VIRGIN AUSTRALIA LOUNGES REOPENING

In yet another positive sign, Virgin Australia has announced the reopening of its lounges in Perth and the Gold Coast.

Seating capacity within both lounges will, however, be limited due to COVID-related social distancing requirements, and adjustments have been made to the placement of furniture within the lounges to ensure social distancing is maintained at all times.

Both the Perth and Gold Coast lounges will comply with all COVID-19 safe requirements as mandated by the state governments.

Guests will notice some changes including:

  • The requirement to use the QR code to complete sign in upon entry.
  • The entrance foyer will be used as an entry point only.
  • Furniture will be spaced 1.5m apart along with appropriate signage and social distancing markers.
  • Hand sanitiser stations will be placed throughout the lounges.
  • Lounges will be deep cleaned prior to opening, and cleaning undertaken throughout the day.

One of the most obvious changes will be around food and beverage, notably that self-serve food and drinks will not be available.

Pre-made food items including sweet and savoury snacks, sandwiches, fresh fruit, alcoholic beverages (including craft beers and curated wines), barista coffee, premium tea and soft drinks will still be available from the hosted food bar.

The airline’s Gold Coast lounge will be open:

8.00am – 8.00pm Monday to Friday
8.00am – 6.00pm Saturday
8.00am – 8.00pm Sunday

The Perth lounge willl be open:

4.15am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday
5.00am – 12.00pm Saturday
5.00am – 5.00pm Sunday

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US [1300 935 669] to discuss your specific requirements.

We’d love to hear from you!

NSW TO OPEN BORDER WITH VICTORIA

NSW border opens to Victoria from November 23 after coronavirus shutdown.

Qantas and Jetstar will operate thousands of flights to and from Melbourne and regional Victoria over summer following the New South Wales Government’s decision to open its borders.

From 23 November, Qantas and Jetstar will operate more than 250 flights per week across five routes, offering travellers 48,000 seats between the two states. This compares with just ten return flights per week operating between Melbourne and Sydney (the only route currently operating between NSW and VIC).

Both carriers will look to add more flights if there is sufficient demand.

Qantas Domestic & International CEO, Andrew David is thrilled to be adding such capacity into the network stating that, “This is fantastic news. We’ve added thousands of more flights back into our schedule today which will see Melbourne-Sydney once again become the busiest air route in Australia.”

November 23 will be a day many people will now be looking forward to. It’s exciting for the family and friends who can finally be reunited after months apart.”

Qantas Domestic & International CEO, Andrew David

David Thompson, Manager of Sales & Client Experience at The Travel Authority, believes this is another positive move in the “normalisation” of travel during the pandemic.

“This is very welcome news from Qantas. The Sydney – Melbourne air corridor was the second busiest in the world. At the height of the lockdown, there was only one flight a day between our two largest cities. That is just not sustainable,” said Thompson.

“Our Corporate Clients cannot wait to get back in the air and this is an important step in making that happen. The sooner all borders reopen the sooner we can get the economy moving again. The pent-up demand from our clients is palpable.”

David Thompson, Manager of Sales & Client Experience at The Travel Authority

Thompson went on to note that, “As soon as borders open we get an influx of bookings to that destination, recently South Australia opened their borders and our bookings went through the roof. We really would love to see Queensland and Western Australia open their borders as soon as possible.”

Borders are on everyone’s mind as we enter the holiday period. Last week Qantas CEO Alan Joyce slammed Queensland’s decision to keep its border closed to Sydney.

“Frankly, this is ridiculous,” Joyce said in a statement.

“Sydney is the biggest city in Australia and it probably has one of the best track records globally of managing a virus that is clearly going to be with us for a very long time. Keeping the doors bolted to places that you can’t reasonably call hot spots makes no sense from a health perspective and it’s doing a lot of social and economic damage as well,” Joyce added.

Our Take?

With the NSW border opening the good news is that, with so much available capacity, airfares are seriously good value and 5-star hotels are selling rooms at unheard of prices.

Now is the time to book a weekend away to Melbourne or Sydney, and for our Corporate Clients now is brilliant opportunity to finally start to utilise and reduce those tickets/credits on hold at these current low pricing levels—lock in the savings now!

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US [1300 935 669] to discuss your specific requirements.
We’d love to hear from you.

GOING DIGITAL FOR SMARTER BORDERS

The Incoming Passenger Card—the one you fill out bleary eyed on descent into Australia when you can’t find your pen — is on the way out.

In an announcement from Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs—Alan Tudge—the Australian Government says it’s preparing for the safe re-opening of global travel with the launch of a digital system that will support quick and secure collection of incoming passenger information and replace the old physical card.

The familiar Incoming Passenger Cards are on the way out.

The new Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) will be completed by Australia-bound travellers on their mobile device or computer.

