You’ve done it, I’ve definitely done it; most of us have posted pictures of our boarding pass online. Why wouldn’t you? The adventure is starting, you’re at the airport killing an hour before the flight and enjoying a drink in the departure lounge. You just want to share your excitement with your friends (or more like rub it in their faces).
If there is a clear example of why you shouldn’t post a picture of your boarding pass, look no further than the example of former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott who recently made headlines when his information held by Qantas was ‘hacked’.
What was hacked from Tony Abbott?
The short answer is nothing; the hacker did not steal or use the information in a malicious manner. The point of the ‘hacking’ was to highlight security flaws in Qantas’ system.
From a simple Instagram post showing the boarding pass & a baggage receipt in full, the hacker accessed Mr Abbott’s Qantas booking and within 45 minutes accessed HTML code which included his passport number, contact details, internal airline notes among other things.
While no major incident occurred in this example, the ease of a security breach of a prominent Australian should definitely make you want to pay attention to your own personal data.
What’s the one reason not to post boarding passes online?
When making an airline reservation, you need to provide your airline or travel agent sensitive information that is required for your booking. Some information is required for government agencies for pre-screening of passengers prior to departure & arrival between countries, and other information makes your journey more comfortable.
Airlines and travel agents have strong data protections and laws in place keeping your personal data safe. However by posting your boarding pass online, you are virtually volunteering the data which savvy hackers use to find keys to your sensitive information. Some airlines require as little information as a booking number and a surname to view the reservation online, both details found on all boarding passes.
What information could be obtained from your boarding pass?
For a basic international airline reservation you will likely be providing most of the following, before your tickets can be issued:
Date of birth
Passport number & expiry
Does the required information look familiar to you? These are questions asked in most applications to sign up for new services and ‘forgotten password’ forms. Should an unauthorised person gain access to this information, there is nothing stopping them from attempting to use your information as a basis for illegal activity under your name nearly anywhere.
For those who have travelled regularly, you may also know that airlines often collect other information to make your journey more comfortable, such as:
Frequent flyer number & status
Special dietary requirements
Special baggage (e.g sports equipment or dangerous goods)
To be honest, I wouldn’t want this information in the hands of my friends in fear they will try and put me in a middle seat or change my flight, let alone someone wanting to use and experiment with this information for malicious purposes.
What’s the best way to protect information when posting on social media?
The easiest way to do this is to ensure you’re not including any material that may give away any unique booking details full stop. If you’re not sure what to post, stick to selfies!
If you are feeling a little artsy and just need to post something, just leave out the boarding pass. Perhaps take one of the departure board, or one of the aircraft parked at the gate or if you’re at Singapore’s Changi Airport, take One Flying Lap like I did!
During the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us aren’t flying anywhere at the moment; but when you do take to the sky again there’s simply no need to post a snap of that data rich piece of paper! If your need inspiration, Caroline at breaks.com has 10 tips for taking great travel pictures.
What do you share to social media prior to your travels? Do you share at all? Let me know in the comments below!
Friday’s meeting of the Australian National Cabinet agreed to increase the cap of Australians returning home from roughly 4,000 inbound travellers per week to a little under 6,000 per week, on a scaled increase.
What’s the current state of play?
The Australian hotel quarantine system is managed by each state & territory government. After the second wave of COVID-19 that ravaged Melbourne was linked to mismanagement in hotel quarantine, most other states expressed concerns that their own resources could not safely handle the amount of travellers returning.
Total number of arrivals per week: 3,975. It’s important to note there are some exemptions to quarantine requirements (such as airline crew), so the total number of actual passengers arriving into Australia on a weekly basis is likely higher than the quarantine cap.
The new plan from National Cabinet
In a phased approach, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland & Western Australia will increase the total amount of inbound arrivals to a total of just over 5,500 with further arrangements being made to increase this to be as high as 6,000.
New South Wales will take an additional 500 passengers per week, with South Australia accepting an additional 100 arrivals. This will be in place by 28 September.
Queensland & Western Australia are taking a two-tier approach with both states each accepting 200 additional weekly arrivals by 28 September, and raising this number to 500 in total increase by 05 October (QLD) and 12 October (WA).
To simplify this, let’s take a look at the updated table of what each state will be accepting when the new plan is fully operational:
Total number of arrivals per week: 5,575. *Prior to the pandemic, Hobart Airport did not and to this day still doesn’t currently service any international commercial flights ^National Cabinet concluded that ‘facilitation of special commercial services‘ would be carried out in South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory & Australian Capital Territory; which will likely see this published number exceeded some weeks. There is no indication of what this may entail.
Why does this matter?
Sydney Morning Herald recently confirmed with DFAT that roughly 23,000 Australians have expressed interest in returning home. Unfortunately not all Australians were or are currently able to simply ‘pack everything up’ and return home immediately, with many having family, careers & other binding commitments with other countries. Clearly, continuing on the current cap of roughly 4,000 would take months and into 2021 to allow all Australians to return home.
However for Australians trying to return immediately the situation is even more complicated. The current passenger limit has seen airlines having to severely reduce passenger capacity on all flights. To demonstrate the easiest example; an airline like Qatar Airways who operate a 14 hour flight from Doha to Sydney cannot make a profit from passenger services by carrying so few passengers, a requirement they must strictly follow to not exceed the passenger cap. As a business they need to make these flights as commercially viable as possible, hence we hear stories of passengers needing to purchase business or first class tickets to increase their chances of being accepted on board.
