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.​
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2019 Predictions
Aviation and travel continues to evolve and change. Here are  Airline Insider's top 10 predictions for 2019 
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2019 Predictions

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Malaysian & Singapore go back to the future
Singapore and Malaysian Airlines went back to the future last week with the signing of an agreement to codeshare on more routes. The two airlines were once part of one organisation but split in 1972 when Malaysian Airlines hit financial turbulence. The deal also includes Silk Air adding 16 domestic destinations to the international routes.
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Delays happen - plan for it
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Go to the non-tourist locations
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Just by picking up an item in the minibar can register a charge
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Always take a powerboard
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Travel with several low limit credit cards to stop unauthorised charges ruining your holiday
Travel hack summary
Over the years Airline Insider’s travel hacks have saved holidays, relationships and budgets. Here’s a selection of the most popular and proven tips. Always rember that .If it says ‘tourists go right’ – then immediately go left!

  1. Travelling together… always choose the A & C seat leaving the centre seat empty
  2. Never hand over your passport to anyone other than Customs – take a stack of colour photocopies (it stops hotels holding you to ransom over the minibar or other costs)
  3. Travel with 3 or 4 credit cards all with low limits (stops hotels, car hire companies etc from whacking you with huge charges that can leave you stranded)
  4. Always take your bags out of the boot of the taxi before paying the driver (stops the scammers who insist on cash or hitting you up with hefty fees)
  5. Don’t wear your cruise ship or travel group lanyard around – it’s a magnet for scammers
  6. Sticky tape the little sim card key inside your phone cover (changing to a local sim card is cheaper than roaming costs)
  7. Weather and delays happen! – always book onward flights through the one carrier (by law, they must care for you in the event of a delay/cancellation) and ALWAYS allow enough time between flights
  8. Carry enough medications in your carry-on bag for at least 5 days
  9. Check the ‘wait times’ before you buy travel insurance – especially lost bags or delays (some cheap policies make you wait up to 7 days)
  10. Never have all your cash and cards in the one place – especially when on the move
  11. Put your left shoe in the room safe with your valuables so you won’t walk out or leave them behind
  12. Pack a small, lightweight power board – plug it into the international power adapter and you’ll have 4 or 5 sockets to charge your devices
  13. Always arrive with some local cash – avoid airport money changers
  14. Don’t overpack – if you need a jumper, buy one there and then give it away when you leave. If you can, just take carry-on bags (big help in last minute flight changes when there are delays or cancellations)
  15. Avoid jetlag by keeping your watch on Melbourne or Sydney time in the 48 hours before your leave to come home
  16. Always pull back the sheets of your hotel bed to check they are fresh when you walk into the room.
  17. Always ask for a room away from the escalators and ask for a room with a bath – in many places this will often get you a free upgrade
  18. Have deodorant, toothbrush, spare undies and socks in your carry-on bag
  19. Take multiple SD cards for your camera and change them regularly to avoid losing the lot
GOLDEN RULE:
Be like a pilot, remembering that ground staff and cabin crew are the only friends you’ve got at the airport, so even if there’s a major stuff up – be nice!
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The old mine is finding a new life as a selfie hot spot
Old uranium mine is a tourist hot spot
Disused uranium mine, Mary Kathleen, near Mt Isa in Australia’s Queensland has found new life as a tourist attraction in the dusty region. The mine’s deep terraces of ochre are contrasted with an unnaturally blue lake at the base. Although the local tourism association described the lake as ‘slightly radioactive’ the flood of tourists and social media images is creating a new life for the mine and the virtually abandoned nearby town.
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The 'pickle-fork' is a critical component and isaffected by high cycle operations. Illo: USA Today
More cracks found in 737NG's
FIRST REPORTED THREE WEEKS AGO: Qantas has completed precautionary inspections of thirty-three 737NG aircraft, checking for hairline cracks that have appeared in some high cycle aircraft worldwide. The cracks relate to the ‘pickle fork’ structure, which is located between the wing and fuselage. Qantas brought forward these precautionary checks by up to seven months and completed them within seven days. Of the 33 of Qantas’ 737 aircraft that required inspection, three were found to have a hairline crack in the pickle fork structure. These aircraft have been removed from service for repair. 810 B737NG’s are subject to the mandatory inspection with 38 being identified as having the issue so far. It is estimated that the problem will exist in around 20% of the worldwide fleet, mainly on high-cycle aircraft.
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The Spitfire sim even has the sound of the Merlin engine!
Spitfire sim flies high
Flight training on classic aircraft is expensive and difficult, especially on rare planes such as the Spitfire. Boultbee Academy in Chichester UK is the world’s only Spitfire training school and has taken delivery of realistic training simulator that is used to recertify pilots on the classic WWII aircraft. The ‘sim’ uses a full motion authentic cockpit that generates all movements including roll, pitch and negative g forces. Visually, seven HD projectors provide crisp responsive images on a 220-degree curved dome. Of course, the most important part of a Spitfire, the roar of the Merlin engine is delivered in full surround sound in the pilot’s headset.
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A220 roadshow showcases options
Seven countries and nine cities, including Sydney were part of the Airbus roadshow last week to show off its new A220 aircraft. The plane, on loan from Air-Baltic is hoped to become the replacement for regional jets such as the Boeing 717. Priced at around $95 million, the 160-seat jet has a range of 3,400 nautical miles – enough to cover most South East Asian and Pacific destinations from Sydney. The A220 is the first product since Airbus tool over Bombardier aviation.
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Iconic design for the airport terminal
Western Sydney Airport designs unveiled
Western Sydney Airport is on track for its 2026 opening and this week revealed its terminal design created by architectural partners Cox and Zaha Hadid who together have built a reputation for high end design. Timber ceilings, vertical gardens and high-tech passenger interfaces, will place the airport alongside world leaders such as Singapore’s Changi in terms of design functionality. The airport will operate without a curfew and has already signed up major airlines and cargo operators.
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Singapore 'air-taxi' flight test
Volocopter conducted a flight trial of its ‘air taxi’ this week in Singapore. The flight which traversed the city’s Marina Bay was under the command of an onboard pilot despite the system having autonomous capability. The trial is part of the certification process enabling the introduction of an air taxi service. The trial flight travelled at a speed of around 50km/h crossing the city in just under two minutes.
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Expect VietJet to add extra routes from Australia
Confirmed: VietJet adds Avalon
As predicted, this week VietJet announced it is commencing services between Melbourne’s Avalon Airport and Ho Chi Minh City using A320 aircraft. VietJet is Vietnam’s largest privately-owned airline and boasts connections across Asia with routes growing almost weekly. The airline earlier this year placed a US$50 billion order for 400 additional aircraft to meet the growing demand.
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777X finally gets its engines
The troubled 777X which was meant to be Boeing’s return serve for the Airbus A350-1000 has spent almost a year on the chocks after a long line of problems with the aircraft’s engines manufactured by General Electric. The GE9X engines have recently been re-engineered. A covert delivery by a large Antonov cargo freighter to the Boeing runway last week delivered the new engines which are designed to extend fuel range.
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Strange Stays: 1930 carriages in a 200 acre vineyard
Airline Insider has taken readers to caves, abandoned aircraft, old hangars, a 747 and even a wartime control tower. This week’s strange stay is a 1930’s railway carriage that has been lovingly restored and placed in the middle of a 200-acre vineyard. ‘The Carriages’ is located in northern Victoria about 2 hours’ drive from Melbourne and the unique accommodation includes numerous artefacts and antiques.  www.thecarriagesvineyard.com.au
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Virgin to Japan
