IHG launches summer flash sale

IHG summer flash sale

Intercontinental Hotels Group has launched a summer flash sale, offering up to 25 per cent off rates at European properties.

The promotion can be accessed here, and is valid for bookings made before midnight on July 1.

The discount is available on Best Flexible Rates, for stays between July 7 and September 10, and is valid for IHG Rewards Club members only.

For more information and to book, click here.

ihg.com

Aberdeen airport opens new executive lounge

Aberdeen Airport Northern Lights executive lounge

Aberdeen airport will open its new Northern Lights executive lounge this weekend, as part of larger transformation project at the airport.

The paid-for lounge replaces the airport’s current facility, and offers 50 per cent more space, with features including locally-inspired decor, runway views, Brewdog craft beers, Gordon Castle gins, and a feature whisky Wall which “presents an impressive catalogue of Scotland’s national drink”.

There will also be a menu by Craig Wilson (aka The Kilted Chef) of fine-dining restaurant Eat on the Green in Elon, Aberdeenshire.

Pre-booked and walk-up visits are available from Saturday July 1, with entry priced at £25 – a 15 per cent introductory discount is currently being offered with the code Lounge15.

The airport has recently opened a revamped international arrivals baggage reclaim area, with a new domestic baggage reclaim hall set to launch in mid-July.

A second phase of the transformation project is set to be completed before next summer, including an enlarged and improved security area and new retail offering.

aberdeenairport.com

Norwegian takes delivery of first two B737 Max 8s

Norwegian B737 Max 8

Norwegian has become the first European airline to take delivery of the new-generation Boeing B737 Max 8 aircraft.

The low-cost carrier has taken delivery of two B737 Max 8s, with a total of 110 of the aircraft on order.

Norwegian will use the aircraft to operate routes between Europe and the US East Coast, including recently announced flights from Ireland and Scotland.

Celebrating the delivery Norwegian’s CEO Bjorn Kjos said:

“We have been eagerly awaiting the delivery of our Boeing 737 MAX, and we are overjoyed to have it join our fleet today. We are the first European airline to operate this brand-new aircraft, and we’re also the first airline in the world to operate it to and from the United States.

“This aircraft allows us to open up new, unserved routes and offer both Americans and Europeans even more affordable transatlantic fares. It will also provide our passengers with a quieter onboard experience, whilst it significantly reduces both fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions.”

The B737 Max is Boeing’s fastest ever selling aircraft, with almost 3,700 orders from 87 customers. The manufacturer recently unveiled the latest variant of the aircraft, the B737 Max 10, with over 240 orders confirmed from customers including United and the Tui Group.

For a look at the evolution of Boeing’s B737 aircraft, which celebrates its 50th birthday this year, see Snapshot in the July / August edition of Business Traveller.

Snapshot: 1967, the B737 takes flight

And for a look at how a new generation of single-aisle aircraft are set to serve long-haul routes, see our feature Narrow Margins.

norwegian.com

Nepal to receive second international airport

Nepal

Pokhara Regional International Airport

Nepal to receive second international airport

It will be built in Pokhara, and will be operational in about four years

On May 31, China’s Export and Import (EXIM) Bank approved a concessional loan for the construction of Pokhara Regional International Airport in Nepal. A site in Chinnedanda, 3km east of the existing domestic airport is reserved for the new airport.

The project, estimated to cost about ₹21 billion, is set to start in September after the monsoons subside, and will take four years to complete.

Kathmandu Post, Nepal’s English daily reported: “Works on quarry identification, equipment shipment and other temporary works would be completed this monsoon.” It has quoted Pradip Adhikari, chief of the airport project: “The full-fledged ground works, however, will begin after the monsoon or from September-end.”

The airport’s runway, expected to be 2,500 metres long and 45 metres wide, will be able to accommodate aircraft no larger than Boeing 757 and the Airbus 320.

Currently, the only other operational international airport in Nepal is Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).

Nepal to receive second international airport

It will be built in Pokhara, and will be operational in about four years

On May 31, China’s Export and Import (EXIM) Bank approved a concessional loan for the construction of Pokhara Regional International Airport in Nepal. A site in Chinnedanda, 3km east of the existing domestic airport is reserved for the new airport.

The project, estimated to cost about ₹21 billion, is set to start in September after the monsoons subside, and will take four years to complete.

