Qantas offers expanded flights to USA & South America

LAN Airlines photo by Yuxi3200

LAN Airlines photo by Yuxi3200

As part of global expansion plans Qantas announced recently, they will offer their customers a great range of travel options thoughout South America. The expanded options come via an expanded codesharing relationship with LAN a fellow oneworld partner.

The expanded codeshare agreement with LAN will operate from Santiago, Chile to six destinations across South America, including Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Lima. Qantas travellers will benefit from seamless baggage and airport transfers and increased options to earn Qantas frequent flyer points.

LAN customers will also benefit from increased reach from Qantas services and within Australia via Qantas’s extensive domestic network.

Qantas Executive Manager International Sales Stephen Thompson said the codeshare expansion delivered on the airline’s international gateway strategy by increasing its presence in growth markets through strategic partnerships.

“This is great news for Qantas customers, with greater access to popular destinations in South America than ever before.

“Santiago is a key gateway for our customers and this development will strengthen its prominence as hub for onward connections, offering the additional customer benefits of a codeshare service – more opportunities to earn frequent flyer points and luggage checked straight through to their final destination,” said Mr Thompson.

CEO of International Business LAN, Damian Scokin, said: “We are pleased to strengthen our partnership with Qantas and to add 8 Australian cities to our network of destinations, which are located in key points of the island continent and allow access to the most attractive tourist destinations in Australia.”

Together LAN & Qantas will be offering 10 return flights between Sydney and Santigao each week. Qantas will be operating reconfigured Boeing 747 aircraft with new interiors and lie-flat beds in Business class. As part of the plans subject to regulatory approval Qantas will also operate a fourth weekly service between 21 November 2014 and 13 February 2015 to cater for additional demand over the summer holiday period.

The following codeshare services operated by LAN will be available for booking and travel progressively from 1 August 2014 by Qantas customers:

  • Santiago – Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
  • Santiago – Sao Paulo (Brazil)
  • Santiago – Lima (Peru)
  • Santiago – La Serena (Chile)
  • Santiago – Antofagasta (Chile)
  • Santiago – Punta Arenas (Chile)

As part of the expansion into South America via Santiago, Qantas has also announced it’s boosting services between Melbourne and Los Angeles. The new schedule will provide more flexibility for travellers with morning, midday and evening departures between the US and Australia as they increase from a daily service to 10 per week.

Qantas International CEO Simon Hickey said Qantas is still the main international carrier for Australians travelling across the Pacific, with an extensive flight schedule and premium customer experience on-board its Airbus 380 and Boeing 747 aircraft.

“The US is one of our most important markets and we will now offer our customers 45 return services per week to North and South America. We have also adjusted our flying schedule to be the only airline to offer customers the convenience of a morning, midday or evening departure from Australia to the US, which we know is important for both our business and leisure customers. It also means improved options for same day arrivals into the US for our customers connecting from all capital cities, regional Australia and New Zealand. For our Queensland customers, it offers a new one-stop service to New York via the Los Angeles gateway while still providing excellent connections for our Sydney and Melbourne customers to New York.” said Mr Hickey.

Qantas’s new US services are the result of some schedule adjustments across the Pacific allowing for increased Boeing 747 flying time which was one of the key elements of the Qantas transformation program announced earlier in 2014.

“As part of our strategy to build a stronger Qantas, we’ve introduced a new approach to aircraft utilisation so we can take advantage of opportunities in the market. It means adjusting our schedules across the network to ensure our fleet spend less time on the ground and more time in the air, as we have done with our new A380 Dallas service starting next month,” added Mr Hickey.

“Aircraft are one of our biggest fixed costs so we continue to look for opportunities across our network to generate revenue and increase services for our customers. This new schedule also builds on 25 supplementary services to the US and South America over the Christmas holiday period. The new schedule also enhances connections for our customers right across the US,” added Mr Hickey.

