EYES TO THE SKIES

Air­line changes are mak­ing travel even eas­ier

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - FLYING | INNOVATION - AMANDA WOODS

New planes, new places and new lounges are keep­ing fly­ing fresh for even the most fre­quent of fly­ers. Here are some of the changes we’re see­ing in the air and on the ground, right now and in the years ahead.

WING­ING IT

It’s al­most time for a new plane to take to the skies, as Boe­ing builds the first flight test 777X in its fac­tory in Everett, Wash­ing­ton.

The 777X will be­come the largest and most ef­fi­cient twin-en­gine jet in the world, with in­te­ri­ors in­spired by the 787 Dream­liner in­clud­ing a wider cabin and larger win­dows. It will also be the first com­mer­cial plane to have fold­ing wings. Just as some mil­i­tary air­craft fold their wings so they can fit onto air­craft car­ri­ers, the 777X has hinged wingtips so that it can carry more pas­sen­gers and still dock at reg­u­lar air­port gates.

Emi­rates will be the first air­line to fly a 777X in 2020, with Lufthansa, Sin­ga­pore Air­lines, Eti­had, Qatar Air­ways and Cathay Pa­cific also look­ing for­ward to first de­liv­er­ies.

The 777X is also in Qan­tas’s sights as a pos­si­ble con­tender for “Project Sun­rise”. The air­line has chal­lenged Boe­ing and Air­bus to stretch their next gen­er­a­tion air­crafts’ range to make non-stop Syd­ney-to-Lon­don and Mel­bourne-to-New York flights a re­al­ity by 2022.

NOW FLY­ING TO …

Sin­ga­pore Air­lines’ new long­est flight in the world – from Sin­ga­pore to New York – made the big­gest splash of the year for new routes, but there are many other new flight paths for trav­ellers to try.

New di­rect routes and one-stop hops will make some des­ti­na­tions even eas­ier for Aus­tralians to visit.

In Septem­ber, Qan­tas started fly­ing di­rect from Mel­bourne to San Fran­cisco, sav­ing around 60,000 pas­sen­gers from stop-offs in Syd­ney or Los An­ge­les.

Vir­gin Aus­tralia has just started di­rect flights be­tween Syd­ney and Welling­ton and be­tween Mel­bourne and Queen­stown af­ter its al­liance with Air New Zealand ended.

Emi­rates has two new one-stop op­tions in the UK for Aussies, fly­ing daily from Dubai to Ed­in­burgh and Dubai to Lon­don Stansted in its new Boe­ing 777-300ERs.

Cebu Pa­cific, the only low-cost car­rier fly­ing di­rectly be­tween Aus­tralia and the Philip­pines, now flies di­rect from Mel­bourne to Manila three times a week, adding to its five­times-a-week ser­vice ex Syd­ney.

Next April, Hawai­ian Air­lines starts di­rect Hon­olulu-to-Bos­ton flights, giv­ing Aus­tralians a new alo­haflavoured stopover to the East Coast.

Cathay Pa­cific has launched new ser­vices to Wash­ing­ton, D.C. and Cape Town, and in March will add Seat­tle to its net­work in the United States.

And here at home, Vir­gin Aus­tralia will launch a new di­rect Perth-Gold Coast ser­vice over the Christ­mas pe­riod. The ser­vice will fly twice weekly, De­cem­ber 13 to Jan­uary 26.

TECH TOUCHES

Our smart phones have new ways to make our trav­els eas­ier, with Vir­gin Aus­tralia be­com­ing the first air­line out­side North Amer­ica to of­fer voice check-in via Ama­zon Alexa.

The Vir­gin Aus­tralia app also has new fea­tures in­clud­ing ter­mi­nal maps with way­far­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties to help pas­sen­gers nav­i­gate through more com­plex air­ports like LAX.

And next year should see the in­te­gra­tion of some part­ner air­lines’ apps, with Vir­gin Aus­tralia work­ing with Sin­ga­pore Air­lines, Eti­had Air­ways, Delta Air Lines and oth­ers to em­bed func­tion­al­ity so you can check in and se­lect your seat on part­ner air­lines from your home air­line’s app.

