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December 2008

New Networking Website for Lonely Business Travellers

Posted December 31, 2008 by Jaklien van Melick

Lonelybusinesstraveler Travelling for work may sound very glamorous, but everyone who does it on a regular basis knows how lonely it really is. Your friends and family may be green with envy when you’re dashing to Heathrow airport to hop on yet another flight to yet another far-flung city, but really, what’s so great about watching TV you don’t understand and having another club sandwich because that’s the only thing you really like on the room service menu? Sure, you’ve racked up a gazillion British Airways frequent flyer points, but believe me, it’s b-o-r-i-n-g. Or should I say; was boring?

On Triplife.com, the networking website ‘where travellers click’, you can find people who are in the same boat (or plane or hotel for that matter) at the same time you are. It’s free and easy to join and all you have to do is enter your travel itinerary and voila, you have found yourself a travel buddy. At least that's the idea. You could hook up before your trip and travel to the airport together, arrange to sit next to each other on the plane, share a cab, work out, meet for dinner, drinks or both. Whatever you fancy. No more lonely nights channel surfing in your hotel room. And if you’re really lucky, you might even meet Mr or Mrs Right. Who knows? Provided you’re single, of course.  Everything is possible. So no need to bring your book or newspaper to dinner anymore and it sure as heck beats spending the evening with the remote control.

I don’t know about you, but I'm really looking forward to my next business trip—although I will miss watching Rambo in Korean.

(Photo: knoxnews.com)

Airlines Cut Fuel Surcharges, Greek Islands Await

Posted December 26, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Santorini It may be bad news for oil sheiks but it’s good news to the rest of us. The falling price of oil (from nearly $150 in mid-July to just $45 last week) has meant that many major airlines have decided to cut their fuel surcharges.

The first European carrier to completely cut out fuel surcharges last week was bmi. Then, both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic announced they would be slashing their fuel surcharges by a third. It’s not as generous as getting rid of it completely, but it still means that you pay less for your ticket. Aer Lingus has also got rid of its surcharge on long-haul flights—good news if you plan to go far away.

If you were thinking of getting some tickets for a holiday abroad, but weren’t sure if you could afford to, you just might be able to now. The cut in fuel surcharges might not mean you’ve saved a massive amount, but surely you would have saved enough for a nice dinner on a little Greek island? 

(Photo: DanAndAndie.com)

Emirates Cleans Their Planes for a Greener Flight

Posted December 24, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Emirates2 Right now, instead of competing with each other to be the biggest or fastest, most airlines are attempting to be the greenest carrier around. Short of actually attaching solar panels to their aircraft and carrying trees instead of passengers, what can most airlines do to earn their green credentials?

Emirates may not be one of those companies you associate with ‘green-ness’ right away, but it’s been doing a surprising amount recently in an attempt to earn its eco-badge. The carrier recently attempted what it billed as the ‘world’s longest green flight’, which travelled from Dubai to San Francisco, a journey of more than 8000 miles. The airline had spent months on planning, trying to minimise fuel usage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Find cheap flights to Dubai or cheap flights to San Francisco

And now, you’re probably wondering what sort of sophisticated methods Emirates used for this historic trip. Well, they washed the aircraft to reduce friction, and removed unnecessary weight from the inside of the plane. That’s right. And these efforts allowed the airline to cut the flight time down from 16 hours to … a little over 15 hours.

So, I’m guessing the point is, if you want to arrive at your destination 50 minutes earlier, try to go on a clean plane that isn’t carrying too many passengers.

(Photo: AirplaneMart.com)

Air New Zealand Lets Passengers Pay Something For Nothing

Posted December 19, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Emptyairplaneseat The recent slump in air travel has forced airlines to be increasingly inventive when it comes to raking it in. Sure, they’re mostly just finding different methods to make passengers part with their money, but some of those methods are just so entertaining. Take Air New Zealand, for instance. The antipodean carrier has been experiencing falling passenger numbers, and, in a bid to boost revenue, they’ve hit upon the idea of making something out of nothing. Those crazy Kiwis are currently selling off the unoccupied seats on their planes—passengers can now have an empty seat beside them if they part with NZ$75.

