Cathay Pacific’s ‘Hong Kong Flavours’

Cathay Pacific believes there’s no taste like home and, to make the point, the airline has rolled out a new ‘Hong Kong Flavours’ dining concept in all classes.

What should hungry passengers expect?

How about wok-fried lobster in broth with crispy and steamed rice? Or fish ball and fish cake flat rice noodle soup? Soy-braised chicken with Chinese sausage on steamed jasmine rice?

Fish ball and fish cake flat rice noodle soup.

Yum.

Launched to celebrate the diversity and vibrancy of the city’s rich gastronomic traditions, Hong Kong Flavours features a variety of local specialities available in all cabin classes on long-haul routes from the airline’s home hub.

Braised brisket with flat rice noodles in special beef broth.

Cathay Pacific General Manager Customer Experience and Design, Vivian Lo, said that for Hong Kong people, the dishes convey a feeling of home, while also representing a tasty introduction of authentic local flavours for those visiting from abroad.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say that people from Hong Kong are crazy about food; and as Hong Kong’s home airline, it is important that our inflight dining reflects our heritage,” she said.

Stir fried pork and shallots in chilli tomato sauce on egg noodles.

Menu highlights in First Class include braised abalone with flower shiitake and choy sum-layered bean curd, while Business Class passengers can look forward to dishes such as roasted duck with lai fun rice noodles in soup and Hong Kong-style milk tea pudding with tapioca pearls.

Passengers in Premium Economy Class have the option of tasting, among other options, steamed halibut with Tai O preserved mustard greens and steamed jasmine rice as well as yin yang fried rice. Meanwhile, dishes served in Economy Class include Hong Kong-style seafood curry rice.

Traditional steamed pork and water chestnut patties on jasmine rice.

Enhancements have also been made to the airline’s in-flight beverage program with a premium range of Chinese teas including jasmine, oolong and pu’er from renowned local tea purveyor Fook Ming Tong being rolled out progressively in Economy Class.

Finally, to celebrate the Year of the Pig, Cathay Pacific will be serving a selection of auspicious dishes over the Chinese New Year period and throughout February. These special festive offerings include braised garoupa with bean curd and shiitake mushrooms and E fu noodle soup with crab meat sauce.

Hong Kong Flavours is Cathay Pacific’s newest inflight dining concept and follows on from the summer launch of the airline’s well-received restaurant-style Business Class service, which is being introduced on all long-haul flights.

For more information and to book your next (delicious) Cathay Pacific flight, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US to discuss!

We’d love to hear from you.

Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong Yoga & Meditation Space

Cathay Pacific passengers can now stretch, relax and rejuvenate at a new dedicated yoga and meditation space, The Sanctuary by Pure Yoga at The Pier Business Class lounge, Hong Kong.

“This is a lovely touch to an already impressive airport lounge”, says The Travel Authority Group’s Managing Director, Peter Hosper.

Designed in partnership with The Pure Group, The Sanctuary by Pure Yoga is a 700 square-foot area divided into two zones – The Body Sanctuary, which is dedicated to yoga, and The Mind Sanctuary, where travellers can meditate to calm the mind.

The Pier Business Class lounge offers an impressive range of experiences for guests.

“Whether it’s dining at our popular Noodle Bar, catching up with some work, or enjoying a drink at the bar or at the Teahouse, there are myriad ways for our customers to spend time at the lounge. Now they’ll also be encouraged to meditate and practice yoga before flying with us”, said Cathay Pacific General Manager Customer Experience and Design, Vivian Lo.

The Sanctuary by Pure Yoga is open to travellers who have access to Cathay Pacific The Pier Business Class Lounge at Hong Kong Airport, as well as Diamond, Gold and Silver Marco Polo Club members. Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon First and Business Class passengers will also be able to enjoy the new offering.

The Sanctuary is the latest collaboration between Cathay Pacific and the Hong Kong-headquartered Pure Group following the January 2018 launch of ‘Travel Well with Yoga’, a series of inflight videos to help passengers ease into their journeys with meditation and yoga.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US to discuss your specific requirements.

We’d love to hear from you.

Qantas Plans For An Ultra-Long-Haul Future

Qantas has been surveying passengers as they disembark from the airline’s direct London to Perth services to capture their experience, suggestions and feedback.

The new research, captured in late 2018 in conjunction with Sydney University’s Charles Perkins Centre, is being conducted as Qantas prepares for what it considers the final frontier of global commercial air travel—non-stop flights from Australia’s east coast to New York and London expected to start from 2022.

Boeing 777X aircraft sketches. Source: Boeing.

The results?

Health and wellness are the top trends coming through the research, with a strong focus on mindfulness and “separation of experience” at different stages of a long-haul flight.

Stationary exercise bikes and virtual reality relaxation and entertainment are among several innovations Qantas customers have also suggested.