Mean­while, Sin­ga­pore Air­lines has solved a frus­trat­ing prob­lem for those who find the plane is land­ing when they’re half way through a movie. Its new in-flight en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem uses Kr­is­Flyer mem­ber­ship num­bers to book­mark movies and TV shows so pas­sen­gers can pick up where they left off on the next flight. The sys­tem

LOUNGE AROUND

QAN­TAS LOUNGE LON­DON STANSTED Emi­rates is to launch a new daily route from Dubai to Lon­don Stansted; the 777X will be­come the largest and most ef­fi­cient twinengine jet in the world; in Mel­bourne, Asian street food has spiced up the Qan­tas Do­mes­tic Busi­ness Lounge. also re­mem­bers cus­tomer favourites and view­ing his­tory and lets Kr­is­Flyer mem­bers build a playlist on the Sin­ga­poreAir app be­fore their flight.

In Mel­bourne, the Qan­tas Club and Do­mes­tic Busi­ness Lounge have been re­de­vel­oped, with a Spice Bar with Asian street food fea­tur­ing in the do­mes­tic lounge.

In Syd­ney, Qan­tas is build­ing a new in­ter­na­tional busi­ness lounge with 35 per cent more seat­ing, while its flag­ship In­ter­na­tional First lounge will be ex­panded by 15 per cent when it’s re­freshed. Qan­tas has also an­nounced a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar up­grade pro­gram for five other lounges in Bris­bane, Ho­bart, Tam­worth, Auck­land and Tokyo.

Mean­while, Vir­gin Aus­tralia has started rolling out its new in­ter­na­tional lounge net­work that will see new looks in Syd­ney, Bris­bane, Mel­bourne, Auck­land, Christchurch, Queen­stown and Welling­ton.

In Bris­bane “My Lounge” has been de­signed with a loft apart­ment feel in­clud­ing lounge ar­eas and a games room. Syd­ney and Mel­bourne’s new in­ter­na­tional lounges will be part of the No1 Lounges’ brand, The House, and will be shared with Eti­had Air­ways. Over the next year, The House will ex­pand Syd­ney’s ex­ist­ing Eti­had lounge to in­crease ca­pac­ity by more than 50 per cent.

The House Lounges will also be avail­able to pas­sen­gers on other air­lines who are will­ing to pay.

BREATHE IN, BREATHE OUT

Ner­vous fly­ers will soon have a spe­cial box to tick when book­ing a flight with Vir­gin Aus­tralia. From early next year the air­line will let peo­ple who need more at­ten­tion iden­tify them­selves so they can get the care they need.

Vir­gin Aus­tralia has also launched a new part­ner­ship with Smil­ing Mind to pro­vide guided med­i­ta­tions on the in-flight en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem.

Vir­gin At­lantic cre­ated the first med­i­ta­tion chan­nel with Headspace in 2011. Headspace has gone on to work with 11 air­lines in­clud­ing Cathay Pa­cific and Bri­tish Air­ways.

VIR­GIN AUS­TRALIA IS THE FIRST AIR­LINE OUT­SIDE NORTH AMER­ICA TO OF­FER VOICE CHECK-IN VIA AMA­ZON ALEXA

GREENER SKIES

Air New Zealand vows to con­tinue its fight against plas­tic and re­move more sin­gle-use plas­tic items. The air­line has al­ready scrapped plas­tic straws, stir sticks, eye mask wrap­pers and tooth­brushes, with pa­per straws, wooden stir­rers and other al­ter­na­tives avail­able on re­quest. Dur­ing next year the plan is to delete an­other 14 items in­clud­ing nine types of plas­tic bags.

Vir­gin Aus­tralia has also re­moved plas­tic straws and stir­rers from its planes and lounges, an an­nual sav­ing of al­most eight mil­lion plas­tic pieces. The air­line’s also work­ing on a bio­fuel plan at Bris­bane Air­port with al­most 200 flights in­volved in a re­cent trial.

Mean­while in Ne­vada, this year Ful­crum BioEn­ergy Inc broke ground on its first com­mer­cial-scale plant where mu­nic­i­pal solid waste will be turned into sus­tain­able avi­a­tion fuel. As an in­vestor in Ful­crum, Cathay Pa­cific will be one of the first air­lines to fly on the low car­bon fuel with the plant ex­pected to pro­duce around 40 mil­lion litres of fuel a year when pro­duc­tion be­gins in 2020. BOE­ING 777X

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