Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The newest way to travel

Yet more madness in the airline industry!

According to the April 6, 2010 edition of USA Today, "Spirit Airlines has become the first airline in the USA – perhaps in the world – to say it will charge fliers for putting carry-on bags into its overhead storage bins."

"In addition to lowering fares even further, this will reduce the number of carry-on bags, which will improve inflight safety and efficiency by speeding up the boarding and deplaning process, all of which ultimately improve the overall customer experience," Spirit's Chief Operating Officer Ken McKenzie says in the airline's release. "Bring less; pay less. It's simple."

Sheesh, what a crock of s**t! Customers are getting milked like crazy for the privilege of getting on an airplane. Is paying a fare not enough?

Luckily, JetBlue (again, based out of the United States) seems to agree with me. Check out their tongue in cheek response, again thanks to USA Today:

"JetBlue also suggests – tongue in cheek – that when customers can't use JetBlue, they should consider 'our expertly-crafted Extrago Sherpa Shirt special outerwear' for flying an airline like Spirit. JetBlue says the shirt – which it points out is a joke and is not actually for sale – is designed to hold an entire trip's worth of necessities, including the money you'll save by not checking or carrying on your bag." What does this shirt look like? Take a look at the top of this page!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Trouble in paradise, another one bites the dust - Skyservice shuts down

Wow! Didn't see this one coming. Charter operator Skyservice ceased operations this morning, stranding thousands of passengers. Good grief, what the heck is happening in this crazy industry?

Here is the full story from today's (March 31st) Winnipeg Free Press:

WINNIPEG — Some passengers are stranded in paradise today, after the sudden collapse of a popular charter airline stunned the travel world.

On Wednesday morning, Skyservice announced it would cease operations immediately, after Ontario's Supreme Court handed the 15-year-old airline over to a receiver. Debt problems and "changes in the Canadian vacation tour market" led to the shutdown, the airline said in a press release. According to its website, the airline flew 20 Airbus and Boeing aircraft and employed 1,200 people. It provided charter flights for major tour operators such as Signature Vacations and SunQuest.

The news came as a shock to many — especially the folks booked for an 8 a.m. flight to the Dominican Republic out of the Winnipeg airport this morning. That flight has been rescheduled for 8 p.m. today while tour operators scramble to find aircraft to accommodate their booked and stranded passengers. By Wednesday afternoon, all of tour operator SunQuest's passengers had been slotted onto alternate flights, the company said in a release.

Winnipeg travel agent Ron Pradinuk said that although Skyservice's sudden death is a big surprise, it will not make a long-term impact on the industry. "These are big players... they've got contacts with airlines all over the world. I'm confident that these major operators will find aircraft for (tourists) by the time they need to return," Pradinuk said. "It's going to be a blip... I don't think it will affect anything a week from now."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Those crazy Icelanders

Whale watching is so last year

Volcano watching is the latest offering from the ever inventive Icelandic travel industry.

Ever quick to spot an opportunity where others see disaster, our friends at Iceland Excursions have come up with something even better than whale watching.

For only €55 they will take you to see the current volcanic eruption for yourself. At a safe distance, their guides give you a good overview of the geology of the area and tell you all about it.

Still prefer whale watching? Good. They have that, too.

Thanks to the Iceland Express website for this info!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sexy txting = coercion to commit sin


Two members of an Emirates Airline cabin crew have been jailed for three months in Dubai for exchanging lewd text messages, the Dubai newspaper The National reports.

A 42-year-old flight attendant and her 47-year-old cabin services supervisor -- both Indian -- were convicted of "coercion to commit sin," for sending the texts, the newspaper says, quoting court documents.

An appeal courts this week upheld the December convictions, saying the texts "fulfilled all the necessary angles of coercion to the commitment of sin," but cut a six-month sentence in half and dropped a deportation order.

The case came to light after the flight attendant's estranged husband filed a lawsuit against her in 2009 claiming that she was involved in an illicit relationship with the supervisor, the newspaper says.

Top ten list - total passengers

The numbers came out today for the top ten airports in the world by total passengers. To put this in perspective for the local readers of this blog, Richardson International Airport here in Winnipeg sees approximately 3 million a year.

So that means Atlanta has 29 times the passengers that Winnipeg does! Maybe this is just a big deal to airport geeks (like me) but it helps make sense of the sheer volume of passengers that use these airports.

