The weekly pre-flight briefing
Every week the Airline Insider's  pre-flight briefing brings you up to date with the world of airlines, flying and travel. 
Previous briefings and other information can be found in 'Contrails' where you can look back over time.​
2019 Predictions
Aviation and travel continues to evolve and change. Here are  Airline Insider's top 10 predictions for 2019 

2019 Predictions

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USA: Huge backlog as US Border Control IT system collapses
Passengers arriving into the USA have endured massive delays as the US government's Border Control IT system collapsed. The systems which facilitates the electronic processing of inbound passengers have no contingency leaving Customs Officers to process passengers and flight crews manually. The system is slowly being restored, however no reasons or compensation is being provided.

CREW TIP: Always carry a copy of your electronic visa or ETSA - it won't make the queue shorter but it will asssit the officers trying to process your entry
Protests in Hong Kong are larger on weekends
An injunction has prevented the protestors from entering the airport
Hong Kong  Update:
Hong Kong continues to be a concern for airlines with many carriers still accommodating their flight crew at airport hotels following nearly 10 weeks of riots and protests. Demonstrators have displayed banners apologising to visitors following this week’s violent airport clash with Police. In a move likely to inflame the dispute, Cathay Pacific has bowed to the Chinese government’s requests to sack any employee supporting or involved in the demonstrations. While an injunction prevents more airport gatherings, further protests are planned for central Hong Kong and New Territories this weekend.
CREW TIP: Avoid public transport on weekends and don’t dress in either black or white clothes. Avoid carrying umbrellas.
Australia: Uluru is not the "Everest of the Outback"
There has been a flurry of people rushing to climb Uluru before the ban comes into effect on October 26, but Airline Insider offers some sobering advice to anyone thinking that Uluru is the ‘Everest of the Outback’ and must be conquered.

  1. The view from the top is not that great: Having flown over it at 30,000 feet and swooping 20 metres over the top of the rock, the view is really like the view from most parts of the outback – hazy, flat and often a little bland.
  2. The best views are looking AT the rock not from on it: The rock’s majesty is its scale and constantly changing colours.  Ironically, the best view is from the dirt mound behind the backpacker’s bar where with a wide-angle lens you get the perfect sunset view of Uluru AND Kata-Tjuta, (or as they were colloquially known, the Devils Marbles)
  3. The climbing path is basic and dangerous:  It’s not your well maintained National Park walking trail, the path is narrow, extremely slippery and is a difficult climb. There is only a flimsy chain for a handrail and the slightest amount of dew or rain makes the rock as slippery as an ice rink.
  4. You need to walk around the rock with one of the local elders: The local elders provide a wonderful insight into Uluru and also show you things that the climbers can never see. They also will show and let you taste some of the local bush tucker. It’s this experience that provides visitors with a true understanding of Uluru and the traditional owners’ unique history.
Melbourne - Sydney is the world's number route for profitability
New York to London - world's top route
World's most profitable airline routes
Airline routes are either paved with gold or are profit eating pathways, which why governments regulate that airlines servicing prime routes must also provide services on less profitable regional routes. Not surprisingly New York and London are highly profitable routes followed closely by the Melbourne to Sydney which is also amongst the shortest routes.
CREW INSIGHT: Flight crew slogging up and down Australia’s east coast fondly call the Mel-Syd route ‘shark patrols’ mainly due to the low circling that tends to be a part of Sydney arrivals.
  1. New York (JFK) to London (Heathrow)  $1.16 billion
  2. Melbourne to Sydney $861 million
  3. London to Dubai $796 million
  4. London to Singapore $736 million
The region is a huge outback oasis
Route: Melbourne to Kunnunurra
From early next year Melbourne gets a new destination with Air North confirming a new Melbourne to Kununurra service. Located near the border of Western Australia and the Northern Territory, the town is the gateway to the Kimberleys and was the base for the massive Ord River Irrigation Scheme. After flying across the huge dry interior, Kununurra is a place of stunning landscapes, huge waterways and lush farmland. There’s great accommodation, fishing, outdoor adventures and WA’s oldest, operating legal still at the Distillery famous for Ord River Rum. The town is also developing a food culture and is best described as the inland rival of the Margaret River Region.
Cobham opens up pilot cadet applications
Regional and specialist charter operator, Cobham has opened applications for its 2020 cadet pilot program. Cobham operates across Australia and also provides regional services under the Qantas brand.
'Gastro-Terra' the best thing for foodies and drink tourism
It’s sounds like a catering company’s worst nightmare, but ‘Gastro Terra’ is the name of the World Food and Travel Organisation’s new on-line community that links food and beverage tourism businesses across the world. It’s a cross between Facebook and LinkedIn for food and beverage travel and promotes high quality service and products. If you see the ‘Gastro Terra’ logo, when travelling, don’t worry!
The 777X is the prime competition for Airbus' A350-1000
Boeing's woes may see Qantas choose Airbus
Boeing’s answer to the ultra-long-haul market, the 777X, is being further delayed as the manufacturer is hit by crippling costs in the wake of the worldwide grounding of the 737MAX aircraft. The delay has implications for Australian Airline Qantas who is expected to announce this month its choice of aircraft for the long awaited ‘sunrise’ project that will offer non-stop flights from Melbourne and Sydney to London. Currently, the Airbus A350-1000 has been the aircraft of choice for the ultra-long-haul airlines.
Baby baggage
Virgin Australia this week announced that while the baby on your lap doesn’t need a seat of its own, it can check in up to 23kg of baggage giving a new meaning to the phase ‘baby-bundle.’
RyanAir passengers should expect issues with pilots strike threats
Industrial disputes between low cost carrier RyanAir and its pilots continue to threaten travel plans for may people across the UK, Ireland and Europe. If you’re travelling to the northern hemisphere and using RyanAir make sure that your travel insurance offers quick delay coverage. Also, if in the EU compensation may be available.
NYC - dont get ripped off by pre-buying tickets
New York can be an expensive city to visit and in recent times, on-line ticket scalpers have been ripping off tourists with inflated tickets usually sold before the traveller heads off to the USA. Airline Insider colleague advises to check the prices before you buy. Christine also suggests that there are plenty of free and low-cost attractions. Check out her website.
The Met Museum $25
Empire State Building $38
Broadway Shows from $100 a ticket (but.. go to the theatres at 10am daily for half price seats)
Statue of Liberty $21.50
September 11 Memorial $26
Radio City Music Hall Tour $26
Museum of Modern Art $25
Pollies turning their backs on QF72 heroes
Despite tens of thousands of signatures calling or the heroes of QF72 to be recognised, Australia’s Federal Politicians have turned their backs on requests to endorse the petition and table it in federal parliament. QF72 was flying from Singapore to Perth when the aircraft’s automation systems took over and rejected the pilots’ intervention. The plane narrowly missed plunging into the sea at high speed thanks to the experience of the pilots and crew some of whom, along with many passengers were seriously injured.
'No-deal Brexit' threatens airline maintenance and parts
With the likelihood of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit in just over 60 days’ time, airlines are scrambling to put in place arrangements that will allow UK, EU and US aircraft parts to be certified irrespective of the airline and the jurisdiction. The arrangements will seek to overcome the issues where repairs and maintenance organisations will need to carry three sets of the same certified parts in order to meet the respective air safety regulations. Without a political compromise, it is possible that some aircraft requiring re-certified parts may be grounded even though the very same parts used today are on the shelf.
MH370 update
With the end of the Southern Ocean winter on the horizon, there is renewed hope that a search for missing plane, MH370 may be undertaken this summer. Families of those who were onboard the flight have again approach Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir to act, a move he promised during an Australian television interview. The calls come after report of new debris being found off the East African Coast earlier this month.

