Category Archives:Airlines

The World’s Longest Direct Flights

How much do you enjoy flying? I love to fly, depending on the length of the trip! I love getting to the airport, checking in (as long as the queue isn’t too long) and of course browsing the duty free departments.

The first 2-3 hours of a flight are also an enjoyable time, excitement and anticipation of getting to your destination, watching films and relaxing with a book and delving into the snacks you’ve packed for the journey. After that, the novelty can wear off, especially if you are not a big sleeper on planes, which is definitely true for me and you’ve got a long overnight flight.

Pack yourself a pillow, something to help you sleep and I’d recommend some ear plugs for a smoother journey.

Still, just remember the ends justify the means right?! Soon, you’ll be on holiday soaking up a new culture.

What is the longest direct flight you’ve ever taken? I think mine has only been about 9 hours seems pretty tame compared to the top 5 longest direct flights in the infographic below… 16 hours 55 comes top!

(Infographic created by Flight Centre Ltd)

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Flying Jetstar Melbourne to Honolulu

It was almost a year ago that I bought $350 return flights to Honolulu as part of Jetstar’s promotion of its new direct Melbourne to Honolulu route (a steal, I know!). After adding on luggage (I needed lots for all the shopping I had planned!), this price neared $500, but I’m still not complaining.

After two sunny, shopping-filled weeks exploring the Hawaiian islands, I write this blog post as I’m returning home. Reluctantly, I might add. I’ll go into greater detail about my trip in later blog posts, but for now I’ll just give you a quick review of my Jetstar experience.

Despite such cheap flights (typically you can fly Melbourne to Honolulu for around $1,000 on Jetstar), I have no complaints about any part of my journey. The planes left on time both ways and there were no issues checking in.

Jetstar Jump
My 100th attempt at a Jetstar jump….

One thing that amazed me though, was when we arrived at Melbourne airport my boyfriend and I were one of only a handful of people who had checked in online prior to leaving home. The queue for web check-in took around 5-10 minutes to get through, whereas the main queue was as long as airport queues come (and any frequent flyer will know how long that is!). So, bear this in mind next time you fly.

The most unexpected part of the trip was getting aboard the flight and having USB ports and in-seat TV screens. I’m used to seeing these on airlines such as Singapore, QANTAS etc., but didn’t expect it on a budget airline. Big brownie points from me! Although unfortunately I didn’t know about this option beforehand, otherwise I would have loaded up on movies on my iPad or USB drive; you can even open documents, photos and videos on the in-seat screen at no charge.

For $20 you can purchase inflight entertainment, which isn’t badly priced considering it offers a whole range of the latest movies, TV shows, music albums and plenty of games to play – especially ideal for restless kids.

We refrained from buying the entertainment, but did briefly amuse ourselves with the free seat-to-seat chat function. The novelty wore off quite quickly though!

The flight was just over 10.5 hours heading there, and 11 hours on the way back. The flight back, however, didn’t have the in-seat TV units – but you could still hire iPads loaded with the same entertainment options.

Personally, I think that where you sit on a plane is crucial to how good or downright bloody awful your flight can be (think people kicking your chair, screaming kids and being wedged between two strangers), so I didn’t hesitate to pay the $7 or so each way that Jetstar charges to choose your seats (premium seats, such as emergency exits are more expensive). Get in fast though, because you won’t be the only one with that idea.

My preference? Back row, window seats. You might be last off, but you eliminate the risk of having bad ‘seat-buddies’ behind you, there’s easy access to the toilets (essential if you enjoy a sneaky pre-holiday beverage) and it’s just that little bit more cosy 🙂

So ‘mahalo’ Jetstar for making the first and last part of my holiday a breeze! I even did my own cliche Jetstar jump in recognition 😉

World’s Best First Class Airline Lounges

When you’re flying first class the treatment doesn’t start or end on the tarmac – it’s a rock-star experience from the moment you  step into your chauffeur-driven service to the airport right until you’re whisked through customs at your final destination.

In fact, first class travellers are probably the only ones that don’t mind hearing the ‘we apologise but your flight has been delayed’ message over the intercom.

