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by Lauren McMah - news.com.au

 

EMIRATES and Etihad have assured Australian passengers that aside from Qatar routes, their usual flights will not be disrupted as a diplomatic rift sparks air travel chaos across the Gulf region.

Emirates, Etihad, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Egypt Air and other Gulf carriers have announced they will no longer fly in and out of Qatar after Saudi Arabia and six other Arab states cut air, sea and land links to the increasingly isolated nation.

In turn, Qatar Airways announced on Tuesday it would suspend all flights to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain until further notice.

The flight suspensions will immediately impact passengers on busy air routes between the Qatari capital, Doha, and other Middle Eastern cities, such as Egypt, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Experts are also bracing for a flow-on effect to other Gulf-based operators, such as delays due to changes in airspace rules.

But a spokeswoman for Emirates told news.com.au there would be “no impacts” to the airline’s other routes, such as those that connect Australia with Europe and Asia via Dubai. Only Emirates flights in and out of Doha will be affected by the situation in the Gulf, the airline says.

Read the Full Article on news.com.au

HILT FiveFeetToFitness Yoga FP

MCLEAN, Va. - Hilton (NYSE: HLT) has unveiled Five Feet to Fitness, an in-room wellness concept that brings over eleven different fitness equipment and accessory options into the hotel room. The new room category makes it more convenient than ever for road warriors, exercise enthusiasts, and those who prefer to workout in private to maintain their routines while staying with Hilton. The rooms are part of Hilton's innovation efforts to modernize the hospitality fitness experience and make it more inclusive for all by redeveloping fitness centers and offering fresh fitness concepts tailored to the hotel's location and regular guests.

"A guest room that combines a sleep and fully integrated fitness experience delivers an impressive new dimension of convenience and personalization - an industry first," said Ryan Crabbe, Senior Director, Global Wellness at Hilton. "Five Feet to Fitness has been thoughtfully engineered to serve as a guest's personal wellness stage, complete with sports performance materials and best-in-class gym accessories. Guests will quickly realize we have gone much further than simply placing a piece of equipment in a room."

The new room type features an indoor bike from British cycling innovator Wattbike that is used for either longer 'indoor-cycling' type exercise sessions or focused interval-training workouts. Next, dynamic Gym RaxTM functional training station provides apparatus and accessory that delivers unlimited strength, core, suspension and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) style workouts to guests.

At the heart of the concept is the Fitness Kiosk, a touch screen display embedded within the Gym Rax system where guests receive equipment tutorials and follow guided workout routines. In partnership with Aktiv Solutions, Hilton has created more than 200 bespoke fitness videos in categories ranging from Cardio, Cycling, Endurance, Strength, HIIT, Yoga, Stretch and Recovery.

"The variety of activity the room enables is motivating. One morning a guest can decide to roll out of bed for quick guided stretch and yoga poses. Then later that evening, he or she may return from a stressful day and take a brisk bike ride while catching up on a favorite show or the day's business news. The room is made to suit the varied and evolving wellness habits of our guests."

The introduction of the fitness room is the biggest change in the fitness hospitality space since Hilton became the first major hotel company to standardize hotel gyms twenty years ago.

"We know that no matter how determined people are about making healthy decisions while at home, the ability to replicate those choices are often not as accessible as they should be while traveling. We're creating choice and control for guests to drive their own fitness experience," said Mr Crabbe.

Creating an exercise environment is only part of the new guestroom wellness experience. Five Feet to Fitness also offers a meditation chair for the mindful traveler, blackout shades for restorative sleep, Biofreeze to ease muscle tension, and a selection of protein and hydration beverage options.

Hilton's Five Feet to Fitness is currently available at Parc 55 San Francisco - a Hilton Hotel and Hilton McLean Tysons Corner and is coming soon to markets including Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Las Vegas, New York and San Diego.

