… because I just paid for luggage.

Yes. Handed over real cash to stow a bag in the hold. And worse than that – I’m flying FlyBe in December.

Or in UK parlance – FlyMayBe.

£14.99 to stow a bag – I ask you….

All because I want to bring back a few pressies on my next trip that are 1) liquid and 2) over a 100ml. And as much as another ferry trip and coach journey are wanted… I’ll take the plane home…

This is part of the next big trip… which I’ll reveal more of in the next few weeks… ;)

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A literal grab from the Reuters/BBC News feed (before I close the computer down for the night).

According to a breaking news headline, Qantas has been cleared to fly by the Australian Regulators from 15:00AEDT.

Mentioned on the Qantas Twitter feed:

Qantas resuming services today, subject to approval. All customers booked on afternoon flights should go to airport. Some delays expected.

For those of you who are stranded or stuck, head to http://www.qantas.com.au/travel/airlines/disruptions/global/en

… and safe travels onwards.

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From BBC News, it is reported that an Australian independent tribunal in Australia has ordered a permanent end to the industrial dispute that has grounded all Qantas flights.

The tribunal – Fair Work Australia gave the ruling after examining evidence from all sides – unions, airline nad the government

It’s taken the government to get involved – all the way to the top – Prime Minister Julia Gillard – to halt this dispute.

Alan Joyce (Qantas CEO) who ordered the stop in the first place said that operations would only resume if a permanent end had been issued – which is had.

The Melbourne Age has a deeper in-depth review.

Suffice to say, this is not the end of Qantas’s troubles – rather I think a breather before it all goes to heck.. again. One to watch over the coming weeks.

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It’s Sunday again, so it must be time for some Airplane Art.

This week, in light of the news that BMI Regional is in the process of being sold,  it’s a BMI Regional Embraer ERJ-145 at London Heathrow Airport

More of course, next week!

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Ok, last up in our review of Travel Credit Cards in the UK – Hotel Credit Cards.

And I’ll be blunt – this is not a competitive sector at all. There are 3 (yes, THREE) Hotel Credit Cards we’re going to look at, issued by two issuers. The big thing with all these cards is this: you’ll only extract best value from them if you’re brand loyal only to that hotel. Those of us who prefer other brands or mixing our brands may be very disappointed with these cards, and you’d probably be better off with either Cashback Credit Cards or Airline Affinity Cards.

Please note, this  information does not constitute financial advice and you should always do your own research on top to ensure it’s right for your specific circumstances, and may impact on your credit score. So don’t blame me if you overspend on a card and they come hounding after you.

Those who are considering applying should bear in mind you’ll need to be resident in the UK to get one, and probably have reasonable banking references. So don’t moan at me if you’re in the USA wanting to apply for a UK Starwood Credit Card. Because the answer will be no ;).

If you’ve got comments, fill them in down below, and I’ll try and answer them!

Hilton HHonors Credit Card – Barclays. This credit card has an 18.9% APR on the card, with no fee, with the offer a free night certificate valid during a weekend if you spend £750 in the first 90 days of having the card. You’ll get HHonors Silver Elite thrown in, and if you spend £10,000 a year on the card – Gold Elite. There’s also an extra 2,500 points if you make 4 Hilton Group stays in the first 12 months of owning a card. The earn rate is respectable too, with 3 points per £ if you’re staying at a Hilton property, 2 points per £ if you spend.

Combine this with the Hilton Double Dip, and this isn’t a bad card. Not a great card, but not a bad one. If you’re Hilton brand loyal, then this isn’t a bad “second card”

Priority Club Credit Card – Barclays. A much simpler beast than the Hilton Credit Card, (although the same APR of 18.9%), it’s a simple 10,000 Priority Club bonus points upon completing your first purchase within 90 days of account opening, and the earning is is a simpler 2 points per £ at Priority Club properties, 1 point per £ elsewhere.

Not an exciting card, but simple enough to understand and gain the benefit from. The question is when to apply for this card – as we know, all points count to status (for what it’s worth) in Priority Club. If you’ve made Platinum for the year, it’s honestly not worth it. Something to consider in January if you know you’re going to have a lean year (or if there is no promotion like Crack the Case)

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card – American Express. On the first £1,000 spend, you’ll get 10,000 bonus Starpoints with an earn rate of 1 Starpoint per £. It’s a high APR of 34.5%, with adjusted for the £75 membership fee. Shove £15,000 per year through the card, and you’ll get an automatic upgrade to Starwood Gold Preferred Guest membership. Earn up to 20,000 starpoints, and you you’ll get a 5,000 starpoint bonus when you transfer them out to an airline programme.

