From flights to flowers, Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield surveys another week in travel
Qatar Airways and Virgin Australia joined in a new partnership this week. It opens up easy travel to more than 150 countries across their networks. Members of Qatar’s Privilege Club will be able to earn points on Virgin Australia flights, and Virgin Australia’s Velocity frequent flyers can earn Velocity points and status credits on Qatar flights. There is also lounge access and other benefits, and reward seats are available on eligible services on both airlines. Flights can be booked on each airline’s website.
The southern wing of Changi Airport’s Terminal 2 is reopening for departures on October 11. It opened for arrivals in May. The move adds to Changi’s capacity and spreads out passenger operations more evenly across the airport’s terminals. Travel demand is continuing to grow in the lead-up to expected peak travel at the end of the year.
Singapore Airlines will be the first airline to use the new check-in rows at T2. Its flights to Malaysia and Thailand will depart from T2.
Air India and Air India Express will move to T2 on October 18.
Terminal 2 has had a big makeover, with a refreshed design inspired by elements of nature. There is extensive use of natural materials for wall cladding and flooring. Giant green columns are full of plants. There are automated check-in kiosks and immigration with automated clearance gates.
San Francisco Travel Association is expecting to reach 21.5 million visitors this year, and they are expected to have spent nearly $10 billion.
There’s good news from reader Michael Allen. In this page last week, we published the story about his wife Pam’s bag being stolen in Barcelona. Michael writes: “I lodged an insurance claim on our return home covering the stolen bag and its contents, as well as some small medical bills and costs related to flight delays, totalling a few thousand dollars. The claim was processed within 14 days without any further queries and despite not having receipts for all the bag’s contents. We’re very impressed with WorldCare Travel Insurance (an Allianz company). Competitive rates and good COVID cover.”
I feel like I’m getting in the middle of something dangerous here. Maz Carter had a letter published in The West Australian complaining that husband Gary and she had driven 1700km, spent a lot of money on fuel, and they’d barely seen a wildflower. “I want my money back,” she wrote.
Then, in last Saturday’s edition of Travel, I published pictures showing all the flowers I’d just wandered through in the west side of Karara Rangeland Park near Perenjori.
Husband Gary subsequently wrote to me explaining they’d stayed two nights at (on the west side of Karara), two at Mullewa, three at Horrocks Beach, then one at Port Denison. Gary writes: “Needless to say, we’re all a bit jealous that you had ‘flowers as far as you can see’.”
Maz clearly needs a better guide. I offered to take her next year, but Gary reports: “She said she’s calling it quits on the wildflowers but is available to accompany you on your next European trip.”
Reader Gary Tate kindly points out: “For those who are unable to travel far I highly recommend a short drive to Wireless Hill Reserve in the City of Melville. The park is absolutely stunning with a plethora of native blooms, masses of cat and kangaroo paws, donkey orchids in their thousands along with spiders, rattle beaks, bee, pink fairy, jugs and ‘herds’ of the buttery cowslips. All are easily observed from the network of paths that contain excellent informational signage on the flower species to be sighted.”
This prompts me to mention that planned donkey rides for England’s August Bank Holiday have been cancelled at a beach in New Brighton, Merseyside, after objections over animal welfare.
Our congratulations to Anna Dakin, who has been named the Northern Territory’s Top Tour Guide for 2022. I’ve worked with many, many brilliant guides in the NT — so, to win there is really something. Based in Alice Springs but originally from the UK, Anna believes has passion for the landscape of Central Australia. She says: “I really like to go the extra mile and learn all of the nitty-gritty facts about specific areas of interest to me, which are mainly culture, geology and astronomy. I love doing what I’m doing. I couldn’t be happier.” A freelance tour guide, Anna has worked with a number of tourism businesses in Central Australia but now leads World Expeditions’ six day Larapinta Trek. Anna adds: “I am working on getting my own tourism business up and running.”
FRIENDS IN NEED
One of the joys of my job is staying in touch with my network of contacts around the world — people met through my work who become friends. That gives us a lot of inside information about the destinations we’re suggesting — way beyond any news headlines you might read.
And one of the difficulties of my job is hearing from those friends in difficult times — certainly through COVID in India and Italy, but when there are fires in France, drought in Africa and Texas, flooding in Pakistan. The Ethiopian town of Lalibela, with its rock-hewn churches is again under siege by Tigrayan rebels. A friend there tells me people are being killed, and trying to flee: “The line up of people migration looks like a buffalo migration.”
GRAPES OF MIRTH
The world’s first two-day wine and comedy festival is at Seppeltsfield Estate in the Barossa Valley, South Australia on October 29 and 30. There’s a line-up of wine and food, music and new and vintage comedy talent — all curated by Grapes of Mirth’s “Head Clown”, comedian and connoisseur Merrick Watts. There will be comedy sets by Judith Lucy, Tom Gleeson, Nazeem Hussain, Rhys Nicholson, Peter Helliar and more. grapesofmirth.com.au
And finally, a reader who’s just returned from the US has written to me about his bemusement over their supersized meals and drinks. Ah, but does he know which US State is famous for its very small serves of soft drinks? Minnesota.