The benefit for oneworld and Qantas customers connecting through to destinations across eastern & central parts of the United States will now have three options from Sydney – a morning and evening service to Los Angeles, but also the afternoon service to Dallas/Fort Worth. Mr Hickey said the new trans-pacific schedule continues to deliver on the Qantas’s strategy to fly into a majority of the major international gateways through offering customers more connections with codeshare partners and a more seamless international Qantas experience.

“We recently announced new codeshare services with our partner LAN from Santiago to six destinations across South America and will now operate A380 services to both Dallas and Los Angeles, connecting with codeshare partner American Airlines to more than 100 destinations across North America.

Over 3 years both fleet and network adjustments are earmarked to save the Qantas group up to $600 million forming the central piece to the airline’s turnaround plans. Cost savings are assisted by increased aircraft utilisation and accelerated retirement of older, non-reconfigured Boeing 747s. Also the US and South American schedule changes come in a year of the 60th anniversary of Qantas services to the USA. Qantas’s first trans-Pacific route in 1954 where they operated a Super Constellation for the Sydney to San Francisco trip.

Trip Ability helps everyone get access

Trip AbilityTrip Ability is great little website came across our stream a few weeks ago, it’s a crowd sourced review platform focused on sharing travel, entertainment and products suitable for those in the community with a disability around the world.

There are often access issues for people with disabilities and the idea of their website is to share personal experiences and leave reviews for others including photos.  The platforms simple idea was to provide a central source where all this information could be freely available for the community to use. The site offers an easy ability for anyone to leave a new review and the site offers to make a donation to a charity for every review you add which is a great idea bigger sites like TripAdvisor and should follow.

The current business, products and places that they are accepting reviews for are:

  • Accommodation
  • Dining
  • Entertainment
  • Shopping
  • Transport
  • Public Spaces
  • Products
  • Sports / Activities
  • Town/City

The site offers the ability select multiple disabilities that will find the review helpful

  • Hearing
  • Vision
  • Movement
  • Learning
  • Communicating
  • Mental Health
  • Social Interactions
  • Dwarfism
  • No Disability

It’s great to see a platform like this launching that ensures businesses that spend money making their venues & properties suitable for those with a disability will be rewarded with more visitors.  It’s also great to see websites making it easier for those with a disability to get out and live life to the fullest.

They also have an active social platform on Facebook and Twitter that you should consider following and engaging with.

Trip Ability

Qantas announces plans to refresh Boeing 737 Fleet

Qantas Boeing 737-800Qantas CEO Lyell Strambi has announced that from mid-2015 it will start a 12 month multi-million dollar investment program to refurbish and upgrade it’s fleet of 67 Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The aircraft being upgraded operate on Qantas’s domestic network and will eventually provide domestic passengers an enhanced in-flight entertainment system and a great level of comfort.

“We are investing in further improvements to the interiors of our Boeing 737-800 aircraft, to improve the in-flight experience for our customers and provide more consistent access to on demand entertainment,” Mr Strambi said.

“In addition to refreshing the look and feel of the cabin and improving seat comfort, some aircraft will also have improvements to in-flight entertainment for customers.

While 29 of our latest 737-800 aircraft already have full seat back video on demand in-flight entertainment for each passenger, the refurbishment will see wireless Q-streaming entertainment installed on the 38 remaining 737-800 aircraft to supplement the screens that fold down from the ceiling.”

“This will allow customers to stream on-demand TVs, movies and music direct to their own laptops, tablets or smartphones. Pending approval from Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority, customers will be able to use their portable electronic devices in flight mode throughout the entire flight.”

“We know how important entertainment is to people when they fly and this gives every customer the choice to watch what they want to watch.Our new arrangement with Sky News and Foxtel means our customers will be able to watch more recent news bulletins straight to their own devices while in the air.”

The benefits to travellers on the refurbished 737-800 aircraft will be smarter use of space within the aircraft similar to what passengers except on newer model Boeing fleets.

