Travel

Media gets it so wrong about dangers of WiFi on planes

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Today the Age in Australia, Via Stuff in NZ, reported that WiFi may be dead before it arrives on planes due to new security concerns.

They claim:

The long-awaited advent of Wi-Fi and mobile phone usage on planes may be scuttled before it begins after last week’s bomb scares.

The person they quote (a Managing Directory of a British explosives consultancy) claims:

Wi-Fi connections give a bomber lots of options for contacting a device on an aircraft, Alford told New Scientist, including voice-over-internet connections to reach a mobile phone.

Pity they didn’t interview a TECHNOLOGY expert rather than an explosives MD.  Because the facts are:

  • At 30,000 feet most cell signals are out of range from terrestrial (ground) cell sites.  If they are in range whether or not the plane offers a service or not doesn’t change any risks.
  • WiFi on planes will require security to log on (just as a WiFi access point does on the ground).  This means a device on a plane has to know that password before it’s able to communicate.
  • The headline is totally misleading. Even the story says things will be reviewed (not dead) and the only airline quoted says their use would not pose any threat.
  • The headline is also TOTALLY wrong since already dozens of airlines offer WiFi and have been for over a year.

With a simple password system any WiFi on a plane will not add to any security issues (which all have BTW), Airlines don’t normally provide WiFi for free!).  The biggest issue is actually a device on a plane that’s near the ground (ie within terrestrial cell site range) coz unless planes install cell blockers, a device could be remotely activated from the ground without any airlines providing WiFi or cell services (ie it just uses the standard land based cell network).  Of course a bomb with a simple timer would work too.  The risk is from the BOMB, not WiFi!   The focus needs to be on how to detect explosives devices, not banning communications that have no bearing on the issue.

Black and White Version: Another headline that is NOT what the story says.  Nothing to see here, move on.

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$14 for a movie and a glass of wine (oh, and they flew me back from Sydney too)

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I was asked recently when I came back from a Sydney trip by one of the nice immigration NZ staff “So why did you go to Sydney”.  My reply was easy “Because it was $14″.  She smiled, stamped my passport and wrote a big “T” on my customs/immigration form.  I think “T” was the It’s OK this one inst too dodgy or whatever code they were using for the day, but I digress.  The real story is in the movie and the glass of wine.

Anyway, lots of people ask me how I get such cheap deal.  Easy, I look for em, and book em when I see them.  This one was told to me by a friend, so I booked it that day, and then later that night I was out with a mate (Cameron) who asked the same question, so I showed him on my iPad at the time there were still more left, on other weekends, so I booked one with him too (yep @ $14 each way I will go a few times!).

Anyway .. so for $14 it was seat only (no luggage, no food, no movie) but a nice seat, entertainment (TV, games etc) and all the tea, coffee and water I could drink.  On check in they put me in 1B – which on an AirNZ Airbus is still an old business class (BC) seat.  Since there is no business class anymore you just get a nicer seat.  Anyway, I figured that movies might just be on for all BC seats, and sure enuf it was, so I watched the A-Team (good crappy Hollywood action movie).  I also got a nice glass of vino thanks to my smile (yep it works sometimes), and so for $14 I watched a movie, got a glass of vino, and someone flew me to Sydney.

My overall review of AirNZ’s new service on the trans tasman is a solid Good, but its not quite polished yet, since I find lots of crew are a tad confused with what the whole thing means.  I saw one cabin crew gives drinks to 5 rows before he realised it was only supposed to be for those with the Works or Works+, but hey it happens.  Overall AirNZ rocks, it does lots of cool innovative things, but like so many things, things do take time, so I will re-review this in a few months.

Black and White Version: You can still get a movie and a glass of wine for under $15 in NZ.  Oh, and they might even fly you to Sydney for free while you are at it :-)

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airnz

AirNZ – Virgin Blue alliance dead?

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I read today in the NZ Herald that the ACCC (the Australian version of the Commerce Commission) that they do not support the planned alliance between AirNZ and Virgin Blue.

