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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Premium Economy: An affordable compromise or waste?

Source: Australian Frequent Flyer

Premium economy was trumpeted to consumers as being a touch of luxury at an affordable price.

Many of our members seem to have adopted a general level of apathy towards the product. In describing their premium economy experience many of our members have used words like 'ok', 'average' and 'Waste of money'. Other members go as far to say that it is little more than a marketing gimmick.

THAI Airways Premium Economy
However, some members believe it fills a genuine gap in the market for an affordable compromise between first and economy class. One vertically blessed member finds premium economy an excellent and affordable alternative to being cramped in economy or broke in first-class. Many members have found premium economy offer the right price, right amenities and right service without breaking the bank. Airlines around the world have already begun ramping up their premium economy services and our members are hopeful that other airlines will follow suit.

Another member has discovered a unique way to add a touch of luxury. This member forgoes the premium economy and instead opts to buy two seats in economy class to provide more comfort. Two economy tickets costs roughly 1.5 times as much and by selecting the A and C seats, you are often lucky enough to pick up the B seat as empty as well. Tickets are only taxed on the first seat and there is leg-room galore and double the points and status credits to boot.

Other members use premium economy as the perfect way to circumvent their company travel policy that insists they fly 'economy'.

Read the full discussion HERE.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

THAI Launches 'Thailand Plus' Fare Promotion to Aid Bangkok Recovery

Thai has launched a series of special economy class fare initiatives to help boost seat sales in the wake of the devastating Bangkok flooding. Fares start from $852 return to Bangkok including all taxes, charges - and are non-seasonal with travel allowed from 1 Jan to 20 Jun ' and ticket by 29 Feb '12.

THAILAND Plus fares to Thailand gives one fare to all the popular destinations in the Kingdom including Phuket, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui (total fare payable is determined by travel dates and domestic taxes that apply).

THAILAND Plus fares also allow travel to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar with a stopover allowed in Bangkok if required.

Children aged up to 15 years get to travel at the child airfare rate (usually children aged from 12 years pay adult fares) to make it even more affordable to take the family along this time.

THAILAND Plus fares to EUROPE, JOHANNESBURG or LOS ANGELES allow a free side-trip within Thailand giving travellers a 'two in one' holiday opportunity. Fares to Madrid start from $2019 return; to Johannesburg from $2068 return and to Los Angeles from $2167 return.

Thailand side-trips can be taken return to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket or Koh Samui.

Contact travel agents for full details, bookings and ticketing or log on to for more information about this fare promotion and others currently available.

Book a THAILAND Plus fare and take the kids up to 15 yrs at child rates; Thailand, Indochina, Europe, Jo'burg and LA. Details

Thai to Operate First Commercial Passenger Biofuels Flight in Asia

A Thai Airways 777-200

Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) is set to be the first airline in Asia to fly a commercial passenger flight using biofuels to support the Company's Travel Green initiative that is part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program.

Mr. Piyasvasti Amranand, THAI President, said that under the CSR strategy, THAI has developed an important project on sustainability, in line with His Majesty the King's vision on renewable energy.  THAI, as the national carrier, is opting to operate a commercial flight using bio jet fuel as one way to help reduce global warming and carbon dioxide emissions.  THAI is pioneering the use of bio jet fuel in Asia and Southeast Asia, which in future other carriers in the region will hopefully follow suit.

On Wednesday, 21 December 2011, THAI will operate its inaugural biofuels flight TG8421 utilizing Boeing 777-200 aircraft.  Joining this auspicious occasion are members of the press and representatives from various organizations that support THAI's bio jet fuel project, such as PTT Public Company Limited, Aeronautical Radio of Thailand (AEROTHAI), Department of Civil Aviation, Rolls Royce, and The Boeing Company.

THAI has received support from petroleum producers, research firms, educational institutions, aircraft and engine manufacturers, and different government bodies affiliated with the aviation industry to develop bio jet fuel for aviation in Thailand.

Then on 22 December 2011, THAI will operate the first passenger biofuels flight in Asia, TG104 from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, whereby passengers can participate in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.  Revenue from this flight will go towards developing renewable energy in Thailand.  THAI is inviting a total of 100 students and professors to join in the special flight TG104.

Friday, December 9, 2011

New era, new gondola for Niseko

Niseko-based Peter Murphy Managing Director of is very excited about the reopening of the resort's gondola this weekend.