Virgin has picked up additional slots enabling the roll out of flights between Australia and Japan. The two new slots were hotly contested by Qantas and Virgin attracting considerable speculation about the re-allocation of services to Tokyo Haneda Airport from Tokyo Narita.  Even with the increased focus on Japan for the Olympics next year, the additional capacity is providing competitive pricing.
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The fake North Korean city built in the 1950's to 'lure' people to North Korea
Tour the DMZ
The Korean war was made famous by the MASH tv series, but one of the ‘hardest’ borders in the world is now attracting tourists. The De-Militarised Zone, or DMZ, is the buffer between North and South Korea and is just an hour’s drive from the South Korean capital, Seoul. For around A$50 you can take a tour of the DMZ which starts with a stop at a mini theme park before moving into the ‘hard border.’ Visitors get a view of Kijong-Dong, an uninhabited city built in the mid 1950’s to lure South Koreans to cross the border. The city is like a Hollywood movie set with fake facades, streets and buildings. While the DMZ is accessible and relatively tourist-friendly, the border area is still serious business with armed soldiers, razor wire edged roads and a constant pointing of weapons from both sides. Details of tour offerings – see viator.com  CREW TIP: Viator has a discount coupon system so if you’re travelling as a couple, alternate the name you book tours in using the ‘friend’s coupon’ to get discounts on subsequent tours.
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Flying Lego goes VR
Virtual Reality is becoming a common way to while away the hours on long flights and the technology just keeps getting better. This week Sun Express a joint venture airline between Turkish Airways and Lufthansa upgraded its onboard VR experience including an immersive, interactive Lego program. Completing the Lego theme, one of the A320’s has been given a Lego ‘airspray’ treatment.
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Air New Zealand gets east coast USA direct
Air New Zealand has announced an Auckland to New York non-stop service bypassing the woes of LAX. Flying time is 15 hours eastbound and 17 hours westbound, the flight uses the airline’s new 787-900’s with additional business and premium economy seats.
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Schedule changes and reduced openings
Northern winter means schedule changes
With the end of daylight saving in the northern hemisphere, airlines are switching to their winter schedules which means reduced flight capacity on some major routes. In addition, many places go into a state of tourist hibernation, especially in tourist focused areas like Italy’s Isle of Capri. With the changes also come lower prices and increased chances of gaining upgrades using points or miles rewards. CREW TIP: Check what is available as many attractions close or wind down over winter. In colder areas always have a contingency for weather delays, particularly in northern Europe and the Americas.
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This museum lets you get up close and hands on with some of nation's iconic historic aircraft
Red Centre museum has Australia's aviation history
The Central Australian Aviation Museum in Alice Springs is an amazing collection of aircraft and artefacts that plot the history of Australia’s aviation pioneers, including the latter day real ‘ConAir’ (Connellan Airways). The museum also displays the wreckage of the ‘kookaburra’ - an aircraft that crashed while searching for Charles Kingsford Smith who went missing on a trans continent flight. The museum is staffed by passionate volunteers who can share the stories of an amazing era.
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Boarding Pass Music Festival
Melbourne Airport is staging the ‘Boarding Pass Music Festival’ at the airport. Between December 13 to 20 more than 74 performances will be staged inside the airport terminals. The concept was first developed at Austin, Nashville and New Orleans airports and has often extended onto flights, including Southwest Airways that provided passengers with inflight live music.
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Another Middle East low-cost carrier
Etihad and Air Arabia have launched a new low-cost airline servicing the Middle East and North Africa. The move is expected to boost Etihad’s falling market share. Passenger traffic across the Middle East is only growing at 2.9%, significantly lower than the double-digit annual growth experienced in the past decade.
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Flying  in India - stress-free tips
India is an amazing place, but the subtle nuances of airports across the country can be confusing.
  1. Always allow extra time to get to the airport and ALWAYS get several opinions of how long it takes to get there – guaranteed that they’ll always be different!
  2. Download and print your e-tickets – at many airports you won’t even get into the terminal without them. Copies on your phone will generally be rejected especially by military security
  3. Make sure your bags are screened BEFORE going to the check in desk – often porters will by-pass the screening lines, but check-in clerks regularly send people back whose bags are not screened
  4. Make sure your carry-on bags are tagged at the check-in counter or at some airports they will not be allowed to go through the terminal screening
  5. Security is a never-ending process – take everything electronic out of your bag and make sure your boarding pass is always in your hand and is stamped when you go through each screening point (the thwack of a rubber stamp is just one of the magic sounds of India)
  6. Some airports even require you to show your boarding pass when you disembark!
  7. Airports are the worst places to change currency - make sure you arrive in India with cash, especially 10-rupee notes. Cash is king across India
  8. The air may seem stifling in some cities, especially if you’re stuck in traffic – take a bandana in your carry on to help reduce the dust you breathe in
  9. Be aware of where you are – use a GPS tracking App and remember hotel, airport and restaurant business cards are your best friend
  10. Don’t drink the water on the aircraft (or on the ground) – always check bottle seals and have tissues and hand sanitizer handy (toilet paper is generally not provided on some domestic flights)
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Airbus A350-1000 the hot tip for Qantas' next long haul fleet
Airbus offers Qantas aircraft for next ULH trial
The bidding war between Airbus and Boeing for Qantas’ anticipated ultra-long-haul fleet continues to escalate. As the Boeing 787-900 being used for the trials was preparing for departure at New York’s JFK Airport, Airbus has offered Qantas a new A350-1000 for the next phase of the trial flights. To make this happen Airbus will need to train and certify enough crew on the aircraft type or alternatively, operate the trial with a non-Qantas crew.
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ATSB awards hero Air Traffic Controller
Australia’s Air Transport Safety Bureau has presented a commendation to the Air Traffic controller who “talked down” a student pilot at Perth’s Jandakot Airport after his flying instructor became incapacitated. The student pilot was on his third lesson when the incident occurred on August 30. The communication between the student and the controller made headlines around the world
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Air New Zealand adds 'stretch class'
Air New Zealand has stepped up its competitive offering by introducing a new ‘stretch class’ on its 777 and 787 long haul aircraft. The small section of the economy area has more space between each row of seats and an area near the bulkhead where passengers can stretch out. The ‘stretch class’ will be available on all Air New Zealand long haul flights from early next year.
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Singapore takes a new look at business class
With business being the new first, Singapore Airlines have revised their business class offering adding improved quality amenity kits and inflight sleep-suits (pyjamas) – Singapore has experienced an uplift in business class sales in recent months following the difficulties experienced traveling through Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong hub.
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Qatar adds Langkawi
Qatar continues its push into the South East Asian market. This week the Middle East carrier operated its inaugural flight to Malaysia’s Langkawi.  The island of Langkawi is popular with premium tourists and the daily flight direct between Doha and Langkawi slashes travel time for UK & EU passengers who have had to transit through Singapore, KL or Bangkok.
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California bans all plastic packaged hotel amenities
No more toiletries in Californian hotels
California has taken the fight against plastic waste to the next level with hotels being banned from packaging toiletry items in small plastic bottles. The ban will come into effect in two years’ time and will require hotels to use more innovative approaches such as bulk sized amenities. InterContinental Hotels have already made the change. In August San Francisco airport banned the sale of water in plastic bottles and today, water can be purchased in refillable containers as well as glass bottles and aluminium cans. A downside of the change will see charities missing out as its current practice for flight crew to collect the hotel toiletries and donate them to charities.
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CNS - major growth hub for Queensland
Cairns Airport creates new gateway for New Zealand tourists
