AIR NZ THE HIGH­EST FLYER

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - TRAVEL NEWS - SU­SAN BUGG

Our neigh­bours across the Tas­man have pipped Aus­tralia to have the topranked air­line for 2018. Avi­a­tion safety and prod­uct rat­ing re­view web­site Air­lin­er­at­ings.com has put Air New Zealand at No. 1 in its lat­est Top 10. Qan­tas is sec­ond and Sin­ga­pore Air­lines third, both on the strength of new 787s and A350s, and re­vamped in-flight ser­vice. Vir­gin Aus­tralia – whose new busi­ness class is turn­ing heads, Vir­gin At­lantic, Eti­had Air­ways, All Nip­pon Air­ways, Korean Air, Cathay Pa­cific and Ja­pan Air­lines com­plete the list.

It is the fifth con­sec­u­tive year that Air New Zealand has been hon­oured for fac­tors in­clud­ing record­break­ing fi­nan­cial per­for­mance, in­flight in­no­va­tions, en­vi­ron­men­tal lead­er­ship, young fleet and mo­ti­va­tion of its staff. Conde Nast Trav­eller read­ers have also named the air­line as best in the world out­side the US.

The judg­ing panel said Air New Zealand came out No. 1, or equal first, in all the awards’ au­dit cri­te­ria. It was also judged to have the best pre­mium econ­omy of­fer­ing in the air.

Qan­tas was named as “best cater­ing” win­ner for the fourth year, and topped the Best Lounges and Best Do­mes­tic Class as well for in­flight ser­vice that “matches or ex­ceeds in­ter­na­tional ser­vice”.

Eti­had was named Best Long Haul Air­line and Emirates con­tin­ued its lead­er­ship in the in-flight en­ter­tain­ment stakes.

To be in the Top 10, air­lines must achieve a seven-star safety rat­ing and demon­strate lead­er­ship in in­no­va­tion for pas­sen­ger com­fort. AIR­LIN­ER­AT­INGS.COM

ALL ABOARD

On Novem­ber 9, one of the most fa­mous trains in the world chugs into cin­e­mas in the star-stud­ded adap­ta­tion of Agatha Christie’s Mur­der on the Ori­ent Ex­press.

In the film, De­tec­tive Her­cule Poirot (Ken­neth Branagh) is mak­ing the trip from Is­tan­bul to Lon­don, un­til the train is stranded in a snow­drift in Yu­goslavia, where one of the pas­sen­gers is mur­dered.

The cast also in­cludes Michelle Pfeif­fer, Johnny Depp, Dame Judi Dench and Amer­i­can fun­ny­man Josh Gad, who fol­lowed up his filmic jour­ney with a train ride on as real a deal as still ex­ists to­day – the Venice Sim­plon-Ori­ent-Ex­press.

“It was one of the thrills of my life,” Gad told News Corp movie re­porter Neala John­son. “It was the tail end of win­ter so you saw all of these in­cred­i­ble snow-cov­ered peaks but also all of this in­cred­i­ble green­ery. Go­ing through the Aus­trian Alps in par­tic­u­lar was one of the most breath­tak­ing scenes I’ve ever ex­pe­ri­enced.”

Though the orig­i­nal Ori­ent Ex­press, which car­ried pas­sen­gers in lux­ury from 1883-2009, no longer ex­ists, Bel­mond (which also runs the Royal Scots­man) now op­er­ates the Venice Sim­plon-Ori­ent-Ex­press, car­ry­ing pas­sen­gers around Europe in re­stored 1920s art deco op­u­lence, with mul­ti­ple bars and restau­rant cars. Its reg­u­lar route runs Lon­don-Paris-Venice, but the com­pany also adds oc­ca­sional de­par­tures to Vi­enna, Bu­dapest, Krakow, Prague, Rome, Stock­holm and Is­tan­bul.

If a $4040 one-way trip from Lon­don to Venice sounds a bit rich, many of the gen­uine vis­tas are on show in Mur­der on the Ori­ent Ex­press. “They did an un­be­liev­able job recre­at­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing on that train,” says Gad. “The hero train in the film was built on a gim­bal, so as this train is syn­thet­i­cally mov­ing, you also have these high def­i­ni­tion, 360 de­gree im­ages of ac­tual moun­tains and all of this ter­rain be­ing pro­jected. BEL­MOND.COM

FRESH LOOK AT FISH

Fif­teen years in the mak­ing, Europe’s largest fresh­wa­ter aquar­ium has opened in Lau­sanne, Switzer­land.

AQUATIS, set on Lake Geneva – the largest body of fresh­wa­ter in Western Europe – is home to 20 dif­fer­ent ecosys­tems, 300 plant species, 10,000 fish from Europe, Africa, Asia, Ocea­nia and South Amer­ica, 100 rep­tiles and am­phib­ians.

AQUATIS.CH, MYSWITZERLAND.COM

YALA RE­SORT

The Sri Lankan fam­ily be­hind Dilmah Tea has added a third prop­erty to its Re­s­plen­dent Cey­lon ho­tel col­lec­tion.

Beach­side Wild Coast Tented Lodge opened last week on the edge of Yala Na­tional Park, home to wild ele­phants, sloth bears and leop­ards. Com­bin­ing the com­forts of a lux­ury ho­tel with a wilder­ness sa­fari camp, the lodge has 28 tented “co­coon suites” of­fer­ing panoramic jun­gle views from the dou­ble-height glass fa­cades.

The open­ing is timely as Sri Lankan Air­lines re­turns to Aus­tralia for the first time in 15 years. The air­line last week launched daily non­stop ser­vices be­tween Melbourne and Colombo. RESPLENDENTCEYLON.COM SRILANKAN.COM/AUS­TRALIA

PIC­TURE: SI­MON CASSON

AIR NEW ZEALAND It’s plane and sim­ple, Air New Zealand is the con­sis­tent win­ner to air­line hon­ours.

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