Archive for the Category Travel


How to travel

Business class

  • “Never check your luggage; 99 per cent of the time I don’t check in bags regardless of how long I’m travelling for.”
  • “I sleep as much as possible when I travel.”
  • “If it’s a long-haul, 80 per cent of the time I go for a run or do something active once I land.”
  • “I try to eat in moderation when I fly.”
  • “I usually try for a window seat, as far forward on the plane as I can get. I think if you do it properly – i.e. first or business class – there’s nothing traumatic about flying 250 days of the year.”

Tyler Brûlé, Blue Wings, 2009

Brûlé Airways – The terminal

The terminal

To start off this installment it seemed fitting to follow the process that every traveller normally goes through, from departure to landing. Hence, starting off with an attack on the so often sub-par standards of terminals worldwide. We often shrugg when touching down in the spectacle that is Heathrow Airport in London or departing from the tragedy of De Gaulle in Paris.

For inspiration we turned to some of the best aviation hubs around the world. Terminals are potential time savers when done properly but to be honest often they are toxic time wasters. Since our passengers are en route to Hong-Kong, Milan or Frankfurt at any given day and like all Business travellers run on a tight schedule. The terminal therefore needs to address the issues of infrastructure and design, the two most important aspects for any likeminded business traveller.

Infrastructure wise the primary inspiration comes from Tokyo’s own Haneda airport:

Tokyo’s Haneda Airport wouldn’t win any architectural prizes but boy, does it work. It’s a shallow airport, so you can get to check-in fast. Many airports try to funnel their passengers through one security area, but Haneda has six or seven, which means you can get from kerbside and past security in 90 seconds. It’s the fourth-busiest airport in the world, but it’s primarily a domestic airport, and doesn’t have a massive duty-free area. Instead there’s an amazing grocery store. You can even pre-order your groceries and pick them up after you land.

If you combine that with the Scandinavian architectual high note that is Copenhagen Airport, described as:

It’s just so exquisite, so uniquely Nordic, there’s no mistaking you’re in Copenhagen. The floors are teak throughout, and the signage is excellent: dark navy background with yellow text. There are washrooms every 20 metres, so you never have to worry about schlepping down the hall to find the loo.

Brülé Airways is combining a well-designed infrasctructure with fantastic Scandinavian design details wrapping it all up in the service mindset and attention to details of Japanese retailers to create a unique terminal experience.

Better people: Alain de Botton

There is one person that we love to turn to in order to find essential insights on life and society in general, that is of course the best-selling author Alain de Botton.

Mr. de Botton has for a long time been a prominent figure in the family around Tyler. Because of that and his impeccable tast in decoration, writing and, of course, life he will be a regular installment in this publication. I’m sure all of our readers are well aware of Mr. de Botton’s lengthy CV but for those of you who are not, let us paint a picture of this exquisite man.

Born on hills of Switzerland, he soon moved to London with his family (including a father that has been generous enough to share his fortune and potentially making the lives of the de Botton family very livable) but it was after graduating from Cambridge he started writing about the small things in life.

As a 23 year old (“while pretending to do a PhD”) he was ready to take on the topic of love, with his first book Essays in Love. The Independent gave it a reasonably fair review: (Mr de Botton has) taken philosophy back to its simplest, most important purpose: helping us live our lives.

With that in the bag he delivers thoughtful truths on a regular basis about topics such as life, architecture, status and travel. In short, the small things in life.

If you need more evidence, dear readers, that he’s almost somewhat of an equal to Tyler, his weekend pleasures includes doing emotional audits of airports and taking courses in luggage handling technique. That my friends is a true Tyler man. As such he has valuable recommendations for a better life:

Pick up any newspaper or magazine, open the TV, and you’ll be bombarded with suggestions of how to have a successful life. Some of these suggestions are deeply unhelpful to our own projects and priorities – and we should take care.

Listen to the advise of Mr. de Botton, we always do.

Mr. de Botton, welcome. It will be a pleasure working with you.

