The fastest way to get through airport security: Courtesy Google Maps

Posted on: December 15th, 2013 by: planensimple

I must admit that at airports at train stations I’m always the one who is hurrying around to make it for the flight and with ever increasing security checks things are only getting tighter. I am not the types that likes to come early to the airports for me the biggest enjoyments is the time in the air where I get to have my piece with no phones ringing (although that may be changing soon). So for me I always dreamt of a way whereby I could have a feel of the places beforehand just in order to save some time spent dashing around or maybe looking for the shop to pick up a souvenir or a request from someone at the duty free.

Google street view has started making my dreams come true by expanding its street view listing to cover 16 international airports and 50 train and subway stations worldwide along with the Hong Kong cable car. This is already in addition to the Emirates A380 “street view” that lets you experience the legendary first class with showers without having to spend top dollars for the same.

Check in at Madrid Barajas, ES

Image source: Google

Emirates A380 at Dubai Airport

Image source: Google

I have personally used the same to check out Barcelona El Prat and London Gatwick before my travels and I must say am duly impressed. Hoping to see more additions to this in future and that would surely be the fastest way to get through security. Although am yet to find any airport that can beat the quick times at Singapore’s Changi Airport where travelling is an amazing experience in itself.

Head over to https://maps.google.com/ to start exploring today.

Jet Airways and IndiGo pull out inventory from Makemytrip.com

Posted on: April 18th, 2012 by: planensimple

If you are planning a trip to India and use Makemytrip.com to book your travel, be warned. Jet Airways and IndiGo which among themselves fly nearly 50% of domestic traffic in India have pulled out their inventory from the travel site Makemytrip.com protesting the so called ‘opaque fare’ scheme the site was running.

To give a brief background about the ‘opaque scheme’ the travel sites in India which were stuck with the loads of the ailing Kingfisher Airlines tickets offered heavily discounted air tickets without disclosing the airline name until the payment was made. However, the country’s aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) directed all airlines to immediately withdraw participation from such schemes through a directive on March 28, 2012 as they do not present a complete picture for the passenger and is highly misleading.

The scheme led to much anguish among passengers who were given tickets of Kingfisher flights which later got cancelled without any advance warning. What needs to be seen now is as to how long this pullout of inventory continues and what will happen to the state of Kingfisher whose only method for survival is under threat due to this given that it has already lost its IATA membership and has been trying to fill whatever planes its running through these cheap fare offers. In the end lets hope it leads to a better solution where passengers get a good deal with airlines making a decent profit so as to help them stay afloat.

Accor A|Club 50% off sale for 9 days

Posted on: November 16th, 2011 by: planensimple

The French hotel group Accor hotels has launched a 9 day crazy sale where they are offering upto 50% discount on the participating properties worldwide. The booking needs to be completed before 25th November 2011 and the stay has to be from 11th December 2011 to 12th February 2012.

Accor’s loyalty program A|Club members enjoy the 50% discount whereas non-member enjoy a 40% discount. The list of the participating hotels can be found here and the booking can be made here.

Accor which has Pullman, M Gallery, Grand Mercure, Novotel, Mercure, ibis, All Seasons, Orbis and adagio brands in its portfolio has a good network worldwide and this sale seems to be a good opportunity to try out their properties at reduced prices and earn the A|Club points for your stay.

Virgin Atlantic eyeing to combine with BMI

Posted on: October 15th, 2011 by: planensimple

As reported by Businessweek earlier, Virgin Atlantic CEO, Steve Ridgway said that the airline is actively looking to combine with bmi British Midland International, this news comes in the wake of bmi slot sale to British Airways and Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz indicating that the ailing airline maybe on the block.

Should this combine become a reality, it would provide Virgin Atlantic with a much needed domestic reach in the European markets which would help it feed its International operations which would be much a needed booster shot for the airline that is also reviewing its plans to look for potential investors after the 49% stake holder Singapore Airlines sending feelers in the market about its stake sale in Virgin Atlantic itself. In the past Virgin Atlantic has tried twice to acquire bmi stake once in 1999 when Lufthansa acquired bmi and then again in December 2008 and November 2009 but the talks never seem to have materialised.

