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November 2008

AirAsia X to Offer Low-Cost Flights to U.K.

Posted November 26, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Airasiax More good news is on the way for those wanting to escape the Arctic weather currently blasting the United Kingdom. You may have decided to run away to the Southern Hemisphere for a couple of weeks, but you’ve already been to Australia for the last three years, and, let’s face it, who needs to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge more than once? And if you really need to get a dose of that Australian accent, you can always turn on the telly and watch a Neighbours marathon or hang out in Shepherds Bush.

This year, it’s time to go for the route less travelled, but where the exchange rate is also low enough that you can forget about monetary worries back home. And in the nick of time comes an announcement from AirAsia X, confirming their plans to start flights to the U.K. next year.

The Malaysian based long-haul, low-cost carrier plans to start flying to either Stansted or Manchester by early next year, giving you a bit of time to start saving up for your next holiday. The airline will fly to destinations in Malaysia and other Asian cities. Get ready to start sampling more exotic fare than an emu burger.


Sub-Orbital Planes May Cut U.K.-Sydney Flights to Two Hours

Posted November 25, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Virgingalacticwhiteknight2 Your healthy summer tan is fading to  a pallid grey, and the pound is much stronger than the Australian dollar, so, what’s the one thing that’s holding you back from hopping on a plane to Sydney and lying on Bondi Beach? Well, it’s probably the fact that the journey there and back isn’t so much a hop as an odyssey. Even in these days of speedy travel, it can sometimes take up to two days to get Down Under. What’s the point of a break if it takes you the better part of a week to get back and forth, and makes you even more tired than before you left?

If you can hold off going on that holiday for several years, you might be able to take a Virgin Atlantic flight from London to Sydney in a couple of hours instead of a couple of days. Those brainiacs at the International Space University in Strasbourg are working on sub-orbital point to point travel (SPTP)—travelling through space to get from one side of the globe to the other.

SPTP is being seen as the equivalent of taking a trip on the Concorde. It is likely that this sort of travel will be aimed at the same sort of people who have paid over £100 000 to go into space with Virgin Atlantic's sister company, Virgin Galactic.

So, if you don’t have that much money just floating around, best start saving your pennies now, as it's predicted that SPTP will come into use as early as 2015. If you don’t see yourself having that much cash to spend on travel to Sydney for a short break, well, maybe it’s time you resigned yourself to sitting in a cramped economy-class seat for 18 hours. Until teleportation actually becomes reality, it looks like that’s the only way most of us will be travelling.

(Photo: EPA)

Virgin Atlantic Create James Bond Drink for 'Quantum of Solace'

Posted November 24, 2008 by Jaklien van Melick

Quantumofsolace_jamesbon Of all the airlines I have ever flown with, Virgin Atlantic must be the coolest one in the sky. Stepping onboard one of their sleek planes is like walking into a trendy London nightclub. The interior has an ultra-modern design enhanced by phased mood lighting. The good-looking flight attendants in their John Rocha designer uniforms wouldn’t seem out of place at a fashion shoot. Heck, there is even a fully stocked bar.  I think you get the picture; Virgin Atlantic oozes coolness.

So it comes as no surprise that the most stylish of spies, 007 himself, has chosen Virgin as his favourite airline. For the second time, Richard Branson’s slick and smooth carrier is featured in a James Bond movie. After Casino Royale, the MI6 spy played by Daniel Craig flies on a VA plane in Quantum of Solace. The airplane scene features James enjoying a few too many Vesper cocktails in the Upper Class bar en route to Bolivia. Bond is of course going to South America to chase some bad guys who are trying to overthrow the Bolivian government.

The cocktail, which is named after the woman who betrayed him in the previous film, can be sampled till the end of November in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses at Heathrow, Gatwick, New York (JFK), Washington, D.C. (Dulles), San Francisco and Hong Kong airports. If it's cool enough for Bond, it's cool enough for us, so if you'd like to try the drink without paying a fortune for a business-class seat, here's the recipe:

  • 60ml Bombay Sapphire
  • 20ml Grey Goose
  • 10ml Lillet Blanc
  • Twist of lemon peel for garnish
  • Stir and serve



Run to Aisle 11 for This Week’s Travel Offers From Aldi

Posted November 20, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Alditravel You can buy almost anything at the supermarket these days. Sparkly dresses, skeleton suits, gardening tools and soon, you’ll even be able to buy your next holiday at the supermarket. Next time you’re trying to decide on where to go for a break, head to Aldi. The discount retailer is launching a travel website, starting early next year. The press campaign will feature the tagline: "A break you’ll remember at a price you’ll love."

