British Airways launches half-price Avios redemption sale


British Airways has launched an Avios redemption sale, offering World Traveller reward flights from Heathrow and Gatwick to over 90 long-haul destinations for 50 per cent fewer points.

The promotion runs for bookings made until December 17, for travel between January 4 and June 30, 2018. More information can be seen at

Discount examples include return flights to Toronto, New York, Boston and Dubai for 13,000 Avios (usually 26,000), to Johannesburg, Fort lauderdale and Los Angeles for 16,250 Avios (usually 32,500), and to Hong Kong and Shanghai for 19,500 Avios (usually 39,000).

Full airline taxes, fees and carrier charges apply on redemptions, and the terms and conditions of the promotion state that the offer applies to both peak and off-peak Avios prices, and that discounts are available on direct one-way and return BA-operated flights.

The carrier also notes that “Reward flights are strictly subject to availability which may be very limited or not available at all on some routes including Sydney, Santiago de Chile, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, San Jose (Costa Rica) and Grenada”.

Malaysia Airlines’ first A350 has arrived in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia Airlines A350 first class

Malaysia Airlines has become the first airline to offer a first-class cabin on Airbus’s A350-900 widebody aircraft.

The Malaysian flag carrier took delivery of its first of six A350s today from lease company Air Lease Corporation, ahead of the aircraft’s deployment on its Kuala Lumpur-London Heathrow route on January 15 next year.

A total of four first class seats are available in the three-class aircraft, alongside 35 business and 247 economy class seats. The first class seats use Thompson Aero Seating’s Vantage XL design, while business class features the same Vantage seating that appears in business class on the airline’s A330s.

“We are very excited to welcome this new addition to our family,” said Malaysia Airlines’ CEO, Izham Ismail. “With its technological advancements, the A350-900 is an important milestone for us on this journey, helping boost our competitiveness on our long-haul flights. The addition of the A350-900 also underlines our commitment to operate a young and modern fleet.”

Malaysia Airlines will be deploying the aircraft on its regional routes starting next month, ahead of its long-haul debut on the carrier’s London route in January, which will kick off once the airline has its second A350 (the route requires two aircraft in order to operate at Malaysia Airlines’ current schedule). The carrier currently operates two daily flights on the route, both operated by A380s, with the second service due to get the aircraft in March.

Travellers looking to experience the aircraft before then can see the A350 on the following routes from December 9 to January 14: Kuala Lumpur-Bangkok (MH782/MH783), Kuala Lumpur-Penang (MH1140/MH1145) and Kuala Lumpur-Singapore (MH613/MH616).

Air Canada opens Toronto Signature Suite

Air Canada's Signature Suite at Toronto Pearson International

Air Canada has opened a new lounge for its business class customers at Toronto Pearson International.

The Air Canada Signature Suite is located by the carrier’s international departure gates in Terminal 1, and offers 6,400 square feet of space, including a restaurant, cocktail lounge, concierge service and quiet sitting area.

A complimentary a la carte dining menu has been created by Canadian chef David Hawksworth (of the Hawksworth Restaurant at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia in Vancouver), and the cocktail lounge features a full service bar with Moet and Chandon champagnes, fine wines, hors d’oeuvres and snacks.

The lounge was designed by Montreal architecture and design firm Heekyung Duquette, and features a mural by Ottawa artist Gavin Lynch, a Cloudscape Chandelier by Toronto firm Moss and Lam, and other works by Montreal artists Pascale Girardin and Nicolas Ruel.

The space can accommodate up to 160 guests, with amenities including a concierge service, quiet sitting area and skincare products by Molton Brown.

Entry is for “all full fare paying International Business Class customers, excluding upgrades and most point redemption programmes”.

Commenting on the opening Benjamin Smith, president, passenger airlines at Air Canada said:

“The Air Canada Signature Suite provides premium Air Canada customers with a luxury experience unrivalled in North America that elevates Air Canada into the ranks of leading global carriers for discerning international travellers.

“Customers can indulge in an à la carte meal service in the suite’s complimentary restaurant or partake of fine wines, champagne and specialty cocktails in a relaxed atmosphere accented with original Canadian art and maple, marble and polished limestone finishes.”

Earlier this year Air Canada unveiled new uniforms, livery and onboard menus, marking the country’s 150th anniversary year.

Lufthansa boosts domestic routes after Air Berlin demise

Lufthansa A321

Air Berlin’s demise has led to a seat shortage on domestic routes within Germany.

One publication, English-language, reported that flights on one domestic route were far more expensive following Air Berlin’s bankruptcy.

In a statement released yesterday (November 29) Lufthansa says it will be adding an extra 700,000 seats over the winter period to meet the seat shortfall.

Lufthansa had previously announced it would be deploying a large B747-400 to operate a number of services on the main Berlin-Frankfurt feeder route during November.

As a rule the airline does not fly long-haul from Berlin, although it is currently operating Air Berlin replacement flights to New York until the start of the 2018 summer schedule, when budget subsidiary Eurowings will take over the route.

