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July 2008

IATA Shreds Paper Tickets in Favour of E-Tickets

Posted July 31, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Airfareetickets Fans of paper tickets, it’s time! Time to bid a sad, fond farewell to the humble strip of magnetised paper that has been such a staple in your travels. Time to stop mumbling hysterically to yourself, ‘I know I left it here’! as you turn the house over while searching the night before your 6 a.m. flight. Time to stop clutching your ticket in its cosy paper jacket as you run frantically towards the check-in desk.

Sometime back, some tech geeks decided the humble old paper ticket wasn’t fancy enough and decided to jazz it up by designing a ticket that used electronic paper. It sounded fantastic and Star Trekky, but that’s probably all it will be for now—a fantasy.

For the good folks at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have decided the humble paper ticket (not to mention the electronic paper kind) is out of fashion. Or, as Giovanni Bisignani, the IATA’s CEO, so cruelly and succinctly put it, ‘its time is over’.

Like so many other things—the Jacobean ruff, canned snoek, George Michael's ‘career’—the paper ticket's time has been and gone. Those in charge have declared it obsolete. It might briefly come back into fashion (like the ra-ra skirt) but the question is, do you really want it back in fashion? (See George Michael.)

Often, things become obsolete for a reason. And the paper ticket’s reason is ... the e-ticket. Not really a giant leap for mankind there, but it does make our lives a little easier now that we can change our tickets and check in online.

With carriers like Delta Air Lines and British Airways recently announcing mobile check-in facilities, it seemed like the paper ticket’s death knell would have sounded soon anyway. What I’m really going to miss, though, is finding all that loose change I dropped down the back of my sofa while searching for my paper ticket ...

New Emirates Uniforms Good Enough To Eat

Posted July 30, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Emiratesuniforms When Emirates launches their brand new Airbus A380s on 1st August, the giant airplanes will not be the only things making their first appearance. Also premiering on that Dubai-New York flight will be the redesigned Emirates cabin crew uniform.

The crew’s uniform was formerly a symphony of beige and red—functional but—let’s be honest, not too visually exciting. Now, according to the spin, the male crew members will be dressed in ‘a chocolate brown suit ... a cream shirt, and a caramel, honey and red tie’. The female crew members aren’t left out either—their uniforms have been revamped with fitted blouses and cute little kick-pleats in their skirts.

Hang on a minute—chocolate, caramel and honey? Those all sound like an excellent recipe for a dessert. But for a uniform? Surely those are all just various delicious-sounding words for different shades of brown? Still, the new uniforms probably look a lot better than most of the food passengers are used to eating. Perhaps if you can’t bear the thought of swallowing another in-flight meal, simply look over at the crew members instead. After all, those new uniforms sound good enough to eat.

(Photo: Travel and Tourism News Middle East)

Fly With European Airlines and Pay Peanuts for Peanuts

Posted July 25, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Peanuts_2 With the summer holiday season now in full swing, it’s likely we’ll be seeing fewer American tourists around these parts for the next few months. The reason for this—sky-high fuel prices and a weakening dollar.

While European airlines like Ryanair can afford to sell tickets for £1 and British Airways have just launched the business-class-only Open Skies, U.S. airlines are facing the dreaded credit crunch (which I have only just discovered is not a chocolate bar).

Speaking of tasty snacks, some U.S. carriers have implemented belt-tightening measures which include having passengers pay for all the food and drink they receive onboard. As if to rub salt in their wounds, their cheap European competitors often provide at least a complimentary packet of peanuts.

Faced with the choice of paying through your nose and having to starve through a three-hour flight, or paying peanuts and getting a free packet of peanuts, what airlines do you think most people will go with? I guess I’ll be spending all of my summer holidays on this side of the Pond this year.

(Photo: The Nut Factory) 

Flying Now More Like Watching Ad-only TV

Posted July 22, 2008 by BookingBuddy

It used to be that (as long as you didn’t open the in-flight magazine) being in an airplane was probably the one place you could escape from the advertising onslaught.