The airline conundrum: Maintain air links, or cut costs?
Don’t be too quick to criticise the airlines for prioritising business & first class passengers. An easy alternative for them is to conclude the Australian market is too difficult and too expensive to manage at the moment and abandon all services, leaving thousands more stranded overseas especially those in far away places like Europe, The Americas & Africa.
Airlines like Qatar Airways, Emirates & United Airlines, who have all continued to fly to Australia nearly uninterrupted, have used their extensive global networks to get passengers from far-flung places back to Australia via their hubs in the Middle East & North America. Despite flying passengers across the world, with the leg into Australia at over 14 hours, they can only carry the same amount of passengers as a plane coming from New Zealand or Papua New Guinea, only a couple of hours long and nowhere near the same costs to an airline.
New Zealand’s strength may have a role in easing Australian backlogs
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has floated the idea of allowing Australians & New Zealanders in COVID-free areas of New Zealand to enter Australia quarantine free, a lot like how some domestic Australia travel currently operates.
According to the Prime Minister in Friday’s press conference, approximately 15% of all international arrivals are currently from New Zealand. Under the increased cap, this would take about 836 places in hotel quarantine per week.
By removing the hotel quarantine for arrivals from COVID-free areas of New Zealand, such as the entirety of the South Island, this will free up more space for returning travellers from the rest of the world and therefore clear the backlog of Australians desperate to get home sooner.
Don’t get too excited if you’re reading this in Australia and wanting to brush off your passport – this is not the much hyped Trans-Tasman bubble which I’m sure you’ve all read about in the media. The current proposal is for one-way traffic to allow Australians & eligible Kiwis to enter Australia. The New Zealand government would be under no obligation to reciprocate these proposed changes and may continue their hard border stance to all countries including Australia for an indefinite period.
It’s reasonable to speculate that this model will be used as a dry run to open up bilateral arrangements with countries and regions with no community COVID transmission, to allow some international movement to recommence. An example of a similar agreement already in place is Singapore, where they recently opened ‘fast lanes’ for travellers to move between certain countries and specific regions. We’ll be watching these developments closely with a keen eye.
There is still a lot of water to go under the bridge for this proposal to get over the line. Western Australia & Tasmania still have hard borders for domestic Australian travellers, you cannot get into these states without special exemptions. Queensland continues to have controversial hard borders with New South Wales and Victoria, however on Friday announced plans to lift restrictions for travellers flying in from the ACT.
With so much in-fighting among the Australian states and territories, it’s currently difficult to imagine how Australian state premiers will permit international arrivals to land without a quarantine period anytime soon. But hey this is the ‘COVID era’, so anything is possible by this time next week!
The Northern Territory allow travellers from all jurisdictions to enter, however if you have been in a declared hotspot in the last 14 days you must complete a self-funded quarantine. Hotspots are defined by the NT government & can be declared for specific locations in other states and cities. If you’ve spent some time outside a hotspot then you can apply to have your quarantine reduced – I told you it’s complicated!
Long story short…
Australia’s positive move to allow more of its own citizens to return home is a welcome boost to many currently overseas trying to get home. The cautious border approach on the health front has cascading consequences resulting in extremely limited flight options and seats being sold at many times the standard airfare to make the airlines’ ends meet.
Let’s hope National Cabinet continue to provide out of the box, practical solutions to get our own citizens who want to return back on home soil while ensuring that hotel quarantine can be facilitated in a safe manner. The proposal of quarantine free arrivals from COVID-free areas of New Zealand is a fantastic start, however we need our state premiers to see eye-to-eye on domestic issues first before quarantine free travel can work on an international scale.
Let me know what you think! Should the National Cabinet be doing more to get Australians home? Do airlines have a moral responsibility to move people to where they need to be during a global crisis at a passenger friendly cost? Have your say below!
It’s been a while and boy it’s been a ride for the ages!
What’s happened to Travel?
It’s March 03, 2020 and the Christmas break is now distant memory. I’m humming along nicely in my day to day life, eagerly waiting to depart for a work conference to Bangkok in just two weeks. Yet the novel Coronavirus is making headlines in Australia and no doubt around the world. My day job is in the airline & travel industry and we see airlines releasing new passenger policies multiple times a day in reaction to the unfolding events.
At this stage, we’re dealing with just another crisis. The air travel industry has been through a lot in the last 20 years; 9/11, SARS, tsunamis, Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption, Ebola, Swine Flu, airline industrial disputes, earthquakes, and well you get the idea. As at 03 March 2020 this was another crisis that we would rebound from soon and we are merely rolling through the motions. People cancel their trips, wait the crisis out and eagerly rebook in a few weeks or month time when everything gets back to normal. The company I work for tightens the purse strings, waits the crisis out then resumes business as normal. Been here, done this, have the t-shirt.
March 04, literally the next day. The Australian government already has ‘do not travel’ warnings for China and South Korea which no one found surprising given the virus’ origins and early spread over the South China Sea. However out of the blue, do not travel warnings are issued for Italy and Iran. This sends red flags through the office; the government hasn’t done anything like this before on this scale.
March 06 comes around and my manager asks me to coffee. I don’t think anything of it to begin with but oh boy, at the time I thought this was a tough conversation. I’ve been dropped from the conference as a cost cutting measure, as more and more ticket refunds are requested. All you can do in these situations is focus on the positives; a free coffee and just having to set sights on my next holiday in September – we’re going to Hawaii to see two of my best friends get married!