I have one word in response: GOOD. It was never a good idea (I blogged about it being such a bad idea here) for anyone except maybe Virgin Blue and to a lesser degree AirNZ.  The consumer would not benefit.

ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel says:

These routes account for around one quarter of passenger traffic in the trans-Tasman market. More than a million passengers a year could be adversely affected if competition between the two airlines was removed.

Yep, exactly.  Enuf said.

It’s clear that for real competition THREE is the minimum.  Voda/Telecom in the mobile space proved that.  (It took 2Degrees to move prices significantly).  Two get rather too cozy IMHO.

Black and White Version: We need competition in the NZ and Trans-Tasman airspace.  Less airlines isn’t the way to achieve this.

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shopping_bags

Is shopping in New Zealand a rip off?

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Yesterday the NZ Herald made an interesting story on how Jeans in NZ were almost double the identical pair in the US.  The asked the question is shopping in NZ a rip off?

They pointed out:

A pair of black Levi’s 501s for men cost up to $139.90 here but you can pick up the same pair in the United States for just $75.11.

Some of the explanations proposed by Shamubeel Eaqub, principal economist for the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, were:

(more…)

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AirNZ Travel Insurance Scam

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I have blogged HEAPS about AirNZ and 99% of the time I am very positive about it.

However as pointed out by Lance Wiggs on his blog, AirNZ’s new (well re-applied) policy of having insurance added automatically on all domestic flights (ie opt-out) is as close to a scam as I can think of from a major NZ company.

As I said in my email to AirNZ today:

The new policy of having insurance added automatically on Domestic bookings is VERY VERY annoying.

Having to write to you about it is also a waste of my time (can you tell I am annoyed?)

I like 99% of what AirNZ does – and I am normally a major fan.

To me this practice is close to being a scam.  Please change it.

This one is simple – insurance, like any add on should be opt-in not opt-out.  Lance says it so much better that I do (and explains it real well), so read his post on it too if you wanna know more.

The more I think about it the more it annoys me, and IMHO breaches Fair Trading Act rules about deceptive conduct around pricing.  At the very least its dodgy, and AirNZ is normally so good.

You can send AirNZ feedback here, but make sure you hit “send anyway” when they try to take you to this page to explain why insurance is automatically added.

Black and White Version: BAD AirNZ.  Change your insurance opt-in practice, and now please.

PS: I would love to challenge them in the Disputes Tribunal with a I didn’t know I was buying it tactic.  I think I would win, since its not a reasonable expectation of the price to add something on.

PPS: If you have booked travel with insurance and change your mind you have 14 days (as long as you haven’t flown or claimed yet)

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ipad settings

Koru Club and iPad – how to get it working

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I posted a while back that the iPad had a few issues with using WiFi in Koru Lounges (AirNZ lounges at airports).

I initially thought it was due to the early WiFi issues that iPads were having, since all my other devices worked.

Anyway, thanks to a blog comment - I found the fix – go to Settings, select Safari (about the 6th – 10th item down on the left, depending on if you have a 3G model or not) and then on the right hand side, select Auto Fill and turn the Names and Passwords off.  This means you will have to manually type in the password each time you connect in Koru (remember you can turn Auto Fill back on when you leave), but since AIrNZ uses the same password for a full month across all lounges, and uses a plain English word rather than silly i7O80Tkgh (you know, where its hard to see what’s a zero and an O, or a one or a lower case L).  Anyway .. it works!

Black and White Version: iPads work fine in Koru Lounge WiFi, just turn off Auto Fill in Safari settings.

Hat-tip: Thanks to blog commenter Young

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robfyfe

AirNZ – Rob Fyfe has style

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Yesterday I was on of my regular domestic flights within New Zealand, and of course flew AirNZ.

A wee surprise was that Rob Fyfe, AirNZ’s CEO was on the flight, no big deal I hear you say, well maybe not, except he pitched in and helped serve the tea/coffe and snacks (yes AirNZ still does this).

