Top Five Travel News Stories from 2012

Starting the New Year with a bang, this week’s episode takes you back to the top travel news stories from 2012

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Travel News Summary:

Hi there, I’m Jake Hower from Pan Australian Travel, and I hope you’ve had a fantastic Christmas and New Year’s holiday period. This is our first episode of 2013 and I’m looking forward to a fantastic year for everybody.

What I’d thought we’d do is we’ve go back over the top 5 most important occurrences in travel according to me. Now, the other thing is that this is only for events that happened after May the 4th. Why May the 4th? Well that’s when I started shooting these videos. Essentially, you can pretty much take it for granted that there was no news prior to the 4th of May anyway so, forget about the start of the year, we focus on the rest

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Okay, we’re counting down the top 5 most important news items over the course of 2012.

  • #5 – The Rise of Technology in Travel

Let’s start with number 5 now, and that is the rise of technology in travel. We’re seeing so many different things unravel throughout 2012 including Wi-Fi onboard aircraft, Wi-Fi in airport terminals, travel apps being used, smartphones, roaming charges being reduced. Take a look back at that right now.

First of we touch on Virgin Australia, they previously trialed their Galaxy Tablets. They’re now starting to roll them out across their entire fleet. Apple recently announced that they’re bringing out a new MacBook Pro, but they also announced the iOS 6. In other technology news, I recently upgraded my laptop. I bought in Asus Zenbook series which is unbelievable for travel.

If you’re an owner of an iPhone or an iPad, Passbook is effectively … it’s almost like a document storage or smart document storage. The smart part about it is that it pops the map on the screen as you’re approaching places.

In some other news, I’ve been trialing some mobile phone travel apps lately. You’ve got access to things like maps, places to wait, destinations, phone numbers for airlines.

Virgin Australia launching the next stage of their onboard Wi-Fi. You’re now going to be able to stream and download movies with your own devices rather than just with the Galaxy Tablets. It’s just making travel a little bit more convenient. Keep an eye on it, it looks very interesting.

  • #4 – Upgrades Galore: Airlines upgrade aircraft, cabins, amenities and frequent flyer programs.

Okay, let’s look at number 4. This one I think has been really good for travellers; for you, for me, everybody travelling. And that is the upgrades of the aircraft which we’re seeing pretty much rolled out in the last two years or so, but it really started to benefit Australian travelers. We are seeing a lot of A380s come to our shores here, we’re about to see Dreamliner’s as well.

Upgrades of aircrafts, it has been a massive, massive news item in 2012. Let’s take a look back right now and have a look at how that affects everybody.

I’m going to start with Emirate. While this isn’t new news, it is certainly relevant news. In some other really good news, if you’re looking to get on the A380, you’ve got an increased chance now. They’ve announced that they’ll be launching their A380 service on the Melbourne-Dubai routes.

I’ve spoken previously about China Southern and the Canton route; they’re plan on bringing the Dreamliner onto the Sydney-London route, also, considering the A380.

Singapore Airlines have announced that they will increase their services into Melbourne by one, so there’s now two daily A380s services between Melbourne and Singapore.

Now this is fantastic, the aircraft itself is a little bit more spacious, it’s much quitter as well. In business class, they’ve got fully flat-beds as opposed to the angled flat-beds on their product. They’re also be flying Melbourne-Auckland return as well. So if you have to head across to Auckland, that’s going to be the best aircraft by country mile.

These aircrafts are their newest in their fleet and they have the best product on it. They are really, really nesting into the Australian market. That’s really great news, the aircraft is great to fly on, the feedback from everybody flying on it is awesome, so check it out.

  • #3 – Virtual Airline Networks

Okay welcome back, number 3 which I think is also very important is almost the virtualization of some airline networks. We’ve seen it most predominantly over 2012 with Virgin Australia; we’re also seeing it a little bit with Qantas as well.

Now our focus on Virgin; we’ve seen them create partnerships with Etihad, with Singapore Airlines, with Delta, with Air New Zealand. There are a number of different airlines that have joined. Let’s take a look back now and see what has unraveled in 2012 on this.

This is really the big, big, big news of the week. They announced early on that they’ll be purchasing 60 percent of Tiger Airways, keeping it as its own brand.