Also this deal would result in strengthening Virgin Atlantic’s position at Heathrow airport and step up competition for British Airways which itself maybe interested in bmi but knows that regulatory approvals for the same may be hard to come by. Given Virgin Atlantic’s history in terms of takeover and mergers i highly doubt that this deal may even happen, but tough times call for some tough actions and if they do not act fast they lose big time to the stepped up competitions from other airlines and alliances.

American Express adds Virgin America to Membership Rewards program

Posted on: September 12th, 2011 by: planensimple

American Express just announced that it will be adding Virgin America to it’s Membership Rewards program.

Beginning October 5, 2011 AMEX card members who are registered for the Membership Rewards program will be able to redeem their Membership Reward points for Virgin America Elevate points. The exact details of the tie-up are awaited.

This is a welcome addition to the program after they lost Continental which ceases to be a partner of the Membership Rewards program from October 1, 2011 onwards.

I will blog about further details as and when they become available.

Singapore Airlines removing A380 flights to Melbourne

Posted on: September 12th, 2011 by: planensimple

As i had blogged earlier, Singapore airlines has been on a aircraft changing spree on many of it’s routes, now i hear that the new changes are going to happen on the Melbourne route. The exact reason behind these changes on this route are still unknown. I do find the change a little bit odd given that’s it’s one of the big revenue earning route for them but my suspicion is that it has got something to do with their recent changes to the Airbus A380 schedule on the Sydney route.

Starting 15 January 2012:

  1. SQ227 and SQ238 will lose the Airbus A380 to be replaced with the refurbished Boeing 777-300.
  2. SQ237 and SQ228 will be flown using the archaic Boeing 747 replacing the Boeing 777-300 currently being used to serve the same.
  3. SQ217 and SQ218 will continue to use Boeing 777-300ER which feature the same wide, fully flat beds similar to the ones in Airbus A380 business class.

In my opinion this is a big downgrade on this route given that the Airbus A380 flat bed business class is a far superior product in comparison to the ones being offered on the Boeing 777-300 and the Boeing 747 which feature the upgraded regional business class seats and the outdated business class seats respectively.

Anybody looking to book their travel for the next year on this route should plan accordingly and if convenient try to book your travel on the flights using the Boeing 777-300ER for the best experience and comfort.

600 free Aeroplan miles

Posted on: September 9th, 2011 by: planensimple

Via Flyertalk

I know this offer has been around for a while now but still worth it to grab some free Aeroplan miles

  1. Home Hardware is giving away 100 Aeroplan miles for registering up with them with a valid Canadian postal code (it needs that to identify the nearest Home Hardware store for you). The link can be found here
  2. Enroll for the Fairmont President’s Club which is the loyalty program for the Fairmont Hotels and Resorts using the PROMO CODE: PASHN and update your profile with your Aeroplan number to earn 500 Aeroplan miles. Existing members can add the PROMO CODE: PASSION to their profile along with your Aeroplan number. For both the methods opt-in to communications in necessary, you may keep getting promotional mails but once the miles are credited you can unsubscribe the same. The link can be found here

It only takes a few seconds for signing up for both the offers and you easily pocket 600 miles.

Miles & More offers 2000 Award miles on enrollment

Posted on: September 9th, 2011 by: planensimple

Miles and More is offering 2000 award miles on enrollment for people with an Indian address. (Which get credited to your account once  you take your first flight with Lufthansa and it’s affiliates) : Thanks to AJ for pointing this out

The link for the same is here.

They are also running a Quiz in which they are running a weekly sweepstakes and can win a ticket to Europe.

Miles and More seems to be going all guns to capture a big frequent flyer market share out of an important market like India. They have already been building up a good network of partners where one can redeem miles.