Nepal’s English daily reported: “Works on quarry identification, equipment shipment and other temporary works would be completed this monsoon.” It has quoted Pradip Adhikari, chief of the airport project: “The full-fledged ground works, however, will begin after the monsoon or from September-end.”

The airport’s runway, expected to be 2,500 metres long and 45 metres wide, will be able to accommodate aircraft no larger than Boeing 757 and the Airbus 320.

Currently, the only other operational international airport in Nepal is Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).

Club Carlson offering free Friday stays or bonus points

Radisson Blu Resort Hua Hin pool

Members of Carlson Rezidor’s loyalty programme, Club Carlson, will be able to get a free Friday stay or 10,000 bonus Gold Points for every two stays they complete between July 1 and September 30 this year.

That said, there is a limit to how many free nights and points can be accrued. Only three free nights or a total of 30,000 bonus Gold Points can be earned during this period.

Also, Club Carlson members must select either the free stays or bonus points option when they sign up for the promotion, meaning a mix of both points and stays isn’t possible.

Carlson Rezidor currently has a portfolio of more than 1,000 hotels across its Quorvus Collection, Radisson Blu, Radisson, Radisson Red, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson, and Country Inns and Suites by Carlson brands.

clubcarlson.com

Cathay Dragon and Asia Miles partner with Shenzhen Airlines

Cathay Dragon will have soon have access to three new destinations in mainland China when its expanded codeshare agreement with Shenzhen Airlines kicks in next month.

Starting July 11, the regional Hong Kong-based carrier will place its KA code on Shenzhen Airlines’ flights between Hong Kong and Yantai, Jinan and Harbin, adding to the two carriers’ existing codeshare on flights between Hong Kong and Jinjiang. Cathay Dragon passengers flying to these destinations via Hong Kong will also have access to checked-through baggage services.

Shenzhen Airlines, meanwhile, will begin placing its ZH code on Cathay Dragon’s flights between Hong Kong and Nanjing and Xi’an.

Effective the same day, the mainland Chinese carrier will also allow Asia Miles accrual and redemption on a number of its domestic services, as well as some between mainland China and Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Shenzhen Airlines general manager of international and FFP affairs and cooperation, Ma Yunchun, said: “As an airline rooted in Shenzhen and growing up alongside the special economic zone, Shenzhen Airlines is proud to play a role in facilitating the city’s international trade and cultural exchanges.

“In addition, Shenzhen Airlines is continuously strengthening its presence within international aviation networks; this process has been boosted with a new image for the airline. We sincerely welcome Asia Miles members to fly with Shenzhen Airlines to not only experience and enjoy our convenient services and excellent hospitality, but also be able to earn and redeem award miles, which will make their journeys more rewarding.”

Asia Miles is the earning and redemption loyalty programme of Cathay Dragon and Cathay Pacific – not to be confused with its Marco Polo Club frequent-flyer programme that governs status accrual, benefits and lounge access. The programme currently has more than nine million members and over 700 programme partners worldwide.

cathaypacific.com; asiamiles.com; global.shenzhenair.com

Civil liberties union questions proposed TSA requirement to unpack books at security

Man reading book at airport (iStock)

A proposed US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security procedure requiring travellers to remove books from their carry on luggage at screening checkpoints has raised privacy concerns from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The Hill reports that during a test conducted in May at airports in California and Minnesota, the TSA instructed travellers to remove books and papers from their luggage prior to running bags through security scanners.

The bulky nature of such items can make it difficult for TSA agents to view other items. “At times, paper products do set off alarms and procedures call for additional screening,” said TSA acting director of public relations Lisa Farbstein in a press statement.

However, the ACLU contended that the procedure could run afoul of privacy protections. “A person who is reading a book entitled “Overcoming Sexual Abuse” or “Overcoming Sexual Dysfunction” is not likely to want to plop that volume down on the conveyor belt for all to see,” noted Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst for the  ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project in a blog post.

“Even someone reading a bestseller like “50 Shades of Grey” or a mild self-help book with a title such as “What Should I Do With My Life?” might be shy about exposing his or her reading habits. And of course someone reading Arab or Muslim literature in today’s environment has all too much cause to worry about discrimination.”

The ACLU urged TSA to train its agents about privacy protections, including “orders curbing any agents’ temptations to snoop through, draw attention to, comment on, or discriminate upon any books and papers they incidentally observe in the screening process,” said Stanley.

Passengers also should have the right to have their papers searched separately in private and to conceal the nature of their literature upon removal from baggage, he said.

