The Flying Kangaroo jumps in a different direction

Qantas has slowly but surely been unveiling a new strategy for its big-ticket flights from Australia.


On top of its announced aim to offer ultra-long-haul flights from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, the Flying Kangaroo is preparingto redirect its flagship QF Flight 1 to London back via Singapore, rather than Dubai, which has been the single stopover for the past few years.

Continue reading The Flying Kangaroo jumps in a different direction

How ultra long-haul flights will change the way we travel

Qantas says it wants to be able to fly from the east coast of Australia (Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne) non-stop to London. It’s just waiting for aircraft manufacturers to build a plane that can do it.

Given that a Boeing 777 LR plane can already fly non-stop for 17 hours, a 20-plus-hour flight may not be far away. Airbus’s A350 apparently also has potential.

But it will come with consequences —  Continue reading How ultra long-haul flights will change the way we travel

Tourism and taboo topics in the Middle East

Updated (see footnote)

I’ve mentioned here before that I’ve become a regular contributor to, and that my answers to questions on travel are gaining a small amount of attention.

Well, in the past few days, one of them has gone through the roof. There have been tens of thousands of engagements with my answer to this question: Is it okay to stay in a hotel with a fiancée for a vacation in Abu Dhabi?

Continue reading Tourism and taboo topics in the Middle East

‘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.


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

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.

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.

Continue reading A premium flight experience

Business-class blues

I love travelling in business class — who doesn’t or wouldn’t if they could? — but there are three small words that can make that experience infinitely better.


They are “direct aisle access” — and, surprisingly, not every airline offers that even in the most expensive seats onboard their planes.

Continue reading Business-class blues

Fantastic plastic blanket

Airlines and the environment have an uneasy relationship. Despite economies and advances in fuel technologies, there are fewer bigger polluters than jet airplanes.


It sometimes rings a little hollow when airlines boast about their environmental credentials, so it’s nice to hear any news of a “green” initiative.

Continue reading Fantastic plastic blanket

Fancy your own Airbus?

Want to own an airline? Well you may be disappointed, but not surprised, to discover that Airbus has increased the price of its fleet from January 1 this year.


According to manufacturer’s website, after an adjustment, the entry level model, the A318, is now US$75.9 million.

Continue reading Fancy your own Airbus?

Fly like a falcon

Birds on a plane? At first that idea seems a little ridiculous, but several airlines that fly in the Middle East allow falcons to  travel in the passenger cabin.


These birds of prey, who compete in pursuit events across the region, are highly prized by their owners and are worth considerable sums. And, no, they can’t just fly to their destination (after all, they are not homing pigeons). Continue reading Fly like a falcon

Paying a premium

Those in the airline-industry know were not surprised by the news that Emirates is introducing premium economy class on its 250-plane international fleet.


What that means for travellers is, of course, an affordable option between economy class and business class.

Continue reading Paying a premium

Ghosts in the machine

I’ve been having to-and-fro conversations with Qantas’s social media team and other interested parties since I wrote this piece about my Frequent Flyer points.

qantas747Basically, my complaint was — and is — about phantom availability: reward seats that show up on the Qantas web page but have actually already been booked by somebody else.

Continue reading Ghosts in the machine

Too far to fly?


How long is too long to sit on an aircraft? I guess the answer depends on who you’re flying with and what class you’re in. And, perhaps, who you are sitting next to.

In any case, some Emirates airline passengers are about to find out, with a new direct service between Dubai and Auckland that will keep them aloft between 16 hours and 17hr 15 mins.

Now that may seem a long time to white-knuckle flyers, but those who enjoy the airline experience might see it as a bonus. If nothing else, it stops you wasting your time in a stopover when you could be getting to where you need to be.

The Dubai-Auckland route is one of several contenders for world’s longest direct flight, all made possible by new aircraft technology, lower oil prices and more efficient air-traffic control systems. And it’s an impressive thing, especially for those of us who remember long haul flight of yore than involved two or three stops.

This flight will use the Boeing 777-200LR  aircraft which, while very impressive, doesn’t have all the attractions of the larger Airbus A380s that Emirates uses on other long-haul routes.

But as an Australian, in the tradition of friendly trans-Tasman rivalry, I do have to ask: why would anybody want to bypass Australia on their way to New Zealand?