US Forensic Analyst, Mike Chillit who has consistently pointed to a small area off the Western Australian coast has even taken the step of offering a cash bounty for sceptics of his analysis to prove him wrong. The missing piece still however remains the silence of the Chinese government who with more nationals onboard and with Beijing being the ill-fated plane’s destination was expected to support an independent search.
Trend: Summer's new drink
Forget the gin, wine or whiskey, this summer’s cool-down drink will be a ‘beer slushie.’ On-trend craft brewery, Brewdog is promoting the slushies across the northern hemisphere with similar products emerging in some popular holiday destinations. While Brewdog have made beer onboard a British Airways flight, the beer slushies are yet to take to the skies. One airline however has been experimenting with hot chips and cocktail-like snow cones as part of a proposed ultra-long-haul offering.
Flight 'shamers' slapped down
The fly green movement hit a new high this week with Air France continuing its calls for carbon surcharges to apply to airline bookings. The move by Air France which appears to be more about benefiting airline cash-flows rather than the world’s climate, has earned the wrath of other airlines, including Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce who firmly slapped down the proposal. Many airlines already offer passengers of voluntary paying for carbon offsets; however, the industry is opposed to any levy.
LA: Disney numbers down
Visitor numbers at LA’s Disneyland theme parks were substantially down during the last quarter due to the fall in many currencies against the US dollar and fears of huge crowds trying to visit the new Star Wars ‘Galaxy Edge’ attraction. Overall, numbers are down between 3% and 5%. CREW TIP: Don’t visit the theme parks on weekends or public holidays unless you’re prepared to pay for a ‘front of the line’ pass.
Forget Bali - Philippines has the new island hot spot
Siquijor (see-key-hor) is a magical island off the coast of the Philippines that has pristine beaches, stunning waterfalls and relaxing landscapes. It’s everything Bali is not with friendly locals, year-round warmth and great value for money. It’s one of South East Asia’s best kept secrets. Philippine Airlines fly direct to Manila from where you’ll take a 70-minute flight and a leisurely 1-hour ferry ride to tranquillity!
Qatar is one of the world's leading horse transport specialists
Qatar Airways maintains racing alliance
Qatar Airways has continued its sponsorship of major horse racing events including the Amir Sword Festival, Goodwood Racing carnival in the UK and the Prix de ‘Arc de Triomphe in France. The airline is also the world’s leader in thoroughbred horse transport with dedicated aircraft and specialist flight crews. Horses are transported in climate controlled ‘first-class’ pods accompanied by specially trained aviation vets. Qatar delivers the majority of overseas entrants for Australia’s Melbourne Cup.
Airports: Brisbane new approaches from May 2020
Brisbane Airport’s $1.3 billion runway development will see flights adopting different flight paths from May next year. The revised approach paths will give passengers a different view of the city skyline with the main track turning near the suburb of New Farm. The new runway will provide capacity for the airport to move from a maximum of 50 movements per hour to around 110 movements an hour, which is equal to that of Sydney and Singapore’s Changi Airport.
Seat Squash
As airlines find new ways to extract more dollars, Cebu-Pacific this week announced plans to cram 460 seats onto its new A330 aircraft. The extra seats are made possible by further reducing the seat pitch and the removal of some toilets. By way of comparison, Cebu’s plan is like putting a 747 full of passengers onto an A330. Airline Insider has long been a critic of ‘desktop’ certifications for additional passenger configurations.
Qantas' A380 woes continue
Qantas’ A380 fleet is operating on wafer thin capacity margins as the fleet undergoes a refit that will see the failed upper deck economy seats replaced with more premium economy. The move will also mean the upper deck doors 3 will be inoperable, a decision which is approved by regulators based on the manufacturer’s desktop assessments but has raised the concerns of many crew who already doubt the ability to evacuate a full aircraft using 50% of the exits in under 90 seconds. With the refits being done two at a time, there is no extra capacity in the fleet to cope with breakdowns or delays. This week mechanical issues with two A380’s left passengers stranded. The airline’s early than planned retirement of several 747’s has also meant the ‘traditional’ A380 replacement contingency is no longer available.
Easyjet denies backless seat claim
Budget carrier Easyjet responded to claims that a passenger flew in a ‘backless’ seat. The airline stated that the passenger was allocated the inoperative seat but was relocated prior to take off.  Aircrat certification wuld make taking of with a passenger in an inoperative seat illegal and a breach of the aircraft's certification.
Rome: Tourist crack-down
Airline Insider was first to report the new rules for tourists in Rome in late June and this week, police in the ancient city have started to enforce the regulations which include no messy eating around attractions like the Trevi Fountain or cooling off in the city’s other fountains and water features. Police have also issued 250-euro fines for tourists sitting on the famous 18th Century Spanish Steps. Authorities defend the new regulations saying that they will help prevent tourists from being disrespectful to Rome.
Inside Boeing's 777X
Boeing have released an updated video of the interior of their new 777X. The aircraft is the competitor to Airbus’ 350-1000 in the race for the ultra-long-haul market.
Window shade shuffle
After reclining seats and centre armrests, window shades are a common area of contention on both daylight and night-time flights. Increasingly, the decision to open or close the shades is being made for passengers as new aircraft include centralised remote functions. Legally, being asked by crew to open or close the shade is not a ‘lawful direction’ unless the aircraft cabin is being prepared for landing, however, it is appropriate to consider that your open shade may create reflections on another passenger’s video screen. Opening or closing the shades does not affect cabin temperature.
Flight centre staff sent packing!
Listed travel agent Flight Centre is undergoing a rebrand which includes offering staff leave to ‘go travelling’ capitalising on the return to agency bookings by the market. The staff can take unlimited paid leave to travel provided they work along the way. While the organisation d late to the “influencer” party, the rebrand includes 50 stores that operate under the ‘Student Flight’ banner.
Snow business
Australia’s snow fields are great to visit and great to fly over – here are the Airline Insider snow tips.
Picking your seat: flying south from Sydney the best views of the snow are from the windows on the left side of the plane. Flying north from Melbourne or Hobart, pick a seat on the right side of the aircraft (avoid the over wing zone). Photos out the window, avoid reflections by covering your phone or camera with a dark cloth or jumper.
Hire equipment: hire it on the ski fields, the additional oversized baggage costs will eat up any savings and most fights to the ski fields will be on smaller turbo-prop aircraft which have reduced baggage allowances.
Snow photos: if you’re relying on your mobile phone for pics, the high-key brightness of the snow can make the pics disappointing. Place your sunglasses over the lens on the phone, the polarising effect of the sunnies will provide great results.
Seat maps: nothing is standard!
Keeping up to date with seat maps and choosing the best seats, especially in economy is an ever-changing science that often even confuses crew which is why is the best resource before selecting seats. This week maps for six new airlines have been added to the extensive online database.
Middle East: 300,000 people head to the Hajj
Flights through the Middle East during the first weeks of August are particularly busy as the annual Hajj occurs in Saudi Arabia. Passengers will also see airlines making provision to meet pilgrims’ requirements, including facilitating the performing of ablutions, advising them of the entry into Al Miqat (state of sanctity), and the changing into Ihram robes. Many travelling to the Hajj will also carry large 5 litre water containers which are permitted in the cabin during this period.
New York: Friends pop-up
With the sound of the Rembrandts doing the famous ‘Friends’ theme song, New York City’s Soho has a new attraction that celebrates the hit tv series with all the original sets props and clothing. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the sitcom, which premiered Sept. 22, 1994, Superfly and Warner Bros. Television are channelling Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler and Joey by re-creating sets and costumes for an ‘immersive’ museum-like ‘Friends Pop-Up Experience.’ Airline Insider’s New York Insider Christine Lazzara can even help to get a pic sitting on Joey’s sofa!
Qantas deal in the spotlight
Regulators have been closely following regional airline Alliance again this week as Qantas sits on the edge of the 19% shareholding limit. Industry analysts are tipping that the flying kangaroo is keen to take a larger stake in Alliance which would provide additional security over important regional feeder routes.
Boeings new tripler goes to Emirates
Boeing’s revolutionary 777-9 with its adjustable wing tips is in the final stage of assembly. A photo from inside the Boing plant showed one of the adjustable winglets with an Emirate decal, confirming the industry speculation that the Middle East carrier is doing more than just hedging its bets between Airbus and Boeing.
Raffles has re-opened after completing massive renovations
Singapore: Raffles is back!
 Singapore’s classic Raffles Hotel has fully reopened after extensive renovations restoring the grand, 19th century hotel. When Raffles was originally built, it was on the edge of the busy Singapore waterfront which today is over two kilometres away. CREW TIP: If Raffles is beyond your budget, the daily high tea in the Tiffin Room is a must-do. After the service, ask your waiter to show through the inner courtyard colonnade.
When turbulence occurs sit down immediately in any seat even someone is already in it
Seat belt and turbulence ettiquette
Pilots will always ‘jockey’ with air traffic controllers to be given the high altitude tracks above the 'weather' below.  Across the Pacific however the trans-seasonal time creates additional pockets of clear air turbulence across the equatorial regions even at high cruise altitudes. Its important that when inflight that passengers keep their seatbelts fastened inflight.
CREW TIP: If you are walking through the aircraft and you hear the pilots command “all passengers and crew be seated immediately” you can expect severe buffeting to occur. Simply sit in the nearest seat, even if there’s someone in it – the energy of the aircraft’s forward movement combined with the turbulent air can generate positive and negative G-forces higher than those experienced in a fighter jet. Stay safe and buckle up.
Cheers: Dubai drinks
Visitors can now buy and consume their own drinks in Dubai. While visitors have always been able to buy alcoholic drinks in hotels across Dubai, the UAE government has introduced a licence scheme where visitors can buy and consume alcoholic drinks. The marketing group of Emirates MMI, operates 17 retail stores where visitors can obtain a licence and purchase take away liquor. CREW TIP: Even though you may buy liquor, the UAE still has strict rules on the transport and consumption of alcoholic drinks and maintains severe penalties for being drunk in public. 
On time performance is a variable which is why you should never book tight connections
On time performance
Airline on-time performance is a quirky metric that means your flight can technically be up to half an hour late and still be regarded as on-time. In Australia on-time performance is defined by the Federal Government Agency as a flight arriving or departing within 15 minutes of the scheduled time. Airlines also use the metric of when the last door is closed with some reporting via the aircraft’s ACARS electronic system while others rely on paper-based reporting. During June, QantasLink and Virgin posted the highest number of cancellations while the regional operator Rex, posted the best on-time performance of all Australian airlines with 81.6% of flights arriving on time.
Air conditioned athletics
Qatar Airways is sponsoring the World Athletics Championship which will be held at Doha’s Khalifa Stadium in late September. Coping with the extreme heat however won’t be a problem for the competitors as the 50,000-seat stadium is fully air conditioned.
Boeing results reflect market stress
Boeing’s second quarter earnings report was never going to be pretty and the troubled aircraft manufacturer has forecast a $4.9billion hit to the bottom line largely caused by the issues with its 737MAX product. The losses are however expected to mount with Boeing also suffering ongoing issues with the launch of the 777X which is further delayed due to engine problems. Ratings agencies Fitch and Moody’s have downgraded Boeing in recent weeks.
BA's long dispute with its pilots escalates
British Airways faces pilot strikes
93% of British Airways pilots have voted to take strike action in a pay and conditions dispute that has been running since last November. The union representing pilots is arguing that the cost of a single day’s strike action is less than the cost of their claim, however BA remains firm. The action is expected to take the form of rolling strikes. Passengers using BA are advised to ensure that their travel insurance covers industrial action. Under EU protections, the airline may also be required to pay compensation. CREW TIP: Check your travel insurance for the qualification period for delays – some policies make you wait up to 48 hours for compensation
RAAF first PC-21 graduates
The first recruits have completed their training in the Air Force’s new PC-21 aircraft. The 10 recruits started training in January on the new aircraft which have a top speed of 370 knots and can roll out at a rate of 200 degrees per second.
London: Visit the Queen
Heading to London? – don’t just peer at the Palace through the fence, between 20 July and 29 September, you can grab a ticket for a tour that takes you inside the gates. From the Throne Room to the Banquet Hall to the 16 acres of manicured gardens, the tours will let you get up close to the Royal abode. Tickets start at 25 pounds and can be booked at
Always pay in local currency when travelling
Travel Tip: pay in local currency
Upgrades to many credit card and ATM facilities have seen a broader offering to travellers to pay in their own currency. Known as ‘dynamic exchange’ the systems allow purchasers to paid for in your home currency irrespective of where you are in the world. The systems do however have a costly downside as the exchange rate is often uncompetitive and, in some instances, triggers additional fees. CREW TIP: Arrive with some local cash in small denominations and travel with at least 2, low or no fee credit cards with low limits. The low limits prevent hotels or unscrupulous retailers from cleaning out your card and leaving you stranded without cash.
Qantas: non-stop to Chicago
Qantas has launched non-stop flights between Brisbane and Chicago. The 17.5-hour flights on a 787-900 will save the 4 to 6 six-hour transit through Los Angeles. While a lot will be made of the direct flights, be aware that seasonal weight restrictions will apply. The flights will operate from April next year. For non-Brisbane travellers, the downside is the need to take a domestic flight to Brisbane and experience the cumbersome transit to recheck at the airport’s international terminal reducing the advantage of the direct connection. From Melbourne, the domestic sector is mainly serviced by smaller 737's.
American Airlines increased delays
Industrial disputes, grounding of the Boeing MAX and maintenance issues have resulted in American Airlines posting a higher than average cancellation rate. While most of the cancellations have involved the airline’s Philadelphia base, the knock-on effects have been causing significant delays for summer travellers.
Download the App before you arrive at the park
Disney adds to Star Wars attraction
Travellers to Disneyland in LA from January next year will be amongst the first to experience what has been described the world’s most immersive and interactive theme park ride. Originally scheduled to open in 2019, the ‘Rise of the Resistance’ is a 20-minute experience involving animatronics, 4D simulations and a unique trackless ride system. The ride is part of the park’s ‘Galaxy’s Edge’ exhibit which has been popular since first opening in May. CREW TIP: Despite the hype, queues for Galaxy’s Edge have (by Disneyland standards) not too bad, however there is an App that can be downloaded that allows ‘virtual queueing’ where you don’t have to stand in line
Air Asia returns to Europe
Air Asia is expected to return to EU operations with the budget airline shortly to start flying to destinations across Russia, Czech Republic and Hungary. The flights will operate from Bangkok using A330neo aircraft.
Jet Blue 'books' in
New York airline JetBlue has stepped up its campaign to be the peoples’ favourite airline sponsoring sporting and arts events and now has taken the step to place free book vending machines across the five Boroughs that make up the city. The airline’s ‘SOAR’ reading program is in its ninth year and has the goal of making sure every kid in NYC gets a chance to have a ‘book drop moment’ – which the airline describes as a book that changes your view of the world and stays with you forever. JetBlue was recently named as the best domestic airline in the USA.
Air China set to expand
Air China has purchased 20 A350-1000 long range jets signalling a further expansion of its network. The US$6.5billion purchase will give the airline additional capacity and is a clear indication that the new Bejing Daxing Airport will be a major international hub. The aircraft will be delivered from early 2020. The Airbus A350-1000 planes are also expected to be the new ultra-long range choice for Qantas.
Singapore: Changi's airport slide
Spend $10 at any bar or food outlet at Singapore’s Changi Airport and you can slide to the departure gate! The Airport known for its ‘un-airport’ thinking, has installed theme-park-like slides at some terminals that take you down the three stories from the upper level to your gate. For those less adventurous, there’s always the escalators, lifts and the ever popular ‘fitness stairs’
Seat choice cash grab
In the never-ending quest to extract more money, Qantas this week announced that a new pricing system for set election would include the option to choose seats from the front row of each cabin enabling travellers who want to ‘get off the plane’ first. In short, it’s simply the first of several changes that ultimately will see seat selection in different zones carrying differing pricing. CREW TIP: For medium- long haul flying across the equator’s ICTZ, which is known for turbulence, avoid choosing seats at the rear of the aircraft, especially on A330’s
Pole to pole orbit record
Strangely described as a celebration of the first moon landing this Qatar flew one of its Gulfstream aircraft in a complete orbit around the earth from pole to pole in a record breaking 46 hours and 40 minutes. The aircraft started its epic flight at NASA’s Cape Canaveral
only 6 Qantas A380's are affected by the EU Directive
A380 wing cracks
The European Air Safety Authority issued airworthiness direction to all airlines flying early model A380-800 super jumbos. The early model jets were built prior to the automation of the production line and used a number of wing spar parts that have been identified to crack and fail. Qantas operates 6 of these aircraft which are already being inspected using micro boroscopes and x rays. The part in question is a strut-like frame that is inside the wing. The Qantas aircraft checked to date have been given the all clear.
Smaller planes - longer flights
The Airline Inside 2019 predictions have had another hit – this time the acknowledgement by the industry that the days of the super jumbo are over and smaller planes flying further will be the norm. This week, three more airlines confirmed orders for single aisle aircraft but with long haul features such as lay-flat beds and horizontal crew rest facilities. The aircraft of choice appears to be the A320/A321 neos which have a similar flight range to the current, larger A330’s.
List: world's least visited destinations
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation has released its official least of countries where tourism numbers are not the headlines. The list is a little biased due to the influence of the USA to exclude some countries and places which it deems ‘unsafe’ however, if you’re wanting more than crowded streets in Barcelona or cant stand the thought of long queues, then this could be the start of your next itinerary!
                Tuvalu – city Funafuti 2,000 visitors p.a
                Kiribati – 1400 kms from Fiji 6,000 visitors p.a.
Marshall Islands – the place that gave birth to the word bikini 6,000 visitors p.a.
Monserrat – Caribbean island 8,000 visitors p.a.
Niue – Polynesia’s wilderness 10,000 visitors p.a.
On the rise:
                              Tonga – the new Fiji 52,000 visitors p.a.
BA bans social media pilots
British Airways has long been regarded as a little ‘rigid’ in its communications, however in recent times a large number of BA pilots have built enormous social media followings providing an inside look at the day to operations. Despite the social media posts doing more for BA than its entire advertising budget, the airline has told its pilots that their social media posts are to cease.
Underwater hotel for Great Barrier Reef
The Queensland government revealed this week that it will provide $1 million in funding for an upcoming eco-tourism opportunity near Lady Musgrave Island on the southern edge of the reef. The hotel will allow guests to sleep up to three metres  below the ocean’s surface in floating pods which will be solar powered and use night-time UV lighting providing spectacular views of the reef.
Boeing's woes continue
Boeing’s issues with the 737MAX aircraft have taken on epic proportions with yet another issue being found by air safety regulators. This time one of the processor units in the controversial MCAS system has been given a red notice by the FAA. The unit is part of the automated systems that compensates for the aircraft’s changed handling configurations. The ongoing delays have prompted some airlines to extend their contingency plans as 737MAX aircraft sit idle in storage. Boeing also announced that the ongoing delays in solving the certification issues with the aircraft have resulted in job losses. It is expected that the aircraft will remain grounded for at least another 3 months.
007 adds a touch of Bond to F1
If you like your Formula 1 races shaken not stirred, you’ll be delighted that the James Bond 007 exhibition will tour with the F1 circuit between July and September featuring the 12 most noticed cars from the six decades of Bond movies (yep that’s 60 years of James Bond!)
Amber ale tours
TripAdvisor has announced the top beer tours in its second annual survey of amber ale tourism. Interestingly the traditional beer festivals have fallen from the world’s top rankings.
Sydney Beer and Brewery Tour– Sydney, Australia
3-hour Minneapolis Craft Brewery Tour– Minneapolis, Minnesota
  3-Hour Berlin Beer Tour– Berlin, Germ – Munich, Germany
  Twilight Wine and Craft Beer Tour– Queenstown, New Zealand
  Vancouver Brewery Tour– Vancouver, Canada
CREW TIP:  If you’re in transit through Dubai, try the new ‘Tiger Beer Den’
4th July sales
Those travellers heading to the USA this week will arrive in time for the annual 4th of July sales. While the most patriotic day on the calendar, the sales are the peak for retailers with many trading around the clock. If you’re in LA head down the freeway to South Coast Plaza at fashionable Costa Mesa about 45 mins drive from LAX.
Lufthansa pulls its LCC into line
Lufthansa’s Eurowings low cost carrier is being reshaped to be a more manageable ‘point-to-point’ domestic carrier after the subsidiary carrier has struggled in a sea of budget carriers operating in the EU skies. The move to consolidate and cut the losses comes after Lufthansa shocked the market by issuing a profit warning last week.
Airports: Melbourne changes runway plans
Melbourne Airport commenced work on its new taxiways this week in a bid to reduce congestion and prepare for the much needed third runway. In a not so surprising move, the airport owners announced this week that the new runway would not mirror the east-west (09-27) configuration, but will now duplicate the current north-south (16-34) main runway. The decision is supported by the prevailing winds and will optimise aircraft movements, especially during summer.
John Travolta's Boeing 707 wil be donated to HARS museum in November
Travolta's jet to go on display
The aviation museum HARS at Wollongong south of Sydney has secured the former Qantas 707 for display. The jet was last seen in Australian during the Qantas 90th anniversary where the Hollywood star and pilot mistook the approach for Melbourne’s Essendon Airport for Tullamarine resulting in some kind directions from the duty Air Traffic Controller. The actor hopes to deliver his donation to the museum on November where it will join the static displays including one of Qantas’ long serving 747’s.
IR wrap
Airline service suppliers Aerocare and Swissport are under fire in Australia as the Transport Workers Union steps up its campaign for better pay and conditions for baggage handlers, cleaners, caterers and ground staff. Action is expected in the coming months. Meanwhile, Aircrew in Taiwan are continuing their strike action which is affecting flights and resulting in some cancellations.
The conflict is causing big heaches for airlines and controllers
Iran airspace detours continue
The war of words between the US and Iran continues to push airlines to steer clear of Iranian airspace despite Iran claiming its skies are safe. Aircraft that normally overfly Iran are using the now congested corridors further south before tracking north over the UAE. The detour is seeing most aircraft carrying and burning additional fuel adding to the cost of operations. Any further escalation in hostilities, particularly around the Straits of Hermosa which join the Persian Gulf and the Oman Gulf will result in commercial air traffic adopting additional clearances. Currently, the detour is adding up to an hour to normal route flight times.
Data roaming is at best an expensive rip off - Telstra's new pricing structure means you're likely to pay more
Australia: global roaming charges warning
Australian telco giant Telstra, this week announced a repackaging of all of its mobile (cell) phone packages. While there was some good news in customers being able to change plans on demand, the fine print is not so good for those who like to travel. Telstra has across the board removed international roaming from its plans which means that this feature will no become an optional extra. Customers travelling overseas will have to buy a $10 international day pass, which provides a meagre 200MB of data and unlimited call and text in more than 70 select countries. The day pass costs $5 in New Zealand. For those who exceed that 200MB allowance: you can pay $10 for an extra 500MB that must be used within 31 days. Telstra is also reportedly offering pay-as-you-go roaming for destinations where the international day pass isn’t available. For an additional $10 per month customers can opt for unlimited international calls and texts from Australia to 21 countries. CREW TIP: Most airports have vending machines with SIM cards which are much cheaper, just remember to take the little pin that opens up the SIM slot on your phone – sticky tape it to the back of the handset or inside your wallet!
Cathay's business clas upgrade includes new softer mattress
Cathay upgrade business class sleep
Cathay Pacific will upgrade its business class mattresses later this year as part of a revamp of the airline’s long-haul offering. Traditionally Cathay’s seats/beds have been on the fir side and lacking the plus feel of some other airlines, however the new mattress pads have been designed to appeal to those travellers who prefer a softer feel. The sleep upgrade includes slippers and feather doonas. Further details are expected to be announced in late October along with a revamp of some route schedules.
WSA is being developed as a design-led development integrating transport and industry
Western Sydney Airport shortlists designers
Western Sydney Airport has announced the five shortlisted teams to design the terminal for Sydney’s second airport. The shortlisted teams will now create their vision for an integrated international and domestic terminal that will also include a transport interchange and a plaza. Western Sydney Airport has also signed up Qantas and Virgin Australia. AIRLINE INSIDER TIP: Put your money on the Cox Architecture-Zahra Hadid team who have an impressive record including Melbourne’s soon to be built Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
Scoreboard: Boeing wins the Paris Airshow
The Paris Airshow wrapped up this week with aircraft sales teams grinning ear to ear with record sales from airlines. Bucking the trend, Boeing was the leader with 571 aircraft sold, eclipsing Airbus’ 321 aircraft. The Boeing result surprised many industry observers as the company failed to get its 737MAX and 777X models on the flight line. Boeing’s US$74.8 billion payday was largely due to sales of the conventional 737 aircraft.
You still have to bok for the light sabre store but if you miss your booking there's a $200 fee
Use the force: Disneyland Star Wars
From next Monday you no longer have to book to get into Disney’s hit Star Wars theme park. The $1billion development has been sold out since opening late last month. The relaxing of general admission means visitors to Disneyland should think about an early start. The attraction will still require bookings if you want to visit the retail store where you can make a light sabre or visit the famous galactic cantina. CREW TIP: Even if you do book for the light sabre or cantina attractions, remember if you fail to show up, your credit card will get an automatic $200 whack from a Storm Trooper. Download the Disney App which allows ‘virtual queueing’ from 7am on the day of your visit
the A321XLR is pushing the return to point to point flying
Qantas' new A321XLR set to change routes and crew
Qantas made an early order of Airbus extended range A321 aircraft ordering a total of 30 planes. The acquisition will replace many of the current A330’s on routes such as Manila, Hong Kong and Northern Asia. The order confirms that the airline will have more-point to point flying in the future. A sidebar also indicates that the airline will be looking for crew consolidation. Currently pilots and aircrew are divided into the three divisions. The arrival of the aircraft coincides with the work forces’ next EBA negotiations.
Spike Island near Cobh on Ireland's south coast
Ireland's Alcatraz
Country Cork on Ireland’s southern coast is home to Waterford Crystal, the last departure point of the Titanic and the notorious Spike Island. The island was Ireland’s ‘Port Arthur-meets-Alcatraz’ and is has been closed since 2004, however a new after dark tour has become a ‘must-do’ addition for tourists. Originally starting out as a monastery, the island was converted to a prison and has long been regarded as the epicentre of paranormal activity. The island’s bleak past contrasts with the nearby town of Cobh with its colourful seaside village and the original wharf where the last of Titanic’s passengers departed.
Regional airports are struggling to meet the costs of new regulations
Regulations threatening regional airports
Regional airports provide a critical link for many Australian communities; however, the cost of security upgrades is causing many country airports to consider the viability. Typically owned and operated by local councils, many of these airports do not receive the revenues and concessions. New government security upgrades however will add significant costs to many councils at a time of declining rate income and rising costs. In a rare alliance, several regional airlines have joined their airport suppliers to petition the federal government to provide financial assistance.
Federal government asked to recognise QF72 heroes
Captain Kevin Sullivan’s book ‘No Mans' Land’ contains graphic images and descriptions of what happened inside QF72 when the aircraft’s automation went rogue off the western Australian coast. One of those most seriously injured was senior crew member, Fuzzy Maiava who was in the rear galley and was thrown through the ceiling panels as the aircraft dived at more than 850kms/h. Fuzzy and other crew members were employed by a New Zealand labour hire company and as such dd not receive proper compensation. He was medically terminated by airline as a result of his serious injuries. Armed with the written support of more than 50,000 people, Fuzzy will shortly be returning to Australia to present the petition to Federal Parliament calling for the heroes of QF72 to be recognised.
Titanic tour hopes sunk
Buyer beware: those well-heeled adventure tourists who paid US$168,000 for a mini sub exploration of the Titanic wreck have had their deep-sea dives cancelled again. The US company behind the venture has now postponed bookings to June next year after a series of setbacks and disputes with supply vessels.
Real hot chips, wrapped in paper are about to be a treat on some long haul flights thnaks to a new inflight 'deep frying' method
High flying hot chips
One airline is about to experiment with inflight ‘deep frying’ for a ‘hot chips’ offering. Currently ground trials are being scoped using a specially designed deep fryer that prevents overheating and oil spilling during turbulence. The cooker is essentially a dry pressure oven where the par-cooked chips are lightly sprayed with a low temperature vegetable oil.
The hot chips are also being developed alongside hand-made pizza and new twist on the steak sandwich. Any new equipment onboard does however require regulator certification before installation on the aircraft. Specialist appliances for aircraft are not cheap – the toaster on the A380 when it was introduced had a $26,000 price tag!
Design innovation in the Boeing 777X which despite delays is set to become a popular international jet rival
Design: 777X moveable wingtips
It’s sat forlornly on the apron of the Boeing factory while GE engine and other issues are worked through delaying the launch of the Boeing 777X, a next gen, medium sized twin aisle aircraft. Despite the development and certification woes, Boeing this week still unveiled the unique 235foot wingspan that has folding ‘winglet’ wing tips. Winglets, the upturned tips on a wings outer edge direct the airflow vortexes away from the plane’s fuselage, drastically reducing drag and saving fuel. The larger wingspan also provides more lift and reduces the impact of turbulence. The folding feature enables the aircraft to use conventional terminal gates.
Aeroflot shakes 'stodgy' image
Russian airline Aeroflot is shaking off its stodgy image expanding routes across Europe, Asia and the Mediterranean. Aeroflot flies to 159 international destinations across 54 countries making it one of the world’s top 25 airline networks. Despite the ‘Russian stigma’ the airline has the youngest fleet of aircraft than any other carrier in the world.
The world's scariest observation deck
Opening mid next year, The Edge in Hudson Yards, New York will offer the most dramatic views of the Big Apple ever. Almost 100m taller than Melbourne’s Eureka Tower, and taller than other buildings on the NYC skyline, The Edge has a protruding glass floor that extends 30 metres from the side of the tower high above the bustling city. The observation deck will eclipse the current skyline decks, including the popular Rockefeller Tower.
Air travel can be a joy or a pain - the secret is knowing the tips
Travel tips: staying sane on the plane
With airport delays, crowds and screaming kids somwtimes you need help to stay sane on the plane! These tips will help you make the most of your trip

Flight Crew Travel Tips

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Emirates is unbundling its business class product
Trend: 'unbundled' business class
The rise of low-cost carriers heralded the introduction of component pricing where you buy a seat on the plane and everything else is an optional extra. Now, Emirates is taking the same approach with business class and “unbundling” the premium product with separate costs for each added extra such as lounge access, upgrade availability, chauffer transfers, change fees and points earning rates.
The concept was originally floated in 2016 as an alternative to premium economy, however feedback from passengers saw the idea being dropped. It is expected that the ‘unbundled’ business class may become a trend on other carriers as a way of reducing separate premium economy cabin fit outs and gaining additional revenue.
Airbus has turned to nature for its next-gen designs
Airbus looks to nature
Like a Sir David Attenborough documentary, Airbus has highlighted how the beauty of nature informs good design in the development of the next generation of aircraft wings. Project Albatross is already in the skies with an automated aircraft that allows its wings to ‘flap’ providing greater scope for ‘flattening out’ the impacts of wind gusts and turbulence. While aircraft wings already flex and deflect, the new design allows even greater movement which also reduces drag, the major component in fuel burn inefficiency. The shape of the flying prototype is based on the Albatross which has one of the most flexible wings of any bird.
Travel Warning: heatwave in India & Middle East
Late arrival of the equatorial monsoons has seen temperatures skyrocket this week. Worst hit was India where temperatures soared into the high 40’s and early 50’s – If you’re travelling to India, Central Asia or transiting outside of the air conditioning in the Middle East, make sure you’re prepared for searing heat.
Thin ice
While some parts of the world boil, Antarctica received its first commercial jet in 2008 and what was a dangerous first-time mission has now become a regular service for researchers and scientists. Taking off from Hobart, charter specialists, Skytraders, flies an Airbus A319 four and a half hours south to land on the polar icesheet. According to pilots, the biggest issue is not stopping, but handling the aircraft on the ground, especially in high winds.
India: nav beacon for rubbish mountain
New Delhi’s Ghazipur landfill now stands taller than the Taj Mahal and with the rubbish of 21 million people, the pile rises by a staggering 10 metres each year. Despite authorities trying to shut down the ever- growing rubbish pile, the East Delhi Municipal Corporation has now taken the step of issuing warnings to pilots and placing navigation lights atop the mountain of rubbish.
Matt Hall to fly hard in last 3 races
With only three races remaining before the Red Bull Air race coms to an end, Australian pilot Matt Hall has said he’s going all out to finish on a high and push hard for a podium position in Kazan Russia this weekend.
Tourism: China tourists heading for cheaper destintions
China was lauded as the ‘next-big’ in Australian tourism, but tighter economic conditions has seen travellers turn to more affordable locations like Bali. It is expected that the next quarter data will show a drop in both group and individual tourists from China.
Uber's Melbourne announcement has been regarded as little more than a poor PR stunt
Doubt over Uber's blue sky claims
It was at best a speculative announcement of future flying drone taxis for Melbourne, but the UberAir (Elevate) announcement this week brushed over the fact that the organisation has entered into an MoU with a shopping centre giant. The ambitious plans to operate a yet to be proven, uncertified aircraft was more about froth than fact, with several councils and Regulators raising concerns and eyebrows.
Paris Airshow is all about the order books
Eyes are on Paris next week as the Airshow becomes the world’s hot spot for commercial airline sales. A key question will be the choice of Airbus’ A350-1000’s as the next Qantas aircraft type. A few executives form other airlines are attending the show with in-principle approvals from their boards which may prompt Qantas bring forward its purchase decision originally scheduled for August.
Singapore's new airline catering facility includes technologies to cut food waste by extending 'use-by' dates
Airline Food: use by the next 2 years!
Singapore Airlines’ service company SATS, is known for reliability and results. But this week it announced a new system to preserve airline meals for up to 2 years! Designed to reduce food waste, the new system was on show at the company’s new $25 million kitchen facility on the northern side of the airport. The kitchen produces up to 60,000 meals a day and uses pasteurisation-like heat and pressure to remove bacteria and enzymes that cause food to deteriorate. Airlines create more than 5.2million tonnes of food waste annually as current regulations require all food onboard at the end of an international flight to be discarded. CREW TIP: In Australia Qantas and Virgin harvest unused food from domestic flights for charities.
Always check the fine print!
Airline Insider exclusively uses 1Cover Travel Insurance (our choice not sponsored!)
Travel insurers exposed for discrimination
An eight-month investigation by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission found some Australian travel insurers sold more than 365,000 policies containing terms that discriminated against people with mental health conditions.  Allianz, Suncorp and World Nomads Group were amongst those named by the Commission. The report identified that blanket exclusions, which meant that people who experienced mental health conditions weren’t covered despite being sold the policies.
The Vegas foodies tour is a great way to taste the city's offerings
What happens in Vegas.....
Despite the falling Aussie dollar, the number of tourists travelling from Australia to Las Vegas is rising with the desert gambling oasis marketing more than just casinos. These days the high rolling trips, celebrity chef restaurants and lavish shows in casino ballrooms are competing with a broader range of sometime quirky tourism offerings. Some of the popular tours include:
Wine Yoga
For $35 you can stretch, pose and exercise while sipping wine in a souvenir goblet under the direction of a personal wine-yoga master
Sky High
If you can’t afford the penthouse at Stratosphere, try a hot air balloon ride for three and half hours as the sun rises over the city and the canyons. In winter you can even do it at sunset!
Neon Helihop
Night-time is when the Vegas strip comes to life and for $85 you can see all of Vegas in a 15-minute circuit in a helicopter
Reality TV tour
Shows like Ultimate Sports Cards and Memorabilia, Tanked, Pawns Stars, and American Restoration are part of the reality tv tour that has become a hit with tourists
Foodies tour
Forget the celebrity chefs when the foodies tour takes you to all of the eat street locations
Aliens Tour
While life forms after midnight get a little bizarre, the real mysteries of the Arizona desert are on show as this tour takes you deep inside the world of the unexplained and UFOs
Scoozee: Rome's new tourist rules
Travellers to Rome can expect tourist etiquette to get more scrutiny with the local government announcing a new range of fines. Swimming in fountains, eating messy food on the Spanish Steps or putting your mouth on drinking bubblers all will attract hefty fines. Busking, touting for tickets outside venues and scalping also are under scrutiny.
Japan: expect delays
Travellers to Japan, particularly Osaka can expect disruptions later this month as the country gears up for what is expected a controversial G20 Summit. Already the lines to clear customs are moving slower than normal as authorities increase the screening of arriving visitors. During the event, large parts of the city will be restricted areas. Protests around the G20 Summit venues are common.
Loch Ness is a must see for every visitor to Scotland
Cruise Loch Ness

The landscape is stunning and a visit to Scotland wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Loch Ness. While visitors of the steep shores stare at the shadows and ripples in the deep Loch, a local company is attracting attention with its ‘monster cruises’  Departing from the sleepy village of Port Augustus on the southern edge of the Loch, the cruise takes you out into the middle of Scotland’s second-deepest waterway. While nobody is yet to see the famed monster, guests on the cruise are often treated to some high-speed jet flypasts as the Loch is a waypoint in the RAF’s low-level fighter training area.