Top 10 list (by total passengers) for 2009, according to the Journal-Constitution:

1. Atlanta (87,993,451 passengers; down 2.3%);
2. London Heathrow (66,037,578; down 1.5%);
3. Beijing Capital (65,329,851, up 16.8%);
4. Chicago O'Hare (64,397,891; down 8.8%);
5. Tokyo Haneda (61,903,656; down 7.2%);
6. Paris Charles de Gaulle (57,884,954; down 4.9%);
7. Los Angeles (56,518,605; down 5.5%);
8. Dallas Fort/Worth (56,030,457; down 1.9%);
9. Frankfurt (50,932,840; down 4.7%);
10. Denver (50,167,485; down 2.1%).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

WestJet's new loyalty program

Do you travel with WestJet? Have you been hoping that the airline would figure out some kind of loyalty program to reward you for your hard earned travel dollars? If so, then you will be happy to know the long awaited WestJet frequent flier program was finally unveiled yesterday.

"The WestJet Frequent Guest Program" gives the traveling public the opportunity to earn and accumulate WestJet dollars, which can be used as cash toward the purchase of any flight on any date to any destination - including seat sales. These 'dollars' can also be used towards WestJet Vacations packages, up to a maximum of 500 'dollars' per person.

The program is fairly simple in its approach, according to WestJet. You fly and earn 'dollars' towards future flights and vacation packages. The really nice things is that it isn't point based, it doesn't require advance booking, and there are no blackouts or seat restrictions. (Aeroplan, which is associated with Air Canada, has many of these drawbacks.)

A quick check of frequent flyer/loyalty rewards blogs did find a few concerns with the new WestJet program. There is apparently a high-spending threshold before you can start earning awards, and WestJet does not have the same global reach that Air Canada (and Aeroplan) can offer through membership in the Star Alliance.

Still, props to WestJet for taking a simpler approach to loyalty rewards. I think it fits in nicely with the way they originally positioned the company as an affordable alternative to Air Canada. While it is no doubt aimed at frequent fliers as WJ battles for control of the Canadian market, my guess is that it will also be appreciated by the less frequent traveler who will be pleased to earn a few dollars off their future flights or vacations.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Who'd have thought?

From March 5, 2010 USATODAY

"Since its humiliating bankruptcy in January, Japan Airlines has faced mass layoffs, customer fury and national shame, but its worst nightmare may yet lie ahead: a potentially thriving black market for the uniforms worn by its air stewardesses." That's from The Times of London, one of numerous media outlets reporting that demand from fetishists and sex clubs has forced ailing JAL to work to keep its flight attendant uniforms from falling into the wrong hands.

The problem may be bigger than most would initially think. Scott Mayerowitz of ABC News reports that "in Japan plenty of people are willing to pay top dollar for an experience with a club entertainer clad in an authentic Japan Airlines flight attendant uniform." He adds "people have been known to pay thousands of dollars for the outfits of JAL and rival airline All Nippon Airways, or ANA."

Airlines officials are not only concerned that the issue could tarnish the company's corporate image. ABC's Mayerowitz writes "outside of the fetish factor, JAL worries that in the wrong hands, missing airline uniforms could pose a security risk."

Indeed, an unnamed JAL spokeswoman tells the London Telegraph: "It's a question of security, as anyone wearing a JAL uniform at an airport could quite easily access restricted areas, but we also do not want people misrepresenting the company or damaging our image in any way."

The Telegraph adds JAL has warned its staff not to sell their uniforms, "fearing that laid-off air crew could try to auction their old stewardess outfits on the internet for a profit." How much could the uniforms fetch? Britain's Sky News writes "Asahi GeinĊ, a weekly tabloid magazine, reports that a rare full set is on sale on Yahoo Japan's auction site for over £2,000 and there are suggestions the latest uniform could fetch even more." In case you're wondering, £2,000 is about $3,010 at today's conversion rate.

To fight the "new flood of uniforms on to the black market," the Telegraph reports JAL is considering sewing tracking computer chips into its uniforms. Fellow Japanese carrier ANA – which faces similar problems – already does that. In the meantime, an unnamed JAL spokesperson tells the Times that the carrier has a series of measures that make it "virtually impossible for an individual to hold on to their uniform after they have left their job."