Some of you may worry about picking up your holiday at from the same guys that sell you your tinned goods. Well, fear not, travel folks. Aldi launched the service in Austria in 2003 and has since sold over a million holidays. It has also launched similar services in Germany and Switzerland, and is hoping to replicate that success here in the U.K.

The German chain has joined forces with On Holiday Group, and is offering 150 hotels on their site. For those of you used to the low prices on Aldi’s shelves, you can expect the same low prices for holidays. And there’s no using the excuse that there’s no Aldi near you – they are currently opening one new store a week in the U.K., so there’ll probably be one within spitting distance of your house by the middle of next week.

(Photo: Aldi Travel) 

Stronger Pound Gives You a Cheaper Hop Down Under

Posted November 18, 2008 by BookingBuddy

British_pound Winter has started wrapping her chilly fingers around us. The days are getting shorter, our coats are getting thicker, and the Ugg boots are coming out. It’s enough to make anyone want to go into hibernation for the next three months.

But don’t despair just yet! The days may be grey and the nights chilly, but there’s always the Southern Hemisphere to look to. Our friends down below have got long days of sun, sand, and sea to look forward to ... and so do you!

The global financial crisis may be cutting into most people’s pockets, but one good thing (for those in the U.K. at least) might have come out of it-----the pound is still strong against the Australian dollar and South African rand. We might not be able to afford a kebab after a night out in Soho, but we’ll be able to afford a kebab shop in Sydney. OK, that might be an exaggeration, but our money certainly stretches a lot further Down Under than it does here these days.

Fuel prices are also expected to keep falling, which is likely to mean cheaper tickets for anyone looking to have some fun in the southern sun. Looks like it’s time to dig out that dusty bikini and buy yourself a long-haul ticket on Qantas or South African Airways. Better yet, just get yourself that ticket and wait till you touch down on Aussie soil to get that brand new bikini!


Air France-KLM Brings You Face to Face With Fellow Passengers

Posted November 17, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Bluenity Social-networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace are all the rage these days. One of the reasons for their popularity may be that while you can collect as many ‘friends’ as you want, and send them messages as often as you like, you never actually have to meet any of those 476 ‘friends’ you’ve acquired.

Now, Air France-KLM have jumped on the bandwagon and created a website——for members of their frequent flyer programme Flying Blue (rather an unfortunate choice of name there, don’t you think?).

The idea is that members can create a personal profile, just like on Facebook. But here comes the twist—members can then arrange to meet other members during the flight. Right … so; the airline wants members of their social-networking site to actually meet each other? On a plane? Am I getting it straight? If I’m sounding a little wary, it’s because I am.

After all, the whole point of Facebook is that it provides an ‘out’. You might start chatting to someone, then, when it all starts getting awkward, you can always pretend you have to be somewhere, right away. But that’s not so easy when you’re stuck on a plane, miles in the air, for hours and hours. Where would you run to when things start getting uncomfortable? It’s like being on a blind date without having a backup plan when the date starts going downhill.

Maybe, instead of getting members to contact each other individually, Air France-KLM could hold little group soirees for them instead? That way, members get to actually meet each other, but in a more informal atmosphere.  (Not sure if there's room for said party in economy class, however.)

(Photo: Bluenity)

Ryanair to Offer No-Frills Flights Across the Pond?

Posted November 13, 2008 by Zak Patten

The BBC reports that for £8 we could have cheap flights to New York. Where do I sign!? What sane person wouldn’t want to feel like a superstar and go on a whirlwind weekend mini-break to the city that never sleeps? Shopping for labels at Macy’s department store, dining in the hottest restaurants and sipping on a Manhattan in the trendiest clubs in Manhattan? I certainly would. Heck, it's almost cheaper than taking the tube to Oxford Street.

