Scoot sets sights on Oz-Europe route

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.

Scoot economy (flyscoot.com)

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.

But cheaper isn’t always better …

Continue reading Scoot sets sights on Oz-Europe route

Passengers are powerless

Another week, another horror story about customer service on airlines. This time it’s about a woman who says she was told by United Airlines cabin crew to urinate in a cup.

(united.com)

Of course, there are different ways to interpret the story, but it does — once again — highlight an important issue: exactly how much control airline crew have over their passengers.

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Extras. Read all about them

We’ve all been asked if we “want fries with that” or otherwise been enticed to buy something more than we originally planned.

Are special touches worth paying extra for?

It’s no different in the travel business, but sometimes what’s part of the package and what’s extra isn’t quite as easy to understand as an upsized Big Mac meal deal.

Continue reading Extras. Read all about them

You only live twice

(United/Chase)

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.

Continue reading You only live twice

An expensive business

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.

Continue reading An expensive business

‘Worst’ airline fights back

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.

(jetstar.com)

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.

Continue reading ‘Worst’ airline fights back

Dream flight to Brisbane

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.

Etihad Boeing 787 (Etihad Airways)

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.

Continue reading Dream flight to Brisbane

The really friendly skies

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.

BA flight caught short

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.

A British Airways Boeing 777-200 (ba.com)

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.

Continue reading BA flight caught short

Qantas unveils Brisbane lounge

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.

Continue reading Qantas unveils Brisbane lounge

We want affordable wi-fi!

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).

Continue reading We want affordable wi-fi!

A premium flight experience

In the current climate of austerity, many people are thinking twice about paying for business-class airfares.

Emirates is introducing a premium economy option on some flights

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.

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Stream while you fly

Is this the beginning of the end of dedicated in-flight entertainment? Some airlines have already announced plans to remove seat-back screens since almost everybody has their own mobile device.

(Qantas Newsroom)

Now Australian airline Qantas has announced that its onboard Wi-Fi will enable passengers to stream Netflix, Foxtel and Spotify content on domestic flights.

Continue reading Stream while you fly

Reality TV bites

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.

Continue reading Reality TV bites

Pets on a plane

Japan Airlines has reportedly announced that it will allow dogs to travel in the passenger cabin on certain charter flights.

(jal.com}

I suppose that’s good news for some pet lovers, and it’s not uncommon to see pets on planes in some parts of the world, notably the United States. But, as much as I like animals, I’d hate to see this idea extended to all flights, because I don’t think it’s fair on other passengers. Continue reading Pets on a plane