Still, the spokesperson acknowledges to the Times that at least one uniform belonging to a business-class attendant hit the black market a few years ago after it was reported as stolen. The carrier's solution in that instance? It paid nearly $2,000 to buy it back off the black market.

Maybe I should watch more reality TV

From March 5, 2010 USATODAY

ABOARD FLIGHT 97 FROM WASHINGTON TO LOS ANGELES — The man in 4D flirts with Louise Nguyen as she serves him a drink. Then he hands her his business card.

"He probably wanted a date, but I won't see him," says the poised, perfectly made-up Virgin America flight attendant.

Not that doe-eyed Nguyen, 28, won't date passengers. In fact, she accepts an invite to a Beverly Hills pool party from a handsome flier in the first episode of Fly Girls, a reality series premiering March 24 on the CW network.

Promoted as "Life at 500 mph" or "The Hills on a plane," the show focuses on a quintet of comely Virgin flight attendants, on and off the job. They were introduced to the media last week via red-carpet events in New York and Las Vegas.

Chosen after answering a mass e-mail from Virgin execs and auditioning, the five let cameras follow them for two months. Virgin sanctioned the show, over which it has limited control, to spotlight the 2-year-old airline, which positions itself as a fun, hip, lower-cost alternative to the legacy carriers. In a throwback to days of old, its flight attendants emphasize "smiles in the aisles" and pampering.

"Flying isn't about getting from Point A to Point B — it's about enjoying the ride," says cast member Farrah Williams, a statuesque blonde named after Farrah Fawcett.

The morning of the Vegas premiere, Nguyen and Williams — at 34, the oldest Fly Girl — prepare to work a flight from Dulles airport outside Washington, D.C. An ironing board takes center stage in Williams' hotel room; she'll appear at the gate in perfectly pressed white shirt, curve-hugging black skirt and high heels.

Taking a break in the forward galley of the Airbus 320 with lavender mood lighting, the pair say they have no problem being called "fly girls" — a moniker sure to offend those who lobbied for years to get "stewardess" excised from travelers' lexicon.

"Fly" means "cool," Nguyen says. "It's also what we do." Fly girl is "hip and kinda sexy. It's definitely a compliment."

"It suits the brand," chimes in Williams, a think-before-you-speak sort who calls herself the "senior mama" Fly Girl.

Nguyen says the five "like to go to the hot restaurants and the hot clubs — we're young, and why not?" She planned to be a nurse before being lured by travel's siren song and Virgin's non-stodgy image. Her Vietnamese/Chinese immigrant parents weren't happy. They wanted her to finish nursing school. Her family dynamics are incorporated into the series.

The seat-belt sign has been illuminated

Though soon to be TV personalities, the young women continue to serve drinks and meals at 30,000 feet, "and we take the business of flying seriously," Nguyen says.

The trip to L.A. looks calm on the surface ("a good flight depends on the energy we put out," Williams says. "If we're smiley, it's happy"). But underneath, there's turbulence. The "teammates" in Virgin lingo deal with a passenger with a spurting nosebleed, one who acts oddly and one who faints.

Medics come aboard in L.A. with a wheelchair for the fainter, who is tended at the gate in a surreal scene, as photographers, bloggers and guests gather for a special Fly Girls party flight to Las Vegas. On board, Nikole Rubyn, 31 — the series' vamp — delivers what's surely the most sultry pre-flight safety briefing ever. "Are you guys feeling fly?" she purrs, rolling her hips while demonstrating how to put on an oxygen mask and cope with a water landing.

Among those served weird-tasting "Fly Girls" cocktails made with Brazilian ac¸ai´ fruit liquor are French actor Gilles Marini (Sex and the City movie, Dancing With the Stars, Brothers & Sisters) and The Real Housewives of Orange County bombshell Gretchen Rossi. They're in first class. Virgin America CEO David Cush is in coach.

He flies in back and says he makes employees do the same to encourage an egalitarian spirit. The low-key former American Airlines exec in a gray suit settles in and says Fly Girls came about after Hollywood folk flew VA and "just loved the crews." He knows the show is "definitely risky" for Virgin, because cameras follow the young women day and night.

But "as a small airline, we don't have huge ad budgets. We hope to drive awareness" of VA's fleet-wide Wi-Fi, touchpad food and drink ordering, seat-to-seat e-chats. (That last toy has resulted in more than one hookup, say the Fly Girls.)