Let’s fast forward through this a little now. The United States’ President announces an executive order to ban all U.S inbound travel from Europe on March 11. The Australian Government took what felt like a crazy step on March 18 when they upgraded the planet Earth outside of Australia to ‘do not travel’, shortly after making all international arrivals self-quarantine for 14 days after entering Australia (turns out I had a lucky break by not travelling for the conference!). The fact that our closest foreign relation, New Zealand, was deemed a dangerous country to travel to seemed utterly ridiculous, and for many Australians this is when the penny dropped on how serious this really was.
What!? Convinced the TV was broken, I quickly change the channel. No matter how many times I changed to different TV networks, the news wouldn’t change – all Australians must remain within Australia with very limited exceptions.
TL;DR? On March 04 I was happy as Larry and looking forward to spending time in Bangkok. On March 27, it’s illegal for me to leave the country let alone my own suburb.
In the space of three weeks the whole world has flipped upside down. A dangerous, highly contagious yet invisible virus has crippled millions of plans around our globe. Dream holidays, honeymoons, work conferences, weddings, birthdays and so, so much more was suddenly out of reach for the ordinary person.
If six months ago anyone involved in the travel industry ever imagined a scene consisting of hard border closures, health testing, aircraft passenger limits, mandatory face masks, forced quarantine or even Australians not being able to travel to New Zealand, you would have asked which Armageddon Hollywood blockbuster they watched.
Feelin’ fine okayish
Travel aside for one moment. Post March 27 and over the next weeks and months everyone has their own Coronavirus story, each as interesting as the last. Mine involves having to cancel that Hawaiian holiday & my friends postponing their wedding, seeing most of my friends & my managers lose their jobs, a series of sleepless nights, constant job insecurity and the overall questioning of myself and what I do. Times were tough; in fact, they are still tough to a degree. Its lead to my hair changing colour no less than six times, converting my couch to be a functioning workspace, discovering how cool float tanks are and I’ve not ventured more than 80 kilometres away from my home. Heck this website should be renamed “Tyler hasn’t gone anywhere”!
There are no illusions; my tough times are not on the scale to others. I’ve been overwhelmingly lucky in the fact neither I nor anyone in my family have contracted the virus, or have the heartache of not being able to see someone when I really needed due to a border closure or been subjected to a hard lockdown. It doesn’t discredit the emotions I’ve felt, but on the same token I certainly do not take for granted the fortunate set of health and social circumstances that I still enjoy. Talk to someone you trust, let them know how you feel because we are all dealing with this virus in a unique set of circumstances, no one is the same!
I’m back! Where to from here?
It’s a question I’ve been asking myself on and off for a long time, where do I want to take TGP from here after such a long hiatus and not being able to travel anywhere that’s been on my bucket list? Let’s not over complicate this. I now have more time and energy to do what I love doing – simplifying the confusing world of travel. Over the next weeks, months and let’s be honest, years, travel will severely be impacted by border restrictions, visa requirements, health checks & quirky rules and regulations that we never before thought would be possible in the modern age.
My aim is to make this as easy as possible for you to understand how the ever changing travel scape impacts you.
I’ll continue to the same format of my previous articles; information sharing based on personal experience or corroborated facts, delivered in a way that I hope most people can relate to. At the same time I will continue building my bucket list and I hope you will too, Ten Reasons Why Jordan Needs to be on Your Bucket List Now.
Ladies and gentleman fasten your seat belt, put your seat in the upright position and ensure your tray table is stowed because as government movement restrictions ease, the travel experience is going to more turbulent than you ever thought possible.
Join me as the world reopens and let’s rediscover the freedom of travel once again. It’s been a while and boy it’s been a ride for the ages!
This isn’t the normal flight review that you’ll already find all over the internet. I don’t fly business class often; I’ve been extremely lucky to fly a couple of sectors with ridiculously cheap tickets via India, and another time on a lucky domestic upgrade.
For readers who don’t fly business class, this is for you. For the seasoned pointy end flyers, also read on, as I hope you still feel the same level of excitement as I did with this crazy adventure.
I took advantage of Hong Kong’s in-town check-in at the Hong Kong Airport Express station. This service is also available at Kowloon Airport Express station as well. Station staff manage check in for multiple airlines, however there was no line when I arrived and the process is extremely efficient.
As a business class passenger, the biggest perk is access to airline lounges. Qantas has its own lounge inside Hong Kong airport, however I arrived extra early to sample three of the famous Cathay Pacific lounges, the Emirates lounge as well as Qantas – I was really pushing to get the maximum experience today. You also have access to priority check-in and priority boarding to whizz you through the airport as efficiently as possible.
Seat and meal selection is available through the Qantas website for all passengers regardless of cabin class; however, the cheapest economy tickets will incur a fee to select seating.
Just a short walk from the Qantas Lounge, I used the priority boarding lane and waltzed on through the gate. Greeted by name, the lovely flight attendant guided me to my seat, 15K which is on the window.
Awaiting me at my seat were noise cancelling headphones and the dinner menu. Shortly after sitting, a flight attendant came around with the famous Flying Kangaroo pajamas.
Oh. My. Gosh! This feels like sitting on a throne, presiding over a small country. It’s a soft, well padded seat with oodles of buttons for seat recline, hidey holes for your belongings and a massive storage bin by your side.
Sitting on the window means that you will have to climb over your “seatmate” to reach the aisle, however on this flight no one sat next to me, giving me even more space.
