BA offers free upgrades

British Airways are asking the question, “What if you could pay for Club World but enjoy the luxury of First?”

The First cabin gives you access to The First Wing, a new and exclusive experience when travelling through London’s Heathrow Terminal 5. Within the privacy of The First Wing, the dedicatd space offers an enhanced, private check-in area, two exclusive security lanes and a direct walkway that leads seamlessly into the Galleries First Lounge and then to the Concorde Room.

Relax in exclusive First lounges and enjoy complimentary spa treatments before your flight. Once on board, you can unwind in the comfort of your own spacious on-board suite with fully flat bed and dedicated service.

Your free upgrade to First is available one-way on either the outbound or the inbound part of the journey, simply book an eligible published semi-flexible R, D or C class, of a fully flexible J class, Club World return ticket by 30 March 2018. All travel must be completed by 22 April 2018.

The offer is available on as many flights as you like when you travel outbound by 16 April 2018 and return by 22 April 2018. Upgrades are subject to availability on selected flights.


New York is the most expensive place for business travellers

New York tops a list of most expensive destinations in the world of business travel, with two other US cities rounding out the top three slots. Research by Expert Market has revealed that the average daily cost of expenses for business travellers in New York is US$549. The report compares the prices paid by corporates for standard business expenses such as hotel rooms (US$385 a night in New York), taxis/car rental and food.

San Francisco came second on the list at US$534, followed by Boston at US$511. Outside the US, the research found Tokyo to be the most costly at US$489, with Zurich and London nearly matched at US$472 and US$469 respectively.

Meanwhile, Johannesburg was the cheapest city in the world for corporate travellers at US$174 per day. The report ranked 100 US cities and 100 non-US cities.


Ryanair’s passenger warning over problematic bags

In another about-turn, Ryanair (from 15th January) is insisting that non-priority customers must put any second and bigger bag in the hold.  It is free.

For years the airline’s policy has been to try and encourage passengers not to use its Boeing 737 cargo facility which unlike large wide-bodied aircraft has to be filled manually.  Hold luggage slows down the turnaround.

Ryanair has introduced new reduced bag fees to encourage more customers to check-in bags and reduce the number of customers with two bags at the boarding gates.  With its high load factors, there are not enough overhead bins, which is causing boarding/flight delays.

To encourage more customers to check-in luggage and reduce the volume of carry-on bags, Ryanair has introduced bag policy changes on all flights as follows:

  • The check-in bag allowance has increased from 15kg to 20kg for all bags.
  • The standard check-in bag fee has been cut from €/£35 to €/£25 for this 20kg bag.
  • Only Priority Boarding customers (including Plus, Flexi Plus and Family Plus) will be allowed to board with two carry-on bags from 15th January 2018.  For everyone else only one smaller carry-on bag 35x20x20 cm will be allowed.


New Catering for BA’s World Traveller

British Airways are enhancing World Traveller catering on all London Heathrow and Gatwick flights from 17th January. Customers will enjoy an “exciting and expanded new menu, providing more quantity and quality to both meals and great snacking options throughout the flight”.

The improvements include:

  • Pretzels with the welcome drink
  • Four-course meal with starter, entrée, dessert, cheese and biscuits, accompanied by a bread roll and bottle of water
  • Second meal or substantial snack depending on the length of the flight
  • Regional meal options served according to destination
  • A new Magnum ice-cream service for day flights
  • A ‘help yourself’ tuck box with chocolates and crisps for night flights
  • Hot breakfast on longer overnight flights
  • Graze movie-snack box for day flights with over 10 hour flight time


Zambia Airways re-launched

Ethiopian Airlines, which claims to be the largest aviation group in Africa, has announced a shareholder’s agreement with the Government of Zambia for the re-launch of Zambia Airways. The Government of Zambia will be the majority shareholder with 55% and Ethiopian will have a 45% stake in the airline.

Mr Tewolde Gebremariam, group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines remarked: “In line with our Vision 2025 multiple hubs strategy in Africa, we are very happy that the discussions with the Zambian government have been crowned with success. The launching of Zambia Airways will enable the travelling public in Zambia and the Southern African region to enjoy greater connectivity options, thereby facilitating the flow of investment, trade and tourism, and contributing to the socio-economic growth of the country and the region.

“As an indigenous and truly Pan-African airline, we firmly believe that it is only through partnerships among African carriers that the aviation industry of the continent will be able to get its fair share of the African market, currently heavily skewed in favour of non-African airlines, and play its rightful role in availing efficient air connectivity within Africa as well as with the rest of the world.”

More details are expected to emerge in the coming months.


Travelodge increases London portfolio

With the opening of new properties at Brent Cross and Harrow, Travelodge has topped the 70 mark with London hotels.  Their UK total is over 530.