The deal is available on long-haul flights to the U.S., and has proved surprisingly popular, with up to 10 passengers per flight opting to pay for the extra seat. With carriers such as Singapore Airlines already charging more for passengers who opt for a more spacious seat, paying slightly more for a spare seat beside you doesn’t seem like such a bad deal. Think of the advantages—no more passive-aggressive wrestling for elbow inches on the shared armrest, for instance?

Find cheap flights to Melbourne down-under

(Photo: HoboTraveler.com)

STA Travel Takes You on Holiday for the Price of a Coffee

Posted December 18, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Statravel_3  

Remember how you bragged to your best frenemy about bagging those vintage Louboutin shoes off eBay for only £4.99? Well, soon, you could make her turn even greener with jealousy when you tell her how you’re going to wear those Louboutin shoes to a hoity-toity L.A. nightclub where you partied with the Hollywood A-list (or at least Tara Reid). 

Of course, she’ll want to know how you can afford the trip to Los Angeles, what with you being a broke student with a mountain of debt and all. Well, you don’t have to tell her the truth—that your trip cost you less than the price of lunch in the uni cafe.

That fantasy might actually turn into reality by next week—STA Travel has launched an online travel auction site, with bids starting from US$1 (about 50p). The wannabe jet set will be able to bid on items such as package holidays, travel passes and accommodations. Just like on eBay, users will be able to watch items and place bids until the auction ends.

You can't get a coffee at most places for 50p these days, but you may find yourself staying at the Ritz for that price soon.

(Photo: STA Travel)

Save Money This Christmas by Shopping With Your Miles

Posted December 17, 2008 by Jaklien van Melick

Skymall Are you scratching your head to come up with interesting Christmas gifts this year? Has the credit crunch left you stripped of cash? Fear no more, because I may have the solution.

More and more airlines will let you redeem loyalty points to buy a wide range of products from the catalogue in the seat-back pocket. So next time you fly, why not forget about the business-class upgrade and use your frequent flyer miles to go Christmas shopping instead? The great thing about this is that you don’t even have to leave your home because you can shop online. The downside is that you might not find exactly what your family put on their wish list, but hey, it is the thought that counts, right?

So let’s have a look at Lufthansa’s WorldShop. For only 13 000 miles you could get mum a pair of plastic gardening over shoes. They look a bit nerdy, but she will never ruin her footwear again. Or if you really want to spoil her this year—what about a portable fireplace? She can take it with her anywhere in the house, for that ultimate warm winter feeling.

Although American Airlines and Delta won’t let you redeem points on products, they do give you extra points for every item bought from the SkyMall catalogue. They offer a wide range of er... very interesting products. What about an electric glove and shoe dryer for dad? Or maybe he'll be much happier with a remote-controlled beverage buggy? Would granny be forever grateful with a side table in the shape of a sumo wrestler? I also found a Mount Rushmore garden statue and a wall-mounted dinosaur head, although I am not sure if those items would score high with my family. In fact I am pretty sure they would think I had gone completely bonkers.

Hmm, on second thought, maybe I will head to the new Westfield mall after all.

(Photo: Shopping-Bargains.com)

Sleep on Your Loved Ones With hotels.com

Posted December 12, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Pillowcasephoto It used to be the case that people had little photographs of their loved ones in their wallets, to remind them of those waiting at home while they were away on business. Nowadays, most people can view photos on their mobile phones, anyway, so the need for the tattered photo in the wallet has disappeared. But really, what fun is it looking at a photograph that’s at most about three inches wide?

Well, for those who don’t like looking at thumbnail-sized images of their family, how about sleeping on those images instead? The booking site hotels.com have recently come up with a service that allows you to imprint a photograph onto a pillowcase. All you have to do is email a picture to pillowphotos@hotels.com and they'll work their magic.

Sure, the technology is nothing too bleeding-edge. After all, your standard high street photo store already allows you to plaster photographs all over mouse-pads, T-shirts and mugs. But imagine stepping into a cold, nameless hotel room in a cold, nameless city, only to be greeted by a photograph of your kids on the pillowcase. Surely that makes you feel much closer to them (or gives you horrible nightmares, depending on your kids).