"The new -eight seat Grand Hirafu Gondola has the double capacity and twice as fast as the original gondola it has replaced. This will provide a quicker and more comfortable ride, it will reduce morning bottlenecks and it offers quicker access, particularly on powder days, to ski or board iconic runs.”

Hirafu Gondola is the first new lift to be built at Niseko. It replaces a slower, four-speed gondola and the new cabins will provide sensational views of Mt Annupuri, the Mt Fuji-looking Mt Yotei and the ski town of Hirafu.

This is definitely the start of a new era for what was once the domain of the powderhounds but now entices Australian families and lots of first-timers from other, nearby countries such as China, Singapore and Hong Kong.

"Niseko is becoming more family-friendly after the powder boom a decade ago when the powderhounds put Niseko on the map," said Anthony Trovatello a key member of's team based in Niseko.

"There's a special energy right now. A lot of people here are dedicated and want to support Japan. It is the best start to winter I've seen in the four years I've been here. The amount of snow and the snow quality is amazing.”

For regular up-to-date Niseko snow reports check out

Rooms4You: South Oz

The key to finding where to stay and play in South Australia has just been handed to anyone who owns an iPhone, iPad or an iPod Touch.

It’s not your ordinary key, though. It’s an app called Rooms4You: South Oz.

Rooms4You has reviewed hotels, B&Bs, apartments and holiday homes all over the State and categorised them according to the style or mood they offer, their location, price and the special facilities they feature.

There are 63 properties featured - so far - in 17 categories: Beachside, Bed & Breakfast, Boutique, Business, Families/Groups, Getaways, Heritage, Holiday Homes, Luxury, Nature Escapes, Nightlife, Pubs, Romance, Room with a View, Unique/Quirky, Wine Stays and Island Escapes.

Each entry has photos of the property, a map and details of how far away it is, how to get there and how much a taxi will cost to get there.

There are also suggestions on where to eat and what to see and do while you’re there, with hyperlinks to websites for even more information.

For those looking for a room, the app is valuable tool. Want a romantic getaway in the heart of a wine region that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? Rooms4You can help find it.

For property owners and managers, the app is a priceless marketing tool – it doesn’t cost anything to be listed. If app users like the look of the property, they can call direct to make a booking or link to their website.

Look for the pink keyhole icon in the App Store. Rooms4You: Sydney and Melbourne will be on-line soon.

* For a sneak preview of Rooms4You, go to

* Carolyne Jasinski is the creator. Ph 0423 024472 or email

Thursday, December 8, 2011



Hertz UK announces partnership with luxury supercar hire company Première Velocity 

People seeking the ultimate driving experience in the UK will now be able to hire elite supercars with Hertz, the world's leading general use car rental brand.  Thanks to an exclusive partnership with Première Velocity, customers will be able to drive some of the world's most desirable super cars at a 5 per cent discount when they book via   

With an extra cache of exclusivity, the Lamborghini LP560-4 Bicolore, Porsche Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet, Ferrari 458 Italia, Range Rover Evoque and Mercedes S Class Brabus are only available to renters through the Première Velocity service. Other super cars on offer include the Rolls Royce Phantom, the Ferrari 458 Italia, Lamborghini Aventador, Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster and McLaren MP4. 

Michel Taride, President, Hertz International and Executive Vice-President, Hertz Corporation, said: "By partnering with Première Velocity, we are able to offer an exhilarating and truly memorable drive for our customers. The full range of cars will be available on the Hertz website, so customers will have access to sporty, high end vehicles for their driving pleasure. The new partnership perfectly complements our own existing Prestige Collection of luxury vehicles."    

Starting prices for the super cars include Mercedes C63 AMG from £201.25 and the Audi R8 from £362.25, with a 5% discount for booking through 'The full Première Velocity collection – super, sports, luxury, prestige and 4x4 cars will be available from as little as £150 per day. Customers can be provided with a meet and greet service that delivers cars to an agreed location such as home, hotel, office or airport. 

Stephen Price, Managing Director of Première Velocity, said: "We specialize in elite vehicles for discerning clientele – and, like Hertz, combine experience in the rental industry with the advantage of knowing what the customer wants. We're extremely excited to be partnering to offer Hertz renters the opportunity to experience some of the most beautiful, powerful and thrilling cars built today, that they ordinarily they may not have access to." 

Première Velocity and Hertz supercars are available for hire by customers over 25 years of age and with no more than six points on their driving license (subject to previous convictions and accident terms). 