BA adds sparkling wine to its centennary selection
BA centennary beer and bubbles
First, they brewed beer in an aircraft galley, now British Airways are going upmarket – serving passengers its 100th anniversary sparkling wine. The drop was made especially for BA by Hattingley Valley Winery from 2015 pinot noir grapes. The winemakers claim that their specially formulated wine is designed to taste its best at high altitude. CREW TIP: It’s always fine to raise a glass with your nose in the air, but the air pressure in the cabin is the same at high altitudes as it is on the ground. Cabin air is typically drier with humidity levels generally less than 30%.
Whale Watch: Lady Elliot Island
Lady Elliot Island is located on the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef and is a true eco-haven. This week, staff on the island have reported two whale sightings which is an indication that more whales will be seen in the coming weeks as they migrate along the coast. The island’s historic lighthouse beach is a great vantage point as the whales regularly frolic off the edge of the coral atoll shelf as they head north. Details:
Boeing - not going
Boeing problem child the 738 Max is continuing to be churned out even though all deliveries have been suspended. This week saw yet another upbeat media release suggesting that the aircraft’s return to service won’t be this month as expected, but later in the year. The delivery halt has seen the Boeing factories resemble aircraft boneyards with completed aircraft packed in tight. This week the company has even started flying the 738MAX aircraft to storage areas under a special dispensation. And just if the week could not get any worse, Boeing Execs arrived at work to face the news of more engine problems yet again delaying the test flights of the next generation 777X along with fresh reports of multiple cracking in the flap tracks of 737-800 jets.
What the Flap! the real story of  QF72
Fly by wire and aircraft automation is a controversial subject, especially in the wake of the 737MAX incidents. Just released is the inside story on QF72, an Airbus A330 that was flying from Singapore to Perth in 2008 when automation took control of the aircraft resulting in multiple serious injuries. Expertly written by the Captain, Kevin Sullivan, the book provides dramatic insight to the incident and its aftermath. An absolute must read!

QF72 diverted the Learmont Air Force Base after the aircraft's automation caused the plane to violently dive and climb causing numerous injures amonst passengers and crew.  One crew member seriously injured is New Zealander, Fuzzy Maiava. Employed through an offshore  Qantas labour hire company, Fuzzy has not received appropriate support and cannot take legal action against Qantas or Airbus. Qantas crew have started fundraising to help Fuzzy and his family.  Join with the crew and help out if you can!
97 year old Tom Rice re-enacted his D-Day parachute jump
97-year-old's D-Day parachute jump
This week’s D-Day commemorations had many moving ceremonies and nostalgic flypasts but for 97-year-old Tom Rice he re-enacted parachuting into Normandy as he did 75 years before. The parachute attack came ahead of the largest ever war-time maritime deployment. The 97-year-old veteran walked from the landing area after the jump to do a round of media interviews.
US visas for more than 90 days require applicants to disclose social media IDs
US visa application now wants your social media ID
Seeking a US Visa? – If you’re planning to stay in the USA for more than 90 days expect to hand over your social media identification when you fill out the application form. The requirement won’t affect people travelling on shorter tourist visas, but it is expected that the new security measure will affect more than 15 million people each year. CREW TIP: Yes- they DO check as part of the audit program!
Air quality surcharge
France has called for regulations that will encourage travellers to use more eco-friendly forms of transport and has identified air travel as the generator of the highest level of greenhouse gases. The proposal will see fare surcharges applied to airlines flying within EU controlled borders as a new report from the UN claims air travel generates around 2% of the world’s carbon emissions.
Travel plans were thrown into chaos as the US govt banned travel to Cuba from the USA
Cuba isolated again!
Cuba became further isolated this week as the US suddenly closed access to the tiny nation for anyone travelling via the USA by land or air. The move has impacted many travellers especially cruise ships. Until recently flights to Cuba were possible from Miami International Airport where the departing flight was never listed on the departure board. The move by the Trump administration to effectively close the borders is resulting in travellers having to seek alternative routes including via Mexico and South America.
Qantas & American JV
Qantas announced US approval for its joint venture with American Airlines by focusing attention on Chicago as the first city to receive the new QF flight numbers. Meanwhile fleet changes will see the soon to be retired 747’s on several domestic routes.
New push from Tigerair
Unless there are cancellations or delays, Tigerair tends to fly under the radar these days, however all is expected to change with the appointment of a new advertising and marketing agency. It is expected that the airline will seek to pick up on the popularity of holiday routes in early spring.
Darwin: Rex likely to expand top end routes
regional Express - also known as Rex, is looking to take on extra routes out of Darwin as part of an expansion to pick routes likely to be dropped by Air North. Rex has 55 Saab 340’s covering 60 destinations and has built a reputation on taking on routes when other airlines can’t make them work.
Industrial Action: US catering workers
Airline catering workers are set to strike in the USA over a long running pay dispute. The workers are taking steps that will lead to stoppages in coming months that will affect flights across the US and international airlines serviced by US catering companies. Many are paid well below the minimum wage and even with overtime workers are lucky to make $15 per hour
Airshow 2021: RAAF 100 year celebration
The RAAF and Qantas will celebrate the centenaries at the next Airshow which will take place in February 2021 at Victoria’s Avalon Airport. Expect a massive display of military aircraft from around the world!
D-Day: 75th anniversary 

Next Thursday (June 6) will be the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Around the world, numerous events will be staged many involving classic vintage aircraft, including a mass flyover of DC-3’s and C-47’s in the skies over Normandy. Around 2,500 Australian Air Force personnel flew alongside British RAF Squadrons in the 1944 campaign that was the largest mobilisation of Allied Forces

It's hot, spicey and taking the world by storm!
Food Trend: Nashville Chicken

Fried chicken is a staple in some southern states of the USA and ‘Nashville-style’ chicken is the new fast food trend that’s sweeping across the world. The classic dish douses fresh chicken in hot lard which is rolled in a cayenne pepper coating before being fried in a huge steel pan. The chicken is served after being dusted with more pepper and spices. The fiery, taste-bud tingling chicken is the ‘hot’ trend in LA and is also popping up on menus in Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK

Pilot Academy open for applications 

Qantas has opened the doors for applications to join its Pilot Academy. The Toowoomba based facility will train pilots who will be deployed primarily on QantasLink operations. The call for applications is the start of a new era of pilot opportunities with the airline. Meanwhile training costs are set to increase with a number of airports, including Melbourne's Moorabbin  which this week annouced an incease in landing fees.

Dublin: G&T or high tea on a vintage bus

Hop on Hop off buses are great for taking in the sights, but in Dublin, you can board a vintage double-decker bus and be taken on a grand tour of the city while enjoying high tea with all the trimmings. If your desires are not so classic, there’s also a G&T vintage bus tour, where onboard you’ll learn about the art of Gin making and taste a selection of classic tipples.  Bookings and details:

Slings, inflatable mats and daybeds and anything that could be a hazard requires approval by the airline
CASA crackdown on cabin comforters 

Australian air safety regulator, CASA has prompted a crackdown on passengers using carry on devices like inflatable pads, tray table slings and day-bed converters. The regulator has required all airlines to lodge their updated procedures following several in-flight incidents. Each airline must publish what it will and won’t allow onboard, however the regulator has deemed that all cabin items must not become a risk in turbulence, evacuation or depressurisation. CREW TIP: Most Australian airlines will not allow blow up pads or day beds, nor can any item be attached to seats or the cabin interior. Inflatables are banned because of the risk of explosion in a depressurisation

Website Watch: ex Melbourne 

Air Vanuatu will launch its thrice weekly, non-stop service flying Melbourne to Vanuatu on 18 June Scoot will fly you to Thailand from $179* one-way or escape the cold and head to Hamilton Island from $175* one-way. Details at

Hobart Airport: airspace changes means controllers will no longer assist separating light aircraft and commercial jets
Hobart: airspace changes raise concerns 

Reviews of a spate of near miss incidents around Tasmania's Hobart Airport have prompted air safety authorities to consider reclassifying the airspace around the southern city. However the change is likely to reuslt in greater risks, especially for commercial flights. The change from class C to class E airspace will enable light aircraft flying between 4,500 and 12,500 feet above the airport without the assistance of Air Traffic Controllers  to provide separation between the VFR aircraft and commercial jets. Hobart airport is one of the fastest growing facilities in Australia catering for more than 2.5million passengers annually.

Game over for the Red Bull Air Race
No more Red Bull

Red Bull has announced that its famous high-performance Air Race series will not continue beyond the current season. The event that is the ‘F1 of the skies’ will come to an end in Chiba Japan on September 8. Launched in 2003, the series has attracted some of the world’s best pilots including former FA-18 pilot, Australian Matt Hall who has been the runner up on three occasions.

Celebrating 50 years: Airbus flypast with every aircraft model in its fleet above France
Airbus celebrates 50 years

It started after governments could not agree on a deal to build a twin isle aircraft and in the 50 years since, Airbus has racked up almost 20,000 orders and shortly will deliver its 12,000th commercial aircraft. The company celebrated the milestone this week with a formation flypast above the French city of Toulouse. In an ironic repeat of the company’s beginnings, the 50th anniversary celebrations were delayed for several hours due to adverse weather.

Cricket fans staying on the couch 

The kangaroo route to the UK has been a traditional pilgrimage for cricket spectators but data on global booking systems show that Australian cricket fans are preferring armchairs to airline seats. Although there’s 47,000 more people travelling to the Cricket World Cup throughout June and July, the bulk of travellers are coming from India. South Africa and Pakistan have seen sharp rises in cricket-related travel bookings while travellers from Australia have fallen by 2.9%

Japan: signs up major attractions is the world’s largest ticketing platform for cultural attractions. The Amsterdam based business has confirmed its new frontier is Japan with more than 50 major attractions signed up to use its online platform. The popular Enryaku-Ji Temple near Kyoto and the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo are just two of the leading attractions and more than 100 venues that will be promoted, ticketed and communicated in the lead up to next year’s Olympic Games. Unlike conventional ticketing agencies, Tiqets also provides a unique mobile platform that assists visitors to gain a better understanding and a positive cultural experience.

Improvising also means overcoming germ-risks like television remotes
Hotel workarounds 

Over the years has highlighted ways to charge your phone, avoid mini-bar charges and stay safe in hotels. Sometimes, flight crew end up in unexpected places requiring some creative ‘workarounds’ when the usual hotel facilities are lacking.

Draw the curtains: use a coat hanger with trouser clips to hold wayward curtains together

Drying clothes: hang them from the ceiling fan or in cold weather, rig up the hairdryer in the wardrobe

In-room dining: When there’s nothing available but the leftovers in your bag, the hotel iron can become a makeshift warming plate

No English TV: Plug your phone into the TV USB and with Wi-Fi you can enjoy your favourite Netflix movies

No music: Put your phone in a corner or in a coffee mug to amplify the sound

No hand sanitizer: Put the TV remote in a plastic bag before you use it

Last Flight: Qantas 747 VH-OEB 

One of the few remaining Qantas 747s will make its last flight this weekend. VH-OEB, a 747-400, will operate as QF 73 to San Francisco - leaving Sydney for the last time on Sunday evening. After disembarking its passengers in the US, the plane will head south to the Arizona desert joining an ever-growing number of red tails with the classic white kangaroo subtly bleeding through the paint layer.

Now you tour Ukraine's abandoned city which was evacuated overnight when the Chernobyl reactor failed
Strange Sights: Ukraine's Pripyat

Built in the 70’s to accommodate the workers at the nearby Chernobyl power facility, the ‘model’ city of Pripyat was designed to create a new era of housing. Unfortunately, in 1986 following the melt-down of the Chernobyl reactor, the entire city was evacuated overnight. Today, the buildings and facilities stand as they were when they were hurriedly abandoned, but you can now visit the site as part of what is promoted as ‘nuclear’ tourism. Visitors done the classic white suits, masks and wear a radiation tag while the tour guide keeps an eye on the Giger counter. If the levels exceed safe levels of exposure, the tour is quickly concluded.

Eject eject eject...70 years of the 'e' word

70 years ago this week the first ejection seat was successfuly tested. Designed and manufactured by Martin-Baker, the first ejection was made in 1949 when pilot Joe Lancaster safely ejected from an an Armstrong-Whitworth AW52 fighter aircraft.  The term eject, eject eject is still the command briefing given to passengers of military aircraft adding another 'e' word that you never want to hear!

Fearful flyers on the rise 

More than 1 in 3 Australian travellers have expressed concerns over flying according to travel insurer Insure&Go. In their annual survey of more than 1,000 travellers, the fear factor is most apparent amongst 18-39-year-olds, where a huge 59% expressed their fear of flying. Older passengers expressed fewer fears. The higher level of concerns follows recent incidents with many passengers also raising concerns about the Boeing MAX issue

Australian travellers can expect to pay more as widebody capacity is reduced over the winter season
International air fares to rise

The change to the northern hemisphere summer has seen many international carriers redeploy larger aircraft from Australian routes tightening up the excess capacity that saw lower process during March and April. The aircraft type changes also mean in some cases a return to less fuel-efficient planes and a rising jet fuel price. While airlines ‘hedge’ their fuel purchases, expect between a 5-8% rise in prices in coming months. The continued downward trend of the Aussie dollar is also likely to add another 1-2% to the overall price offerings

Persian Gulf: detours ahead

Rising tensions in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf have prompted many carriers to prepare alternative flight paths in the event of military actions. Airlines already are burning extra fuel avoiding Pakistani airspace, and the threat of US action against Iran would mean even more detours. This week saw the US government issue warnings to airlines advising of the risks of being wrongly identified when flying in proximity to Iran. The Iranian government countered with a statement arguing that that the US warning was incorrect. Emirates, Etihad and Qatar are not affected by the US warning, so aircraft transiting through airports such as Dubai are unaffected. PILOT FACT: Aircraft have active and passive identification, and no sensible Captain will accept a flight vector that takes the aircraft over war zones

Trend watch: bad tourists spreading their wings

Cheaper travel has seen unprecedented growth to the point where there are now more places than ever discouraging tourism. Not only are tourist numbers impacting the infrastructure and the environment, but the rise of the less sophisticated traveller has also resulted in a new classification known as the 'bad tourist.' At an industry forum this week, ‘bad tourist’ behaviours were rated revealing some surprisingly stupid actions.

·         Selfie stupids: leaning over balconies and cliffs with reports one person hanging upside down from the top deck of a sightseeing bus in London

·         Animal aggro: not satisfied with just seeing wild animals, tourist guides report a rise in the number of people jumping over barriers to get up close to the wild animals at zoos and reserves

·         Opposite actions: museums are reporting a rise in incidents where visitors are ignoring the ‘don’t touch’ signs and deliberately getting hands on. One prominent gallery in France has had to replace the masters on display with copies after a tourist was caught picking off the thick paint from one 200-year-old canvas

·         Eco-ignorant: protecting the environment is not a new concept, but the rise in eco-ignorant travellers has seen rubbish being thrown over the side of small charter boats. One incident at a panda research centre in China’s Chengdu saw a group of tourists flatten a grove of bamboo around the panda pen to get a better view

·         Toilet terrorists: A whiskey distillery in Dublin experienced the ills of this type of traveller when a small group mistook an exhibit at the distillery for toilets. Other reports at the forum indicated a rise in tourists relieving themselves anywhere they can. An airport in Western China even displays signs directing people not to urinate on the carpet. Inflight, Airbus has an optional sticker that shows the do’s and don’ts of an aircraft toilet that is more like a set of gymnastic instructions

More Bendigo Sydney flights

QantasLink will add extra services between Bendigo and Sydney adding an extra 100 seats a day each way. The move is rumoured to boost further chances of the long-awaited pilot academy being located at Bendigo

Airbus will formation fly its entire fleet on May 29 to celebrate its 50th anniversary
Airbus'50th anniversary 'skyshow'

The skies of Toulouse in France will be beamed around the world as Airbus celebrates its 50th anniversary on mAy 29 with a flypast formation featuring every aircraft it makes. From the tiny A220 to the A380 & the huge Beluga transport aircraft, visitors to the home of Airbus will experience a once in a lifetime view as the formation makes a low-level run across the city.

Heathrow: Aussies can skip the customs queues!

Australians can skip the long immigration queues at the UK’s Heathrow Airport. With most flights from Australia arriving in the early morning, being able to avoid the queues and use the smart e-gates is a bonus!

Wow - the night glow balloon event in the Yarra Valley
King Valley Balloon Festival

Held over the June long weekend (7-10 June) the King Valley Balloon festival north of Melbourne is a celebration of food, wine and large flying balloons. The balloons take off from a field opposite the Brown Brothers Milawa winery throughout the weekend with a feature event being the night glow spectacular on Saturday the 8th where all the balloons assemble for a stunning on-ground tethered light show. CREW TIP: It is cold (very cold) so rug up and book your tickets in advance. Details:

Must take: Travel Apps you really will use!

With an App for almost everything, when travelling you only want those that will work for you. Try these top favourites

Google Lensjust point your phone camera at a building or landmark to find out all the details

Pack Buddy – put in your destination and date and the App will tell you what to pack (or not to pack)

Google Translate – a must for serious travellers (tip: practice the words first)

Timeshifter – bet jetlag and help your body clock the Apps tells you when to sleep what to eat

CityMaps2Go – downloadable so you can use them on the run without WiFi or chewing up data

Trip Journal – thoughts, pics, videos and anything else can be captured to create a great journal

Inflighto – see your flight and details and get delay info before the airlport does!

Controversial airport near the UN listed ancient Inca site has locals concerned
Bad idea? an international airport for Machu Picchu

The deal is you walk in and walk out and tread lightly, but the iconic ancient Indian city in Peru is about to get more visitors thanks to the construction of a new international airport at nearby Chinchero. Visitor numbers trekking across the Inca terraces is rising by almost half a million people every year, and the prospect of more visitors and a nearby airport has outraged locals. Visitors currently travel by bus and hike to the site. However, the current airport at Cusco only has limited jet capacity and is limited to narrow-bodied aircraft. The new airport which will accommodate wide-body jets will be just 20 minutes from the Sacred Valley site.

China: future fuels include methane

China has developed a high-performance engine for space and ultra-high-altitude flights that uses methane as the primary fuel source. The methane-powered jets were tested this week and produced sustained thrust able to launch a rocket into space. The technology also enables operations in the low-pressure oxygen starved altitudes above 50,000 feet

Traditional airspace management is being re-imagined
ATC: changes ahead for pushing tin

First there was the digital tower replacing the paper slips and now NASA and the US regulator the FAA, are testing a system that will automate many of the control functions normally handled by an air traffic controller. The new system also includes provision for additional airspace classifications that cover drones and autonomous traffic such as low level flying taxis. A similar test is being conducted in Finland while Brazillian aerospace manufacturer, Embraer is at the forefront proposed control systems for ultra-high altitude aircraft

Colour deficient pilots will be able to fly under strict rule changes led by New Zealand
Colour blind pilots allowed to fly

New Zealand will be the first country to recertify colour blind or colour deficient vision pilots from 31 May. Pilots who have until now been grounded with the condition will be required to conduct a series of inflight and simulator tests. The condition affects around 8% of all men and less than 1% of females and means that a person cannot distinguish between some spectrum colours, predominately within the blue-green spectrum.

Food pic sharing on the fly

Those who insist on posting images of their meals on social media will be flocking to a new site called Aeroplate. Designed for both passengers and crew, Aeroplate allows users to post their meal pics along with a review. The App is already gaining a large following with reviews and ratings of more than 100 airlines and airports around the world. Details:

Qatar backs women's FIFA World Cup

Middle East carrier Qatar Airways has boosted its sponsorship equity in the FIFA Women’s World Cup which gets underway in France next month. The airline has invested heavily in a television commercial that promotes the dreams of women athletes. Twenty-four qualifying teams will compete in the event which is staged across 9 French cities. Australia’s Matilda’s are tipped to be amongst the finalists despite drawing early round matches against Italy and Brazil

Garuda is one of several Indonesian airlines directed to slash their fares under a government program
Indonesia government slashes fares not safety

When it comes to airline safety, it’s fair to say that Indonesia does not have a stellar reputation which is why the Indonesian government’s direction to reduce domestic air fares by between 16 and 23% came with the caveat that safety must be maintained. The country is one of South East Asia’s base economies and in recent times has felt the impacts of reduced tourism and rising fuel prices. Garuda, Lion and other Indonesian carriers all have confirmed they will implement the government’s direction which will come into operation before the end of Ramadan which is traditionally the busiest time of the year

An abandoned 767 has racked up almost US$800,000 in parking fees at Hong Kong Airport
Hong Kong Airport recoving costs from abandoned plane

Parked on the outer apron at Hong Kong Airport is an ageing 767 that was abandoned by a failed Russian airline Trans aero in 2015. Arriving from Moscow, the aircraft disembarked its passengers and was just left at the gate after Trans aero halted operations due to financial difficulties. Since that time, the 27-year-old 767 has been racking up parking fees, and now the Airport Authority is cutting its losses and putting the jet up for sale. Proving that airport parking fees even for planes is high, the Airport Authority hopes to recover around US$800,000 for the aircraft which has no manuals, documentation and requires a million dollars in engineering work to regain its air worthiness certificate.