For sleeping, the seat lies flat, except for my feet which seemed to dangle off the edge a little bit – I’m not sure if this is a flaw in the seat design or if I’m just too tall.
For those wanting to know, yes, the pajamas are super comfy and stylish!
All the food was delicious, with generous portion sizes. I finished every little bit!
My entree selection was a chicken salad topped with a peanut sauce, and side salad with bread…
…followed by the main where I chose duck wontons in broth…
…and finished with a cheese plate served with a dessert wine. My champagne went down a treat with this selection as well.
All TV screens are folded away under the armrest which makes them highly adjustable to easily watch TV or Hollywood blockbusters whether sitting upright or down in bed mode. With hundreds of shows to choose from it’s nearly impossible to become bored on this flight.
The cabin crew on this flight were simply world class. With a warm friendly welcome they were chatty yet gave an ever professional presence. During our delay they remained friendly and approchable for anyone who had questions, or for those simply wanting a chat.
Extending past the on board cabin crew, the staff in the Qantas lounge are absolute legends as well. This was my last stop of my flying lounge visits in Hong Kong airport, and I wish I had come here first. Super friendly and approachable, they even suggested food pairings with my drink order. If I’m lucky enough to fly business class out of Hong Kong again, you will find me in the Qantas lounge.
How did I pay for this?
With Sydney-Hong Kong business class tickets starting at A$3000 return, I needed a cheaper way to enjoy this premium experience. I secured business class on this flight with a Qantas upgrade bid. This is an invitation only service that allows you to “bid” with a mixture of cash and Qantas Frequent Flyer points to upgrade to a premium cabin. This is dependent on seat availability, and all bids are accepted or denied at Qantas’ sole discretion. Once you place your bid it sits on the Qantas system pending; your credit card is only charged if your bid has been accepted. Further information can be found on the Qantas website.
An important note to make is that if you’re wanting 100% certainty to fly business class, then you should purchase a business class ticket. If you’re happy to accept the risk that you may not get upgraded, these bid now upgrades can provide a fantastic premium experience at a lower cost than the standard ticket price.
One other important note is that Qantas operate the Airbus A380 to Hong Kong during peak demand seasons such as Chinese New Year. At other times of the year, you may be flying on the Airbus A330, or the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Check which aircraft you’ll be travelling on before booking to avoid disappointment.
Our flight was delayed by four hours in Hong Kong due to a combination of an essential mechanical repair and a passenger who fell ill. This caused me to miss my connecting flight to Brisbane (which was no big deal, Sydney to Brisbane flights run more frequently than my local bus) however I received a lovely apology letter from Qantas due to the delay.
I appreciate the small gesture of reaching out to apologise for the delay. This is the first time an airline has proactively communicated with me after a delay and I would hope more follow suit.
The final words
Today was my lucky day. Securing an upgrade on the iconic A380 which will soon cease production, waltzing through five different business class lounges for the sake of it and talking to the lovely cabin crew who made me feel at home in the sky – I can fully recommend this business class experience to anyone who wants to spoil themselves to some extra luxury.
Let me know in the comment section below, what’s your favourite business class experience? How many lounges can you visit in one airport visit?
Featured photo taken on descent into Sydney Airport, on board QF128
Skiplagging is where a passenger books a connecting flight itinerary with no intention of taking the onward connection. When wanting to travel on a direct flight from point A to B; there may be a cheaper option by booking point A to B, then C. The trick is that the passenger vanishes from the airport at the transit point, not travelling to the final destination, saving money in the process.
Still a little confused? Here is an example I have found with United Airlines for a domestic USA journey. In this scenario let’s say we are trying to travel from San Diego to Los Angeles.
Searching for a flight from San Deigo to Los Angeles, flights are on offer from $136.
For the super savvy, you can fly on the same plane to Los Angeles, but book a connecting flight to Reno for $103 – a saving of $33.
This practice isn’t limited to domestic US flights; there are cases worldwide on many international airlines where this has been exploited.
Despite this potential cost saving, there are many reasons why Skiplagging causes much more harm than good.
1 – You cannot check-in baggage
Travelling with a lot of luggage will deny you the opportunity to take part in this practice straight away. When checking in at San Diego, any baggage would automatically be checked through to Reno. With connecting flights, you would need a very left field reason to convince the gate agent to collect your bag in LA, remembering they expect you to be checking in again.
2 – The airlines are catching up to this practice
Even in researching this story and examples, the United Airlines website detected my search pattern and denied me access to their website. This has since been restored as I have no intention of booking this. Yet the airline could detect unusual search activity to put a stop to this, or potentially mark the booking in their system as suspicious.
3 – You are breaking the airline’s condition of carriage
All airlines have similar terms and conditions which expressly prohibit this practice. While you may shrug this off and not care, airlines can and do take a variety of steps to remedy their perceived loss.
Potential consequences for Skiplaggers include:
Your ticket being cancelled without notice
A demand to pay the difference between the paid fare and the actual fare of the intended journey
Revoke frequent flyer miles from your account, or ban you completely
Ban you from flying the airline in the future
Take legal action through the courts
Is it really worth risking all of this to save a few dollars?
4 – Think of your fellow passengers
Have you ever sat on the plane waiting for the final door to close, but the flight attendant makes the announcement that they are trying to find the last passenger in the terminal? You will be that person they are looking for, as the airline assumes that you are lost in the terminal.