Lufthansa now says the B747 will also be deployed on the Berlin-Frankfurt route during December, after which Lufthansa will operate all flights on this route wherever possible with 200-seater A321s.

The Lufthansa Group will also be operating extra flights on longer routes such as Munich to Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Dusseldorf and on key feeder services from Frankfurt to Berlin and Dusseldorf.

All told, Lufthansa says these additional flights will replace 45 per cent of the previous capacity offered by Air Berlin.

Edinburgh to see Virgin Trains East Coast Azuma trainsets in 2019

Virgin Trains showcases Azuma train

Subscribers who read our Anglo-Scottish rail story in the December issue (see Rail: Border Crossing) will know that new Hitachi Azuma trains will serve the London-Edinburgh route.

When the article was written it was unclear exactly when the Azuma trains would replace Virgin Trains East Coast’s (VTEC) fleet of life-expired HST diesel and Mallard electric trains.

But rail insiders have indicated that the Azuma trains will enter VTEC service in December 2018 and it is intended to operate them to Edinburgh in March 2019.

As yet we have no detail of what the seating breakdown will be. In other words we do not yet know the exact composition of the Azuma trains.

But when all these trains do enter service by 2020 it would appear that 6,300 additional seats will be made available for passengers.

We also understand that two daily (in each direction) London-Newcastle trains will be extended to Edinburgh.

This is important because, as revealed in our feature, rail is now taking market share from the airlines.

It is the first time this has happened, in my experience, because rail has been steadily losing passengers to air ever since the airlines began to seriously develop their services from the 1960s.

And this extra capacity is badly needed at peak times when rail passengers complain of overcrowding on Anglo-Scottish routes and especially during the Edinburgh Festival.

All the above will, I am sure,  happen because it’s understood they will take place by 2020.

I say that because the government has decided to terminate VTEC’s East Coast Mainine (ECML) contract three years ahead of schedule in 2020.  It intends to revise the ECML franchise.

We shall bring you further details in due course. Meanwhile our newspiece from July provides background on ECML operators since privatisation.

Millennials are more likely to travel for work with others

Traveller at airport (iStock)

Millennials appear to be shirking the image of the solitary road warrior in favour of travelling in groups, according to a new study by Carlson Wagonlit Travel.

The CWT Connected Traveler Study notes that millennial business travellers – those aged between 24 and 34 – were notably more likely to travel with others on work trips compared with Generation X and baby-boomer travellers. Approximately 58 per cent of millennials travel with others while on work trips, in stark contrast to the 58 per cent of Generation X travellers and 71 per cent of baby boomers who travel alone.

Security is also notably more important for millennials, with almost half (49 per cent) buying trip insurance and 29 per cent cancelling trips over security concerns. Baby boomers (aged 52 and up), meanwhile, were the least likely to buy insurance (31 per cent) but also least likely to cancel their trips (just 12 per cent). Generation X travellers (aged 35 to 51) were in between in all areas.

“We see a massive generational shift among the habits of younger travellers – the much-vaunted millennials,” said Julian Walker, Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s head of external communications. “Millennials are far more sociable when they travel, love technology and are most concerned about their own personal safety.”

Carlson Wagonlit’s study collected responses from 1,900 business travellers from the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Do you travel with others or by yourself on the majority of your business trips? Let us know in the comments section below.

Thousands of American Airlines flights next month have no pilots

Boeing_737-823,_AA Picture by Oleg V Belyakov

Thousands of American Airlines flights scheduled to take place over the Christmas holiday period are without pilots, following a glitch in the airline’s pilot scheduling system.

According to reports, the airline’s system encountered an error that meant all pilots who applied for leave during the holiday period had their requests approved. Some 15,000 flights out of major hubs, including Miami, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago O’Hare and New York’s LaGuardia Airport, are now estimated to be without pilots, CNBC reports.

“The airline is a 24/7 op,” said pilot’s union spokesman, Dennis Tajer. “The system went from responsibly scheduling everybody to becoming Santa Claus to everyone. The computer said, ‘Hey ya’ll. You want the days off? You got it.’”

It is unclear which specific routes have been affected and whether the issue extends to the airline’s services to Asia-Pacific. American Airlines currently flies to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo from Dallas-Forth Worth, and to Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo from Chicago O’Hare Airport.

That said, spokesperson for the airline Matt Miller has said that the airline expects to avoid any cancellations over the holiday period.

“We have reserve pilots to help cover flying in December, and we are paying pilots who pick up certain open trips 150 percent of their hourly rate – as much as we are allowed to pay them per the contract,” he said. “We will work with the APA [Allied Pilots Association] to take care of our pilots and ensure we get our customers to where they need to go over the holidays.”

The scheduling mishap is eerily reminiscent of budget airline Ryanair’s cancellation fiasco earlier this year, which saw the airline cancel flights after it bungled up the allocation of annual leave to its pilots in September and October.

Hong Kong’s new identity cards will support facial recognition technology

New Hong Kong smart identity card

Hong Kong residents’ new smart identity cards will have features that will support the use of facial-recognition technology, namely the inclusion of a high-resolution digital photograph and the cardholders’ gender.