Cairns Airport, part of the North Queensland Airports Group, has announced direct flights between the tropical city and New Zealand. The move avoids an awkward and sometimes expensive transit through Brisbane while at the same time giving the local tourist market a boost. Tourist numbers from New Zealand are up by a huge 11.7% and the direct flights will make the tropical north more accessible. Cairns Airport is currently undergoing a massive renovation and facilities upgrade.
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Deal of the week: New York to Paris in business
New York to Paris (or reverse) in business class flying with French ‘all-business’ airline La Compagnie for just US$654 (about $940 Aussie!) The airline uses new A320neo aircraft with 76 lay-flat business class seats for the 8-hour flight.
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Update: 747 avoids the boneyard and goes to Boeing
VH-OJU is a 747 that has flown around the world for almost three decades. Its passengers have included a long list of famous celebrities and even the Queen, however this weekend it will take off from Sydney heading for Los Angeles and the aircraft boneyard at California’s Victorville. UPDATE: OJU has been purchased by Boeing for use as a flying test-bed
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Wild weather shuts down Japan
A super typhoon is tracking towards Tokyo causing more than 1,600 flights to be cancelled, train networks to be shut down and many retailers in the city to close. The super cell has a barometric pressure hovering around 910hPa and has sustained winds in excess of 200km/h. Airlines have been detouring the 1400km wide storm. Domestic flights in Japan were grounded yesterday and most international airlines have also cancelled flights. It is expected that the slow moving ultra-low-pressure storm system will cause disruptions for the next 36 hours.
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Superbike versus Roulette's PC-21
Australia’s former world motorcycle champion, Wayne Gardner too to the track this week in a race against the RAAF’s Roulettes. Gardner riding a superbike won the standing start race against the Air Force’s new PC-21 training aircraft but was left in the slipstream during the flying start race. The superbike was no competition for the new PC-21 trainers which have a top speed of 645km/h!
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Melbourne Cup VIPs arrive
Plane spotters have noted the appearance of specialist horse transport aircraft at Melbourne Airport. The latest to arrive is a 747 chartered by a Saudi owner who flew 4 horses from Japan. The horses and attendants are treated to their own customs clearance, vet assessment and are whisked away from the airport to specialist facilities within an hour of landing.
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Regulator 'arms-length' from flight trial
Qantas’ first ultra-log-haul trial takes off flying from New York to Sydney on a 787-900. The study to be conducted during the ‘trial’ however is attracting much debate given the aircraft will carry no freight and will only have 50 guests on board raising questions about the integrity of the study. The airline has also backflipped previous agreement to have an open peer review of the study and is operating the flight using offshore crew from the UK who have signed a ‘volunteer’ agreement. The UK union issued a dispute notice as the flight exceeds the maximum duty hours, an issue that saw Australian crew not being able to participate. Bypassing the UK-EU regulations, the airline quickly adjusted the rosters reducing the sign on to just 60 minutes prior to departure in New York.
Australian regulator, CASA issued a statement saying that “CASA has not made a determination on any aspects of the ultra-log-haul operations proposed by the operator”
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Cardboard, seaweed and banana leaves!
pic courtesy BBC
Enviro meal tray debuts in London
The London Museum of Design has launched an exhibition of airline and travel waste. The unusual display highlights the 5.7 million tonnes of non-food waste that airlines around the world throw out each year and proposes a unique solution – a return to the meal tray. The innovative design replaces the plastic tray with a recycled cardboard and banana leaf shell that unfolds to reveal all-recyclable utensils, napkins and ‘crockery’ – the food is ‘plated’ on banana leaves. Other innovations include a composting facility for food waste which currently is incinerated to maintain biosecurity.
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Tax Office checks Airbnb guestbook
Online booking agency Airbnb has advised its property operators that the Australian Tax Office will receive transaction details. The sector has flown under the radar however massive growth has prompted the ATO to initiate a compliance program that is expected include a focus on property owners’ quarterly business activity lodgements and negative gearing arrangements.
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Thomas Cook collapse creating opportunities
Travel giant TUI has stepped up to fill much of the gap left by Thomas Cook when it shut down late last month. The UK operator has also wet leased additional aircraft and is marketing a range of holiday packages. While the Thomas Cook collapse caused chaos for UK travellers, the 178-year-old travel company’s wholesale operation is still causing grief. TUI has employed 50 former Thomas Cook Captains and First Officers.
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Boeing 737NG inspections find cracks
Inspections of 737NG aircraft has been directed following the reporting of cracks in the ‘pickle-fork’ assembly which connects the landing gear to the wing-fuselage junction. Worldwide inspections have been directed by regulators.
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Qantas backflips on ultra-long-haul studies
With flight times up to 24 hours and ‘actual’ overall duty times in the vicinity of 26 hours, fatigue, weight and fuel are the biggest barriers to Qantas’ plans to make a profit from non-stop ultra-long-haul flying. With three trial flights scheduled for later this year, the airline and flight crew unions have been working with Charles Perkins and Monash Universities to design inflight studies that will assess the impacts of the flights on pilots and crew, including agreements that allowed independent expert review of any adverse data. Overnight, the airline’s new head of cabin operations emailed all crew advising that the airline was no longer honouring the agreement for the trial flights which involve conditions outside of the crew EBA, including the peer review of the fatigue studies. The airline also issued a veiled threat to crew that if they don’t comply and accept the company’s position the ultra-long-haul flights will be operated by offshore crew. Currently the airline uses offshore bases in New Zealand and London to circumvent the requirements of Australian employment law and the Australian workplace agreements.
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Rideshare accounts for 27% of kerbside traffic at LAX and will be relocated to a remote pool pick up area
LAX bans rideshare from kerbside pick ups
LA’s LAX is about to start construction on a massive project that will allow more efficient movement between its awkwardly disconnected terminals, but to facilitate the works, the airport needs to reduce kerbside congestion. Rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft current account for 27% of congestion traffic along terminal entry and exit points and from October 29, will be banned from kerbside pick ups. Users of rideshare services will have to take a shuttlebus to a parking area where rideshare drivers will be held. Unlike Australia, rideshare vehicles must be identified and hefty fines will apply for those caught breaching the new arrangements.
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Stay in your own lane! - economy travel issues
Seat spread...spreads
Arm rests, seat reclines and smelly feet – the woes of economy travel seem never ending however a new threat to flying sanity is on the rise – the leg spread! Whether it’s a 3 or 4 across seating configuration, male passengers particularly are finding difficult to ‘stay in their lane’ when seated, spreading their legs wide and encroaching into the personal space of the person sitting beside them. The phenomenon is not helped by the curved wall panels next to window seats on some newer Airbus and Boeing aircraft and the obsession of engineers to locate entertainment system junction boxes under middle seats. CREW TIP: Even on short hop flights always book the A & C seats when travelling together leaving the middle seat empty. Unless the flight is full, nobody would choose the middle the seat.
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NYC - winter delights are back!
Need a guide? justaskchristine.com NYC's born & bred Insider that knows the real city!
Winter fun returns to NYC
Winter in New York City is cold, but with the freezing temperatures come a range of ‘must-do’ activities, including ice skating in the centre of the city at Rockefeller Place. The iconic skating rink that’s been a part of NYC for 83 years returns this week. Open from 8:30am to midnight, the rink is surrounded by pop up bars and entertainment. Rockefeller Place also features a great observation deck overlooking the city and magical Christmas decorations rivalled only by Times Square. CREW TIP: After skating, take the subway and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge for amazing views – but rug up as even in October, nights on the bridge come with an icy wind!
