Business Traveller November edition now live

You may not be aware that subscribers to the print version of Business Traveller
can access the edition online a whole month before everyone else. All
of our special reports and destination features are uploaded to businesstraveller.com each month, and the November edition has just gone live.

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This month’s packed issue includes:

  • A round-up of new and established meeting venues in Barcelona

  • A look at what we can expect from in-room technology of the future

  • A round-up of chauffeur drive services offered to UK premium passengers

  • Why railway station hotels could soon be making a comeback

  • Business Traveller suggests five cities to explore on foot

  • Jenny Southan takes on poker’s superstars in Monte Carlo

  • An expert guide to the latest desktop replacement laptops

  • Alex McWhirter takes a look at flights options for London to Tel Aviv

  • Michelle Mannion escapes to the picturesque city of Bruges

If you are already a subscriber to Business Traveller, simply log in here
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any problems accessing the archive as a print subscriber, click here to send us an email.

Technology round-up

Windows 7

Windows 7Just in case you failed to notice, Microsoft has released the latest version of its infamous operating system, Windows 7. It’s so named because that’s what version it is (Vista was Windows 6). Apart from a break from nearly ten years of catchy naming convention, Windows 7 attempts to fill the flaws in Vista and, as ever, provide a simpler and therefore more stable platform. The main improvement, Microsoft points out, is Windows 7’s quicker start up and shut down times. There’s also a new procedure for connecting wireless devices using a PIN system and numerous other innovations. Windows 7 is not so much an entirely new operating system, but rather Vista made better.

Price Windows 7 Home Premium £149.99; Professional Full £219.99; Ultimate Full £229.99

Contact microsoft.com

Packard Bell dot m/u netbook

Packard Bell dot m/uPackard Bell’s latest netbook, the dot m/u, is now out and boasts features to put it on a par with many larger notebook-type laptops including a 500GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM. The dot m/u has an 11.6 inch TFT LCD screen, large compared to other netbooks, an eight hour battery life and weighs in at just 1.4kg. It can also be connected to high definition peripherals through its HDMI port. Bundled software includes Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium, Adobe Photoshop and Elements 6. Bluetooth and 3G modules optional, however wireless is built in as standard.

Price £399

Contact packardbell.co.uk

Kingston MobileLiteG2 card reader

Kingston MobileLiteG2Memory makers Kingston have released the second generation MobileLite G2, a card reader able to handle SD and its many variants which are fast becoming standard storage formats. The reader plugs into a USB slot and comes with a second slot allowing it to support SD, SDHC, microSD, microSDHC, Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo and Memory Stick Micro (M2). The robust reader measures 62mm x 29mm, and has retractable covers to protect the USB connector and memory cards. It is available as a standalone product or bundled with a 4GB or 8GB Class 4 SDHC card.

Price Standalone £4.54; With 4GB £11.76; 8GB £18.78

Contact kingston.com/europe

ASUS Eee PC 1008HA Seashell

ASUS Eee PC SeashellThe Eee PC has defined the netbook and kicked off its growing popularity. Now Asus has launched yet another, this time called the PC1008HA Seashell. First announced back in May, the Seashell is now available and comes with a 10” LED-backlit WSVGA display and Intel Atom N280 processor. The Seashell’s main feature is its weight, which at a fraction over 1kg isn’t very much at all. The battery should last six hours, and the hard drive offers 160GB of space with 10GB online space free for 18 months.

Price £379

Contact asus.com

Coming soon

BlackBerry Bold 9700

Blackberry Bold 9700Another week, another Blackberry. This time it’s the new Bold 9700, and unlike the Storm2 comes with the familiar keyboard. The smartphone has a more powerful processor (624 MHz) than the first Bold, 256 MB of flash memory, in-built GPS and wifi, a 3.2MP camera and a 2.44 inch “light sensing” screen. The Bold also supports 3G HDSPA giving it improved connection speeds. The phone is packed with features as one would expect, such as BlackBerry OS 5, a microSD/SDHD expansion slot and a speakerphone for those impromptu taxi-based conference calls.

Price Free on £35 per month Vodafone contract

Release date Due out November

Contact vodafone.co.uk (available to pre-order)

Andrew Gough

The big picture: Air France A380

Air France Business Class

Air France took delivery of its first A380 today (October 30), and in so doing became the first European carrier to add the superjumbo to its fleet. Below are official images of the aircraft’s interior, along with details of the aircraft layout.

A detailed seat plan of this aircraft can be seen here.

La Premiere (first class) features nine seats at the front of the lower deck – two rows of 1-2-1 (A-EF-L), plus one lone seat to the front left of the cabin.

Affaires (business class) is located on the upper deck across two cabins, with seats configured 2-2-2 (AB-EF-KL). Thr front cabin has a total of 26 seats (four rows of six, plus two seats to the left at the back of this cabin). To the front of this cabin there is also a “gallery” (see image below) which will show artwork on digital screens, and also has seating for premium passengers.

