Business Traveller magazine: July 2006 stories

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  1. QF WP

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    Jun 20, 2002
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    Eurostar will depart St Pancras from autumn 2007


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    Autumn 2007 is now confirmed as the launch date for Eurostar's services from London St Pancras to Paris and Brussels. At the same time as St Pancras comes on line, the high-speed train operator will close its existing Waterloo terminal. When it moved to St Pancras it had been thought that Eurostar would seize the opportunity to emulate its airline rivals and go ticketless. But it's not now going to happen straightaway.


    "How do you define e-ticketing?" Richard Brown, Eurostar's chief executive, told Business Traveller, "in practice we're pretty close to it now. Passengers using our ticketing machines, key in their reference and get a ticket. That ticket is their boarding card. [Ticketless airlines still provide passengers with a boarding card]. But, you are right, we are looking at getting rid of the boarding pass altogether but the system won't be ready when we open up at St Pancras. Ideally, we believe a 'swipe device' would be attractive for our business passengers."


    Using St Pancras will enable Eurostar to cut timings by 20 minutes as it will run on high-speed tracks all the way to the Channel Tunnel. In the longer term Eurostar is looking to realise its potential to feed more passengers into the European rail network. It is extending its Railteam alliance with high-speed firm Thalys (which operates from Paris to Amsterdam and Cologne via Brussels) to include rail companies in a number of countries including Germany, France, Holland and Belgium.


    At present it is difficult if not impossible to obtain through tickets (and therefore beneficial fares) on Eurostar into mainland Europe with the chief exception of France (presumably because SNCF, the French national rail operator, is a main shareholder in Eurostar). One reason is because the national rail operators have developed their own ticketing and accountancy systems.


    By contrast the airlines are well ahead in terms of co-operation and ticketing. Admits Richard Brown, "the [conventional] airlines started with IATA [an industry trade body] and GDS [booking] systems and these were brokers of common standards and presentation."


    There is a growing number of high-speed lines but there are ticketing issues between the rail firms. "The challenge for us," says Richard Brown, "is to present this as a network with seamless connections, through fares, through ticketing and common standards. Where Eurostar has been able to co-operate with national rail systems we've seen strong passenger growth."


    One of the first benefits to be seen is the incorporation of the useful Thalys high-speed links into the Eurostar booking system. Richard Brown confirms this move will take effect from the autumn and it will enable passengers leaving London to, for example, connect with Thalys at Brussels for Cologne or Amsterdam. It will also enable them to bridge the gap (with Thalys) when booking a two city trip covering Brussels and Paris.

    For more information go to eurostar.com


    Report by Alex McWhirter




    Hilton opens Canary Wharf hotel



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    London's up-and-coming Canary Wharf commercial and financial area now has a 283-room Hilton hotel. The £53 million property opened on June 26 and is already doing good business during the week. Located next to South Quay DLR (Docklands Light Railway) station and a short walk to the Jubilee line Canary Wharf station the 15-floor hotel is easily accessible from the capital's City and West End. The most convenient airports are London City (ten minutes drive) and Stansted (forty to fifty minutes drive on a good day).

    It's the first of three Hilton "new look" properties scheduled to open in the UK this year all of which are contemporary in style. Main features of the Hilton Canary Wharf include a 55-room executive section (including 23 junior suites) occupying the property's top three floors with splendid views over the city. A spacious lounge provides breakfast, light meals and drinks throughout the day. There's free wifi within the executive lounge (but not the rooms) and in the hotel's public areas.

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    Rooms are spacious (30 to 35 sq metres) with quality bathrooms, flat screen TVs and other modern features including precisely controlled air-conditioning. There's a single restaurant and bar, Cinnamon, serving fresh and sophisticated food and drink. A Living Well Express health club comes without a pool but is open only to hotel guests.

    Room rates reflect midweek (rather than weekend) occupancy bias. For a stay next Tuesday (July 11), hilton.com quoted an online Value rate (this comes with restrictions) of £197 with a Flexible rate of £219. Executive floor rates were £242 and £269 respectively.

    But it was a different matter at the weekend. For a stay on Saturday July 15, hilton.com quoted £89 and £99 respectively for normal rooms with executive accommodation priced at £134 and £149. All rates are subject to 17.5 per cent tax.

