Virgin Australia today announced Mackay as the second destination in line to get the companies new Domestic Business Class service. Virgin Australia will operate the service by the end of this year on one of their new Boeing 737-800 that was featured at the Virgin Australia launch event earlier this month, which features 8 business class seats configured in a 2-2 seating configuration, and will feature luxury leather seating, inflight entertainment options restaurant quality gourmet meals inspired by Luke Mangan. Along with the new Virgin Australia Business Class service Mackay will also see the first Virgin Australia Lounge, which is also slated to be opened by the end of 2011. Virgin Australias Mackay lounge will feature: 260m² in size lounge seating for up to 70 Guests Premium Luke Mangan designed refreshments A premium selection of beverages Business services including complimentary WiFi, power, PC and printer Entertainment and relaxation with newspapers, premium magazine titles and a Panasonic high definition Virgin Australia Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director John Borghetti stated “Mackay is an extremely important market for Virgin Australia. It is the gateway to many of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations and also boasts a strong mining industry which attracts business travellers”. “We are in the process of rolling out our new Business Class product across our Boeing 737 fleet. Travellers to and from Mackay will be able to experience new levels of comfort and in-flight service before the end of 2011. “The new Business Class product offers Guests luxury leather seating, contemporary interior design, high quality in-flight products and gourmet food inspired by Luke Mangan,” he said.
Qantas today announced that it would introduce more changes to its frequent flyer program that will include changes to the way members earn miles on Jetstar services, increased earning rates for Gold and Silver members, increased cabin bonuses, the introduction of a Platinum One Status and finally an alliance with Australia’s second largest teleco Optus. These changes are the second set of changes for the year and without having all the details they look quite good and address some of the gaps that we saw in the program in the past, such as the cabin bonus for Premium Economy travel, which was the same as a regular economy ticket, and has now been increased to 25% Increased Earning Rates From today the Qantas Frequent Flyer program will introduce an increased cabin bonus for members travelling in Premium cabins (Premium Economy to First Class) the new cabin bonuses are as follows: Premium Economy Increases from 10% to 25% Business Class Cabin Bonus increases from 25% to 50% First Class Cabin Bonus increases from 50% to 100% In addition to the increased cabin bonus both Silver and Gold members will today see an increased Status bonus points, the new status bonus points (miles not status credits) increases as follows: Gold Status Bonus will increase from 50% to 75% Silver Status Bonus will increase from 25% to 50$ Increased Jetstar mile and status credit earning options A new Jetstar fare structure will see Qantas frequent flyer members earn both Economy and Business Class status credits and miles when booking and flying with the new Plus and Max Bundle Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum One VIP Award Level From the fourth Quarter of 2011 Qantas will add an additional VIP status to it Frequent Flyer Award Program, with the status to be call Platinum One status. Members will be able to earn this status if they earn at least triple the requalification status credits of the regular Platinum membership tier. Which would mean a status credit earn of at least 3600 status credits (1200 X 3) in a membership year. Qantas is tight lipped on the benefits for members at this status level, apart from announcing this level would include exclusive services such as a dedicated team to look after a Platinum One members travel needs every step of the way, we here at the Business Travel Guru are guessing that Anytime Lounge access would be introduced at this level and perhaps free upgrades into the next highest cabin (Pending availability) Finally today’s announcement saw the intention to form a rewards alliance with Australia’s second largest teleco Optus, that will give Qantas Frequent Flyer members the ability to earn miles when purchasing Optus residential and small business products and services. Mr Joyce said that once finalised the new alliance with Optus will be a significant boost for the Qantas Frequent Flyer program and highlights its commitment to remaining a market leader by expanding its portfolio of […]