About Première Velocity 

Since 2008, Première Velocity have been leading the way in bespoke car hire, offering the world's finest vehicles to discerning clients. World exclusives in the hire industry are few and far between, but Première Velocity continues to offer the most sought after marques for clients anywhere in the UK.


A defining feature of MSC Divina is the redesign of the Infinty/Garden

The latest addition to the MSC Cruises ever-expanding fleet – MSC Divina – will boast a mythological Greek influence when it is launched in France in May, 2012.

Thirteen of the new luxury ship's 18 decks will be named after the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece, among them Aphrodite, the Olympian goddess of love, and Apollo, the Olympian god of music.

Zeus, the king of gods and ruler of Mt Olympus, will also have a deck named after him along with Uranus, god of the heavens.

Furthermore, MSC Divina's expansive 1603-seat theatre will be named the Pantheon, a Greek word aptly meaning "to honour all gods".

"We are truly looking forward to the much-anticipated launch and naming of the MSC Divina, the 12th valued member of our fleet," said Lynne Clarke, managing director of MSC Cruises Australia and New Zealand.

"Every new ship MSC builds is exciting and with our 12th build it will take us to new heights," she said. "We are thrilled to offer another superb class of ship for sale to the Australian New Zealand market. The fact that MSC Divina will be cruising the beautiful East Mediterranean is a bonus as capacity has always been at a premium to this part of the Mediterranean."   

After its maiden six-night Mediterranean May 27 cruise from Marseille to Venice, the MSC Divina will take on a series of seven-night Eastern Mediterranean round cruises from Venice to Italy's Bari, Greece's Katakolon, Turkey's Izmir and Istanbul and Croatia's Dubrovnik, such cruises priced from $939 per person twin share.

Despite its ancient Greek influences, MSC Divina is very much a contemporary addition to the cruise line's fleet. However, finding a suitable name wasn't as straight forward.

Originally named Fantastica, the family-owned Italian company looked to the cruise line's famous godmother, glamorous screen legend Sophia Loren, a family friend of MSC president Gianluigi Aponte, before deciding on a change.

"In an evening chat with our president, Sophia said it was her dream to have a ship named after her," said Mrs Clarke. "He immediately suggested 'Divina' in place of 'Fantastica', adding that a 'fantastic experience is fleeting, whereas a divine experience gives you memories that will last forever'. A new name was born," she revealed.

MSC Divina will be the centre of attention in the French port of Marseille on Saturday, May 26, when Ms Loren makes a special appearance at the gala event to "christen" the ship with the traditional smashing across the bow of a bottle of champagne.

Measuring the length of more than three football fields, MSC Divina will be the third member in MSC Cruises' Fantasia class, joining MSC Splendida and MSC Fantasia, also christened by the famous Italian actor.

A defining feature of MSC Divina is the redesign of the Infinty/Garden at 7.35 metres wide and 7.60 metres in length, the infinity edge pool will allow clients to experience a spectacular view of the sea from the ship's stern.

The multi-million dollar newcomer will also have more cabins and suites (1751) than its predecessors (1637) and will herald a state-of-the-art concept in design and unprecedented comfort with as many as 1125 cabins offering balconies, while of the 97 suites, 69 will be dedicated to MSC Yacht Club over decks 12, 15 and 16.

MSC Divina's Yacht Club – the "ship within a ship" for passengers seeking to be pampered in elegant surrounds – is renowned for its priority check-in and butler service. Along with the designer suites, it will have an exclusive restaurant with free seating for guests for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments in the restaurant as well as in your mini bars.

A sun deck with exclusive pool, whirlpool baths and solarium, a Top Sail Lounge (open all day) and private lift to the lavish MSC Aurea (day) Spa which will accommodate 48 guests are also a part of the exclusive area of the ship.

"In more ways than one, our latest addition to MSC Cruises will live up to its name," said Mrs Clarke.

