiled new cabin interiors which will be fitted to 95 of its 128-strong short-haul fleet. The new charcoal-grey leather seats are ergonomically designed, with chair backs that offer more knee space to the passenger behind, moveable headrests and, instead of leg-level stowage pockets, an eye-level magazine rack from which tablets can be hung. The seats offer benefits to the airline as well as passengers: they are slimmer and lighter, allowing an extra row of seats in A320 aircraft while maintaining the same “pitch” (or distance between seats) in economy. This results in a five per cent fuel saving (per passenger/km). Business class seat pitch will be cut to the same as economy, but the middle seat will be blocked off, giving a two-by-two configuration.

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