As reported in back in February the new Virgin Australia Business will be put into service with two Airbus A330-200 from 26 May 2011 between Sydney and Perth. Today we got a firsthand look at this new cabin and seats. Virgin Australia Business Class Seats In total there 27 business class seats across 4 rows in a 2-2-2 seating configuration for the 1st row and a 2-3-2 seating configuration in the remaining 3 rows. The Virgin Australia Business Class seat on their Airbus A330-200 aircraft First row center aisle in Business Class on the Virgin Australia Airbus A330-200 Virgin Australia Business Class seat in a full reclined sleeping position These seats are reclined rather than lie flat and they are very comfortable, personally I would find it more acceptable on a 5 hour flight from Sydney to Perth, for someone like myself that has trouble sleeping in on most flights I am sure I could more than a few hours shuteye on a 5 hour flight to Perth with the help of Virgin Australia’s noise cancelling headphones that are provided for the flight. In-flight Entertainment SystemVirgin Australia’s In-flight entertainment system in Business Class is a multi-channel system seat back LCD display system, I did put the question how many channels the system supports but the product manager was unable to reveal this, however as these aircraft have been leased from Emirates the In-flight system is the same that is found on other Emirates Airbus A330-200 aircraft, which is a Panasonic Avionics system that supports up to 40 movies, 15 TV, 22 Audio and 18 interactive games. Size wise the IFE screen measures 16.5cm (6.5 Inch) Luke Mangan Business Class in-flight dining Luke Mangan’s philosophy behind the new menu was to source the finest, freshest local and Australian ingredients and showcase them with a clean and contemporary twist. Renowned for his modern creations, the new designer menu across economy and business class also highlights his French classical training and Asian influences, married with simple, fresh and clean flavors. Overall Virgin Australia have done a great job in Business however final judgment should be reserved until after it goes into service as the cabin and seats are only one half of a great Business Class experience. More coverage of Virgin Australia launch day can be found here with: Virgin Australia is Officially Launched Watch out Qantas Virgin Australia Launch Photos Virgin Australia TV Commercial
American Airlines announced this week that it was the first airline to test and the streaming of in-flight video and entertainment, which the company expects to give passengers a “Brand-new innovative in flight entertainment options” that will allow them to stream entertainment options to their personal Wi-Fi enabled devices. The solution that is currently being trialed in conjunction with American Airlines in-flight Wi-Fi Internet provider Aircell is already in trials on two transcontinental Boeing 767-200 aircraft, with customer testing to being early summer, with the full roll-out to being this fall. It is important to note this solution does not stream entertainment content from the ground to a passenger’s device but rather from the Aircraft’s media library to a passenger’s personal device/s. “Once again, American leads the industry in providing innovative options to keep customers connected, productive and entertained. American was the first North American airline to launch inflight Wi-Fi, and today we again set a new industry standard as the first domestic airline to test inflight streaming video content,” said Rob Friedman, American’s Vice President – Marketing. “We know our customers want to be connected on the ground and in the sky, so we are working hard to stay on the leading edge of connectivity through technology enhancements like this.” In addition, American will work with Aircell to further enhance onboard connectivity by expanding inflight Wi-Fi to its narrow body fleet, including additional MD80 and domestic Boeing 757-200 aircraft – successfully completing its Wi-Fi offering on all of its domestic aircraft dedicated to flying within the continental United States. The Wi-Fi expansion will include 93 of American’s domestic 757s used for routes within the continental United States, and up to 50 additional MD80 aircraft. Installation will begin this summer and continue through 2012. In addition, American continues to install Wi-Fi service on its entire fleet of 737-800 aircraft. “By expanding Wi-Fi to the remainder of American’s domestic fleet and adding movies and TV to the already powerful Internet, American and Aircell continue to transform the inflight experience,” said Ash ElDifrawi, Executive Vice President and CMO of Aircell. “In this new era of inflight entertainment and inflight connectivity convergence, we are proud to be American’s partner in innovation and applaud their leadership.”
To go with the rename/re-launch of Virgin Australia the airline has released a new TV commercial, introducing the new Virgin Australia brand to the country. The 60 second long TV commercial shows elements of the companies re-branding from aircraft seating through to The Lounge and new staff uniforms. There are no voice over’s or people speaking during the commercial just an upbeat music from Les Gock Sound Thinking then toward the end the text WE’VE ASSEMBLED THE BEST TO PUT THE MAGIC BACK INTO FLYING, followed by the Virgin Australia logo and now you’re flying is displayed. You can watch Virgin Australia’s new TV commercial below: The new commercial was shot in Sydney, Melbourne and Shanghai and was created by Clemenger BBDO Agency Sydney Virgin Australia Airlines CEO John Borghetti said the new advertising campaign was designed to be unique and memorable and provide Australians with an entertaining insight into how Virgin Australia was working to create a superior airline experience. “Our new brand and service values embody a vibrant and professional organisation that offers every guest an excellent travel experience. The new advertising campaign captures the fresh energy and appeal of Virgin Australia and the talent and commitment of our staff”, Mr Borghetti said.
