CX first to confirm operating at Changi T4

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Cathay Pacific has confirmed its presence to operate out of Changi International Airport’s Terminal 4 in 2017.

The new Cathay Pacific Singapore lounge will be located on the upstairs mezzanine level of the new terminal, with views into the apron and runway. At some 800 square metres it will be around half the size of Cathay’s The First lounge at Hong Kong.

Mr. Wilson Yam, Cathay Pacific’s General Manager for South-East Asian region said that “As a keen adopter of technology aimed at improving passenger experience, self check-in options have always been offered by Cathay Pacific at all our stations. Changi Airport is one of Cathay Pacific’s largest bases outside Hong Kong so we are very excited at this opportunity to offer a transformational on-ground product for our valued passengers.”

IHG jumps on bandwagon to offer FREE Internet

Introducing the future of the world’s largest loyalty programme.

The Priority Club Rewards of the InterContinental Hotels Group has jump on the bandwagon to be one of the first hotel loyalty programme in the world to offer complimentary internet to all its 71,000,000 members irregardless of their elite status level.

The announcement comes as IHG reveals the results of a global online survey* which show that nearly half of adults (43%) would choose not to stay in a hotel that charged for internet.

Richard Solomons, Chief Executive, IHG, said:

“In today’s fast-paced world, we know that travellers need to stay connected and free internet access is increasingly important.  I am proud that IHG is the first hotel company to offer free internet globally to all our loyalty programme members. 

The offer will first be rolled out in two tiers: the Gold and Platinum Elite members in July 2013 and all members to receive the complimentary internet from 2014.

This July 2013 will also see the conversion of the Priority Club Rewards (PCR) to IHG Reward Club. Guests can look forward to earn fast track elite status when they choose to stay in two or more of its brands, reward nights count towards elite membership status and Platinum elite status ‘extra nights’ gets to roll over towards maintaining their status in the next membership year (membership year refers to 1st January – 31st December calendar year).

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In June 2012, I wrote an article on Commercial Arrogance:The Wi-Fi Debate where most hotels I have stayed in charges cut-throat prices for internet connections. Almost a year later, we can now see that IHG is now ready to roll out free internet access to all its loyalty club members. I foresee that other hotel chains will follow suit soon.

I am very sure that most hotel brands would like to position itself to its potential guests with free internet access. Let’s see which other hotel brands will follow suit after this.

Virgin Australia’s new baggage allowances

Virgin Australia’s new checked luggage rules, recently introduced alongside the airline’s move to the Sabre booking system, could catch a few travellers unaware.

The following are the breakdown courtesy of Australian Business Traveller.

Velocity Platinum

The big change here is the economy allowance: a reduction when flying on the cheapest tickets, and needing to spread weight over more bags when on Saver or Flexi fares.

 

Velocity Gold

Gold members should also focus on economy fares: again, you have less weight when buying the cheapest fares, but two smaller bags instead of one large bag on Saver or Flexi tickets.

 

Velocity Silver

Good news for Silvers: you get an extra bag when on a Saver or Flexi fare.

 

Velocity Red and non-Velocity members

There’s no real change for Red members: the only difference is that Saver Lite is the new fare without bags, while Saver is the new cheaper fare with a bag.

Passengers without Velocity Frequent Flyer status have the same allowances as Velocity Red members.

 

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My Brunch Date with MasterChef Australia Season 4 WINNER

From L-R: Andy Allen (NSW), myself and Ben Milbourne (Tasmania)

I am sure many of you would remember my brunch date with two of the then MasterChef’s Top 12 recently early this month and yesterday’s Grand Finale saw Andy Allen from Newcastle, NSW crowned the MasterChef Australia (Season 4) WINNER!

As for Ben Milbourne from Tasmania, he was on the 5th spot overall. Congratulations Andy and Ben respectively. Will get in contact with you guys to celebrate your victory.

Las Vegas Sands eyes South Korea Integrated Resort

Another Las Vegas in the East? No, not Macau or Singapore anymore. Las Vegas Sands (LVS) today announced in Seoul that they are thinking of opening its next Asian integrated resort in South Korea, adding to the four it has in Macau and the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

Speaking to the press on the sidelines of the Seoul MICE Forum yesterday, Marina Bay Sands president & CEO, George Tanasijevich, revealed that LVS was already in discussions with the South Korean government and private entities to enter the market.