Think of the other passengers on the plane you’ve left waiting; those who have tight connections, businessmen and women trying to make important meetings, the families trying to get to weddings and those travelling for an emergency; everyone travels for very different reasons. Selfish actions like Skiplagging impact other peoples lives.
5 – Driving up the cost of airfares
Those in the US and Europe are quite lucky in how cheap their local airfares are. Australian and New Zealand airlines price most domestic and short-haul international fares as “point-to-point”. That is, you pay for each individual flight sector travelled, rather than the specially calculated “origin-to-destination” (O&D) model that is exploited by Skiplagging.
Most international airlines use O&D pricing structures for long haul international travel. I predict that continued Skiplagging into the future will see more airlines follow a point-to-point pricing model, which will create more expensive airfares.
So what do you do?
A common argument to support Skiplagging is “if the airlines don’t want to do this, then set airfares with more logical pricing”. I agree with the principle of this argument, however, this means you are supporting a point-to-point pricing model which leads to more expensive airfares for all passengers.
If your desired airline doesn’t offer you a legitimate acceptable airfare, shop around! Fly with a competitor or find alternate ways to reach your destination. Most of the time Skiplagging only saves a handful of dollars and puts so much more in jeopardy.
Let me know in the comments below is this something you support or do you agree it’s just too much to risk, in light of recent legal proceedings?
Feature photo: Connecting flight information at Singapore’s Changi Airport
Garuda Indonesia, the national airline of Indonesia is ranked as a 5-star carrier by Skytrax. I chose Garuda Indonesia for a recent flight from Singapore to Jakarta, to see if they are worth the hype.
On this route, Garuda Indonesia offered pre-selected seating for AUD20 and the option to request a special meal via their website, for free. My website experience was quite clunky and slow both on my laptop and on my Android phone. If booking via a travel agent, they can assist with these requests in most cases.
What a ticket buys you
Garuda Indonesia is a full-service airline. The cost of the cheapest “promo” ticket on international flights entitles you to 30kg baggage on most routes. This also allows you a meal, drink and access to inflight entertainment. Seat selection on promo fares come with a charge which is variable by route.
You are eligible to earn frequent flyer miles via Garuda Miles or possibly with a SkyTeam alliance member depending on the fare class you book (I will cover fare classes in an upcoming article!) As I’m a not a member of Garuda Miles or a partner program, I didn’t earn any miles for this flight.
Check-in was inside Terminal Three at Singapore’s Changi Airport. The staff were joyful, polite and efficient. As Garuda is celebrating 70 years of operations, passengers who checked in at manned desks received a small gift package consisting of a muffin and orange juice, a small yet nice gesture.
Boarding was called by row number, however sadly this was ignored by nearly everyone and not enforced. As this flight was 90% full this caused a minor delay with the mad scrum at the gate.
Like all Boeing 737s around the world, seating was in a 3-3 configuration. The seats were well padded with a fabric covering. As this was a short flight and someone was already sitting behind me when I boarded, I did not test the recline. Legroom was surprisingly spacious, I still had plenty of knee and foot room despite my 194cm frame and my backpack at my feet
To be exact, the seat pitch (distance from the front of your seat to the back of the next) is advertised as 32 inches, yet felt slightly more. Seat width is 17 inches.
Beware if you’re on this aircraft as part of a long haul journey; there is no seat back power. You will need to bring your own power bank if you’re needing to charge your devices en route.
Food and beverages
Even on the short 81 minute skip down to Jakarta, a full meal with dessert was served, along with a full choice of beverages. All food and drinks are included in the price of your ticket on Garuda. Dinner was a choice between chicken and pasta; or fish and rice. I requested the fish and was delighted with my choice.
Served with metal cutlery, the fish was in mild South East Asian curry sauce, cooked perfectly. This was amazingly flavoursome and juicy. The meal was accompanied with bread, a side salad and a jelly topped strawberry mousse. With nothing left on my tray, I washed this down with Indonesia’s number one beer, Bintang – served in a 375mL can.
The seatback entertainment contains a handful of comedies, documentaries and Hollywood movies. The touchscreen was quite difficult to operate, needing a fair press of the screen to get a reaction. At times the system registered my request incorrectly and ended up in the games section instead of comedy! Once playing, the ads were minimal and the video playback was very good.
Live TV is advertised however did not work on this short flight – I could go a couple of hours without seeing the news anyway. Wi-Fi isn’t installed on the Boeing 737; keep an eye out for this on the Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s.
The seatback pocket contained the standard safety card, general health information and the monthly airline magazine, Colours.
Garuda Indonesia has been voted as having the world’s best cabin crew for five consecutive years, and deservingly so! All flight attendants worked tirelessly, fully serving a near packed plane in under 60 minutes. They did this with a smile, professionalism and with genuine care for the customer.
One random observation
Most aircraft row numbers start at number one and logically follow through the order of numbers to the last row of the aircraft. Yet Garuda Indonesia starts their first row of seats at “row 6”; and I was seated in “row 42” despite there actually only being 28 rows of seats on the plane. Oh, but I scored a sweet front row seat to an incredible sunset and lightning show!
Make sure you follow me on Instagram to see more amazing photos like this!
Overall impression – Is Garuda the friendliest airline?
Many airline experiences are diminished on shorter regional routes, yet Garuda Indonesia provided a fantastic level of service and comfort from the very moment I checked in, right through to saying goodbye in Jakarta. I highly rate this airline and will look to use them on a future long haul trip – watch this space!