As speculated here last month Virgin Blue was today officially renamed to Virgin Australia at today’s media event at Sydney Airport, on hand to announce the re-branding was Virgin CEO Richard Branson and Virgin Blue now Virgin Australia’s CEO John Borghetti. Virgin CEO Richard Branson gives two thumbs up to Virgin Australia Virgin Australias Airbus A330-200 in the background with the tail of the 737-800 to the right The Virgin Australia name change is a small part of John Borghetti’s plan to change the company into a full service airline, below I have outlined some of the elements of the rebranding that featured at today’s Virgin Australia launch The first and most obvious change is the name and company logo, as reported here last month the new Virgin Australia logo follows the design elements of other Virgin Franchises around the world with the word Virgin in red on the tail down the fuselage from the front of the aircraft is the name virgin australia in an all lower case blue/grey font. Sir Richard Branson Announcing the new Virgin Australia Brand Points to take our of the media launch event were: One Virgin Australia Brand All Virgin brands in Australia (Virgin Blue, V Australia and Pacific Blue) will be rolled into the Virgin Australia brand by the end of the year, with Virgin Blue brand already operating as Virgin Australia this only leaves V Australia and Pacific Blue Velocity Loyalty/Frequent Flyer Program to be revamped by the end of the year with a new name Business Class to be expanded to more aircraft and more routes Alignment of cabin product across all aircraft Sir Richard and John Borghetti believe their cabin product in both Business and Economy will beat Qantas in terms of price and quality The next most obvious element of the Virgin Australia re-branding is Virgin Australians’ new Aircraft with the inclusion of a business class cabin. Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 The first aircraft to taxi over to the media event was the new Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 named Bondi Beach this aircraft is the latest generation 737-800 that has 176 seats in total with 168 seats in Economy class that are laid out in a 3-3 seating configuration and at the front of the aircraft is Virgin Australia’s 737-800 Business Class seats that will initially operate as Premium Economy the 8 seats in Premium Economy that are laid out in a 2-2 seating config, I was told that this aircraft will go into service tonight so anyone lucky enough to be flying Premium Economy on this aircraft will actually be sitting in what will be a Business Seat. It should be noted that this aircraft does not have any in-seat inflight entertainment systems installed at present, these will be added in the future, for tonight first flight passengers will have access to portable IFE units. The Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 […]
Virgin Blue has called a media event in Sydney for Wednesday 4 May 2011, to launch the re-branding of the company to Virgin Australia, and to show off the companies’ new Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A330-300 aircraft. Even though it has not been officially noted that the company will change names from Virgin Blue to Virgin Australia, it is almost certain that this will be the main focus of the media event, as last month the airline registered the Virgin Australia logo with IP Australia (Australia trade mark/intellectual property governing body). In addition this last weekend the V Australia booking site briefly showed Virgin Blue flights as being operated by Virgin Australia. Wednesday’s media event will also show off Virgin Australia’s new Boeing 737-800 with Boeing designed futuristic Sky Interior, as well as their new Airbus A330-300 that will feature the airlines first Business Class cabin that will initially be put on services from Sydney to Perth from 26 May 2011 -> Virgin Australia Business Class from 26 May 2011. The staff of the Business Travel Guru will be attending this event and you can follow the event on the following twitter accounts Ben Hoffman on Twitter & Business Travel Guru on Twitter
Virgin Blue soon to be Virgin Australia today announced that Delta Airlines and Virgin Blue have expanded their code share agreement, The expanded code share agreement will see Delta Airlines code share on flights from Sydney to select Australian & New Zealand destinations on Virgin Australia operated services, and V Australia code share to 4 additional destinations US from Los Angeles. Virgin Blue Group Executive of Corporate Advisory Merren McArthur said: “Virgin Blue has worked successfully with Delta for three years in an interline and codeshare capacity and today’s announcement is a natural next step forward in our relationship. It has always been our plan to expand the codeshare. “We know that connectivity within the US is extremely important to Australian travellers, with around 60% of guests travelling on to other destinations following their arrival in the US. Today’s announcement means travellers can connect seamlessly to key leisure and business hubs and earn more frequent flyer points in the process. “It will also bring more traffic from the US onto the Virgin Blue domestic network and help promote key tourist destinations within Australia and New Zealand. “We have submitted all the information requested by the US Department of Transportation and we hope to hear the outcome in the next few months”, Ms McArthur said. The expanded code share agreement will mean V Australia now codes on flights from Los Angeles to: New York Atlanta Orlando San Francisco Detroit Las Vegas Delta will now code on flights from Sydney to: Brisbane Canberra Adelaide Melbourne Auckland Perth Christchurch Note: Virgin Blue and Delta are currently awaiting a decision from the US Department of Transportation on their application for antitrust immunity. In other related news Virgin Blue will be renamed to Virgin Australia on Wednesday 4 May 2011, the re branding will see the airline begin to operate as a full service carrier with Virgin Australia Business Class flights from Sydney to Perth from 26 May 2011 along with an updated menu and frequent flyer rewards program.
