Ryanair’s shift to digital vouchers may start industry trend

Ryanair Aircraft

Ryanair’s Digital Vouchers: Start of An Industry Trend?


By Bob Curley


Like airline tickets, paper compensation vouchers given to passengers by airlines for overbooked flights and other inconveniences could shift to digital form, PYMTS.com (https://www.pymnts.com/disbursements/2017/ryanair-digital-vouchers-budget-airline-business/) reported December 27, 2017.


Like airline tickets, paper compensation vouchers given to passengers by airlines for overbooked flights and other inconveniences could shift to digital form, PYMTS.com (https://www.pymnts.com/disbursements/2017/ryanair-digital-vouchers-budget-airline-business/) reported December 27, 2017.


Ryanair recently began offering digital vouchers to companies to hand out as rewards to employees. The vouchers come in denominations ranging from 10 to 500 Euros (about $12-$592).


“At the end of the day, the physical gift card represents a cost on our industry, and there is not space for that,” said Matthias Wenk, Ryanair’s marketing operations director. “The digital gift voucher can be produced and allocated without any cost incurred.”


The International Air Transport Association estimated that switching from physical to electronic tickets saved the airline industry about $3 billion annually.


Digital vouchers also allow Ryanair to work directly with companies rather than with companies that provide gift cards, which charge customers between 5 and 10 per cent for their services, Wenk said. “Our hope is to establish relationships with a lot of corporates with massive demand for air travel gift vouchers as part of their reward schemes,” he said.



Five new hotels in Greater China

Pullman Panjin Oriental Ginza

New hotels in Greater China


Hotel Ease Access in Hong Kong and a Pullman in Shenyang has been open, and three pentas are opening in Chengdu next year


Pullman Shenyang Oriental Ginza opened this week and is located in the Shenyang Economic and Technological Development Zone. It is situated next to the city’s ecological sustainable development in the Sino-French Eco-district and adjacent to one of Shenyang’s largest water parks just west of the Hun River. It takes a 30-minute drive from Shenyang Taoxian International Airport.


The hotel has 317 guestrooms and suites, including 50 long stay suites, designed with a kitchen and a separate living room.


F&B options include an all-day dining restaurant Spice, offering a selection of local and international cuisine; a Chinese restaurant Tian Yuan with private dining rooms; a steak house Cut 326 serves the signature Pullman Vinoteca wine selection and fresh grills; the beer bar Craft Brew features live music; and the Riverside Café offers premium coffees and teas with light bites.


For events, the hotel has a 1,000 sqm ballroom and 10 meeting rooms which can host up to 1,200 guests. Wellness facilities include a spa, fitness club and an indoor pool.





Hotel Ease Access, the sister brand of Hotel Ease, also recently opened in Hong Kong. Located in Wan Chai, the hotel is around five to ten minutes away from Central the business district, the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, and the popular shopping district in Causeway Bay. The hotel is also surrounded by the most popular restaurants and shopping malls.


It offers 50 guestrooms. Half of them overlook the Victoria Harbour view and skyscrapers. All rooms have complimentary wifi and a handy smartphone with unlimited data access and free international calls to selected countries. The hotel also collaborates with Hong Kong photographer to display photographs of old Wan Chai in each guestroom, showcasing the evolution of this vibrant district.


Pentahotel has a massive expansion in Chengdu, by opening three properties in the city next year.




The first Pentahotel to land in the city in March will be pentahotel Chengdu Convention Centre, locating in the Tianfu District. Situated in the new CBD area, the hotel will be a five-minute drive away from the Century City Convention Centre, as well as New Century Global Centre, the world’s largest building in terms of floor size housing a number of boutiques and stores, a Mediterranean village, a water park, an ice-skating rink. It will have 265 guestrooms, a pentalounge, six meeting rooms and a pentagym. The hotel will also feature a library lounge in the lobby area. Other highlights include “penta PlayerPad”, and private gamer gadgets such as PlayStation 4 and retro pinball machine will also be equipped in suite.


