For week ending 23 June 2017
Skytrax Award winners 2017
Virgin Australia has been awarded ‘Best Airline’ and ‘Best Airline Staff’ in Australia and the Pacific at the 2017 Skytrax World Airline Awards. Qatar Airways topped the global list, followed by Singapore Airlines, ANA All Nippon Airways and Emirates. Virgin Australia and Qantas ranked 13th and 15th overall respectively. Qantas won World’s Best Premium Economy Class and Best Premium Economy Seat, while alliance partner Emirates won best in-flight entertainment.
Raffles Hotel London
AccorHotels’ Raffles brand is set to make its London debut. Housed in the converted historic Old War Office building in Whitehall, The Raffles Hotel in London will feature 125 rooms and 88 private residences, as well as restaurants and other amenities. The property is set to open in 2020.
Emirates Smart Wallet
Emirates has launched a new Smart Wallet system. The move will see travellers able to use smartphones instead of passports at Dubai International Airport. Personal data, Emirates ID and passport information as well as e-gate card information will be built into the system, which aims to streamline passenger movements at the airport.
Marriott cancellation policy changes
Marriott International has unveiled a new cancellation policy. Guests must now cancel at least 48 hours in advance to avoid being charged one night’s accommodation at most of its properties in the US, Canada, Caribbean and Latin America.
Tasmania flight boost
Virgin Australia is raising frequency on its Sydney-Hobart route. Two additional weekly services will raise the total to 16 return services per week, with new options added on Friday and Sunday. A new weekly return Brisbane-Launceston service will also be added from 23 September to late March next year.
Hilton Xian High-tech
Hilton Worldwide has opened a second hotel in Xian. Location in the city’s tech district, the 318-room Hilton Xian High-tech Zone features a range of food and beverage concepts as well as a 24-hour fitness centre, spa and well-equipped conference rooms and a ballroom for functions.
Etihad Airways ditches chauffeur service
Etihad Airways is axing its free chauffeur drive service from 3 July this year. The move is effective worldwide with the exception of the airline’s hub, Abu Dhabi. Passengers travelling in any class who want limousine transfers will be offered ‘specially negotiated rates’ with local contractors. First and Business class tickets issued prior to 3 July 2017 will still receive the free service. Meanwhile, guests flying in economy class will be offered paid access to the carrier’s global lounge network, and business class guests can pay to upgrade to First Class Lounges when flying from or transiting through Abu Dhabi. Economy passengers will also be able to ‘bid’ for empty seats next to their own.
Malaysia Airlines ditches Darwin
Malaysia Airlines has axed its Kuala Lumpur-Darwin route. The last service will operate on 27 July this year.
Canton route boost
China Southern Airlines is upping the frequencies of its Guangzhou-London Heathrow route. The carrier will offer 10 flights weekly on B787-8 Dreamliner aircraft over the northern winter period, effective from 29 October.
JAL rolls out free domestic wi-fi
Japan Airlines plans to offer free in-flight wi-fi on select domestic services. Commencing five minutes after take-off, it will be available until five minutes prior to landing.
Ascend expands in NYC
Choice Hotels has added the LOOK hotel, Red Hook in New York to its Ascend Hotel Collection. The 81-room boutique hotel is located on the waterfront in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of the city. It offers free wi-fi and instead of a restaurant, features a mini-market on site.