Visions of long haul travel then and now.

David Caon, Qantas Industrial Designer, said Project Sunrise is pushing not just the boundaries of distance, but also product innovation.

“Customers are sharing some incredibly imaginative ideas, which is an exciting challenge and helps us to think outside of the box to redefine the ultra-long-haul experience,” he said.

Boeing’s 777X with its unique folding wingtips.

So what were the five most frequent Project Sunrise suggestions from customers?

  • Provide “sense of separation” experiences where passengers can be social but then “zone out” with either virtual reality relaxation zones, audio mindfulness experiences, or through the broader in-flight entertainment.
  • Spaces to do gentle exercise/stretches, promoting circulation and comfort.
  • Wireless, noise cancelling headsets.
  • Innovative cabin designs across the entire aircraft, considering both seat and non-seat spaces to focus on a broad range of traveller needs including comfort, sleep, dining, entertainment and state of mind.
  • An in-flight cafe offering both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages including wine, fresh juices, herbal teas and tisanes and mocktails along with snacks including dips with vegetable sticks as well as “treat foods”.

Qantas’ Boeing 787 Dreamliners currently operate Perth to London non-stop flights.

“With the major aircraft manufacturers really pushing the ultra-long-haul envelope, the rapidly approaching future of flight looks exciting. Heightened levels of comfort and amenities will be essential as passengers weigh up the convenience vs comfort equation of ultra-long-non-stop flights”, says The Travel Authority Group’s Managing Director, Peter Hosper.

“Time is really valuable to our clients. The premium will they be prepared to pay for a shorter journey time remains to be seen. For airlines, cabin space is finite, they have to make it work really hard. The economics of this are fascinating”, adds Hosper.

Premium seating concept sketches for Boeing’s 777X aircraft.

CEO Qantas International Alison Webster said the new research is showing increased interest towards physical well-being, state of mind and personal time and space.

“Customer feedback from the Perth to London flight has exceeded expectations. The engagement and enthusiasm we’re seeing from this research highlights how passionate our customers are to be a part of the evolution of ultra-long-haul travel.

“Everything is on the table and we are excited about what innovations may come from this research”, said Ms Webster.

Qantas is expected to make an announcement around Project Sunrise later in 2019, including which aircraft type it would operate, with both the Boeing 777X and the Airbus A350 under consideration.

What would you like to see on an ultra-long-haul aircraft?

Let us know in the form below!

We’d love to hear from you.

Travel Agents—Who Needs Them?

After a restful Christmas and New Year, here we all are again, back at it.

Another year has been added to the total and, even now in late January, I’m still having trouble writing 2019.

Over the break I had time to catch my breath, ponder the year just gone and speculate on what this one might hold. Looking back, the issue that stands out for me is the demise of online travel agents (OTAs) like BestJet and Zuji—an OTA that’s been around so long it’s remarkable to think it’s no longer with us.

Zuji really was one of the very first OTAs in our part of the world. Founded in 2002 in Singapore, it expanded to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia. To have both a new operator, BestJet, and an established one collapse in quick succession is, frankly, very troubling.

Reports suggest that Hong Kong-based Zuji allowed its travel agency licence to expire, and the global airline trade body—IATA, pulled its right to sell air tickets because of overdue payments to airlines. The news currently coming out of the BestJet ashes does not make for pleasant reading.

Both situations must be totally baffling for your average travel shopper, and devastating for those chasing refunds in the wake of the chaos.

Despite what the TV commercials might say, having ‘all the choices at your fingertips’ doesn’t magically make travel shopping simple. Travel is a commodity that is affected by a complicated tangle of factors. There’s a reason why being a professional travel agent is actually a thing.

I’m sure I’m not the only travel professional who occasionally clicks around crowd-sourced travel communities and winces at the questions being asked and—even more disturbing—the responses enthusiastically offered up. I mean, how many answers are there really to “The booking site says the room has twin beds, what does that mean?” Well, it would appear that there are 90-something answers ranging from “It’s definitely bunk beds” to “My kids aren’t twins and the hotel said it was fine.”

And when queries venture into perilous territory like visas, baggage collection, immigration and customs, airport transits, interline arrangements, separate tickets, codeshares, being denied boarding, cancelled flights, no-shows, missed connections and “It’s all the airline’s fault”, the crowd-sourced answers can be frightening. Ironically, these are the same people who regularly besmirch travel agents on the very same forums.

Pfft! Travel agents…who needs ‘em.

I don’t say this to poke fun. Simply to make the point that if you somehow didn’t already know that travel agents are a thing, you’d read these and ponder, “If only there was someone who could answer all of these questions. I reckon there’s a business in that.”

It turns out there is.

We’re approaching The Travel Authority’s 15th birthday. We’re an established, respected travel management company (TMC), we value our expertise and experience, and we are proudly ATAS accredited.