The second property pentahotel Chengdu will be standing in the business region of the Chunxi Road, in the city. The shopping centre Taikoo Li, will be a short 5-minute walk away, and with a 10-minute walk from the hotel, guests will be able to reach the Jinjiang River area, Jiuyanqiao Bar Street and Lan Kwai Fong Chengdu.


It has 303 guestrooms, sporting the brand’s signature design with a contemporary rustic decor and blends with local cultural references. In addition to the pentalounge, the new property will showcase a restaurant, a library lounge, three meeting rooms, a pentagym and a rooftop bar.


Opening a month later, pentahotel Chengdu, High-Tech Plaza will be located in Wangwang Commercial Plaza on Tianfu Avenue in south Chengdu. It will be situated in the Tianfu New Area, which includes the southern part of Chengdu High-tech Zone, it is an emerging technology and innovation zone known as the “Silicon Valley of western China”. It will also be a five to 20-minute walk away from major shopping centres including Intime City, major office buildings and a high-end residential area. The property will have 244 rooms, pentalounge, a game room, pentagym and a conference room.




Beijing now offers six-day visa-free stays


Travellers from more than 50 countries going through Beijing as well as Tianjin and Hebei province while transiting on to a third country can now stay visa free for up to six days.

The new policy came into effect yesterday, the South China Morning Post reports, and covers travellers holding passports from 53 countries, including most in the European Union as well as the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea. Similar visa-free schemes have previously been launched in Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.

Notably, the new scheme means that travellers into the northern Chinese cities and provinces can attend conferences or make short work trips without requiring a visa to enter.

These changes are the latest in a number of enhancements designed to improve and upgrade travellers’ experiences while travelling in China. Back in September, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) announced it was relaxing its restrictions on mobile device use on aircraft – a frustrating policy for business travellers in particular that meant smartphones were not allowed to be used during flights even while in airplane mode.

Meanwhile earlier this month, Star Alliance announced its plans to begin easing the transiting process at Beijing Capital International Airport, notably with the co-location of all 17 of its member airlines that serve the airport to a single terminal.

China has been linking up Beijing with Tianjin – itself one of China’s four major direct-controlled municipalities – and Hebei province ever since 2014. Business Traveller took an in-depth look at the integration in our feature “Beijing: Joined up thinking”.

First A350-1000 gets delayed until early next year

Qatar Airways A350-1000

Travellers looking forward to seeing Airbus’s newest version of its wide-body A350 aircraft, the A350-1000, will have to wait a little longer it seems, with delivery of the aircraft now looking set to take place in early 2018.

According to FlightGlobal, the first A350-1000, which was originally set to go to launch customer Qatar Airways by the end of this year, will be delayed though Airbus has not specified the reasons for the change in schedule nor the exact date it now expects the aircraft to make its way to Qatar Airways.

The aircraft has already been outfitted in the airline’s livery and on December 11 took its maiden flight wearing Qatar Airways’ colours (see video). The first ever flight for the A350-1000 took place back in November 2016.

The A350-1000 is Airbus’s largest twin-engined airliner ever, having an expected capacity of 440 passengers, and notably for travellers will be the second aircraft to feature Qatar Airways’ recently launched Q Suite business class product. The Q Suite, which was unveiled in March, is currently outfitted in the airline’s Boeing 777 and is set to eventually be rolled out across its A350s and B787s, though the latter will have a slightly different seat due to space restrictions.

Features of the new product include the option to convert two seats into a double bed, or to group four seats together into a private suite.

More than a dozen airlines have placed orders for the A350-1000, including Virgin Atlantic and United Airlines, among others.


Place your bids in the Business Traveller charity auction

Business Traveller charity auction

This year’s Business Traveller online auction has over 50 items ranging from flights and hotel stays to technology and airport lounge passes.

All proceeds from the auction go to The Royal Hospital of Neuro-Disability, an independent charity providing care for people living with neuro-disability.