MSC Cruises is the world's leading cruise company in the Mediterranean, South African and Brazilian markets and operates across the globe. Its modern fleet comprises eleven ships: MSC Splendida and MSC Fantasia (the largest ships ever built for a European ship owner), MSC Poesia, MSC Orchestra, MSC Musica, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Armonia, MSC Opera, MSC Lirica and MSC Melody. MSC Magnifica, the newest ship, was launched in March 2010. The fleet cruises year-round in the Mediterranean and seasonally in Northern Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean, North America and Canada, South America, the Indian Ocean and South and West Africa. MSC Cruises is the only company in the world to receive the "6 Golden Pearls" award from the Bureau Veritas in recognition of its high level of quality management and environmental responsibility. MSC has also achieved ISO 9001 and ISO 22000 certification for the quality and food safety of all aspects of its catering, both onshore and onboard. MSC Cruises cares about the welfare of children, and as a responsible market leader believes in making a positive impact in the regions where it operates. To this end, the company recently formed a partnership with UNICEF to fund a community project aimed at providing disadvantaged children in Brazil with a quality education.

Details: MSC Cruises, phone 1300 028502,

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Polynesian Blue to be rebranded Virgin Samoa

The government of Samoa has just revealed a new brand and livery for the country's national airline, which is operated together with Virgin Australia.

To be known as Virgin Samoa, the carrier will have a "fresh, contemporary and sophisticated look, consistent with its partner Virgin Australia but with a uniquely Samoan flavour," according to ceo Mark Pitt.

Samoan Prime Minister, The Hon. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, said that the government's vision when it entered the Polynesian Blue joint venture in 2005 had been to create a national airline that would be "financially strong and that would provide growth opportunities and financial stability for our country.

"We have achieved these goals," he said.

The livery features elements such as a palm tree motif on the fuselage and a specially designed 'tatau' pattern on the engines, created by a Samoan master tattooist, with the aircraft to enter service with the new look and an upgraded interior in the first quarter of 2012.

"As we now move into an even brighter future as Virgin Samoa we felt it important to include a respectful reference to our culture and our past," Pitt said.

The new airline's flights and fares will be detailed in a new website at but at this stage the site appears to not yet be live.

More information in today's Travel Daily.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Holiday Warning - Put Travel Insurance at the top of the Christmas List

Almost 40 per cent of Australian holidaymakers fail to buy their travel insurance until a week before their holiday, putting themselves at financial risk, according to leading online travel insurance company Travel Insurance Direct (TID). 

While travellers often purchase their airfares up to a year in advance to secure a bargain, research shows travel insurance was being pushed down the list and bought much later, TID ( spokesman Graham Kingaby said. 

Mr Kingaby warned that the time lag was placing consumers at risk unnecessarily. 

"As we've seen in recent weeks there are many unforeseen issues, from airline strikes to floods, which can jeopardise your holiday plans at the last minute.  

"But if disaster strikes before your holiday and you haven't bought travel insurance, you'll lose your cash as well as your vacation." 

Mr Kingaby said that TID's research showed around two-thirds of travellers bought their insurance in the four weeks before they travelled, with almost 40 per cent waiting until the final week before departure. 

"The trend in travel at the moment is to buy airfares early - up to a year before departure - to get the best deals, but to wait until the last minute to get a bargain on accommodation," Mr Kingaby said. 

"Unfortunately too many people are delaying their travel insurance purchases also. 

"Travel insurance isn't a last minute bargain – you get the best benefit by purchasing early, as soon as you book your flights. Otherwise you are leaving yourself very exposed." 

Mr Kingaby said that in the case of the Icelandic volcano eruption in April 2010, which led to an estimated 300,000 flight cancellations, travel insurance exclusions on cancellation and delay came into effect the day after the eruption. 

"Those who had bought their insurance before the eruption were fine. But anyone planning to travel in the week after the volcano erupted who didn't already have travel insurance would have been cursing their tardiness." 

Mr Kingaby urged travellers to move their insurance to the top of their list as they prepare for Christmas holidays. 

"If you buy your policy when you buy your airfare, not only is that investment covered, but so too are all your subsequent holiday purchases like accommodation and car hire," he said. 

Mr Kingaby said that travel insurance was far cheaper than most consumers believed.  

"A single person's policy for a week in Bali is about $40. When you consider the cost of losing your luggage or having to seek medical treatment overseas, that's clearly money well spent."

Women Admit to Becoming a 'Stress-Head' Prior to a Holiday


Press release

One in three women admit to becoming more of a 'stress-head' in the lead up to a holiday and 34% want to join the 'mile-high club', according to new research from Australia's leading travel and lifestyle website.

The findings of an online survey of more than 6500 Australian women are revealed in the 2011 Female Travel and Lifestyle Report.

Covering everything from using Facebook when holidaying overseas, to how they fund their travel plans and which celebs they would most like to rendezvous with on a getaway, the report provides an insight into what makes the modern female traveller tick.