The A&E's reality show Airline raised the profile of Southwest Airlines in 2004. CW "promised a positive show, and I know these girls," Cush says. "They are people you would be proud to have as a sister or a daughter. They live exciting lives, but they'd never do anything to harm the company."

Indeed, the first episode, screened in-flight, is tame compared with other reality shows. No drunken liaisons, no dining tables overturned. Viewers do get inside info, such as the meaning of "IFB" — Virgin attendants' shorthand for "in-flight boyfriend," a cute guy they scope out to make time fly and who may get extra attention.

The only catfight in Episode 1 is a verbal confrontation when perky Mandy Roberts, 26, accuses sassy Rubyn of deviously stealing the limelight at VA's Fort Lauderdale launch. Things do get more reality-show-tacky in Episode 2, when the wine bottle — and claws — come out at the L.A.-area "crash pad" the five share for the show.

Attendants, prepare for your close-up

But all — including Tasha Dunnigan, 29, the show's single mom — share media attention with seeming amity as they walk a red carpet at The Palazzo Las Vegas hotel. (They've been warned by VA to project a positive image and avoid issues such as their pay or spats.) The fete is Oscar-like, with a daunting line of photographers and smartphone-waving bloggers and fans. To clicking shutters, the Fly Girls strut the gantlet with chests out. Their excitement is palpable.

Nguyen tells a reporter she hopes the show gives viewers "a different perception of flight attendants."

Working the carpet in leather jacket and jeans, screen hunk Marini, 34, is mobbed. He is asked if he ever dated a flight attendant. "Never."

Has he ever imagined doing more than dating one? "In my mind," he says. "But look, I've been married for 11 years."

Later, in the party's VIP area, he says he is here because he admires Virgin America shareholder Richard Branson and the "lightness" of VA crews.

"When there is turbulence, they say it in such a nice way that it makes you want to sit down," he says.

At 11:06 p.m., the Fly Girls climb onto a makeshift stage, posing beneath a giant screen running results of a party texting survey asking which Fly Girl will be the most popular. Rubyn wins for a while; Williams takes the lead after saying a few words in breathy tones.

"Whoo, baby!" a male voice yells from the crowd.

Dunnigan hits the dance floor with pals, pumping her fists to solicit votes. "I'm blessed," she says of the TV experience.

All the fuss "is surreal … it's amazing!" Nguyen says.

By midnight, most VIPs have flown. And the Fly Girls — hoping to lift a few glasses and let their hair down in privacy — have flitted away, too.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Winnipeg to London CANCELLED!

Crappy news for anyone who planned to travel non-stop between Winnipeg and London, England this summer using GoTravel. I had blogged about this opportunity back in December 2009 but now comes news that GoTravel is out of business, effective immediately. Here is the story from today's (Feb. 25) Winnipeg Free Press.

Winnipeggers who bought cheap tickets to London are out of luck after the low-cost tour operator GoTravel announced it is out of business.

GoTravel posted an announcement on their website informing customers they will cease operations "effective immediately" due to economic conditions. The company said the supplier of air charter services "will not be able to assist with getting any refunds" and encouraged patrons to contact their credit card provider directly.

The Canadian tour operator previously announced it will schedule cheap flights as low as $399 direct from Winnipeg to London Gatwick beginning June 12 through Oct. 2, 2010.

"We are extremely sorry that you will not be departing on your planned vacations," read a statement on GoTravel’s website.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

No more arguing about leaving the seat up

From Feb. 23rd USATODAY Today in the Sky...

Beginning Monday, women flying on ANA's international flights will no longer have to worry about men leaving the toilet seat up. That's when Japanese carrier says it will start adding "women-only" lavatories on its international flights.

In a press release, ANA says it's making the move "following numerous requests from passengers for this service." ANA adds "one women-only lavatory will be designated in the aft section of the passenger cabin," though the airline says the "location may differ depending on aircraft and configuration." The women-only lavatories will not be available on ANA's smaller Boeing 737 and Airbus A319 jets, even when they fly international routes. But, on jets where they are available, ANA says the women-only facilities "will be available for use by women passengers in all classes of service."