Among the great prizes in this year’s auction include:

  • Two British Airways Club World tickets to New York
  • A one-night weekend stay for two people at the Corinthia Hotel London
  • Two passes to any airport lounge in the No 1 Lounges collection
  • One week’s Hertz car hire in the UK
  • First class tickets for two people on the Virgin Trains West Coast network
  • Dinner for two at Theo Randall at the Intercontinental London Park Lane
  • A Samsonite Uplite Spinner 55cm suitcase

In addition there is a special lot of a British Airways A320 model aircraft, donated by one of our frequent forum posters who sadly passed away earlier this year. For more information on this item click here.

New York considers fees for ride-sharing vehicles

New York May Curb Ride Sharing to Ease Traffic Congestion


By Bob Curley


A proliferation of Uber and Lyft drivers trolling for passengers has exacerbated traffic congestion in Manhattan, leading New York City officials to consider new fees on for-hire services as part of a mitigation strategy, the New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/26/nyregion/uber-car-congestion-pricing-nyc.html?_r=0 ) reported December 26, 2017.


A proliferation of Uber and Lyft drivers trolling for passengers has exacerbated traffic congestion in Manhattan, leading New York City officials to consider new fees on for-hire services as part of a mitigation strategy, the New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/26/nyregion/uber-car-congestion-pricing-nyc.html?_r=0 ) reported December 26, 2017.


In 2013, about 47,000 for-hire vehicles operated in the city, mostly taxis and limousines. Today that number is 103,000, including 68,000 ride-sharing vehicles, primarily affiliated with Uber and Lyft.


A recent report (http://schallerconsult.com/rideservices/emptyseats.htm) found that ride-sharing vehicles often can be found driving around city streets with no passengers as they wait for calls. Ride-share vehicles average 11 minutes between fares, compared to 8 minutes for taxis, according to the report. At any given time, one-third of these vehicles are unoccupied.


The added traffic has slowed traffic in the city from an average speed of 4.7 miles per hour, down from 6.5 miles per hour in 2012.


New York officials are considering adding a per-passenger fee as part of an anti-congestion plan; the proceeds would be used, in part, to bolster subway service in the city. Chicago, Seattle, and Portland, Ore., have similar fees in place.

Qantas flies to Osaka

Qantas new logo

Qantas flies to Osaka


The Australian carrier is operating a 297-seat A330 on its fourth Japanese route


Qantas has launched direct service flying from Sydney to Osaka.


This is the airline’s fourth route between Australia and Japan celebrating 70 years of flying between the two countries. Other Japanese services are Sydney-Tokyo (Haneda), Brisbane-Tokyo (Narita) and Melbourne-Tokyo (Narita).


The route is operated by a 297-seat A330-300, consisting of 28 business in a 1-2-1 setup and 269 economy seats arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration.


The three-time-weekly services are as follows:


Flight Depart Time Arrive Time Operation day
QF33 Sydney 0930 Osaka 1725 Thu, Sat
Sydney 1325 Osaka 2120 Mon
QF34 Osaka 1855 Sydney 0645 Thu, Sat
Osaka 2250 Sydney 1040 Mon


From March 26, 2018, Thursday’s service will change to Wednesday. The weekly schedule will be Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.



Bangkok Airways opens new lounges at Suvarnabhumi

Blue Ribbon Club Lounge 2

Bangkok Airways opens new lounges at Suvarnabhumi


Both Boutique Lounge and Blue Ribbon Lounge are located on third floor of concourse D


Bangkok Airways has opened new lounges at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, locating on the third floor, opposite Gate D7 in concourse D.


This follows the permanent close of the International Passenger Lounge on level 3 of Terminal A on December 21.


The Boutique Lounge offers 120 seats. It has an earthy colour tone, and placed with some blue furniture. The facility has free wifi and computer corner. It also provides newspaper, magazine and snacks including popcorn.


The Blue Ribbon Club Lounge has 50 seats, which has a stylistic design with some artwork and also in earthy and deep blue colours. It provides fre wifi, computer corners, newspaper, magazines, hot meals, private shower room and massage service.


Operation hours for both lounges are from 4.30am to 10pm.