The design for the new cards was unveiled yesterday and sees a number of aesthetic and security changes to the existing identity card. The digital photograph and gender will be stored in the chip, which will now be located on the back rather than the front of the card. Meanwhile the photograph has shifted from the right to the left-hand side, while a smaller stereo laser image has been placed on the right-hand side. Built-in radio frequency identification (RFID) technology has also been added to improve security.

While some of these new features support the potential for facial-recognition screening when entering and leaving the city, the government has not confirmed whether such security processes are set to be introduced in the foreseeable future.

Such a feature notably would enable Hong Kong International Airport to catch up with rival Changi Airport in Singapore, which recently opened its new Terminal 4 featuring end-to-end automated processes, including biometric screening for check-in, baggage drop, immigration and boarding. Hong Kong’s airport is set to introduce a number of enhancements and new developments over the coming years, notably focusing on leisure and lifestyle, however little mention has been made regarding improvements to its immigration and security screening processes.

Hong Kong residents’ identity cards will begin being replaced from the fourth quarter of 2018, with full replacement expected by 2022. The government is setting up nine card replacement centres to support the process.

As with the city’s last card replacement plan from 2003 to 2007, when Hong Kong first introduced smart identity cards, the new replacement plan will be done in stages, with residents being invited in phases according to their age (a breakdown of age groups and dates has not yet been unveiled). However, current cardholders aged over 65 or above (with the bird year 1954 or earlier) will be able to replace their cards at any point throughout the process.

Meanwhile, current cardholders that reside overseas can simply apply for a replacement card within 30 days of their next return to Hong Kong, without needing to do so within the timeframe for their age group.

New US domestic routes for premium Delta One

Delta A350

Premium Delta One Service Coming to New U.S. Domestic Routes


By Bob Curley


Delta One, Delta Air Lines’ premium service featuring lie-flat beds, will be added on six new domestic U.S. long-haul routes in spring 2018.


Delta One, Delta Air Lines’ premium service featuring lie-flat beds, will be added on six new domestic U.S. long-haul routes in spring 2018.


Delta announced on November 20, 2018 that Delta One will become the premium service offering on flights between Boston and Los Angeles, New York/JFK and San Diego, JFK-Seattle, and JFK-Las Vegas beginning on May 1, 2018.


Delta One also will be offered on one daily flight each between Atlanta and Honolulu and Minneapolis and Honolulu beginning on April 1, 2018.


Delta Sky Miles Medallion Members will be eligible for unlimited day-of-departure upgrades to Delta One cabin on all domestic flights, the airline also announced.


The new premium service, which takes the place of First Class on these flights, was rolled out beginning in 2016 ( on long-haul international flights and transcontinental flights between JFK and Los Angeles, JFK and San Francisco, Washington, D.C. (Reagan) and LAX, and Boston and San Francisco.


Delta One is widely viewed as Delta’s response to JetBlue’s popular Mint service.


Delta One includes 180-degree flat-bed seats, chef-curated menus with seasonally rotating wines selected by Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson, In-seat power and USB outlets, seat-back entertainment screens, noise-cancelling headsets, and a TUMI amenity kit with Kiehl’s products. Travellers also will get complementary Delta Sky Club access, Sky Priority check-in, security, and baggage handling, priority boarding, and — in Los Angeles — Delta ONE at LAX check-in service.



Paris Aeroport launches campaign on unattended luggage 

unattended luggage

Paris Aéroport launches campaign to raise awareness about unattended luggage


The initiative follows a 77.8% increase in unattended luggage at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport between 2013 and 2016


Paris Aeroport which runs both Paris Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly airports has started a campaign to raise awareness of unattended luggage.


Augustin de Romanet, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Groupe ADP.

says that


“More than 1,000 operations were carried out in the first nine months of 2017 to deal with unattended luggage at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport. This caused more than 400 flights to be delayed by an average of 53 minutes, with significant impact on airlines. Unattended bags are partially due to travellers’ absent-mindedness, but also due to a tightening of weight restrictions under airline baggage policies. Some passengers don’t think twice about leaving their luggage at the airport to avoid paying the additional charges”.


To raise awareness amongst travellers, Paris Aéroport and the agency Human to Human have designed a campaign that will be rolled out across all airport communication channels including

The entire JCDecaux advertising network in all terminals (3 different video clips – 135 screens)

At the Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly airports:

At check-in desks

On all buses that travel between the terminals

At the Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport railway station

At several stations throughout the Ile-de-France region:

18 RER B stations

10 RER C/D stations




The campaign is in French, English and Chinese. Although the campaign makes you smile, the stakes are real for the airlines and public authorities, as well as the airport operator. Depending on where the unattended luggage is located, the entire terminal or a part of the terminal may/must be evacuated. Delays can be considerable for some flights. Since the start of the year, around 60% of unattended luggage has been left at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, with 40% of these bags left at the Air France-KLM hub. In August 2017 alone, 214 bags were left by their owners, i.e. an increase of approximately 30% compared to August 2016.