QANTAS LINK SET TO FLY INTO BENDIGO 6 DAYS A WEEK

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Regional Victoria is set to get another travel option boost with QantasLink set to fly between Bendigo Airport and Sydney from March next year.The announcement by Qantas and the state government is an exciting one as it helps service a growing area in Victoria that for many is a long distance from Sydney and vice versa when you factor in flying and driving.

Until now passengers from Sydney would have to fly into Melbourne Tullamarine Airport before making a two hour drive onward to Bendigo.

From March 31, 2019 QantasLink will operate flights six days a week with its 50-seat Q300 turboprop aircraft, with daily services operating during the peak summer season.

Flights from Bendigo depart between 6.30am – 9.10am, Monday – Saturday, whilst services from Sydney depart at 5.25pm and land in Bendigo at 7.25pm on weekdays and Sundays. Flights will take from an hour and 10 minutes to two hours.

QantasLink is currently offering special fares of $129 one-way between Bendigo and Sydney, for travel from March 31 to October 26, 2019. The sale ends 17 Dec 2018.

 

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.

 

ETIHAD DOWNGRADES SYD FROM A380 TO B777

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Ah Etihad Airways you’ve done it again! The Abu Dhabi based airline of late has been putting the knife into his product offerings, slowly killing off its ‘premium’ experience in a bid to fast track its way back to profitability after posting losses the last two years in a row.

What I thought was a cash cow for Etihad, the Sydney – Abu Dhabi leg, is not safe from its cost cutting measures. This month the airline announced it would remove the crowd favourite A380 with a downgrade to a B777 on one of its two daily Sydney-Abu Dhabi flights from October 2018 to late May 2019.

The flight affected is EY451 which departs Sydney 3pm and the returning EY450 leg back. The downgrade will take place 20 October 2018 to 4 December 2018, and then again from 7 February 2019 to 30 May 2019. Between the December-February dates listed above, EY451/EY450 will get a reprieve with the return of the A380.

The airline’s other daily service (EY454/455) will continue to feature the superjumbo, so if you are planning on flying the superjumbo note this before making a booking.

The change particularly isn’t great for passengers across the board with the B777 displaying the last gen seats for all classes. Moreover the B777 lacks the A380s lobby social lounge/bar area.

Etihad Airways announced that the change of aircraft was due to routine maintenance and has said  it’ll notify guests booked on these services of the changes.

Whilst disappointed by the news (I’m an avid A380 fanboy), it sadly isn’t unexpected. My concern is how much further or for that matter low can the airline go in order to cut costs?!

QANTAS IN SYDNEY AIRPORT TRIAL FOR FACIAL RECOGNITION CHECK IN TECH

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Qantas has collaborated with Sydney Airport to trial in new airport checkin technology which will change the way we fly.

Passengers on select Qnatas international flights will take part in a groundbreaking trial of facial recognition programming at Sydney Airport. The new biometrics technology allows travellers to pass through most stages of the airport experience without needing a passport or boarding pass. This means that travellers will be able to stand in front of a camera and computer at check-in, bag-drop, get lounge access and more importantly boarding.

Whilst this sounds quite promising and I’m all for convenience and faster process, I feel a bit apprehensive about the new technology; namely the security around it and what would happen if the technology went down. Would we be able to revert back so easily to the current process we enjoy today? If not I can see a lot of delay headaches happening here especially when technology has gone down in airports in the past which has in turn delayed or cancelled flights.

Additionally with so much automation in our lives I feel that this would strip away any personalisation. Qantas promises that the new technology will better tailor the experience for the traveller but I feel the human interaction will be more limited and for me that’s not necessarily a good thing especially when technology cannot make any judgement calls by itself. I guess time will tell.

 

Comments

What do you think of the new checkin technology? Would you be keen to use this?

 

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 DOMESTIC BUSINESS LOUNGE SYDNEY: REVIEW

Alliance: Oneworld

Location: Sydney Domestic Airport

Lounge Rating: 4 Stars

 

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Sydney Domestic Airport is one of the busiest hubs in Australia and is key to two of the top ten most frequently flown routes in the world. With such patronage comes the need for corporate facilities that meet the needs of hundreds of frequent flyers who take off out of Sydney daily.
Qantas is fortunate to have its own domestic terminal at Sydney Airport and the experience is generally seamless from check-in to take off. In Terminal 3 are two lounges; Qantas Club and the Domestic Business Lounge. The Australian Traveler regularly uses the Domestic Business Lounge but is yet to give its verdict…until now.
Lounge access options

  • Passengers with an onward Qantas or QantasLink business class flight
  • Travellers connecting to or from an international business or first class flight with Qantas, Emirates or a Oneworld airline, even if the domestic leg is booked in economy
  • Qantas Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers before or after a same-day Qantas, QantasLink, Emirates, Jetstar* or Oneworld flight
  • Other Oneworld Emerald members when their next onward flight that day is with Qantas or QantasLink and carries a QF or other Oneworld flight number (no access when flying Jetstar)
  • Emirates Skywards Platinum cardholders where their next onward flight that day carries a QF or EK flight number and is operated by Qantas or QantasLink.

Lounge location and opening hours

The lounge is located on the Departures level opposite Gates 4 and 5 in Terminal 3. After security turn left and walk for about 30 seconds until you see the lounge entrance on your left.The opening hours are from 5am – 10pm.