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New rescue stairs have been deployed at Australia's Melbourne Airport
New rescue vehicle debuts in Melbourne
First reported by Airline Insider in February, Air Services Australia, (the government agency that provides air traffic control and airport fire firefighting services) has finally unveiled a new rescue vehicle that enables passengers to be evacuated from any aircraft without deploying inflatable slides. The mobile stairs are mounted on a go-anywhere, all-terrain vehicle and can reach the upper deck doors of A380 & 747 aircraft. The ability to disembark passengers when no stairs are available avoids the likelihood of injures that typically occurs using inflatable slides. The rescue stairs can also be used by Police and medical responders to quickly gain access to an aircraft.
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Cargo deck seat pods...'self-loading freight'
Cargo deck seating
After no airline was interested in buying the ‘sleeper pods’ - the latest from the Aircraft Interior Expo in LA is a cargo bay pod that provides lounge seating with floor to ceiling titanium reinforced windows, creating a view similar to a World War II tail gunner! Designers of the in-flight seating area in the cargo bay acknowledge that the seating could not be used for take-off or landing, but they are promoting the concept by including toilets and galleys in the pods as a way to free up valuable passenger space on the main deck. (Never under-estimate the interest of an airline exec in squeezing in more seats!)
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Cathay is feeling the pinch of China's regulator and western expectations
Cathay under pressure
While all airlines are experiencing a dramatic drop in passengers travelling to Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific is also struggling under draconian conditions imposed by China’s Civil Aviation Authority. Following China’s demand that any Cathay employee involved in, or supporting the protests be sacked, the Regulator is now requiring the airline to submit flight crew lists for ‘pre-take off approval’. The move has seen entire crew lists rejected, some even while passengers were boarding leaving the 73-year-old airline no option but to cancel flights. Beijing is also flexing its muscles with aircraft landing in mainland China being held for unscheduled inspections – a move designed to intimidate flight crew and pressure Cathay’s management.
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LATAM leaving Oneworld to pressure points flights
Using Frequent Flyer points to get an upgrade or a cheap flight to South America using LATAM airlines will be harder after the Chilean based airline withdrew from the Oneworld Alliance. The move comes as American giant Delta, took a US$1.9billion, 20% stake in the airline effectively unwinding codeshare agreements with airlines that are competing with Delta. While LATAM said it intends to maintain relationships with other airlines, there is already competitive tension with Qantas who are using 747’s for the thrice weekly Melbourne - Santiago service which will flip to a daily 787 service in June next year. It’s expected that Qantas will take advantage of LATAM not being part of Oneworld by pushing up the number of points required for a flight to South America.
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Grant applications for remote airstrip upgrades now open
'Dust-off' grants open up remote tourism
Owners of remote airports around Australia have been invited to apply for government funding to upgrade remote airstrips with navigation aids, runway lighting and safety systems. Applications opened this week providing opportunities for improved medical services and the expansion of remote tourism operations. Remote tourism is Australia’s fastest growing tourism sector.
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Airport screening to speed up
pic supplied
Faster screening
Melbourne Airport commissioned four new 3D scanners that will speed up security screening and eliminate the need for passengers to pull out laptops and electronic devices for inspection. The new units were deployed this week in the airport’s T4 which is used by a several budget airlines. Passengers using the main international terminal at the airport however, will have to wait until mid-2020 for the current systems to be upgraded.
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See Saudi
In a pitch to attract 100 million visitors by 2030, Saudi Arabia has opened its doors enabling easy access e-visas to citizens of 49 countries, including Australia. Until now, access to the country has been tightly controlled with visas usually only granted to ‘approved’ businesses and people making religious pilgrimages. Despite the country’s reputation of oppressive policing of Islamic law, the tourist offering includes some of the world’s most spectacular scenery. The Saudi government has emphasised that tourists will be made to feel safe and welcome and that women travelling alone will be granted visas. CREW TIP: Drinking or possession of alcohol and drugs of any kind are banned. Over to counter medications should not be taken into the Saudi Arabia unless accompanied by a medical certificate. Non-Muslims are not permitted to visit Mecca or Medina.
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Japan's sports bars are stocking up on beer for the Rugby World Cup
Rugby beer fears
Japan’s Oita is hosting the Rugby World Cup, but the city is not concerned about accommodation, public transport or the weather – its biggest fear is running out of beer! ‘Omotenashi’ is Japanese for hospitality and frequently includes serving beer in large one litre glasses. The influx of Australian, New Zealand, Welsh and UK fans has seen organisers instruct venues to ‘stock up’ – A briefing from the local organising committee stated that “rugby fans drink at least 7 to 8 times more beer than others”
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Web Watch: expect Fiji deals this summer
Qantas’ decision to add additional flights to Fiji over the Australian summer has raised the ire of Fiji Airways. The large uplift in capacity is likely to see heavy discounting of last-minute seats, particularly in the post-Christmas period. CREW INTEL: Many of the flights will be operated using smaller 737 aircraft. It is expected that Fiji may choose to deploy its new A350 wide body as a point of difference.
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The ATSB is investigating an incident where the aircraft was on final without landing gear deployed
Landing checklist
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating a Vietnam Airlines 787 that was on final approach to Australia’s Melbourne Airport without the landing gear being deployed. The incident occurred on September 19 with the aircraft on approach to runway 34. ATC notified the aircraft and a go around was initiated. The approach to Melbourne’s 34 takes aircraft over deep ravines which means that normal RADALT alerts and config warnings occur late in the final approach. In a statement the airline advised it is cooperating with investigators, although the statement ironically carried the wrong date of the incident.
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Air India: more belt tightening
Air India has been under cost pressures for some time and this week the airline wrote to its flight crew advising that onboard meals will be changed to a lower-cost, low calorie menu. The new crew meals will cost around one-third of the current costs. The airline has previously been criticised for its decision to dismiss staff for being overweight. The airline argued, the decision was related to “safety issues.”
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Virgin recruiting aircraft engineering trainees
While most airlines are sending aircraft overseas for maintenance, Virgin Australia has announced it has opened applications for its engineering traineeships for Melbourne and Brisbane bases. Details on the airline’s website.
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The upper deck area forward of Doors 1 will have no interphones for crew communication
A380 safety shout out!
Qantas’ refurbishment of its A380 fleet is underway and it’s a case of maybe third time lucky…? Aside from the upper deck doors 3 being inoperable due to seat reconfigurations, the changes also mean that interphones currently in the forward section of the upper deck will be removed. Contingency arrangements for crew emergency communications under consideration is the placement of megaphones and the development of a procedure where a crew member raising an alarm would repeatedly press a passenger call bell. Inflight safety auditors have expressed concerns however the configuration works are well underway and are unlikely to change.
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Qatar extends China deal
Qatar Airways will start code-sharing with China Southern Airlines from January next year. Qatar acquired five percent of the Chinese carrier late last year. The move is expected to see several new route options, including via the new Beijing airport which is set to become one of Asia’s largest hubs. The codeshare will also help to arrest revenue leakage which saw Qatar post a $632m loss.
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Airports continue to add costs which are passed on to passengers via the airlines
Airline v Airports
