Posts tagged Airlines

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South Africian Airways – Review

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In line with my Black and White philosophy of this site, here is my Black and White review of South African Airways (based on 4 flights – two long haul (Perth – Jo’Burg) , 2 short haul (Jo’Burg to Capetown).

A reminder SAA is a members of the Star Alliance network (which AirNZ is also a part of).

Long Haul: Entertainment on their A340′s is CRAP.  One screen in economy class, and only playing one movie on take off and one on landing on a 9 hour flight is what I got in the 90s!  I didn’t think any airlines did this anymore, but apparently I was wrong.  At the VERY least these days I expect an individual entertainment system with on demand movies and TV on any flights over 5 hours.  It’s just not good enough to have such an antiquated (and sub standard) system on such long flights.   If I had known this I would have loaded up my iPad with movies (like I did in the old days by bringing on a portable DVD player) Food and service was fine.   Lounge was nice and clean, and plenty of food/drink etc.

Short Haul: Overall fine, except that the row in front of the exit row had seats that didn’t recline.  Most airlines just give extra room in the exit row to ensure there is enough room in an emergency to get out, but SAA do the cheaper version and just disable reclining in the row in front of it so they can fit more rows in.  Annoying especially when you have just come off a long haul flight and want to try to rest.

Other:

  • What was surprising was that SAA gave a full meal and drinks service on a 2 hour flight (Jo’Burg to Capetown).  Not complaining, but this is very usual these days.
  • I was moved from my seat in row 45 to row 60 for no reason by Qantas staff on my 1st Long Haul journey.  As a result my FF points didn’t show up for this flight, and SAA is the only airlines on Star Alliance that doesn’t allow online adding of this – I need to send in my boarding pass with a cover letter explaining this- a pain in the ass!
  • SAA also doesn’t allow others on the Star Alliance network to use point to upgrade flights to Business Class (I never pay for BC, but like flying it)

It’s clear SAA do some things on the cheap (entertainment and exit rows) but overall they offer an acceptable service and nice clean lounges.

Black and White Version: South African Airways needs major improvements – especially in long haul entertainment systems.

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AirNZ – the black and the white

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AirNZ  is one of those companies I blog about a fair bit.  Most of the time it’s very positive, but today it’s a mixture.

Today I want to give the black and white version (or the good and the bad, or the bouquet and the brickbat if you prefer) on AirNZ.

The Black (bad bad AirNZ)

  • The new fees for using credit cards etc as payment methods online. I agree with DPF on Kiwiblog and Lance Wiggs. I don’t mind if you add a few $ to all tickets, but object to extra “fees” for everything all the time
  • They STILL haven’t fixed the automatic adding of travel insurance for online bookings (i.e. you have to opt out).  VERY annoying, and I personally think it’s as close to deceptive as you can get without crossing the line
  • Having taxes and landing fees as extras. I know a lot of airlines do this, but it’s quite simply wrong (IMHO).  Extras should be things I can choose to have or not.  I can’t choose to not pay a landing tax or a security fee, so as far as I am concerned, as a customer, it’s just a cost of doing business for the airline, so it should be added it into the ticket price and be done with it.*   The same applies to fuel surcharges of the early 2000′s.  What next a cabin crew wages surcharge because he crew got a pay rise last week?   Stop all the rubbish and just have ONE fee for your basic get me there service and any extras must be OPTIONAL add ons, not compulsory items.  I think this should be regulated by the Commerce Comission so that businesses can’t have extras charges for things that are really just part of the core product (IMHO, it’s like renting a car, and having an extra fee to rent the steering wheel!)

* There is actually one major reason they won’t want to do this.  Those using air-points to pay for tickets are required to pay for these extra fees with cash on top of their air-points payment.  This can be $100 or so for a return trip to OZ, or a few hundred for a return trip to the US, so it would add up to tens of thousands of dollars (possibly a hundred thousand+) for the airline – not something they would want to give up in a hurry.

Update: Here is the link for AirNZ’s new fees for Credit Cards etc.

The Good

AirNZ listen.  Today I received a letter telling me they are returning space+ (or a version of it) to the reconfigured one class Trans Tasman A320 planes.

I see a few online rants about the removal of space plus (which btw I thought was a simple and very good idea when they introduced it on their domestic and short haul international).

But I take my hat of to AirNZ for listening.  As quoted in the letter:

Last week I invited feedback from travelers who experienced the first Seats to Suit Services. The vast majority of the feedback related to the value of additional legroom on an A320 …

… we’ll be making a change to the seating configuration on our A320 to provide a larger zone of seats with significantly increased legroom.”

Well done AirNZ.  You changed something, got feedback and responded with a positive and customer friendly solution.  And I happen to agree – it’s a small thing, but that extra 2-3′ makes all the difference!

Black and White Version: AirNZ’s product gets better by the day.  Their online practices continue to get worse.

Hat tip: My friend Ben M who told me about the AirNZ surcharge well before anyone else blogged about it, well done Ben!

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Andrew Little and the EPMU union WAY out of touch on AirNZ’s stance

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Today, through the NZ Herald, Andrew Little, secretary of the Engineering, Printing & Manufacturing Union (EPMU) (and president of the Labour Party) attacked AirNZ’s stance on drink driving of it’s staff, and so called”Grubby Deals” in obtaining info from the Police.

Let’s be clear here (black and white even?): I think if AirNZ has a zero tolerance for drink driving, and a person is caught drink driving then AirNZ not only has the right to, but SHOULD take action.  Health and safety is FAR more important that nanny state “privacy considerations”.  Get real Andrew Little!  The public would have VERY little sympathy for your stance.  In this case AirNZ are disputing the facts, so it’s not even clear what they do info-swap:

Mr Fyfe retorted to the police in a letter he made public that the claims were unsubstantiated.

I for one would even go so far to say that if police pull over a pilot and they are over the limit and they are on the way to work they MUST advise the airline, or else we end up with issues like this that happened in the UK, and again here. (Remember the threshold for pilots is ZERO, many airlines have a “no drinking 12 hours before flying rule).

UPDATE: Seams AirNZ are dammed if you do, and dammed if you don’t here.  This story in the Herald when staff are NOT fired (even when AirNZ can’t identify them) it’s somehow AirNZ’s fault.

Black and White Version: The EPMU is out of touch. Unions should stop defending ALL staff, and stick to those that deserve support.

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Airline Review – part 2 (short haul international travel).

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Here is part 2(of 3) of my airline reviews (part one here).

Here I focus on short haul (under 4 hours) international travel. I will be mainly looking at Trans-Tasman trips (for the Americans reading this, that means from New Zealand to Australia or visa versa, or more likely “from one country you haven’t heard of to another you you might have, but generally have no idea where either is”).  In this part I have formatted the vast majority of text into a table, and limited comments to airlines that fly often.

(more…)

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Australia, roaming with iPhone on XT, and misc …

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I have been away in OZ for the last 4 days.   I hightly recommended booking a trip to the Gold Coast (or anywhere sunny and warm) from NZ mid winter, even if it is for only a few days.  Sunshine does WONDERS for the system, and flights are VERY cheap these days if you have some flexibility with when you go.

That does remind me, I will soon do a comparison on AirNZ and Qantas on international flights, lounges, airpoints schemes etc.  For those that know me well, I travel A LOT (some times up to 8 flights a week – although most of this is domestic.   My record is actually 11 flights in 7 days – 2 of these international).

Some good news too: The iPhone 3Gs DOES work on roaming on XT (Telecom), in Australia at least, even if you do the wee hack found on this page.

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