Stephen Scourfield weighs up the pros & cons of modern travel in his latest roundup of travel news
WEIGHT & WAIT
+ Virgin Australia charged me $50 for just under 3kg of extra baggage on Monday, as I was flying from Adelaide to Perth. But I’m not worried. The next time I’m underweight (which is pretty much always, except this one occasion), I’m going to invoice them, to refund me for the luggage allowance I haven’t used. I’m sure they’ll be happy to pay right there and then, on the spot, as I was. (Yeah, right).
+ Samoan Air made world headlines exactly 20 years ago when it charged passengers by how much they weighed — weight equals fuel, as Virgin Australia well knows. The then-head of the airline, Chris Langton, said: “Airlines don’t run on seats, they run on weight, and particularly the smaller the aircraft you are in, the less variance you can accept in terms of the difference in weight between passengers.” The airline became dormant in 2015.
+ Nearly an hour waiting for luggage to appear at Perth Airport Terminal 1 after a domestic flight on an A320 on Monday? You’ve got to be kidding. (And almost as long on Tuesday, when I was picking someone up).
BIG KANGAROO JUMP
The Qantas Group made a record $1.43 billion profit in the half year to December. “This is a huge turnaround considering the massive losses we were facing just 12 months ago,” said chief executive Alan Joyce. He hinted airfares might start to fall. Twenty-thousand non-executive staff have been rewarded with a $500 travel credit. I can’t even begin to unpick what some readers will be thinking about all this.
STEPPING UP IN WA
Qantas has also announced plans to step up its services in WA.
+ It will buy five additional Airbus aircraft to fly here. Capacity from Perth to the Eastern States will increase by almost 10 per cent from January 1-June 30, 2023, when compared with the previous six months. This increase comes mostly from using widebody Airbus A330s to replace narrowbody Boeing 737s on some flights between Perth and Sydney and Melbourne. Nearly half of all Qantas flights on these routes will be in A330s from the end of March.
+ Flights between Geraldton and Perth will return to twice daily on weekdays from the end of May.
+ It is after five “used” Airbus A319/320 aircraft for its Perth-based regional airline Network Aviation, to meet growing demand from resources clients.
+ Pilot training company CAE will add an A320 flight simulator to its Perth Airport facility, and up to 300 Qantas Group pilots a year can be trained there.
MORE BIG PROFIT
AirAsia X has delivered a historic financial result, with a net profit of more than $50 million for the last quarter of 2022, even though it has only half its fleet flying. A spokesperson says the profit comes on the back of strong fares “despite operating only seven aircraft and amidst fuel price fluctuations”.
Scoot has increased flights between Perth and Singapore from 10 times a week to 12. The airline is also increasing flights across its network with the resumption of flights to Athens, Tokyo, Sapporo, Langkawi, Manado and China.
Malaysia Airlines has announced the final extension of its MH eVouchers’ validity. The eVouchers were issued to those affected by flight cancellations and changes between January 1, 2020, and October 29, 2022. Those holding a voucher must use the re-booking options for eligible customers by March 31, for travel until June 30, 2023.
Travel Associates has an offer to stay three nights and pay for two at the splendid Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort and Spa. It is from $599 per person for travel between May 1 and August 31, 2023, and includes three nights in a luxury room with daily breakfast and a $US100 credit to spend on the property. Book by March 31. The Sofitel is on the southern edge of Sentosa Island facing the warm sea breeze of the South China Sea. Call 13 70 71.
BALI FOR EASTER
… and while we are on good deals, the Mulia Bali has offers for Easter and the school holidays, including two bonus nights. Pay for five nights and stay for seven, with daily breakfast at The Cafe for two people, from $330 per room, per night (plus taxes and charges). themulia.com
THINGS THEY SAY
… all of which reminds me of the story of a guest ringing a hotel to book a room. He’s asked if he would like a room with a bath or a shower. Being budget-conscious, he asks: “What’s the difference?” The receptionist calmly replies: “You stand up in a shower.”
… which also reminds me of the travellers who turned up at a hotel reception. They were asked: “Do you have reservations?” The chap replied: “Well, I’m worried that the floor might not have been cleaned properly and I don’t have many hopes for the buffet breakfast.”
DRIVE IN STYLE
Observant readers might have noticed that I am also Seven West Media WA’s motoring editor (our West Wheels supplement is always in the centre of Travel on Saturdays).
So the announcement of super-luxury (I love them) Four Seasons’ two new drive experience itineraries for 2023 combines both roles for me.
+ In the European alps, in a range of exotic cars, the group will drive those twisty mountain roads from Four Seasons Hotel Des Bergues Geneva to Four Seasons Hotel Megeve. The Heart of the Alps drive from June 12-18 is from Gruyeres to Geneva, around the lake, through the mountains, a big lap of Switzerland and Italy, through Megeve and Annecy — and staying at Four Seasons properties.
+ The other drive is through the Napa Valley in California from October 29 to November 4 — but, quite honestly, that doesn’t even come close.
A Four Seasons spokesperson says: “Itineraries include two once-in-a-lifetime dining experiences, customised routes and insider access to local talent and unique cultural offerings, allowing discovery of each destination from a new perspective.”
+ Email email@example.com for information and price, and tell them you want to take me along, too.
Aurora Expeditions aims to visit Greenland’s northernmost tip on its 14-day East Greenland Explorer, which leaves Reykjavik, Iceland on August 15, 2023. The Australian-owned expedition company will sail to Germania Land and on to Kronprins Christian Land in Northeast Greenland — a location not frequented by expedition cruises. Kronprins Christian Land is the home of the world’s only military dogsled patrol, the Sirius Patrol of Northeast Greenland National Park. The trip costs from $18,715.50 per person for an Aurora stateroom twin share — saving $2079 per person when booked and deposited before February 28, 2023. auroraexpeditions.com.au
+ After our successful PhotoWalks with Phones (we have another on May 14), we have launched PhotoWalk Thursdays, for those who can find time in the week. The first is on May 18. westtravelclub.com.au/events
+ Finally, we have literally a few seats left at our Round the World Dinner on March 16. We’re off to India, Singapore, New York and Paris in words, music and, of course, fabulous food. westtravelclub.com.au/events