How does a pre-flight spa and massage sound? Or what about a bar that only serves French Champagne? These perks and more will await you if you hold a golden (and worth more than it’s weight in gold) ticket.

So grab your best incognito sunglasses, pack your Louis Vuitton luggage and check out our pick of the world’s most amazing airline lounges.

British Airways, The Concorde Room, London Heathrow

In amongst the busy realms of Heathrow Terminal 5 you’ll find an oasis that is The Concorde Room. With a complimentary spa treatment menu, private cabanas (with en suite bathrooms of course) and free-flowing champagne, British Airways’ first class lounge is a holiday in itself.

British Airways Concorde Lounge: Fancy a drink?
British Airways Concorde Lounge: Fancy a drink?

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse

As you’d expect from the trendy airline, Virgin Atlantic’s first class ‘clubhouse’ is a funky blend of space-age chic, retro glamour and modern luxury.

Challenge yourself or a fellow traveller to an old-school games console game or watch the latest news or live television in the multi-screen cinema. Or, lie back and relax on your own chaise longue with a Bellini cocktail in hand.

And of course there are state-of-the-art business facilities – but that would be a waste, wouldn’t it?

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, San Francisco
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, San Francisco

 

Lufthansa, Frankfurt

German airline, Lufthansa, boasts five luxurious lounges  – the largest being in Frankfurt. Backlit walls with forest motifs (see image) are realistic enough to make you feel like you’re world’s away from an enclosed airport.

Contemporary designs with clean lines and a stylish European feel make Lufthansa’s first class lounges some of the coolest around.

With a cigar room, bath facilities, relaxation rooms and a fully-stocked bar, you’ll have to be dragged onto your flight.

Lufthansa First Class Lounge, Frankfurt.
Lufthansa First Class Lounge, Frankfurt.

Thai Airways, Bangkok International Airport

With one of the most extensive and luxurious ranges of spa treatments on offer, Thai Airways Royal First Lounge at Bangkok airport is the perfect place to unwind. As if the a-la-carte dining room, VIP areas and ‘slumber rooms’ weren’t enough, how does a 60 minute Touch of Silk massage sound? Pretty damn good if you ask me.

Image courtesy of Thai Airways.
Image courtesy of Thai Airways.

Qatar Airways, Doha International Airport

With a blend of Middle Eastern grandeur and European elegance, Qatar Airways’ first class lounge at Doha airport is an extravagant way to relax before your flight.

Bring out your inner James Bond with a choice of expertly-mixed martinis and keep your tootsies nice and warm (not that that’s a problem in Qatar) with heated floors in your own private shower.

How does access to a delicatessen sound? Just pick your favourite fresh ingredients and the chefs will create your own choice of meal in front of your eyes. Neat!

 

Qatar Airways First Class Lounge, Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Lounge, Doha

Hats Off to New Qantas Uniform

If you haven’t seen or heard about the new Qantas uniform launched yesterday, 17 April, you either didn’t login to Facebook or you slept all day.

The much talked about uniform unveiled by Aussie-superstar, Miranda Kerr, has overall been very well received – if social media is anything to go by.

Qantas' new uniform
Qantas’ new uniform

All 12,400 crew members will be wearing the uniform, designed by Australian designer Martin Grant, from early 2014.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said he was proud to launch a new

uniform design for Qantas – the first in ten years.

‘After an extensive selection and design process, Martin Grant has created a uniform that is fresh, modern and bold – a uniform that our employees are going to enjoy wearing,’ he said.

Fifte

en types of fabric and a blend of French navy suiting, white shirts and variations of the Qantas red and fuschia pink feature across the 35-garment collection.

Female employees will wear a combination of a dress, tops, a suit and a trench overcoat, accompanied by a stylish scarf and a trilby hat in a knitted fabric made from recycled bottle tops. The male suiting is neat and structured.

Are you looking forward to seeing the uniform in action?

 

Melbourne Airport Hotel Among World’s Best

When you’re flying into a new and exciting destination the last thing you want to do is sleep at the airport. Most airports are surrounded by freeways, drive-thrus and vast expanses of deserted land, which isn’t really the experience you travelled there for.

