Upcoming Global Entry trial for Australians
The Australian Department of Home Affairs has confirmed it will trial a Global Entry program for Australian travellers in the second half of 2019, in conjunction with the United States Customs and Border Protection Agency. The program would allow expedited clearance and entrance into the United States for pre-approved travellers. After an enrolment cost of US$100 for five years, approved travellers can present at dedicated airport kiosks upon arrival in the USA, insert their smart-chipped passport and run a fingerprint verification to complete a customs declaration.
Qantas trials paid preferred seating
Qantas is trialling a new Preferred Seating product, allowing Silver, Bronze and non-frequent flyers the option to purchase seats towards the front of the Economy cabin at cost range from $5-$45. Qantas Frequent Flyers can use Qantas Points to purchase their Preferred Seats while Gold, Platinum and Platinum One Qantas Frequent Flyers will be able to book these seats with no fee, as per their tier benefits. Additionally, the ‘Extra Legroom’ prepaid seating product has been extended to include Fokker 100 and A320 aircraft.
Virgin Australia reopens seasonal flights
Virgin Australia will recommence its direct seasonal flights between Newcastle and Auckland from 21 November 2019. The airline will operate three return services per week during the peak holiday period until 16 February 2020. The airline also confirmed a new deal that will see these seasonal services operating for another three years until February 2022.
Qantas- American Airlines venture approved
The US Department of Transport has approved a joint venture between Qantas and American Airlines on services between the US and Australia/New Zealand. As previously reported, the approval allows both carriers to offer new routes and destinations to passengers while reducing travel time. This includes Qantas’ plans to launch a four times weekly Brisbane-Chicago and three times weekly Brisbane-San Francisco service by the end of April 2020.
Virgin Australia increases prepaid fees
Effective immediately, Virgin Australia has increased prepaid baggage fees across all domestic and international short-haul markets. Guests have the option to pre-purchase up to two pieces of baggage before their Virgin Australia-operated flight, in addition to their fare inclusions and Velocity tier allowance. More information can be found here.
Italy opens biometric gates
Australian and New Zealand passport holders will now be able to use automatic biometric border control gates at 11 airports around Italy. In addition, passport holders from the US, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Israel and Taiwan were also announced as new beneficiaries of the system.
Qantas Dreamliner sets sights on Santiago
Qantas has announced the next route for its 787-9 Dreamliner. The Sydney-Santiago route will begin in late June 2020 and will add three return flights per week between the two cities. The additional flights commencing at the same time, will increase flights on the route from four per week to daily, adding more than 20,000 seats each year.
Air New Zealand make Vancouver service changes
From 27 October 2019, Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners will replace all 777-200ER planes on Air New Zealand’s Auckland to Vancouver route for the Northern Winter season. These service changes will continue until 28 March 2020.
Capacity boost for Air New Zealand’s Auckland to Bali service
Air New Zealand’s seasonal service from Auckland to Bali will be boosted by 80% between 11 April 2020 and 24 October 2020. With frequency increasing up to a six times weekly service in 2020, subject to regulatory approvals, the airline aims to provide more than 30,000 additional seats over this period. The service will be operated on a Boeing 787-9 aircraft from late June 2019 until mid-October 2019.
Qantas ups Gold Coast capacity
Qantas has announced plans to increase seat capacity on summer services to the Gold Coast by 1800 per week, with the introduction of additional services and larger aircraft. Effective December 2019 until January 2020, an additional 1100 seats per week will be available on Sydney-Gold Coast service with the implementation of additional services and an upgrade to a Boeing 737 aircraft. Furthermore, 700 seats will be available on the Melbourne-Gold Coast route with the addition of two services, effective from November 2019 until March 2020.
Singapore Airlines introduces lie flat on Perth leg
From 1 October 2019 Singapore Airlines will switch to lie-flat beds in Business Class on its four daily flights between Perth and Singapore. Flights SQ224 and SQ225 will move from an Airbus A330 with the airline’s old ‘sloping sleeper’ business class seats to a Boeing 787-10 featuring the new cabin configuration offering direct aisle access to every passenger.