 

Originally published on hilton.com

air canada

News release

Air Canada announces third Australian port with launch of seasonal Melbourne-Vancouver service

  • Only non-stop service between Melbourne and Canada
  • Air Canada's third non-stop route between Australia and Vancouver
  • Convenient connections across Air Canada's North American network


SYDNEY, May 4, 2017 - Air Canada is pleased to announce an expansion of its Australian network during the peak northern hemisphere winter period, with the addition of new non-stop Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner services between Melbourne and Vancouver from 3 December 2017 to 4 February 2018.

air canda expansion


The new seasonal service will operate four times a week, with flights departing Melbourne at 11:40am on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Passengers will touch down in Vancouver, Air Canada's trans-Pacific hub, at 7:30am, enabling convenient connections to a range of key destinations across Canada and the US.


Benjamin Smith, President, Passenger Airlines at Air Canada, says the introduction of Melbourne services continues the airline's strategic, global expansion.
“Vancouver-Melbourne is our third route to Australia, in addition to year-round service to Sydney and Brisbane," says Smith. "Our seasonal Melbourne service will provide additional options for business travellers between North America and Australia as well as Australians seeking a Canadian winter vacation experience.”


General Manager Australia and New Zealand Paul McLean says the new Melbourne flights will allow Air Canada to capitalise on peak demand over the Australian Christmas period.
"By operating the only non-stop service between Melbourne and Canada we are making it easier than ever before for Victorians to experience Canada’s unsurpassed winter attractions, which include some of the world's leading ski resorts in British Columbia and Alberta,” says McLean.


"The new Melbourne flights will also allow travellers to seamlessly connect with our non-stop flights from Vancouver to popular US destinations, including New York and Las Vegas – a feature that has proved exceptionally popular with passengers on our daily non-stop flights from Sydney and Brisbane."


Air Canada will operate the Melbourne-Vancouver route using its state-of-the-art Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, which offers passengers a choice of three cabins: International Business Class (featuring the airline's next generation lie-flat pod), Premium Economy Class and Economy Class.


McLean says the decision to add Melbourne to the airline's fast-expanding global network – less than a year after the launch of the airline’s Brisbane-Vancouver route – represents a major vote of confidence in the Australian market.


"Australian travellers are continuing to embrace Canada as a year-round destination, while Vancouver is now well established as a friendly and convenient gateway to North America.”
The new Melbourne-Vancouver services will provide for Aeroplan Loyalty Program accumulation and redemption, with eligible customers enjoying priority check-in, Maple Leaf Lounge access, priority boarding and other benefits.


For more details on Air Canada’s please visit www.aircanada.com.

About Air Canada
Air Canada is Canada's largest domestic and international airline serving more than 200 airports on six continents. Canada's flag carrier is among the 20 largest airlines in the world and in 2016 served close to 45 million customers. Air Canada provides scheduled passenger service directly to 64 airports in Canada, 57 in the United States and 91 in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and South America. Air Canada is a founding member of Star Alliance, the world's most comprehensive air transportation network serving 1,300 airports in 190 countries. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. For more information, please visit: www.aircanada.com, follow @AirCanada on Twitter and join Air Canada on Facebook.

do you bank with ffp

Written by Mark Chaskiel

Seems like a strange question coming from the owner of a Travel Management Company (TMC). I've been very loyal to my main banker, but in recent years I have taken a huge interest in the Bank of FFP (Frequent Flyer Points).

Our task is to buy travel for our clients, sometimes this includes advising on loyalty programs.

In the early days of these programs this was easy. The reward of points was based on how much you flew. I even remember when the rules were so locked down, even when there were only a few programs. As a matter of interest, points go back to the early 1980’s and in particular in America from an international perspective with Pan Am.

Fast forward to 2017. How many ‘points millionaires’ do you know? Unlike bank balances, people are prepared to talk about how many points they have. They often even tell you that these points came from managing their business expenses with a multitude of credit cards. The funny thing is card stacking used to be a tool for underfunded businesses, now its created a false economy, a points economy some might even say it’s a bigger currency than Bitcoins.

