QANTAS RE-OPENS INTERNATIONAL LOUNGES

Qantas has announced a new seven-year agreement with Accor for the hospitality giant to continue management of Qantas lounges in Australia and overseas.

The announcement coincides with Qantas’ plans to fast-track the reopening of its award-winning First lounges in Australia in line with the launch of the two-way trans-Tasman travel bubble on 19 April 2021.

“We’re thrilled to learn that Qantas’ brilliant First Lounges are re-opening,” said The Travel Authority Group’s CEO, Peter Hosper.

“These are vital signs of tourism recovery, and we look forward to seeing our clients enjoy Accor’s renowned service levels in these wonderful lounge spaces,” added Hosper.

The new agreement is an extension of an existing 14-year partnership. Accor began managing Qantas lounges in 2007 when the airline opened its flagship International First lounges in Australia, followed by its Domestic Business lounges, Chairmans Lounges and Qantas Club in 2013.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the renewed agreement highlights the airline’s commitment to maintaining a premium travel experience for its customers across every part of their journey.

“As our customers step back into our lounges for the first time in over a year, they will continue to receive the exceptional service they have been accustomed to from the Qantas and Accor teams,’ Mr Joyce said.

The national carrier is ready to welcome visitors to its First lounges in Sydney and Melbourne as well as its International Lounge in Brisbane, a year after they closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions.

While normally reserved for Platinum Frequent Flyers, Qantas will extend an invitation to customers travelling in Business, Gold Frequent Flyers and Qantas Club members to visit the First Lounge until the neighbouring Business lounges reopen.

Mr Joyce said reopening three of its flagship international lounges was a key milestone in the national carrier’s recovery.

With Qantas’ lounges in New Zealand currently closed, however, the airline will offer Platinum and Gold Frequent Flyers and Qantas Club members access to Air New Zealand lounges in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.

Qantas has reopened nearly all of its 35 Qantas Club and Business lounges across Australia as well as its Chairmans lounges. It will open the remainder of its international lounges in Australia and overseas in line with the broader reopening of international borders and recommencement of the rest of Qantas’ international network.

A COVID-ENHANCEMENT FOR AUSTRALIA’S NEW DPD?

Australia’s new Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD)—due later this year—might be getting a COVID upgrade.

Discussing the return of international students recently, Education Minister Alan Tudge said that digital vaccine certificates could provide a pathway into Australian universities without a need for quarantine.

The proposal relies on finding a way to link verified COVID-19 vaccine certificates to the federal government’s new digitised system for incoming passenger cards that the Travel Authority reported on last year.

The federal government has been looking very carefully at the concept of a ‘vaccination passport’, given some countries are already rolling out COVID-19 vaccines.

“We—and our clients—are encouraged by these initiatives,” says The Travel Authority Group’s CEO, Peter Hosper.

“The travel industry is stuck in a holding pattern just waiting for the green light for people to travel safely again. There is so much pent-up demand. We encourage more innovative thinking like this as the global economy needs people travelling once again,” Hosper added.

Mr Tudge stressed that numerous preconditions would need to be satisfied before any such scheme could be considered, including availability of an effective vaccine.

“If a vaccine works and stops the spread, and it can be rolled out effectively in source countries and we can have surety over vaccination certificates, then there is the potential to be able to bring in more international students without them having to quarantine,” Mr Tudge told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

“In part, that would be facilitated by the fact that we’re digitising the incoming passenger card. Our aspiration is that we would then be able to electronically staple an authenticated, biometrically connected vaccination certification to that card,” the Minister added.

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VIRGIN AUSTRALIA LOUNGES REOPENING

In yet another positive sign, Virgin Australia has announced the reopening of its lounges in Perth and the Gold Coast.

Seating capacity within both lounges will, however, be limited due to COVID-related social distancing requirements, and adjustments have been made to the placement of furniture within the lounges to ensure social distancing is maintained at all times.

Both the Perth and Gold Coast lounges will comply with all COVID-19 safe requirements as mandated by the state governments.