Ambience
Compared to its newer interstate counterparts like Perth, Brisbane and soon to be Melbourne, the Sydney Lounge does feel somewhat tired. That said, the nice touches and choice of furnishings is still a cut above the quality of those in the Qantas Club lounge next door.The lounge offers 180 degree views of the busy Qantas domestic operations at Sydney.
For an avgeek like me this is addictive viewing watching Qantas’ B737s and 717s taxi out. The north facing position of the lounge also provides the lounge with an abundance of natural light so at no point throughout the day does it feel cold or dark.
Bathrooms within the complex were probably the only real let down and don’t have the elegance or fine touches of its Sydney International counter part. There was even some noticeable wear and tear on the walls and ceilings of the bathroom. I assumed they were not being addressed as the lounge was touted as the next lounge to get given the new Qantas Lounge look treatment.
Bread and butter (food and drink)
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In terms of the food and drink there was not a lot on offer in the lounge. I had entered the lounge at almost 8pm at night and the majority of hot dishes at the buffet had either been cleared or were running low.
In fairness I know this lounge at other points of the day when I have used it has offered quite a lot in terms of choices but there was no denying for a flagship domestic lounge in Sydney, this visit was rather disappointing.The lounge has one main buffet area where a mix of hot and cold food options are on display. Opposite to the buffet section is Island Dining area, where each seat comes with already-configured place settings.
This area is great for those who want an a more refined, restaurant style experience.On the menu was a beef stroganoff which wasn’t displayed well but surprisingly tasted very good. Considering Australia was on the cusp of winter at this point, it was the perfect dish to warm me up.

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Drinks wise, the lounge shone with a great selection of alcoholic options from elf-pour white, red and sparkling wine, as well as a good selection of beers, spirits and mixers available from the staffed bar. That said the real x factor was is the Qantas barista service. I have always found the Qantas barista-made coffee fantastic quality and unlike  Qantas Club coffee is served in pyrex glasses.

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Verdict
The Qantas Domestic Business Lounge is a pleasant way to spend time dining and wining prior to flying or for those wanting to get some work done, a good space to sit down and focus. Compared to other interstate lounges like Perth it does feel a bit worn and there is some noticeable wear and tear but overall this lounge is of a quality standard.
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Comments
Have you experienced the Qantas Domestic Business Lounge at Sydney Domestic Airport? Love to hear from you about your time in lounge – was it a star or was it a dud?

Qantas Business Lounge Sydney International: Review

Lounge: Qantas International Business Lounge

Alliance: Oneworld

Location: Sydney International Airport

Lounge Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

The Qantas Business Class Lounge at Sydney International Airport is the go to place for Oneworld travelers who want a break from the hustle and bustle of the airport terminal. So how does the lounge stack up? Australian Business Traveler checked in to find out.

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Lounge access options

  • Business and first class passengers of Qantas, Emirates, Fiji Airways and Oneworld airlines (American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines and Qatar)
  • Jetstar travellers on a Business Max fare
  • Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge frequent flyers prior to Qantas, Jetstar, Emirates or Oneworld flights
  • Emirates Skywards Gold, Platinum and iO members prior to flights with Qantas and Emirates
  • Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers  prior to a Oneworld flight
  • Qantas Club members prior to a Qantas or Jetstar flight
  • American Airlines Admirals Club members travelling with Qantas on an AA flight number
  • Customers with single use lounge passes from their credit card.

Lounge location & opening hours

After passing customs follow the signs to the lounge, which is located up a set of escalators on the third floor close to Gates 9 & 10. The lounge entrance is located a short walk away from the Qantas Sydney International First Lounge and is open seven days a week, 5am – 10pm.

 

Ambience

The lounge was empty when I arrived in (a shock to me because previous visits to this lounge have usually been heaving to the point I had to stand and eat my meal). During peak times one notices this lounge is severely undersized considering the amount of people traffic it serves.

In addition with Qantas undertaking a large transformation project of their Australian lounges (Melbourne Airport the next to be completed), Sydney was feeling tired in comparison to its Queensland and Perth counterparts. That said it is still a pleasant place to whittle away a couple of hours before ones flight.

 

Bread and butter (food and drink)

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Upon entering the lounge you will see a centrepiece central dining island which acts as a bar along with areas for dining. Here visitors can order selected plates of the day or go to one of two buffet style stations where a larger selection of food and beverages are on display.

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One thing that Qantas do well here is the barista and gelato service where a freshly brewed coffee goes down well with a deliciously creamy ice cream (obiviously these are not combined). The service with both of these are personable, inviting and add a lovely, unique touch to the lounge.

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The food selection on offer at the buffet stations was quite satisfying with the Mediterranean chicken and stir fry options both tasty. A number of salads, soups, cheeses and artisan breads were also on offer.

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Drinks wise I was a tad disappointed. Whilst the beer and wine selection was good I found the cider and sparkling to be poor. The cider was too sweet and the sparkling option was sadly a chardonnay drop which was flat and far from bubbly.

Qantas has won a number of awards for their wine selection but the offerings in the lounge that day were average and forgettable. Not the best way to ease into the beginning of an overseas getaway.

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Verdict

The lounge space when it is not at its peak capacity feels spacious despite its small floor plan. Staff are friendly and are attentive. The food is fresh and tasty. No dish that I sampled disappointed however it is a shame the same could not be said about the drink options. I have previously been in this lounge and savoured far better sparkling than the drop that was on offer during this visit. If you are looking for real bubbles aka champagne make sure you stop by the Emirates Lounge instead if you are a Qantas Gold or Platinum FF and are heading to Europe/ Middle East.

Overall a pleasant way to relax before an international flight but there are areas such as drink where it could be refined to make the lounge experience feel a little bit more memorable.

 

Comments

Have you experienced the Qantas International Business Class Lounge in Sydney? Love to hear from you about your time in lounge – was it outstanding or did the lounge fail to take off on your expectations?