So you now have many hundreds of thousands, if not millions of points and your life partner says how about London in July? The question needs to be asked is, is there any such thing as a free lunch? In this case call it a holiday. You found the flights in business class to London, you've converted your Starwood points to hotel accommodation, all you need now is the cash to cover your shopping. If only it was that easy! The simple answer is sometimes it is, but most of the time the idea of a free trip creates the expectation and you just can't get the seats.

So here is the deal. What is the best way to use your points? There are blogs, there are hacks, there are even frequent flyer point advisors that for a fee will tell you all there is to know about points and will even help you burn some.

And then there are even programs that allow you to see which flights are available (not all airlines and not all flights).

Let me say immediately that I'm not here to tell you how to get six business class tickets confirmed to Los Angeles using your points. However if this is what you are looking for, book a full year ahead.

My purpose of this article is to tell you that in some cases points are better used for purposes other than travel. In the past year, I have heard of examples where points have been used to purchase furniture, luggage and gift cards to name a few. All of this has helped preserve your cash.

It is worthwhile to note that once again it has been alluded to that the ATO (Australian Taxation Office) might start looking at points earned in a business but used for personal requirements. However, I urge you to speak with your Financial Advisor or Tax Accountant, as I am neither.

My Tips:

  1. If you are looking to use your points for flights, generally the best value is in premium classes. Try for midweek flights. Don't commit to an expensive land content until your flights are confirmed.  E.g. cruise until you have secured your flights
  2. Generally speaking, domestic travel is a bad value for points unless you travel in the premium cabin to Western Australia.
  3. I would avoid using your points to book multi-stops. It can be frustrating, so I do suggest just using your points point-to-point only.
  4. Be on the look out for credit card company initiatives including extremely lavish sign-on bonuses if you switch credit card provider. This is a good way to top up your points.
  5. If you have booked your flights and require accommodation, tours, a cruise etc. make sure you see your trusted Travel Advisor. They are the best qualified to add additional value to your travel.
  6. When overseas, be careful transacting with high points earning credit cards. You might love the points that you've earned, but the exchange rates they use may be a shock.
  7. I think one of the best thing that's happened for small businesses in recent times, is the newly released Qantas Business Rewards Program. You the client have the opportunity to leverage your spend for a benefit whilst your typical time-sensitive travellers will not be disadvantaged in their ability to earn points. The best thing about this program is that it kicks in from a very low spend. Effectively all you need is an ABN (Australian Business Number) and $89.50. Some are even calling it a double dip, but the trick is to make the most of it while available. Qantas Business Rewards have many partners in many fields including energy, construction, freight, banking and finance, office supplies and more.

I suggest reading more about earning Qantas Points. If you want to save your business money this is clearly one way how.

qantas kangaroo route

Qantas has announced that customers can now book non-stop flights from Australia to Europe for the first time. The Perth-London (Heathrow) route went on sale on 27th April 2017.


Melbourne-Perth-London on the B787

Daily flights will begin on 24 March 2018 and form part of a new Melbourne-Perth-London return service, a new QF9/10. Customers from other Australian cities will also be able to connect to London via Perth.

Services will be operated by our new Boeing 787-Dreamliner, designed specifically for comfort on long-haul sectors, offering:

  • Built-in features to reduce jetlag and improve the overall travel experience;
  • A high level of comfort in the cabins, with a lower seat count than most other airlines; and
  • Tweaks to the inflight service so customers enjoy the journey even more.


Discover the Dreamliner.


Perth Airport experience

The experience for customers travelling through Perth will be seamless, with a new international transit lounge to be built at Perth Airport. Qantas customers on international and domestic flights will arrive and depart from the same terminal (T3/T4), with dedicated customs and immigration.