They also have an interesting tie up with TripAdvisor.in where you can earn 100 Miles & More award miles for 1 hotel review on TripAdvisor.in and there is a 10,000 bonus miles sweepstake whereby for every 3 hotel reviews on TripAdvisor.in you will be eligible to participate in the sweepstakes where 3 lucky winners will get 10,000 Miles & More each.

The link for the Lufthansa TripAdvisor offer is here

The TripAdvisor offer is also valid for Jet Airways and Kingfisher Frequent Flyers check it out here and here.

 

Complimentary Silver Status and up to 30,000 bonus miles on Marriott stays

Posted on: September 8th, 2011 by: planensimple

Marriott is currently running a promo whereby it’s offering complimentary Silver Elite status for new enrollments which will be good till February 2013 and an opportunity to earn up to 30,000 bonus miles to Frequent Flyer members of the following airline programs with a residential / business postal address in Australia, China, Guam, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam:

  1. Air China PhoenixMiles
  2. China Eastern Airlines Eastern Miles
  3. China Southern Airlines Sky Pearl Club
  4. Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  5. KingFisher Airlines King Club
  6. Jet Airways JetPrivilege

The enrollment link can be found here and the stays have to be completed at the participating hotels between 8 September 2011 and 31 January 2012.

The Silver Elite membership brings with it the following benefits during stays at the Marriott properties:

  1. Free Internet Access at Participating Hotels in Asia Pacific
  2. Priority Late Checkout
  3. Ultimate Reservation Guarantee
  4. No Blackout Dates
  5. Elite Only Rewards
  6. Weekend Discount
  7. Gift Shop Discount

The Bonus miles earning kicks in from 2nd stay onwards as explained here:

The participating brands include JW Marriott®, EDITIONSM, Autograph Collection®, Renaissance® Hotels, Marriott® Hotels & Resorts, Courtyard by Marriott®, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott®, SpringHill Suites by Marriott®, Residence Inn by Marriott®, TownePlace Suites by Marriott®, Marriott Vacation Club® and beginning November 2011 at their newest brand, AC Hotels by Marriott.

Marriott has some really nice properties in Asia and i have really enjoyed staying with them. It’s a nice offer and am surely going to make the most of it.

CAG raps AI for it’s financial mess

Posted on: September 8th, 2011 by: planensimple

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India today tabled a report in the Parliament of India stating that the Civil Aviation Ministry’s decision to change it’s order book from the initial 18 smaller capacity and 10 medium capacity aircraft in January 2004, to 50 medium and long range planes worth about $7.2 billion, and 18 more for Air India charters in November 2004 has imposed an “undue long term financial burden on the carrier”

The report comes at a time when AI is already saddled with high debt caused due to inefficient processes and high interest payment on the accumulated part of which was to fund the buying of these planes. Also the botched up merger of AI-IA has caused a huge strain on the company balance sheet in terms of bloated manpower which needs to be trimmed at the earliest.

The key takeaways from today’s report were:

  1. The total loan liability of National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL) is $9.5 billion, including $4.76 billion of long term loans earmarked for fleet acquisition.
  2. AI has been consistently making losses ever since the merger and the majority of the losses are currently from the non-stop Indo-US route which contributed between 41 percent and 90 percent of Air India’s total operating losses during the period 2005/06 to 2009/10. Currently all it’s International routes are loss making.
  3. AI has been heavily dependent on debt and the government should promptly infuse more equity in a timely fashion to bring down the debt-equity level to industry standards.

I must say I’m not very surprised by the findings of the report which have stated the obvious in terms of numbers, AI under it’s needs to act fast and take up some drastic measures in order to ensure that it regains it’s lost reputation as one the finest airlines and also start making some money. Does this mean that AI will restructure it’s orders? Given that the Star Alliance deal is all but gone now, How does AI plan to justify the investment? All said and done i don’t have much hope though given that the current political bosses lack the will to ensure a turnaround at the State owned carrier. The future for AI seems to bleak as of now.

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