ATAS is the national accreditation scheme of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents. It endorses businesses that have met strict financial and customer service criteria. ATAS agents are required to comply with Australian Consumer Law, as well as the ATAS Charter and Code of Conduct. For consumers, an ATAS symbol means their agent is among the best in the industry—credible, well trained and professional.

But, back to the OTA situation. I get it that consumers can find cheap airfares and hotels by clicking around supplier websites, OTAs and—more recently—aggregator sites that scour the web and redirect consumers to the source of the deal on sites like BestJet. Sadly, a close friend of mine did just that recently to save a few dollars. It did not end well. Not only is he chasing a refund, but he can no longer confirm his preferred travel dates. It’s a big old mess.

We are often asked to match quotes from ‘the web’, but we stand our ground on our own contracted, secure pricing and supplier relationships. In an environment of wafer-thin margins, failing OTAs and travel brands you’ve never heard of, we value our expertise and ATAS accreditation as major drivers of profitability, success and customer satisfaction.

Importantly, our clients want us to be profitable so we can continue to deliver peerless service and support for years to come.

It’s of great comfort to TTA customers that we run a client trust account, so we don’t use client payments to fund any transactions other than their own. Sure, they might sometimes pay more than they can find down an online rabbit-hole, but we’ll be there with them every step of their travels.

Our service doesn’t stop at the moment of financial transaction. If something goes wrong, a quick call to us will sort it out and smooth the way ahead. Never will they have to crowd-source an answer from a well-intentioned but poorly-informed mob online, or wait for the internet to call them back to discuss that refund.

We look forward to being there and travelling with you in 2019.

Happy & safe travels, everyone.

Peter

Peter Hosper
Managing Director
The Travel Authority Group

Hawaiian Airlines Australia Day Sale

Our friends at Hawaiian Airlines has come to the party this Australia Day with a fab flash sale that ends on 31 January.

The sale only runs for a week but, seriously, how much time do you need to think about dashing off to Hawaii for some serious down-time?

Don’t delay. This sale ends on 31 January or sooner if sold out!

FROM SYDNEY
Prices to Honolulu start from just $746 or 74,600 Amex Points return.
Departure dates: 25 January to 09 April 2019, and 21 April to 25 June 2019.

FROM BRISBANE
Prices to Honolulu start from just $752 or 75,200 Amex Points return
Departure dates: 25 January to 04 April 2019, and 20 April to 17 June 2019

Ask us about sale fares to Hawaiian destinations beyond Honolulu—places like Kahului, Kona, Hilo, Lihue, Lanai City, Molokai and Kapalua—from Sydney from just $858 (85,800 Amex Points) return, or Brisbane from $864 (86,400 Amex Points) return.

Fares are also available from other Australian cities and regional departure points.

The maximum stay on these fares is 3-months and changes are not permitted to the journey origin or destination once your fare has been ticketed.

Changes are permitted to travel dates within the original stipulated travel periods at a fee of AU$200 per change per ticket.

Fares shown here are correct at 24 January 2019 but are subject to availability and change without notice. Cancellation fees as well as other terms and conditions apply.

For more information and to book, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US to discuss your specific requirements.

Aloha!

New Overnight Qantas Service To Hong Kong

Qantas has re-timed one of its two daily flights from Sydney to Hong Kong from 31 March 2019, offering customers the choice of a midday or evening departure from Sydney.

From 31 March, Qantas’ Airbus A330 operated evening (9.20pm) departure from Sydney will arrive in Hong Kong 5.00am local time.

QF117 will operate overnight and arrive into Hong Kong in the morning, providing more options for onward connections to other destinations in Asia, including those operated by Qantas’ new codeshare partner Cathay Pacific.

Qantas International CEO Alison Webster said the changes reinforced the airline’s commitment to Hong Kong.

“Hong Kong is an incredibly important market for Qantas and we continue to see strong demand from premium and corporate travellers,” said Ms Webster.

The Travel Authority Group’s Managing Director, Peter Hosper, agrees.

“This is a smart move from Qantas”, said Hosper.

“We expect the new overnight Qantas service to be popular with many of our corporate clients looking for an early morning connection through Hong Kong to other parts of Asia”, Hosper added.

Qantas’ return service on QF118 departs Hong Kong daily at 10.35pm, arriving back into Sydney at 10.00am.

Qantas operates 28 flights per week to Hong Kong from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US to discuss your specific requirements.

We’d love to hear from you.

British Airways Club World Chauffeurs

We’re loving this brilliant, exclusive offer from our friends at British Airways here in Sydney.

Effective immediately, all BA Club World business class bookings made through The Travel Authority will be eligible for chauffeur-driven transfers to-from Sydney Airport—a service previously only offered to First passengers.