Announcing the survey results, spokesperson Kirsty Harrison said:

"With this year's Female Travel and Lifestyle Report our aim was to gather a stack of information on the role travel plays within the lives of Aussie women. Given that us chicks typically make the majority of spending and travel decisions, we believe what women think counts for a lot and we were quite surprised with a number of the findings."

Some key snippets:

Have passport, will travel

If money was no obstacle, nine in ten women would choose to holiday overseas.

Relaxation is the number one reason most women travel, favoured by 87% of respondents. Surprisingly, only 4% admit that they travel to enhance their career, 3% do it for the brag factor and 2% are in it to find love.

The look of love

However, that's not to say the lure of love doesn't impact travel plans. For 21% of single women (and interestingly, 43% of men!) the reputation of a destination for attracting other singles influences their holiday decisions.

For those hoping to boost their sex appeal, it's worth considering travel as a means to an end, with 70% of single ladies finding a prospective partner more attractive if they're well travelled.

Go $AUD, go

While it might be fair to assume the strong Australian dollar in 2011 would have heavily impacted travel plans, 44% of women claim it hasn't influenced them at all.

However, 37% of women admit they're going overseas because it's better value for money, 22% are choosing destinations they haven't previously considered and 9% are exchanging US dollars now for future travel.

Seeing stars

Also playing a part in influencing travel plans is 'star factor'. One in four Gen Y women admit that if a destination is frequented by celebrities, they are more likely to travel there.

"It might be wishful thinking, but given the chance, women would most like to holiday with Hugh Jackman, George Clooney and Bradley Cooper. That's a pretty impressive wish list," said Ms. Harrison.

Safe and Secure

Mother Nature sure has shown us who is boss in 2011 and she's made a mark on travel plans.

40% of women are now ensuring travel insurance is factored into their trips and 14% won't book a hotel or holiday that doesn't include a cancellation policy (just in case).

Communication 3.0

While relaxation is high on the holiday agenda, that doesn't stop 54% of women from checking or updating their Facebook or Twitter profiles when on holidays, compared to 38% of men.

"It pays to think twice before accessing social media from your mobile phone. 31% of women surveyed have suffered from 'bill shock' on their return home. That's not the return to reality most of us are looking for," said Ms. Harrison.

An online version of the full report is available here:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sydney to integrate terminals

Source: Travel Daily

New vision for Sydney Airport

Sydney Airport has today launched a proposed reconfiguration which would see the current separate domestic and international terminals altered to create two "alliance-based" precincts, each of which would accommodate "the entire operations of one of our major domestic airlines and its international partners".

Airport ceo Kerrie Mather said the move has the potential to transform aviation in NSW by improving the airport's attractiveness as a global hub and making connections between international and domestic services much easier.

"Under the proposal, the passenger experience is improved through faster connect times and more efficient airline and airport operations," she said, with the new configuration minimising operating disruptions which would have positive flow-on effects to the rest of Australia's aviation network.

The plan would see the current domestic terminals T2 and T3 accommodating the Qantas Group, including Jetstar and international partners.

The current international precinct, T1, would accommodate Virgin Australia and its international partners - along with other international airlines as at present.

The proposal would also guarantee ongoing access by regional airlines and other domestic carriers to Sydney Airport, with the precinct for carriers such as Tiger, Regional Express, AeroPelican and Brindabella "the subject of consultation".

The concept also includes the construction of a new Qantas Engineering complex for line maintenance, and a new Virgin Australia hangar which would serve as a dedicated maintenance base in Sydney.

Mather said that from the airport operations perspective the proposed configuration would also reduce aircraft turnaround times, largely eliminate towed main runway crossings and produce a better environmental outcome through reduced aircraft emissions.

Qantas and Virgin Australia have both backed the plan, with QF ceo Alan Joyce saying the proposal would have "significant benefits for all passengers travelling with both Qantas and Jetstar".

And Virgin Australia ceo John Borghetti said the concept has potential, adding "we support any proposal that improves services to the travelling public and grows tourism in Australia".

Both carriers have signed non-binding Memoranda of Understanding with the airport to progress the proposal, along with agreements to extend the current international aeronautical pricing arrangements to mid-2015.

Mather said the plan envisaged that the airport reconfiguration would see the respective alliances operating international, domestic and regional services under the one roof by 2019.

More information in today's Travel Daily.

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places