Fly-thru:would you like fries with that?

There was a time when airline executives posed with celebrity chefs spruiking gourmet delights served at the pointy end of the plane. Today, however, it seems flying fast food is the new first with UK carrier Jet2 offering a menu from Nandos. The spicy onboard offering features the fast food chain’s signature Peri-Peri sauce. The same airline recently made headlines with its all vegan inflight offering and was the first to offer pop corn – popped inflight

Emirates feeling the pinch

The original trailblazer of the big three Middle Eastern Airlines, Emirates, has posted a massive 69% decline in profits after a year of higher than expected fuel prices, declining passenger numbers and a stronger US dollar. The result is the airline’s worst in more than a decade and comes following earlier decisions to cancel its forward orders of A380 super-jumbos. The airline has also reportedly cancelled its forward orders on Boeing 787-10 series.

Paddleboards are stepping up a notch
Paddle light

Stand up paddle boards are common in most waterside tourist locations, however visitors to Vancouver can experience a new kind of paddleboards that glows in the dark and can light the waters of the Bay with colourful led lights.  Created by a local tour operator, the ecofriendly boards are quickly finding their way to other destinations and include a transparent board that is perfect for exploring coral and calm water reefs at night

Building Lady Liberty

The Statue of Liberty has been the signature of America since it was built in 1886 however following 9-11, access to the statue and the observation deck in the crown has been limited leaving many of the 4.6million visitors underwhelmed. A new museum on the site, however, opened this week providing a fascinating insight into the building of Lady liberty by French workers, including some the statues hidden secrets.

Qantas has sold its Melbourne domestic terminal to the Airport's owners for $355 million with a 10 year leaseback
Melbourne Airport Corp buys Qantas Terminal

Melbourne Airport has purchased Terminal 1 from the Qantas Group for $355 million. The deal provides a 10-year lease-back of the terminal for Qantas Domestic services; however, since the relocation of Qantas subsidiary Jetstar to the budget T4 terminal, much of the space has been surplus.  As the terminal adjoins the existing international facility and has accessible land to the north, speculation is rising that the connection to the Victorian Government’s proposed Airport Rail Link will be via T1.  The Airport Corporation’s potential role in the rail link project is the subject of increasing debate, with some concerns that the rail link could be constrained or controlled by the private sector ownership of the Airport and CBD station nodes

90 seconds is the maximum time you've got to evacuate
The 'e' word you never want to hear

In recent weeks there has been a spate of incidents where passengers have put themselves in danger simply because they didn’t follow crew directions, misunderstood the commands or in some cases, just chose to ignore them.  In one incident, Air New Zealand offloaded two passengers who refused to watch a safety video, while an Aer Lingus Captain directed passengers to “disembark quickly.” when fumes were smelt in the cabin while the aircraft was docked at the gate. This caused some passengers to open the over-wing exits and walk out onto the wing where they had to be rescued by ground crews. More extreme, the loss of some lives following the crash of the Aeroflot jetliner is being attributed to passengers in the aircraft’s forward section stopping to gather up their hand luggage.  If you hear the word “evacuate” said three times, then the direction is simple, leave everything behind and GET OUT. In the event of a fire, you will have less than 90 seconds to survive.

Street food: the best of Hong Kong

Street food is everywhere, but nowhere is it more diverse than in Asia, particularly at ‘cross-roads’ destinations like Hong Kong where eastern and western influences, spices and techniques melt into an exciting and vibrant food scene. While the Hong Kong skyline is dotted with Michelin starred restaurants, the city streets after dark come alive with vendors selling every type of cuisine, often cooking in little more than a doorway with their customers seated on milk crates or plastic chairs along the footpaths.


Hong Kong’s top seven street foods: Chilli Pork Dumplings, Curry Fish Balls, Egg tarts, Dai Pai Dong (spicy noodles, seafood & meats, usually in broth), sweet & spicy squid tentacles, egg waffles and the signature of Mong Kok, ‘stinky’ tofu.



·         Street foods are generally OK to eat as competition amongst vendors is usually is so fierce that the vendor can’t afford to get a bad reputation or lose their spot on the street.

·         Pick a busy stand and don’t be afraid of going a few streets away from the tourist areas to eat with the locals. (Any stall run by a Grandma will always be good!)

·         If you buy drinks, make sure you return the empty bottles to the vendor as many gain extra income from recycling deposits.

·         Take small notes and change – street food vendors are not ATM’s and most will be cash only.

·         Most vendors will be happy to ‘tailor’ a dish to suit your taste for a small charge.

·         Best experience: late night steaming dumplings while sitting on the street with a blizzardly cold beer!

What's in an airport's name?

The world of airlines is a world of acronyms and abbreviations that determine everything from where you sit to where you land. Some raise eyebrows such as the standard code ‘WC’ for premium economy which is also the symbol for toilets on your house plans. None are more confusing than the international airport codes. These 4-digit codes where the country is the common first letter followed by the airport designator were created in an era of telex machines and simple computers, and while they were once the preserve of the airport backrooms, they are now in the public realm. Such is the focus on the airport designators that there is now a push to enable some of the 500 airports in the system to ‘recode’ their designator just like a personalised number plate on a car.


Some unfortunate examples include:

LAX - Los Angeles International

BAD – Beijing’s new Daxing Airport

FUN – The island of Tuvalu

SUX - Sioux City Airport

OMG – Omega Airport, Namibia

LOL – Lovelock City, Nevada USA

DOH – Doha

ROT – Rotorua New Zealand

POO – Brazil’s Poco De Caldas Airport


It is a myth however that there was an African airport with the code WTF, (that was the code used by West African Transport Airlines based in Senegal)

What was once a celebration continues to be aviation's largest controversy
Max concerns

The issues surrounding the release of the ground hold on the 737-MAX aircraft continue to be more about politics than passenger safety. This week the predominately American Airline Pilots Association announced that it would not seek mandatory simulator training for the use of Boeing’s controversial MCAS system. The Association's announcement comes as MAX aircraft rolling off the assembly lines are taking up almost every available parking space around the Boeing manufacturing facility.  The political intervention has seen US, EU and other regulators disagree while behind the scenes, more gaps in the mandatory reporting rules have appeared, including an admission that problems with the system were identified 13 months before the first 737 MAX incident.

Kong is a huge theatrical event that is a must see!
Broadway: Kong gets a gong!
King Kong the hit Broadway show that started in Australia will be recognised at the prestigious ‘Tony Awards’ in the USA. As well as nominations for Best Scenic Design, Best Sound Design and Best Lighting, the show which features massive animatronics will be recognised with a special Tony Award recognising the Creature Designers that built Kong and brought him to life. CREW TIP: If you’re headed to New York, don’t buy the tickets before you leave, when you arrive, just check out the discount tickets that are released at most theatres at 10am daily. These ‘last minute’ seats are heavily discounted and if you don't mind odd seats, often they are in the theatre’s premium rows.
Norwich City's team gets a lift for the parade
Norwich City gets a hand

Qantas’ 747’s has bailed out stranded Jetstar passengers, Qatar have covered Alitalia and BA helped out when WOW collapsed. There’s no doubt the willingness to lend a hand is alive and well, and it was demonstrated this week when UK Premier Team Norwich City had a spot of trouble with their victory bus which failed to proceed in the centre of the parade. Thankfully, a near empty ‘Hop on Hop off Bus was nearby, and the star players quickly jumped aboard to continue the parade and celebrations

Low cost carriers continue to increase ecess baggage charges - in some cases the charge exceeds the cost of the air fare
Airline fees: emotional about baggage

Jetstar and Tiger are amid a baggage blitz where anyone turning up with extra bags are being slugged up to $100 for an overweight bag being checked in, and $75 for an overweight carry-on bag. The two low-cost carriers are also charging rates according to the distance travelled with international and trans-Tasman travellers hardest hit. Interestingly the 7kg carry on limit which was set to limit injuries and comply with the loading specifications of overhead lockers is a saleable item with Jetstar offering an extra 3kg starting at $30 if you pay at the time of check-in. Those trying to sneak through however will be charged between $60 and $100 depending on the route and your bag will end up in the hold….or more often, sent on the next flight.

Pakistan airspace remains closed causing huge fuel costs for airlines
Airline Routes: Pakistan causing fuel costs

Pakistan’s ongoing conflicts with nearby India has seen its airspace virtually shut down. While the Pakistani government is foregoing lucrative overflying fees, the real cost is being borne by the airlines who are required to take longer flight tracks and carry extra fuel. The fuel burn ratio of most jets means that for every five extra tonnes loaded, a tonne of fuel is burned carrying it. Additionally, the changed flight paths mean that alternative airports need to be programmed into every flight management package and some ‘ETOPS’ restricted airlines have been required to operate using different aircraft.

Interactive and intimate: The Museum of Broken Relationships has become a hit around the world
China: Museum of Broken Relationships

Everyone remembers their first love. But there’s also the first heartbreak, the first break up, or even the first time you discover betrayal and the Museum of Broken Relationships is the place to exhibit those items that tell the story of heartbreak. What started in Zagreb as a concept art installation has become a ‘world-brand’ with travelling museums popping up across Europe and the USA. Now, the artefacts of lost love are about to go exhibition in Shanghai’s city centre, and since the announcement, curators have received thousands of items from the love-torn locals including letters, trinkets, Tamagotchi’s and even an axe used to chop up an ex-lover’s apartment!

Travelling during Ramadan?

Ramadan Mubarak! The holy month of Ramadan is underway until June 3, and the religious protocols mean that travellers to predominately Muslim countries will experience a different view of the day to day life. Between sunrise and sunset, the faithful abstain from eating so many restaurants and food stalls close during the day which means that it’s a good idea to plan ahead and take a packed lunch from your hotel. The upside, however, is that the day’s fasting gives way to Iftar which means that every night there are feasts and celebrations. The evening meal is often staged in special Ramadan ‘iftar’ tents while all around the cities come alive. CREW TIP: It’s always polite not to eat in open public places during the day and after sunset, don’t be afraid to join in the community feasts and activities as showing hospitality is part of the religious observance. Fridays are the traditional worship times and shop, and restaurant closures are more widespread - so plan ahead

SAS pilots are back in the air but the dispute affect more than half a million travellers.
Pilots return to work after EU's largest strike

Northern Europe’s largest airline, Scandinavian, has had more than 500,000 upset passengers this week after its pilots walked off the job in an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions. After a week where over 4,000 flights were cancelled and a huge backlog of freight that will take weeks to clear, the industrial dispute has returned to the table and the planes to the skies. CREW TIP: Always book flights using codeshare or affiliated airlines. In the event of delays or cancellations, the airline is responsible for making sure you have food, transport and accommodation

Upgrade: economy food offering

Menu cards, pre-dining drinks or cocktails and large portions of local fresh ingredients are the hallmarks of Qatar Airways’ upgrade to the economy food and beverage offerings. Called ‘Qsine’ the airline’s new economy offering is designed to close the gap between the economy Y class and the premium WC cabin products

Bargain Watch: Fiji Airways

Fiji Airways have struggled since breaking away from Qantas; Now the Pacific airline has leased two Airbus A350-1000’s providing extended range capacity. CREW TIP: Keep an eye on Fiji Airways which has some potential extended routes!

Biometrics soon to replace AUS boarding passes

Biometrics are on the rise and are in use at many airports, but a trial has just been completed in Sydney that will shortly see the traditional boarding pass being swapped for a smile on domestic flights! The Qantas trial involved 5,000 ‘volunteer’ passengers, and according to the crew the system provided faster boarding. The scope of the system also extends to check-in, security screening and potentially passport control

Pilot duty limits are fixed at 20 hours, but Qantas wants the regulator to relax the limit to enable non stop flights between Sydney and London
Regulator uner pressure to relax fatigue rules 

Sydney or Melbourne to London non-stop is the holy grail of ultra-long-haul. But while the debate between aircraft capability and financial viability rages, in the background the main proponent, Qantas, is putting the pressure on the air safety regulator to increase the statutory 20-hour tour of duty limit for flight crew. The airline has targeted 2022 as the latest commencement of the service, however this is before the expiry of the current industrial agreements which reinforce the regulations

Need for speed: Matt Hall signs on 

Red Bull Air Ace, Matt Hall has been signed up by flight management software company Lockr. Lockr provides a highly specialist electronic package that manages a pilot’s day to day operations. Matt Hall is a three-time world champion and operates several different aircraft which a major benefit of the software package

Dutch selfies causing grief for tulip farmers

In what has become a continuing series of places discouraging tourists, Dutch tourism authorities have launched a campaign to reduce the number of tulips that are being trampled by selfie seeking tourists in search of the perfect picture. The impacts on tulip farms has resulted in the publishing of a  tourists’ do’s and don’ts list.

The Blue Caves are inspiring and a must see
Must see: Greece's Blue Caves

Most people have heard of the Blue Grotto on the Italian Isle of Capri, but across the Mediterranean on the Greek Island of Xante is a more dramatic example of natural reflections at the Blue Caves. Accessible by boat, the caves are best experienced in the morning when the colour is a cobalt blue. Unlike Capri, you can swim and take your time inside the limestone caves that are just a short distance from the town of Agious Nikolaos. 

USA: record numbers in TSA spring screening

Airport security agents in the USA have screened 108 million people in the first weeks of spring at the US’s three largest airports. The average wait time in the queue to be processed was 23 minutes.

Trends: 'authentic 'travel on the rise

Data from travel industry surveys have again identified the growing demand for authentic travel. Leading the research has been Australian based company ‘Inspiring Journeys.’  Topping the list of most popular experiences are nature-based tours and activities involving relaxation and pampering.

Route option: fly direct to Morocco's capital

Qatar has included Morocco’s capital Rabat to its network with a thrice-weekly 787 service. The route approval further cements Qatar’s relationship with Royal Air Maroc and strengthens Qatar’s competitive push against Emirates.

TWA Hotel's new observation deck includes a heated infinity edge pool overlooking the runway
World's best observation deck gets the green light

Airport hotels have come a long way from just somewhere to sleep when your flight is cancelled. TWA Hotel at New York’s JFK Airport has a plane for a cocktail bar and soundproof windows made up of 7 layers of glass, but the latest addition will get you even closer to the action on the busy runways. The hotel this week gave the green light to what will be the world’s best observation deck with an all-weather bar and a 60 x 20m heated infinity edge swimming pool. The pool is ‘swimmable’ all year despite New York’s bitter winters.

Pets take flight in the Middle East

While the idea of bringing your pet onboard has met with a firm no from most airlines, some Middle East carriers including Qatar, Etihad and Royal Jordanian Airways make exceptions for pet falcons. The precious birds are tethered and are carried aboard by their owners. Champion falcons can cost more than the average family home and even in economy are specially catered for inflight

The Solomon Islands is just 3 hours flying time from Australia and is the Pacific's best value escape location
Solomon Islands - the new Fiji

An outbreak of violence and unrest in connection with the tiny Pacific nation’s elections sent many tourists packing, but according to locals, it’s back to business as usual. The Solomons isn’t one island it’s actually 992 and is regarded as the Pacific’s hidden holiday gem. The capital, Honiara offers all the things you would expect in a city but the magic of the Solomons is found on many of the smaller islands with small beachfront hotels and overwater bungalows like those found at high-end destinations like Bora Bora and Tahiti - but without the high prices. No visa is required from Australia and getting there is easy with Solomon Airlines who code share with Qantas. Virgin, Fiji Airways and Air Vanuatu also operate flights to Honiara which is just 3 hour’s flying time from Brisbane. Details:        

Airbus innovations: the bi-annual design competition will be awarded in June with the winner taking away a 45,000 euro prize
High flying ideas

Airbus has announced the finalists in its search for the next generation of ideas with students from 11 nations being selected as finalists chasing the 45,000-euro first prize in the ‘Fly Your Ideas’ competition.  The ideas covered defence and commercial aviation and included wireless switches, aircraft seats that convert to wheelchairs and advanced satellite imagery to combat illegal fishing. The competition was first won by a team from the University of Queensland in 2009 while Melbourne’s RMIT University picked up second place in 2013 and 2017. This year’s finalists will head to Airbus’ headquarters in Toulouse in June to demonstrate their ideas on real aircraft. Their progress can be seen on the Airbus website      

United's new livery

Greater brand awareness is the focus of US carrier United’s new livery. The strong graphics have been designed to stand out both in the air and the ground. It’s the first makeover of the airline’s drab grey image which has been unchanged for almost a decade. The paint job will coincide with several changes to the inflight product

Qantas puts 380's back into Hong Kong

Seasonal fleet adjustments have seen Qantas redeploy A380’s onto the Hong Kong routes giving passengers the option of first class. Typically serviced by A330’s, the choice of 4 classes of travel will up the competitive ante with other carriers consistently keeping return flights to Hong Kong below the A$500 mark. CREW TIP: The greater capacity of the 380s will see prices stay low so don’t waste points on economy bookings.

Digging deep with a sky high partnership

Better known for its defence systems and stylish ‘Falcon’ business jets, French company Dassault has teamed up with mining giant BHP to deploy its cutting-edge avionic and defence technologies underground in BHP mines around the world. The high-tech systems are expected to streamline exploration work and open new markets as part of the joint venture

Warner Bros World is a world class attraction
That's not all folks!

Travellers to Abu Dhabi must put Warner Bros World on the list of things to do. The massive indoor theme park boasts six themed areas with 29 state of the art rides rivalling the likes of Disney and Universal Studios in LA. The park brings everything Warner Bros to life and is next door to the remarkable Ferrari World and the massive Yass Island Waterworks. Abu Dhabi is the home base for Etihad Airlines. CREW TIP: Before you book the connecting flight, check out the options for a 24 or 48 stopover, including bonus offers

Coles Bay is under pressure with locals wanting a cap on tourists
Tassie's tourist tussle

While Tasmania’s west coast and Par Avion Airways are opening the doors for visitors, the popular Freycinet region on the east coast is looking to limit tourism. The region’s centrepiece, the stunning Coles Bay is the subject of a bitter campaign where long term locals and owners of beach shacks and cottages are opposing new developments stating that the region cannot sustain additional visitors. A town meeting this week called upon the Tasmanian government to put a cap on the number of tourists

Wings over the Illawarra

Ninety minutes south of Sydney is the Illawarra which is famous for the beaches of Wollongong and the annual Wings over the Illawarra Airshow. The show has grown over the years and with it the number of specialist groups including the Historical Aircraft restoration Society that convinced Qantas to donate a retired 747. Billed as Sydney’s Airshow and Australia’s ‘Osh-Kosh’ the show includes the largest gathering of warbirds and private aircraft in Australia. Details

Strange Stays: sleep over in a 100 year old library

Gladstone library in Wales is a busy library with almost half a million books adorning the 1900’s building, but it also offers the chance to stay on after the library closes at the end of each day. For around A$80, you can rest up with a good book in one of 27 comfy bedrooms where the walls are lined with floor to ceiling bookshelves holding items from a collection first started in the late 1800s. With all that reading material the rooms don’t have televisions or DVDs.

New Zealand will require electronic travel authorities from October 2019
New Zealand: Electronic Travel Authority required from October

While Australians and New Zealanders can move between the two countries without visas, from October this year, New Zealand will introduce an Electronic Travel Authority system that will require would be travellers to complete an online form and pay a small fee, before they fly. The approval is valid for five years and is automatically linked to your passport. The new system is expected to speed up processing on arrival into New Zealand and facilitate seamless transfer with the proposed expansion of the US pre-processed entry system

Boeing is working hard to expedite the 737MAX's return to flight operations
Max'd out with PR

Boeing and the US government continue to talk up the return of the 737-MAX to the skies. In the latest twist, Boeing announced this week that they expect the software “fix” to be completed across all aircraft by July, a move that was endorsed by the US aviation regulator. Despite the positive talk, other regulatory authorities remain unconvinced that a software upgrade can be rolled out without practical pilot training and certification

VR to train Qatar's engineers

Qatar Airways this week announced that its engineers would be trained on new Rolls Royce engines for its A350-1000 fleet using virtual reality. The huge Trent XWB engines have to be broken down into several sections before being transported or to undertake maintenance. The cost of training on the new engines is huge and is compounded by the fact that there are not too many of them lying around. The engineers will don VR headsets and can even hear the oil, lubricants and bolts as well as ‘feeling’ the parts through special gloves.  This innovation is the first of its kind and means that engineers can pull the entire engine apart without having to take a real engine offline.

Glenfillan viaduct on the Hogwarts Express
Hogwarts Express experience

Hogwarts Express which is featured in the Harry Potter movies is not a fictional train – it exists, and from April to October each year, visitors to Scotland’s Fort William north of Glasgow can board the famous train from the Harry Potter series. The train ride includes the Glenfillan viaduct which is the magical bridge between the real world and the ‘Potterverse.’ The Jacobite steam train is run by West Coast Railways and is a superb way to explore Scotland

Website Watch

Hong Kong is pushing hard to boost tourist numbers, and again full-service airline fares have dropped below $500.  Not to be outdone, China Airways is offering return flights from Australia for $397 - be quick the China offer expires on 22nd April.