Flick me a like on this article and let me know in the comments: what are your experiences with Garuda Indonesia? Was your journey as incredible as mine?
Singapore is renowned for hosting the iconic Formula 1 street circuit race around Marina Bay Sands each September. It’s also home to the world-famous Changi Airport, the world’s most awarded airport. With four massive terminals, flights departing to all over the world, including the world’s longest non-stop flight to Newark; this airport is meticulously planned with every kind of traveller in mind.
With the Formula 1 mindset and three hours to burn before my flight, I set out to explore three of the four terminals to see how much I can squeeze in my short time.
Having only three hours until my departure, it was unrealistic for me to expect to cover everything this airport has to offer. Some decisions were made; such as not exploring each of the terminal’s check-in areas, and deciding to skip terminal four until next adventure. I didn’t want to risk being stuck on the other side of the airport when my flight was ready to board!
Start your engines: Check-in
Check-in for my Garuda Indonesia flight was in terminal three. As I was staying at the airport hotel, the total travel time was about two minutes from hotel check-out to airline check-in. Terminal three has a simple yet open, elegant design from floor to ceiling. From the rooftop artistic fans to the gentle flowing ceiling to the floor water feature, you feel somewhat relaxed in what is normally a chaotic environment.
Staff are on hand to guide you to a line which should get you through immigration the fastest. An officer approached me and asked if I had tried the automated gates as an Australian passport holder – mine didn’t work and I ended up at the back of the short queue for manual processing.
An interesting quirk about Changi Airport compared to most others is that you do not clear security before passing through immigration. Full security checks are done at the departure gate. This gives Changi a second rare feature in that arriving passengers are able to mingle with departing passengers. These quirks have the benefit of shorter security lines upon departure, as you’re only queuing with the same passengers that you’re flying with – and arriving passengers have the same access to the high-end duty-free shopping as you do on departure.
Having cleared immigration in terminal three – in a clockwise motion; I’ll guide you through my one flying lap of Changi Airport.
Shop ’till you drop!
There are a lot of shops in Changi Airport for anything you can imagine. The biggest brand names are here; Rolex, Channel, Gucci and all the way down through to Uni Qlo, multiple bookstores and a strangely high amount of pharmacies. This place has it all.
The Carp Pond
While small, this is a slice of tranquillity despite the surrounding rush and buzz. Upon investigating the water’s edge you will find gigantic carp! I sat here for a couple of minutes listening to the gentle trickle of water before remembering I wasn’t in a magic garden.
The Enchanted Garden
To be honest it’s much like the Carp Pond without the water and fish. Its major difference is brighter, bolder colours which pop out and lets your imagination run free. You can actually hide in here if you want to, it’s a cool little place to spend ten or so minutes just having a sit-down or zoning out from the stress of long haul travel.
The Sunflower Garden
On the roof of Terminal 2, this is a little pocket of sunshine. There are hundreds of sunflowers overlooking the apron and there were multiple people laying in the sun trying to get a tan during my flying visit here.
Get a free massage!
As you walk through the terminals you can’t miss the leg massagers, which are free! My gangly legs decided to give it a try. The pressure was a bit tight around my ankles, but it soothed my aching calves from the two days of non-stop walking around Singapore.
Cactus Garden with a view…and beer!
Near the Emirates lounge, you will find the Cactus Garden, a large area with varieties of cactus from all over the world. While you’re here you can stop by the adjoining bar, or simply watch aircraft jet off with a near perfect view of the runway.
This was my favourite part of Changi Airport (other than watching the planes, of course!). You are greeted by hundreds of butterflies as soon as you walk into this two-tiered enclosure. The smell of the flowers and fresh fruit laid out to attract the creatures creates a pleasant atmosphere and some extremely photogenic butterflies.
Catch the latest Hollywood blockbuster
That’s right, for the cost of nothing, you can sit back and relax watching full-length feature films at the airport cinema. Displays just outside will show you the schedule of what’s playing and when; so if you have multiple hours at Changi Airport and you consider yourself a movie buff, then you’ve found your pit stop!
Appreciate the art
The real beauty of Changi Airport is…the beauty of itself. There are dozens of art pieces, sculptures and floral arrangements scattered around each of the terminals. This is a fascinating place in that it doesn’t feel so airport-y; rather it feels like a high-end shopping mall combined with a gigantic art gallery.
Why Changi works
Changi Airport is accurately described by many as a mini city. This 24-hour a day machine supports everything you would expect to see in a city let alone an international airport – easy navigation, a variety of shopping options, places to eat or sleep at affordable prices and many leisurely activities for the entire family. The best thing is it doesn’t matter if you have one hour or a full day to spare; there will be something here keeping you occupied the entire time. I raced around this airport in less than two hours and I know there is so much I have missed and need to see next time (the entire Terminal 4, for starters).
The chequered flag: Final thoughts
Leave a comment below and let me know what’s your favourite feature of Changi Airport!
This airport finds innovative and cunning ways to reduce the stress and strain of long-haul travel. There was so much to see in such little time in that Changi Airport nails the showbiz brief – leave them wanting more!
Travelling long haul on a budget doesn’t have to cost you hours of extra time and effort!
You probably love something that’s “value for money” as much as the next person – but what’s your definition of value for money? What’s your friend’s definition? We all have different perceptions of what’s value for money and what’s not; sometimes the cheapest airfare on the market may not actually provide you with any benefit at all. Here are my top six ways to get the best value for money on your airfare!