(Preferred seats from ExecutiveTraveller.com)
- 11A and 11K, where unused bassinet space creates a ‘corner office above the clouds’
- Any A or K seat for solo travellers (but if you want to be directly next to the window, choose 12A, 12K, 15A, 15K, 17A, 17K, 19A or 19K)
- Couples should book the following pairs of middle seats: 11D and 11F, 14D and 14F, 16D and 16F, 18D and 18F, 20D and 20F
- Most flyers will want to avoid 16A and 16K, which have no window
Upcoming Malaysia Airlines service changes
Malaysia Airlines will increase its Kuala Lumpur-Melbourne Tullamarine frequency from 14 to 17 times weekly, between 16 November 2019 and 29 February 2020. This service is operated on an A330-300 aircraft. Additionally, the carrier is also looking to introduce an A350-900 aircraft on its Kuala Lumpur–Sydney services from November 2019.
- 23 November 2019 to 26 November 2019
- 13 December 2019 to 3 January 2020
- 21 January 2020 to 30 January 2020
- 21 March 2020 to 28 March 2020
Thai Airways increases Melbourne frequency
Thai Airways will increase its Bangkok–Melbourne service frequency, currently served by 11 weekly flights over the 2019/20 Northern Winter season. From 27 October 2019, overall service will increase to 14 times weekly, on board an Airbus A350-900XWB aircraft.
Singapore Airline increases Melbourne frequency
Effective 1 January 2020, Singapore Airlines will increase its Singapore-Melbourne and Tullamarine-Wellington service from four to five times weekly. The new frequency will help meet the growing demand for travel to and from the Melbourne and Wellington markets.
Free onboard Wi-Fi with Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines’ Suites and First-Class passengers now have access to unlimited inflight Wi-Fi by connecting to the KrisWorld network. Business Class and PPS Club members now get 100MB of free Wi-Fi. To access, simply log-on to the onboard Wi-Fi page – http://wifi.singaporeair.com – enter your last name and seat number through the “Complimentary Access” section of the Wi-Fi portal.
Upcoming schedule changes for United Airlines
United Airlines will decrease its Los Angeles–Melbourne frequency from seven to five times weekly from 26 October 2019 until 1 November 2019. From 2 November 2019 until 6 December 2019, these will further decrease to four times weekly, before returning to seven times weekly between 7 December 2019 and 31 January 2020. This will be followed by a change to four weekly services from 1 February 2020 until 27 March 2020.
Kuala Lumpur–Auckland frequency increase
Malaysia Airlines plans to increase its Kuala Lumpur–Auckland frequency from daily to eight times weekly, from 7 December 2019 to 29 February 2020. Currently, Malaysia Airlines is the only carrier operating this route.
New Malaysia Airlines menu
Malaysia Airlines has introduced a new in-flight menu to be progressively rolled out across the carrier’s network. New meals on offer in Business Class include banana leaf fish curry on select flights from Kuala Lumpur to Australia, while the Economy revamp features the fragrant rice dish nasi lemak, satay chicken, Hainanese chicken, beef rendang, and dhal curry.
Heathrow to introduce CT scanners
London’s Heathrow Airport is looking to introduce new computed tomography (CT) baggage scanners by 2022, which could remove the need for travellers to remove liquids and laptops from carry-on bags during security checks. CT cabin baggage scanners, like those used in radiology, are already in use at a small number of airports including Amsterdam Schipol and New York JFK. They were also trialled at Brisbane Airport in early 2019 but are yet to become more widely adopted.
Gold Coast Airport expansion begins
Work has begun on the expansion of the Gold Coast Airport with plans to double the space of the existing terminal by mid-2021. The redevelopment includes aerobridges, additional retail space and new departure lounge, baggage handling and border control facilities.
Perth Airport Master Plan 2020
Perth Airport has announced plans for a $2.5 billion investment in upgrading its international terminal, including the construction of a new parallel runway and a new terminal to allow Qantas to move from the “outdated” Terminal 3-4 building by the end of 2025. The upgrades aim to cope with an expected doubling of passenger numbers and aircraft movements while providing double the number of current employment opportunities.
New properties announced for SkyCity
SkyCity Entertainment Group will open two brand new properties in Auckland and Adelaide from next year. Opening in early 2020, the five-star Horizon Hotel will be comprised of 303 beautifully appointed guest rooms including ten luxurious suites with 24-hour gym and signature restaurant with a garden courtyard. Additionally, the hotel features direct access to the SkyCity Entertainment precinct and the New Zealand International Convention Centre for events and leisure visitors. Following on, the new SkyCity Adelaide, located in walking vicinity of the Adelaide Convention centre, Adelaide Casino and Adelaide Oval stadium, will provide a new hospitality and accommodation option across 120 suites on the Riverbank. The property will also feature new outlets including a Noodle Bar, Italian and Cantonese restaurants and rooftop bar and restaurants.