China's new mega airport is ready for business

Beijing Daxing Airport or ZBAD is officially one of the largest airports to be built and has opened its doors showing the sheer scale and potential of the facility. As Airline Insider previously reported, the Chinese government has mandated that a number of airlines currently flying in and out of Beijing will be required to use the new facility

Tornado Hunter tours

You’ve seen them on television chasing storms across the USA, and now you can join them with Silver Lining Tours offering arrange of tornado hunting tours. The tours include specially equipped vehicles, meal and accommodation. The vehicles are built for comfort and include some of the most sophisticated radar technology available. Prices start at around $2,500 for a 7-day chase.

Hobart's Dark Mofo in style

Hobart’s ‘Dark MoFO’ festival is a big event staged by the now world renown MONA gallery. Getting to MONA is now even easier with Tasmania’s Par Avion offer helicopter transfers that take in the best views of the city and the Derwent River. You’ll fly to MONA, enjoy the gallery and fine food and then take the ferry back to Hobart all for just $299 per person. Par Avion uses an Airbus Squirrel helicopter for the comfy flight

Ski Sapporo

Qantas will launch new direct seasonal flights between Sydney and Sapporo, meeting a growing demand from Australians wanting to travel to the popular Japanese ski holiday destination. To coincide with the peak ski season, Qantas will fly three times per week to Sapporo's New Chitose Airport between December 2019 and March 2020 using upgraded A330 aircraft.

Dubrovnik's fame in Game of Thrones is blamed for the overcrowding by tourists
Dubrovnik is over the Game of Thrones

Home to just under 50,000 locals, Croatia’s Dubrovnik is a victim of its own success as an estimated 1.2 million fans of the hit series ‘Game of Thrones’ visit the country. The influx of tourists has prompted local authorities to join the list of places saying ‘no’ to more tourists. Fans will recognise the medieval walled city as ‘Kings Landing’ in the hit series, but for locals already struggling with overcrowding, the loss of traditional markets and access to town features are taking the shine off the more than 250 million euros that the visitors bring. CREW TIP: Croatia is beautiful, but avoid the peak season where overcrowding is so bad that you’ll want to stay at home!

Adelaide's teddy bear is making hay

For decades, ‘Buck’ the bear has been keeping watch over the field in the middle of Adelaide Airport. The cuddly bear who first appeared as part of an observation training exercise for Air Traffic Controllers is moved around the runways by airport staff and has become a famous attraction for passengers. Today, Buck has turned farmer, converting around four hectares of the airport’s grassed areas into fields of lucerne as part of a trial to make the airport greener.

Over the summer period, the lucerne has been harvested and sold, but tests also showed that the crop lowered air temperatures across the adjoining taxiway by around 3 degrees. The reduced temperature assists aircraft which suffer engine performance losses in high ambient temperatures, prompting researchers to plan for more crops along the runway

London calling?
JetBlue to UK but it needs an airport

US domestic airline JetBlue is expanding adding London as a new destination from its Boston and New York bases. The airline will use single aisle long-range A321 aircraft for the flights which will commence in early 2021. At this stage, the airline has not advised which airport in London it will use. The main Heathrow Airport has little capacity for additional landing slots suggesting that JetBlue will use either Luton, Gatwick or Stansted airports

Mile high beer

It started as a punk ‘up yours’ answer to hipster craft beers, but eccentric Scottish company Brewdog have since made their mark brewing beer in some of the strangest places; on trains, on boats and even in the back of a NASCAR at high speed.

To celebrate British Airways’ centenary, they wanted to create a beer onboard a 747. But…. the project hit some serious turbulence even before getting off the ground when the brewers wanted to install a propane gas system onboard the 747 to heat the barley mash. The answer from airline’s engineers was a very swift “no way”, and it looked like the project was dead until one of the crew suggested the stainless steel ‘Corey pots’ in the galley which are normally used to make coffee.

The result was ‘Speedbird 100’ a pale ale, craft beer that was brewed at 38,000 feet above the Atlantic while travelling at around 800 km/h. (does this make it the fastest beer on earth?) The beer will be launched officially on May 1st.  Click on the image to see the video snapshot of the journey!

AA off centre at JFK

American Airlines Flight 300 followed ground directions at New York’s JFK airport a little too closely this week. The aircraft departed with part of runway sign after tracking off the centreline and hitting the sign during the take-off roll. Aside from a case of acute embarrassment, there were no injuries, and the plane returned landing safely

Newcastle Airport has backing for its aero hub making it a focal point for defence technologies and expanded airline operations
Newcastle to become the aerospace focus

Newcastle Airport started life sharing the Air Force’s Williamtown runway and since then has steadily grown to be one of Australia’s emerging ‘gateway’ airports. Plans to upgrade the airport to handle larger international aircraft have received a boost with the development of a dedicated aerospace facility on a 72-hectare site that adjoins the airport. Called ‘Astra Aerolab’ site works have already commenced. The facility will bring together leading-edge aviation, aerospace and defence companies as well as being home to an innovation hub and education precinct. Located across the runway from the Williamtown RAAF Base and with some parts of the site having direct airside access, the facility is already attracting interest.

Turbulence ahead as Qatar slaps down critics and denies air route 'backdooring'
Qatar denies 'backdooring'

Qatar took the unusual step this week of rebuking claims that it is using its acquisition of Air Italy to ‘backdoor’ access to aviation routes, particularly into the USA. Mindful of the litigious sensitivities of some airlines, the Middle East carrier slapped down claims from what it described as the “US Big 3” stating that it would not be code sharing with the Italian airline or using its stake to manipulate fifth freedoms which grant countries air travel access rights. The growth of the small Middle Eastern nation’s airline has often raised the ire of other carriers, particularly in the USA and Europe

Band member, pilot & head roadie!
Check out the video tour of Iron Maiden's 747
Watch the video!
Rock star roadies

Private jets have long been associated with rock stars, but British band Iron Maiden have taken it to the next level trading up their smaller Boeing 757 for the larger 747 Queen of the Skies. The plane is flown by the band’s front man, Bruce Dickinson who said that that their new 747-400 means everything the band needs is on the plane. Iron Maiden leases the aircraft from Air Atlanta Icelandic, and they have named the plane ‘Ed-Force One’ after the band’s mascot Eddie. The ‘Ed-Force One’ callsign has been known to jolt a few nightshift air traffic controllers as Dickinson radios inbound to their airspace.  

Virgin Atlantic's Cinderella

Virgin Atlantic is finally upgrading its fleet with its new A350-1000 set to turn heads with a stylish cabin configuration that is all about luxury. Business class has been renamed ‘Upper Class’ and features a new take on the sky-bar with an area called the ‘Loft.’ Featuring a huge 32-inch screen, comfy lounges and room to spread out, the Loft is the largest communal space on any airline, including the larger A380. The airline will take delivery of 12 of the aircraft over the next 3 years. The first aircraft has been named ‘Red Velvet’ and will make its debut on the hardworking London to New York route. CREW QUIP: Junior pilots have already nicknamed the aircraft ‘Cinderella’ – saying it has several ugly sisters and will be required to do all the hard work!

The MAX issue is actually making people read safety cards!
Max confusion

Boeing’s woes continue with airlines around the world turning their backs on the 737 MAX aircraft. Further confusion has arisen in recent weeks as some 737 passengers check the seat-pocket safety card and immediately become distraught. The cause of their distress is that some airlines have the same safety card for Boeing 737-800’s as the Boeing 737 MAX. On average, airlines will replace safety cards on an almost daily basis, prompting many to consolidate aircraft variants onto the one card. The confusion caused a flood of concerns on social media for US airline Southwest and Norwegian Air both of whom use the same safety card for their entire 737 fleets.

Modest accommodation near Tower Hill with the best views of London
London: 'eccent-rich' accommodation

Tower Hill in London is by anyone’s standards a desirable address just across from Tower Bridge and some of London’s top attractions. But St Katherines Dock is offering a new level of luxury accommodation with what it deceivingly calls a ‘houseboat’ – The ‘houseboat is not your Murray river weekender variety; basically think something akin to a Sydney ferry with 5 bedrooms and luxury bathrooms spread amongst the decks and casual areas which are fitted out better than most 5 star hotels. The rate is by negotiation, but on ‘check in’ a 1,000-pound security bond will be debited to your credit card

Aircraft parts on the fly

Calling for the engineer to fix a problem at the gate usually also meant a long wait for aircraft parts. However, an Air New Zealand 777 this week departed LAX with a spare part that was produced using a high-tech 3D printer. The part, a seat bumper, was arranged by Singapore based tech company ST Engineering which sent the specifications to LA Based Moog industries where it was printed, certified and delivered to the aircraft for installation ‘at the gate.’

The system uses secure electronic encoding to ensure that the parts retain their design integrity and is expected to grow in popularity as the cost of maintaining huge warehouse inventories increase. (An A380 has just short of 4 million different parts, including specialist nuts and bolts)

Commercial drone deliveries are carried out using the same licence issued to airline operators
Canberra is the drone capital

Canberra made news this week as the world’s first drone capital. Google subsidiary, ’Wing’ received approval from the Australian aviation regulators to operate large scale commercial drone delivery service. Although the trials first commenced in 2014, the regulator, CASA, issued the company with what is effectively an airline operator’s certificate highlighting the battle between technical innovation and traditional regulations. The approval comes as the US aviation regulator announced it intends to certify the company to provide a similar service in the USA. Thankfully, the drones cannot operate within 5 kilometres of airports

The Vargas styled 'flying lady' to be retired later this year
Farewell to the 'flying lady'

The days of the 1940’s pin-up girl adorning the nose of Virgin aircraft are over. British airline; Virgin Atlantic will retire the flying lady for people in lycra outfits, including men. The pin-up girl characters were made famous by painter Alberto Vargas, and the original scantily clad woman whose body suit unfurls to become a Union Jack flag has been an icon of the airline since its startup in 1984. The airline will launch the new icons on its Airbus A350-1000 fleet later this year

DXB reverts to a single runway for 45 days - expect delays
Dubai: delays ahead

As reported last year, Dubai International will shut down its main southern runway for 45 days commencing on April 16. The runway gets pounded 24 hours a day from some of the world’s largest jets and needs rebuilding. The project leaves only one operating runway which has resulted in many flights being reallocated to different terminals or to the nearby Al Maktoum airport. If you are transiting through Dubai between April 16 and May 30, check the boarding gates carefully and give yourself plenty of time

Silver spitfire 

The restoration of a classic Spitfire is surging ahead with a little over 100 days to the start of a commemorative around the world flight. Coinciding with D-Day commemorations, the journey is the longest for the single-engine aircraft that was at the forefront of air combat in many countries. Catch the latest at

The 737MAX issues are set to further impact Boeing
Concerns over CEO comments continue to attract criticism of the company's governance
Boeing gazumps investigators

The investigation onto the 737MAX issue stepped up this week with Boeing admitting its stabilising system; MCAS was at fault in the recent crash of an Ethiopian aircraft. As reported by Airline Insider, the system's reliance on only one of the angle of attack vanes mounted on the nose of the plane created false airspeed readings resulting in the flight computers acting contrary to the pilots’ inputs.

The preliminary findings of the crash investigation are likely to see regulators call for full recertification of the 737MAX design.

Transparent paint becomes opaque colour when saturated
Must See: Seoul's dancing in the rain

Seoul in South Korea is a vibrant place, except in the monsoon season where the outgoing street vibe heads indoors. Creating colour even on the greyest of days is a new form of street art that uses hydrochromatic paint which is invisible when dry but when splashed with water becomes opaque colour. The pain has been used to create murals and colourful scenes on roads and laneways that appear when it rains and then vanish when the sun returns

Spend a night with the Mona Lisa

Accommodation disruptor, Airbnb is transforming the iconic Louvre in Paris for one night into a luxury hotel. One lucky guest will experience the museum like no other person with a curated tour, a sumptuous dinner, drinks is a luxurious Persian lounge and a private concert in the private apartment of Napoleon III. The evening wraps up with a once in a lifetime bedroom underneath the iconic glass pyramid. To be in the running go to before April 12 and say why you’d be the perfect guest for Mona Lisa

Airline Awards: Qatar scoops the pool

Qatar added more trophies to its bulging cabinet this week picking the PAX International award for ‘Best cabin interior and passenger experience at the prestigious function in Hamburg Germany. The airline also bagged six major Trip Advisor Awards including World’s best business class and Trip Advisors’ Travellers’ Choice Award

Despite the hype not a single airline has ordered cargo pod sleepers
No takers for cargo pod sleepers

Qantas billed it as the ‘lower deck passenger experience’, but the option of fitting an aircraft with sleeper pods in the cargo hold has not been a hit for Airbus who launched the design late last year. The concept which allows a passenger to ‘book a bunk’ for part of the flight is yet to find a single customer despite a range of marketing options including gyms, meeting spaces and kids play areas.

Accessed from a ladder type staircase in the main cabin, the product may remain just a concept as price sensitivities along with aggressive marketing of premium economy seating dominates the market. A further issue is the costs of heating and air conditioning the general cargo hold. Airbus A380’s currently has a 12-bed pod under the main deck which is used as a crew rest area. 

New: sky sofa for business class

While the passenger pod might be a non-starter, Airbus has attracted a large amount of interest with its new business class seat design. The ‘sofa-seat’ is exactly that and does not require the heavy structures and motorised recliners that add weight and cost to aircraft. The design is just like a comfy leather sofa and has the added benefit of reduced maintenance.

A Jetstar 787 remians in Osaka after thrust issues
Jetstar: engine issues under investigation

Investigations continue into engine issues experienced by a Jetstar 787 en route from Cairns to Osaka this week. Descending through 15,000 feet into Kansai Airport, the aircraft experienced thrust issues with both engines Powered by General Electric engines; the issue first appeared as the thrust ‘rolled forward’ on the number two (right) engine after which the number one engine experienced similar issues. The uncommanded surges are believed to be as a result of the flight management computers which automatically reset ignition sequences and control the thrust. The aircraft remains grounded while a review is undertaken. The issue has only arose on one of the airline's 787 fleet.

Royal Brunei out in the cold

Brunei’s decision to introduce Sharia law has been met with condemnation around the world and a cascade of boycott calls. The decree by the country’s ruling Sultan prompted Virgin Australian to immediately sever interline travel agreements with the tiny nation’s flag carrier Royal Brunei Airlines.   Other airlines have since followed and in a major blow to Brunei’s tourism industry, several leading Travel Agent Groups, including STA Travel, will not facilitate bookings for travel to Brunei.

New route: Milan to LA

Qantas Air Italy is spreading its wings using the peak summer season to launch a direct service between Milan and Los Angeles. The destination is the third northern USA city which also includes New York and Miami.

Trend: Bare boating on the rise

Bareboating is a growing trend that sees people hiring a luxury sailboat or catamaran in locations such as Australia’s Whitsundays, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.

Bareboating that’s anything but bare, and the floating hotel room means that you can drop anchor and explore as you please. Cruising the 74 islands of the Whitsundays on a luxury catamaran ranges in price from $2,500 – $3,800 per week for a boat that sleeps 6. The boats come with an inboard engine and everything you need for a luxury holiday. Some include a skipper for the first few days or offer a familiarisation sail and then regular radio & ship visits throughout the week. CREW TIP:  See, and eBay for bargains and during the slow season, you’re better off negotiating at the marina

Baseball hot dogs are an art form!
Food and drink is part of the fun of a day at the stadium
Baseball is back!

West coast USA is now on daylight saving time and with the summer comes the return of baseball. Staged as an event, going to a baseball game is recommended for visitors but beware the ticket scalpers and the pricey tickets that you book online before you arrive. At the ballpark, compare the cost of food and drinks to what you pay at the footy! In fact, most drinks are refillable for free and food prices are rock bottom. Hot dogs are an art form and are politely passed to you right along the row, even if there are 30 people between you and the vendor!  CREW TIP:  Discount tickets for good seats are usually available locally or through the hotel concierge desk

More Disney restrictions from May 1

Disney opens up for the season with the Star Wars experience (remember pre-booking is a must for May), but with record crowds expected all Disney parks will from May 1 ban smoking, vaping and carrying large eskys. If you’re planning on taking the little ones, check the permitted sizes of prams and strollers as new restrictions also apply. If your pram is oversized, you will have to either return it to your hotel or pay to check it into the cloakroom.

ACCC 'powerless' to control airfares

Airfares were anything but fair at the Senate Inquiry this week where the Australian Consumer and Competition commission admitted it couldn’t control process of airlines, especially those in regional areas. The Senate committee was told that just because a price is high doesn’t mean it is illegal and if the market will bear such a price the ACCC’s only recourse is to act if there is collusion between airline operators. Admitting defeat, the commission’s spokesperson said that if the only pie shop in town charges extremely high prices for pies, it’s not the concern of the Commission

China is one of 9 manufacturers competing for the multi-billion dron taxi market
Drone taxis take flight

With 9 different manufacturers in the race for the title of being first into the market with flying drone taxis, Chinese manufacturer, Ehang this week test flew its drone taxi in Vienna. Able to fly at low altitude for around 40 kilometres, the drone taxi is comfortable, smooth and quiet. Ehang, flew several journalists around a football stadium as part of its announcement to commence manufacturing mid next year. While the manufacturers are racing ahead, regulators and city planners are struggling with the huge task of creating safe regulatory regimes

NASA has given the order for a super-sonic passenger aircraft to Lockheed Martin with a tight deadline for flight
NASA says go for supersonic passenger plane

NASA has pressed the ‘go’ button on a new supersonic aircraft which will be designed and built by Lockheed Martin.  The aircraft will utilise QSST which stands for quiet supersonic technology enabling the aircraft to travel at supersonic speeds over land. Currently, regulations require supersonic aircraft to fly at sub-Mach speeds over land even at altitude. This restriction was one of several constraints that made the Concorde financially uncompetitive. Echoing the rapid development timeline of the 747, the contract requires Lockheed Martin to deliver an operational prototype by 2021

Pilots, not bankers may put the final chocks on Jet Airways
Jet Airways' last chance could affect Etihad

With most of their aircraft grounded and several 737’s being repossessed, time is running our for a rescue deal for the debt-ridden Indian airline, Jet Airways.  A last attempt bid offer closes next week although pilot unions claim that some staff are yet to be paid. The pilots have set a deadline of April 14 to be paid or they will walk off the job- a move that would certainly spell the end for the airline. The woes of the airline have also impacted Middle East carrier, Etihad who holds a substantive share in Jet Airways

New route: Bendigo - Sydney

 Qantas commences operation between Bendigo and Sydney this weekend bypassing Melbourne Airport. Operated by QantasLink, the airline has invested in a new, purpose-built terminal at Bendigo Airport which recently underwent a major upgrade. The 50 seat, Q400 turboprop aircraft provides full onboard service and will operate six days a week reducing the commute by two hours each way.

Tasmania opens up the magnificent west

Strahan in Tasmania’s south-west is the gateway to the island’s environmental wonderland. But getting there has been a major barrier, often involving a day’s driving. Tasmania’s local airline, Par-Avion has announced a new service that takes you from Hobart Airport to Strahan in just under 50 minutes. The flight will commence on May 13 with three services per week tracking over some of Tasmania’s most spectacular scenery.

No visa requirements for some travellers will further add to Brazil's tourist boom
Brazil: no visa needed

Travelling to Brazil in South America just got easier with the Brazilian government announcing that passengers travelling on Australian, Japanese, Canadian and US passports will no longer need a visa. The change takes effect on June 17 and enables a stay of up to 90 days, which can be automatically extended to 120 days in any 12-month period. Since the 2016 Olympics, the country has enjoyed a 35% boost in tourist numbers

Bizzare behaviours

Video has emerged of a naked man trying to board a flight in Moscow. The man checked in for the Ural Airlines flight as normal, but just prior to boarding, stripped off in the departure lounge and proceeded to board the aircraft. When arrested, the man claimed that flying naked “improved the overall aerodynamics.”  Tests confirmed the man was not affected by alcohol or drugs and that his actions were simply out of his heartfelt belief that flying naked “helps to improve the airflow through the aircraft.” The incident was one of a dozen stranger than normal passenger behaviours, including the arrest of United Airlines passenger for urinating on luggage. CREW TIP: If you can wear it on the street, you can wear it on the plane! 

Lombok is the stunning alternative to Bali
Five star at Lombok for $1 a night

AirAsia has announced another Australian route, this time flying direct from Perth to the Indonesian island of Lombok, prompting local hotels to create some stunning deals. Lombok is the natural rival to nearby Bali and boasts magnificent beaches and enchanting scenery. Leading the deal race is the five-star Wyndham Sundancer Resort which is offering a one-bedroom suite for just $1 for the first night, with subsequent nights costing just A$130. The deal runs from June 9 making it a perfect, low cost, winter escape. AirAsia flies from Perth to Lombok direct four times a week.

Arnhem Land in Australia's top end is the next hot destination list
Contact your travel agent for details of the cultural tours run by the local people
Must See: Arnhem Land in Australia's top end

Australia’s top end is the new hot destination and visitors are venturing well beyond the big sky landscape of Kakadu, preferring the unique remoteness of East Arnhem Land.  Guided by the local Yolngu people who are the traditional owners of the area around Gove, the local people have formed their own tour company called ‘Lirrwi’ and offer a range of tours and cultural adventures in the pristine land.

CREW TIP: Like with Uluru, always choose the tours owned and operated by the local indigenous people. Wherever possible, ask for tours led by the members of the tribe who almost always have amazing stories and insight.