“This is such a terrific extension of BA’s transfer offering”, says Sarah Bush, Director of The Travel Authority Group.

“We’re delighted to be able to offer these services to our Club World travellers. British Airways’ premium cabins are a wonderful way to fly, and the chauffeur service for Club World passengers will elevate the experience even further”, adds Sarah.

The offer applies to new Club World bookings made on or after 21 January 2019, travelling on flights BA15/16.

A few terms and conditions worth noting:

  • The airline’s transfer vehicle of choice is Jaguar, but these cannot always be guaranteed. If not available, an alternative prestige vehicle will provide the luxury transfer.
  • Waitlisted reservations, complimentary upgrades, redemption or travel agent discount tickets are not eligible.
  • Transfers are available up to 50km radius with an additional charge beyond the complimentary radius.
  • Reservations must be made at least 48 hours prior to departure.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US to discuss your specific requirements.

We’d love to hear from you.

Qantas Global Sale On Now!

SALE ENDS 31 JANUARY 2019!

Dust off your passport and pack your bags, from Asia and the USA to Europe, South Africa and South America, over 40 international Qantas destinations are on sale right now.

See our sample of some of the great fares on offer below

Hurry, this sale ENDS at 11.59PM (AEDT) 31 January 2019 unless sold out prior.

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Incredible fares are available from all Australian capitals and numerous regional ports!

There are some day-of-week departure restrictions, as well as routes and fares where Global Sale pricing applies to specific Qantas services only.

Many other terms and conditions apply, and they vary from destination to destination.

Prices and details shown are correct at 24 January but are subject to availability and change without notice.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US to discuss your specific requirements.

We’d love to hear from you.

Mandarin Oriental Tokyo Refurbishment

We are delighted to advise that a significant renovation of all rooms and suites at Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo’s room and suites has been completed.

The stunning hotel is located in Tokyo’s prestigious Nihonbashi district—known as the birthplace of Tokyo—where centuries-old artisan businesses rub shoulders with modern skyscrapers.

The new room designs focus on the original hotel design concept of ‘Woods and Water’. All rooms have stunning views of the city—Tokyo Skytree to the east, and Mount Fuji to the west—from high picture windows.

Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo’s legendary service, Michelin-starred cuisine and stunning facilities combine to offer the ultimate luxury experience.

The Travel Authority Group is one of a handful of Mandarin Oriental Fan Club agents in Australia. When you book a Mandarin Oriental stay with us, you enjoy a number of guest perks and privileges.

These include:

  • Complimentary High Speed Internet Access
  • Choice of US$100 Food & Beverage or Spa Credit
  • Daily Continental Breakfast for Two
  • Personalized Welcome Amenity and Note on behalf of Agent from Senior Property Management
  • One Category Room Upgrade (subject to availability at time of check-in)
  • Written confirmation of Fan Club reservation within 12-hours of receipt, regardless of method of booking
  • 24-hour Ambassador Team Support
  • Dedicated password protected website
  • Priority waitlist clearance

For more information or to inquire about a stay at Mandarin Oriental Tokyo, simply leave us a note in the form below or CALL US to discuss your specific requirements.

We’d love to hear from you.

BA Celebrates Centenary With Retro Liveries

This announcement from British Airways is sure to send plane-fancier hearts aflutter.

As part of the airline’s centenary commemorations, British Airways has today announced it will be painting four of its aircraft in much-loved retro designs from its past—the first confirmed as a Boeing 747 in a British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) design.

This first aircraft will return to London Heathrow from the paint factory on 18 February ready to re-enter service the following day. Pleasingly, this coincides with the 50th anniversary of the first Boeing 747 flight only a few days earlier.

The 747 has been deliberately chosen for the BOAC livery as it is a later variant of the same aircraft type that adorned the design when it was initially in operation.

Three more aircraft will receive popular designs from British Airways’ past over the coming months with more details to be revealed in due course.

All four aircraft will fly British Airways’ routes, proudly showcasing some of the popular designs as part of the airline’s centenary celebrations.

“So many British Airways customers and colleagues have fond memories of our previous liveries, regularly sharing their photos from across the globe. It’s incredibly exciting to be re-introducing some classic designs, and what better place to start than the iconic BOAC livery”, said Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO.

The BOAC livery will remain on the Boeing 747 until it retires in 2023. By this time, British Airways will have retired the majority of its 747 fleet, replacing them with new state-of-the-art long-haul aircraft. This includes
taking delivery of 18 A350s and 12 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in the next four years.

“This is such a lovely way to commemorate British Airways’ 100th birthday”, says Sarah Bush, Director of The Travel Authority Group.

“We look forward to seeing this gorgeous old livery—and the three to come—take flight on aircraft across BA’s global network, and we wish them a very happy 100th birthday”, adds Sarah.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US to discuss your specific requirements.

We’d love to hear from you.