Week in Review: Travel Industry News

Traveller working from hotel room
Travel News 04 Apr 2017

For week ending 31 March 2017

Last week in travel news Virgin Australia launched their new seat option, Economy X, and also announced testing of their free in-flight wi-fi system. In response to the electronics ban, Qatar Airways is offering Business Class passengers a new laptop loan service.

All this and more in our weekly news round-up brought to you by FCM Travel Solutions.


Virgin to trial in-flight wi-fi

Virgin Australia has followed Qantas in deciding to test a free in-flight wi-fi system. The carrier is looking to introduce the system on both its domestic and international network. A three-month-long trial will begin in April on a single B737-800 aircraft. If successful this will be followed by a roll-out across all domestic and trans-Tasman services, as well as international flights using the Intelsat and SES satellite systems. The roll-out of Qantas’s in-flight wi-fi system has been delayed due to technical issues so it’s a race to see who will provide the service first. 

Qatar laptop loan scheme

Following the portable electronics ban on flights to the USA, Qatar Airways is offering Business Class passengers a new laptop loan service. Those travelling on US-bound flights can download their work onto a USB and collect a laptop for use after boarding. The carrier is also offering an hour of free wi-fi as part of the scheme.

Virgin Australia launches Economy X

Virgin Australia has is launching a new seat option, Economy X. It will feature on Virgin Australia’s B737 aircraft, with the entire fleet to be updated to include the new product by the end of May. This will see 30 extra legroom seats in the first three rows of the economy cabin. Economy X passengers will enjoy a minimum of 3 inches of extra legroom, along with preferred overhead locker space, priority boarding and priority secu¬rity screening. It will be available on domestic flights as well as short-haul international flights, where it will replace the current Economy Space+ offering. On long-haul international flights it will include a guaranteed first meal choice and a premium noise-cancelling headset. Economy X is free of charge for Velocity Frequent Flyer Platinum members and travel companions on the same booking, but is also an optional extra for others at an additional cost. The new seat option will be available from 21 May 2017.

Vibe Hotel Darling Harbour

TFE Hotels has plans to open a ‘New Generation Vibe’ hotel in Sydney’s CBD. The 145-room Vibe Hotel Darling Harbour is scheduled to open in 2019 and will be located near the new Darling Square development and ICC Sydney. Hotel features will include an all-day dining restaurant, fully equipped gymnasium, meeting rooms and a rooftop bar and infinity-edge pool. 

Emirates LGW aircraft switch

Emirates is cutting capacity on its Dubai-London Gatwick route. Between 3 May and 22 Jun, flights EK11/12, one of three daily A380 services, will switch to a smaller B777-300ER aircraft. 

VN kicks off Sydney-Hanoi route

Vietnam Airlines has commenced new direct flights between Sydney and Hanoi. The thrice-weekly service operates on B787-9 aircraft offering Products Business, Premium Economy and Economy cabins. It complements the carrier’s existing daily service between Sydney and Ho Chi Minh City.

Four Points Docklands

Four Points by Sheraton Melbourne Docklands is now open. Part of the new Marina Tower complex on the riverfront, it offers 273 rooms and features a restaurant and bar, outdoor pool and a range of meeting rooms.

DoubleTree Box Hill

DoubleTree by Hilton plans to open a property site in Melbourne. The 200-room property will be located in the suburb of Box Hill and is set to open in 2020 featuring a restaurant, bar and gym.

Qantas delays wi-fi roll-out

Qantas has had to delay the launch of its free in-flight wi-fi service. The move comes after the carrier encountered stability issues with the new technology during trials. Originally planned to debut this week, the carrier is holding off the launch until it can remedy the issues. Roll-out across the Qantas domestic fleet has been rescheduled for the middle of this year.