“We will add an additional six seats at the rear of the aircraft, which is made possible by changes to the galley and lavatory space. Importantly, there will be no change to the amount of seating space each customer has. This change represents a three per cent increase to the capacity of Qantas’ B737 fleet,” he said.

Qantas has 67 Boeing 737-800s in its domestic fleet, and will receive four new aircraft by December 2014. Earlier in 2014 the last of the older Qantas Boeing 737-400 was retired from service. The average age of Qantas’ Boeing 737-800’s is 6.7 years.

During the refurbishment the Boeing 737-800 will feature QStreaming that offers travellers more than 100 hours of new content each month. Qantas will introduce premium entertainment via Foxtel’s extensive library of drama, food, entertainment and lifestyle programs and Fox Sports as part of the additional programming arrangement.

Qstreaming will offer passengers Sky News 24/7 for inflight news which replace current Channel 9 news bulletins from 1st November 2014. As part of the expanded agreement Sky News will provide news services live to Qantas’s network of travel lounges globally.  The expanded content library will add an additional 77 hours of movie content, 20 hours of TV content and doubling new Hollywood releases from 6 to 10 per month.


KLM Updates European Baggage Policy

KLM Flying BlueSadly all good things come to an end as when KLM introduced the paid option for check-in baggage in May 2013, initially KLM airline waived the fee for Flying Blue Ivory (frequent flyer) members. But they have just announced that the paid check-in baggage policy has been reviewed for Ivory members travelling within Europe on a KLM Economy Class ticket and it’s not quite so good.


What’s new for Flying Blue Ivory Members?
Instead of a free check-in bag, now all Ivory members only receive a 50% discount on their first check-in baggage when booking a European flight as of 1 October 2014. You can check in the first piece of baggage for €7.50 (each-way) by booking it before arriving at the airport. Checking in one bag at the airport costs €15 (each-way). But they have advised that this fee can also be paid with 1,500 Miles through MyTrip section within their website.

So they have advised that passengers still have the choice to travel very light, with one item of hand baggage and one accessory with a maximum combined weight of 12kg in the cabin free of charge for the moment.

KLM have advised in addition, this revised baggage policy for Flying Blue Ivory members does not apply to:

  1. European Economy Class tickets booked and issued before 1 October 2014
  2. Fully flexible tickets (booking class Y or B) within Europe
  3. European Economy Class tickets booked with Award Miles (award tickets)
  4. Travels on intercontinental KLM flights
  5. Those on any membership level above “basic” ivory…
Update on KLM’s European baggage policy

They included this lovely little infographic to explain how the new baggage policy works


UK Airport Transfers Guide

1D72 1245 London Victoria to Gatwick Airport - Joshua Brown

1D72 1245 London Victoria to Gatwick Airport – Joshua Brown

After a recent trip to London where I didn’t plan a head and didn’t end up picking the cheapest or quickest option and made me think how there wasn’t a decent guide that I recalled seeing recently.  Often many discount airlines don’t often fly to Heathrow so I felt it would be useful to have a guide for several British and one Irish airport so you can book a cheap flight and not get caught out not knowing the price of the airport transfer.

London (Heathrow Airport) to Central London

There are also plenty of bus/shuttle options but because of how bad London traffic can be I would suggest taking one of following train options.  If you are in a rush the fastest option is the Heathrow Express to London Paddington which takes 15 minutes and a one-way standard-class fare is £26 on board or £21 if pre-booked online. I’d usually advise to take the Heathrow Connect which while it takes about twice as long but a one-way fare only costs £9.90.

But if you are really on a shoe-string budget you can catch the London Underground to Central London for just £5.50 but the downside is it takes close to an hour and during peak hours you will have to deal your bags knocking into a packed carriage full of somewhat unimpressed locals. But if you are travelling in a group of 3-4 people and have a heap of luggage then it is a smart option if you share a London taxi which will cost around £45 – £70 but the journey time is approximately one hour making it the slowest option.

