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 @!

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!