Sunshine Coast welcomes first new hotel in 30 years
Located in the new Maroochydore hub, Holiday Inn Express Sunshine Coast will be the first international hotel brand to open a newly built site on the Sunshine Coast since the late 1980s. Set to open in early 2020, the nine-storey property will feature 167-rooms and offer guests the use of an outdoor swimming pool, restaurant and bar, as well as conference facilities above a ground floor retail area.
Two new regional hotels for Rydges
The Powerhouse Hotels in Tamworth and Armidale have joined the Rydges Hotel group in July 2019. Relaunching as Powerhouse Hotel Tamworth by Rydges and Powerhouse Hotel Armidale by Rydges respectively, the new partnership will also result in increased regional conferencing business for both properties.
Second Melbourne Hyatt Place hotel
A second Hyatt Place hotel will be added in Melbourne from 2021 as part of the evolving Caribbean Park logistics and business hub on the city’s south-eastern outskirts. The development will be aimed at busy professionals with 170 rooms plus a café and bar, grab-and-go food market, lobby lounge and fitness centre. Construction is due to begin in the latter stages of 2019.
The Adina Hotel Brisbane to reopen in late 2019
Brisbane’s Adina Hotel will reopen, better than ever, from 25 November 2019 after having to close last September 2018 due to flood damage. The stunning 220-room flagship property, nestled in the Heritage-listed former Queensland Government Savings Bank building, offers a point of difference with heritage features and contemporary apartments, many with full views of the Brisbane River. The Adina Brisbane is also situated close to the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, and is well-positioned for easy access to the $3 billion Queen’s Wharf redevelopment.
Modular hotel building with new Ibis Styles East Perth
The world’s largest modular high-rise hotel by room number will open in Perth this September. The modular hotel reflects a booming trend in construction seeing pre-fabricated floors built off-site and lifted into place before being connected to utilities. Located on Adelaide Terrace, the property will host 252 rooms across 18 floors with uniquely styled rooms reflecting the Ibis brand. All rooms will include free Wi-Fi, inbuilt Chromecast with USB and HDMI connectivity as well as access to a 24-hour fitness centre and co-working space.
IHG removes miniatures
InterContinental Hotels Group will take the extraordinary step of removing all miniature bathroom amenities across 5,600 hotels worldwide as part of its concentrated efforts to reduce plastic usage. Following an announcement made in October 2018 to reduce single-use plastics, these will be replaced in favour of bulk-size amenities across all brands. As the new brand standard is adopted between now and 2021, the company expects to see a significant reduction in plastic waste.
Raffles Singapore reopens
Following the iconic hotel’s careful and sensitive three-phased restoration, beginning in February 2017, Raffles Singapore has officially reopened – heralding in a new chapter in the iconic property’s rich history and heritage. The revitalised hotel offers 115 luxurious all-suite accommodations, including the latest additions of Residence, Promenade and Studio suites. Additionally, the adjoining Raffles Arcade has also been outfitted with a charming Raffles Boutique and various bespoke retail brands.
Hyatt Regency Adelaide to open
The Hyatt name will see a return to South Australia through a new management agreement signed between Hyatt Hotels and CES Pirie Hotel (SA) Pty Ltd, announced in early August 2019. Construction on the new 295-room Hyatt Regency Adelaide, located on the iconic Pirie Street, will begin early 2020 with a view to open in 2023. In addition to a swimming pool, fitness facilities and a rooftop bar, the property will also offer a Market Café, Regency Club, and 750 square metres of event space in the heart of the Adelaide CBD.
NT Government invest millions into MICE industry
Under a new 10-year plan unveiled by the Northern Territory Government, business events will generate $68 million in delegate expenditure in the region by 2030. The Government is poised to invest close to $10 million through its Turbocharging Tourism and Turbo2 campaigns, as part of its Long-Term Business Events Strategy. Additionally, the NT Business Events Support Fund, will bring 13,725 delegates and inject $32 million in estimated expenditure into the local economy highlighting the importance of drawing visitors to the top end.
Darwin Convention Centre introduces Indigenous menu
The Darwin Convention Centre has launched a new Seven Seasons menu inspired by the Larrakia traditional owners of the Darwin region. The 7-course degustation and 3-course banquet combining local fresh produce and traditional Indigenous food on a culinary journey inspired by the Gulumoerrgin (Larrakia) Seasons. The experience can also be accompanied by audio and visual packages during each course giving delegates a deeper experience and understanding of the distinctive weather patterns, changes in plant and animal activity, each with their own special purpose.