Hilton Honors members get double points this year

Conrad London St. James Facade

Hilton is offering double points to members of its Hilton Honors loyalty programme on stays at almost all of its properties around the world that take place this year.

The new promotion runs until December 31 with stays having to take place before the end of the year. Members have to sign up ahead of time on the hiltonhonors.com website before completing their stay in order to be eligible.

There are some limitations, one of which is particularly pertinent to travellers in Asia-Pacific: stays at Hampton by Hilton Hotels in mainland China are not eligible for double points accrual.

Double points will also only be awarded for nights that take place during the promotion period – nights after December 31 will not be eligible even if the original check-in date was before the cut off.

And while there is no upper limit to how many bonus points can be earned during the offer, there is a cap on how many base points can be earned on an individual stay with certain brands. Bonus points also don’t contribute towards progressing to additional tiers.

hilton.com

Samsung J7 catches fire on-board Jet Airways flight

Samsung J7

The smart-phone of a passenger caught fire on-board a Delhi-Indore Jet Airways flight. The handset, a Samsung J7, belonged to Delhi-based Arpita Dhal and was kept in her handbag under the seat.

Around 15 minutes into the flight, Dhal noticed smoke coming out of her bag and called the crew for help.

Panic broke lose for nearly 120 passengers who eventually landed safely after the flame was extinguished by immersing the device in a tray of water.

The passenger plans to lodge a complaint against Jet Airways for a major safety lapse of onboard fire extinguishers not working.

“Jet Airways crew immediately took charge of the situation, as also all necessary steps as precautionary measure (were taken), and as per the prescribed guidelines,” says a spokesperson from Jet Airways.

The discontinued Samsung Note 7 had caught fire more than 112 times after a month of its sale. There have been reports of Apple and Xiaomi phones catching fire as well.

jetairways.comsamsung.com

The smart-phone of a passenger caught fire on-board a Delhi-Indore Jet Airways flight. The handset, a Samsung J7, belonged to Delhi-based Arpita Dhal and was kept in her handbag under the seat.

Around 15 minutes into the flight, Dhal noticed smoke coming out of her bag and called the crew for help.

Panic broke lose for nearly 120 passengers who eventually landed safely after the flame was extinguished by immersing the device in a tray of water.

The passenger plans to lodge a complaint against Jet Airways for a major safety lapse of onboard fire extinguishers not working.

“Jet Airways crew immediately took charge of the situation, as also all necessary steps as precautionary measure (were taken), and as per the prescribed guidelines,” says a spokesperson from Jet Airways.

The discontinued Samsung Note 7 had caught fire more than 112 times after a month of its sale. There have been reports of Apple and Xiaomi phones catching fire as well.

jetairways.comsamsung.com

Air China delays Dreamliner on Newark route

Air China Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

Travellers on Air China’s Beijing Capital-Newark Liberty Airport service will have to wait a little longer before they can see the airline’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, with the airline now looking as though it will deploy the aircraft on the route next year.

The airline had originally planned to begin flying the aircraft to Newark from December 2 this year, however its schedule has since been changed such that the aircraft will now fly the route from March 25, 2018. Air China’s Boeing 777-300ER, which currently flies the route, will continue to do so until next March.

This will come as something of a mixed bag for travellers, notably with the gaining of the Dreamliner’s premium economy class at the cost of the B777’s first class. Neither the Dreamliner’s nor the B777’s business classes offer direct aisle access for all passengers (seats are laid out 2-2-2), making the latter’s eight first class seats the only ones that provide it. And while both aircraft’s business class offerings are lie-flat, the Dreamliner has 12 fewer seats in the cabin.

Travellers in Air China’s premium economy, meanwhile, will get additional legroom, though the overall layout of the cabin won’t differ from either the Dreamliner’s or the B777’s economy class cabins, with all three classes being laid out with nine seats per row (3-3-3).

Many airlines, including Cathay Pacific, Eva Air and British Airways have been switching to a more economical yet less spacious ten-across seating configuration in their B777 economy cabins.

It’s also worth noting that Air China’s Newark service is among the select international routes on which the airline recently has begun offering meal pre-ordering.

Meanwhile passengers transiting in Beijing from the Americas onto other Air China domestic flights can also now fully check their bags through customs and quarantine as part of the airline’s new Fully Entrusted-No Baggage Claim service. The service permits the airline to open passengers’ checked baggage on their behalf when transiting in Beijing, enabling travellers to clear immigration without requiring to collect their checked baggage.

airchina.com

Here’s what we know about Raffles Singapore’s renovation

Raffles Singapore

Raffles Singapore has unveiled new details about its ongoing multi-phase restoration project that will see the historic hotel reopen in the middle of next year with three additional suite categories as well as new lifestyle and dining experiences.