It’s that time of the year again where airlines come out criticising the high costs of airport operations. This week Qantas led the charge with CEO Alan Joyce providing scathing criticism of airport costs. In recent times additional costs were passed on to passengers via the ticketing airline at major airports including Sydney and Melbourne. Manila leads the way in Asia with 8 separate additional charges being levied on passengers using the airport. Cost cutting is the golden mantra for every airline, however the motives for the latest stoush comes at the same time of negotiations with unions, suppliers and airports.
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Disney has opened up the VIP tour experience ...but for a hefty hourly fee!
Disney's expensive VIP option
Normally reserved for royalty and celebrities, Disney theme parks have opened their VIP tour options to the public. The tour which includes everything and anything you wish means that you will never queue or have to wait, even on the parks’ busiest days. The VIP status comes at a hefty price of $625 per person, per hour. Wait times vary across the parks with the new Star Wars exhibits taking up to three hours to get to the front of the queue. CREW INTEL: The unofficial record for Disney attractions in LA is (allegedly) 37 rides in 14 hours
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Windshear is when the wind switches from off the nose to a tailwind causing the plane lose lift
Windshear...windshear...windshear
A lot of questions were asked after a reported windshear event prompted the diversion of an A380 from Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport to nearby Avalon this week. Windshear is a term used to describe conditions where the prevailing wind changes from being ‘off the nose’ to ‘onto the tail’ of an aircraft. Essentially a plane’s wings work with air moving over the surface creating a pressure differential that causes the wing to rise (lift). In windshear, the wind reverses and as such the wings lose their lift which is why pilots will avoid areas of reported windshear or storm cell microbursts.
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Hot chips canx
The quest to get the perfect inflight serve of hot chips on one airline’s ultra-long-haul flights has been abandoned. Despite months of tests using specially designed equipment, issues with the complexity of taste, odour and freshness has made the comfort food offering uneconomical.
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UK travel giant Thomas Cook is seeking government support
Agency action
Flight Centre has acquired the Gold Coast ‘Ignite’ Travel Group as part of its expansion of its packaged holiday products. UK travel giant Thomas Cook is the subject of divestage offers after the group has suffered a significant financial loss. The BBC reported this week that the holiday and airline giant is seeking a 200-million-pound bail out package from the UK government. Fears over a collapse could leave up to 60,000 people stranded. Thomas Cook also has raised concerns over its trading in a post-Brexit environment without the benefits of the EU’s seamless borders and open trade.
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Japan deals on the horizon
Additional slots being released for Japan ahead of the 2020 Olympics has seen Qantas, Virgin and Japan Airlines all jockey for the prime gate times at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. The competition is likely to see a repeat of the price war that occurred in 2018 between Australia and Hong Kong.
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Qantas carry-on causes more confusion
The great carry-on over carry on continues with Qantas this week approving international carry on being 10kg, 3 kg more than the maximum permitted on domestic flights. Meanwhile Jetstar still is hanging on to its 7kg limit which can be ‘upgraded’ at check in for a fee, however if the scales at the boarding gate shows you’re over the tiny 7kg limit you’ll be slugged with a $60 fee before you can fly. The differences between the various services are making travel a nightmare for passengers, especially those that are connecting with international flights.
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Good move by Philippine Airlines - corruption at Manila Airport is rife
Philippine Airlines bans tips to help beat corruption
Philippine Airlines calls itself ‘the world’s most improved 4-star airline’ and while the aspirational theme may need a push along, the airline has taken a step to help reduce corruption by banning tipping. Manila Airport with its awkward process of multiple airside/landside/airside security is particularly prone to corrupt practices, most notably at the terminal entrances where ‘porters’ collude with security and police to allow passengers to bypass the queues in return for a “tip”
– Airline Insider observed three separate handoffs of cash between porters and security staff, two of which allowed two passengers to bypass the screening all together!
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Pilots unfairly blamed for Air France disaster
Pilots of Airbus A330’s around the world are understandably upset after a French Court exonerated the aircraft manufacturer for the crash of AF447, instead blaming the pilots for the 2009 tragedy which killed 228 people. The French court dismissed a claim against Airbus and accorded the cause of the accident to the pilots. The Airbus suffered numerous instrument failures arising from ice in the pitot tubes which protrude near the nose of all aircraft and detect speed and altitude. The crashed aircraft’s data recorders show the pilots did correctly respond to the aircraft’s flight instruments, however the court’s judgement means that Airbus will not be liable for damages from the families of those killed in the tragedy.
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World's top 10 airports
When it comes to ranking airports, our preference is to measure passenger comfort, however as money making machines for shareholders, airport rankings are determined by the number of flights movements and the number of people that pass through the terminals. In the law of numbers, money making rankings the top airports are:
1. Atlanta                                                    6. Chicago (O’Hare)
2. Beijing                                                     7. London (Heathrow)
3. Los Angeles                                           8.Shanghai
4. Dubai                                                       9. Hong Kong
5. Tokyo (Narita)                                       10. Paris
Interestingly, fourth place Dubai despite all the construction hype in the TV series Airport 24, has put a hold on its further expansion plans until at least 2030. The current airport caters for around 90 million passengers each year however the UAE state is realising that its three major airports (DXB, DWC and Abu Dhabi) all within a 100kms of each other is not an ideal competitive situation.
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State of the nation: holidays rate higher than sex!
A study by online travel agency and booking service, Agoda, has revealed that Aussies rate going on holidays more than sex. The study rated experiences and found that older Australians are more likely to seek travel each year with 64% of respondents already having their next holiday booked. The qualitative study ranked life pleasures with holidays topping the list at 57% well ahead of sex (24%) or a big night out (6%).
For Aussie women, the thought of a night of passion pales into insignificance (13%) when there is a holiday on the agenda (69%). By location, the wintry blues ranked Victorians as those seeking a holiday the most with 59% of people saying they’d gladly swap sex and romance for a good holiday.
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They fly into the eye of the storm to provide detailed weather information
Hurricane Hunters
Pilots usually try avoid ‘weather events’ but in the USA an elite group who work for the US government’s National Weather Service spend their days looking for hurricanes and wild weather and then deliberately fly through it! Called the ‘Hurricane Hunters’ they fly specially reinforced Orion turboprop aircraft which are packed full of sensors, data arrays and high definition cameras. Flying back to back 10-hour missions, the crews this week captured amazing vision of the massive ‘walls’ inside hurricane Dorian which swept across the Bahamas.
CREW INSIGHT: The two Orion’s are named ‘Kermit’ and ‘Miss Piggy’
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A380 purge continues
Emirates who was the mainstay customer o the A380 has confirmed its intention to phase out the aircraft with two of its older fleet being retired for parts. The Dubai based airline is also one of two major maintenance providers for the aircraft type, providing a sales stream for the surplus parts harvested from the super jumbos.
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Western Sydney Airport is on track with major earthworks to commence early in 2020
Western Sydney Airport powers ahead
Western Sydney Airport continues to power ahead with major earthworks about to get underway to build the facility that will challenge the dominance of the existing airport at Mascot. The project which is funded and managed by the federal government has also signed up major airlines including Qantas and Virgin as well as several major airfreight operators. The airport is due to open in 2026 however industry experts believe the demand and the fast tracking of works may see and earlier operational opening. 25 million cubic metres of dirt will be moved as part of the works program.
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Flight standards: too many short cuts?