 

Changes to Melbourne international services and new A380 flying

The new QF9/10 will replace the existing Melbourne-Dubai-London services, offering Melbourne customers:

A faster flying time and quicker connections in Perth will reduce total travel time from London to Melbourne by more than an hour compared with existing A380 services.
The ongoing option to fly with partner Emirates on the Qantas code to Dubai and then direct to London or to nearly 40 destinations in Europe.

Our A380 that currently operates Melbourne-London will be redeployed to meet periods of high demand to destinations in Asia, including from Melbourne and Sydney to Hong Kong and Singapore.

 

 

Book now

The Qantas Dreamliner is a game-changer. Qantas are looking forward to offering their customers a level of convenience in linking Australia to Europe they've never had before. To book your flight to Europe, contact your dedicated Travel Advisor at FBI Travel on (03) 8573 0900.

Content originated from Qantas Airways Limited on 27 April 2017.

sweet spot

“Travel is a one-way ticket to adventure, inspiration and delight, but it can also deliver unwanted surprises if you don’t do your research. Covering 11 popular destinations, this guide will help you find the ultimate time to travel.”
Luxury Travel Magazine, Published #69, Autumn 2017  

 

For most people, travel plans demand some thought to help the journey run as smoothly as possible. Yet considerations such as peak and off-peak seasons, weather conditions, school holiday periods and cultural events don’t always occur to the uninformed traveller. That’s why we’ve pinpointed the best times to travel to some of the world’s most sought-after holiday destinations. These sweet spots can deliver the best value for money, fewer crowds and other unexpected benefits for the luxury (or luxe-for-less) traveller.

Do you plan to visit:

  • Bali
  • Fiji
  • Malaysia
  • Thailand
  • Dubai
  • South Africa
  • Japan
  • England
  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • USA

 

Then click here to read the best time to visit these destinations, and a few additional tips to help you plan. Or of course you can contact your dedicated FBI Travel Advisor to start planning your next holiday for you.

american airlines premium economy

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – American Airlines today announced plans to introduce a new aircraft to service its trans-Pacific route between Sydney (SYD) and Los Angeles (LAX). Starting 8 November 2017, American Airlines’ Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will commence service between Sydney and Los Angeles, replacing the Boeing 777-300ER. This new plane will offer customers a brand new aircraft and a new class of service, Premium Economy.


Introduced to the American Airlines fleet at the end of 2016, the Boeing 787-9 is American’s newest aircraft type. It includes Main Cabin Extra, our latest Business Class suite with all-aisle-access and our newest class of service, Premium Economy.


American Airlines General Manager Australia and New Zealand Simon Dodd said, “As part of our commitment to providing our customers with a world-class product and travel experience, American Airlines will introduce Premium Economy to the Sydney – Los Angeles route which it has served since December 2015; making it the first U.S. carrier to do so. Premium Economy is an increasingly popular option for customers who want an elevated experience on their journey to Los Angeles and beyond.”


The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner is a state-of-the-art aircraft which features electrically dimmable windows, larger overhead storage space, a cabin air system that provides improved altitude, humidity levels, and air filtration with reduced noise levels in the cabin.


The Boeing 787-9 has 285 seats in total, 59 seats more than the Boeing 787-8. Below is the detailed configuration of our four seat types:

american table

 

The Business Class features fully lie-flat Super Diamond seats with direct aisle access; premium onboard dining with a chef-inspired menu including choices of award-winning wines for food pairing; a Cole Haan-branded amenity kit containing products from C.O. Bigelow, 3Lab and Clark’s Botanicals. American also offers Business Class customers Bose noise-reducing headphones and large screens so customers can better enjoy the airline’s extensive inflight entertainment options.


Premium Economy offers leather seats with 38 inches of pitch, more legroom, wider seats and expandable foot, leg and head rests. Enhanced meals are served with complimentary wine, beer, and spirits. Premium Economy customers receive amenity kits and noise-reducing headphones and an enhanced pillow and blanket.