Introducing: Brûlé Airways

Airplane en route to Hong-Kong

At a conference panel in Münich earlier this year the panelists including Meister Brûlé recieved the question ”If you would start a new venture, what would it be?” We will spare you the ideas from the other Hobo-Joes on the panel. TB’s answer? Starting a new European airline company.

We immediately felt compelled to pick up our Blackberries and call Lufthansa’s customer service asking how we could transfer our Miles & More points to this new aviation paradise. What would it look like? Would it serve the same excellent vegetable consommé as the Marc Newson designed Qantas business class? Could it really outshine ANA’s inflight nightwear?

Out of gitty excitement and since we can hardly wait for this venture to get of the ground we decided to start a series which explores potential ideas on what Brûlé Airways would be like. The first instalment in this series will be out soon.

Top 3 Middle Eastern Airlines

Etihad Airbus A330-243 A6-EYL @ LIMC/MXP

As we all know, letting your PA book your flights is a gruesome process in the beginning. Finding out that you have to cancel your morning run to make it on time for the morning transatlantic flight is bad enough. But not realising until reaching the airport that you are intended to fly Delta is an experience I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. Sure, everyone has to learn, but that knowledge as elementary as airline quality isn’t taught in schools is nothing less than an insult to modern society. Only a layman chooses airline based on destination.

Nevertheless, to make yet another contribution to society, we hereby present the tier one airlines from the Middle East. Perfect when visiting the next edition of the IDEX Arms Bazaar in Abu Dhabi, stopping by Doha for some caviar at Al Shaheen, or – god forbid – passing through Dubai for a (hopefully) quick transfer.

1. Etihad
Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan certainly has an excellent choice in airlines. The Abu Dhabi Sheikh not only hosts specially recruited Food and Beverage Managers for each flight, but the Diamond First Class non-stop to JFK is divine. We’re especially excited about the upcoming A350-1000s which will be a nice addition to this sweet Middle Eastern aviation gem.

2. Qatar Airways
The post-flight nightmare is easily handled by the charming staff at The Premium Terminal at Doha International. As Tyler noted, that new line of 777s is also well awaited. Doha is literally overfull with business men waiting to get a smooth departure to Barcelona, Taipei or Oslo.

3. Emirates
Dubai is an awful mess, but as an international flight hub is performs well. With an impressive route map, Emirates comes in with a strong third position. Our man Tyler Brûlé has another essential life improvement that comes with the service:

“Best time saver: to shower at the airport or not to shower at the airport? This dilemma has now been solved thanks to the shower suites on Emirates’ new A380s. “

A proper travelling bag

Boston porter bag
As I assume readers of this publication are all too well aware of, having to check in luggage is a dreadful exercise. Descending to Hong Kong or New York with only a well-sized luggage bag, you can easily be at the office or at your favourite weekend escape within 20 minutes of touch down. Monocle has been kind enough to retail the perfect travelling companion – the Porter Boston bag. As described by Moncole’s website:

This bag is small enough to meet all hand-luggage regulations – it will easily fit into an overhead cabin or under an A320 seat – yet, with a bit of smart packing, could contain enough to last you a week or more. Also, includes a laundry bag, a pouch for toiletries and pouch to store a bag when you get back to your pied-à-terre.

If you decide to pick one up, be sure to report back to us how well it performs in The Tyler Brulé challenge. Send us a mail at

Dispatching an intern

TGV Gare de l’Est

Imagine this scenario: you’re in transit between Basel and Paris, en route to Tokyo (Haneda, of course). You realise that you’ve left your wallet at the hotel. The concierge phoned the limo service but it was too late – you were already stretching out in the Business Premier Class of the TGV. I think we can all relate to the situation. But how would you solve it? Tyler presents his solution in the FT:

The plan involved having our Swiss colleague take the wallet to Zurich where he would be met by our new intern Jonathan, who was dispatched from London to deliver the wallet to Paris. While some very high winds almost delayed his flight’s approach to Zurich, Jonathan eventually made it to the small cocktail party we were hosting on Rue Royale with enough time to knock back a glass of champagne before we had to leave.

I’m kicking myself because I didn’t think of that.