If you’re Starwood loyal, this is your card. Bear in mind you need to pull in £30,000 a year to apply for it.

As I stated, these aren’t exactly going to set the world alight, but these cards are very niche.

And that is it for this week’s Travel Credit Card review. Next week, I’m going to quickly revisit Airline cards issued by MBNA as they’ve all changed since I last looked at them.

I’m not going into CashBack Credit Cards, or any other sort as it’s a big market – and that’s why we have sites like MoneySavingExpert.com to help us out. As I tend to do with most of my content, I’ll be reviewing this in a year. You never know – by then a brand new card might be out to smite all of the current ones…..

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This people, is big. In the ongoing spat between the unions and Qantas management, Qantas is ground it’s entire fleet. 

What will operate:

  • QantasLink
  • Jetstar,
  • Jetconnect services,
  • Qantas freight services (Express Freighters Australia and Atlas)
  • Codeshares (eg BA flight 16)

Everything else is off the table.

The grounding occurred at 5pm (AEDT) on Saturday 29 October, with Qantas locking out members of unions of Australian Licenced Engineers Union (ALAEA), the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Australian and International Pilots Union (AIPA).

Aircraft currently in the air will complete their current sectors and then be grounded.  However, there will be no further Qantas domestic departures or international departures anywhere in the world, costing  Qantas of $20 million per day. This will continue until Qantas implodes, or the unions drop their some of their demands.

Qantas advise:

Customers booked on Qantas flights should not go to the airport until further notice. A full refund will be available to any customer who chooses to cancel their flight because it has been directly affected by the grounding of the fleet. Full rebooking flexibility will be available to customers who wish to defer their travel.

Assistance with accommodation and alternative flights, as well as other support, will be offered to customers who are mid-journey.

Customers should monitor qantas.com for the latest updates. The latest information will also be posted on Qantas’ Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Meanwhile, there is full advice given at http://www.qantas.com.au/travel/airlines/disruptions/global/en. If you’re due to fly the Kangaroo, expect delays and get replanning now.

Virgin Australia have announced domestic rescuce fares: see http://www.virginaustralia.com/servicedisruption/index.htm

In the bigger picture, this is forcing the Australian government to intervene in the dispute with everyone trying to take the high ground.  In fact, the government had only mere moments before Qantas announced the move.

Coverage is on the BBC, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Melbourne Age, Seven Australia, News.com.au and practically every other news outlet in the world.

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It’s Saturday again, and it’s the end of the month. That means it’s Safety Video Saturday with an airline that has long since parked up at the airport for the last time, or an airline who has got something old and laughable which we can all enjoy.

This week, it’s the former with Zoom Airlines (what was a Canadian outfit) giving a safety demo for their 767-300ER

More safety videos if I can find them next week.. although we are now dangerous close to re-runs…. ;)

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Well it seems the break up of BMI is beginning, with news from Donnington Hall that BMI Regional (the ERJ operation BMI has, serving regional destinations within the UK, as well as abroad) is now in the process of being broken away and sold to a UK based investor group.

The memo is below (copied from FlyerTalk and Business Traveller):

You are already aware that the management of Lufthansa and bmi are jointly assessing strategic options for the future of our company. One of the options being considered by our shareholder is a partial or total sale of bmi.

As part of a continuous dialogue I want to inform you that we are now in advanced discussions to sell bmi Regional to a UK based investor group previously associated with the regional business. The sale would be in the form of shares of bmi Regional, all assets used in the bmi Regional business including the aircraft fleet, the existing regional route network and the continued employment of the existing staff. It is envisaged that transaction documents will be signed shortly and subject to achieving all regulatory approvals, and after having conducted staff consultations, the target completion date will be before the end of this calendar year.

The intended buyer plans to continue the airline as an independent entity and will operate from the current head office in Aberdeen and its bases already established in the UK. For an interim period, bmi Regional will continue to fly under its existing brand name and operate under the BD flight code. The currently published winter 2011/2012 schedule will continue as planned and no major network changes are envisaged for summer 2012. The new owner will further develop the regional network in both the UK and Europe.