Currently, passenger contact and declaration information is collected on paper cards, which are then scanned and processed manually. In a COVID world, this information is an invaluable source for contact tracing and the manual process could slow down efforts to control the virus.

The DPD will facilitate information being collected and shared more efficiently while still using the same authority for collection. The DPD will also allow certified COVID vaccination certificates to be digitally uploaded and connected if and when they become available.

“This capability will put us in a prime position to successfully reopen our borders in a COVID-safe way to help with the rebuilding of Australia’s economy,” said Mr Tudge.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US [1300 935 669] to discuss your specific requirements.

We’d love to hear from you!

QANTAS Domestic Lounges Reopening

Qantas closed its domestic and international lounges in late March, as a result of government enforced restrictions that shut down the majority of domestic and international flying.

But with the relaxing of state-based restrictions and an increase in domestic capacity, the airline has commenced a phased reopening of lounge facilities that support the current domestic network.

Eleven of Qantas’ 35 Australian capital city and regional lounges reopened on 01 July.

Capital city lounges

  • Sydney Domestic Business Lounge
  • Perth Domestic Business Lounge
  • Adelaide Qantas Club
  • Canberra Business Lounge

Regional lounges

  • Broome Regional Lounge
  • Karratha Regional Lounge
  • Launceston Regional Lounge
  • Alice Springs Regional Lounge
  • Kalgoorlie Regional Lounge
  • Tamworth Regional Lounge
  • Coffs Harbour Regional Lounge

“We know we have a long way to go before the travel industry resembles anything like it did pre-Covid-19, but small steps like these are very encouraging. To see the domestic market slowly reopening is great,”

said The Travel Authority Group’s CEO, Peter Hosper.

A number of the Qantas Group’s ‘Fly Well’ program measures  will be implemented across the lounge network to promote the health and wellbeing of passengers and staff including:

  • Capping the number of guests to comply with state-specific restrictions on indoor gatherings
  • A hosted All-Day Snacking Station replacing ‘self serve’ buffets and drink stations
  • Disposable coffee cups
  • Additional cleaning protocols
  • Sanitising stations

Qantas Chief Customer Officer, Stephanie Tully, said the re-opening of the lounges is the result of weeks of planning to ensure the lounge experience complies with state regulations and Qantas’ own enhanced standards while continuing to provide customers with a positive and relaxing experience.

“We’re really pleased to welcome our Frequent Flyers back to our lounges across the country and get more of our people back to work. We’ve already rolled out some service changes on board for everyone’s wellbeing and now we’re announcing some changes to the lounge experience as well.”

All lounges have undergone a deep clean during their closure.

Initially Qantas will invite customers to visit the Business Lounges or regional lounges subject to capacity, with plans to reopen Qantas Clubs and Chairmans Lounges in coming weeks.

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.

SINGAPORE Changi Transit Program Extended

Singapore Airlines, in partnership with Changi Airport Group, has advised that the Changi Transit Program—now called Changi Transit Privileges—has been extended.

From now till 31 March 2020, eligible Singapore Airlines, SilkAir or Air New Zealand passengers will receive S$20 transit voucher to use towards your shopping, and save up to S$120 on shopping and dining during your transit in Changi Airport.

The shopping and dining discounts apply at Shilla Duty Free, WHSmith, Pashma, Luvenus Jewellery, Singapore Zoo souvenir, Sony store, Hudsons Coffee, The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck, and Tanuki Raw Express during your transit.

The Transit Voucher can also be redeemed for one-time access to the Ambassador Lounge at Terminal 2 or 3 for up to two hours. Lounge use includes shower facilities, free flow of non-alcoholic beverages, light refreshments, local & international reading materials and 10% discount for Alcoholic beverages.

Ambassador Lounge, Terminal 2.

Scroll down for some terms and conditions.

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.

Terms & Conditions
Passengers travelling on Singapore Airlines (SQ) and/or SilkAir (MI) ticketed and operated flights into and out of Singapore with 13 digits e-ticket numbers begin with 618, 629 or 086. This benefit will also be extended to passengers taking the following flight numbers: SQ4281, SQ4282, SQ4283, SQ4284, NZ281, NZ282, NZ283, NZ284, NZ295 or NZ296 (operated by Air New Zealand) and TR596 or TR597 (operated by Scoot). Passengers must be on transit in Changi Airport on both legs of their journey, which means Singapore is neither the point of origin nor the end destination. Transit passengers on one-way journey or ticket are not eligible. Transit means a layover at Changi Airport of not more than 24 hours. Passengers eligible for the transit rewards can proceed to the iShopChangi Collection Centres which are open 24 hours daily in the transit areas of Terminals 2 and 3. Please present your passport, boarding passes and all e-tickets showing your full itinerary.