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    The two other Hiltons opening this year are the 245-room Hilton London Tower Bridge scheduled for September and the Hilton Manchester Deansgate due to open in October.

    Hilton London Canary Wharf, South Quay, Marsh Wall, London E14 9SH. Tel +44 (0)20 3002 2300.

    For more information go to hilton.com

    Report by Alex McWhirter
     

  2. QF WP

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    6 July 2006 stories

    Maxjet's autumn seat sale



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    All business class airline Maxjet is offering transatlantic passengers an autumn seat sale. The US carrier is currently charging a reduced rate of £699 return between London Stansted and New York JFK or Washington DC provided you book by July 14 and travel between September 15 and November 10. Maxjet operates five flights a week from Stansted to Washington DC's Dulles airport and six flights a week to New York JFK. All services are flown by B767s.


    The carrier recently redesigned its website in a bid to encourage more passengers to proceed beyond these gateways to other domestic or international destinations. It lists connecting possibilities from Stansted to cities both in the UK and mainland Europe. From Washington Dulles and New York JFK there are connections listed to over 40 domestic cities including Chicago, Las Vegas, Denver, Houston and Miami.

    But bear in mind that as Maxjet is a point-to-point carrier, passengers will have to buy separate tickets for the connecting flights. They will also have to reclaim their bags on arrival and check-in again for the continuing flight. So allow plenty of time to complete these formalities.

    For more information go to maxjet.com


    Report by Alex McWhirter




    Etihad unveils latest first class seat


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    Passengers flying from London Heathrow and Paris CDG to Abu Dhabi with Etihad can now sample a revolutionary first class seat which rotates and reclines.


    The Diamond Class seat is installed on Etihad's brand new Airbus A340-500s which began flying between the Gulf and Europe last weekend. It sets new industry benchmarks. One of its most innovative features is the ability to rotate 180 degrees enabling passengers to hold meetings, dine and converse with one another. Each seat also features a 23 inch personal LCD video screen.


    Says Peter Dunkin, Etihad's GM for the UK and Ireland, "we are extremely proud to be introducing the Diamond Seat as it fully upholds our ambitions to offer the highest standards of in-flight hospitality."


    Each Diamond Seat is fitted with a privacy shell and has direct access to the aisles, allowing passengers to move freely around the aircraft with the maximum ease and convenience. It reclines into a fully flat bed. The seat also has fold-and-swivel meal tables, an integrated personal mirror, pneumatic lumbar support, reading light and desk lamp.


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    Etihad is marketing the new Diamond Seat aggressively. Based on flights taken in mid-July, the carrier's website displays a return fare of £2,288 compared with the equivalent British Airways first class fare of £3,546.
    Etihad's new A340-500 has 240 seats with 12 in Diamond (first), 28 in Pearl (business) and 200 in Coral (economy class). The business class seats fitted to this plane are also state-of-the-art. Pearl zone seats are fully lie-flat and come with a 15 inch LCD video screen.


    Passengers wishing to sample the A340-500 will find it operating on daily flight EY304 departing Heathrow for Abu Dhabi at 2115. It also operates daily on flight EY303 which leaves Abu Dhabi at 1330 on most days of the week (on Monday EY303 departs at 1305 and on Friday at 1325). The A340-500 is also featured from Paris CDG on flight EY334 (daily except Tuesday) at 2215 for Abu Dhabi. The inbound service EY333 departs Abu Dhabi daily (except Tuesday) for Paris CDG at 1330.


    For more information go to etihadairways.com


    Report by Alex McWhirter

     
  3. QF WP

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    6 July 2006 stories

    Swiss and Lufthansa combine flights

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    One of the fruits of the merger currently taking place between Swiss and Lufthansa is the opportunity to offer passengers more connection opportunities.

    Travel agents have begun selling passengers tickets combining flights with both carriers. It means a routing to mainland Europe could include the best connection heading out via Swiss' hub and returning with that of Lufthansa.

    Passengers using online agents like Travelocity or Expedia will display a selection of Swiss and Lufthansa flights and connections so you can choose the best ones for your needs.

    It's of particular benefit to passengers using airports like London City (which has a limited range of direct flights) as they now have access to many more important business destinations by connecting in Frankfurt, Munich and Zurich.