Change of seasons - check the time

Daylight saving has started in the USA, and many parts of the northern hemisphere are gearing up for a busy summer. With the change of seasons, there is a raft of changes to airline schedules and aircraft types as capacity is moved from the southern hemisphere to the north. Air China, Emirates, Etihad and United are reducing the number of flights, while other airlines are swapping high capacity aircraft such as A380’s for smaller 787’s and A340’s. CREW TIP: Double check the times of connections if you’re travelling over the next three weeks, double checking the time shifts as Australia ends daylight saving and other countries start. By convention airline schedules always quote local time. If you’re selecting seats, remember that the aircraft type is subject to change

China is likely to make Cathay's acquistion of Hong Kong Express a competitive challenge with most anlaysts believing fares will tumble
Cathay acquisition likely to see fares tumble

As well as extending interline arrangements with Qantas, Cathay Pacific has defied the Chinese Government and acquired budget carrier Hong Kong Express. The deal will up the competitive ante with several mainland China-based carriers. It is also expected that the Chinese Government will promote other airports away from Hong Kong including reinstating some of the subsidies that saw ticket prices tumble in late 2017

Japan: cherry blossom watch

It’s peak hour in Japan with all eyes on the magical Cheery Blossoms. If you’re heading to Japan, the national weather service is keeping tabs on the spring blooms with a weekly forecast of where to see the best blossoms. Website:

Smart signs
Facial recognition is being used to streamline check-in and boarding at airports, but China is leading the word with smart wayfinding technology that uses your face to give you personalised directions. What looks like a typical LED wayfinding screen suddenly burst into life as a tiny camera scans your face. In a matter of seconds, the sign greets you by name and then displays your fight and which way you need to walk to your gate.  The smart signs are currently in use at several mainland airports
Airspray: smiling panda is a hit

Airspray entrants don’t usually come from Russia, but Nordstar Airlines has its eyes on  some Asian markets with its smiling panda livery. The rise in themed aircraft continues to increase.

Iceland: WOW grounded

Iceland’s happy go lucky budget carrier WOW Air has hit hard times with all aircraft grounded as the company faces financial pressures. The ultra-low fare model has struggled in recent months, and the grounding of flights on Thursday impacted many US travellers who were stranded. WOW's aggressive pricing and promotional flights to locations showcasing the Northern Lights attracted significant bookings on the US market

China's president signs a $35b deal with Airbus and said 7,200 new planes are needed in China over the next two decades
Boeing's bad day at the office continues

Boeings woes with its workhorse 737 MAX continues with the US regulator, the FAA now facing further political scrutiny. The aircraft type remains parked in most jurisdictions around the world. The extended delay in recertification has seen one of the largest fleet owners, Southwest, temporarily send 15 of its aircraft to the Victorville desert boneyard. The headaches for Boeing continued this week as Airbus sealed a $35 billion deal to supply China with 290 A320’s and 10 A350 widebodies. In announcing the deal, the Chinese President Xi Jinping stated that an extra 7,200 new aircraft are needed in China within the next two decades. (that’s almost 7 planes a week!

Jetstar is seeking additional revenue through advertising
Flying advertisements

Advertisements are all over trams, trains and buses and now Jetstar is adorning both the exterior and interiors of its aircraft with promotional advertising. The first campaign to be rolled out promotes Launceston in Tasmania featuring scenic images stuck to the bulkheads and overhead lockers and a call to action aimed at enticing the 900 or so people that step aboard the aircraft each day. While most passengers are indifferent, several safety professionals have criticised the move claiming that the visual clutter could affect obscure safety-related signage in an emergency. 

Must Do: French exhibit puts you in the picture
Lovers of classic art can give the long queues at the Louvre a miss and experience an immersive 7,000 square metre exhibition of classic artist Van Gough at Carrieres de Lumieres. Located near the town of Avignon, the 3D exhibition is staged in a huge stone cavern using multiple projectors so that you become part of the canvas. Running through to January next year, if you’re heading to France it’s a must see!

Bargain Watch: Thailand

One for the calendar: In May & June the Thailand tourism department is hosting ‘Amazing Thailand’ a promotion which will run in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. With the events, expect some specials just in time to escape the wintry chills! 

Airspray: ANA's flying whale

Japan’s ANA is reversing the trend and rolling out new A380’s to cope with the surge in Japanese travellers to Hawaii. The first jet has featured a huge whale motif, while the second 380 will roll out of the Toulouse factory on Monday (25/3/19) featuring an emerald green vista of the Hawaiian Islands.

A win for plane spotters?

Last year Sydney airport took a step forward with a dedicated public viewing area near the ATC tower called Shep’s Mound. It’s been such a success that images from the site have gone viral around the world and many regular Captains and First Officers now make a point of waving as they pass hoping to be featured on the plane spotters’ websites! Rumour is now about to look like fact with 3 east coast airports about to add camera ports to their airport boundary fences. Sadly, one Australian capital city airport, however, is bucking the trend and this week installed spikes on a concrete plinth to stop photographers from standing on it. 

Travel Alert: Turkey

One month out from Anzac Day and the US, UK and Australian governments have upgraded travel warnings for Turkey. The increase in threat level was fuelled by recent emotive political statements by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey’s proximity to trouble spots like Syria and Iraq has always meant that travellers need to be aware of the risk of terrorism. Increased security arrangements are being deployed for the Anzac commemorations, and Turkey’s new airport at Istanbul has robust security processes. Unlike towns and villages in the areas near the Syrian border, tourism is a key economic driver for may parts of Turkey and most international hotel groups are well equipped to provide care for their guests. Security at Anzac Cove will be even tighter this year so visitors are reminded to be patient.

CREW TIP: Always check the Australian government 'Smart Traveller' website before leaving for countries where political or civil unrest is likely. 

No more stairs at Avalon Airport
Avalon steps up; without steps

Melbourne’s second international airport Avalon continues to grow and to overcome the issue of no terminal aerobridges, the airport has commissioned its first ‘Aviramp’ – a mobile ramp system that means the end of aircraft stairs. The system adjusts to suit a variety of aircraft types and provides better protection for passengers boarding or disembarking an aircraft. A further benefit is that the Aviramp avoids the usual bottlenecks of passengers struggling to climb narrow stairs.

Qatar reaches 250 aircraft

It’s one of the smaller entities in the Middle East, but in aviation terms, Qatar is one of the world’s giants. This week Qatar took delivery of its 250th aircraft, an Airbus A350-900. The airline has continued its aggressive growth in passenger, cargo and executive transport adding additional passenger routes on an almost weekly basis. The airline recently acquired a stake in China Southern extending its push into Asia.

Cleanliness ratings released
Last week we reported on the short cuts taken by some airlines in cleanliness, especially during tight turnarounds. This week, Japan’s ANA was named the ‘cleanest airline in the world’ by rating service Skytrax. The rating is gleaned from 23 million survey responses over a 12-month period. Qantas, British Airways and some of the ‘top tier’ airline brands were noticeably absent from the top 25 airlines. CREW TIP: In a recent swab test conducted on A330 and A380 aircraft flying out of Australia, the item with the most bacteria was the entertainment control handset.
The Vessel - NYC's latest addition offers thousands of unique views of the city.
2019 Best views of New York are free
If you’re going to New York, you have to walk along ‘Highline’ a converted rail track that is now a fabulous walking track across the city. Where Highline ends is the newest addition to NYC a 1.5km high platform made up of 254 sets of stairs and 80 landings providing breathtaking views and perspectives of the Big Apple. Called the Vessel, it’s modelled on the stepwells of India, and like a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, it’s free! CREW TIP: Make sure your camera is fully charged as the photo ops are legendary!
Insight: kids flying alone need better standards
Children travelling without their parents or carers can be quite a burden on airlines requiring special provisions before and after the flight to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children. In the air, children cannot be seated next to adult males and must be within the oversight of the crew at all times. While Australian states have strict requirements for staff and businesses who work with children and vulnerable people, strangely airlines are not required to ensure that ground and flight crew are subject to the necessary checks required to hold a ‘working with children’ accreditation.


This anomaly occurs because the working with children accreditation regimes are state-based while a crew member’s airside security accreditation is under federal law.


The federal checks disregard what are called ‘spent convictions’ which are jail convictions of less than 30 months from a previous decade or 5 years if the offender was a minor. The state checks, however, consider all convictions and, in some instances, also require the employer or airline to have rigorous procedural and reporting regimes.


Despite the differences between state and federal laws, there is a requirement where responsibility for the welfare of unaccompanied minors is assigned to each person along the journey. A child can only be handed over to another staff member, parent or carer on arrival provided that the crew member responsible for the child is satisfied that the bona fides of the next person are genuine.


This means that in the event of a delay or diversion, the child cannot be left alone or handed over to a non-authorised person.


Typically, unaccompanied minors will board last with the responsible crew member and usually will be seated in the last row away from other passengers. If you are collecting an unaccompanied minor, they will usually be last off the plane and will only be released to the carer nominated by the carer on the documentation. (note images in story supplied)


Ensure that the person collecting the child at the end of the flight has current identification that matches the paperwork 

Include a change of clothes in the child's carry on bag in case of diversions or onboard spills

If parents are separated, some requirements apply for international travel

The airline MUST ensure that the child is in the safe care of an appropriate adult AT ALL TIMES!

The plane that carries other planes!
Strange planes

While Boeing has had better months for the 737MAX, Boeing has continued to roll out its 787’s. The 787 and the 777X is manufactured at various locations around the world including Melbourne. Getting all the parts together for final assembly requires some serious heavy lifting which is why Boeing has built the ‘Dreamlifter’ – a huge air freighter that can carry wing and fuselage sections back to the main assembly line near Seattle. The aircraft literally ‘wags’ its tail to open the huge cargo cavity. 

JetBlue is putting the comfort and features back into economy
JetBlue  improves economy

Airlines have tended to focus on the business and first-class offerings, but US Carrier, JetBlue is making economy travel more comfortable with a complete revamp of its economy cabins. The changes include wider seats, more legroom, better cushioning and improved personal storage. Inflight entertainment also gets a lift with more channels, a new high definition screen and the ability to have ‘picture in picture’ functionality which is great to watch a movie and keep an on the real time 3D flight path map. JetBlue also offers free fast Wi-Fi on its flights.

Airbus' flying taxi has passed ground testing
Airbus:  flying taxis pass ground tests

Drones and congestion busting personal aircraft might not be so far away as tech giants continue to invest heavily in new transport technologies. Recently released by Airbus is its ‘Citybus’ autonomous shuttle designed to fly high above the congested urban and city streets. Powered by batteries and carrying up to four people, the Citybus passed its ground tests this week. Initially piloted, Citybus is scheduled to start operational trials within the next two years. Five cities have been earmarked for the trial, including Sydney and Melbourne.           

Street market on steroids - a must see in Bangkok
Bangkok's magic market
Travel is all about experiencing the “colour” and there is nothing more colourful than the Lad Prao Night Markets in Bangkok. With almost 2,000 stalls, plus restaurants and entertainment that just happens, the markets are like nothing else in the world and run from late afternoon to the stroke of midnight. CREW TIP: Don’t wear lots of jewellery and keep your purse and wallet tightly in your hand but make sure you don’t hold back from being a part of one of Asia's most exciting and vibrant events.
MAX'd out: in focus

Boeing’s 737 is the world’s workhorse aircraft, and the new ‘MAX.’ version has been the focus of attention following two recent tragedies. At the heart of the issue is not the design of the aircraft, but the processes that allowed the manufacturer to convince the regulator that the changes to the approved design did not warrant recertification and training of pilots. To summarise, Boeing added two larger, heavier engines to its 737-800 design. The larger size and mounting changed the characteristics of the aircraft and rather than recertify, Boeing elected to install software that was intended to correct the change to the flight dynamics.

Unfortunately, the manufacturer did not inform the world’s pilots, and in the case of Lion Air and the recent Ethiopian incidents, the new software relied on a single vane, (even though the aircraft has two) worked against and overrode the pilots’ control inputs – when the pilots tried to bring the nose up, the software pushed it down. Fixing this issue will now require a new software patch, updates to the aircraft certification and retraining of all pilots worldwide. It is a watershed for the role of regulators worldwide and a poignant red flag for an industry that justifies short cutting safety logic for a commercial advantage.

Warning: Venezuela and Northern Brazil

Long before government’s make the call, pilots flying over political hotspots cast a cautious eye on flight paths and alternative landing sites. Such has been the case with Venezuela during the past few weeks where political upheaval has now prompted the US government to withdraw its diplomatic officials from today (16/3/19). Venezuela has closed its borders to Columbia and Brazil, and most airlines are withdrawing from operations into the country while overflying aircraft are warned not to descend below 26,000 feet. If you are travelling to Brazil, steer clear of the northern borders.  CREW TIP: Political troubles can erupt anywhere, even in so-called safe countries.  In times of trouble do not to wait for advice from government departments; just get out quickly. If you are ever caught in strife-torn situations, use cash, NEVER use credit cards and convert local currencies to either US dollars or Euros

Food: favourite inflight menu items

Despite the plethora of celebrity chefs and exotic ingredients, there are several menu items that airlines have learned are staples. These ‘comfort foods of the sky’ include Qantas’ First class steak sandwich (a small piece of steak, relish & rocket on a bun), Sichuan's ‘egg rice,’ American Airline’s ‘Biscoff cookies and Cathay’s ‘cup noodles.’ Last year when US airline Southwest stopped serving its signature peanuts, there was passenger outcry while British Airways were inundated with complaints when it stopped serving biscuits on its short domestic sectors. Despite the rise in inflight and lounge dining, the world’s most popular airline menu item remains the humble cheese and crackers

Grand Prix action

Office workers in Melbourne’s CBD towers had a great view of the rehearsals, but Saturday and Sunday will see the full flyovers from FA-18’s, The Roulettes display team and the huge C-17 transport aircraft as the Grand Prix shifts into top gear. The Roulettes routine will seem a little faster than usual as it will be the first ‘official’ display using the new, high powered PC-21 aircraft. (the last outing of the traditional PC-9’s was at the Australian International Airshow two weeks ago)

Must See: Australia's inland sea

With upstream floods exceeding 9 metres, the water is flowing into the dry red centre filling lakes and estuaries including Lake Eyre creating Australia’s famed ‘inland sea.’  As the water moves across the parched centre, the landscape explodes with colour and wildlife making it a must-see. With roads cut and many towns isolated, the best way to experience nature’s magic is from the air. Going to places that others can’t is a speciality for SeaAir who between April and September operate small tours to the outback as well as their charter services along the Queensland Coast and Islands. Flying in a spacious Cessna Caravan, the tour takes in Birdsville, Innamincka and the majestic Charlotte Plains Cattle Station. SeaAir’s senior and highly experienced pilots will also fly low over the stunning outback landscape, and on-the-ground travel is in fully equipped 4WD’s. CREW TIP: Before you go read ‘Flynn of the Outback’ the amazing story of the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Services, John Flynn

In a world of live inflight WiFi are the days of airlines censoring content numbered?
Inflight censorship

Airlines have traditionally controlled what is shown on an aircraft’s entertainment system. Movies are ‘modified’ and news is edited, usually under editorial arrangements that prohibit stories that may alarm passengers. Although inflight wi-fi is diluting this form of ‘inflight censorship,’ this week Virgin’s inflight news carried details of the crash of the Ethiopian Airways 737 prompting Virgin to lodge a complaint with the national broadcaster. The furious letter of complaint from the airline has raised the ire of some passengers who believe that the airline does not have the right to censor what information they receive while inflight.

Should you fly during GPS 'blackspot'

GPS it seems is in everything, so news of a potential ‘blackspot.’ on April 6 has users of ‘older’ GPS devices concerned. These old devices use a ’10 bit’ systems that effectively resets after 1024 weeks. The same issue occurred in 1999 where many systems lost geospatial references for around 10 seconds. Since that time, the growth in GPS functionality has rapidly increased. Newer versions of the GPS chips have a cycle of 157 years. CREW TIP: Board your flight in complete confidence and ignore the inevitable reports that will suggest not flying on April 6. Modern aircraft use GPS in conjunction with other inputs including radar, ADS-B/C and ground-based navigation aids that determine the aircraft’s position and flight navigation. Since 1999, most avionics systems have been updated, and the number of satellites orbiting the earth has doubled.

Travel Tip: flying with medications

Prescription and over the counter medications vary from country to country, and the restrictions regularly change. While most medications are universally accepted, some countries have restrictions on codeine and other products including anti-depressants. Sites like the government’s ‘smart-traveller are helpful (currently offline), and each airline has information on their websites.  CREW TIP: Keep the medication on the original packaging. Take a copy of the prescriptions with you along with a letter from your Doctor for medications which may have restrictions. Always carry enough medication for the trip. If you require daily medication, make sure it's in your carry-on bag and take note of the time zones. Most heart-related medical incidents inflight occur when passengers don’t realise that they have not taken their medication.

Aircraft cleaning first to go in cost cutting

Airline operations require the aircraft to be turned around quickly. Once turnarounds were a luxurious hour where cleaning catering and any ‘on the run’ maintenance could be carried out. Today, some airlines have reduced turnarounds to 20 minutes which means that the ‘Precision Timing Schedule’ (PTS) lists those activities that are not essential for flight operations. One of the first items to be cut is cleaning and some airlines are forgoing turnaround cleaning altogether. Even international flights are sometimes subject to cleaning shortcuts. For example, an Australian A380 or 787 shuttling between London might only get a cursory wipe over with onboard equipment only sent to the catering centre for proper cleaning at the end of the cycle on arrival back into Australia. CREW TIP: Keep antiseptic wipes in your carry-on bag and wipe everything, especially the tray table and entertainment control

Disneyland: you'll need to book for Star Wars 

The long-awaited opening of Disneyland’s Star Wars ‘Galaxy’s Edge’ is scheduled for May 31, but while you can see it just by entering the theme park, the expected demand has meant that during the first-month operation you’ll have to make a booking to access that section of Disneyland. Details and how to book here:        

California's own 'mach loop'

The Mach Loop in the UK is famous amongst plane spotters for up-close images of high-speed fighter jets, but if you're headed to the desert in California check the map Rainbow Canyon in the Death Valley area. From the ridgetop, you look down into the area pilots call the ‘Jedi Transition’ and can get dramatic close-up shots of fighter jets with after-burners glowing hugging the terrain.

Bargain Watch: Emirates to London

Emirates is fighting back the competition by increasing the connections to London with a total of 11 flights between Dubai and London as well as additional flights direct to UK destinations. Watch the website as the airline has capacity to fill in the lead in the northern hemisphere summer.

The launch of ZipAir Japan potentially could challenge JAL's franchise arrangementments with Jetstar
Japan: new low cost carrier

There’s not a lot of profit in airlines, yet there’s a never-ending line of start-ups that want to have a go. Last month we reported that Japan was about to get a new low-cost carrier after it registered the domain name ZipAir. ZipAir was originally a Canadian airline, but the attest incarnation is owned by Japan Airlines. Interestingly, Japan Airlines already operates Jetstar Japan under the Qantas ‘franchise.’ However, it is understood that ZipAir would target those routes currently services by rival ANA’s low-cost airline ‘Peach.’ ZipAir operates 787-900’s which says  that there’s more on the radar than just Japan’s domestic market.

Arizona's ICBM missile silo is the last icon of the cold war
Must Do: inside the last cold war missile silo

If you remember the days of Dr Strangelove and recall the classroom discussions about ICBM’s, then a trip to Arizona is a must to visit the last remaining Titan Missile Silo.  Fifty-four silos operated between 1963 to 1987 and this last remaining silo has preserved the operational aspects of this cold war hot spot. The silo is open to the public and has preserved many aspects including the control panel where by turning a key and pressing a button would send a nuclear missile skywards and 30 minutes later detonate within the then Soviet Union.

Automation: planes, helis and hotels

This week a US Air Force aircraft took off from Avalon bound for its base in the USA. What made the flight unusual was that there was no pilot onboard with the aircraft being controlled by a person sitting in an office in Nevada the other side of the world. The remote-control officer requested departure clearance at Avalon and then ‘flew’ the unmanned aircraft across Australia towards the USA.  The world of automation also saw the successful trial of a fully automated helicopter and Australia announced a trial of automated Air Traffic Controllers would take place later this year.

For those still in disbelief that robots cannot take over, try a stay in Japan’s Henna Hotel in Nagasaki where humanoid robots are the receptionists, waiters, concierge and porters. The hotel is almost totally controlled by the robots with some human oversight - just in case one goes rogue

New laws require manufacturers to ship products with only a 30% charge
The future is flat batteries

Lithium batteries are in just about everything, but new laws have imposed tighter restrictions on the shipping of lithium cargo. The changes have reinforced the existing ban on cargo containing lithium batteries being shipped on commercial passenger flights and now impose limits on the number of lithium batteries that can be handled by cargo freighters plus the amount of charge in each battery. Worldwide, electronics manufacturers are now restricted to a maximum 30% charge in all lithium batteries which are sent by air, which means that when buying a new device, the first thing you’ll need to do is to place it on change. 

Just opposite T1 - this is a must for all visitors to Changi Airport
Singapore's new jewel

Singapore’s Changi Airport continues to be a destination within itself with the opening of its newest feature ‘The Jewel’ scheduled for opening next month.   Located in front of Terminal 1, it features a 250-metre long trampoline that gives you the feeling of flying through the canopy of a 15,000 sq. metre tropical rainforest. The Jewel also features the world’s largest indoor waterfall and a ‘cloud park’ where kids can play amongst real floating clouds. The Jewel also has layers of shops and restaurants and is a must see if you’re travelling through Changi Airport.

