The Rock at Wellington's International Airport

Wellington Rock’s Out!

While Australia’s largest carrier is busy sorting out its issues around the A380 and at the same time celebrating its 90th anniversary, the red continent’s neighbour, New Zealand, is occupied with a different sort of aviation milestone. “MileSTONE” is the perfect word here, as Wellington’s airport (IATA: WLG) reveals this Sunday its newest addition called “The Rock”.

The Rock is the new extension of New Zealand’s capital International Terminal (I reviewed the airport about a month ago; you can read that review here).
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Another Great Post by LateDeparture!

This week’s LateDeparture Tweets

Free Wifi on planes allow you stream your favourite films online

Free “holiday Wi-Fi” on US domestic flights

I must admit, I’m not the biggest fan of Google, but even I have to acknowledge that every now and then they provide some really great services. The latest one is their “free holiday Wi-Fi at 30,000 feet”. Google teamed up with AirTran, Delta and Virgin America to offer free Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi on every US domestic flight from 20 November 2010 through 2 January 2011.
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Another Great Post by LateDeparture!

This week’s LateDeparture Tweets

  • Big exposure for Emirates today at the Melbourne Cup with a A380 flyover at Flemington at 2.19pm local time #melbournecup #emirates #mel #
  • Israeli airport (Tel Aviv) gives rare glimpse into security – Yahoo! News #TLV #
  • BBC News – How Air Asia founder Tony Fernandes' dream came true #
  • BMI threatens to sue Heathrow over increase of passenger charges @FT #LHR #
  • New Post on LateDeparture: Guestblog: Arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, Thailand #
  • Airbus and Rolls-Royce put in spotlight after Qantas grounds A380 fleet @FT #Qantas #Airbus #
  • Make sure to check your flight status if you're on a Qantas A380 long-haul flight as there will be delays: #qantas #
  • @airnews:Good week-Bad week:Good week-Emirates Bad week-Cargolux I think bad week goes to Qantas and RollsRoyce though #

Another Great Post by LateDeparture!

This week’s LateDeparture Tweets

Scary? I bet! Check out the World's 25 Scariest Airports

25 departures you want to miss

There have been many articles about scary or plain (got it?) dangerous airports in the past, for example this one here from the Sydney Morning Herald in 2009 which even names JFK Airport in New York as one of them due to its congested flight paths it shares with Newark and La Guardia. Our friends over at (yes, you read that right; I don’t know either what car hire has to do with scary airports, but who cares?) went  further and provided a top-25 list of the scariest runways. All but one include direct YouTube videos which of course helps to illustrate the point.
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Wellington International Airport

Windy Wellington International Airport

Most people flying to New Zealand probably arrive at either Auckland or one of the two main airports on the South Island, Queenstown or Christchurch. But, oh boy, do they miss out! Not on magnificent airport infrastructure (sorry Wellington!) but definitely on an adventurous landing into Wellington International Airport (IATA: WLG). It was, without a doubt, the windiest approach into an airport that I’ve ever experienced – and l’ve experienced a few! Plus, they tell me that was a calm day! These guys here seem to agree with me.
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Courtyard's new Lobby at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport

Hotel chain brings comfy lobby to 3 US airports

It seems as marketers are increasingly often utilising airports to promote their products and services in a “hands on way”. Remember that “Hello Kitty” gate at Taipei International? This time it’s the hotel chain Courtyard by Marriott showcasing their redesigned hotel lobbies in three US airports:

Travelers looking for a better place to sit than the terminal chairs, and whose laptops (and bodies) could use a little recharge are in luck when making a stop at Chicago, Atlanta and Denver airports. To promote their new lobbies, Courtyard has built full sized lobby replicas complete with comfy couches, booths, electrical outlets, HD TV’s and GoBoards (touch screen televisions with local news and attractions) that travelers are invited to experience firsthand. They will be up until mid-November and will be staffed 24 hours a day by a brand ambassador who can help with any questions people may have.

So make sure to head to one of these areas and relax for a few minutes while your laptop gets that long awaited recharge. Currently you find the first of the 3 lobbies at Chicago’s O’Hare airport (IATA: ORD) and later in the week they will also come to Atlanta (IATA: ATL) and Denver (IATA: DEN).

Here is the original press release:

Courtyard Brings New Hotel Lobby to Frequent Flyers
Weary travelers now have place to relax and recharge in three of the nation’s busiest airports

Chicago, Illinois – September 15, 2010 – Courtyard by Marriott is creating an airport oasis for stressed out air travelers at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. For the next two months, the deep exhales and soothing sighs of relief you’ll hear at O’Hare will be frequent flyers relaxing and recharging in Courtyard’s new lobby. In addition to O’Hare, the lobbies have been recreated at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson and Denver International airports.