The historic hotel will be adding Residence Suites, Promenade Suites and Studio Suites to its existing categories, all of which it will be keeping, along with upping its overall suite count from 103 to 115.

Four of these will be Residence Suites comprising one and two-bedroom accommodations situated in the Raffles Arcade, with each named after well-known local cinemas from the first half of the 20th century. These include the Alhambra Suite, Diamond Suite, Marlborough Suite, Odeon Suite and Theatre Royal Suite.

Meanwhile, two of the suites will be in the Promenade Suites category overlooking Beach Road, having been converted from boardrooms. These take their inspiration from the hotel’s history during the 1800s, when the entire hotel faced the beachfront. One is named after Lady Mountbatten, the Countess of Burma and wife of Lord Louis Mountbatten, who acted as Southeast Asia’s Supreme Allied Commander during the Second World War, while the other is named after Lady Sophia, the wife of Singapore’s founder, Sir Stamford Raffles.

Finally the Studio Suites will be located in the Main Building, joining existing suites within the hotel.

Beyond the guestrooms, the hotel will also be refreshing its famous Raffles Arcade, which will feature social spaces as well as a revamped gift shop with a History Gallery showcasing the hotel’s heritage. The new Raffles Spa will also be located within the arcade.

“The History Gallery exhibits the hotel’s heritage over the past 130 years, and highlights the role Raffles Singapore played as a landmark in the country, and also in the region,” said the hotel’s general manager, Christian Westbeld “We are confident the local community will enjoy the refreshed facilities within the arcade that would rejuvenate the experiences within our neighbourhood.”

Also getting a refresh are the hotel’s restaurants and bars. While the popular Long Bar, Tiffin Room and Writers Bar will all remain, renovations of the hardware are being done and additional experiences will be introduced. One such example is a new tableside service by chefs at Tiffin Room. Meanwhile afternoon tea will now be served at the new Grand Lobby lounge, and Writers Bar will be expanded into a full lounge.

Finally, the hotel’s Jubilee Hall is being converted into a new 300-guest Jubilee Ballroom, harkening back to the original Jubilee Theatre that was located on the site in the 1930s. Other event spaces are also getting refreshed, and new lighting and audio-visual technology is being added.

“We are pleased to share these updates, designed to keep Raffles Singapore relevant and distinctive to our guests while providing a new level of excitement with sublime experiences,” added Westbeld. “At the same time, careful consideration has been taken to ensure we retain the ambience and what is unique to Raffles Singapore.”

While the renovations have been ongoing since February, Raffles Singapore will fully close in December ahead of its mid-2018 reopening.

Business Traveller had the chance to review the property ahead of its refurbishment plan earlier this year.

Hotel check: Raffles Hotel, Singapore

rafflessingapore.com

Government seeks to “revolutionise airport screening”

Airport security (iStock)

The UK government has announced a new £3 million fund aimed at encouraging research into the detection of concealed explosive devices at airport screening.

The Department for Transport said it was looking to “revolutionise aviation screening”, with the hope that “Holidaymakers could be spared the hassle of removing laptops and tablets from hand-luggage when passing through airport security”.

Copmanies and universities are invited to submit bid proposals for money to support “original research in the field of concealed explosives”, with the DfT stating that “new methods of detecting whether electrical items have been tampered with or appear irregular are also of interest”.

The government said that the proposals can focus on the screening of electrical items within bags at security screening areas, or on the use of portable technology to screen items “at other points in the passenger journey”.

Commenting on the fund security minister Ben Wallace said that “We need to embrace and encourage the talent from industry that will allow us to stay several steps ahead of those who wish us harm”, while minister for aviation Lord Callanan said:

“The UK has always been at the forefront of research and development in the field of aviation security.

“The safety and security of the travelling public will always be our top priority but we understand that this can sometimes be inconvenient for passengers – especially families with young children.

“As technology improves we want to make the aviation experience quicker and easier for all holidaymakers.”

The fund is part of a wider initiative to “deliver a step change in aviation security”, through joint DfT and Home Office programme the Future Aviation Security Solutions.

More information on the fund can be found here.

gov.uk

“Inadequate broadband” still a hurdle for home workers

Cloud downloading on mobile phone (iStock)

Britain’s would-be remote workers are being put off from working from home by “slow or inadequate broadband”, according to new research by workspace provider Regus.