ANA says men will be allowed to use the women-only lavatories only in special circumstances, such as for safety reasons or because of an illness or sickness that requires immediate access to a lavatory. ANA also says the lavatories may become unisex "when there are very few female passengers and the women-only designation has been lifted for the flight." An announcement will be made in such cases, the airline says.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Watch the Olympics, follow Twitter, get a good deal on your flight

With Air Canada featuring a different deal almost every day this week, I was asked how I know about them. I wish it was some awesome secret that I could turn into a small fortune, but in reality, you just need to be on Twitter and following AC_webSaver.

The pattern seems to be that every time a Canadian athlete wins a medal, Air Canada either later that day or the next morning will tweet about some kind of great one-day-only deal and the promotion code needed to book the flight. So far the deals have been for travel within Canada, Executive First seats, or to warm weather destinations.

You have to book by midnight of the day the deal is announced but the window for travel is good until December. I tried playing with it to see what I could get flightwise out of Winnipeg but one thing I noticed is that you need to be flexible with your travel dates because the deals don't always apply to certain dates or flights.

This isn't the first time that Air Canada is offering deals via Twitter. The Olympic tie in is a catchy little promotion but it pays to follow Air Canada the rest of the year as well.

With 9 days left before Wayne Gretzky rides in the back of a pick up truck from BC Place Stadium to the cauldron with a fire extinguisher in hand to bring the games to a close, keep a close eye on the events in which Canada is expected to medal next week...hello curling and hockey....there should be deals to be had if you are looking to travel.

Sometimes it's a road, sometimes it's a runway!

From Popular Mechanics (Feb. 17, 2010)
Between Morocco and Spain sits the tiny British territory of Gibraltar. Construction of the airport dates back to World War II, and it continues to serve as a base for the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force, though commercial flights land on a daily basis.

Why It's Unique:
Winston Churchill Avenue, Gibraltar's busiest road, cuts directly across the runway. Railroad-style crossing gates hold cars back every time a plane lands or departs. "There's essentially a mountain on one side of the island and a town on the other," Schreckengast says. "The runway goes from side to side on the island because it's the only flat space there, so it's the best they can do. It's a fairly safe operation as far as keeping people away," he says, "It just happens to be the best place to land, so sometimes it's a road and sometimes it's a runway."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Communicator profile

While on my recent work placement at the Winnipeg Airports Authority (WAA), I prepared this article for the IABC Manitoba Communications Chatter newsletter.

Communicator Profile: Christine Alongi

She can usually be seen winging her way from one end of the airport to the other, BlackBerry in hand and notepad at the ready, but for Christine Alongi it is all in a day’s work. As Director of Communications & Public Affairs for the Winnipeg Airports Authority (WAA), Alongi is the public figure Manitobans are accustomed to seeing whenever there is news about Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport.

Since joining the WAA, the past seven and half years has been a whirlwind of activity for Alongi.

As the airport spokeswoman, she handles a wide variety of communications activities that run the gauntlet from reporting on the airport’s financial position to providing a calm and measured approach to crisis communications when an aircraft is in distress or there is a passenger emergency and a diversion to Winnipeg is required.

Lately though, much of her time has been devoted to the $585 million airport redevelopment project that once complete, will transform Richardson International Airport into a showcase piece that all Manitobans can be proud of.

“I’ve made over 500 presentations to a variety of internal and external stakeholders about the airport redevelopment alone,” she notes. “I really enjoy getting people excited and getting them engaged about the project.”

The airport site redevelopment consists of four main components including a 1,600 stall, four-level parkade, groundside site services such as roadways and sewers, airside construction involving additional aircraft parking, and the main attraction, a new 51,000 sq. / m. air terminal building that is open and transparent with magnificent views of downtown Winnipeg.

“Arriving and departing passengers are in for quite the experience,” said Alongi of the new terminal. “It will be LEED Certified to incorporate systems that minimize the use of energy and reduce greenhouse gases while maintaining a comfortable environment for passengers. It will also be one of the ‘greenest’ in North America.”

As well, Universal Design features will make it accessible and usable by a broad range of individuals. This means wider walkways, barrier free pathways, and materials, textures and colours designed to aid in the flow of passengers.

“The terminal has been designed with ease of use in mind,” she noted.

Like many others, Alongi fell into the role of professional communicator. She is a graduate St. Mary’s Academy, The University of Winnipeg (Arts) Red River College (Business), while also holding a Certificate in Management Development from Q-Net, and continues with Le College Universitaire de Saint-Boniface for du Programme de francaise langue seconde. The born and raised Winnipegger got her start with Moffat Communications where she began as a network administrator and market analyst and gradually over her seven year career tackled branding, promotions, and project management.

