Frequent flier

Frequent fliers will be subject to higher rates matching their spending power. The perks remain to be seen.
     Print Edition: July 21, 2013

Tailored tickets
Frequent fliers will be subject to higher rates matching their spending power. The perks remain to be seen

At a meeting last October, the International Air Transport Association agreed to a new standard that will allow airlines to ask customers checking out airfares - whether through agents or websites - to first provide details such as their name, frequent flier number, contact details and other information before quoting the ticket price. And while this new system claims to serve the needs of the customer better, it effectively allows airlines to charge travellers different prices for the same trip, in accordance with their booking history and spending power. On the plus side, this could mean more thoughtful packages for fliers, including perks like free checked baggage, aisle seats and other discounts. While basic fares allow customers their anonymity, an overall increase in these fares aims to discourage the trend. While regulators are yet to give this the go-ahead, they will probably accompany it with foolproof safeguards. It's a first step.


Singapore shining

For the fourth time in 14 years, Singapore's Changi airport has been crowned the winner at the prestigious World Airport Awards in Geneva. Changi beat 395 airports across 39 services and products - including check-in, arrivals, transfers, shopping, security and immigration. The airport offers free Wi-Fi, free city tours to travellers on a stopover of five hours or more, and facilities such as an on-site swimming pool, butterfly garden, a nature trail and cinemas. Additionally, a codeshare agreement between Singapore Airlines and Virgin America entitles members of the Singapore Airlines' frequent flier programme to earn miles when they fly Virgin America. Now, there's a winner!

Puff like an Emir
Passengers flying Emirate Airlines will be exempt from the universal nosmoking policy with the debut of the airline's Shisha Lounge. Offered on select jumbo jets, this spiffy new service - open to both business and first-class passengers - will first appear on the Airbus A380. The new service will allow fliers to pre-order their hookah from the onboard menu, and proceed to the lounge for the Middle-East's version of the post-dinner cigar. The aim is to enrich their flying experience and familiarise foreigners to Arabic customs before they touch down.

Frequent flier
Turkish treat
The Turkish Government recently launched an online visa system, replacing the stamp-type visa with a quick e-visa. The initiative will let tourists from 94 countries (including India ) obtain visas in a matter of minutes as long as they are travelling for tourism or commerce. So, next time, just log on to www. evisa.gov.tr, make the online payment, download your visa, and you're good to go.

Going once, going twice

While free upgrades have been the domain of the well-networked and occasionally lucky traveller, a new blind bidding might be just your ticket from cattle class to business class. In a strategic move to entice the economy traveller, global airlines - including Air New Zealand, Brussels Airlines, Copa Airlines, Czech Airlines, El Al, Etihad, TAP Portugal, Virgin Atlantic, Austrian Airlines and Air Mauritius - have cashed in on it. Developed by U.S. software firm Plusgrade, this business model has been designed for airlines hoping to generate extra revenue by utilising empty expensive seats. The bidding, however, will not act as a deterrent for business class fliers, who have the advantage of assured comfort as opposed to getting lucky. Passengers buying tickets are invited to bid for an upgrade by the airline, and are informed up to 48 hours before take-off if they've won. If not, you fly as is, without the additional charge. It's a win-win, why not give it a shot?

 Food on the go
Food on the go

The biggest drawback of frequent travel is the toll it takes on your health. The next time you jet out for work or play, stock up on these easily available powerfoods that will keep you looking fit and feeling fine. Pick fruits like grapes, apples or bananas that don't need to be cut. Greek yoghurt packs in protein and very little fat, and is perfect for a breakfast on the run; puffed grains and nuts are a good substitute for chips; and mini cheeses are perfect to throw into your bag for a midday boost. When you don't have access to fresh stock, pick up a packet of freeze-dried veggies; and to satiate nocturnal munchies, a bag of corn is light yet wholesome, and will keep you full for hours.

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