February 2015 Travel & Industry News
Premium economy on Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines’ new premium economy seats are now available for sale on selected flights between Singapore and Sydney. The carrier’s new seating option will be available on retrofitted A380s and B777-300ERs on its Sydney route from 9 August. Laid out in a 2-4-2 configuration in an exclusive cabin, the new seats will be 18.5”-19.5” wide and offer an 8-inch recline and 38” seat pitch. All will feature a 13.3” full HD monitor and noise-cancelling headphones as well as a calf-rest and foot-bar, individual in-seat power supply, two USB ports, cocktail table and storage unit for water bottles, laptops and mobile phones. Premium economy passengers will be able to select from ‘Book the Cook’ dishes for their onboard dining and have champagne available throughout their flight. Other benefits include priority check-in, boarding and baggage handling.
Dreamliner joins Etihad fleet
Etihad Airways has commenced services on its first B787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. The inaugural flight was to Dusseldorf, but Brisbane will soon be among the cities to be served by the new aircraft, with carrier planning to introduce Dreamliner services to Queensland's capital from 1 June. The new service will offer a direct connection between Brisbane and Abu Dhabi, which previously routed via Singapore. The Dreamliner aircraft features eight First Suites, 22 Business Studios and 199 Economy Smart Seats.
FCm recently attended ProcureTECH 2015 in Melbourne to showcase the importance of technology in the travel procurement space. The ProcureTECH program attracted procurement delegates from leading organisations taking advantage of expert presentations, hands-on demonstrations, case studies and interactive discussion sessions. Attendees were also able to hear FCm Brand Leader James Kavanagh delivering a keynote on the 'Role of technology in travel'. In addition FCm took out a stand at the event which was visited by delegates throughout the breaks.
Qantas offers upgrades to highest bidder
Qantas has unveiled a new invitation-only ‘Bid Now Upgrades’ system for frequent flyers. Travellers booked in economy and premium economy will be able to bid for a business class seat using a combination of Qantas points and cash. Passengers invited to bid in the seat auction will receive an email a week before departure. They then make an offer for the upgrade within a set range of points and cash. A minimum of 3000 Qantas Points is required for a domestic upgrade and 5000 points for an international upgrade. A minimum dollar amount will also be required. Bids can be modified or cancelled at any time until 24 hours prior to departure, at which time travellers will be advised if their offer has been successful. Priority will still be given to frequent flyers requesting Classic Upgrade Rewards but the aim of the new system is to give frequent flyers whose balance isn’t high enough to request an upgrade with points alone more chance of getting an upgrade. The new upgrade system is being rolled out gradually across the Qantas network.
Etihad add Walletplus
Etihad Airways has added a Visa-powered Walletplus feature to its new-look Etihad Guest card. Members of the carrier’s frequent flyer scheme can now add funds in 11 currencies to their card to spend while travelling overseas. This allows travellers to lock in exchange rates at the time of transfer. Currency options include AUD, USD, GBP, EUR, INR, CAD, SGD, HKD, JPY and THB but must include UAE Dirham. The card can be linked to the Walletplus smartphone app to check balances and history as well as to transfer money and more. Members can also earn Guests Miles when paying with Walletplus.
HHonors credit link-up
The Hilton HHonors loyalty program has joined forces with Macquarie to launch a new Platinum credit card. Perks available to cardholders include free nights at any Hilton’s 12 global hotel brands, automatic HHonors Gold status, FOC room upgrades where space is available, in-room internet access and more.
Langham unveils new upscale brand
Langham Hospitality Group plans to introduce a new upscale brand - Cordis Hotels & Resorts. Each hotel will have its own unique style, architecture and design encapsulating the characteristics of its location and culture. Eight hotels have already been signed in seven locations to be developed over the next three years. These include Cordis Hong Kong, which is set to open in May this year, five locations in China, one in Bali and one in Sri Lanka. Future targets Cordis Hotels & Resorts include London, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Francisco, Dubai, Singapore and Bangkok.
Qantas lounge awards
At the 2015 TheDesignAir awards, Qantas’ first class lounge in Sydney took out top honours globally, achieving a rating of 93%. The Qantas Lounge in Hong Kong ranked equal second with the Finnair Premium Lounge in Helsinki with 90%. TheDesignAir awards are gauged on airport lounge products and services.
New Emirates A380 routes
Emirates is launching scheduled A380 services to Dusseldorf and Madrid this year. From 1 July, Emirates is upgrading flights EK055/EK056 between Dubai and Dusseldorf to an A380 service, while flights EK142/EK141 between Dubai and Madrid will move to the superjumbo from 1 August. The move brings the carrier’s tally of A380 hubs to 13 in Europe and 34 globally.
SYD T1 transformation underway
Upgrade works are now underway at Sydney International Airport’s Terminal 1. Works are expected to take 20 months to complete and the revamp aims to increase capacity and provide quicker access to departure gates after screening as well as offer improved signage, additional seating, wider walkways and brand new shopping and dining outlets. The first stages of the new look terminal should be unveiled towards the end of this year.
Virgin Australia US fuel surcharge now in base fare
Virgin Australia has made a major change to its US fares. Effective from 23 January, fuel costs have been incorporated into the base fare and will no longer be added as a separate fuel surcharge. The move brings US fares in line with the rest of its network. All other flights sold and originating in Australia, including Reward Seats for Velocity frequent flyer members, are not subject to fuel surcharges. The move means economy and premium economy fares have dropped by $40 while business class fares are down $50.