Her move to the WAA came after Moffat sold its television and cable interests and she helped to wind down the company. Alongi was set for a new challenge.

“It’s been a very rewarding career. I love the detail work that goes into it,” she said of her role at the airport campus. “It’s also a source of immense pride.”

Alongi’s involvement at the WAA also involves the annual United Way campaign where teams get together to try and pull a 300,000 pound Boeing 727 across the tarmac in order to raise money that stays in the community.

“It’s a neat way to bring people together to pull for the same cause. Bringing so many people together and having a hand in that is a very rewarding achievement,” she said. “People at the airport are very proud of it.”

The recent naming of WAA as one of Manitoba’s Top 25 Employers is another source of delight for Alongi.

“We encourage everyone at every level to practice the principles of respect, integrity, and service excellence. We’re proud and committed to the community and our vision of leading transportation innovation and growth.”

So as the redevelopment nears its completion and the community turns to Alongi as their source of information for how to use all the new facilities, it becomes apparent that she truly relishes being a part of the airport team.

“There are lots of great stories and people you might not necessarily meet elsewhere. There are celebrities and royalty, Canadian Forces soldiers coming home, and ordinary people meeting and greeting and saying goodbye. The ability to be a part of it all and do unique things is great. You get to connect with so many, in our community and beyond.”

Monday, February 15, 2010

In search of Diamond Tooth Gertie

Hard to believe I'm already thinking about summer vacation plans, what with it being the middle of February and the Winter Games in full swing out in Vancouver.

I recently found out that some friends will be getting married in Haines Junction, Yukon and I'm stoked about making the trip up there. Where is Haines Junction you might be asking yourself? According to the handy travel guide I was perusing over the weekend at McNally Robinson, Haines Junction is approx. 150 kms west of Whitehorse, which is the capital of the Yukon terrority. (Whitehorse, in case you need a reference point, is 2,500 kms north of Vancouver according to Google Maps.)

A sleepy little town, Haines Junction seems to be a place where you fill up with gas and supplies before heading deep into the Yukon wilderness. (Who knows, I might be sleeping in a tent for this adventure!)

High on my list of places to stop and play while in the area includes Kluane National Park. It features Mount Logan, the tallest mountain in Canada, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 for the spectacular glacier and icefield landscapes as well as for the importance of several animal habitats.
What else? There will certainly be an adventure where I pan for gold, I'm considering making a trip down the highway to Skagway, Alaska (itself part of the mining history of the area), and some time in Whitehorse to explore the sights.
And maybe even some quality time with Diamond Tooth Gertie, if I can find her.

Go Canada Go...and get a good deal on Air Canada!

Each time Canada wins you'll win too @ aircanada.com!

Today (Feb 15th) only: Extra 15% within Canada.

Use Promo Code NQPBH7H1

The fine print:

Book by February 15, 2010 at midnight from the city of departure.
All travel must be completed by December 15, 2010.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

WestJet's new livery

Back in April 2009, WestJet announced a comprehensive strategy in support of passenger care.

"The WestJet Care-antee is a set of promises we vow to uphold in good times and bad," said Bob Cummings, Executive Vice-President, Guest Experience and Marketing

Some of the promises mentioned in the news release include:
    -   They will not charge you to change or cancel your flight for 24 hours
after you book
- They will not overbook your flight
- They will not charge you for two checked bags
- They will have the lowest, change, cancel and pre-reserved seating fees
in Canada
- They will accommodate you if your flight is delayed. (Even if it's Mother Nature's fault.)
- They will provide live seatback TV and ample legroom and overhead bin space
- They will offer free online check-in and seat selection 24 hours before departure
- They will allow you to transfer your credit files to friends or family for free
- They will give you free snacks and refreshments on your flight

To support this high level of passenger care, they have painted one of their aircraft with the "Care-antee" logo. Nice touch. Look for it at an airport near you.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Planning to travel over the Feb. break?

Air Canada has a big sale (up to 55% off) on airfares right now! Remember to book by Feb. 8 (Monday) if you are interested.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Now this is the way to paint an airplane

South African low cost carrier Kulula just unveiled a really clever livery called “Flying 101″ on a 737-800...check out these cool pictures!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hallelujah! A post for those who fly in cattle (economy) class

In the spirit of awards season, I would like to nominate Air New Zealand as the airline of the year! What have they done, you ask? It is revolutionary. It will change the airline industry forever. It is such a fresh idea, I don't know why others didn't try it before.