Now, however, as if following the evil plan thought up by Beelzebub himself, you not only get to be:

  1. manhandled by airport security
  2. knocked over by crazed Speedy Boarders
  3. forced to fight for the last remaining seat, inevitably right beside an overweight, sweaty man

And when you finally settle into the tiny space granted you by gingerly lifting away your seat mate’s stomach, you fold out the tray table in preparation for a much needed drink, only to see an ad for a credit card staring back at you, as if it was silently mocking you. You get so angry you reach for an airsickness bag to throw up in, but what’s that on the bag? An advertisement for Coca-Cola. It’s enough to make anyone hijack a plane with a pair of knitting needles (which, not surprisingly, have been banned on planes).

European passengers might think this is a phenomenon confined solely to Stateside air carriers, however, Ryanair, one of the biggest low-cost carriers on our side of the Pond, has ads on its tray tables and sick bags, and has even made their bulkheads available for adverts.

Traytable

Look on the bright side though, potential knitting-needle hijackers, and just remember—companies are known to give out free stuff as an advertising gimmick. So the next time you board your Ryanair flight to Mallorca, keep your hands out, not to strangle the screaming toddler two rows behind, but to receive your free sunglasses, drink, or maybe even credit card?

(Photo: BusinessWeek.com)

Monarch Airlines Give Flying a Huge Dose of Reality TV

Posted July 17, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Monarch_airlines Fancy having Peter Andre as your pilot? Or what about Jordan ‘call me Katie’ Price as your flight attendant? Well, reality TV fans, this could be your day!

Airlines always aim to please, and this time, Monarch Airlines have gone one step further by inaugurating CelebAir, with 10 ‘celebrities’ being trained to do various jobs. Sounding like a mixture of Airline and Celebrity Big Brother, the as-yet-unnamed celebs will be put through their paces then voted out weekly.

A spokesman for ITV2, which will be screening the series, calls it ‘a huge reality event’ (presumably because flying in a celeb-less plane isn’t real enough). The channel also promises ‘a real plane, with real passengers with real holidays to go on’ but wisely decides not to mention the fact that the celebrities might be real C-list celebrities.

A huge pat on the back for Monarch though, for attempting to retrain celebrities with marketable skills to fall back on should that singing/football/page-three-girl career fail.

(Photo: recyclingsupermarket.com)

Airbus A380 Knocks Concorde off Heathrow Roundabout

Posted July 15, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Airfareairbusa380xl Oh, why can’t an old airplane be left alone to spend its last years in some dignity?

Once the pride of British Airways, the Concorde has had some rather unfortunate experiences since its retirement several years ago. As noted last week, one of these supersonic jets was sent thousands of miles away to be displayed in a museum where it had its sleek nose broken.

Now, they’re about to shelve the iconic model Concorde that has long greeted travellers passing through Heathrow. The 1/3-scale model of the plane has stood on a highly visible roundabout at the gateway to the airport’s terminals for the last 16 years, a sight 25 million passengers saw annually.

However, Emirates—who have just signed a six-year lease on the roundabout (taking over from BA) —are planning to replace the model with one of an Airbus A380. Is this a sign of things to come? Supersonic speed and exclusivity have been replaced by larger capacity and normal speed. Think about it this way: It could be a good thing if you like being with a lot of people for long periods of time …

(Photo: Peter Danford/Airbus)

British Airways’ Concorde in Desperate Need of Rhinoplasty

Posted July 10, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Concorde Oh, why can’t an old retired supersonic jet be left in peace to enjoy its remaining years in the sun? After ending your career with British Airways, you’d think you'd be left alone to enjoy your time off. Instead, you’re sent thousands of miles away from home to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York. But maybe it’s not such a bad life after all—you get to sit in peaceful abandon most of the time, and when you do get visitors, most of them are wowed by your presence. You are, after all, the previous holder of the transatlantic speed record, not too shabby for an old bird.

