Airlines are in a race for accolades. Punctuality, meals, luxury, on board entertainment, flight duration, Wi-Fi connectivity, crew composition, profitability and high safety ratings are achievements that will get any airline chest-thumping.
On 6th February 2017, the aviation industry was inundated with news of a claim to the longest flight. Qatar Airways flight QR 921 flew from Auckland to Doha in a time of 17 hours and 40 minutes.
Three weeks later, in celebration of International Women’s Day, Air India’s flights AI 173 (Delhi-San Francisco via the Pacific Ocean) and AI 174 (San Francisco-Delhi via the Atlantic Ocean), were operated by an all-female crew, making it the first time for an all-female crew to fly around the globe in a combined time of 26 hours.
This week we mark the first anniversary of the Frequent Flyer column by revisiting one of the first topics of this column — lost luggage.
The trauma that follows the realisation that your baggage has been lost can be best understood by looking at the faces of passengers you find in the lost-and-found offices at airports.
Let’s face it flying can be very stressful, particularly, where the journey is international and is not going as planned.
It doesn’t help that there are some travel-related circumstances that are naturally on the edgy side of things.
It always starts by getting to the airport late because of a delayed taxi, heavy traffic, or in many cases, carelessness with time management. The stress of the first security check is child’s play compared with what lies ahead.
Airlines in America have lately been in the news for all the wrong reasons.
Delta Airlines reportedly “booted” a family with a toddler from their flight and are even said to have gone as far as threatening the family with “jail.”
The family had purchased three tickets for three seats, one being for their teenage son who ended up on a different flight. Since they also had a toddler, they attempted to use the “extra” seat for their toddler instead of holding him on their laps as required.
Flying domestic in Kenya is about to get very competitive for airlines and the game changer is not a new carrier but a train service.
News on Kenya’s spanking new standard gauge railway is that the operator is “full steam” ahead for a June 1 launch of a passenger and cargo rail service.
The service may not be by electric or bullet trains, but the diesel powered locomotives will be faster than the rickety colonial era relic the SGR is replacing. And the long term wishes of travellers to reduce the travel time between Kenya’s busiest city pair (in terms of passenger movement) of Nairobi and Mombasa will be actualised.
The promised four-and-a-half-hour train ride between the two cities does not only have direct implications for how we travel on the surface but is also bound to affect flying.
Since time immemorial, human beings have wanted to fly so bad that they have spent a lot of time and resources towards this quest.
Whether in an aircraft or not, the quest to conquer the skies is both bewildering and sometimes outright insane.
Take wing-suit flying for instance, where a flyer is dressed up in a body fitting suit with webbed wings between the arms and legs and dives off an aircraft, raised platform or cliff.
The aim here — ridiculous as it sounds — is to glide through the air like birds do.
It doesn’t get dumber than this, but if you fancy going out with a bang, this is your ultimate ticket to Valhalla.
There was a time in the not so far history of commercial flying when an opportunity to take to the skies meant dressing up for the occasion.
Everything about taking a flight was geared towards an occasion, from the exquisite dress code observed by passengers, the flawlessly groomed crew, to the properly laid out dining experience — which was several courses, by the way.
Caviar, lobster, champagne and cigars formed part of the inflight menu, and there was proper cutlery, glassware and chinaware for onboard service.
My weekly Frequent Flyer column was done and dusted until the incident with United Airlines happened on Sunday April 9, and my editor requested a comment.
There was global outrage over the video of a United Airlines customer being dragged out of his seat screaming and being left injured and bloody at the Philadelphia International Airport.
The actions of the airline’s security were described as “unfathomable,” “barbaric,” “inhumane,” “inexplicable,” and some other unprintable words.
During a networking session at the end of a recent travel workshop, it occurred to me just how many misconceptions people have about air travel.
Someone commented that the current US administration was more pro-Kenya than the previous Obama administration because of the upgrade of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Category One status.
The month of March as if by co-ordinated conspiracy has seen a number of policy changes in air travel in the region and abroad.
While justified in some respects, these changes affecting air travelers brought to mind two things; one being the conditioning theory of learning by Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov and the other being the old-time adage of the boy who cried wolf for his amusement.
Like every industry in the past decade, travel has experienced radical changes. And they almost always affect travellers.
The latest, though seemingly unrelated — specifically pertaining to baggage rules and handling procedures — are certainly bound to have an impact on how the region’s frequent flyers plan for their travels.