Guests will notice some changes including:

  • The requirement to use the QR code to complete sign in upon entry.
  • The entrance foyer will be used as an entry point only.
  • Furniture will be spaced 1.5m apart along with appropriate signage and social distancing markers.
  • Hand sanitiser stations will be placed throughout the lounges.
  • Lounges will be deep cleaned prior to opening, and cleaning undertaken throughout the day.

One of the most obvious changes will be around food and beverage, notably that self-serve food and drinks will not be available.

Pre-made food items including sweet and savoury snacks, sandwiches, fresh fruit, alcoholic beverages (including craft beers and curated wines), barista coffee, premium tea and soft drinks will still be available from the hosted food bar.

The airline’s Gold Coast lounge will be open:

8.00am – 8.00pm Monday to Friday
8.00am – 6.00pm Saturday
8.00am – 8.00pm Sunday

The Perth lounge willl be open:

4.15am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday
5.00am – 12.00pm Saturday
5.00am – 5.00pm Sunday

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US [1300 935 669] to discuss your specific requirements.

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NSW TO OPEN BORDER WITH VICTORIA

NSW border opens to Victoria from November 23 after coronavirus shutdown.

Qantas and Jetstar will operate thousands of flights to and from Melbourne and regional Victoria over summer following the New South Wales Government’s decision to open its borders.

From 23 November, Qantas and Jetstar will operate more than 250 flights per week across five routes, offering travellers 48,000 seats between the two states. This compares with just ten return flights per week operating between Melbourne and Sydney (the only route currently operating between NSW and VIC).

Both carriers will look to add more flights if there is sufficient demand.

Qantas Domestic & International CEO, Andrew David is thrilled to be adding such capacity into the network stating that, “This is fantastic news. We’ve added thousands of more flights back into our schedule today which will see Melbourne-Sydney once again become the busiest air route in Australia.”

November 23 will be a day many people will now be looking forward to. It’s exciting for the family and friends who can finally be reunited after months apart.”

Qantas Domestic & International CEO, Andrew David

David Thompson, Manager of Sales & Client Experience at The Travel Authority, believes this is another positive move in the “normalisation” of travel during the pandemic.

“This is very welcome news from Qantas. The Sydney – Melbourne air corridor was the second busiest in the world. At the height of the lockdown, there was only one flight a day between our two largest cities. That is just not sustainable,” said Thompson.

“Our Corporate Clients cannot wait to get back in the air and this is an important step in making that happen. The sooner all borders reopen the sooner we can get the economy moving again. The pent-up demand from our clients is palpable.”

David Thompson, Manager of Sales & Client Experience at The Travel Authority

Thompson went on to note that, “As soon as borders open we get an influx of bookings to that destination, recently South Australia opened their borders and our bookings went through the roof. We really would love to see Queensland and Western Australia open their borders as soon as possible.”

Borders are on everyone’s mind as we enter the holiday period. Last week Qantas CEO Alan Joyce slammed Queensland’s decision to keep its border closed to Sydney.

“Frankly, this is ridiculous,” Joyce said in a statement.

“Sydney is the biggest city in Australia and it probably has one of the best track records globally of managing a virus that is clearly going to be with us for a very long time. Keeping the doors bolted to places that you can’t reasonably call hot spots makes no sense from a health perspective and it’s doing a lot of social and economic damage as well,” Joyce added.

Our Take?

With the NSW border opening the good news is that, with so much available capacity, airfares are seriously good value and 5-star hotels are selling rooms at unheard of prices.

Now is the time to book a weekend away to Melbourne or Sydney, and for our Corporate Clients now is brilliant opportunity to finally start to utilise and reduce those tickets/credits on hold at these current low pricing levels—lock in the savings now!

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GOING DIGITAL FOR SMARTER BORDERS

The Incoming Passenger Card—the one you fill out bleary eyed on descent into Australia when you can’t find your pen — is on the way out.

In an announcement from Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs—Alan Tudge—the Australian Government says it’s preparing for the safe re-opening of global travel with the launch of a digital system that will support quick and secure collection of incoming passenger information and replace the old physical card.

The familiar Incoming Passenger Cards are on the way out.