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    Tickets can be booked in economy or business class with the price usually being less than the cost of a direct service from London Heathrow.
    Destinations where Swiss and Lufthansa combine flights for better connection opportunities from London City include Warsaw, Budapest, Prague, Moscow, Madrid, Barcelona and Rome.

    At least two of these cities are among the most requested destinations by passengers using London City. But direct flights are currently not possible because the existing planes using City do not have the range to fly non-stop.

    For more information go to travelocity.co.uk, expedia.co.uk, londoncityairport.com.

    Report by Alex McWhirter




    Starwood Manhattan sale


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    Nine Starwood properties in Manhattan are offering special summer rates to members of the chain's Preferred Guest loyalty scheme.


    Between now and September 4 all these hotels are cutting prices for stays from Thursday through to Sunday. Featured properties include those belonging to the Sheraton, W, Westin and Four Points brands. Room rates start at $245 per night at the Four Points, $249 at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers and $289 at the Westin New York Times Square.

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    Guest room at the W New York The Tuscany


    At the top end you will pay $309 at the W New York The Tuscany or W New York Times Square and $339 at W New York Union Square. The special rates include extras which vary from hotel to hotel. Guests staying at the Four Points receive a $20 voucher towards meals in the hotel's restaurant. Other hotels throw in meal vouchers, free cocktails or metro cards.


    For more information go to spg.com


    Report by Alex McWhirter

     
  4. QF WP

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    #4 QF WP, Jul 22, 2006
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2006
    14 July 2006 stories

    Bmi set to serve Moscow
    Passengers heading to Moscow will be offered increased choice next autumn
    Full story...

    ANZ drops Singapore and downgrades London-LA-Auckland service
    Air New Zealand (ANZ) will stop flying the useful link between Singapore and Auckland next autumn
    Full story...

    Cosmopolitan Lufthansa
    In recent times Lufthansa has transformed itself into a true international carrier
    Full story...

    Easyjet to Istanbul
    Budget airline Easyjet will launch flights from London Luton to Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport on August 1
    Full story...

    VLM introduces new seating
    Antwerp-based airline VLM has begun upgrading the interiors on its 15 strong fleet of Fokker 50 aircraft
    Full story...

    Europcar opens airside desk at Gatwick
    Europcar has opened its first airside rental desk at Gatwick airport
    Full story...
     
  5. QF WP

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    Jun 20, 2002
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    21 July 2006 stories

    BA's new baggage policy – a further update
    One month on and British Airways' new checked baggage policy starting on October 11 continues to solicit emails from readers
    Full story...

    Booming LCY
    London's very own City airport is on a roll with record passenger numbers and a growing network of flights
    Full story...

    American unveils new business class
    American Airlines has released pictures of its new long-haul business class seating which will debut on North Atlantic routes over the coming months
    Full story...

    Eurostar relaxes booking restrictions
    During the summer months Eurostar is scrapping some excursion fare restrictions for its high-speed train services between London, Paris and Brussels
    Full story...

    London-Amritsar now set for August 4 start date
    Jet Airways now says its planned London-Amritsar service will launch on August 4
    Full story...

    More UK flights for Central Wings
    Polish airline Central Wings will add two additional UK routes this winter
    Full story...
     
  6. QF WP

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    Jun 20, 2002
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    28 July 2006 stories

    Passport fees rise... again
    The cost of passports is set to rise for the second time in less than a year
    Full story...

    City of London now a wifi hotspot
    The City of London launched its wifi network this week, effectively turning the Square Mile into one big hotspot, 24 hours per day
    Full story...

    Etihad to fly Abu Dhabi - JFK
    New York will become Etihad Airway's 35th destination, when the Abu Dhabi-based airline starts flights to JFK on October 26 this year
    Full story...

    VLM increases flights to Amsterdam
    Dutch carrier VLM is adding three more daily flights to Amsterdam
    Full story...

    Rejuve opens well-being club at T1
    The world's first independent airside well-being club has opened at London Heathrow
    Full story...

    New-look Ibis opens in Bristol
    French hotel chain Accor has continued the updating of guestrooms in its budget Ibis brand, with the opening of a new property in Bristol
    Full story...
     
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