Straight off to Virgin Australia and Etihad who have announced that Etihad stake in airline will increase to 10 percent, that we’re purchasing 100 percent of SkyWest. What it means is that Virgin Australia is setup much in a similar way to what Qantas is now.

Singapore Airlines have purchased a 10 percent stake in Virgin as well. They’ve announced father coach air flights through to Europe which is brilliant, so you can now choose a Virgin Australia flight number with either Singapore Airlines or Etihad through to Europe.

That leaves Air New Zealand, Etihad, Singapore Airlines, and Richard Branson as the main shareholder of Virgin Australia. They’ve really positioned themselves to take on the world, literally. I think it’s going to be a massive benefit to all the travellers particularly on the domestic network, but also internationally as well.

  • #2 – Alliances: Airlines partnerships, mergers and acquisitions.

Okay, continuing on with the same thing, let’s look at number 2. This is the Qantas and Emirates proposed partnership deal. This has massive implications for most of air travellers. We’re seeing Emirates who are massive airline in Australian shores partnering with Qantas; let’s see how that is going to affect you in 2013 and beyond.

First off to the Qantas and Emirates partnership, Qantas have recently started selling their services via Dubai. You’re going to be able to earn and redeem with both regardless of who you’re flying with. You’ll also have your status recognized. What isn’t clear but is very, very, very important to most of their clients would be earning of status credits on the opposing airline. The other one is the upgrading on the opposing aircrafts with point. I would suggest they are not going to have this tie up, but for your sake, I hope they do.

The schedules, as expected, they are similar to what the flights by Singapore are currently; a midafternoon departure with an arrival time into Dubai around midnight, and a landing into London at 5:30am. Of Couse there are a couple of reasons for that. One is getting slots at Heathrow are very hard so they essentially are falling into their same slots. Also, given that Emirates fly out around about 9pm for most ports in Australia, I dare say they didn’t want the competition that Qantas would bring them.

What that means for most travellers is that if you’re connecting to continental Europe, there aren’t going to be very many connections under eight hours.

The baggage policies, they’re going to be pretty much identical regardless of who you fly with. For Qantas customers, you’ll be able to take advantage of the much larger network particularly into Europe.

Re-timed Asian connections are going to be a massive advantage to better meet particularly Jetstar’s Singapore base. You got to connect onto most places in Asia on the same day, so that’s a really big benefit.

  • #1 – Airline Wars: The battle on the domestic airline front.

Okay, and we’re there, we are at number 1, according to me of course. Now this, I think, is certainly amazing news for just about everyone and it’s been continual, just about every update I’ve given you over 2012 has included something along these lines. That is the current domestic airlines war between Qantas and Virgin.

We’re seeing upgrades to aircrafts, upgrades to service quality, upgrades to terminals; in short it has been awesome, it’s been fantastic for travellers. Fares are staying low, but the service is returning to some of these airlines. The competition means that 2013 and onwards is going to be very prosperous for us as travellers.

Virgin and Etihad against Qantas and Emirates; we see them going toe-to-toe across many different areas of their businesses. The latest one is the announcement that Etihad and Virgin have both increased their checked in luggage on their international routes to 30 kilos.

First off we’ll look at Virgin Australia who has just announced that they looked to have A330 aircraft exclusively on their Melbourne-Perth and Sydney-Perth routes. The seats are a little bit better quality and as such, it’s a much better experience.

If you’ve ever requested a point upgrade with Qantas, the great news is that Qantas have just announced that they’ve changed; they upgraded their system which allowed them to offer “At-the-gates” upgrades. What that actually means for free upgrades is, essentially they’re going to be disappear because Qantas is going to give preference to their frequent flyer members and those who are requesting upgrades.

What I’d suggest is if you want to travel business class or in a higher cabin to put in your request early with Qantas, and you’re going to be, hopefully have a better chance of actually receiving that now as well.

This competition or this intense competition is fantastic for us as travellers because it means better fares, better service onboard, and as we can see, some nice little bonuses along the way also.

Okay, there you have it, that’s my top 5 news items from 2012. Thank you very much for tuning in all year. Here is to looking forward to a very prosperous 2013 to you and to everybody out there. I’ll be bringing back weekly news updates for the entire year so I hope you continue to tune in. Until next week, take care. Enjoy some of this weather that we’re having at the moment.

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