This year there have been more than 163 aircraft ground handling accidents around the world (well those are the ones we’ve managed count); thankfully, inflight incidents are kept to a minimum however, changes to regulations and the government’s allowing of overseas carries to bypass Australian aviation regulations is prompting many aviation professionals to question the relaxation of standards. Amongst reports received this week: an A330 door that was inoperable but deemed OK to fly if passengers were re-seated in another part of the plane. Another A330 operated by a foreign carrier that had its doors armed on the ground while ground crews worked outside and another foreign carrier took off from Melbourne with no crew at the critical doors 2 – the airline later advised that two crew had fallen ill and could not be replaced in time.
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More Japan flights from March next year
Apart form the demand created by the Olympics, the Japanese and Australian governments this week agreed on releasing two new sets of slots between Australia and Japan for daylight flights. Due to come into effect from March next year, the agreement puts an extra 500 seats each way per week on the popular route to Tokyo’s other airport Haneda.
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TIP: check the Apps that monitor geomagnetic activity to increase your chances of seeing the Aurora
Northern Lights moving south next week
The Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis is often seen in the night sky in higher latitude regions such as Iceland, Alaska, Northern Canada and Scandinavia during the darker mid-winter months. For the next week however, unusual geomagnetic storms are likely to result in the Northern Lights being seen much further south, even in some northern sections of the USA and the EU. CREW TIP: If you’re looking to get the perfect shot, you will need a long exposure, a wide-angle lens and a steady tripod. Shots on smartphones rarely work. If you’re flying in these areas at night keep an eye out on the horizon!
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Emirates to dump 100 call centre workers from its Melbourne call centre
Emirates abandons Aussie call centre workers
Emirates employs around 100 people in a local call centre in Melbourne designed to support its Australian and New Zealand operations. However, this week, the centre received a visit from an airline executive who broke the news that the centre will shutdown on October 19 leaving the local employees without a job. It is understood that the airline will use its other call centre in Mumbai. Unions who were not notified until after the announcement are furious and are seeking assurances on behalf of the affected employees.
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The Fyr Festival was billed as the luxury music festival but it was anything but!
Fyre Festival hits the courts again
The Fyre Festival which has been described as one of the most elaborate scams ever has hit the courts dragging several big names with it including the Flight Centre. The Australian Financial review reported this week that the trustees for the festival are seeking to recover funds from the travel group for services it claims were never provided. The elite festival was planned for the Bahamas in 2017 but failed after artists withdrew from the $1,200 a ticket event resulting in organisers being jailed. CREW TIP: check out the Netflix doco on the failed festival and you’ll never use the term ‘influencers’ again!
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Farwell to the workhorse of the USA skies
It’s iconic shape and rear mounted engines have made the McDonnell Douglas MD80 synonymous with air travel in the USA, but American Airlines retired these workhorses of the skies this week.
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Prediction: Booking sites to lift fees
Major digital airline and hotel booking websites are expected to lift fees following the decision by ‘Bokun’ one of the world’s largest ‘back-end’ providers to impose a 2.9% levy on all bookings. The move is expected to see other booking sites follow imposing costs on the accommodation provider and the on-line purchaser. For the moment, TripAdvisor, Expedia and Viator are maintaining fee-free listings for accommodation, airline and holiday tour providers. CREW TIP: Search around preferably using a VPN on your phone or computer – most sites ‘cross feed’ from each other – for example Qantas Holidays will typically pull in Expedia data feeds
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Chocks still on the MacBookPro
Owners of MacBook laptops are in the full ‘Samsung’ experience as several airlines are banning the use of MacBookPro laptops in flight. A series of issues with the popular laptops’ batteries are the cause of the ban. MacBookPros cannot be placed in checked in luggage and onboard Qantas and Virgin flights, the devices cannot be switched on.
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Airline Meals: ...but I'm special
Economy meal offerings are under cost pressures on all airlines with many taking a punt that 20% of passengers won’t eat on board. The ‘short-loading’ theory works well for the accountants but for the passengers at the end of the service, it usually means little or no choice. Many passengers overcome this issue by using ‘Special Meal Requests’ not only to get their choice, but also to ensure that they get served first, instead of waiting what can sometimes be 90 minutes. The trend is such that on 6 international flights from Sydney and Melbourne last week more than 38% of economy meals were ‘special orders.’  Three international flights from other destinations were checked, the figures provided by crew on these predominately ‘non-Aussie’ flights were less than 12%. Originally designed to cater for special dietary requirements such diabetic, low fat or for religious reasons such as kosher or Halal meals, the special meal  is now a ‘serve me first’ request.
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Ultra-long-haul logistics
 Qantas is upping the ante in the bidding war between rival aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing by announcing it is fast-tracking research flights into the Sydney- New York and Sydney London non-stop routes. The airline will fly a 787 with just 40 people on board to investigate various operational systems and procedures that will be necessary for the 20 plus hour non-stop flights. The move to expedite the trials has placed further pressure on Airbus and Boeing with Boeing even offering the Australian airline its new, yet to be certified 777X. The announcement of the trials coincided with the reporting of a less than expected profit performance by the Australian airline. CREW INSIGHT: Critical to the flight’s capability will be fuel and weather delay management however, a bigger issue exists in the need for Qantas to convince the regulators to provide an exemption to the strict 20-hour duty limit for pilots which includes pre-flight preparation and 30 minutes post engine shutdown. The airline will also have to secure new Enterprise Bargaining Agreements with pilots and cabin crew with current agreements not due to expire until 2022.
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Hong Kong: impacts escalate
The ongoing conflict between pro-democracy protestors and the Chinese government in Hong Kong is gutting tourism and business travel to the Asian economic hub. Qantas, Cathay, BA and several other airlines are all showing unusually high open capacity on flights to and from Hong Kong, with Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce confirming that the airline will reduce the flight schedule because of the dispute. Now in the 12th week of protests, tensions continue to rise with neither side granting any concessions nor attempting any negotiations. It is expected that the dispute will boil over as plans to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China on October 1 ramps up. This weekend’s protests will test the resilience of Police in maintaining access to the main airport. CREW TIP: Avoid public transport on weekends and don’t dress in either black or white clothes. Avoid carrying umbrellas.
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Costly souviners
The idyllic Italian island of Sardinia is understandably a place for holiday memories, but once French couple could face up to 6 years in jail and fines of more than A$5,000 for trying to take 14 large drink bottles full of sand back to France. The pristine white sand is often sold on e-bay and local authorities estimate that more than three tonnes of sand is stolen from each of the island’s main beaches every year. Laws were passed in 2017 making it a criminal offence to remove beach sand.
WIN TV's Bruce Paige remembers the 1989 pilots' dispute
Australia's pilot strike - 30 years on
This week marked 30 years since the Pilot’s strike and lockout in 1989 that brought air travel in Australia to a sudden stop. The dispute saw a brave move by pilots to resign en-masse however the then Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, called the bluff and effectively locked the pilots out and called in the military to take over, using C-130 aircraft. The dispute cost the tourism industry billions of dollars with Cairns alone citing economic losses of more than a million dollars a day. 73% of the pilots who resigned did not return to TAA or Ansett following the dispute.
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The world's largest collection of fast jets & more
Burgundy's ecccentric chateau
