Qantas now charges fees for unaccompanied minor service

Paul BonhommeQantas has announced it is following competitors and on Friday 10th October 2014 announced to travel agents that it will now start charging a new fee for unaccompanied children travelling alone between the ages of 5 to 11 years.. Qantas flagged a rising number of children travelling alone and continued costs rising for all the supervision required. The new unaccompanied child fee will take effect from the 3rd November 2014 and any tickets booked before then will not be charged retrospectively. Qantas has said that any travellers aged 12 to 15 can request to travel without a charge.

Qantas is increasing looking at how it can increase revenue and cut costs to ensure it returns to profit in 2015. The new fee wil cost $50 per booking on domestic & regional flights in Australia and $90 for all international flights where the passenger is aged between 5 to 11 without a nominated adult, sibling, parent or guardian.

It’s important to highlight that if the fee is not pre-paid ahead of the passengers arrival at the airport, Qantas will double the fee charged. The one benefit of Qantas’s current fee structure is that it’s linked to a booking not per flight, so a single flight will attract the same surcharge as a return flight including multiple sectors. It will be interesting how long until Qantas adapts the charge to be similar to Virgin Australia that charges the fee per sector on domestic and short-haul international flights to increase it’s revenue.

It has been highlighted that unlike it’s competitors Qantas has not limited the number of unaccompanied that can travel on a single flight. So it’s possible that staff resources might still be constrained during school holiday periods when large number of travellers between 5 to 11 will be travelling.

Basic overview of charges by Airline

  • Qantas $50-90 per booking
  • Virgin Australia $40 per sector for domestic and $60 for international short haul flights
  • Jetstar not stated on website, contact airline
  • Regional Express $33 per minor per sector
  • Emirates not stated on website, contact airline
  • Etihad not stated on website, contact airline
  • Air New Zealand not stated on website, contact airline
  • Japan Airlines “JAL” not stated on website, contact airline
  • Thai Airways not stated on website, contact airline
  • Delta $100 paid at check-in for one-way travel for upto 4 children
  • Air Vanuatu not stated on website, contact airline
  • Singapore Airlines not stated on website, contact airline
  • Virgin Atlantic not stated on website, contact airline
  • United Airlines $99 each way for two or more children travelling together
  • China Airlines not stated on website, contact airline
  • British Airways $50 for short haul flights + flights within UK, $75 for long haul flights
  • KLM 50-90 euros depending on destination and if there is transfers
  • American Airlines $100 one way, but covers two or more children from same family
  • Air Canada CA$100 one way

Regional Express Announced Cuts to NSW Routes

imagesRegional Express “Rex” announced last month that it will be significantly reducing capacity on several of its New South Wales marginal routes in what could be their most wide ranging Australian network review to date. It is not a surprise as the domestic flight market retraction in demand has also heavily impacted both Qantas & Virgin Australia over the last few years.

Rex COO Neville Howell said “The review was triggered by 2 consecutive years of steep profit declines which saw the airline’s profits plummeting by 75% during this period”.

“This network review is the second phase of our overall strategy to improve profitability. Earlier the Board announced, for the first time in our history, redundancies affecting various positions across the Rex Group. This will again be reviewed at the next Board meeting at the end of November.”

“Several routes on the NSW network carry heavy losses and the situation is no longer tenable. The Board had ordered a review to either drop or reduce services on our most marginal routes. Management was able to gain Board approval to maintain services to all routes but with capacity reduced to better match demand. To improve operating efficiencies some routes are being linked with another port.”

Rex announced that the new arrangements will affect Taree, Grafton, Lismore and
Newcastle and will take effect from 27 October 2014. The 27th October 2014 network changes will also see Rex keeping its promises to the Broken Hill community with whom it entered into a partnership agreement in July this year.

“Rex will be providing the community with a direct early morning flight to Sydney and a direct evening return from Sydney in order to facilitate same day return travel from Broken Hill to Sydney. Currently all services to/from Sydney are via either Dubbo or Mildura.”

Regional Express “Rex” is Australia’s largest independent regional airline operating a fleet of more than 40 Saab 340 aircraft on some 1,300 weekly flights to 36 destinations throughout New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland. The Rex Group comprises Regional Express, air freight and charter operator Pel-Air Aviation and Dubbobased regional airline Air Link, as well as the pilot academy Australian Airline Pilot Academy.

Source: 23rd September 2014 Media Release

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.