According to Tanasijevich, South Korea had the characteristsics to be successful in supporting IR development due to its geographical location, robust infrastructure, positive image among travellers, and educated work force.

Even though he declined to reveal which locations LVS had its sights on, Seoul and Busan are believed to be on the shortlist.

My Brunch Date with MasterChef Australia Season 4 Top 12 Contestants

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From L-R: Andy Allen (NSW), myself and Ben Milbourne (Tasmania)

These are two of the faces of MasterChef Australia’a Season 4 Top 12 contestants. Met them in an undisclosed location in Melbourne CBD this afternoon for brunch. The photo tells a thousand words. Sorry for the quality of the photo.

We had a great chat over their MasterChef journey but for as much as we all know about reality shows, they cannot reveal so much information to the public as the whole season of the show is still underway on Channel 10 Australia.

They weren’t the first MasterChef Contestants I have ever met whilst I am in Australia. I have met Poh from MasterChef Season 1 (Runner-Up), Alvin Quah (MasterChef Season 2), Adam Liaw (Season 2 Winner), Billy Law (Top 24 MasterChef Season 3). Oh by the way, these four that I have mentioned all happened to be from Malaysia.

Malaysia Airlines A380 maiden flight to London

Malaysia Airlines’ A380 in preparation for takeoff in KL International Airport on 1st July 2012

Malaysia Airlines set another historic Malaysian record today with the launch of its Airbus A380 scheduled service between KL International Airport (KLIA) and London Heathrow.

Malaysia Airlines’ A380 in London Heathrow International Airport on 2nd July 2012

In an elaborate and glittering inaugural flight programme at the KLIA, graced by the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister YAB Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and the Minister of Transport Y.B. Dato’ Seri Kong Cho Ha, together with invited dignitaries from various government agencies accompanied by Malaysia Airlines’ Group CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, the superjumbo operating flight MH2 was given a rousing send-off minutes before midnight.

The full flight took off for the capital of theUK, exactly 38 years after its maiden flight operations between the two cities on 1 July 1974.

Malaysia Airlines became the 8th operator of this superjumbo and will be the second carrier to operate this aircraft when it becomes a full member of the oneworld alliance by end of this year.

The national carrier also notched several significant firsts with the A380 operations, among others being the only airline to introduce its A380 in an exclusive new livery and also having the widest First class seats among the operators of this aircraft.

Feeling elated with the commencement of this A380 scheduled service, Ahmad Jauhari said, “This is a proud moment for the entire nation and we at Malaysia Airlines are glad to be part of this historic moment which positionsMalaysia in the league of the A380 operators. Such an advancement is our contribution towards the efforts by all to steerMalaysia towards developed nation status by 2020. This is also in line with the government’s desire to increase capacity for heightened tourist arrivals into the country.”

“At the corporate level, the introduction of our A380 into service will see a continuation of our refreshed brand campaign which commenced in March 2012.  The objective will be to position ourselves as a preferred premium carrier, so that the market chooses us over others when we gradually roll out our total revamped product which not only includes areas like inflight but also other aspects such as our Airport Lounges and all other stages of the passenger’s journey with us,” he added.

The airline has ordered six (6) A380 aircraft, four of which will be delivered by the end of 2012 and the balance in 2013. TheKuala Lumpur -London route will be the first destination for the A380, to be followed bySydney towards the end of November. There are also plans to fly the A380 to Narita Tokyo and/orBeijing for the other new additions to the Malaysia Airlines fleet.

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A little history about the Kuala Lumpur-London Heathrow flights

Malaysia Airlines commenced flights between Kuala Lumpur and London on 1 July 1974 with a stopover in the Middle East. Effective 2 December 1989, it started non-stop flights between the two cities.

From 1 June 1995 the national carrier started twice daily non-stop services on this route.

Until 30 June 2012, Malaysia Airlines operated the 359-seater B747-400 aircraft twice daily on this route providing a total capacity of 5026 seats in each direction.

From today, with the thrice weekly operations of the 494-seater A380, Malaysia Airlines is injecting an additional capacity of 405 seats (8%) making it 5431 seats in each direction.

By end-August 2012, this will further increase by 18% when the second A380 is added on this route to make it daily A380 flights, offering 5971 seats weekly in each direction.