Virgin Australia priority boarding announcement for veterans backfires

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After announcing via Twitter they’d be offering priority boarding to veterans in Australia, Virgin Australia has partially backflipped on their decision after strong public backlash. The airline has stated that “over the coming months, we will consult with community groups and our own team members who have served in defence to determine the best way forward. If this process determines that public acknowledgement of their service through optional priority boarding or any announcement is not appropriate, then we will certainly be respectful of that.”

The Virgin Australia announcement was an odd one to begin with. Perhaps they thought the gesture would earn them some good PR but then again Virgin needs to better understand its customer base, and it isn’t America. Having flown internally within the USA many times I find the gesture a little cringeworthy, if not smacks of commercialism. How can we put a price on death and war? Every ANZAC day commercial businesses are criticised if they utilise the dya for profit, so why is it any different here? Moreover if Virgin had done its research it would know that Australian veterans and our service men and women do not seek attention. Australians are more respectful and do not act patriotically around war like America. Whatever the  case Virgin has dug itself in a deep hole and it is dangerous for an airline already on its knees.

What saddens me is that the announcement was done as part of a campaign by NewsCorp, the same lovely folk who brought you the campaign to fire Malcolm Turnbull,. NewsCorp don’t care about people, they care about their agenda and in this case are probably trying to cover their tracks from recent blunders. The organisation’s intent is tokenism at its worst and Virgin sadly fell into its trap.

Here’s hoping Virgin Australia learn from this tough lesson and consult before making surprise announcements.

 

Should Australia be going down the path of the USA and recognise veterans at the airport/ on the plane? Keen to hear your thoughts.

 

Emirates downgrades Australian flight experience temporarily

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A couple of months ago Emirates announced it would be undertaking a large network reduction from now until June 2019 due to runway works at Dubai Airport. As a result of the airport operating out of one instead of two runways, flights have been impacted. Unfortunately, Australians haven’t been spared with the airline set to make changes to several Australian routes.

The biggest changes will affect Melbourne and Sydney with both cities set to be downgraded from the A380 to a B777. The daily Melbourne via Singapore route will be impacted during the period of 2-20 Nov and 15 Jan to 30 March 2019. Likewise, the Sydney via Bangkok (EK418/EK419) route will switch to a 777-300ER. Whilst this aircraft retains first class it loses the first class shower and more importantly the on board bar and lounge space. Note that the daily non-stop Dubai routes from Melbourne and Sydney will continue to operate on an A380.

Perth will be hit the hardest with the airline seeing a reduction in flights from 14 to 11 per week from 7-28 November 2018 and 7 Feb to 30 March 2019. In addition EK424 will not run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays whilst EK425 won’t run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Th aircraft type however won’t be affected.

As they always say there’s a silver lining in some of this news and that goes to Adelaide. The SA capital is the winner out of the changes with the route set to receive the newly reconfigured B777-200LR which possesses the brand new business class seat. A win for customers despite the aircraft still retaining the not so great 2-2-2 configuration. The dates Adelaide will be impacted is 8-30 October and 1 February to 30 March 2019.

All I can say is that I hope these reductions are what they claim ‘temporary’ and not a mere testing of the waters for something more permanent. The Australian market is a strong one for the UAE based airline and the A380 is the best aircraft to service that market from its Dubai hub. Anything less is really a slap in the face of customers, particularly the business class arrangement of a 2-2-2 configuration. As I stated before the only one benefiting here is the Adelaide route.

Consider this a downgrade and if you are on a business class ticket and have had the aircraft changed from an A380 to a B777, I would get in touch with Emirates as soon as possible to see if they can offer another A380 alternative.

Comments

Booked on a downgraded flight? Like to hear your thoughts on this.

 

QANTAS INTERNATIONAL TRANSIT LOUNGE PERTH: REVIEW

Alliance: Oneworld

Location: Perth Domestic/ International Airport

Lounge Rating: 4.5 Stars

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Qantas has invested heavily into making Perth their new ‘it’ thing for flying long haul international flights. For this coming from the east coast like myself the non stop flight really isn’t non stop when you are saying flying from Sydney, Brisbane or Adelaide where you can stopover instead in Dubai or Singapore and still be in London at the same time.