A sprawling estate in France’s Burgundy district is home to one of the world’s most eclectic collections of fighter jets, racing cars and transport memorabilia. The 14th century, 12-hectare estate is home to collector Michael Pont who according to the Guinness Book of records, has the largest collection of fighter jects anywhere in the world. The former racing driver says that many of the planes, particularly from the former Soviet Union, have been bought on e-bay. The jets are accompanied by more 1,000 motor bikes and an impressive collection of vintage racing cars. Visitors can pay 12 euros to wander through the estate and then dine in the restaurant overlooking vineyards lined with helicopters and het fighters. During summer, the estate also hosts hot air balloon rides. Details: https://www.chateau-savigny.com/
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Ain aircraft change saw pilots leave their charts behind
India: GoAir's embarassing turnaround
Indian carrier GoAir had a flight return to New Delhi during the week not because of mechanical or medical issues, but simply because the operating pilots forgot to take their paper charts. The discovery was made just over an hour into the flight to Bangkok. Despite the Airbus A320 being equipped with the latest navigation systems, international aviation law requires international flights to carry paper charts as a back-up. The airline claims that a change of aircraft earlier in the day caused the pilots to leave their charts on the other aircraft.
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No thanks! - the infamous 'lobster roll' with no lobster
Meal check on-line
Want to know what the meal will look like? International website www.airlinemeals.net has the world’s largest collection of catering images sorted by airline and flight. You can even upload your own images from your tray table. The site was created by a former Melbourne based flight attendant who now lives in Europe, also goes behind the scenes of catering factories, including what the meal carts look like when they are taken off the plane after a 16 hour flight across the Pacific and have sat in the factory loading dock in the sun for hours. The worst meal on any airline still is regarded as the American Airlines ‘Lobster Roll’ which was confirmed to no lobster, but small pieces of flake fish mixed into a mixture of tarte sauce and cheesy mayo accompanied by a strange ketchup and thousand island dipping sauce.
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Many US hotels are now making tipping mandatory in order to get discount or promo offers
USA: Hotels making tips mandatory
The subject of tipping staff is always a cause of debate, but the Hilton Group in the USA is making it easier. They are now automatically applying a mandatory 18% tip to every bill. While the practice of including tips on the check, it has always been something that guests can decline. The hotel, along with several other establishments in California are now making the tips mandatory. What’s more, if you’re using discount codes r special offers, the discounts will not be applied unless the tip is paid.
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TripAdvisor gives the owl the boot
It’s been the face and symbol of TripAdvisor for decades, but the wise owl has been dumped from the travel site’s advertising to attract a younger buying audience. The travel site is running a series of test ads in the USA
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Allow for delays and check your travel insurance if you're flying Ryanair
UK: Ryanair pilots win round 1
Ultra-low-cost airline Ryanair has lost its first-round battle with its pilots in what is expected to be a bitter industrial dispute. The airline looked to the courts to injunct strike action by its Irish pilots claiming in court the two pilots’ unions have been using what was described as bully-boy tactics. It is now almost certain that rolling stoppages impacting flights will occur as early as next week. The dispute comes at a time when the airline is warning of job losses following a severe downturn in ticket sales and rising fuel and airport costs.
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Who is driving you home? touting is rife as a result of poor decisions by Victoria's regulator
No more touting at Victorian airports
Adding the public’s frustration over rising parking costs, Melbourne Airport announced a hefty increase in taxi and hire car access fees from September 1. Effectively the increase means that getting into a booked taxi will cost close to $11 before you even move an inch. Meanwhile the gauntlet of touting by rideshare and other taxi and hire car drivers will be a thing of the past with new legislation proposed by the Victorian government chamioned by Upper House PArliamentarian, Rod Barton. Victoria is the only Australian state that permits touting at airports, a move that was foolishly introduced by the taxi regulator as part of industry wide reforms in 2018.
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New York flypast
Promoting next week’s New York Airshow, a formation of fighter jets from the USA and the UK made a symbolic fly over of the Statue of Liberty and the former site of the World Trade Centre. The ear-shattering 2,000 feet run along the city rattled windows in high rise towers as the fighters weaved a smoke trail of red white and blue across the skyline
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Saab to manage Australia's military top guns
Australia’s military radar and weapon systems will be managed under a new exclusive contract by Sweden’s Saab Industries. The $30 million contract will bring several existing, outsourced services under a single master contract.  It is understood that the deal requires a percentage of Australian content and manning.
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Industrial dispute wrap
In the USA catering workers are continuing their claim for better pay with threats of further impacts on flight catering.
Australia’s Transport Workers Union dispute with aviation service agency Aerocare, is headed for the industrial courts as both sides ramp up the rhetoric. The dispute centres on pay and casualisation of the workforce which often requires works on split shifts to sleep at the airport in ‘back of house’ corridors or warehouses.
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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
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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.
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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.
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Melbourne - Sydney is the world's number route for profitability
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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
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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.
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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.
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'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!
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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.
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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.’
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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.
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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 Justaskchristine.com 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
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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.
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'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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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. https://youtu.be/Sg8DJ6Wri-U
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 seatguru.com is the best resource before selecting seats. This week maps for six new airlines have been added to the extensive online database.
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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.
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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! Justaskchristine.com
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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. 
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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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 https://tickets.rct.uk
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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’
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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
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!)
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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’
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Data roaming is at best an expensive rip off - Telstra's new pricing structure means you're likely to pay more
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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%.
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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: ladyelliot.com.au
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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.
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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!  https://au.gofundme.com/help-fuzzy-get-back-on-his-feet
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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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!
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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