London Brent Cross Travelodge is located just off the end of the M1 motorway and just a few minutes away from Brent Cross shopping centre.  The 128-room hotel has a Bar Café and on-site car-parking. It is the company’s first property in Brent Cross and its fifth in the borough of Barnet.

The second hotel, London Harrow Travelodge, is a 101-room guesthouse, again with Bar Café and located in Harrow town centre near to the station and is just three stops away from Wembley Park (and Stadium) on the Metropolitan tube line.

Both hotels have been designed in the company’s new upgraded contemporary brand design that has been influenced by Travelodge business and leisure customers.  All the rooms feature the bespoke luxurious king-size Travelodge Dreamer bed, which has bedside USB charging points and a moonlighting surround.

The new modern room also includes softer LED ceiling lighting, providing a warmer ambience, a ‘comfort cooling’ system, a Samsung 32in digital television, complimentary tea and coffee making facilities and wi-fi. In addition, all family rooms now offer individual beds for children. 


ABTA presses for ‘urgent’ solution to Brexit travel issues

ABTA has called for visa-free travel and aviation access to be addressed “urgently” after agreement was reached between the UK and EU on the first phase of the Brexit process. ABTA said it would be lobbying for several major issues affecting travel to be addressed as soon as possible in the trade talks. These include maintaining UK citizens’ ability to travel freely within Europe, continuing visa-free travel for business travellers and tourists, and protecting consumer rights.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA’s chief executive, said: “It is vital that the importance and scale of the travel industry are recognised in the discussions. The UK outbound travel industry generates over £37 billion for the economies in the EU, and £28 billion for the UK. It also supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and businesses, both here and abroad.”

“Many travel companies have already begun to look ahead to 2019, so agreeing transitional arrangements early in the new year will help businesses to plan and help protect consumer confidence.”


Heathrow consultation

Tuesday 30th January sees the first of 40 consultation events (Hounslow Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow TW3 4D 12:00 to 20:00) designed to brief the public in the Heathrow conurbation of the proposed expansion of the airport. This does presuppose the airport gets the final go-ahead in June when an enabling Bill is passed by Parliament.  Detailed planning permission will then take place next year.  In parallel an airspace dialog is being held.

The consultation is a major undertaking with adverts appearing in newspapers and local radio asking people to come along.  A direct mailshot is reaching every home and business in the area (which includes BTN in HA8, remote from Heathrow and not on any flight path). For those unable to make it to events the airport has published on-line an extremely comprehensive 70-page document setting out the plans for expansion, how the effects are managed, and with an offer to ‘have your say’.

The airport’s chief executive officer John Holland-Kaye sums up the project in the booklets forward: “Heathrow expansion is about more than just a runway. It is about opportunities for our local community, inside and outside the airport’s boundary. It is about securing the country’s economy and connecting the whole of the UK to global growth. And it is about legacy – building the infrastructure today that our children will need for tomorrow”.


American Airlines at Los Angeles

A new Flagship Lounge and Flagship First Dining facilities have been opened by American Airlines at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).  American becomes the only domestic carrier to offer a sit-down dining experience at LAX.  The airline’s renovations to its Flagship Lounges and its Flagship First Dining are part of a $200m investment in the luxury travel experience.  At LAX, dedicated investments include a new Admirals Club in Terminal 5, a refurbished Admirals Club in Terminal 4 and, now, the new Flagship Lounge and Dining in Terminal 4. American is the largest carrier at LAX with more than 200 daily flights on peak days to 70 destinations on five continents.

Since 2015, American has added services to 24 new destinations from LAX, including Sydney, Auckland, Hong Kong, Tokyo Haneda and, as of last November, non-stop service to Beijing.

Customers travelling in First Class on qualifying international flights or on non-stop transcontinental flights to JFK have exclusive access to Flagship First Dining, located within the lounge. The tableside restaurant experience will offer customers complimentary, full-service dining with seasonal, locally-inspired dishes and drinks.

In addition to the LAX lounge, this year new Flagship Lounges have opened in Miami (MIA), New York Kennedy (JFK) and Chicago O’Hare (ORD), and Flagship First Dining has opened at MIA and JFK.


US carriers place restrictions on ‘smart bags’

Delta and American Airlines have announced that from 15th January passengers are prohibited from checking in ‘smart bags’ that have non-removable lithium-ion batteries. Smart bags, made popular by companies such as Bluesmart and Modobag, feature integrated technology that allow users to track their luggage, weigh and lock it using a mobile app. They also feature power banks for charging portable devices.

Both airlines said they had decided to ban the checking in of smart bags unless passengers could remove the lithium-ion batteries that power them, over fears that damaged power sources could overheat and pose an in-flight fire hazard.

Along with its announcement, Delta said it was introducing a new policy to place them in their cabin bags rather than checked luggage. It follows a 2015 ban on hoverboards, which made headlines when units around the world spontaneously combusted.


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