Sure, your paint’s peeled slightly and some birds might have, erm … ‘messed’ on you every once in a while, but that’s all part of aging, right? You might not be pretty anymore but at least you have all your parts intact. And then one day, an over-energetic young turk (oops, I meant truck) comes along, all hepped-up about going to a music festival, bumps into you, and accidentally knocks your nose off. Worst of all, a crowd of planespotters with nothing better to do at 3 a.m. on a Monday morning just happens to be around, and decides to alert the world to your misfortune. And now, your plight is splashed all over the Internet so that other people with nothing better to do at 3 am on a Monday morning can read about it.

The insurance may cover the plastic surgery to repair your nose, but nothing will be enough to mend your wounded pride.

(Photo: telegraph.co.uk)

Biz-class Copes as L’Avion Joins British Airways’ OpenSkies

Posted July 8, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Lavion Just when you think that all those business passengers have it easy, what with their pick of several all-business-class carriers and flights to choose from, comfy wide seats and tasty food available, their world comes crashing down!

OK, maybe that was a little dramatic, but so are company takeovers (I can’t say for sure, though, having never participated in one). And the latest airline to be taken over? French business-class-only L’Avion, just purchased by British Airways, and soon to become part of OpenSkies, BA’s spin-off New York-to-Paris carrier.

If there’s one thing businesspeople appreciate, it’s predictability. In stock markets, in clothing styles, even in airplanes. Now, with L’Avion swimming the Channel to hook up with BA and OpenSkies, CEOs and middle managers alike will have to adapt. It won’t be easy getting used to the new name and new identity, but if the titans of industry want to fly in comfort, that’s what they’ll have to do. I prefer to stay safely at the back of the plane in coach, sore knees and all.

(Photo: L'Avion)

British Airways Aim to Reach ‘New Levels of Pleasure’

Posted July 3, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Britishairwaysfood Mention airline food and for most people, the same nightmarish vision pops into their minds—tiny portions of microwaved meat burnt on the edges, occasionally accompanied by limp segments of ‘seasonal’ fruits that wished someone would flush them down the plane’s toilet.

Now, Business Intelligence Middle East is reporting that British Airways are attempting to spruce up airline food’s sad-sack image by launching what they teasingly refer to as a ‘taste team’. According to the blurb, the taste team is made up of ‘six hospitality experts who all represent the best in each of their fields...’

Myself, I’m hoping this taste team will be a sort of combination of Captain Planet and the Planeteers and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy—saving the world by taking passengers to ‘new levels of pleasure’. Poor passengers’ tortured taste buds could be the damsel in distress, while the heroic taste team take on the roles of the Planeteers and the Queer Eye guys (coming to the rescue of airline food’s battered image by zhooshing up meals).

And to top it all off, BA could start selling Captain Planet and Queer Eye figurines as a tie-in, like certain fast food chains do.

(Photo: http://airlineworld.wordpress.com/)

Delta Air Lines tests mobile-phone check-in, no in-flight calls yet

Posted July 1, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Cellphoneweb ‘Please have your mobile phones switched on before boarding the plane …’

Once upon a time, not too long ago in fact, it seemed like mobile phones were the bane of airlines. Stern announcements reminded passengers over and over to switch the damned things off before boarding, and not to switch them on again till they were off the plane and inside the terminal.

These days, however, it seems like you’re not even allowed to board a plane unless you have a mobile phone. Hot on the heels of news that airlines such as Ryanair are allowing mobiles to be used while planes are in flight, comes a report that Delta Air Lines is trying out a new system that allows check-ins by mobile up to 24 hours in advance.

When it comes time to check in, a passenger simply needs to log in to mobile.delta.com and have their phone download an electronic barcode, which will then be scanned before boarding. British Airways is also said to be considering using a similar system sometime soon.

This is all well and good, but it brings up a question of logistics. How do I carry my boarding pass through the X-ray machine for people if it's on my mobile phone, which has to be sent on the X-ray machine for carry-on items?

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