However, sometimes you have no choice but to stay at an airport hotel (other than to try catch a few winks in the departure lounge). And if it has to be done, you might as well do it right!

Melbourne’s Park Royal Hotel, situated at the Tullamarine Airport, was named Best Airport Hotel Australia/Pacific for the second year running at the 2013 World Airport Awards.

The best airport hotel award, based on nominations by 1.35 million airport hotel guests worldwide, evaluates 16 key performance indicators including comfort and cleanliness, food and beverages, and ease of transfer.

The overall winner of Best Airport came as no surprise. Singapore’s city-in-itself Changi Airport took out the top prize, followed by Incheon International Airport (last year’s winner).

For more awards visit www.worldairportawards.com – the perfect tool to help you decide where to make a stopover on your next trip!

What’s the best airport hotel you’ve ever stayed at?

Tiger Roars into Alice Springs

For many of us, Alice Springs and the surrounding area is somewhere we’d love to visit but back out when we see the flight prices. Now, budget airline Tiger Airways is hoping to once again provide a much cheaper gateway to one of the country’s most iconic regions.

One of the world's most iconic landmarks
One of the world’s most iconic landmarks

From today, Tiger Airways will resume flight into Alice Springs, with four services a week from both Sydney and Melbourne. Best of all, flights are now on sale from $59.95 each way (excluding booking fees).

NT Airports Director of Airline and Airport Services, Jim Parashos, said the return of Tiger Airways to Central Australia was exciting news for tourism operators in the region.

‘Visitors once again have that cost-effective option for exploring Alice Springs and the Red Centre,’ he said. ‘This is a development that presents huge opportunities for the local tourism industry.’

What you need to know:

–          Four weekly return services between Melbourne and Alice Springs launch today and are on sale today from midday (AEST) from $59.95 each way.

–          Flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays depart from Melbourne at around 9am and return from Alice Springs at around midday.

–          Four weekly return services between Sydney and Alice Springs launch today and are on sale from midday (AEST) today until midday tomorrow from $59.95. 

–          Flights are on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and depart Sydney early in the morning (at around 6:40am) and return from Alice Springs mid -morning (around 10am).

Visit www.tigerairways.com for more information and to book.

Will this entice you to the Red Centre?

 

Airline Charges by the Kilo – and not just for luggage…

We’re used to arguing over charges for overweight luggage, but one airline now overweight passengers to cough up.

In a change that has shocked some and been praised by others, Samoa Air’s new ‘pay by weight’ booking system now requires passengers to declare their weight when booking flights.

Rates range from $1 up to $4.16 per kilogram and CEO Chris Langton said it was the concept of the future.

‘Anyone who travels at times has felt they have been paying for half of the passenger next to them,’ he said to ABC Radio.

‘The standard width and pitch of the seat are changing as people are getting a bit bigger wider and taller than they were 40-50 years ago.’

While those that sit on the heavier end of the scales might not be impressed by this method of pricing, families are praising the innovative move.

No longer are small children charged the same price for a seat as an adult – instead, their parents just have to pay for them based on weight.

It will be interesting to see if any other airlines roll this out.

Do you think this is fair?

How to Get Cheap Flights

At least weekly I get a call or message from a family member, friend or even a friend of a friend asking how I get such cheap flights. For example, I’m flying Melbourne-Hawaii this May for $300 return (average is around $1200).

Unfortunately deals like that are pretty rare – otherwise we’d all be saying Aloha – but there are some steps that you can take to make sure you are getting the best price for your flights.

So for the sake of not having to repeat myself for the rest of the year – here is my method for cheap flights – I’ll call it ‘The Jenny Method‘ (not sure it’ll catch on….).

1. I always start by checking www.skyscanner.net. You can use this site from anywhere in the world and it brings up the best deals from all the different airlines.

When you’ve searched for your chosen dates, look for the button that says ‘Flexible?’ to see how much you can save by flying a few days earlier or later; it also gives options for other airports nearby.

2. I want to reiterate the importance of checking dates around your preferred time (when possible). Sometimes just flying a day earlier or later can save you hundreds of dollars.