Following the proposed sale, customers will continue to benefit from bmi Regional’s convenient schedules, a wide choice of destinations within the UK and Europe and a high level of service. Customers will also be able to book flights via flybmi.com and the bmi call centre for an agreed period of time and tickets already booked will be fully honoured on existing terms.
We will fully cooperate with the intended buyer and give them our full support including commercial co-operation. It is intended that support functions such as IT and sales will be provided by bmi on a commercial basis to bmi Regional during the transitional period.

We have today commenced the initial consultation meetings with the recognised Trade Unions of bmi Regional along with management, employee and engineering representatives. It is our intention to provide regular updates to all employees throughout the consultation process. The intended buyer has also indicated that it is keen to consult with staff and this process will start shortly to enable the transaction to complete as soon as possible. Once the consultation is under way a further announcement will be made.

bmi Regional will be an independent airline with management dedicated to developing the regional business and employment prospects will be enhanced through a planned growth strategy.

It is our goal to find sustainable solutions for all parts of the bmi business and we as well as the shareholder continue to assess options for bmi. At this stage it is important to say that all the different options are still being explored and assessed and that no decision has been taken.

If there is one unit of BMI pulling in money, and operating effectively, it’s been BMI Regional (who in some cases have hired back aircraft to BMI Mainline to operate services). With an end of year sale, it’s an ambitious target.

Good luck to everyone at BMI Regional and involved in the transition.
Meanwhile, I’ll be keeping a close eye on the situation – and how it changes over the next few weeks

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Yes, you read that right. 700 seats.

Transareo – Russia’s 2nd largest airline – will be the first Russian airline to take delivery of Four Airbus A380′s according to airbus.com

Image – Airbus SARL.

Transareo will be planning to operate these aircraft on long-haul routes from Moscow, in a 3 cabin layout seating about 700 passengers.

Olga Pleshakova, Transaero Airlines CEO says:
”Transaero is experienced in operating long-range wide-body aircraft, and is now ready to offer the A380. I am sure that the operation of this high capacity aircraft will stimulate the development of Russia’s aviation sector, in particular airports infrastructure while passengers will benefit from a completely new experience.”

Whilst Vladimir Putin may not like they’re not “Buying Russian”, the only larger plane that is Russian (or Russian Technology) is the AN-225 (and that’s Ukrainian at a push), and she’s a cargo bird.

Transaero operates 130 routes, and is a co-partner on the London Heathrow-Moscow DME run with British Midland International.

The only other operator who is considering such a mad configuration is Air Austral – who is planning a vision of Dante’s Inferno with 840 seats in an all-economy version of the plane.

If Transaero can make these numbers work, it’ll be interesting – but not my first choice of carrier with that sort of density aboard….

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News from over the channel, with Air France preparing to commence an A380 equipment service from Paris Charles De Gaulle (CDG) to Los Angeles International (LAX) from the 28th May 2012

The proposed schedule is :

AF066    DEPT CDG 10:30      ARRIVE LAX 13:05
AF065    DEPT LAX 15:50      ARRIVE CDG 11:20+1
Commencement: 28/05/2012, All times local
 Booked Equipment: Airbus A380
In addition to operating the LAX with an A380, Air France serves New York-JFK and Washington Dulles-IAD.

An important note to those of you who do fly A380 on Air France – the premium economy product (Premium Voyageur) will be live on all A380′s from 12th December 2011 which should make those long journeys across the pond or where-ever a bit more comfortable….

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The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has updated its travel advice for Bangkok – and the message is clear

We now advise against all but essential travel to the city of Bangkok and the 26 provinces in Thailand affected by flooding.

Our advice against all but essential travel to the city of Bangkok does not include transit through Suvarnabhumi international airport.

Flights to destinations elsewhere in Thailand (eg the resorts of Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket, and Koh Samui) continue to operate normally. We continue to advise against all travel to the Preah Vihear and Ta Krabey/Ta Moan temple areas and against all but essential travel to the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla.


Flooding conditions have already affected Doung Mang airport, and is now hitting Bangkok itself, and is expected to get worse over the next few days.

Transit though Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK) remains open at this time.  In addition, to alleviate some of the flooding problems, the Thai Government has declared a public holiday in all flooded regions, so if you’re in the area, expect more disruptions due to closures .

The FCO advise to keep an eyue on local media, reports from the the Thai 24/7 Emergency Operations Centre and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

If you’re due to go out there, FCO advice can normally trigger a one free change with your airline – check with them before setting off to see if you’re allowed to.

More importantly, if you have to go out there keep safe – and keep dry.

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