Farbstein said that the test involving books and paper has been discontinued. The TSA has also been experimenting with screening procedures that require travellers to remove all electronics larger than mobile phones from their carry on luggage, and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said at least some of the additional security measures being tested are likely to be implemented nationally.

tsa.gov

Iberia orders 20 Airbus A320 neos

Iberia A320 neo

Iberia has announced an order for 20 Airbus A320 neo aircraft, with deliveries starting in the first half of next year and continuing through to 2021.

The IAG member carrier said that the aircraft would be used to modernise its short and medium-haul fleet.

The announcement was made by the airline’s chairman and CEO Luis Gallego, at an event to celebrate Iberia’s 90th anniversary.

The order is part of an ongoing fleet modernisation programme, which will also see the carrier take delivery of the first of 16 A350-900 aircraft next year.

Next month Iberia will launch its revamped “Puente Aereo” shuttle service between Madrid and Barcelona, which will see the carrier jointly operate the route with Vueling.

As a result frequencies will increase from 16 to 26 per day (13 at weekends), with customers also now able to make flight reservations online, in addition to the existing walk-on and pre-paid open ticket options.

iberia.com

Ryanair forced to clarify seat allocation policy

ryanair-new-boeing-sky-inte

Ryanair has released a statement denying it has made changes to its random seat allocation policy, following claims the carrier has been splitting up passengers who choose not to pay for allocated seating.

There has been a sharp increase in customers complaining about being seated apart on Twitter, with some travellers reporting being seated at opposite ends of the aircraft from their companions, and an article by The Sun reporting that a hen party was seated across 15 separate rows.

In response the carrier said that it hadn’t changed its random seat allocation policy, adding that “The reason for more middle seats being allocated is that more and more passengers are taking our reserved seats (from just €2) and these passengers overwhelmingly prefer aisle and window seats”.

Standard check-in for Ryanair flights opens four days before departure (those paying for allocated seats can avail of early check-in up to 30 days before departure.

“Some random seat passengers are confused by the appearance of empty seats beside them when they check-in up to four days prior to departure,” continued the statement. “The reason they can’t have these window or aisle seats is that these are more likely to be selected by reserved seat passengers many of whom only check-in 24 hours prior to departure. Since our current load factor is 95 per cent, we have to keep these window and aisle seats free to facilitate those customers who are willing to pay (from €2) for them”.

Ryanair stressed that “We are not trying to force people to pay for reserved seats”, adding that “We are very happy to facilitate any customer who wants a free of charge random seat but we are also going to do our best to facilitate customers who are willing to pay for a reserved seats (usually window or aisle) which start from €2”.

Rival carrier Easyjet allows all customers to check-in 30 days before departure, and says on its website that “If you haven’t booked seats then the best chance of sitting together with family and friends is to check in as early as possible”.

“Our seating system will always try to sit you together. There are usually plenty of seats available, but seats are allocated on a first come first served basis so the earlier you check in the more likely you are to sit together.

“Check in opens 30 days before your departure. If you leave it to the last minute it’s likely that there won’t be enough seats for your group to sit together and we’ll then have to rely on other customers agreeing to move once on board the aircraft which can be stressful and cause delays.”

ryanair.com

Have you experienced seat allocation issue with Ryanair or any other carrier? Leave your comments below.

CT scans of carry on luggage being tested at two US airports

CT luggage scanner

The same technology that gives radiologists the ability to see soft-tissue injuries and tumors in the body is being deployed in airports to inspect carry on luggage at security checkpoints.

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that computer tomography (CT) scanning equipment is being tested at security checkpoints at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Boston’s Logan International Airport.

CT scans aim “to enhance threat detection capability by providing a three-dimensional image that can be viewed and rotated for a more thorough analysis,” according to TSA.

The technology is getting a test run at a single security lane at both airports in a partnership with American Airlines. Passengers transiting through Terminal 4 in Phoenix and Terminal E in Boston at these airports may be asked to voluntarily submit to having their luggage screened with CT scans, which take hundreds of images with an X-ray camera mounted around the luggage conveyor belt.

TSA said the scans are analysed using a sophisticated algorithm for detecting explosives. Bags containing suspicious items will be pulled aside for further inspection by hand.

“We already use this type of technology for checked baggage, and we expect these smaller checkpoint-sized machines will provide the same high level of security,” noted TSA Acting Administrator Huban Gowadia.

The US Department of Homeland Security recently announced new “enhanced security measures” for all US-bound flights.

tsa.gov