Ever starred out of your window on a flight and asked yourself what those interesting looking landmarks are? If so then you surely discovered that with your mobile phone in flight mode, a quick Google query is out of the question and the airline’s flight information system won’t really reveal much either, there’s not much you can do. Or is there?
This week we saw airport news all the way from Beijing, Los Angeles, Manchester and once again even from Australia. Let’s start with that: On Wednesday Tiger Airways Australia’s grounding received an extension until end of July. It has now also finally stopped its ticket sales, reported the Wall Street Journal.
It’s been another busy week for airports around the world. And once again we have seen the full spectrum of news articles coming in: everything from small animals delaying flights at one of the busiest airports in the world to an “animal-named” airline being grounded due to safety concerns. Oh and then there’s the one with new bathrooms too. But let’s start at the beginning:
A recent article from the UK’s Daily Mail caught our eyes as it claims people find airports as stressful as moving house. The article claims it questioned 2,000 [British] holidaymakers of which 9 per cent – or almost four million in the wider travelling population – now avoid flying because of airport stress including flight delays, mislaid belongings and getting to the gate on time.
This week Paris put on a good show by hosting the 49th International Air Show at Le Bourget Airport (IATA: LBG), 11km northeast of Paris. While the usual purchase orders of new aircraft made the rounds throughout the week, EADS, the parent company of Airbus announced its details of a hypersonic transport concept cutting air travel times down significantly as reported by FlightGlobal and others. It is said that the plane could cut the Tokyo-Los Angeles journey to as little as 2h 20min.
Everyone loves a good bargain, that’s why duty-free shops are must-stops for most travellers. However, increasingly tougher regulations and more crowded flights have taken a lot of the fun out of shopping before departing as many travellers would have come across airports with tough (and sometimes confusing) liquid rules or they would have faced difficulties finding overhead locker space on crowded flights. That’s why more and more travellers leave their shopping until they land at their destination: duty-free on arrival is the new buzz word.
It’s surely been a week from hell for many travellers in Australia and New Zealand as the ash cloud from the Puyehue volcano, high in Chile’s Andes, disrupted air traffic first in New Zealand, then over in Australia in Hobart (IATA: HBA), Melbourne (IATA: MEL; LD reviewed) and Adelaide (IATA: ADL; LD reviewed) before moving further east and affecting Perth in Western Australia (IATA: PER) later in the week. Interesting was that there were massive differences whether flights were cancelled or not depending on the individual airline. Qantas took the cautious approach and grounded most of its flights on affected routes whereas its competitors Virgin Australia and Tiger Airways argued they could take routes avoiding the ash or fly below the cloud. In an email to its frequent fliers, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce backed his airlines decision on the fact that “unlike the meteorological authorities in Europe, Australia’s [Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre] VAAC does not have the ability to calculate ash density so we are unable to access definitive measurements.”
Little Britain stars Matt Lucas and David Walliams return to make a new US television appearance in their airport “mockumentary”, Come Fly With Me on BBC America. The new series starting this Saturday features the duo as they play almost 50 characters found in a fictional airport terminal. A few weeks back we wrote an article about the show being mostly filmed at Stansted airport (IATA: STN; LD reviewed), 48km (30mi) outside of London.
Frequent travellers and residents in London already love it: the iris scanner that awaits you for checking your identity upon entering the United Kingdom. The system aptly called IRIS (which stands for “iris recognition immigration system”) is very popular there and certainly makes immigration procedures a lot quicker. Now IATA, the International Air Transport Association unveiled a new technology at their annual meeting this week which could cut the time it takes to clear security checks at airports from the current 35-minute average down to seconds while it also dramatically improves security.