1 – Knowing where and when to find the bargains
Following your preferred airline or travel agent for their sales window can save you lots. Subscribe to their campaign emails and you will soon notice a particular pattern that may suit your needs. Virgin Australia offers “Happy Hour” sales on selected Thursdays; Jetstar holds their yearly “Birthday Sale” where in some cases you can book your return flight for free. Flight Centre facilitates “Travel Expo” about three times a year in capital and selected regional Australian cities, and online booking sites offer small discounts off fares periodically. Even when not looking to book any travel, it’s still worth keeping an eye on sale prices to your bucket list destinations to set realistic expectations on price for when the time comes to book.
2 – Search with purpose; what’s the plan?
Heading off on the dream Euro trip, or the quick getaway for a few days? Don’t just plot in random dates and go wild – search your airfares around your intentions. No matter what the purpose of your trip is, planning your flights with specific time frames in mind is pivotal to finding the option that suits your needs otherwise it’s wasting yours and your travel agent’s time. For example, if you plan to join a group tour on the day of departure and the introduction meeting is at 6pm; there’s no use comparing airlines who arrive late in the afternoon or evening no matter how reasonably priced they are.
3 – Picking the transit city that’s right for you
If your home city isn’t well connected to your destination, you will need to transit somewhere. Always take each option on its own merits as no two transits are the same. If a longer transit (six or more hours) is required at world-leading Singapore Changi, you can amuse yourself in many of its own airport attractions, or even have a quick opportunity to pop into the city for lunch or dinner. Compare this to Beijing, where processing times are quite slow and the airport is a long distance from the city centre. The airport is good, but nothing outstanding. Two world-class cities with busy airports, yet two vastly different experiences for those stuck with a long transit. If you’re unsure of what to expect from a potential airport experience, there are multiple review sites online such as Skytrax with regular reviews of the world’s more popular airports.
4 – Decide if you’re stopping over
I hear you asking “wait one second what’s the difference between transit and stopover?” – transits are transfers from one flight to another inside a 24 hour period. Stopovers are you literally stopping, in a city for 24 hours or more.
If you’re travelling from one side of the world to another you may feel inclined to stopover somewhere to discover a new city in depth, or simply take a mini holiday within a holiday on the way home. If you’re travelling an incredibly long distance; let’s use Sydney to London and would like to stopover, it pays to research which airlines can take you to which stops. Choosing Emirates allows you to stop in their hub megacity of Dubai; Qantas can take you via Perth or Singapore; Qatar Airways via Doha and I can go on for hours with examples.
5 – Budget versus full-service airlines
Considering flying a budget airline like Jetstar instead of a full-service carrier like Hawaiian Airlines for a tropical getaway? That’s a great way to save cash to spend at your destination on shopping and dining, but if you’re one who prefers inclusions like meals, baggage, seats and drinks; you’ll be forking out more money time and again on a budget carrier. Keep an eye out in the near future as I will explore these key differences in detail.
6 – Bringing it all together; price versus convenience
This point is wrapping the first five points into a neat little package. The rock bottom airfare may see you taking twice as long to get to your destination. Consider where you are transiting or stopping, but most importantly which airline will get you to where you need to be when you need to be? If you’re one who values that little more knee room or prefers the “full service” that low-cost carriers don’t include then you will need to accept that your price expectations need to be set higher than their flashy sale prices.
Let’s put this into practice!
The options for my recent Jordan trip were overwhelming. There were plenty of Middle Eastern, Asian and even European airlines offering airfares between Brisbane and Amman. Let’s use some examples of how I would consider the same trip again, today. For simplicity, I have not set a budget for my airfare – I just want the best value flights.
Scenario – I need to be at my Amman hotel by 6pm on 10 April for my tour welcome meeting. For my two week stay, I’m trying to find the most competitive airfare. No airlines fly Brisbane to Amman non-stop; meaning transits are required. As long as I get to my destination reasonably quickly I don’t mind which route I take.
The cheapest fare is found with Oman Air, at $1,716. However the arrival time is too late to get to my meeting on time unless I arrive a day earlier, and it takes nearly two days to get home. This extra time means I will need to source extra accommodation and meals; therefore this option will ultimately become more expensive than competitor airline options.
Next best (that’s not three stops!) is Qatar Airways at $1,894. Qatar does not currently fly to Brisbane, so two stops are required to make my way to Amman. It’s slightly inconvenient but the total overall travel time and schedule meet my needs. Let’s put this on the shortlist.
The last airline I would consider here is the cheapest one-stop option, with Etihad. This is the most expensive of the three realistic choices at $2,188. However, this will get me to Amman the fastest with a one-stop connection. Let’s add this to the shortlist alongside Qatar Airways.
Who would you choose? Let me know by commenting below!
Which of the these options did I decide?
When faced with this exact conundrum in real life (with cheaper airfares at the time!) I chose the Qatar Airways option. Despite the two stops, the money I saved on the airfare meant I had more to spend in Jordan, even after trading off a couple of extra hours in transit. Qatar Airways offers world-class service, their home of Hamad International Airport in Doha is fantastic to explore at any time of day and for what it’s worth, my long legs could do with the extra stretch on such a long journey.
The definition of “value” will vary from one person to the next. The cheapest airfare on the market may not suit your circumstances; whereas the little extra for the airfare upfront can shave hours off your total travel time and provide greater comfort. Shop around, have a chat with your local travel agent and make sure you are getting your journey started off on the right foot.
