A former colleague of mine has travelled to more than 100 countries. I don’t know if it’s his aim to visit them all, as others have done, but it’s a fairly impressive tally nonetheless.
And, as far as I know, he doesn’t just dash in and out. He takes his time to see the sights, meet people and go off the beaten track. My country tally is about half of his, but I don’t see it as a competition.
“Be careful what you wish for.” It’s an adage that applies in many circumstances.
And right now it’s germane to the issue of passenger comfort on commercial aircraft. It seems that we are getting squeezed on like sardines because that’s what comes with the lower fares that we demand.
Although it often seems prohibitively expensive, air travel has actually become far more affordable in recent years. A flight from Sydney to London, for example, costs roughly the same as it did 30 years ago, despite inflation.
And flying to Europe is about to get even cheaper for Australians, with Singapore-based airline Scoot offering flights from the east coast to Athens for less than $1000.
Many years ago, a colleague of mine was proudly showing me her lifetime membership card for Ansett Airlines’ Golden Wing business lounge.
Less than a year later, the Australian airline went bust and the offer was rendered worthless. Well, thanks to United Airlines — which has become the gift that keeps giving for cynical travel writers — I’ve now encountered something that tops that in the disappointment stakes.
The first time I flew business class, it was from Brisbane to Perth. Somebody else — a publicist promoting a play she wanted me to see so I could interview the star* — was paying, so I’m not sure what it cost.
I was, however, shocked to see the difference between the economy and business class fares currently being offered by Qantas for the same flight.
It’s been a long time since I flew Jetstar. In fact, when I last did, the Qantas subsidiary still had unallocated seating — an “innovation” it very quickly abandoned.
But from what I’ve heard and read, it comes as little surprise that Jetstar has been has named the world’s worst airline in an international survey. Equally, it’s no surprise that it is fighting back, because the methodology was clearly flawed.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is one of my favourite planes and it didn’t disappoint on my recent journey from Abu Dhabi to Brisbane. Neither did the Etihad Airlines service.
In fact, the only hitch was a 15-minute delay at immigration at Abu Dhabi Airport, apparently because my passport lacked a stamp indicating that I had reentered the United Arab Emirates after my recent Gulf cruise.
Just about everybody on the internet knows about the incident involving an overbooked United Airlines flight. Here’s an editorial I wrote for Abu Dhabi’s The National newspaper, noting that United is one of the American airlines trying to limit the operations of carriers from the Arabian Gulf in the US. Dubai-based Emirates airline has made a similar point in this video:
PS: If you think the Chicago incident was a one-off, read this. A first-class passenger was threatened with being handcuffed if he didn’t get off a plane to allow somebody more important to fly. No wonder United is worried about competition. It really sucks. Rather than defend the indefensible, big boss Oscar Munoz should resign and let somebody else take over.
Update: according to this legal opinion, United had no right to take a passenger off a plane in this manner.
The longest flight delay I have ever experienced* is 11 hours — waiting for a charter jet to take me from Glasgow to Malaga for a package holiday on Spain’s Costa del Sol.
The reason given was urgent repairs to the plane — which, to be honest, is fairly compelling and mitigates the boredom of being stuck at Glasgow airport for half a day. I’m not so sure how I would’ve reacted if the reason was that they forgot to load the toilet paper.
Some travel news from my home town: Qantas has released details, and images, of its new business lounge at Brisbane international airport.
The lounge, which will open in October, will be the first of several new facilities the national carrier will open at Brisbane Airport as part of a multi-million dollar upgrade this year, according to Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans.
There is one area where the hospitality industry has struggled (or is unwilling) to keep up and be competitive: the provision of internet services.
It is ridiculous in this day and age that some hotels, airlines and cruise ships offer near-extortionate prices for internet access (which, according to the United Nations, is a basic human right, no less).
In the current climate of austerity, many people are thinking twice about paying for business-class airfares.
As I’ve argued before, if you can afford to fly business and you want to, nothing should stop you from treating yourself. However, if it’s going to break the bank, you don’t have to totally slum it in the ever-tighter economy or “basic economy” seats.
If you’ve ever watched one of those “fly on the wall” television shows set in airports and wondered why some people — especially those who do something foolish or illegal — would allow themselves to be a part of it all, this might be a clue.
This sign was spotted at an Australian airport recently, and I find the wording quite interesting.