American Airlines continues to be committed to providing Australian travellers with a world-class experience, as well as access to nearly 220 daily departures from Los Angeles to 55 destinations worldwide.


About American Airlines Group
American Airlines and American Eagle offer an average of nearly 6,700 flights per day to nearly 350 destinations in more than 50 countries. American has hubs in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. American is a founding member of the oneworld® alliance, whose members serve more than 1,000 destinations with about 14,250 daily flights to over 150 countries. Shares of American Airlines Group Inc. trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol AAL. In 2015, its stock joined the S&P 500 index. Connect with American on Twitter @AmericanAir and at Facebook.com/AmericanAirlines.

virgin wifi

By Patrick Hatch 
Original Article: 
http://www.smh.com.au

In-flight internet access is shaping up as a key battleground for Australia's two major airlines, with Virgin Australia announcing a trial of on-board Wi-Fi to match the service Qantas is close to launching.

Virgin on Thursday revealed plans to offer passengers Wi-Fi by connecting to Optus satellites on domestic and New Zealand flights and to global network providers Intelsat and SES for other international flights.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au

status not points

By David Flynn 
Original Article: 
http://www.executivestyle.com.au

Most business travellers spend more than enough time in the air to clock up frequent flyer points en masse. But there's a far more valuable coin of the corporate travel realm: a currency known as status.

Status is the real goal of the high flyers.

Read more: http://www.executivestyle.com.au

qatar qsuite

Qatar Airways’ new business class seats allow guests to create a double bed, a four-person suite or a private room.


By Grace Smith
Original Article:
http://www.luxurytravelmag.com.au

After two years of design and planning, Qatar has revealed its new Business Class cabins with upgraded seating, menus and entertainment options. The seats, dubbed ‘Qsuites’, aim to give passengers free reign to customise their space by using adjustable privacy panels with movable TV monitors. Couples or parents and children travelling side-by-side can remove the middle panel and transform their seats into a double bed, while the side panels provide privacy from the rest of the cabin. Larger groups of friends or family can use the panels to create their own ‘party of four’ private suite, allowing them to socialise and dine together during their trip. Alternatively, solo travellers have the option to remain in a private one-person room.

At the official unveiling in Berlin, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker spoke about Qatar’s focus on offering guests as much choice as possible, saying: “It only makes sense to give you the choice to make your own cabin-within-a-cabin, creating double QSuites or quadrants.”

As well as the QSuites, the airline’s new Business Class offering will include an updated on-demand dining menu with a selection of sharing dishes for travellers to snack on together during the flight. They have also added an Express Breakfast option for those looking for a quick morning pick-me-up. The airline’s entertainment system, Oryx One has also received a revamp with a redesigned interface and up to 3000 entertainment options. To top off the experience, guests will sleep in newly designed The White Company pyjamas and will receive a BRIC’s amenity kit with products from Italy’s Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio.

The QSuites will be introduced onto the existing Qatar Airways fleet from June 2017 at a rate of approximately one aircraft per month.

qatarairways.com

Original Article: http://www.luxurytravelmag.com.au

The Emirates Boeing 777 300ER 2

New route brings year-round flight services between the USA and Greece

Dubai, UAE, 23rd January 2017 – Emirates today announced it will launch a new daily service from Dubai to Newark Liberty International Airport, via the Greek capital city of Athens, starting on 12 March 2017.

The new route complements Emirates’ existing four daily flights between Dubai and New York’s JFK airport, by offering global travellers with another convenient access point to the popular New York Metropolitan area.

Emirates’ new Dubai-Athens-Newark flight will also provide a year-round non-stop daily service between the United States and Greece – a service that does not exist today and has not existed since 2012. The airline will operate a wide-body Boeing 777-300ER powered by General Electric GE90 engines on the route, offering 8 seats in First, 42 seats in Business and 304 seats in Economy class, as well as 19 tonnes of belly-hold cargo capacity.

Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline said: “The Greek Government and Athens International Airport approached Emirates some time ago to consider serving the route between Athens and New York. After careful review, Emirates concluded that extending one of our Dubai-Athens flights to Newark would be commercially and operationally feasible. We are pleased to be able to help meet a strong consumer need long neglected by other airlines, and we would like to thank the authorities and our partners in both the US and Greece for their support of the new route.”

Sir Tim added: “The availability of high quality, daily international air services is essential for the development of business and cultural ties. Trade, especially in high-value and time-sensitive products, will be facilitated by the ample cargo capacity on Emirates’ Boeing 777 aircraft. We also expect tourism to receive a major boost from the availability of daily flights year-round.”

Elena Kountoura, Minister of Tourism of the Hellenic Republic said: “Within the framework of our excellent cooperation, and in line with our common goal for the growth of tourism between our two countries as well as the expansion to long-haul markets, I would like to thank Emirates for having positively considered our request to launch a new Emirates itinerary connecting Dubai with New York via Athens all year round. This strategic choice substantially supports our efforts at the Ministry of Tourism to enhance the already increasing flow of visitors to Greece from the United States and the UAE on a yearly basis, travelling either for leisure or business purposes.”

Endy Zemenides, Executive Director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council said: “The Greek-American community has long been anticipating the reestablishment of year round direct travel between Greece and the United States. For this moment to arrive thanks to Emirates - the world's top airline - is special indeed. Greece's economic comeback is going to have to include year round tourism and easier business travel. The new Emirates route makes this possible. The Greek-American community will be thrilled with this new itinerary, and we thank Emirates Airline for establishing its route and for its endorsement of travel to Greece.”

The United States and Greece have long maintained close economic relations as well as a strong national security alliance. For decades, the United States has advocated policies that promote and foster economic growth and further opportunities for U.S. investment in Greece. The United States is also home to the largest overseas Greek community in the world, numbering approximately 1.3 million, and the New York City metropolitan area has the largest community of Greek Americans in the country.

In addition to serving the large Greek-American population in the New York City metropolitan area, the availability of one-stop same-plane service to Dubai will offer a convenient alternative to travellers headed towards the Middle East, West Asia, and Africa.

World class service from Skytrax’s “World’s Best Airline 2016”

Emirates operates one of the youngest and most modern fleets in the sky, with an average fleet age of just 61 months, compared to the industry average of 140 months. Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER aircraft serving the new Dubai-Athens-Newark route will offer high levels of comfort and high quality service with private suites in First class, lie-flat seats in Business, and ergonomically designed cabins in Economy.

Passengers in all cabin classes can enjoy the friendly service from Emirates’ international cabin crew, meals prepared by gourmet chefs, and over 2,500 channels of the latest movies, TV shows, and music hits on its award-winning ice inflight entertainment system.

Flight details and connections to Emirates’ global network

Emirates flight EK209 will depart Dubai at 10:50 local time, arriving in Athens at 14:25 before departing again at 16:40 and arriving into Newark at 22:00 on the same day. The return flight EK210 will depart Newark at 23:45 local time, arriving in Athens the next day at 15:05. EK210 will depart once again from Athens at 17:10 bound for Dubai where it will arrive at 23:50, facilitating convenient onward connections to over 50 Emirates destinations in India, the Far East and Australia.

For flight bookings or more information, call 1800 359 324.

VirginAustraliaBusinessClass
Original article published by AirlineRatings Editors on 14 November 2016.

Global airline rating agency names its winners for 2017

AirlineRatings.com the world’s foremost safety and product rating website has selected Air New Zealand as its 2017 Airline of the Year for the fourth consecutive year.

Read: World's Top Ten Airlines for 2017

AirlineRatings.com celebrates and promotes excellence in the airline industry and the pinnacle of these efforts is its Airline Excellence Awards. Winners include: Etihad Airways, Virgin Australia, Emirates, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Norwegian, Flybe, Garuda Indonesia, Scoot, Kulula.com, Virgin America and Delta Air Lines.

