LeClub Accor Hotels the loyalty program of the Accor hotel chain which contain of some very trendy brands like Sofitel, Novotel and Pullman is running a promotion whereby anyone who signs up for a new account and sets the earning preference as converting of hotel stay points directly to Delta or Air Canada Aeroplan miles will get 500 free miles.
The offer is also valid for existing customers of the LeClub Accor hotels program, all you need to do is just login to your account and change your earning preference to Delta or Air Canada Aeroplan miles and its an easy 500 miles for you.
You can sign up for the Delta offer here and the Air Canada Aeroplan offer here
The promotion is valid from 1st June 2012 to 31st August 2012 and can be combined with any existing offers that you have subscribed to with LeClub Accor hotels.
Room Key, the global hotel search platform created by six of the biggest hotel brands intends to change the way hotel bookings are done. The 6 hotel chains namely Choice Hotels International, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels, InterContinental Hotels, Marriott International and Wyndham Hotel Group have joined forces together to pool their and other independent hotel properties to create their own search engine which promises to offer the lowest possible rate, no cancellation charges and best of all you still get to earn loyalty points on these rates. The site which has been around since January 2012 and seems to be one of the ways where hotels plan to cut down on their distribution costs incurred while dealing with the Online Travel Agents, Global Distribution Systems and also with the growing threat of travel aggregators like Google and Bing.
The site seems to be pretty easy to use and well crafted with all the data quite well defined for a good user experience. The two features that I found on the site that I found pretty useful were:
1. Creating shortlists for the search results and then the ability to share the same with others.
2. Integrated TripAdvisor reviews for the properties available.
How much threat this initiative of the big chains will be to the established market players still remains to be seen, given that the established have a well built distribution network and strong alliances which help them maintain a good grip in the industry and also they are pretty strong in their domain of operations which is e-commerce. Overall I found the site a pleasant experience to use and would love to see how does the potential cost savings from such initiatives get passed onto the customers.
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.
As per this thread on Milepoint, Priority Club is running a survey that will get you 250 points for just completing the survey. The survey has 12 questions and you need to rate the choices on the scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best and 1 being the worst.
As per the thread the survey seems to be linked to the ongoing Freddies given that the questions are somewhat on the same lines and also because the link contains “Freddies” in it.
Completed the same in just 5 mins and got a confirmation e-mail for the same. So go ahead and grab these points, the link for the survey can be found here
Singapore Airlines will commemorate the retirement of the legendary Boeing 747-400 from its fleet by running a special flight on the 6th of April 2012 from Singapore to Hong Kong and back. One can go ahead and make a request for booking SIN-HKG and HKG-SIN flights, I’m sure seats on the flight will be taken up very very fast so you really need ASAP.
The Packages offered for the Ex-SIN flight as mentioned on the website are:
And the ex-HKG packages as mentioned on the website are
I’m personally looking forward to be on atleast one of these flights and am sure with all the aviation enthusiasts on board it’s really going to be one hell of a ride.
Singapore Airlines has created a special website to show the journey of the 747 in its fleet right from the time of its induction in service,it’s a wonderful timeline taking you through the various phases and how it changed things for Singapore Air itself. The same can be accessed here.
First of all a Happy Republic Day to every Indian out there in the world, Finnair decided to celebrate the occasion with a special dance routine on there Helsinki-Delhi flight. The crew attired in Indian costumes danced to the hit Bollywood song ‘Om Shanti Om’.
Malaysian long haul carrier Air Asia X has planned to scrap its unprofitable routes to Europe and India. The carrier that is planning to list itself in the near future independently from its low cost pioneer parent Air Asia, is ceasing operations to Mumbai from January 2012, while services to New Delhi, London and Paris will cease in March 2012.
The airline is citing weak European economy/reduced demand, continued high fuel prices and high airport and government taxes including 1 Jan 2012 carbon tax as the reasons for discontinuation of its services.
London and Paris were the only European destinations that the low carrier was flying and this effectively puts an end to its ambitions to fly to those sectors unless the current European crisis subsides or a decision is taken with regards to the EU carbon tax.
The airline plans to focus back on its core strengths in Australasia,China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea and also introduce new routes in these sectors to build up on its strength with taking on current long haul services from Jetstar and soon to be launched Singapore Airlines subsidiary Scoot.
With regards to India, the airlines strategy was flawed right from the start, In markets like India where low-cost carriers also use agents and travel sites to sell their capacity, Air Asia tried to go solo and bombed big time with poor load factors. The airline tried to tackle the market with its usual strategy but forgot that the Indian markets are not the usual low cost markets with the typical low cost facilities and hence suffered from high airport costs and fuel charges.
The airline plans to continue operating its remaining routes in India but with Indian airlines also moving in these sectors it remains to be seen how does it plan to tackle them.
Hong Kong Airlines has placed an order for 10 Airbus A380s with Airbus which makes the order worth $3.8 billion worth at list prices. Airbus plans to start the delivery to the airlines from 2015 onwards.