Feature photo taken on the descent into Amman, Jordan onboard a Royal Jordanian Boeing 787-800; part of my Qatar Airways ticket from Brisbane, Australia
With the rise of ultra long haul aircraft (yes that is the plural form of the word) like the Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner’ and the Airbus A350, long haul travel is definitively the way of the future. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has challenged aircraft manufacturers to build a plane that can fly from the east coast of Australia to London or New York non-stop.
The scenario: You’ve found an amazing airfare from Sydney to Los Angeles for an incredible price. The dreaded 14-hour economy class journey is ahead. How can this possibly be comfortable?
What’s in this for you: Your actions before and during the flight will impact your perception of time, space and comfort. Here are my six essential tips to survive a long haul flight and make your journey that little more enjoyable, even if you are up the pointy end sipping champagne in business or first class.
1. What to wear ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
What you wear on board determines how comfortable you are en route. Think smart with loose, comfortable clothing that allows ease to sit, move and stretch out comfortably. Don’t underestimate the choice of footwear either. You don’t want to look at someone’s bare feet at 30,000ft and odds are they don’t want to see yours either. Find the comfiest shoes in your wardrobe. Personally, it’s my sneakers. Ditch the skinny jeans, heels or dress shoes, they can be worn at your destination. Wearing tight clothing will gradually increase the feeling of restricted movement and overtime the walls may just close in to appear closer than they are!
2. Carry-on is everything
Saying goodbye to your checked bag for 14 hours means careful selection is needed for what goes into your carry-on bag beyond the obvious passport, laptop, and earphones. Plan for all scenarios, the aircraft aircon may be set to Sahara heatwave or Antarctic blizzard and airlines rarely choose a temperature in between. Mistakes also happen, people spill things, bags get lost, you might find lunch inedible. I never travel without these essentials in my carry-on:
Sweater – if the aircon is set to polar breeze
Second shirt/shorts – I’ve had dinners spilled on me, and I’m not on fleek wearing braised beef. This is also insurance if checked baggage is delayed or lost
Pen – traveling internationally means there are forms to fill out for immigration
Power bank – the aircraft USB port won’t always work. Buy a cheap power bank to keep the charge at 100% in order to hit the ground running.
Lollies and Muesli Bars – just in case you get the munchies between meal services
Keep in mind that many countries now impose strict liquid and powder limits in your carry-on bag. To avoid drama and keep my bag well below the standard 7kg limit, I put all toiletries in my checked bag and drink plenty of water before arriving at the airport, and ask for bottled water onboard.
3. Avoid the seating lottery
If I had a penny for every time I’ve seen or heard someone complaining they didn’t get the seat they wanted, I could afford an upgrade to Premium Economy. The complaint is generally followed by the airline staff saying something like ‘you haven’t pre-reserved a seat request’. If you value the view out the window or enjoy that little extra room in the aisle, then pre-select your desired seat. Many airlines are moving towards charging for seat selection depending on the type of airfare you’ve purchased. Agree or disagree with this practice all you like, you’ll be much better off a happy camper with your seat of choice for 14 hours rather than being grumpy stuck in the middle between two strangers!
4. Watch the time
‘I love jetlag’, said no one, ever. There is no silver bullet to beat it however a golden rule of long haul travel is to try and ‘slot’ into the destination time zone as soon as you can. For me, this is setting my watch before the plane takes off. Most onboard welcome announcements will tell you who the pilot is, how long the flight is going to take and the local time at the destination. Use this as a reminder to set your watch/phone to the destination straight away. If possible, plan your naps around your destination timezone. In the example below, when we take off at 11:15am in Sydney, I will convert this to LA time which is 4:15pm (depending on daylight saving for each country). With arrival at 6:05am I know I will want to aim to sleep as much as I can in the last few hours of the flight in order to maximise the full day upon arrival. Easier said than done? Yes. Impossible? No.
5. Let me entertain you!
Many airlines now offer extensive entertainment systems with hundreds of hours of movies, TV and music onboard. Sometimes no matter how much content is loaded, you just might not fancy the latest Hollywood blockbuster or season seven of The Big Bang Theory…again. Don’t rely on the airline entertaining you the entire way. Being 2019, many streaming providers have made things easier than ever, by allowing downloads of TV shows and movies of your choice directly to your device. At the same time, download your favourite music and search your app store to find a few easy to navigate games. If you’re prone to being bored easily and you’ve booked a daytime flight, consider a window seat for an ever-changing landscape. If you’re still bored, go low tech and read a book. Maximising your options helps ensure you will always be entertained. As they say time flies when you’re having fun.
6. Please, go for a walk!
Personally, this is the most important activity on a long haul flight. The effects of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) are well documented and is a risk on longer flights. If sitting at the window or the middle, the person sitting in the aisle cannot expect you to stay stuck to your seat for hours on end, don’t be shy to get up occasionally. Go for a proper walk from the rear of the plane to the front. If you’re on a widebody aircraft with a large exit area, use it to stretch the back and leg muscles. You might feel a little (or very) awkward, but you need to take your own health seriously over how you might look for a minute to keep your body working.
These six essential tips to survive a long haul flight should have you feeling relaxed and ready to holiday from the moment you touchdown! There are many more tips and tricks out there which I’m excited to share. How do you manage long periods up in the sky? Let me know by commenting below!
Please note that products, services, and companies directly or indirectly mentioned in this article are used as examples and do not constitute my endorsement.
Feature photo captured @ sunrise over the Philippines en route to Hong Kong