Arrivals & Departures Weekly Travel News & Views: 5 November 2022

Planes, ships, trucks and, well, planes (of the wood-working variety) occupy Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield's thoughts as he explores another week in travel


+ Qantas has won Choice’s Shonky Award 2022. The consumer organisation’s recognition is . . . “Qantas — for being the Spirit of Disappointment”.

The winners of the 17th Shonky Awards were announced on Wednesday, recognising the worst of the worst products and services uncovered by Choice experts.

Choice chief executive Alan Kirkland says: “Qantas appears to have gone deliberately out of its way to win a Shonky Award this year. Qantas customers have had to deal with unfair and unworkable flight credits, lost baggage, excessive call wait times, and delayed flights. Qantas charges travellers premium prices, but they are not providing anything close to a premium service, which is why they’re receiving a Shonky Award this year.”

+ Virgin Australia has restored flights to Queenstown — from Perth, they are via Melbourne and, in a sale that ends on November 6, from $1059 for an economy lite return ticket.


The car of a business acquaintance who owns and runs an auto electrical repairer recently broke down (with an electrical issue) and he had to have his car trucked back to the workshop, several hundred kilometres away. It had to be plugged in to a diagnostic unit to find out what was wrong. “Even I couldn’t fix it on the road,” he says. Cars are complex beasties these days, and when they stop, often the only option is to truck them.


Under legislation announced this week, tow truck drivers are now required to declare maximum fees for towing and storing a vehicle from the scene of an accident. From November 7, tow truck drivers will be prohibited from charging additional fees that were not disclosed. The maximum fee must be shown on a written statement provided to the person authorising the tow.


The Australian Visitor Centres free app is now available in the Apple App Store and Google Play. It has information on attractions, galleries, bushwalks, fishing spots, golf courses and dining options in Australia. Yes, and the nearest public toilets. It also has the location of more than 400 accredited visitor information centres across Australia.


+ For our readers outside the mtro area who might be coming to Perth for the summer holidays, Holiday Inn Perth City Centre is aiming to help families on a budget. It’s calling it a VIK initiative — for Very Important Kids. Children stay and eat free at Holiday Inn Perth City Centre (and, for stays until the end of November, under-12s staying there get free ice-cream, 24/7). A spokesperson says families can also earn savings of up to $200 across eight attractions in the city. Holiday Inn Perth City Centre general manager Deane Palmer says: “We understand the all-too-common cost-of-living strains on parents right now.”

+ According to a recent Holiday Inn survey of 1005 Australian families, almost 90 per cent of WA parents agree or strongly agree that if their child has a terrible holiday, they will too. 76 per cent of WA kids say special foods like ice-cream and pancakes make them happiest on holidays. The research is part of Holiday Inn’s 70th anniversary celebrations.


True North Adventure Cruises is bringing back the old True North expedition ship. The first True North has more recently been available for charter in Indonesian waters, but founding director Craig Howson says it has been well maintained. The boat will be sailed to Fremantle at the end of the year for a refit ahead of its maiden voyage as True North II, carrying up to 22 guests from March 2023.


A new YouGov survey commissioned by Airbnb, shows that more than half of the Australians surveyed said they want to travel to Japan. Sixty-three per cent say they’re excited to visit Japan; 27 per cent say that Japan is their number one travel wish list destination; and 17 per cent say they’d like to combine work and travel abroad in Japan. The top three destinations for Airbnb visitors looking to visit include Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka.


+ Stephanie Robertson has taken over as Flight Centre’s regional general manager for WA. She says: “I truly believe there’s never been a more exciting time to be in travel and I cannot wait to be a part of it.” Stephanie comes from Aberdeen in Scotland, and adds: “I’ve grown up around the resources industry and understand how adaptable we must be to support customer requirements. The industry is booming and we’re working hard to recruit new talent.” Flight Centre Australia currently has 179 travel consultant vacancies and 25 store team leader vacancies, having already recruited 1039 travel consultants and team leaders over the last year.

+ Flight Centre will reopen 35 of its bricks-and-mortar stores nationwide in the coming months. Flight Centre Australia general manager Brent Novak says: “While we continue to enhance our online booking experience for customers, we know how vital it is to have real people in real buildings providing expert customer service with a human touch.”


. . . speaking of which, Flight Centre has a seven-night stay at Bali’s five-star Double Six Seminyak Beach from $1999 per room for travel between November 12, 2022, and March 31, 2023. It includes breakfast, a spa credit, a grill credit, and set dinner for two at Suzie-Q Restaurant. Book by November 30, and conditions apply. 1300 887 398


Derek and Marnie Doak’s Fine Timber Company mills timber from trees fallen naturally or cleared legally on private land. In Charlie Creek, just outside Donnybrook, the Fine Timber Company is having an open weekend as part of the Preston Valley Artisan Trail on November 5 and 6. They’ll be hosting local artisans as well as giving tours and demonstrations of the mill. Son Graydn of Jandakot Heli Co will offer scenic flights over the Preston Valley and out to Wellington Dam. The Preston Valley Artisan trail follows Donnybrook-Boyup Brook Road for about 25km through seven other sites. (If you want more information, do what the trees themselves might, and log on.)