3. If your flight has two or more sectors, check the price of each sector to work out if it’s cheaper to buy the flights separately. I find that this is a particularly good option when flying somewhere like Europe or Asia, as internal flights are very cheap.

For example, if you want to fly to Chiang Mai, Thailand it usually works out cheaper to fly direct to Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur and then buy a cheap internal flight through Air Asia or Tiger Airways.

(My flight to Krabi from KL was just $23)

Get creative and play around with flight options.

4. Check the individual airlines websites for prices (generally they’re the same, but occassionally you’ll find a cheaper deal)

5. Don’t dismiss your travel agent. We all know they charge a commission and are trained to get as much money out of you as possible, but if you play the game right you can get the cheapest flights out there.

Flight Centre, which is a common sight in most major cities, offers a price-beat guarantee (in Australia it’s $50), which means you can take any quoted price, including online, into them and they will beat that price by $50. If they can’t – you get a voucher. So it’s a win-win situation really 🙂

And there you have it – it’s simple really! The key is to do your research before buying – always shop around so you won’t kick yourself when you find a cheaper price a week later 🙂

Qantas Most On-time Domestic Airline

It may have had its fair share of bad headlines in the past few years, so Australia’s national airline Qantas will be happy with this more redeeming news.

The airline was named as the most punctual domestic airline for both departures and arrivals, according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics.

It also had the least number of cancellations.

Qantas Group CEO, Alan Joyce, said the company was incredibly proud of their performance and said they had put a lot of time and resources into it.

“Qantas makes a significant investment in improving our punctuality and the effort our crews put in during 2012 is clear to see,” Alan Joyce, Qantas Group CEO.

So despite it generally being the most expensive domestic airline to fly – you can’t put a price on getting to where you want to go, when you want to be there!

 

Spotlight on: Air Asia X Melbourne to Thailand

‘Voted the world’s best low-cost airline 2009, 2010, 2011’ they declare – so do they deserve this title? Yes, I say.

I’m on my way to Krabi in Thailand for my annual tropical Christmas catch-up with my mum and lured in by the unbeatably low priced flights, I am heading there on Air Asia X. I’ll be honest, I usually cringe at the thought of flying for much longer than a couple of hours on a budget airline – the complimentary socks, blanket, and miniature bottles of wine are enough to get me excited for a long-haul flight – but after having flown to Asia a couple of times on Air Asia, I am definitely a convert. IMG_20121216_090709

This says a lot considering I am currently trying to kill seven hours at the somewhat unimpressive Kuala Lumpur International Airport (the Air Asia one, not the main one) until my 45 minute flight to Krabi (although I’ve spent the last two hours contemplating whether it would be quicker to swim).

You might not get all the frills and thrills of a luxury airline, but you do get great value for money. My flights were less than half the price of any other airline on the same dates and although you have to pay extra for luggage, entertainment and meals, they are all very reasonably priced.

The seats are perfectly comfortable and have adjustable headrests (although I’m too short for my head to reach it!) and unlike most flights I managed to sleep the entire way. There’s nothing better than falling asleep at the start of a long flight and waking up as you’re starting the descent!

Now, what don’t I like about it? Let’s start with the check-in queue. Yes, when you go cheap you don’t expect top notch customer service, but queuing for over an hour to drop off my bag for a 1.30am flight when I had already checked in online seemed a little excessive! But I’m a forgiving person, so I’ll let it slide…

Next whinge is the long layover, which seems to be standard with Air Asia X flights. There is free WiFI in the transit lounge – but only for three hours, which leaves me wondering what to do with the other three hours I have?! I’ve perused all of the five shops and eaten a bowl of cold spaghetti bolognese (the fact that that was the best option for a meal at 6.30am says a lot about the food options…), so I guess the only other thing to do is watch the Mr Bean re-runs on the TV. It is my favorite episode with the turkey incident (I assume everyone knows the one?!), so once again, I shan’t complain 🙂

Well that’s my quick summary on Air Asia X… so far so good, so let’s hope my next flight’s on time or I’ll have to come back and edit the post with some angry rantings 😉
Has anyone else flown Air Asia? What was your experience?

– Jenny, Travel Goss Editor