Well this could be reality within a couple of years, as Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’ Leary has stated again that he wants to expand his airline’s network and offer low-cost flights from the U.K. and Ireland to the United States. Flights would be offered from Dublin and London to several cities including New York and Boston. Fares would start from as low as £6 per one-way and would go up as demand rises. However, as you currently do for Ryanair’s European flights, expect to pay extra for things like food, drinks, blankets, pillows, in-flight entertainment, seat assignment and probably worst of all, for checking in luggage. Oh, the horror! What to do with all those newly acquired designer outfits? Hmmm, maybe this no-frills flying isn't meant for jet-setters after all.


Live Out Those Pilot Fantasies With British Airways

Posted November 11, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Cae_7000_series_full_flight Were you one of those kids who always wanted to be a pilot? Then you grew up and realised that running around with your arms spread while making whooshing noises was a lot easier than actually flying a passenger plane and being responsible for hundreds of lives. So you got another job instead. Or you became John Travolta and got a boatload of money and can now afford to buy your own planes.

Well, if you’re not John Travolta, let’s hope your job pays you enough to be a member of British Airways' Executive Club. Why? Well, BA’s CAE 7000 Series full-flight simulators (try saying that without pausing for breath) are now available to members of the Executive Club to try out.

Wannabe pilots can choose from a fleet of Boeing aircraft, and spend between one and three hours in them. The simulators also offer a wrap-around display (so you can see what’s happening in the pretend sky), full-motion feedback, and space for an entire cockpit crew.

So, you may not be John Travolta (and let’s face it, he’s got a double chin these days anyway), but you still get to enjoy the fun of flying without any of the potential drawbacks..


Singapore Airlines Faces Stiff Competition Over A380s

Posted November 6, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Singaporeairlinesa380 They may have been the first off the blocks with the Airbus A380s a year ago, but these days, Singapore Airlines are facing some rather formidable opponents. Both Emirates and Qantas have recently also taken delivery of their first few A380s, and offer some fairly attractive features as well, especially in their business- and first-class cabins.

However, Singapore Airlines are still confident that they have a lead over their competitors. After all, they now have six of the giant airplanes to themselves for over a year, while Qantas have only just got their hands on the supersized machines. On top of that, the ‘roo-emblazoned carrier’s A380 services have only just started in October, with a route that takes them between Melbourne and Los Angeles. SIA is likely to start feeling the heat only in January, when Qantas start flying their A380s between Sydney and London via Singapore.

Emirates are even slower to start their A380 service, with the first of the giants only taking off in February 2009. However, Emirates might have an edge over the other two companies, as they have announced that they will not be charging a premium for seats on their services.

Will extra features such as private cabins and showers matter, or is price all you’re concerned with? When all three companies start running their A380 service at the same time, it’s likely that passengers will benefit from the competition, as each company tries to outdo each other. So, who will you opt for when you’re travelling on the A380?

(Photo: Singapore Airlines)

Paddington Bear or Heathrow Bear?

Posted November 4, 2008 by Jaklien VanMelick

Paddingtonbearbagblue_2 After 50 years of roaming around Paddington train station in London, the quintessentially English Paddington Bear is broadening his horizons and trying his luck in the sky. The mischievous, but well-mannered bear from darkest Peru is the new face of the children’s fun pack on all of British Airways' international long-haul flights.

Pretty much everyone in, and possibly outside of the U.K. who has been a child in the last 50 years, is familiar with the story of the orphaned bear who travelled all the way from South America to England. He was found by the Brown family in a quiet corner at Paddington railway station,which is of course how he got his name. The Browns adopted him and took him to their home in Notting Hill where Paddington got into all kinds of trouble.

Since last October, British Airways have been offering their young passengers between the ages of three and five Paddington-themed activity packs on those long-range flights. On flights from the U.K., the pack will hold a Paddington Bear case including an activity book, stickers and crayons. On flights to the U.K., children can entertain themselves with another activity book, finger puppets and more crayons--all in a Paddington backpack.

Now hopefully your kids will not get any naughty ideas from the furry troublemaker. Otherwise those already-very-long transatlantic flights could get even longer.


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