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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

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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.

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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: www.dublinlive.ie

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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

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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 melbourneairport.com.au

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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%

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Japan: tiqets.com signs up major attractions 

Tiqets.com 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.

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

Over the years airlineinsider.com.au 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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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


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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

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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.

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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!

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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: https://www.brownbrothers.com.au/event/night-glow

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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!

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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: https://aeroplate.global/survey

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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90 seconds is the maximum time you've got to evacuate
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DO NOT TAKE BAGS JUST GET OUT
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.

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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.

 

CREW TIPS FOR STREET FOOD ETIQUETTE

·         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!

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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)

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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.

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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.
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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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: https://www.visitsolomons.com.sb        

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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 https://www.airbus-fyi.com/      

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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 https://www.wingsoverillawarra.com.au

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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. https://youtu.be/3jKwtQnqTn

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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

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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.

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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!

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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

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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!

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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

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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.

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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

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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.  

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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!

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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.

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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

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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)

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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

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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

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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

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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 https://www.silverspitfire.com

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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.

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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

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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 Airbnb.com/louvre before April 12 and say why you’d be the perfect guest for Mona Lisa

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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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Sailchecker.com, and eBay for bargains and during the slow season, you’re better off negotiating at the marina

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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! 

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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:  https://sakura.weathermap.jp/sp/en.php

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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
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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.

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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

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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!

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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! https://www.carrieres-lumieres.com/en

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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! 

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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!
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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)


CHECKLIST:

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!

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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. 

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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.

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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. https://youtu.be/g9ioUBtMBXg           

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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.
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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.

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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

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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

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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)

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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

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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.

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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.

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Travel Tip: flying with medications