ELECTRONIC Travel Authority Introduction for Travel to New Zealand

Please note these changes to travel to-or-through New Zealand that come into effect on 01 October 2019.

From 01 October 2019, visitors who are currently eligible to travel to New Zealand without a visa will be required to hold a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA).

UK Passport holders, for example, will need an ETA from 01 October.

CLICK THIS LINK for the full list of applicable visa-waiver countries and territories.

EXEMPTION: Australian citizens travelling on an Australian passport are exempt.

Australian permanent residents (non-citizens), however, will need to apply for an NZeTA.

So, what does it all mean?

  • Visitors will need to receive approval from NZeTA at least 72 hours prior to check-in for a flight to New Zealand or connecting through New Zealand.
  • An NZeTA will be required even if the passenger is connecting through New Zealand to another country.
  • Visitors may also be required to pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL). However Australian citizens travelling on an Australian passport are also exempt from this.

Please note the application process is not yet available. The Travel Authority Group will advise when this process goes live. In the interim any other queries should be directed via the New Zealand Immigration site.

“This is a big change for New Zealand”, said Sarah Bush, Director of The Travel Authority Group.

Transiting New Zealand on or after 1 October 2019?

“If you’re from a visa waiver or transit visa waiver country, you’ll need an NZeTA, even if you’re not staying in New Zealand”, says 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.

BREXIT: Implications for Australian travellers

The clock is rapidly ticking towards the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU).

And as we see daily in the media, the UK is still negotiating the terms of its exit.

“The effects of Brexit will be felt far and wide, with a number of implications for issues such as travel, residency, education and employment”, said The Travel Authority Group’s Managing Director, Peter Hosper.

“And with the deadline rapidly approaching, it’s really important to keep up to date on any implications affecting travel. We are watching very closely”, adds Hosper.

This is the current advice (at 07 March 2019) for Australian travellers:

If you are an Australian living or working in, or travelling to, the UK or the EU nothing will change in the short-term, including for visa arrangements. This also applies to Australian-British dual nationals.

Australians who plan to continue living in the UK after it leaves the EU can use the UK’s visa and immigration tool to seek guidance on visa status and rights to stay.

The UK and the EU are providing updated guidance on the negotiations and the implications for issues such as travel, residency, education and employment. You can check for the latest information through the UK’s Department for Exiting the European Union and the European Commission’s Preparedness Notices.

We recommend referring to those websites as well as the Australian Government’s Smartraveller Brexit bulletins to keep up to date as we approach the deadline.

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

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.

Damaged Passports: Bali Crackdown

Recent news in consumer media suggests that some passengers departing Australia for Bali with passports in poor condition are being denied boarding.

It’s a timely reminder that travellers should take care of these important documents and do everything they can to keep them in tip-top condition.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that Indonesian authorities are enforcing a $US5000 fine on airlines if they carry passengers with damaged passports.

The Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website clearly states that, “It is your responsibility to keep your passport intact and in good condition. Normal wear and tear will not affect its usability, but serious damage to your passport could prevent you from travelling overseas.”

Given that all Australian passports, except emergency passports, have an embedded microchip that contains the details of the document and its holder, it makes practical sense to keep them in good condition.

Contact with water or other liquids can cause serious damage.

“Passports are vital to anyone’s ability to travel freely. It’s really important that passports are protected from general wear-and-tear by keeping them safely in a travel wallet or similar case”, says The Travel Authority Group’s Managing Director, Peter Hosper.

The Travel Authority Group also reminds travellers of the importance of ensuring that your passport has sufficient validity for travel, as some countries may refuse entry to people with less than six months validity on their passports beyond the period of intended stay.

If you have concerns about the condition or validity of your passport, contact The Travel Authority Group or The Australian Passport Office.

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

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India E-Visa Increases To 60-Days

Great news for anyone planning an extended adventure to India, with recent news that Indian e-Visa duration has been increased from 30-days to a massive 60-days stay with effect from 01 April 2019.

Better still, the new e-Visa permits double-entry into the country meaning visitors can visit neighbouring countries like Bhutan and return to India within the stipulated time on the same visa.

“India is a wonderful country, and this e-Visa extension is a fabulous development for visitors”, says The Travel Authority Group’s Managing Director, Peter Hosper.

“We are seeing a significant up-tick in Australians travelling to India, seeking out authentic experiences in some of the world’s most fascinating cities and regions. And with extraordinary hotels popping up in historic forts and palaces, the luxury set has well and truly discovered India”, adds Hosper.

The 60-day increase applies to both tourist and business e-visas.

Further, the window for application under the e-Visa scheme has been increased from 30 to 120 days.

India’s e-Visa service permits entry through 24 Indian airports.

If you’re planning the adventure of a lifetime to India, we’d love to help you piece it together.

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