Airline of the Year

Air New Zealand is being honored for the fourth consecutive year for its record-breaking financial performance, award-winning in-flight innovations, operational safety, environmental leadership and motivation of its staff. These factors have stamped the airline as an industry trendsetter.

The AirlineRatings.com Airline Excellence Awards program combines four major international industry and government audits, with another nine key criteria that include: fleet age, passenger review ratings, profitability, investment rating and key product offerings.

AirlineRatings.com Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas said: “In our objective analysis Air New Zealand came out number one in virtually all of our audit criteria, which is an exceptional performance.”

The editorial team, one of the world’s most awarded and experienced, lauded Air New Zealand’s commitment to a young fleet and its continual focus on the environment. The airline also won Best Premium Economy Class for the third time.

Air New Zealand has been a leader in the airline industry for years and has won countless awards including Air Transport World’s Airline of the Year in 2010 and 2012.

“Quite simply Air New Zealand is an airline of first choice. And given the airline’s location and the country’s size, its performance is even more remarkable,” said Mr Thomas.

“This outstanding performance has seen Air New Zealand catapult to the top tier of the industry in a host of areas.”

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says being recognised once again by the industry is a real highlight for its people in a record year of performance.

“The past 12 months have been exceptional for Air New Zealand – we’ve continued to invest in a streamlined and refurbished fleet, launched three new international routes and rolled out improvements to the customer experience with enhanced inflight entertainment and a multi-million dollar lounge redevelopment programme.

“Above all, the award is testament to the talented team of people who make Air New Zealand great by putting customers at the heart of everything we do.”

Read more about Air New Zealand’s offerings here

Best First Class

This award has been won by Etihad Airways for the third year running because its First Class still leads the industry.

“Etihad’s commitment to excellence appears to know no bounds. The airline’s new First Class and Business Class offerings are quite stunning and have set the bar even higher in luxury travel,” said Mr Thomas.

“In what is an incredible achievement in just over 13 years Etihad Airways has stamped itself not only as a major force in the airline industry but a trendsetter.”

Take a video stroll through Etihad's exclusive First Class cabin.

Best Business Class

This year Virgin Australia has taken out this much sought after award with its “The Business” suite which is more First Class than Business Class. The major plus for this product is the bed with its triple-layer seat cushion supported by a hammock sub-frame which guarantees a really good sleep.

There is also ample space for gadgets and shelf space to place one’s laptop while having dinner.

Read more about Virgin Australia’s business class here;

Best Premium Economy

Air New Zealand has won Best Premium Economy once again for its lead in this class. The airline is continually innovating in all cabins and this has resulted in higher yields as passengers upgrade their travel experience. “Air New Zealand has shown better than any other airline that passengers will pay more if the product is right and priced accordingly. Its efforts in this space are a lesson to all airlines that passengers want better and are prepared to pay.”

Best Economy

Singapore Airlines picks up Best Economy Class. The airline has always been a leader in the economy class product going back to the 1960s when as Malaysia-Singapore Airlines it introduced free headsets and free drinks to economy passengers. And the innovation has never stopped with the airline amongst the first to offer seat back videos to economy passengers in the early 1990s
Read Geoffrey Thomas' review of Singapore Airlines’ service here; http://www.airlineratings.com/editors-travel-reviews/3/singapore-airlines

Best Cabin Crew

Best Cabin Crew award has been won by Virgin Group airlines – Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America.

“These airlines’ cabin crew treat every passenger whether in row 1 or at the back of the bus as a special guest,” said Mr. Thomas. “Their commitment to their passengers is outstanding and is a benchmark of what cabin service should be.”

Best Catering

Qantas has taken out this award for the third year running on the back of the airline’s domestic offering which is the world’s best. Its commitment not only to premium dining, but to economy travel which makes up 90 per cent of passengers is well ahead of the pack.

