October 2013 Travel & Industry News

01 October 2013
Virgin adds Cloncurry

Virgin Australia plans to launch a twice-weekly service between Brisbane and Cloncurry in regional Queensland. Commencing 27 November, the services will operate on Wednesdays and Fridays on a 98-seat Embraer E190 aircraft.

Qantas retimes flight

Qantas’ QF5 direct service between Sydney and Singapore is being retimed. From 27 October, the flight will leave at 3.05pm, nearly 2 hours later than its current 1.10pm timing.

Free wi-fi for loyal Accor clients

Accor Asia Pacific is rewarding silver, gold and platinum members of its LeClub Accor Hotels loyalty program with free internet access during their stays. Accor has trialed various Internet access solutions and found that customers preferred faster paid connections to slower free systems. As such, free in-room access will be limited to higher tier loyalty program members, with other guests offered free internet access in hotel lobbies. All Accor brands are offering this new service including Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Sebel, Novotel, Mercure, Ibis and Ibis Styles, with just 10 nights per year at any of these hotels required to achieve silver status.

Q-Eat for more seats

Qantas has expanded its premium economy Select on Q-Eat services to more routes. Premium economy passengers on selected flights from Australia to Los Angeles and Sydney to Dallas can now use the service. Flights between Australia and London via Dubai will also offer the service in both directions with meal options available for pre-order online before flights.

Virgin boosts Karratha flights

Virgin Australia is adding two weekly return services to its Perth-Karratha route. The new direct flights will operate on Tuesdays and Fridays from 22 October, bringing the total number of weekly flights between the two cities to 38.

Cathay upgrades services to Australia

Cathay Pacific is upgrading its services to Australia. The changes, which will come into effect from 30 March 2014, will see current triangular services from Hong Kong to Adelaide via Melbourne and Cairns via Brisbane become non-stop direct services. The airline is also adding three daily non-stop services from Hong Kong to Melbourne and a daily direct service to Brisbane. Direct flights are operated on a three-class A330-300 aircraft, which offer business, premium economy and economy classes. Sydney and Perth services remain unchanged.

Ritz-Carlton for Perth

Perth is set to be the new home to a Ritz-Carlton hotel. The new 260-room property will be part of the $2.6 billion Elizabeth Quay project. The blueprint for the Perth foreshore development includes a waterside CBD centre for 200,000 sqm of office space, 35,000 sqm of shops and 1000 luxury apartments. Elizabeth Quay is due to be completed in spring 2015.

Virgin launches upgrade bidding system

Virgin Australia has introduced UpgradeMe Premium Bid, a new upgrade option that allows passengers to bid for a premium cabin seat. UpgradeMe Premium Bid gives travellers the opportunity to submit an offer, of a dollar amount of your choosing, for the chance to upgrade an eligible Virgin Australia booking. Travellers will be notified if they have received an upgrade no later than two days prior to their flight departure.

The new upgrade system is in addition to Virgin’s existing suite of flight upgrade products for Velocity members including:

UpgradeMe Points1: Passengers use their Velocity Points for a confirmed upgrade, on domestic and international short haul Virgin Australia flights. Platinum and Gold members can also upgrade on international long haul Virgin Australia flights to Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi. Upgrades using Velocity Points can be confirmed as soon as you have purchased your Flexi or Premium Economy fare2.

UpgradeMe Platinum Member Offer3 – This is the new name for Complimentary Fare Upgrades, available exclusively to Platinum members. Platinum members can continue to use available upgrades from a flexi fare to the business class cabin on domestic Virgin Australia flights, which can be confirmed as soon as you have purchased the fare.

Etihad to Perth

Etihad Airways is adding another Australian gateway. The carrier is expected to launch daily flights to Perth from February next year on A330 aircraft.

Hertz roll out more short-term hire

Hertz has expanded its short-term car hire service to the Gold Coast. The move follows the successful introduction of the service in Sydney last year. The service offers a convenient alternative to taxis for businesses with corporate membership.

Pullman debuts in Melbourne

Accor’s first 5-star Pullman hotel has opened in Melbourne and is known as the Pullman Melbourne Albert Park. The former Sebel property, which features 169 rooms, has undergone a multi-million dollar revamp. The refurbishments include upgrades to all guestrooms, the hotel’s executive lounge, meeting spaces, lobby and public areas.

QantasLink adds business class to Hobart

QantasLink plans to upgrade its Hobart routes. From mid-2014, the airline will operate its Melbourne-Hobart and Sydney-Hobart routes on newly upgraded B717 aircraft that will feature business class seating and personal iPads in all cabins for individual in-flight entertainment.

New seats for United

United Airlines has unveiled new economy and economy plus seating. The modern seat design is more ergonomic, with supportive cushioning and additional storage space. The new seats will be rolled out on its US domestic mainline aircraft.

China Eastern boosts Australian routes

China Eastern is adding five new weekly services between Shanghai and Sydney. The carrier will operate double daily services on the route between 1 January and 19 February 2014. The Shanghai-Melbourne route will also receive a boost, rising from the current seven services per week to 10.