The survey of 1,700 professionals found that over a quarter (27 per cent) cited “inadequate internet provision” as their biggest hurdle to working remotely.

The research also highlighted the need for internet-enabled tools to communicate with team members when not in the office, with 62 per cent citing Skype as essential to facilitating remote working, and 72 per cent seeing Dropbox as a necessity.

Regus said that the results contrasted with previous research showing that nearly half (44 per cent) of respondents claiming remote working as being beneficial to productivity, and nearly a third (32 per cent) stating that it was good for morale.

The workspace provider pointed to a recent report by Lord Adonis, chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, in which he warned that “the UK risks falling behind other countries in its next generation mobile and broadband connections unless urgent action is taken to increase capacity now and for the future”.

Adonis highlighted the fact that UK lags behind countries including the USA, the Netherlands and Japan for 4G and broadband speeds.

regus.co.uk

Marriott opens two Vancouver properties

JW Marriott Parc Vancouver

Meanwhile The Douglas  – “named for the original Douglas firs that laid the foundation for Vancouver’s thriving economy” – features 178 rooms and ten suites, including three two-storey lofts on the 16th and 17th floors, as well as sixth floor lobby with a front desk constructed from a 25-foot replica Douglas fir encased in glass.

Both properties have access to the development’s eight restaurant and lounge concepts including Cantonese fine dining eatery 1886 and farm-to-table concept Honey and Salt, and are connected by a sixth floor outdoor park featuring more than 200 native pines and 15,000 local plants.

Parq Vancouver also offers two floors of casino space with 75 tables, 600 slot machines and 11 private gaming rooms.

Commenting on the openings Mitzi Gaskins, Global Brand Leader, JW Marriott & The Luxury Collection said:

“British Columbia is an untapped market for JW Marriott, making Vancouver the ideal setting to introduce this extraordinary luxury brand to the region.

“Vancouver’s reputation as a center of health, sports and recreation, as well as a thriving cultural scene, makes it a perfect fit for our guests and we look forward to welcoming travellers and locals alike through our doors this fall.”

The two hotels join existing Marriott brands in the city including Residence Inn, Delta Hotels, and Marriott Hotels.

marriott.com

Apple Maps adds seven airport maps, with more to come

Apple Maps

Apple is adding several new airport terminal maps to its Maps app as part of the latest update to iOS 11, the operating system for iPhones and the company’s other mobile devices, Ars Technica reports.

The beta release of iOS 11 included maps of two airports — San Jose International (SJC) and Philadelphia International (PHL) — with the promise of more to come.

With the full release of the operating system update, the Maps app now also features terminal maps of Oakland International (OAK), Miami International (MIA), Minneapolis-St. Paul International (MSP), Baltimore–Washington International (BWI), Portland International (PDX), McCarran International in Las Vegas (LAS), Chicago/O’Hare International (ORD), and Midway International (MDW).

Map details include terminal layouts, security checkpoint and gate locations, and markers for hotels, restaurants, and shops.

At Apple’s 2017 developer’s conference, company officials also signaled their intention to add more than 20 other airport maps in the near future, including:

  • Amsterdam (AMS)
  • Berlin (TXL, SXF)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Detroit (DTW)
  • Doha (DOH)
  • Dubai (DXB)
  • Geneva (GVA)
  • Hong Kong (HKG)
  • Houston (HOU, IAH)
  • Indianapolis (IND)
  • Jacksonville (JAX)
  • London (LHR, LGW)
  • Los Angeles (LAX, SNA)
  • Nashville (BNA)
  • New York (JFK, LGA)
  • Newark (EWR)
  • Pittsburgh (PIT)
  • San Diego (SAN)
  • Seattle (SEA)
  • Toronto (YYZ)
  • Vancouver (YVR)

apple.com

Etihad Guest begins system upgrade

Etihad Airways A380

Etihad Airways is carrying out a system upgrade to its Etihad Guest loyalty programme over the next few days, which will result in account information being unavailable for several days.

Etihad says the upgrade will start today (October 23), and the carrier “aims to be back online by October 26”.

During the maintenance period members will not be able to access or update their Etihad Guest account information, nor will they be able to use miles for flight purchases, upgrades, lounge access or partner redemptions, or make changes to bookings using miles. The scheme’s Reward Shop will also be offline.

However Etihad assures customers that they will still be able to book / modify  flights at etihad.com, and any miles earned during the upgrade period “will reflect in your account once our systems are back online”.

Date changes can also be made to reward flight bookings by calling the carrier’s contact centre.

More information on the scheduled upgrade can be seen at etihadguest.com.

etihad.com