While the Hong Kong Airlines order still hasn’t appeared in Airbus’s order and delivery figures on the Internet, It will bring Airbus’s order tally for A380s to 27 won last year, when the manufacturer also signed contracts with Japan’s Skymark Airlines and South Korea’s Asiana Airlines Inc. for six each, and a further five for Qatar Airways Ltd. further strengthening its position in superjumbo market and also helping it overcome the recent bad press it has had to face due to a string of issues with the A380′s that belong to Qantas and Singapore Airlines. What remains to be seen is how and when will the program turn into a profitable version for Airbus given that right now it is heavily reliant on the large chunk of the orders from Emirates for the A380 which makes up a considerable percentage of the total.
Star Alliance Carrier, Air New Zealand which is very popular in the social media for its cheeky ads and smart campaigns recently gave a sneak peek at the world’s largest commercially operated aircraft to be painted completely black.
The airline has gotten Boeing to paint its fifth B777-300ER in all black livery dedicated to the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team, the aircraft which is expected to be delivered to Air New Zealand in late January following the completion of its interior fit out and will make its way to Auckland, Los Angeles, London Heathrow and Melbourne airports during 2012.
Highlighting its long standing sponsorship of the All Blacks who also are the current World Champions, the airline got Kieran Read and Andy Ellis to Boeing hangar facility in Seattle for a special ceremony for the aircraft’s unveiling to world. As per Boeing, painting the aircraft took just over a week, two days longer than it normally takes to paint a 777 aircraft. 185 gallons (700 liters) of chrome-free primer and paint was used and involved a total of 14 painters working in shifts 24 hours a day. Prepping and painting the aircraft entirely black took one and a half days, followed by a further five days for the intricate detail of the silver fern overlaid on it and the Koru symbol. Remaining time was spent on the finishing touches, Boeing has termed this as one of the most challenging paint jobs in it’s history.
The all black color scheme and silver fern are a key part of both New Zealand’s and the All Blacks’ identity has already been painted on a couple of A320’s (ZK-OAB and ZK-OJR) and they entered into service earlier this year, By mid next year Air New Zealand will have six aircraft featuring the all black livery including two Airbus A320s and three Beech 1900D turbo-props. Contrary to popular belief, the black paint won’t cause the aircraft to heat up a great deal. In fact, the more than 330 individual TV screens inside the aircraft create more additional heat than the all black paint job.
Personally I find the livery amazing and a great masterpiece, hats off to the technicians who made this happen with all the long hours put in by them and am really looking forward to have a chance to fly the bird soon.
Emirates has recently announced plans of providing in-flight internet on-board its superjumbo fleet of 11 of the 19 Airbus A380s already in service starting mid-2012. All future Emirates A380s will be rolled out pre-fitted with wireless Internet. Passengers will be able to connect their smartphone, tablet or laptop to wireless hotspots dotted around the superjumbo and tap into in-flight Internet service provided by OnAir, with prices ranging from US$7.50 to US$25.
The $7.50 plan, which will be available only to mobile device users will come with a 5MB data limit and is targeted for users looking for light surfing, checking emails and other social network activities, as Emirates puts it “ The US $7.50 package should be sufficient for the average Blackberry user to stay connected all the way from Dubai to Paris – a flight of over six and one half hours”.
The remaining plans are valid for laptops and mobile devices starting with the $15 plan which comes with a 25MB data limit which is for people looking to get some work done while on the flight and will surely appeal the business traveller. Lastly there us a $25 plan which is aimed at heavy users having a 100 MB data limit.
With the amount of time being spent in air increasing, in-flight internet options are becoming increasingly necessary for the frequent traveller to help stay connected with the world and for Emirates it provides a huge opportunity for growth given that they have one of the best long haul fleets and also the best service in the class.
Topguest, a San Francisco-based startup company providing loyalty and social network engagement products to travel companies has been acquired by ezRez which is a provider of provider of travel, loyalty and payment solutions and counts many big names as its customers.
Topguest has been quite popular of late due to the fact that it enables members of leading travel loyalty programs, such as United MileagePlus, Continental One Pass, IHG Priority Club and Hilton HHonors, to earn reward points for geo-located check-ins via their mobile devices and its website by linking their accounts with Topguest service. The utilizes the check-in feature of the social apps such as Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram and Twitter to help its subscribers earn miles and hotel points and receive exclusive offers and bonuses for simply using some of these popular social services. As I had blogged earlier Topguest recently announced a white label product that will enable traditional loyalty programs to implement a fully branded social network component. Based on data derived from their members’ social networking activity, loyalty programs can carefully target and customize offers that are relevant to each member. The white label product is currently in beta with starting with Hilton as its launch partner.
ezRez plans to integrate Topguest solution into its existing travel booking platform for airlines, hotels and online travel agencies to help people earn points for various activities. Points can then be redeemed for travel via ezRez’s loyalty travel platform, or for merchandise via ezRez’s new digital wallet product that allows points to pay for merchandise and services across the internet. The digital wallet product was announced in October with inaugural partners PayPal and United MileagePlus, and will launch in 2012. The details about the same can be found here and here.
It seems to be a great combo for the frequent travellers as they get to earn some extra points for almost every activity of their travel schedule and other related aspects of their daily life. Lets see how this partnership shapes up in the coming year and what all new products they have to offer the frequent flyers.