Posts tagged Travel


South Africian Airways – Review


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.


  • 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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Thai Airways – black and white review


I hadn’t flown on Thai Airways (Thai Airways International) for a while, and recently flew them twice – one a 5 hour flight and one an 11 hour flight back to NZ.  Like AirNZ they are a member of star alliance network.

Here’s my cut to the chase, black and white review on them:

Thai Airways Review

Overall Rating Four stars (out of five)
Seat pitch in economy class Better than most (I think there is an two inches compared to most – were were on a 777-ER – check this site out for full details of leg room in economy here).
Food Good.  Tasty, good options.
Service Very good – friendly and accessible
Entertainment Good – par for the course these days with a few dozen movies, a few dozen TV shows of various genres and all on demand (you can start and stop it when you like).
Lounge Good.  Not as good as Koru in NZ – but few are.  Enuf food and drinks (and variety of)  Very clean and open and light.

Overall one of the better airlines I have flown on.  The extra inch or two in economy class makes all the difference when you are flying for 11 hours on a flight.

Black and White Version: Thai Airlines gets the tick.  I’d fly with them again.

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It’s been a while .. and here’s why


Hi Honey, I’m home!

It’s been a while since I have posted here, since I have been a wee tour of the world.  Well not quite the whole world, a holiday through 4 countries: Canada, Germany, India and Bangkok Thailand (thanks Glen – Bangkok isn’t a country!).   The emphasis was on Canada and India time wise.

But while I haven’t been blogging (I prefer to holiday first and blog after the fact), I have a whole range of post ideas coming up, including:

  • Why Kiwis should NOT get the so called “Visa on Arrival” in India (Now posted)
  • The black and white travel low-down for India
  • The black and white travel low-down for Canada
  • The black and white travel low down on how to bargain in places like China, India and Thailand (although they all do differ)
  • Why I think coffee is crap in certain countries
  • A review of Thai airways (completed – found here)
  • An update on Lufthansa (and it’s way better than it used to be!)
  • Why taxi drivers in Bangkok are so annoying (a bitch post)

Oh, one more post will follow too – the updated review of the Golf-R, since I get mine in 2 days! (only a 6 month delay!).  So I might be doing a wee test drive – for the whole weekend :-)   Update: Updated owner’s review of the Golf-R here.

Black and White Version: I have been away, but back.  Posts to follow.

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Now that’s how you do an iPad app for a newspaper NZ Herald (and how not to do it AirNZ!)


The NZ Herald released its iPad app a few weeks back.  And I have to say, it rocks.

They got so much right, where others screw up, such as:

  • Easy to use interface.  It fully uses the iPad and its screen.
  • Formatting is consistent – all articles are in a small box, with categories at the top.  When you click on the story it opens up a window, which starts with a pic then scrolls through page(s) of the text.
  • No premium/free distinction – it’s all just there
  • It’s all FREE (so many get this wrong – I will no longer pay for simple access to info that others provide for free)
  • Even the ads are cool – check out the Merc at at the start – it makes you WANT to watch it

The even get this bit right, and have a YouTube version of their add so people like me can post it:

Another good News iPad app is the USA today App (I think you need a US based iTunes account to install it).  Not QUITE as good as the NZ Herald one – but still free, and easy to navigate.

Where newspapers go wrong

Where MOST newspapers go wrong is they try to bring their old business model online. Their model USED to be write stuff people want to read, mix in some ads and then sell the product to the readers. The online mindset says I want the stuff for free, and if you won’t give it to me I will get it somewhere else, or just download it for free anyway. Their old model had high set up cost (the article writing and production) PLUS a variable cost of production (printing, postage etc).  Their new model has a high(ish) fixed cost (although a lot of it is setting up the template/look) and then an almost zero variable cost (the cost of 10,000 people reading an online version is almost the same as 10 people).  But newspapers keep trying to change for content, where the rationale for doing so (the variable cost of each reader) is no longer there.  They can get HEAPS of readers by getting REAL good content, and as a result of more readers, charge even more for advertising, all while having no extra costs each time someone reads/downloads it.  Simple really, so why do so many Newspapers get this so wrong?  No idea really, I think they are just a dead technology waiting to die, and just don’t get the opportunity that’s there.  I actually think their window is closing here.  Right now they still have lots of customers, they can leavergae off this by marketing their online offering (the free one – like NZ Herald) and build a new business online.   However, as time goes on they will have less and less readers, and their will be more (competitors) alternatives online.  In time the window off opportunity will have closed, and they wont have any leaverage to use.

Another ‘how not to do it’ story

While on the subject of how to do it (or in this case NOT) – I see AIrNZ made their Kiaora Magazine (the one you get on the plane) as an iPhone/iPad app.  Cool I think, novel even.  But where they screwed up is they went and charged for it.  The App is free, but each issue need to be paid for ($NZ 5.29 I think).  What were they thinking? Here’s my thoughts on this:

  • The mag is free when you fly (they say Take me, I am free)
  • The cost of putting it online in any form has a (moderately high) fixed cost only (no variable cost for each copy, unlike printed copies)
  • The mag is full of advertising
  • I think few people will pay for the app
  • They COULD have had a premium for advertising coz of increased readers, but instead will unlikely even get back their fixed cost investment
  • They could have even had online only adds, targeting say technology or higher end travel (these people have more disposable money)
  • Such a lost opportunity for AirNZ
  • They will probably pull the plug in a year or less saying “not enough readers”

Looks like I am not alone here, most people think the fee from AIrNZ is a joke.

Black and White Version: Some people get how to use new technology, some don’t.  Well done NZ Herald, silly billy AirNZ.

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AirNZ rocks again!


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)


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:  


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Airlines in NZ – a comparision of quality and service PART 1 of 3


Anyone who knows me, and probably a whole bunch who don’t, but just see my FaceBook updates of my travels, will know that I travel quite a bit for work.  Most weeks I am on between 2 and 4 flights (so that’s 1 or 2 return flights) a week to cities in New Zealand.  I also take around 2 major international trips a year (major meaning US, Asia, Europe type thing), and a handful to OZ.

Travel is a mixture of work and pleasure (I sometimes go on holiday overseas – but often it’s in NZ), and work travel is a mixture of travel for three different organisations.  I think my “record” was 11 flights in one week (including two international ones).  I think that was a busy week! :-)

Anyway, since I travel so much I wanted to share a bunch of thoughts on airlines in NZ – the good, the bad, the handy, and even a few tips.  This is part one of a series of three posts on this topic, with this one focusing on domestic travel.  Here goes … (more…)

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