The new Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) will be completed by Australia-bound travellers on their mobile device or computer.

Currently, passenger contact and declaration information is collected on paper cards, which are then scanned and processed manually. In a COVID world, this information is an invaluable source for contact tracing and the manual process could slow down efforts to control the virus.

The DPD will facilitate information being collected and shared more efficiently while still using the same authority for collection. The DPD will also allow certified COVID vaccination certificates to be digitally uploaded and connected if and when they become available.

“This capability will put us in a prime position to successfully reopen our borders in a COVID-safe way to help with the rebuilding of Australia’s economy,” said Mr Tudge.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US [1300 935 669] to discuss your specific requirements.

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QANTAS Domestic Lounges Reopening

Qantas closed its domestic and international lounges in late March, as a result of government enforced restrictions that shut down the majority of domestic and international flying.

But with the relaxing of state-based restrictions and an increase in domestic capacity, the airline has commenced a phased reopening of lounge facilities that support the current domestic network.

Eleven of Qantas’ 35 Australian capital city and regional lounges reopened on 01 July.

Capital city lounges

  • Sydney Domestic Business Lounge
  • Perth Domestic Business Lounge
  • Adelaide Qantas Club
  • Canberra Business Lounge

Regional lounges

  • Broome Regional Lounge
  • Karratha Regional Lounge
  • Launceston Regional Lounge
  • Alice Springs Regional Lounge
  • Kalgoorlie Regional Lounge
  • Tamworth Regional Lounge
  • Coffs Harbour Regional Lounge

“We know we have a long way to go before the travel industry resembles anything like it did pre-Covid-19, but small steps like these are very encouraging. To see the domestic market slowly reopening is great,”

said The Travel Authority Group’s CEO, Peter Hosper.

A number of the Qantas Group’s ‘Fly Well’ program measures  will be implemented across the lounge network to promote the health and wellbeing of passengers and staff including:

  • Capping the number of guests to comply with state-specific restrictions on indoor gatherings
  • A hosted All-Day Snacking Station replacing ‘self serve’ buffets and drink stations
  • Disposable coffee cups
  • Additional cleaning protocols
  • Sanitising stations

Qantas Chief Customer Officer, Stephanie Tully, said the re-opening of the lounges is the result of weeks of planning to ensure the lounge experience complies with state regulations and Qantas’ own enhanced standards while continuing to provide customers with a positive and relaxing experience.

“We’re really pleased to welcome our Frequent Flyers back to our lounges across the country and get more of our people back to work. We’ve already rolled out some service changes on board for everyone’s wellbeing and now we’re announcing some changes to the lounge experience as well.”

All lounges have undergone a deep clean during their closure.

Initially Qantas will invite customers to visit the Business Lounges or regional lounges subject to capacity, with plans to reopen Qantas Clubs and Chairmans Lounges in coming weeks.

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AIRPORT Drive-In Cinema Pops Up

Amid all the shutting down, we’re loving some of the clever stepping-up we’re seeing in some parts of the global travel and tourism ecosystem.

At the end of April, a drive-in ‘Aerocinema’ popped up on an airport apron area—where planes are usually parked, unloaded, refuelled and boarded—as part of the Vilnius International Film Festival in Lithuania.

Like most international airports currently, Vilnius International Airport has quieted down while waiting for travel restrictions to be lifted. The organisers of the film festival saw this downtime as a brilliant opportunity to screen films while movie theatres are closed.

“Implementing this project was a pleasant challenge for us.”

Dainius Čiuplys, Head of Vilnius Airport.

“We had to remake the airport apron, which is a restricted area, into a space open to film lovers. It is a nice opportunity to be a part of the whole process and at the same time to show that airports perfectly combine aviation activities with events and projects of various formats. I believe that after the drive-in cinema events, there will be even more lovers not only of good cinema, but also of aviation,” said Čiuplys.

Up to 200 cars can fit into the drive-in area for each screening.

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SINGAPORE Changi Transit Program Extended

Singapore Airlines, in partnership with Changi Airport Group, has advised that the Changi Transit Program—now called Changi Transit Privileges—has been extended.