Charity flight to raise money for drought affected farmers lands with water salute
747 drought fund raiser water salute

Being an Australian farmer is a tough gig, and it’s great to see so many initiatives to raise funds to help communities affected by drought. One event scheduled for early April is a charity 747 flight from Brisbane to Alice Springs. Ironically, the $799, 9-hour fundraiser is being promoted to raise money for drought relief however it is being advertised with the inclusion of a major water cannon salute on arrival into Alice Springs.

China: Fake 100 Yuan notes in plague proportions 

China’s plague of 100 Yuan notes continues to grow with the fake bills now being an everyday game of pass the parcel. If you’re travelling to China, especially Beijing, beware of the flood of fake notes. CREW TIP: Most fakes will be swapped in markets and shops – when handing over a 100 Yuan note watch it closely, often a trader will say your genuine note is a fake and with sleight of hand give you back a note that is fake. Do the roll test to check – if the pattern edges don’t match you’ve been stung

Travel with 2 or 3 credit cards with low limits
Avoid unauthorised charges

Next to your passport, your credit card is the most important thing you’ll carry when travelling; however, more frequently people are incorrectly being charged by hotels, car hire companies and even Uber drivers. Often the charges take months to be reversed leaving some people stranded with little or no money. CREW TIP: When using credit cards for hotels and car rentals, protect yourself by travelling with 2 or 3 cards that have low-value limits. This stops large charges being processed and minimises the risk of being ripped off.

Qantas increases carry on bag limit to 10kilograms
More carry on

The great debate over carry-on baggage took another twist with Qantas announcing from March 25 that passengers can take an extra 3 kilos, taking the limit for one bag to 10 kilos. In fact, passengers can take 14kgs into the cabin as there is provision for a second item weighing up to 4kg. The move is aimed to align Qantas mainline flights with Jetstar’s optional ‘baggage upgrade’ which has reportedly provided a hefty cash boost. Despite the increase, carry-on weight remains an issue with a rise in crew and passenger injuries from overweight bags and overhead lockers. American Airlines have this week grounded fourteen 737-800’s after overhead lockers kept popping open. CREW TIP: If you can’t carry it – don’t take it!

How do you put an elephant on a plane?
Airspray: Disney Dumbo for Spirit

US airline Spirit is the latest to join the ‘airspray’ competition with the launch of its newest A321 with Disney’s ‘Dumbo’ the flying elephant. Check out the video of the plane being painted up

Everything about this airport is big!
'ZBAD'  gets more routes

Last year we reported on the progress of China’s newest hub, the massive Beijing Daxing Airport. The Chinese government this week continued the nation’s push to expand air services from Beijing Daxing approving a total of ten new routes to Russia, Egypt, South East Asia and Korea. The new airport opens in September this year and despite being China’s version of Dubai, the airport code ‘ZBAD’ still remains its only handicap.

Qatar is uplifting its economy offering
Qatar uplifts economy and supersizes meals

Qatar continues its push to be one of the world’s leading airlines this week announcing a revamp of its economy offerings, including new seating and entertainment. The new Economy Class experience features a seat with an innovative 19-degree recline system, additional legroom, dual trays, 13inch 4K widescreens and type ‘C’ fast charging USB port. The airline’s new in-flight dining experience ‘Quisine’, offers new retail-style tableware, a menu offering more choices, plus upsizing with 25 per cent larger main courses, 20 per cent larger appetisers, and 50 per cent larger desserts.

777X - Boeing's key product in the ULH market
Boeing 777X ready to roll out

The much-awaited rollout of the Boeing 777X steps up a notch with the debut of the world’s largest twin-engine jet on March 13. Seating up to 400 passengers, the aircraft is expected to dominate the ultra long haul market with fuel-efficient features such as retractable wingtips. Powered by two huge General Electric 9X engines, the aircraft will offer a larger cabin interior and one of the most ‘green’ operating signatures of any commercial aircraft. The debut from the Seattle factor is expected to attract a worldwide audience on social media live streams.

24hr air cargo stats on the rise

Cargo freighters are the workhorses of the sky and at the International Cargo Conference this week regulator, IATA reported that the 24-hour average statistics had seen a rapid increase. According to IATA in any 24 hour period, around the world cargo aircraft will fly 40,000 tonnes of freight, 21 million parcels and 898 million letters

Pioneering female pilot Nancy-Bird Walton
Nancy-Bird flys high

Construction work for Sydney’s second airport at Badgery’s Creek has been underway for several months, and this week the Australia Government announced that the new airport would be named after pioneering female pilot Nancy-Bird Walton. Due to open in 2026, the airport will operate in competition with the existing Sydney Airport. In a repeat of the incident while unveiling Qantas’ first A380, also named after the aviation legend, the placement of the hyphen in her name caused great debate. FACT: Her name, Nancy-Bird was a nickname given to her by her husband. 

Jet Airways suffers more ground holds

India’s Jet Airways continues to struggle. Not only have rescue deals fallen through, but the airline has lost 3 more planes due to non-payments to lessors. The airline currently has 28 aircraft subject to ground-holds as it seeks to resolve financial issues.

Masks drop and are used until the plane is below 14,000 feet
There is also an extra mask in every second row
Inflight decompression means rapid descent

At altitude, the air pressure is significantly less than being on the ground.  At high levels, in a decompression, the time that a person remains conscious can be as little as 45 seconds. This week a domestic flight experienced a decompression in the cabin which automatically triggered oxygen masks to fall. One aspect that passengers are not warned about in the safety briefing is that in the event of an inflight decompression, the pilots will immediately act to get the plane below 14,000 feet which is the level where the oxygen masks are no longer required. The rapid descent is a planned and well-rehearsed procedure that pilots are tested for competency every 12 weeks. CREW TIP: Wait until the Captain advises you can take the mask off before posing for selfies

Aircraft diversions are adding to passenger delays with India closing 8 airports and Pakistan completely closing its airspace
More serious than cricket: airline diversions

Political tensions between India and Pakistan have closed one of the busiest air corridors en route to Europe. The shutdown followed a military incursion and engagement earlier this week. Instead of overflying the two countries, airlines are now taking a track further south, adding to the workload of Air Traffic Controllers in already busy locations like Muscat in Oman. The aircraft are ‘racked and stacked’ into 1,000 feet corridors and are staggered between 50 and 70 miles apart. Airlines are bearing the costs of the additional flying time and extra fuel. However, the huge costs have prompted Thai Airways to suspend its flight to Europe.  CREW TIP: Two words: ‘travel insurance.’

Memories: return of the observation deck

There’s a whole generation of people that have never gone to the airport to watch planes from the observation deck which was a feature of almost every major airport until the late ’90s. Amidst the sometimes over the top security measures at some airports, San Francisco bucked the trend by opening not one but two observations decks as well as opening up the old control tower for plane spotting sessions before it was eventually torn down. ‘Plane spotting’ is on the rise around the world and some Australian airports are recognising that a dozen or more cameras capturing every movement on the tarmac and surrounds is a positive security measure. While Sydney Airport has a dedicated, purpose-built area, Melbourne relies on three locations outside the fence and for the cost of a parking pace, the rooftop of Terminal 4.  CREW TIP: Most airports have spotting groups on Facebook, and some of the photographers are happy to get a shot of your arrival or departure, especially it’s a special occasion! 

Turtle nesting and hatching time

Visitors to the southern end of the Great Barrier reef over the next month are in for a delight with the annual turtle nesting and hatching season underway. One of the hotspots for a short break is Lady Elliot Island just 46 miles northeast of Bundaberg. From just $699 person for two nights you’ll enjoy flights to and from the island from Bundaberg Airport, accommodation, full breakfast and dinner, snorkelling gear and the ‘Turtle-trek’ with experienced marine biologists. 

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has just annouced the graduates of its Master Reef Tour Guide Program which included two of the staff from Lady Elliot Island.

Stopping animal smugglers

Sadly, the smuggling of exotic animals is on the rise. It’s a sordid industry estimated to be worth more than US$23billion and takes its toll on many of the world’s most endangered and unique species. In partnership with regulators, Qatar Airways is rolling out a training program to help crew and ground staff recognise the signs of potential smuggling. The airline has also joined ‘ROUTES’ an association of private sector organisations and specialist agencies that shares information and resources to target smuggling operations. 

MH370: another sad anniversary

Another year is about to pass since the loss of MH370 prompting several new television documentaries and stories. Despite two international searches, the aircraft has not been found although refinements to the data that is known still suggest that the aircraft lies off the West Australian coast in an area that was not previously searched. Dick Smith is calling for a 10-cent levy on every airline ticket to fund a new search.  CREW COMMENT: Spare a thought for the families and friends of those onboard and the Malaysian Airlines crew

Airline traffic set to double within two decades

Scary thought when you think of delays at airports today, but this week Australian Regulator, CASA confirmed forecasts that will see airline traffic double within the next two decades.  To cope with the rising demand for aircraft slots, work on additional runways are already underway in Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane while a new airport in Western Sydney is set to open in 6 years’ time with earthworks well advanced.  INSIDER INTEL: The rise in air traffic also poses issues for air traffic controllers and airlines. Later this year a test of a new ‘Unmanned Air Traffic Management’ systems will take place along Australia’s east coast. 

Majestic dawns at the festival
Short Break: canberra balloon festival

Canberra’s Balloon festival is one of the four leading ballooning events across the globe and every year attracts entrants who rise above the city from the grassed area of old Parliament House. For nine mornings from 9th to 17th March, the early dawn sees the balloons made ready to rise with the sun. The event is part of ‘Enlighten’ which also lights up the nation’s capital with installations and light shows culminating in a grand fireworks spectacular on Sunday 17 March.  CREW TIP: A quick check of hotels shows there is still plenty of availability for the festival with rooms ranging from $160 TO $400 – Canberra is just five hour’s drive or 20 minutes by air from Melbourne.

Rescue stairs will make their Australian debut in Melbourne later in 2019
Australian First: evac steps

In an emergency, the fastest way to exit the aircraft is to deploy the slides. But using aircraft slides almost always results in serious passenger injuries including burns from the slide, broken legs and severe sprains. Later this year, Melbourne Airport will see the rollout of rescue stairs which can provide fast evacuation of aircraft without the cost and injuries associated with the use of aircraft slides.  The rescue stairs are designed to move people quickly and safely and can adjust to any aircraft.

Xpeller can detect and disable drones up to several kilometres away
Drone killer to stop airport 'holds'

There have been 463 reports of drones at Australian Airports since late 2016. Across the world, major airports such as London’s Heathrow have had to close to all operations as a result of drone sightings. According to air safety regulator CASA estimates there are more than 150,000 drones in Australia which shortly will be required to be registered and their use licenced. But even with this process, there is still a need to identify and stop rogue drone operators. This week, German tech company Hensholdt, showcased 'Xpeller' a single mast system that detects, tracks (& can even jam) drones & UAV's for up to several kilometres away. The Australian government has supported the roll-out of such systems at major airports.

Air Vanuatu will be the launch airline for the A220
Air Vanuatu first with A220 

As reported late last year, Air Vanuatu will commence new services from Melbourne in June and the airline this week stepped up its expansion plans with the ordering of additional four aircraft – Airbus’ A220’s. The Pacific nation’s Prime Minister signed the order at the Avalon Airshow earlier this week making Air Vanuatu the launch customer for the new Airbus jet. CREW TIP: check out the deals to escape the winter from around $690 return

Laster ever vertical in the PC-9's
Last show for Roulettes' PC-9's

There’re probably not too many parts of Australia where the Air Force's elite Roulettes display team have not put on a show performing amazing aerobatics in their PC-9 Trainers. The familiar red wings and signature smoke trails have delighted crowds at festivals and added a poignant touch to commemorative events, but this week marked the end of an era for the PC-9’s which were farewelled at the Australian Airshow in a display alongside their new, replacement aircraft that will continue the RAAF tradition.  PILOT STUFF: Roulette pilots are all senior instructors who volunteer for the role of being in the elite display team

75% of all Jetstar seats were sold for under $100
Razor's edge ROI
High fuel prices, heightened consumer fears, political tensions and increased competition have impacted airline profits around the world. Even Singapore Airlines reported a drop in profits and is forecasting difficult times ahead. In a 2008 study, analysists found that on some routes in the USA that airlines were achieving an average net profit of less than $9 per seat. The report suggested that with such low returns, some airlines would be better off selling the aircraft and putting the money in the bank where it would earn more.

Buried in the detail of Qantas’ half-year profit announcement this week was an interesting fact that demonstrated the tight margins carried by some airlines. The statement identified that Qantas’ low-cost subsidiary, Jetstar Airways on average filled 87% of its available seats on domestic and international routes. However, more than 75% of those seats were sold for under $100. 

Stunning performance in this story from the WSJ
Iron Flower: China's must-see winter show
A four drive west of Beijing brings you to the old manufacturing town of Nuanquan where a photo of the midwinter landscape is enough to deter most tourists, however during the Lunar New Year the town comes alive celebrating the ‘Iron Flower’.  The event recreates a 500-year-old tradition where poor Blacksmiths used molten pig iron to create stunning firework-like displays. Dressed in sheepskin and thick, woven straw outer garments, the performers throw molten iron against a huge ice-cold wall creating a stunning display. Despite the legacy of the tradition, only 4 performers remain, so it’s definitely a ‘must-see’ for your travel plans. 
Dont expect to see the tray returning to Qantas flights
To check out what airlines are serving go to @inflightfeed on twitter or inflightfeed on instagram
No tray in sight

Included in the Qantas announcement was a significant commitment to reducing waste. Onboard waste has dramatically increased since single item packaging replaced trays and re-usable items in 2015 creating issues for the crew as well as attracting criticism from passengers. According to unions, there has also been an increase in onboard injuries, particularly repetitive strains and infections, the latter of which has prompted the airline to relax its policy of banning cabin crew from wearing disposable gloves. While the announcement of eliminating single-use plastics and capping the amount of waste going to landfill was applauded, sources say that there is no plans for the humble airline tray to make a comeback.Included in the Qantas announcement was a significant commitment to reducing waste. Onboard waste has dramatically increased since single item packaging replaced trays and re-usable items in 2015 creating issues for the crew as well as attracting criticism from passengers. According to unions, there has also been an increase in onboard injuries, particularly repetitive strains and infections, the latter of which has prompted the airline to relax its policy of banning cabin crew from wearing disposable gloves. While the announcement of eliminating single-use plastics and capping the amount of waste going to landfill was applauded, sources say that there is no plans for the humble airline tray to make a comeback.

Airbus Beluga XL
Belugas for sale

They’re big and bulking and inside they can carry the wings of an A380 –the ‘Beluga’ is Airbus Industries’ answer to the mighty Antonov, the largest plane in the world. Airbus has announced that it was building a larger version of these mammoth jets and selling off the existing models. Painted up with a smiling face, the ‘whales of the sky’ have an interior that is 8m wide and stand more than three stories tall.  

Changi's airport romance
British Airways grabbed attention with its cute romantic teddy bear pensioner couple, but now Singapore’s Changi Airport is putting the look of love back into airports with a list of places for a romantic selfie as told by ‘Bob and Tracy’ two starry-eyed airport trolleys. The airport has created a list of places for a quiet cuddle, kiss and selfie pic in all of it terminals. The campaign is part of Changi’s ongoing program to make travelling enjoyable.
Flight Aware data shows the record ground speed but the aircraft did NOT "go supersonic"
Atlantic speed record

Jet streams made the news this week when a Virgin Atlantic flight Dreamliner recorded a speed of 801mp/h or 1,289 km/h. Pushed along by an unusually low-level jet stream where the winds exceeded 232mp/h, the 787 literally ‘surfed’ from LA to London shaving almost 90 minutes off the scheduled flying time. FLIGHT FACT: These speeds are ‘relative ground speed’, and although some media reported the aircraft was flying at supersonic speed, the reality is that the aircraft was flying at its normal cruising speed.  Jetstreams are like fast flowing rivers. If you swim in the same direction, as the flow, you’ll swim faster. The Virgin Atlantic flight was assisted by the movement of the surrounding air stream moving at 232mp/h. Therefore, there was no ‘sonic boom’ as incorrectly reported by some.

The F-14 reappears this time in San Diego
Top Gun to feature F-14

Maverick and Goose’s famous antics in the F-14 Tomcat appear to be front and centre of the ‘Top Gun’ remake with an F-14 being photographed on the deck of a US aircraft carrier near San Diego. The now historic aircraft carried the same markings used in the original movie and was captured by a plane spotter. A previous shot was taken with the F-14 in the snow near Lake Tahoe and suggests that the jet will have more than just a token role.

Medevac is expensive at not the way to end a holiday
If you need to be transported on stretcher, odds are you'll be at the back of economy as well!
Unfortunate events
 Accidents happen as do delays, which is why the first question you need to ask before buying travel insurance is “what am I not covered for.”  Insurers are like bookies at the racetrack and keep careful tabs on where people are travelling to and where the accidents and injuries are occurring. Recently announced was the top 10 locations where more accidents are occurring and where the medical bills are skyrocketing. Topping the list was the USA where medical costs are stratospheric with a half day visit to a hospital for a sprain or fracture easily sets you back in excess of $40,000 while a medevac back to Australia can cost upwards of $260,000. Southern Cross Travel Insurance recently compiled a list of examples of medical costs. According to the insurer, it cost $208,000 for a 50-year-old to fly home escorted by doctor after suffering a severe skin infection, while a 20-year-old racked up a $71,000 bill after suffering trauma from a fall while on holiday in South East Asia.

Countries that have a higher than average risk of injury or danger for tourists include Thailand, South Africa, Egypt, The Philipines, Chile, Brazil, Columbia, Chile as well as parts of Africa and the Middle East.

Even the toiletries have a TWA theme
TWA recycles NY
 We reported last year that the old TWA flight operations centre in New York was getting a make-over transforming into a 512 room airline-themed hotel. Now, the hotel is taking bookings ahead of its May 2019 opening. Designers have overcome the issue of the hotel being right on the apron of the airport by using a curtain wall construction that is made up of seven (7) layered glass panes. All rooms look out onto the tarmac where there’s also a cocktail lounge inside a 1956 Lockheed Constellation.
747 SIM being dismantled
747 farewelled VH-OJS
 As reported, another 747 has been parked in the Victorville boneyard reducing Australia’s 747 fleet to just 8 aircraft. These days 747’s are becoming a rare sight in Australia with only Thai and Korean Air operating passenger services into the country using the now 50-year-old aircraft design. While the retirement of OJS brings out sentimental stories, the plane has not been the most passenger-friendly in recent years with extensive mechanical issues and inferior cabin conditions.  In less than 18 months Qantas will have no 747’s in its passenger fleet. THe 747 training SIM at Qantas’ Sydney jet base is also being dismantled. 
VR even has upmarket goggles!
Trend Briefing: inflight VR
Inflight movies got a boost in 1988 when in-seat entertainment emerged, but the seat back screen has been slowly disappearing as onboard WiFi provides endless options for personal devices including the new ‘must-have,’ VR or virtual reality.  ‘VR’ provides the user with an interactive 3D visual experience that allows the person to interact with the program content. Responding to head and eye movements, a person can move around a room, pick up objects and even look behind obstacles. The intent is to allow the user to feel like they are a part of the scene. Airline Insider has a new trend brief on this inflight revolution! CREW TIP: If you’re using Lufthansa’s cardboard DIY VR goggles in economy, beware that the VR movie includes showing you what you’re missing out on in the premium cabins at the other end of the plane!

Trend Brief: Inflight VR

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Tickets for the Airshow are onsale at
Airshow gets ready to launch

Avalon Airport is a busy place with preparations well underway for the 2019 International Airshow. Held every two years, this event is split between a week of industry expos and conferences and the public event which runs from 2pm March 1 to Sunday, March 3.  Airline Insider will preview the Airshow and cover the important ‘Flysafe2019’ Conference which will also include a simulation of a major airline crash. CAMERA TIP: If you’re at the show and wanting to get great shots of the high-speed military jet flypast, position yourself back from the flight line near the Expo pavilions. The lower angle of view reduces sun flare and allows you to track the aircraft through the lens. Make sure you set your camera shutter for continuous, use a fast shutter speed and manually set the focus.

A380 production to end in 2 years

While the British Airways gets ready to welcome home its 747 Queen,, workers on the A380 production lines around the world mourned the official announcement by Airbus that the last ‘big bird’ will roll off the line in early 2021. Airbus CEO, Tom Enders made the painful announcement last Thursday following its anchor customer, Emirates, changing to the smaller A350s and A330’s.  The A380 is just 15 years old, and the decision also impacts the capital investment at many airports that had to “become A380 ready,” with dual deck aerobridges and reconfigured parking bays and landing pavements.