A couple of things to comment on here:

  1. He’s VERY down to earth for a CE of a major company.  He clearly was an “extra” (as they had enuf crew) but just did the job of a normal crew member and was very personable.
  2. He has EXCELLENT dress sense, and this wasn’t just coz he was wearing the same brand of jeans as me (True Religion).  He also had a D&G jacket that suited him to a t, and very snazzy shoes :-)
  3. He’s actually a fully trained crew (legitimately). This is done for lots of reasons, but one is that in case of a strike, management can crew aircraft legitimately.  It’s also a very nice touch.

His approachability actuality reminds me of John Key (that’s NZ’s Prime Minister in case any non Kiwis are reading) in a way.  Clearly successful (both personally and financially), has a good sense of humour, and down to earth and approachable.  Speaking of which I am really impressed how John key goes out of his way to say hi to those around him when he gets on a plane.  Very real, very genuine, and very kiwi (this is John Key’s web site here)

Its awesome I live in a country where the PM (and for that matter the CE of our national airline) chat with us common folk, in fact one that goes out of his way to do it (and not just in front of cameras).   I regularly accost, chat to John (I call him John, coz if I called him “J-man” he might look at me funny), at the airport when I see him, I this so he remembers me when I write him letters :-) .  Try getting withing 50m of the President of the US at an airport and I think you might get arrested.  In fact try BEING at the same airport – they normally close the whole city!

Black and White version: New Zealand is an awesome place to live.  AirNZ and NZ also have very approachable and very kiwi CE’s (the PM is kinda the CE of NZ right?)

PS: If you like NZ as much as I do, you can of course join the NZ is the best country in the world FaceBook group – everything has a FaceBook group :-)

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fail

AirNZ Virgin Blue alliance- more to the story that first glance

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I am a fan of AirNZ.  I blog about AirNZ heaps, and 99% of the time it’s positive, if not downright glowing, feedback (just see my last post as an example!).  But I think they got it wrong this time, and BIG TIME.  Plus, I think there is something more to it – and it’s not about the trans-tasman route.

Anyway I read in the news when I was in Sydney on Monday that AIrNZ proposes an alliance with Virgin-Blue on the trans-tasman. In fact if I was more precise I would say AirNZ are going to seek regulatory approval for an alliance.  And there is a subtle, but important, difference as this article points out (ie it needs approval to go ahead).

Anyway, I think its mostly a bad idea and here’s why:

Summary Table: How it effects everyone, pros/cons and who wins (if anyone).

(more…)

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plane

AirNZ rocks again!

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I have to take my hat off to AirNZ.

I have blogged about it several times, they do such cool stuff such as:

The list goes on!

Anyway, today I went to book for the Save100 airfare to OZ (which basically just takes $100 off whatever deal you can get).  I managed to get a flight to from Christchurch to Auckland, stay a day, fly onto Melbourne and back to Christchurch for under $500 including taxes.

Anyway .. the web site wouldn’t play ball, and as we know, Airlines like to charge extra to talk to a person, so I called the 0800, and spoke to a person and explained my issue.  They checked with the internet team (a few minutes) and then said “OK .. no prob, I can do the booking for you and we wont charge you the booking fee.”  Now it MIGHT seam common sense to do this, but I trust me when I say that common sense is NOT that common!

Well done AirNZ.  I like you even more now!

To be fair AirNZ are not perfect.  They screw up even. But the key thing is when they do they try to put it right (at least 99% of the time in my experience).

Black and White: AirNZ Rocks! 

PS: Check out the AirNZ points fairy if you haven’t already.

PPS: My part 2 and part 3 of reviewing Airlines (long haul) is coming soon!  Airline service Part 1 is here

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usa flag

Observations from the USA (aka stuff about Americans)

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As many of you may know, I travel a lot.  At least one of my major trips each year takes me to the USA.  One of my favourite places to visit is San Francisco (I am there now).

I will blog more about some of the ideas I mention below, but wanted to make a quick post about my observations about America (and by that I mean USA), Americans.

My observations (in no particular order) are:  

(more…)

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