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.

Continue reading A premium flight experience

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

Bold and beautiful break

Among the first was Family Ties, then (albeit in the realm of animation) came The Simpsons, then Oprah, and Ellen, then Modern Family. Now another American television show is to have some “special” episodes set in Australia.

(cbs.com)

And if the names Brooke, Eric, Ivy, Quinn and Ridge ring a bell with you, you’ll know which one I’m talking about.

Continue reading Bold and beautiful break

Which airlines fly on time?

As frequent flyers know too well, very few flights ever leave on time. There’s always a reason (or at least, an excuse) of course. And a late departure doesn’t necessarily mean a late arrival — although it often does.

(iberia.com)

But for everyone except the most casual travellers, there are appointments and connections that have to be met, so on-time performance is important.

Continue reading Which airlines fly on time?

The safest way to fly

Updated

Although airline incidents are rare, and flying is statistically much safer than driving, we all sometimes have concerns when we fly.

And the winner is … (qantas.com)

I know a few people who refuse to fly with certain airlines because of a past incident or a belief that there is a greater risk of an accident.

So lists like that of the world’s safest airlines are eagerly read.

Continue reading The safest way to fly

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.

(alitalia.com)

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

Continue reading Paying a premium

Boeing, Boeing, gone

The classic Little Golden Book Gordon’s Jet Flight, by Naomi Glasson and Mel Crawford, was first published in 1961. I read it when I was old enough to read Little Golden Books.

GJF

In my memory, it was about a little boy’s first flight on a Boeing 747 Jumbo, but as the cover shows, it was about the B707, which was still a mighty plane in its day.

Continue reading Boeing, Boeing, gone

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

Frequent frustration

Some of my Australian friends are big critics of our national airline, Qantas. I can honestly say that I’ve never had a problem with the Flying Kangaroo, either on the ground or in the air. Well, until a few days ago, I could say that.

It seemed like a simple thing to book a Frequent Flyer classic rewards flight from Dubai to London. I wanted a business class seat on May 6 (that’s today as I write this). Continue reading Frequent frustration

Too good to be true

I certainly couldn’t believe my eyes when I received Qantas Hotels’ “Leap year Craziness” email.

Check out these accommodation prices:

qcrazy1

Sadly, I was too slow to catch the bargain of a lifetime. It was quickly followed by this correction.

qcrazy2

Update: Qantas responded to my tweet about this as follows:

What’s in a name?

A Virgin Australia aircraft
A Virgin Australia aircraft (Virginaustralia.com)

A harmless case of mistaken identity, or a security nightmare? The story of two women with similar names who were assigned the same boarding pass is certainly cause for consideration.

As news.com.au reports, two women — one named Michelle Cheung and the other Michelle Cheng — both had passes for the same seat on a Virgin Airlines flight from Perth to Sydney.

It turned out that one of them was in fact a Qantas customer who had somehow received a Virgin boarding pass, and had had her bags stowed on the Virgin plane. Luckily, it was sorted out on the ground before take-off.

Now, I’m sure both airlines are worried about how this could happen, and are taking measures to avoid a repetition.

I was in a similar situation on a KLM flight from Mumbai to Amsterdam many years ago, when another man came along with a boarding pass for the seat I was already occupying.

The solution then was to upgrade me to business class (as I’d paid a full-price fare and the other chap was on a discounted ticket), which I certainly didn’t mind.

Security wasn’t so high on my personal worry list back then, but I think I really would be uncomfortable if the same thing happened today.

Wi-fi in the sky

qantas747

In an age when many of us are constantly connected to the internet, it seems like an anomaly that wi-fi is still not widely available on planes.

Mind you, it also seems like and anomaly that you can’t use your phone or other mobile device during taxiing, take-off and landing on most airlines. (Apparently the jury is still out on that one; if there’s any chance my device will interfere with the navigational equipment, I’m prepared to forgo its use.)

Anyway, Qantas has just joined the club of airlines that do offer internet to their passengers. Not just internet but, according to its media release, “fast free wifi”. Which, of course, is the very best kind.

According to the release, the new service, on domestic Australian routes, will feature speeds up to 10 times faster than conventional on-board wi-fi, giving customers the ability to stream movies, TV shows, the latest news bulletins and live sport.

But don’t get too excited just yet.

In-flight trials are expected to begin with a single Qantas Boeing 737 aircraft in late 2016. A full roll-out across Qantas Domestic’s fleet of A330s and B737s is planned from early 2017, with the aircraft to be fitted with modems and the advanced antenna that receives the satellite signal.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce is quoted as saying that the goal was to make Australia home to the world’s best inflight wi-fi experience.

“Bringing high-speed wi-fi to the domestic aviation market has been an ambition of ours for a long time and we now have access to the right technology to make it happen,” Mr Joyce said in the release.

“The sheer size of the Australian landmass creates some significant challenges for inflight connectivity but the recent launch of nbn’s satellite has opened up new opportunities that we plan to take advantage of with ViaSat’s help.”