The airline has introduced an unprecedented four choices of main meal for economy passengers, a doubling in the size of meals, and the ability to order online ahead of the flight.

“Qantas’s catering commitment to both its domestic and international passengers is industry leading,” said Mr. Thomas

Best Lounges

Another win for Qantas. Its lounges have become an Australian air travel institution and Qantas’ overseas offerings are also an industry benchmark. Qantas Lounges not only provide complimentary food and beverages the airline was a leader in installing showers. Importantly the airline’s lounges have robust broadband internet access that can handle demand – something lacking in many other airlines’ lounges. “The Qantas Lounge is the place to be for the savvy traveler,” said Mr Thomas.

Best In-Flight Entertainment

Emirates, which was one of the pioneers of IFE, wins AirlineRatings.com Best IFE award. The airline has an IFE product that few airlines equal. Airlineratings.com editors noted that Emirates was one of the first adopters, particularly for economy class. By 1993 all the airline’s seats were fitted with IFE.

Emirates ICE has a host of features. It allows you to follow the progress of your flight, or take in the view from the aircraft’s external cameras. You can keep in touch with live business, news and sport headlines. As a communication tool it provides phone, SMS or email capability. For entertainment there are 600 channels of premium entertainment.

Best Domestic Class

In an era where domestic offerings are becoming leaner Qantas’s domestic in-flight product is a global standout and in many cases, matches or exceeds international service.

“There is little doubt Australians are the world’s most spoilt passengers with full meal service on all flights across its network, said Mr Thomas.

Qantas offers complimentary beer and wine between capital cities after 4pm on weekdays and on transcontinental flights from lunch time daily. The airline has recently completed the rollout of its lie-flat beds on its A330 fleet which perform most of the transcontinental services.

Best Long Haul Airline

AirlineRatings.com Best Long Haul Airline awards have been won by: Etihad (Middle East/Africa), Singapore Airlines (Asia/Pacific), Virgin Atlantic (Europe) and Delta Airline Lines (The Americas).

These four airlines in their regions set the benchmark. “Etihad Airways is the new kid on the block and is challenging the product leadership of Singapore Airlines, while Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines both have rich histories in pioneering long haul travel and new aircraft designs.”

Best Low Cost Airline

There is no question that the Low Cost Airline market is the most competitive and also the most rapidly growing. Thus competition to be the best is a challenge of balancing product with low prices.

AirlineRatings.com winners are: Virgin America (The Americas), Scoot (Asia/Pacific), Kulula.com (Africa/ Middle-East) and Norwegian (Europe). The four airlines are leaders in their markets with innovations and they are consistently delivering an excellent value proposition. “These airlines may not always offer the lowest fare but what they almost always do is deliver by far the best value,” said Mr Thomas. And these airlines open new routes and bring travel to millions who could previously not afford to fly.

Read our Scoot in-flight review here;

Read our Norwegian in-flight review here;

Read our Virgin America in-flight review here;

Regional Airline of the Year

UK based Flybe has taken out this award for delivering a first-class experience on regional routes around the UK and Europe.
The airline operates more UK domestic flights than any other airline and flies 7 million passengers a year on 149 routes, from 62 destinations in 9 countries. Its hubs are Manchester, Birmingham, Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam and Exeter.

Airlineratings.com editorial team was impressed by Flybe’s innovation that has resulted in exceptional performance in customer service, product and new route development.

Read our review of Flybe here;

Most Improved Airline

This has been won by Garuda Indonesia in recognition of the dramatic turnaround by the country’s national carrier.

Over the past five years the airline has made enormous strides to improve its in-flight product, operational and fiscal performance.

It has renewed its entire fleet, been approved for European and US operations and is now considered a world class operation.

AirlineRatings.com editors were unanimous in their praise of the professionalism of Garuda Indonesia’s operation and the speed of the airline’s turnaround.

Read glowing passenger reviews of Garuda here;

Original article published by AirlineRatings Editors on 14 November 2016.

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