As such with this move Qantas created a new transit lounge and it’s strictly for that – transiting! As part of my flight to London from Perth on QF9 I had access (and a rare opportunity) to visit this lounge and see what all the fuss was about!

 

Lounge access options

Lounge access is for business-class passengers travelling on flights QF9 from Melbourne to London via Perth, or QF10 in the opposite direction. Passengers joining QF9 in Perth but aren’t flying the Melbourne leg can also use the lounge.

Qantas Platinum One, Platinum and Gold elites as well as Qantas Club members travelling to London on QF9 or transiting on QF10 between London and Melbourne can also access the lounge. As part of Qantas’ partnership with Emirates, those with Emirates Platinum and Gold Skywards members and Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire elites on QF9 are also welcome.

 

Lounge location and opening hours

The lounge is located after security opposite Gate 19 in the International Concourse of the T3/T4 terminal. It’s open daily 1:00pm to 2:45pm when the inbound flight from London arrives, and 4:45pm to 6:50pm before the return flight from Perth to London departs. The one thing I found frustrating is the access time to this lounge. As I have learnt from this experience, if you have an earlier flight, you’ll have to stay in the Domestic Business Lounge in the Domestic section until the International Concourse is open.

 

Ambience

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The lounge is new and as a result quite striking. From it’s lovely wooden fixture entrance with the kangaroo illuminated in a golden light to the outdoor bar with barbecue, this lounge is a nice space to spend a few hours. There’s a stand up bar near the outdoor area as well as plenty of indoor dining space. The real x factor goes to the outdoor barbecue area as well as the yoga space called the ‘Wellness Studio’ – these are two things I’ve not seen done in a lounge before but both looked fantastic.

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In fact I even gave the Yoga session (there are two run during this time) a go despite being a yoga novice, which made this choice all the more interesting. Partnering with Perth spa group Bodhi J, passengers can stop by for a 15 minute stretch and meditation session. I found most of the positions relatively easily but some did push my body limits. That said I hoped it would better me for the 17 hour and 20 minute flight ahead.

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Bathrooms also were taken to the next level with Qantas adding a fantastic new addition called the ‘Refresh’ area. This space allows passengers to give themselves a skin treatment to relax and refresh before or between flights by following instructions underneath the respective Aspar products. It’s a simple but very nice touch. In addition there were the usual toilet and shower facilities for those needing a quick freshening up.

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Bread and butter (food and drink)

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Qantas is priding itself on providing passengers with a menu that promotes wellness by providing passengers with a selection of light, fresh food and drink options.

There’s a small buffet of fresh food with one corner hosting a hydration station called Quench with lemon and pink-grapefruit syrup to mix into water as well as water infused with lemon myrtle, parsley and lemon. Next door is DYI tisanes which offers Rockpool’s signature blend. A hot and cold buffet is also on offer with delicious options including barbecue corn with chipotle butter, chicken and vegetable skewers, seasonal fruits, salads and Aussie dessert favourites including wait for it… lamingtons (and they were rather good)!

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Despite the offerings there, I found myself spending most of my time in the outdoor area near the barbecue. The wursts with various toppings were too good to ignore and were the x factor in terms of food in the lounge.

I couldn’t provide much feedback in terms of the drinks bar as I was saving my body for the business class drinks menu on QF9 but from what I could tell there was a decent selection of Australian sparkling and wines as well as a barista coffee station.

 

Verdict

I enjoyed this lounge and whilst it didn’t offer the perks of the Melbourne or Sydney First Class lounges it did offer some nice touches like the Refresh amenities area and Wellness Studios still set it apart from most of the other Qantas lounges. If there’s any criticism of the lounge it was their strange, restrictive policy of who could and couldn’t use the lounge and the times it was open. I understand this might work for them currently but if Qantas does expand with more flights in the future as they plan to from Perth, then they seriously need to rethink this area.

 

Comments

Have you experienced the Qantas International Transit Lounge? Love to hear from you about your time in lounge – did it shine or were you expecting something better?

 

 

QANTAS TO FLY B747 ON SYD-PERTH DOMESTIC ROUTES

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Whilst I’m sad of its withdrawal from most international routes, I’m eager (and gunning) to get onboard with a B747 domestically in Australia. Yes you read right….Qantas will fly the queen of the skies, the Boeing 747 between Sydney and Perth from late July.