From now till 31 March 2020, eligible Singapore Airlines, SilkAir or Air New Zealand passengers will receive S$20 transit voucher to use towards your shopping, and save up to S$120 on shopping and dining during your transit in Changi Airport.

The shopping and dining discounts apply at Shilla Duty Free, WHSmith, Pashma, Luvenus Jewellery, Singapore Zoo souvenir, Sony store, Hudsons Coffee, The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck, and Tanuki Raw Express during your transit.

The Transit Voucher can also be redeemed for one-time access to the Ambassador Lounge at Terminal 2 or 3 for up to two hours. Lounge use includes shower facilities, free flow of non-alcoholic beverages, light refreshments, local & international reading materials and 10% discount for Alcoholic beverages.

Ambassador Lounge, Terminal 2.

Scroll down for some terms and conditions.

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Terms & Conditions
Passengers travelling on Singapore Airlines (SQ) and/or SilkAir (MI) ticketed and operated flights into and out of Singapore with 13 digits e-ticket numbers begin with 618, 629 or 086. This benefit will also be extended to passengers taking the following flight numbers: SQ4281, SQ4282, SQ4283, SQ4284, NZ281, NZ282, NZ283, NZ284, NZ295 or NZ296 (operated by Air New Zealand) and TR596 or TR597 (operated by Scoot). Passengers must be on transit in Changi Airport on both legs of their journey, which means Singapore is neither the point of origin nor the end destination. Transit passengers on one-way journey or ticket are not eligible. Transit means a layover at Changi Airport of not more than 24 hours. Passengers eligible for the transit rewards can proceed to the iShopChangi Collection Centres which are open 24 hours daily in the transit areas of Terminals 2 and 3. Please present your passport, boarding passes and all e-tickets showing your full itinerary.

NEW AMEX LOUNGE for Sydney Airport

American Express has announced it’s opening a new, more spacious card member lounge located near Gates 50-63 at Sydney Airport’s T1 International terminal, replacing its existing lounge from 23 October 2019.

The existing American Express Lounge at Sydney Airport opened in December 2014 but, due to its ongoing popularity, the lounge is being relocated and expanded significantly.

The new American Express Lounge will be three-times the size of the original lounge at over 600 square metres. It will also offer more amenities, dining options and variety of relaxation spaces.

The lounge is operated by global premium airport hospitality specialists Plaza Premium Group and offers guests a premium airline lounge experience, including:

  • Three shower suites featuring L’Occitane en Provence products.
  • Complimentary food and beverages featuring a variety of vegetarian, vegan and wellness options, an exclusive dining area, and live cooking stations.
  • Full service bar including a selection of cocktails and wide selection of craft and international tap beers.
  • High-speed Wi-Fi and charging stations and quiet resting areas.
  • Flight information screens, and a selection of local and international magazines and newspapers.

“Opening this new, spacious and convenient American Express Lounge at Sydney Airport is part of our ongoing commitment to provide our card members with premium travel benefits, exceptional hospitality and best-in-class facilities and experiences. We look forward to welcoming travellers to our new card member lounge,” said Naysla Edwards, Vice President of Brand, Charge Cards and Experiences at American Express A/NZ.

Sydney’s new American Express lounge is part of American Express’ broader Global Lounge Collection, which offers Platinum and Centurion Card Members with access to more than 1,200 airport lounge locations across the world, in 500 plus cities, across 130 countries and counting.

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SYDNEY AIRPORT: Outbound Express Path Closed

An update for regular travellers departing from Sydney International Airport who might be used to utilising the Outbound Express Path

With the final stage of construction at Sydney International Airport Departures now underway, the Outbound Express Path through immigration and security screening at T1 International Departures is closed for renovations.

If you have an upcoming flight departing from Sydney International, please be advised that there is now a single entry point to immigration and security.

Accordingly, please ensure you allow extra time for passage through the airport as delays may occur as this important upgrade is completed at the airport.

The construction works are due for completion in late August.

At that time, you can look forward to a better departure experience with a more spacious check-in hall and improved wayfinding through the airport.

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