Travel Tip: protecting camera & phone cards
Airline Insider has long advised travellers not to keep all your holiday images on the one SD card and to travel with a local SIM card for your phone, but keeping these cards safe can be a challenge. Now, a new product gets the thumbs up not only for its ability to protect the cards and the data but also the ease of use which lets you access the cards while they remain in the case. Called CardsGuard, it’s an affordable solution that’s waterproof and can take a beating in the bottom of the backpack. Check it out at
Superbikes arrive for World Championships
Sneaking into Avalon Airport in the early hours of Friday was a Qatar 777. The ‘tripler’ is not a common sight at Avalon and prompted a spate of theories around why Qatar would send the plane down under. The answer was revealed as workers on the ramp unloaded some of the world’s fastest superbikes ahead of a 3-hour truck transfer to Phillip Island for the world championship event next weekend.
Dress rules don't always apply
These days you can't get into some airline lounges in thongs shorts and an old ‘Bintang’ singlet, but apart from bare feet, there are no laws about what you can or cannot wear on a plane. This week saw more reports of passengers and crew arguing over clothing with one airline backing down and giving the aggrieved passenger an apology and a $50 voucher. At law, unless precluded in the airline’s T&C’s; ‘if you can wear it on the street, then you can wear it on the plane’ provided that you are not boarding in bare feet. CREW TIP: If you’re wearing something that’s a little risqué or potentially offensive, you can expect the crew to ask you to cover up if other passengers complain. In these cases, you are then required to comply with a crew direction or risk being charged. Similarly, be aware of the social etiquette of your destination. For example, two young women were left standing in the Customs area of Casablanca airport for several hours being ignored by officers because they were wearing low cut singlets with no bras. Fortunately, a traveller from another flight gave them a shawl to cover up enough for the officers to process their entry.
Regulations: Qatar offers good advice

Qatar last week signed a deal to keep its flights into 29 EU countries open. This week, the ever-growing airline took on the regulators challenging the political control over the world’s skies which accounts for more than 10% of the world’s GDP. The airline has challenged regulators and governments to adopt four key principles:

·         Relax restrictive airline ownership and control rules, which underpin the bilateral air services system, constraining rationalisation of market access;

·         Increase efforts to encourage open skies

·         Enhance sustainability in the aviation sector;

·         Actively encourage aero-political separation (keep the politics out of flying)

Airlines get the last word on 'ghost tickets'
Airlines wrote the book on how to squeeze a few extra dollars from passengers and a few don’t like it when someone works out how to beat their systems! Which is why the long-standing practice of ‘ghost tickets’ is again under scrutiny. Ghost tickets are purchased to avoid high ticket costs on direct flights or when there are no seats available on flights from a departure point. The practice is common in the US and EU, but in Australia, it’s more likely to be used to avoid the high cost of flying between places such as Melbourne and Darwin where a cheaper ticket is often available on a flight travelling from Melbourne to Denpasar via Darwin. In such instances, you book the cheaper Denpasar flight and get off in Darwin. Some people have used similar approaches getting to the AFL Grand Final where a flight from Perth to Auckland via Melbourne is much cheaper than flying Perth -Melbourne direct. Airlines have been powerless to stop the practice, however in the past year by tweaking the terms and conditions, they have been able to cancel an entire booking, including any return sectors if a passenger fails to re-board while in transit.  
Industrial Relations: more ofashore crew for Jetstar
The Jakarta Post has this week carried large advertisements seeking crew for Jetstar. Based in Bali, the ad advises that recruits would operate flights into Australia and then operate onward sectors to the USA. The use of offshore crew, particularly on Australian registered aircraft, operating onward sectors from Australia is again expected to come under scrutiny as the arrangement bypasses Australian employment laws. Currently, the overseas-based crew used by Qantas are subject to longer working hours, reduced breaks, reduced pay and lower allowances. Unions have again raised issues of fatigue and reduced passenger safety as a result of what they regard as ‘backdooring’ of Australian standards. 
The start of the Kangaroo Route made possible by the Queen of the Skies - the 747
London: prepares for the Queen's arrival

British Airways will mark its 100th anniversary with the arrival of a retro 747 at London’s Heathrow Airport next Monday (18/2/19). Bearing the historic ‘BOAC’ brand the arrival is part of a week of celebrations that have also seen passengers receive surprise upgrades on some flights. The love affair with the 747 is a worldwide phenomenon and the BA anniversary coincides with the 747 notching up 50 years of flight which also opened up the now classic ‘Kangaroo Route’ to Australia. (see the cringe-worthy video clip) Airside coverage of the classic Speedbird’s arrival into London can be seen live at

Hot start for 2019 Red Bull Air Race

The bright sun and heat of Abu Dhabi is the stage for the opening round of this year’s Red Bull Air Race series. Australian pilot, Matt Hall will be on the starter’s flight line looking to establish an early lead. This year pilots will be allowed to fly to 11G during the race with penalties for anyone exceeding 12G. The final can be seen at 9pm AEST at PILOT FACT: If you weigh 90kgs, flying at 11G’s is eleven times the force of gravity, which means your body weight is equivalent to 990kg (almost a tonne) The pressure from the weight makes it difficult for your heart to pump blood to your brain.

TOGA: sign of a good pilot

Dramatic videos of aircraft aborting a landing always grab attention, but a TOGA (take off go around) is a standard everyday procedure. It is NOT a pilot error as often reportd by some uninformed media. The procedure is designed to ensure the aircraft is safely aligned to have the maxium amount of runway in front of it. The TOGA process is also programmed into aircraft Flight Management Computers enabling the engines to spin up and the control surfaces to reconfigure.  'Go-arounds' happen everyday and are an important part of airline safety.

Air Asia is stepping up its offering from Australia. The latest addition is Brisbane to Bangkok
Air Asia spreading its Aussie wings

Air Asia is continuing its market push into Australia with flights from Melbourne’s Avalon Airport and now flights direct from Brisbane to Bangkok. The flight from Brisbane operates four times a week and offers flatbed business class. The airline has also been doing a lot of compliance work behind the scenes after being criticised for a poor safety culture. Several senior and operational appointments have seen improvements focusing on safety and service. The Malaysian carrier’s expansion program has seen it take up routes not utilised or released by other airlines. CREW TIP: Expect another route announcement for Avalon in the coming month!

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce took to social media to express concerns over the 'soft' findings of the recent Productivity Commission's Report into Australian airports
Airlines not happy with airport investigation

Airline CEOs normally step out in from of the cameras with smiles and enthusiastic announcements, but this week, the release of the Australian Productivity Commission’s report into airports has airline executives seeing red claiming the long-awaited report has taken a ‘soft’ stance on airport costs and charges. The report was expected to call for greater regulatory controls. Instead, it acknowledged the high prices of airports like Sydney and Melbourne but offered little more than a recommendation to ‘monitor’ pricing. Leading the charge was Qantas’ CEO Alan Joyce, who was clearly miffed by the airport’s ‘healthy’ profit returns of around 50% and took to Facebook attacking the report and airport parking fees saying: “that there’s a fair chance you’re being overcharged!” The 350-page report has also been criticised by regional airlines who claim the high charges are making many routes unprofitable.

Plane pick ups

KLM has a sophisticated App that lets you connect with other passengers on your flight and even lets you choose seats next to people with similar interests. Delta, however, has gone for a less imaginative approach. Sponsored by Diet Coke, Delta issues napkins inviting passengers to write their name and number of social media ID on the napkin and give to another passenger. The low-tech ‘Tinder-of-the-skies’ idea has sparked a wave of criticism from passengers and crew.

On Feb 18 BA will unveil its retro 747 with BOAC livery
Queen of the Skies in the spotlight

Two more Qantas 747’s will have the famous flying kangaroo removed from their tails as they are retired next month. The retirements have been fast-tracked with the two ageing jets facing mandatory D checks which are costly and can take up to 3 months to complete. The retirement of the jets will coincide with 132 international crew take up a redundancy offer and will see som existing 747 routes, including Singapore and Hong Kong switching to the smaller less passenger friendly A330’s. For Qantas shareholders, expect the retirements and redundancy costs to hit the Q3-4 earnings results. While QF is sending its 747’s to the desert, British Airways is reviving the Queen of the Skies and on the 18th of February will unveil a 747 in the original BOAC livery. The BA 747-800 is currently in Dublin having its vintage makeover. CREW TIP: 747 fans can take a ride on the Queen of the Skies from Sydney to the Avalon Airshow. The $747 ticket gets you flights, meals, and Airshow entry. Proceeds go the Qantas Foundations charity work with Australian farmer

747 sleepover

The 747 has been in commercial operation for over 48 years flying around 5.9 billion people – 78% of the world’s population. In 2014 Boeing celebrated in 1,500th 747 built and given that only 53 have crashed, means that there a lot of 747’s sitting in boneyards or turned into restaurants, bars or unique places to stay. Airline Insider has visited a bar in the US made from the flight deck of a 747, but the largest example is an ex Singapore Airlines 747 that’s a hotel at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport. Take a look here at the video.     

A380 falls from favour

It was the worst kept secret in aviation, but Qantas finally confirmed this week it would not be taking up its options on additional A380 aircraft. The airline already has 12 in its fleet with more than half flying for a decade. It is expected that the trend back to ‘point to point’ flying will see the airline switch to Boeing 777X’s or the A350-1000.

Catalina flying boat festival

Rathmines on NSW’s Lake Macquarie is home to the Catalina Flying Boat Festival – an event that celebrates the magic era of flying boats. Held at the former Flying Boat Air Force Base, the event on May 19 attracts a huge fleet of flying boats and classic aircraft. The program includes flying displays, really low-level aerobatics and the opportunity for taking a flight in a classic aircraft.  CREW TIP: Lake Macquarie is an easy drive north of Sydney and makes for a great long weekend escape.

Qatar leads EU deal

Qatar on behalf of   Gulf Corporation states this week signed an agreement with the EU enabling air transport freedoms between member countries within their respective economic zones. This means that the 28-member countries of the EU have unlimited and unrestricted access.  While the political debate surrounding Brexit remains, it appears that most airlines have contingency arrangements in place to circumvent any legal barriers in relation to airways freedoms and bi-lateral agreements. CREW TIP: Some shonky on-line third-party travel insurers are already offering ‘Brexit’ coverage on the policies they are re-selling. Don’t buy these products – hit delete!

Best to book if your heading to NYC
NYC: Dodgems on ice

The snow is falling in New York City, and people are rugged up to enjoy the cold – especially at Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan where the carnival favourite dodgem cars have taken to the ice as part of the city’s Winter Festival. If the action on the ice is too much, you can hire an igloo and sit back with food, wine and watch the city celebrate the winter cold!

Dragon Air's dumplings score highly
Flying dumplings

Neil Perry tried ‘pot sticker’ dumplings with XO sauce on the Qantas first class menu. EVA Air had them as part of their ‘Hello Kitty’ aircraft, and for years, Cathay has included the humble dumpling as part of its in-flight menu. But making dumplings ‘fly’ is more of a science experiment than a recipe, and the secret of serving the perfect dumping at 35,000 feet using a plane’s pressurised steam oven, is a leftover cabbage leaf! (and you thought that pungent smell was coming from the lav!) Dumplings are par-cooked on the ground and refrigerated. In flight, the final stage of cooking is done by the crew placing the dumplings in a foil container with a sesame and spice broth and covering them with a cabbage leaf. When cooked, the leaf is discarded, and the dumplings are served with a spicy sauce on a dry-oven baked  pastry. Top premium dumplings: Singapore Airline's lobster dumplings and EVA Air's famous Michellen starred Din Tai Fung dumplings: CREW TIP: Best place for dumplings: Top end of Hong Kong’s Tung Choi Street (past the Ladies Market) late at night, sitting on a little stool on the footpath eating steaming chilli prawn dumplings washed down by an icy cold beer!

There is no 'instant' remedy for jet lag - the secret is to plan ahead and let your body adjust to time zone difference gradually
Beating jet lag

Jetlag cures are as common as hangover cures, but with more long-haul routes on offer, more tired travellers are paying big dollars for exotic vitamin concoctions and strange potions that claim to cure the effects of a confused body clock. In most cases, these so-called cures do nothing except dissolve your cash. CREW TIP: Keep your watch on the local time at home during the final 24 hours of your trip. Drink plenty of water and only sleep on the plane if it aligns with the usual bedtime at home. You DON’T have to shut the window shade if it’s a daylight flight!  If you do arrive home late in the afternoon and are sleepy, keep yourself active and awake until your usual bedtime.  Should you find yourself awake in the early hours, try watching a few bad movies in bed but NEVER use melatonin or sleeping tablets!

Australia: Melbourne adds more flights

As forecast last year, China’s Juneyao Air has sought approval to operate a daily direct flight between Melbourne and its base in Shanghai (Pu Dong Airport) to commence from November 2019. The new service will provide an alternative to Qantas which currently holds the bulk of the seat capacity for the route. Australians transiting through Shanghai can also take advantage of the 144-hour visa-free period which allows you to break your journey and see the city.

Air Vanuatu has added a thrice-weekly flight between Melbourne and Port Vila commencing from mid-June. The 31/2 - 4 hour flight is on a 737-800 and includes full service. The direct flight from Melbourne avoids having to shuttle via Sydney or Brisbane. CREW TIP: Look beyond Port Vila to nearby places such as Espiritu Santo, the island that inspired James A. Michener to write his classic "Tales of the South Pacific." Visas are not required.

A380 production under threat

Workers on the Airbus A380 production lines are worried this week after Emirates made changes to its future A380 orders. Currently, Emirates has orders for 27 of the superjumbos. However, the airline is believed to have discussed switching to the more efficient A350-1000. If the change to the A380 order does occur, Airbus will have no option but to shut down the A380 line which will spell an earlier than planned end of the road for the ‘super’ classification

Social media fail for Emirates

Emirates recently posted a photo celebrating its 15th anniversary of flights in Accra in Ghana. Unfortunately, in arranging staff on the tarmac to make the numerals 1 and 5, the organiser got the 5 upside down, making for an embarrassing image that was shared on social media around the world

Amsterdam: 747 on the highway

They have been made into homes, restaurants, bars and unique places to stay, and now Netherlands Hotel Group, Corendon Hotels are adding a 747 to the courtyard of its luxury hotel just outside of Amsterdam. But moving a fully functional 170 tonne, 747 across town is not an easy task which is why specialist movers, Mammoet have been hired. The company, which was chosen to relocate the Space Shuttle to the NASA Museum in Houston, will move the intact 747 from Schiphol Airport to the hotel over 4 nights from 6th February. The biggest challenge will be traversing the busy A9 freeway, a section of which will be ‘deconstructed’ to enable the aircraft to be cross.  

Qantas takes a stake in Alliance

Qantas has acquired a 19.9% stake in Alliance Airlines. Alliance has been a consistent performer providing route services to FIFO and other locations across Australia. The $60 million acquisition offsets Virgin Australia’s holding which is also a codeshare partner with Alliance on flights to PNG. The move strengthens Qantas’ control of the domestic air travel market and (subject to regulatory approval,) it is expected that Qantas will seek to increase their holdings in the future

Boeing's billions

Boeing has broken through the $100 billion barrier with record sales posted for its fourth quarter, defying the market expectations of a downturn due to the ongoing trade conflict between the US and China. The company is planning to deliver large 900 commercial aircraft this year alongside increased orders for its defence aircraft and products. Shares in the company jumped 7% on the back of the announcement earlier this week

Massive disruptions as a 1:100 polar vortex slams the USA Pic courtesy CNN
Polar vortex hits US flights hard

If you’re travelling to the USA thousands of flights have been cancelled as a 1:100-year polar vortex descended across the northern areas. Worst hit has been Chicago with temps falling to minus 29 C degrees. Although there is some respite in the weather forecasts, all across Northern America, airlines are warning passengers to be prepared for delays and more cancellations. CREW TIP: Keep your medications in your carry on bags as well as a change of clothes and underwear. In the most severe impacts, many passengers have been stranded at the airport, so pack to be as self-sufficient as possible

Leave it all in the bag! - new system may ease delays
Security: leave it in the bag

The cumbersome process of pulling out laptops and tablets to go through airport security screening may be a thing of the past if a trial at Brisbane Airport is successful. The Brisbane trial follows a similar test in Melbourne late last year where new 3D scanning technology enabled passengers to leave everything in their carry-on bags when going through the screening points. Security screening regularly adds to passenger delays and was the primary reason that airlines advise international passengers to be at the airport 3 hours prior to departure

Day-night LCD roof panel - one of last year's winning designs
Grand designs for airline cabins

With the airline conference season about to kick off in Doha this weekend, the annual parade of airlines’ wish lists has already started with finalists being announced in the Crystal Cabin Awards. Held in Hamburg Germany, this year’s awards attracted 94 designs from 22 countries. Amongst the finalists are designs that maximise the amount of usable space on an aircraft including placing first class ‘pods’ throughout the economy cabin. Other designs include a wellness function where your seat links to your smartphone to monitor your calorie intake as well as your heart and breathing rate. Last year’s winners included Qatar’s highly awarded Q-suite and a realistic day-night sky roof panel. The awards will be announced on April 10

Safety: Air New Zealand sees the light

After criticism from all around the world, Air New Zealand has dumped its latest safety video. The over-produced abstract rap did little to communicate emergency information although Air New Zealand defended the 4-minute clip claiming it "helped to promote tourism."  

Qatar changes its order to the long range version of the A321
Qatar changes to extended range A321's

As predicted by Airline Insider, the emphasis in 2019 is on small to medium jets providing direct point to point flying. Qatar has ticked this prediction this week by converting 10 of the 50 Airbus A321 ‘neo’ aircraft on order to the new ‘long-range’ version which has a range of more than 7,000 km. The move supports Qatar’s recent expansions and supports the airline’s vision to compete in the China and South East Asian markets.

Bucket List: Easter Island

Easter Island is a place of mystery and intrigue. The Chilean island is in the far southern Pacific Ocean and is famous for the 1,000 or so statues that are dotted across the landscape. Getting to the island can be expensive, but if you’re one of the many people visiting South America, LATAM flies from Santiago to Easter Island making it an ideal ‘add-on’ to your flight itinerary. The return 5-hour direct flight sells for around $1,000. It’s a detour that is worthy of your bucket list!  Allow 2 -3 nights on the island to explore!

Lounges: Plaza Premium adds Langkawi

Pay-by-the-visit lounge operator Plaza Premium has added a new facility at Langkawi. The new lounge takes the total to 70 locations around the world. While memberships are available, anyone can use the lounges for a small fee, which in most cases is cheaper than buying a beer and a sandwich in the terminal.

Hilton Honors members can access their Nteflix account without data charges at Hilton Hotels
Hilton adds Netflix access

Hilton Honors members can enjoy free access to their Netflix accounts across a string of hotels throughout the USA without racking up huge Wi-Fi charges. Access is via the Hilton Honors App, and the service is planned to roll out to other non-US locations around the world throughout 2019. The rise of services such as Netflix has seen marked declines in hotel revenues from in-house entertainment services. CREW TIP: Hilton Honors is free to join – sign up before you travel

United adds live TV free in time for Superbowl

United has long offered pay-for-view access inflight to US distributor Direct TV, but this week has announced free access to the live streaming service which is available on more than 200 of its 737’s across that fly across the USA. Just in time for the Superbowl 53.

Fiji is back on Qantas' agenda but only using a 737
Fiji: but no 'fun-jet'

Qantas is going back to Fiji but not on the ‘747 Fiji-fun jets’ of the past, but using a smaller 737-800. The 5-hour flight to Fiji’s west coast Nadi airport is a little cramped especially in economy, and the timings make it awkward for guests checking out of hotels around Nadi. The flight is also a return sector for the crew, so please understand if they are a little tired and grumpy on the way back! CREW TIP: Across the road from the airport are two hotels where you can swim, cool off and wait for your flight - provided you’re buying food and drink from the bar.

China: no smoking on the flight deck 

After two serious in-flight fires and an accidental depressurisation, China is finally making moves to stop its pilots from smoking on the flight deck. The ban will come into force at the end of 2019.

CASA to launch Flysafe 2019 at Avalon Airshow

CASA, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and Airservices Australia are presenting the FlySafe 2019 Aviation Safety Forum. A range of safety experts will share their knowledge on positive safety reporting cultures and will work though responses to a hypothetical accident at a busy airport. The hypothetical will bring to life the roles each aviation agency plays in learning from accidents and improving safety. This is the first time the reugulators have come together to present a comprehensive aviation safety presentation for the industry. Details at

British Airways retro 747

British Airways will celebrate the 100th anniversary with a special paint job that will be unveiled on February 18, just days before the official anniversary of the airline. The classic ‘BA’ livery will make way for the original branding of the BOAC  - British Overseas Airways Corporation. BA, which was privatised in 1987, is one of several carriers that will notch up 100 years of commercial flying.

World's largest underwater theme park

Diving and underwater tourism is big business, and although the Great Barrier Reef wins hands down, Bahrain is now upping the ante on diving experiences by creating its own underwater theme park. Due to open later this year, the feature of the 100,000 square metre facility will be a fully submerged 747. The diving theme park will be the largest in the world and will also feature pearling luggers and a huge collection of unique marine life.

Sydney: design your own airport

Western Sydney Airport has already secured several major airlines as customers for its scheduled 2026 opening.  The authority responsible for the development has this week commenced a design competition for the terminal facilities including issuing invitations to Sydney based design and architecture students. The design brief is passenger-focused with an eye on future travel

Vouchers for oversold flights

Qantas is getting proactive with oversold flights or flights where it needs to offload booked passengers to reposition crew by offering vouchers. Called “Qantas Flight Switch” it is used proactively by the automated airport control system to forecast aircraft loads and where practical move booked passengers to a later or earlier flight in exchange for a $70 voucher. The vouchers can be used for booking another one way or return flight and have a 12-month expiry. The offer is made by email and text

ANA takes a stake in Phiippine Airlines

As predicted the ‘splurges on merges’ amongst airlines is hotting up with Japan’s ANA taking a 10% stake in the parent of Philippine Airlines. The move comes after ANA secured a cross holding in Vietnam Airlines in 2016 and follows Qatar’s recent 5% acquisition of China Southern. The expansion of China’s 81 airlines, boosted by government support, is prompting many carriers to reconsider their traditional alliances

Hotels: rent a room by the hour

Day use of a hotel room once had seedy overtones, but French company has expanded it's base to cover more than 6,000 hotels worldwide. The success of the concept has been the rising trend for travellers to use a hotel room as a business base or as part of a day trip to the city. Hotels have embraced the concept as it allows a room to be sold twice within the same 24 period. If you’re in London, a massive campaign using Black cabs to promote the service is being launched this week.

Competitive design: Boeing 777X  

Emirates will be the first to fly the new Boeing 777X next year, but ahead of the delivery, Boeing has this week revea