Are you a frequent flier? BT More gives you tips on best airlines, tourist destinations, travel apps and more happenings in the world of tourism.
CATHAY ON A HIGH
Cathay Pacific voted as the world's best airline at the Skytrax Awards; Emirates comes tumbling down to fourth place
Step down, Emirates, because over 18 million travellers have spoken, and they have voted the Cathay Pacific Airways as the world's best airline. The annual Skytrax World Airline Awards, which witnessed the participation of passengers from 160 countries, gave a clear mandate for Hong Kong's flagship carrier - sending last year's winner Emirates tumbling to fourth place. Occupying the second and third places are Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines respectively. Over the last four years, Cathay Pacific has invested $632 million in cabin makeover. Passengers travelling first class enjoy seats that transform into lie-flat beds, and the airliner provides luxury Ermenegildo Zegna amenity kits for men and Trussardi amenity bags for women. Notably, the top 10 list was dominated by Middle Eastern and Asian carriers, with Europe finding representation only in Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa at the fifth and tenth positions respectively.
DEAD PHONES ARE A NO-NOThe next time you fly to the US, make sure you don't arrive at the airport with a dead phone. That is, if you do not wish to see a gloved security official drop your exquisite Vertu device into a paper bag, and tow it away to a secret facility in never-never land. The United States recently introduced new rules that require you to turn on your electronic device (mobile phones, laptops or tablets) to demonstrate that it isn't a hollowed-out shell intended to carry bombs or other contraband into the aircraft. The passenger will initially be given a charger to bring the device to life, and if that fails (God forbid), it will be confiscated. The rule is already being enforced across airports in UK, Europe and the Middle East.
AIR FRANCE'S JET TAKES OFFIf you happen to be a first-class Air France passenger with Paris on your itinerary, you could consider popping that champagne. In an unmatched sop for its valued customers, the airline has confirmed that it is offering a private jet transfer service to those travelling to and from the Charles de Gaulle airport. On board the jet, a Cessna Citation Mustang aircraft, passengers are provided drinks, a gourmet lunch and various entertainment options on leather club seats that can recline to 140 degrees. The fee? Just »1,900 an hour per aircraft for a return trip to or from the airport.
CHALO PARIS IN JUST 48 HOURSIn a sign that France is warming up to tourists from India, its government has announced that starting January 3, 2015, visa applications to the European country would be processed in less than 48 hours. This is quite a welcome departure from the present system, where one has to wait between three to eighteen days for the document. And wait, there's more! The French government has also announced a new mobile app (Android, iOS) called 'Chalo Paris' tailor-made for first-time travellers to the French capital.
SAIL THE BLUE SEAS, VIRTUALLYRemember the time Google Street View walked you through the Emirates A380? Well, Royal Caribbean is using the same technology to take people on a glorious tour of its flagship 'Allure of the Seas'. The footage acts as a virtual brochure for the ship, giving you a good idea of what to expect if you were to undertake a luxurious journey through pristine blue waters, on board what is unarguably the largest cruise ship in the world. With the click of a button, stroll down various decks of the Allure, along the Royal Promenade lined with boutiques and restaurants that span the length of the ship, run through an outdoor park that's longer than a football pitch with over 12,000 trees and plants, or take a virtual spin on the Flowrider, which simulates surfing. Tour the cruise ship at bit.ly/1vS3otM, and if you like what you see, get yourself a ticket.
GLOBAL GLORY FOR STEPWELLGiving tourists two more reasons to visit India, UNESCO has awarded the world heritage status to Rani Ki Vaav in Patan, Gujarat, and the Great Himalayan National Park in Himachal Pradesh. A structure that dates back to the 11th century, the Rani Ki Vaav was built on what is believed to be the banks of the Saraswati river. More than being just another functional relic from the yesteryears, this stepwell commands a lot of respect among lovers of historic art for its intricate carvings and detailing. The Great Himalayan National Park in Himachal Pradesh, on the other hand, is home to the elusive snow leopard. A part of the Himalayan biodiversity hotspot, it includes 25 forest types along with a rich spread of fauna species - several of which are threatened.
APP CORNER: PANOWhat's a vacation without good panoramic shots? Pano is an amazingly easy-to-use app that allows even novice photographers to shoot panoramas comprising up to 16 photos using their smartphone's onboard camera. Simply point the camera at the desired panoramic scene, and follow the app's handy semitransparent guide to help line up each shot perfectly.
Price: Rs 108 (Android, iOS)