At O’Hare, the popular lodging brand has brought the new Refreshing Business lobby to the main corridor of the ticketed area at Terminal Two. The lobby provides travelers with the perfect place to sit and relax or catch up on work while powering up their laptops before the next flight.

Courtyard by Marriott wants air travelers to experience the new design and sample amenities that can be found at 190 Courtyard hotels across the U.S., which has received rave reviews from business and leisure travelers.

The program brings the lobby zones to places where travelers congregate. It was launched on September 7th at an event in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal featuring a special performance by six-time Grammy Award winner John Legend.

The design is contemporary and stylish, and gives travelers options and flexibility to make the most of their time on the road. Courtyard by Marriott designed the lobby to be an environment for guests to work, relax or socialize, whether traveling alone or in groups.

Some of the Courtyard by Marriott Refreshing Business lobby amenities featured in the airport lobby zones include:

  • flexible seating options including a communal table and more private media booths with high-definition televisions
  • ample electrical outlets so guests can plug-in and charge their mobile devices and laptops
  • the brand’s exclusive, interactive GoBoard® technology – a 55-inch LCD touch screen packed with local news, business and sports headlines from USA Today. Guests can also navigate the touch screen mapping feature to find restaurants, local attractions and print directions.

“Guests who have stayed in Courtyard hotels with the Refreshing Business lobby have raved about the new concept,” said Janis Milham, vice president and global brand manager, Courtyard by Marriott. “Our goal with this lobby zone program is to make travelers who have yet to experience it aware of our new product, and what better way to reach these travelers than at major airports.”

By the end of this year, our owners will have spent nearly $190 million to put the new lobby into nearly 260 Courtyard hotels. The brand expects to have 500 hotels with the new lobby by the end of 2011.

Denpasar - Ngurah Rai - Bali International Airport

Patience required at Bali Airport (Ngurah Rai/Denpasar)

Ever heard of Ngurah Rai? I bet not. How about Denpasar? Maybe heard it once before? Where do you think it is? Alright, it’s in the title of the post, so let’s not play games. But seriously, why don’t they just call the airport Bali International? At least certain flight booking sites like Kayak allow you to search for “Bali”. But then, there are no other commercial airports on this island of the Indonesian archipelago anyway.

But since I’m supposed to write a review of an airport I shouldn’t muck around with naming conventions too much I guess. So, let’s look closely at Denpasar International airport (IATA: DPS). In fact it’s nowhere near Denpasar either. Alright, alright. I’ll stop it. Hmm, what can I say? The airport doesn’t offer too much actually. Bali, after all, isn’t particularly on the cutting edge of economic development. Don’t get me wrong, the charming island is doing fine but it still has that  “2nd world” feel about it. Maybe that’s exactly why it attracts Millions of tourists each year.

Most of us would probably first arrive in Bali before we depart. What I mean is, the arrival procedure is probably the thing that’s going to be of interest to you first. And what a procedure it is! Fresh off the plane and bursting with holiday energy you first need to join the queue to pay  the entry visa (make sure you bring US$ 25 in cash per person). With the visa voucher you then queue for the actual immigration officer. Check which line is the quickest before you spend 15 minutes looking at the queue next to you moving past swiftly. After that it’s straight forward: find the luggage carousel, pick up your luggage and head towards the taxi counter outside the terminal building and off you go on your Balinese holiday.

Leaving the country requires, you guessed it, another queue and more cash payments. They call it “airport service fee” and it comes in the amount of Rp 150,000 per person (about US$ 16). So don’t spend all your Rupiahs before you head back to the airport or you will have to pay a penalty exchange rate at one of the conveniently located little exchange stalls right in front of the service fee counter.

Once you’re in the inside of the terminal, you will probably still have some time to kill as most airlines require you to check-in 2 hours prior to your departure time.  So, let’s look at my list of things to do:

  • Check out the funniest McDonald’s outlet ever (a tiny pushcart with a menu)
  • Visit the toilets (well you probably are going to do that anyway) but if you can, err if you’re a man that is, check out the fish tanks above the urinals
  • Get a shot of Illy coffee close to gates 5 and 6
  • You MUST finish you heavenly holiday with a  final and oh so affordable Balinese massage at one of several massage outlets (e.g. the one towards gate 7,8,9)
  • Why not buy yourself access to the Garuda Indonesia airline lounge for Rp. 100,000 (about US$ 11)
  • Grab a Ku De Ta CD to remind you of your partying at Bali’s most famous beach club

Airport Facts and Ratings

Airport Name Denpasar Ngurah Rai International Airport
Design Plane Award Point
Shopping Plane Award Point
Toilets Plane Award Plane Award Point
Overall Plane Award Plane Award Point
Chanel No 5 Eau de Parfum, 100ml at the Duty Free Shop US$ 69
Bottle of Veuve Cliquot at the Duty Free Shop US$ 127

[Picture from Flickr - some rights reserved]

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