The second cabin has a total of 54 seats (nine rows of six), making a total of 80 business class seats on the upper deck.

Voyageur (economy) seats are spread across both the upper and lower deck, behind either the first or business class cabins. On the upper deck there are 106 seats in one cabin, in a 3-4-3 layout (ABC-DEFG-JKL), with a self-service bar at the back of the cabin.

On the lower deck there are a further 343 seats across three cabins. Working from the back the first cabin has 74 seats (seven rows of ten, plus one middle row of four at the back). Then there are two self-service bars, followed by a second cabin with 121 seats, then a bank of economy toilets, then another economy cabin with 148 seats, and finally more toilets and a final self-service bar, before the first class cabin. This makes a total of 449 economy seats across the two decks.

ANA opens up premium services to more passengers

ANA is allowing passengers wider purchase options during their journey, including airport lounge access and meal selections from flight classes other than their own. These are available on both international and domestic flights from December 1, 2009.

“To continue meeting and exceeding a wide variety of customers’ needs”, the airline explained, was the purpose of the service enhancement. This a la carte feature has been the service bedrock of low-cost carriers, one that legacy airlines have been picking up on in recent years in the hope of improving declining revenue.

Lounge Services

• All passengers on international flights from Narita Airport and domestic flights from Haneda Airport will be able to enjoy designated times in the carrier’s airport lounges from December 2, 2009. This applies to customers on domestic flights from Haneda Airport departing at or prior to 6pm and passengers departing from Narita International Airport at or after 12.00.

• The introductory fee is JP¥4,000 yen (US$44) and runs until end of January 2010, then the regular fee is JP¥5,000 (US$55).

• An application to use the lounge must be made by telephone or via the Internet. Detailed instructions will be posted on ANA’s website in November.

Inflight Services

• Specially selected wines and shochu currently served to Business Class passengers on international flights will be sold, together with snacks, to passengers in Economy and Premium Economy Class.

• The introductory price is from JP¥800 (US$8.80) per glass until the end of January, the regular fee is JP¥1,000 (US$11) per glass.

• Business Class light meals on medium-haul international flights from Narita will be made available to other classes – a service already being carried out on flights to Europe and North America. Fresh udon noodles are sold on flights to Singapore, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Mumbai at the introductory price of JP¥500 (US$5.50) until the end of January, then the regular fee is JP¥700 (US$7.70). To Honolulu, ANA original instant noodles are sold at the introductory price of JP¥300 (US$3.30) until then end of January, then the regular fee is JP¥500  (US$5.50).

ANA promised to open up more items and services in the coming months.

 

 

For more details, visit www.ana.co.jp

Margie T Logarta

 

Air France A380 handover

Air France will take delivery of its first A380 superjumbo today, and the handover event in Hamburg is being streamed live on the Airbus website.

Air France will be the fourth carrier to operate the A380 after Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Qantas, and the first European airline to take delivery of the superjumbo. The inaugural charity flight will take place on November 20 between Paris and New York, before the plane goes into scheduled service on the same route on November 23.

Airbus is streaming live coverage of the handover event from 1000 GMT, with the take-off from hamburg expected to follow at 1330 GMT. Air France has also posted several videos regarding the A380 on its website, including an interview with Pierre Henri Gourgeon, CEO of the Air France KLM group.

For information visit airbus.com, airfrance.co.uk, and for more information on Air France’s A380, click here.

Report by Mark Caswell

Frasers adds to serviced capacity in Shanghai

Frasers Hospitality is to open a 212-unit serviced apartment property in premium spot in Shanghai within 18 months, making it the city’s largest international operator in the sector.

Fraser Place Shanghai will be a 23-storey property, adjacent to the Bund, and will follow the neo-classical design style of the famous Shanghai riverside area.

Shanghai’s pre-eminent commercial role in China’s strong economic performance continues to draw foreign business people for long-term stays and secondments, creating substantial demand for serviced apartments.

The new apartments will have deluxe facilities, including a large gymnasium, yoga and steam rooms, game rooms, pool table and an underground pool with natural light.

A daytime coffee bar in the lobby will be transformed into a wine bar by night and speciality teas will also be available at a tea lounge on the mezzanine floor.

Catering for the high-end guest, the Fraser Place Shanghai has two four-bedroom penthouses each with their own outdoor heated pools, landscaped patios, comprehensive gyms, Jacuzzi and steam rooms. There’s also a customised children’s playroom.

The new opening will bring Frasers’ portfolio in Shanghai alone to 1,271 residences. Other city properties are the 317-apartment Fraser Suites Shanghai in Lujiazui, Pudong, opposite the Bund and the 278-unit Fraser Residence Shanghai.

In addition, Frasers will also manage the 63-apartment Portman House, a conservation development in Shanghai’s French Concession.

The company currently operates 4,171 apartments in nine major cities in China; Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hongkong, Nanjing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Suzhou and Tianjin.

www.frasershospitality.com

Kenny Coyle

Bangkok Airways and Air Berlin agree on codeshare

Bangkok Airways and Air Berlin are to operate a codeshare agreement on nine weekly flights between Bangkok and three German cities, Dusseldorf, Berlin-Tegel, Munich from November 1.