The B747 will get a shot at domestic duties before its retirement from the Qantas fleet in 2020. For some like me this is like a John Farnham final tour (but Qantas doesn’t plan on making another surprise tour down the track – retirement sadly means retirement).

Don’t expect to see the Boeing 747 doing the east-west leg daily. It’s rumoured QF581, QF582, QF583 and QF568 will be the flights to get the B747 treatment from August 9.

 

Whilst Business Class passengers will be slightly disadvantaged by the lie-flat Skybed II 2-3-2 arrangement,  top tier frequent flyers booked in economy class will be the real winners here with the change with the ability to pre-select seats in the B747 premium economy cabin based on status.

It’ll be interesting to see where the B747 ends up before retirement. Despite being one of the critics against the retirement, I admit this is one move recently by Qantas around the B747 that I do support.

QANTAS TO LAUNCH PERTH-JOBURG FLIGHTS FROM DEC 2018

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For a long time I had wanted to visit South Africa due to my family’s heritage being linked there but getting was a bit of a problem with limited airline offerings being fairly slim to/ from there. A few years back Virgin Australia gave it a red hot go but pulled out of the market quickly and instead placed emphasis on a partnership with South African Airways.

Now Qantas has all but formally announced that it will expand their flights to Johannesburg by offering passengers a chance to connect on new non stop flights out of Perth.

Word on the tarmac suggests direct flights from Perth to Joburg would run four times per week from December 7 on an Airbus A330-200.

Flight QF65 would depart Perth at 12:45pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and touch down in the evening in Joburg whilst QF66 would depart Joburg at 10:25pm on the same calendar days and touch down in Perth at 2pm the following afternoon.

The move would see Qantas adding additional direct flights to Joburg on top of their existing Sydney-Johannesburg B747 flights which fly six days a week.

It’s likely that business class passengers on Qantas’ Perth-Johannesburg flights will be able to relax and unwind in Qantas’ new Business Suites as opposed to the older SkyBeds in a 2-2-2 layout which is still operating on a handful of the Airbus A330-200.

Despite the flights operating from the new international wing of Qantas’ Perth T3 terminal rather than the T1 international terminal, it is understood that passengers and frequent flyers will not have to the ultra cool newly opened Perth International Transit Lounge. Instead these passengers will have to make do with the Qantas domestic business lounge at Perth’s T4 terminal. Whilst initially disappointing, I am hopeful that Qantas in time will better manage the flow of traffic in the new lounge and be willing to expand passenger accessibility to new international routes out of Perth.

A formal announcement is expected to be made over the next few weeks.

 

QANTAS MAKES HISTORY WITH FIRST NONSTOP AUSTRALIA TO EUROPE FLIGHT

This biggest aviation news over the weekend is yes, a good old fashion history making aviation story. For well over a year Qantas had been teasing the aviation sector with their promised first non-stop flight to Europe, which in turn is the world’s first scheduled commercial flight operating nonstop from Australia to Europe.

QF9 made the trip on Saturday evening and admittedly I was checking on online to see how it was trekking across the globe. The flight arrived earlier than planned to much fanfare on the ground with roaring cheers and an upbeat celebration between the two nations.

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Early feedback so far from the flight is mixed. If you are in the front end of the plane in Business or Premium Economy, the flight was a dream but if you were in economy, unless you are a deep sleeper, the flight may have left your bottom a bit well, sore.

Qantas states it has made every effort to ensure the journey for everyone in all classes, including economy, more comfortable. In fact economy has more legroom than a standard B787 layout where 300 economy seats is the norm but on Qantas the number is 236. That said sitting in a 3-3-3 configuration for over 17 hours is quite testing in economy and I am sure not pleasant despite the efforts made by Qantas.

The flight is being operated daily using a Boeing 787-9, uses 100.6 tonnes of fuel, and flies a total distance of 14,498 kilometres. QF9/ Q10 is now officially the world’s second longest flight with the honour of first place going to Qatar Airway’s Auckland to Doha flight.

With wheels up now on the return leg for QF10, it will be interesting to see how the route performs long term once the hype and novelty of such a flight starts to quieten down.

 

Comments

Were you on the inaugural flight or are you set to soon take off on the new Qantas Perth-London nonstop route? Keen to hear your thought on QF9/ QF10.