Perhaps airlines that already charge for pillows—such as Ryanair—might be able to use such a service to their advantage? Think of the passengers who would rather pay for a pillow with a photo of their family on it than one with an airline logo

(Photo: Creative Photo Express)

If British Airways and Qantas Were to Merge...

Posted December 11, 2008 by Jaklien van Melick

Englandaustralia After Lufthansa’s takeover of bmi, now British Airways, the U.K.’s flag carrier and Qantas, the ‘Flying Kangaroo airline’, are reported to be discussing a possible merger. A decision will probably not be made anytime soon, but it made me wonder what this airline would look like. Would the British stiff upper lip fit in with the laid-back Ozzie attitude? Let’s take a little preview, shall we?

When boarding travellers are greeted with a 'g’day mate' or a 'how do you do, madam' by flight attendants wearing tweed uniforms and Ugg boots. A symphony of bagpipe and didgeridoo music sounds through the cabin as passengers try to find their seats, which are upholstered in fabric with aboriginal prints and Burberry head rest covers. The drinks from the mini bar vary from ice cold Foster’s beer and fine wines from Hunter Valley to warm ale and Tetley tea with milk. The menu features kangaroo steak and ale pie or crocodile roast with Yorkshire pudding topped with a Vegemite gravy. The in-flight entertainment consists of endless reruns of Eastenders and Neighbours that can be enjoyed while nibbling on Quality Street chocolates and Tim Tams from the midnight snack bar. On overnight flights passengers cuddle up underneath English duck-down Doonas and in the morning the crew serves a full English breakie  accompanied by Weet-bix.

It's not set in stone yet, but with all of these cross-cultural combinations, how can this merger not be a great success?

(Photo: News of the World)

Heathrow Express Serves up Plenty of Tea

Posted December 9, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Heathrowexpress The next time you put the kettle on to make a cup of tea, think of Heathrow Express. According to a press release on travel website ABTN, Heathrow Express is not only the quickest and most popular method of getting to Heathrow and its many terminals, it’s also the most environmentally friendly way of getting there.

And at this point, you’re probably thinking to yourself ‘What does Heathrow Express have to do with my cup of tea?’ Well, the regenerative braking system the trains use works by converting kinetic energy into other forms of useful energy. This energy is then stored for future use, or diverted back into the system to be used by other vehicles. I know, you’re still wondering what all this technical jargon has to do with a cup of tea. Well, as Brian Raven, Heathrow Express’s managing director explained for the benefit  of us simpletons, 'environmental calculations can be an extremely complex issue, which is why we have used the analogy with kettles, so people can understand the significant energy saving.'

Having regenerated enough energy over the last 10 years to boil over 400 000 000 kettles, that’s a lot of tea no matter which way you’re looking at it. Anyone for a cuppa?

(Photo: Royal Lancaster Hotel)

Business Travellers Get Organised, Thanks to iPhone

Posted December 4, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Iphoneocarina For those of you who own one, the iPhone has been a whole other universe of fun. Sure, you carry it around all the time in case an ‘office emergency’ crops up, but when you think no one’s looking, I’m pretty sure you turn on the iBeer application and pretend you’re having a pint in the office while listening to its realistic gurgling sound effects. Or maybe you have a go on the Ocarina app and rock out, hippie-style.

But some people may be surprised to find out that the iPhone isn’t simply a pocket-sized fun factory, it actually is pretty useful sometimes, too. For those of you that travel frequently for business, you might be pleased to find out that, in July this year, British Airways launched an application that allows passengers to check in using their iPhones. No more waiting in line!

And once you’ve checked in, there’s no need to sit idly by waiting to board the plane, you can always download another application on your iPhone and play with it … er, work on your next presentation. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, you can always download maps onto your iPhone, saving you from the embarrassment of getting lost in a new place. Perhaps the only downside to owning an iPhone is saying goodbye to any free time you might have, as you’ll probably spend it all popping virtual bubble wrap on the Bubblewrap application.

(Photo: dvice.com)

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