The self-styled boutique carrier Bangkok Airways will connect Air Berlin’s passengers to Koh Samui, Phuket and Chiang Mai under the same flight code.

Bangkok Airways has adopted similar codeshare agreements with Etihad Airways and Air France. The Thai-based carrier operates a significant network to key business, leisure and cultural destinations in southeast Asia.

For more details see www.bangkokair.com and www.airberlin.com

Kenny Coyle

Heathrow terminal moves update

Several carriers have or are due to move terminals at Heathrow in October and November, the latest being Gulf Air, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas and selected BA flights.

The Heathrow merry-go-round is nearing its completion, as Terminal 2 is due to shut before the end of the year, and alliance carriers are gradually aligning themselves under one roof.

Etihad Airways moved from T3 to T4 at the end of September (see online news July 30), while Jet Airways did the same earlier this month (see online news October 8). Today (October 29) it’s the turn of Gulf Air and Malaysia Airlines, which are also moving from T3 to T4. None of these carriers are members of the major airline alliances.

Qantas is also on the move today, switching in the opposite direction from T4 to T3 to join fellow Oneworld carriers, and at the same time BA’s flights to Bangkok, Singapore and Sydney (falling under the Joint Services Agreement with Qantas) are also moving from T4 to T3. This means that all of BA’s flights will now depart from either T3 or its main hub at T5.

During November Skyteam carriers Air France, Aeroflot, Alitalia, Czech Airlines and Korean Air will then switch from T2 to T4 to join fellow members Delta, KLM and Kenya Airways. Skyteam unveiled new check-in and lounge facilities this week (see online news October 28).

Other independent carriers including Arik Air and Royal Air Maroc are also due to move from T2 to T4 next month, with T2 set to shut its doors to the public on November 26. Note that Continental Airlines, which defected from Skyteam to join Star Alliance this week (see online news October 27), is already in T4 and has not announced any plans to move to T1 to join fellow Star members. Singapore Airlines, also a Star Alliance member, will remain in T3, partly because there are no stands for its A380 superjumbos at T1.

For more information visit baa.com.

Report by Mark Caswell

Qantas shifts to Heathrow Terminal 3

Australian flag-carrier Qantas has shifted its London Heathrow operations to Terminal 3 from Terminal 4 and has upgraded its lounge facilities.

Qantas single-code flights from London to Sydney and Melbourne stop over in Singapore, Hongkong and Bangkok, creating the so-called “kangaroo route”, which carries thousands of passengers from Europe into the Asia Pacific every day. Other Australian destinations, such as Perth, Darwin, Cairns and Brisbane, connect to one of the three Asian hubs to join onward flights to London.

Qantas executive manager international sales Stephen Thompson said: “London Heathrow Terminal 3 has undergone a multi-million pound transformation to modernise the terminal. We are pleased to now offer our customers dedicated Qantas check-in areas, a host of restaurant and retail outlets, and for our premium customers, new lounges including the Galleries Club (Business) and Galleries First.”

Both lounges will contain a range of facilities such as a Wine Gallery, Coffee House, News Zone, Work and Entertainment Zone and a Kids Zone. There is a Deli Bar and The Silver Bar in the 300-seat Galleries Club.

The 250-seater Galleries First Lounge also houses a Gold Bar lit by a Swarovski crystal chandelier and a separate Champagne Bar. This lounge offers all-day dining and three-course meals.

“London Heathrow Terminal 3 is also a oneworld preferred terminal which means quicker and easier transfers for Qantas passengers connecting onto oneworld partner flights,” said Thompson.

Terminal 3 has dedicated Qantas check-in areas, with economy in Zone F and First, Business and Premium Economy in Zone G.

New generation technology in the shape of Common User Self Service (CUSS) kiosks will allow passengers to check in, select or change their seats, and print their own boarding pass. A dedicated bag-drop counter will also be available.

For more information see www.qantas.com

Kenny Coyle

IMPACT offers limo service for Bangkok trade-show visitors

International visitors to trade shows and corporate events at Bangkok’s IMPACT Exhibition and Convention Centre can now take advantage of a new limousine and car service.

The five-star VIP Limousine service will be available only for international trade exhibitions and large-scale business events. Visitors will be able to pre-book online and have a choice of car brands, such as Mercedes Benz, BMW, Volkswagen and Toyota.

Paul Kanjanpas, managing director of IMPACT Exhibition Management Company, said: “VIP Limousine is targeted at high-spending customers including trade exhibitors, trade visitors, organiser’s executives and VIP guests.”Arcadia Transport, which will operate the service, will set the fee depending on car type and distance traveled. So for example, a one-way trip from IMPACT to Suvarnabhumi International Airport will cost 1,500 baht (US$45) when using a standard car, while the fee for a luxury vehicle will be from 2,500 baht (US$75).

For further information see www.totalreservation.com

Kenny Coyle