In the normal world the cost to reach Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum Status (oneworld Emerald) works out upwards of $18,000 (with deeply discounted Australian fares) however there is a cheaper and easier way to achieve this Qantas’s most sought after Frequent Flyer status. The method I detail below involves the use of American Airlines YUPP or Instant upgrade fares. For those new to the game these American Airlines domestic fares cost slightly more than an American Airlines Economy class (coach) fare but they book into First class (providing there are seats available) Remember American Airlines is a oneworld partner so you will be earning Qantas Status Credits a First Class rate when your QF Frequent Flyer number is registered against one of these flights, the drawback is that you only get the first class seat if it is available, and if you get bumped to another flight that does not have first class you will only earn status credits at an economy rate (Being proactive with your bumping with the AA staff will ensure you get bumped to a flight that does offer First Class) From our research the best value YUPP fares at present are from Honolulu to the Caribbean’s Port Au Price – PAP. Below are the workings for two return trips from Honolulu to Port Au Price Haiti these flights are nearly enough to reach Platinum status, for nearly AU $2,500 (with the very Strong AUD at the moment) Depart Arrive Miles Status Credits Honolulu – HNL Los Angeles – LAX 2556 150 Los Angeles – LAX Miami – MIA 1197 120 Miami – MIA Port Au Prince -PAP 713 60 Return Fly return again Total 4466 330 660 1320 Status Credits Cost US $692 US $1,383 US $2,766 In the above example the Miami to Port Au Price and Port Au Price to Miami flights only earn Business Class Status credits as American Airlines does not offer first class on flights into the Caribbean also we are short 80 Status credits to reach platinum. However Qantas Frequent Flyer rules state that In order to qualify for Platinum Status the member must fly at least 4 eligible Qantas or Jetstar flights (this does not include flights from oneworld carriers) therefore in the scenario above for best value and to meet the Qantas minimum flight rule I would recommend flying into/out of Honolulu to/from Australia with Jetstar to make up two out of the 4 required Qantas qualifying flights, this should easily earn 80 status credits. With the remaining 2 Qantas/Jetstar flights we recommend taking the other two flight prior to leaving on your mileage run so that your Platinum status kicks as early as possible during trip earning your more of those 100% bonus miles at that platinum receive. As you can see from the above example doing an American Airlines Instant Upgrade Mileage run Platinum Status can be easily achieved without the normal cost. How to find the best value […]
Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum is Qantas’ highest Status that provides a host of benefits from lounge access through to priority wait and upgrade lists as well as bonus frequent flyer miles on Qantas and oneworld alliance airlines and additional luggage allowances. Since Platinum is the highest achievable status in the Qantas Frequent Flyer program the status can be very costly to achieve unless you make use of the status earning tips I have outlined in this and other articles from this site. Platinum Frequent Flyer Benefits Priority check-in Qantas Platinum Frequent Flyers are able to check-in at either Premium Service Desks, Business/Qantas Club Lounges on domestic flights For international flights members can use First Class check-in suites (Sydney or Melbourne) First Class counter or Business counters. Priority BoardingOn select International Services Platinum Frequent Flyers have the option to use priority boarding that is used by First and Business Class Passengers, regardless of the members ticketed class. Lounge Access Platinum members have access to all Qantas lounges (excluding Chairman’s club Lounge) when flying on various Qantas, Jetstar and oneworld alliance flights, below are the rules for access to the various lounges: Qantas International First Class Lounge Available at: Sydney & Melbourne 1 guest allowed (Must be fling with Platinum Member) Platinum Member’s next onward flight that day must show a Qantas (QF), a Jetstar Airline (Jetstar (JQ), Jetstar Asia (3K), Valuair (VF) or a oneworld® flight number on your ticket. Domestic Business Lounge Available at: Brisbane, Sydney (T3), Melbourne & Canberra 2 guests allowed (Guests don’t need to be flying) Lounge Access on Arrival also available Platinum Members must be travelling on any flight the same day that shows Qantas (QF), a Jetstar Airline (Jetstar (JQ), Jetstar Asia (3K) or Valuair (VF) or a oneworld® flight number on your ticket. Domestic Qantas Club Lounges Available at: Adelaide, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney (T3 & T2) Townsville – Plus others see full list here Qantas Club Lounges 2 guests allowed (Guests don’t need to be flying) Lounge Access on Arrival also available Platinum Members must be travelling on any flight the same day that shows Qantas (QF), a Jetstar Airline (Jetstar (JQ), Jetstar Asia (3K) or Valuair (VF) or a oneworld® flight number on your ticket. Oneworld Alliance Lounge access Platinum members have access to first, business and frequent flyer lounges of all oneworld alliance members when flying on any oneworld member airline regardless or class More details here: oneworld Lounge access International Qantas and Partner lounge access Too many locations to list, more comprehensive list Qantas International and partner lounges – Platinum Members must be travelling on any flight the same day that shows Qantas (QF), a Jetstar Airline (Jetstar (JQ), Jetstar Asia (3K) or Valuair (VF) or a oneworld® flight number on your ticket. Note: In a recent overhaul of the Frequent Flyer program Qantas removed the Anytime lounge access for platinum’s that gave them access […]