They have decided to introduce seats that let passengers lie down in the economy cabin.

(OMG what will the first class passengers who are slumming it in their suites at the front of the airplane think?)

Called Skycouch seats, the seats will recline into an almost-flat bed for customers willing to pay extra (approx. $70 per seat). Each of the seats is equipped with a footrest that can be lifted for a reclining position. Legroom also increases by an inch, to 33 inches. Air New Zealand will offer them on new aircraft being delivered later this year which are to be used on the airline's longest routes, including LA-Auckland.

According to the USA Today article, "Air New Zealand's move is the first by an airline to give economy passengers an option to sleep more comfortably. The economy cabin has been ignored by airlines for years as they spent to upgrade first- or business-class seats that provide higher profit margins."

Business or first class sections of aircraft make the most money for an airline and it generally operates on the 80:20 rule. That means 80% of the revenue on a particular flight comes from 20% of the seats. Ever wonder why airlines try so hard to woo passengers to the front of airplane with promises of not just travel but an 'experience?' It starts with the lounge in the air terminal that is tucked away behind a locked door. [No riff raff allowed.] All the free food and booze you can handle. In the air, the fancy seats and free drinks and showers and unlimited luggage provisions make travel more civilized. People are willing to pay for this so airlines covet them to build brand loyalty...and to pay the bills.

This move by Air New Zealand is refreshing because it signals to me that this airline is serious about building brand loyalty with ALL its customers. Yes, the people at the front will always be important but so too are the people at the back who are spending their hard earned dollars to travel.

Giving travellers on a long trans-Pacific flight another option to increase their comfort at a reasonable cost - especially given the hassle of just getting on the airplane - is just good business. When will other airlines follow suit?

Check out the link to the USA Today article:

Airline travel 2010

Happy new year and welcome back for more from Double D Travels. The recent gap in postings (for which I do apologize) can be attributed to the holidays as well as an incredibly successful work placement at - wait for it! - Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. I'll share more about that experience in the weeks to come.

Since my last post the world of airline travel has changed once again. The attempted terrorist bombing on Christmas day shocked the world and brought terrorism much too close to home for North Americans. It also ushered in stringent new security regulations meant to make the skies safer but ended up creating confusion at airports around the world.

First there was to be no carry on luggage and no standing up during the last hour of the flight, even if your bladder was about to burst. Then came full body scanners at airports, currently only for flights heading to the US, which the media refered to as "naked body scanners."

Although some of the regulations have been relaxed, talk has recently turned to having to register your travel plans with the US government if you are flying to the US. But you better do it before heading to the airport (because if you don't forget about getting on the airplane). Or security officials trained to look for behaviours that indicate you might be up to no good. (What happens to you if you are simply a nervous flyer but need to travel by airplane?)

Throughout all this, the travelling public has shuffled along in long lines, grumbling under their breath and hoping that their aircraft would still be there when they made it to the gate.

Welcome to airline travel, circa 2010.

My parents always tell me stories about when they first started travelling internationally in the 1960s and into the 1970s. (This was of course, long before terrorists realized that plane loads of people could be used to further their own agendas.) They would arrive at the airport and walk almost directly to the airplane. No hassle, no long lines. Virtually no restrictions on carry on luggage. Maybe even a bit of glamour.

One day when I am a parent and I discover my offspring have inherited this crazy travel bug, maybe I will share stories with them about how in the 1980s and 1990s I used to be able to get on an airplane by ONLY clearing security and presenting a passport. They will think I am crazy.

And then I will tell them about the new millennium and what that brought: removing shoes and belts for security checks. Having my laptop swabbed for explosives. No liquids. Limited to no carry on luggage. Full body scans. Confusion over highly secretive no fly lists. Registration with the US government. The excitement of arriving at your destination tempered by the bladder busting stay in your seat until you are told unless you want an armed air marshall pointing a gun at you arrivals.

I get that we need security and I don't envy the job of governments trying to find the right balance between securing the airplane and taking whatever is left of a passenger's dignity. It just leaves me thinking one thing:

Will it get worse before it gets better?