LCC Offering Live TV, Pilot Suffers Retina Damage From Laser, Waitlist Virgin Australia Upgrades & More

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Norwegian now offers live TV

Low cost carrier Norwegian continues to embarrass its full-service rivals by continually upgrading its offering. Not only does the airline now provide free WiFi on all its European flights but, as of this week, the airline is offering live TV on its flights too.

Currently, Norwegian are offering Bloomberg TV and Norway’s TV 2 News on its fleet of 87 WiFi equipped aircraft but the airline has confirmed that it will seek to add further channels when possible.

It’s not exactly live TV of the standard that you’ll get on Virgin America……

virgin-america-free-live-tvVirgin America’s free live TV offerings

……but it’s a start.

Qantas to expand Asia network & increases Dallas service

Qantas has announced that it plans to add more seats on routes to Asia from March 2016. Fortunately they don’t mean to cram yet more seats into their aircraft, instead they plan to upgrade three of their seven weekly Melbourne-Hong Kong services from an Airbus A330 to Boeing 747 aircraft – a 2.5 per cent increase in the airline’s total capacity to Hong Kong.

The airline has also added:

Qantas expects to use the A330 aircraft freed up by the Hong Kong changes to add further capacity on another Asian route, with several markets under consideration.

Qantas 747Image courtesy of Colin Brown via Flickr

Qantas will be getting the extra 747 aircraft thanks to a reduction in their service between Sydney and Los Angeles following the expansion of their joint venture agreement with American Airlines.

As Qantas scales back their operation to/from Los Angeles they’re upping their service to Dallas Fort Worth. Currently the airline flies an Airbus A380 between Sydney and Dallas 6 times a week but this will be upgraded to a daily service from 26 April 2016 when the airline adds a seventh weekly flight on Tuesdays.

QF007 SYD 13:00 – 13:35 DFW
QF008 DFW 22:15 – 06:05+2 days SYD

Will Singapore Airlines fly the A350 to Barcelona, Milan & Sao Paulo?

Australian Business Traveller (ABT) is speculating that Singapore Airlines’ recent closure of First Class bookings on select routes could indicate that it intends to replace the 777-300s currently flying those routes with its new Airbus A350 aircraft.

I wrote about the Singapore Airlines A350 cabin layout a couple of weeks ago and one of the stand-out features of the aircraft is the lack of a first class cabin. So is this why Singapore Airlines have closed First Class bookings on their flights to Barcelona, Milan and Sao Paulo?

Singapore Airlines A350

Well, there’s definitely logic to ABT’s speculation.

Not only did Singapore Airlines close First Class bookings to Barcelona, Milan and Sao Paulo but it also closed First Class bookings to Amsterdam from 27 March 2016 – and we already know that Singapore – Amsterdam will be the first long-haul route that the Singapore Airlines A350 will fly.

The one bit of information which, to my mind, flies against this logic is that Singapore Airlines also cancelled First Class bookings, for flights from 31 March 2016, on select days of its Auckland route too…and I can’t see Auckland being one of the first cities to get A350 service from Singapore.

British Airways Pilot’s Retina Burned

The UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper has reported that a British Airways Pilot suffered a burnt retina after a “military-strength” laser was shone into the cockpit of the aircraft he was co-piloting (although he was not in control of the aircraft at the time of the incident).

A British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) spokesperson, Jim McAuslan, told the Telegraph:

His retina was burnt on one of his eyes.

When there’s something like this, that’s damaged a man’s retina, that starts to worry us

The unnamed pilot suffered the attack towards the beginning of this year and has not been able to return to work since.

A report produced by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority show that Heathrow had 48 such laser attacks in the first 6 months of 2015 and 168 incidents in 2014 – more than any other UK airport. The report goes on to say that:

[The attacks are always] sudden, very bright, distracting, and can cause temporary visual disturbance for some time after the attack.

It really makes you wonder what sort of person would actually carry out an attack like this? What do they hope to gain? I know we have some truly disturbed people out in big wide world but who, outside of a terrorist cell, wants to risk hundred’s of people’s lives just for a bit of a prank?

United Airlines opens refurbished lounge

As part of a $100m ongoing overhaul of its United Club lounges, United Airlines has opened a new lounge at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Back in January United Airlines closed its club on Concourse D of the Atlanta airport with plans to relocate it to Concourse T where it has been consolidating all its flights.

Last week the new, 450+ square foot, club opened its doors at its new location on the mezzanine level between gates 11 and 12 at Concourse T.

The new club’s capacity is capped at just 100 people but, with two other United Club lounges at Atlanta airport (Terminal 3 Concourse F and in Terminal G) that should, hopefully, not be too big of an issue.

united-club-improvementsGeneric image of an improved United Club courtesy of United Airlines – not the New Atlanta Club (if only!)

Virgin Australia opens waitlists for upgrades

Members of Virgin Australia’s Velocity loyalty program can now ask to placed on an upgrade waitlist if they wish to use their frequent flyer miles to upgrade to a higher cabin.

The new system is called “UpgradeMe Points Request Waitlist” (not the catchiest of names!) and can be used when upgrades are not available at the time of booking.

Per ABT:

Upgrade requests can be filed on all Virgin Australia domestic flights from the moment you make your booking right up until four hours before departure when travelling on Saver and Flexi fares, and on international short-haul flights (including to New Zealand and Fiji) when booked on Flexi fares.

On Virgin Australia’s longer flights to Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi (although not the return Abu Dhabi-Sydney leg), Gold and Platinum members can waitlist for a premium economy upgrade only on Flexi economy fares, and for business class from Premium, Premium Saver and economy Flexi fares.

Virgin Australia will process upgrade requests from Platinum members starting 5 days before a flight is due to depart and up to 73 hours before departure for Gold members.

Interestingly, according to ABT, ‘UpgradeMe Premium Bid’ requests from all members will be next in line at 72 hours before departure and will be processed before upgrade requests from Silver and Red Velocity members.

Only after all cash upgrade offers have been processed will upgrades be processed for Silver and Red Velocity members (good luck guys!).

For details on how many Velocity Points are needed for upgrades, check out this Virgin Australia page here.

Featured image courtesy of Fabrizio Sciami via Flickr


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