London (Gatwick Airport) to Central London

There is a great low-cost easyBus service every 15 minutes with prices from £2, along with several National Express bus services to London, Oxford, Heathrow and Brighton.  The Gatwick Express is a direct rail service to Victoria station with a one-way pass costing £19.90 and takes just 30 minutes, if you book online and buy a return pass you can save a fair bit.

London (Stansted Airport) to Central London

There are several low costs bus services departing from Stansted including easyBus from £2, Terravision from £6 and National Express tickets from £8.50. The Stansted Express takes around 47 minutes between the airport and London Liverpool Street with ticket prices from £12 when two or more people travel and just £8 for groups of four or more.

London (Luton Airport) to Central London

There are over 70 transfers a day with National Express from £5 with the trip taking around 65 minutes with free Wi-Fi onboard.  If you are looking for a cheaper option there is the easyBus option to Baker Street with prices from £2 with all tickets available from the Onward Travel Centre in the Arrivals area.

Glasgow Airport to Glasgow Central

The best option is to buy your train tickets online and in advanced but to get to the nearby Paisley Gilmour Street Station you will need to catch a taxi or the McGills bus service, a one-way train fare starts from £3.30 and takes around 49 minutes if there are no delays. Another option that is faster, easier and more frequent is the First 500 Glasgow Shuttle that offers a direct service that takes around 25 minutes and has free WiFi access and a one-way ticket costs £6.

Edinburgh Airport to Edinburgh City Centre

The easiest way to travel between the Airport and the City is one of 3 bus services as the two main railway stations Waverley & Haymarket are in the city centre.  The first option is the Airlink 100 that runs from the airport to Waverley Bridge (near Princess Street) takes around 30 minutes and costs £3.50 for a one-way ticket or £6 for a return pass. If you are catching an early morning or late night flight then the Night bus N22 is a great option and takes just 28 minutes, running via South Gyle to the city centre and onto Ocean Terminal in Leith and runs seven nights a week from 00:47 and 04:17 for £3. The final option is Service 35 run by Lothian Bus that takes around 60 minutes and costs just £1.5 for a one-way fare.

Birmingham Airport to Birmingham 

Birmingham Airport is connected to Birmingham International Station via a free “Air-Rail Link” monorail system, and it’s a direct train to Birmingham New Street that only takes 10 minutes and only costs £3.30. There are also 3 bus services departing from the Airport Terminal or from the Birmingham International Interchange via the free “Air-Rail Link” and tickets can be purchased on the bus or from the Visitor Centre located in Arrivals.

Manchester Airport to Manchester

The First TransPennine Express trip takes around 15-25 minutes from just £4.10, but remember pre-booking online will save you over 50% on a full priced rail pass. National Express offers a airport coach service with fares from £3.90 but can take up to 90 minutes and there are also several local bus services including a 24 hour bus service (Number #43) that you can consider using.

Dublin Airport (Aerfort Bhaile Átha Cliath) to Dublin City

There are no current direct rail link options between the airport and the city but there are over 1,000 buses & coaches daily that makes it easy to get almost anywhere across Ireland.  The easy option is the AirCoach Route 700 from Terminal 1 & 2 to Dublin City Centre from €7.00 one-way or €12 return and takes around 24 minutes.

There is also the alternative Dublin Bus that goes from Dublin Terminal 1 to D’Olier Street, Ashfield House in the centre of Dublin that costs €6 and can take up to 55 minutes.  If you are staying on the west side of Dublin near the Guinness Storehouse then one option is the Airlink that costs €6 each way between Heuston Rail Station and Dublin Airport.

TIP >> Book online early and save money!

The big advice is to book your airport transfers as soon as you have booked your airfares and know which hostel you are staying in.  I usually advise to catch the train as they are faster, more spacious but the lure of free WiFi on the bus services is sometimes a deal that is too good to pass up.