Round Up: Pilot Saves Dog, Startup To Auction Airline Tickets, Lufthansa To Offer Broadband, EasyJet Cancels Moscow Route & More

A look at some of the travel and travel industry news from the last few days that’s interesting….but that doesn’t really warrant a post of it’s own.

Israeli Start Up To Auction Unsold Airline Inventory

A new Internet startup (am I the only one who remembers those two words with dread?) has raised an impressive $1m to fund it’s a business model. The “BidFlyer” model is based around the idea of auctioning off “small batches” of airline tickets in a similar way to how people sell their unwanted things on eBay.

Bidflyer auctioning airline seats

Just how many airlines will give BidFlyer access to their unsold inventory is up for debate but I can already hear US based fliers screaming “not on my airline!….unless it’s only in Coach“. In the US, unsold premium cabin inventory is what feeds the domestic upgrades – if US airlines were to start auctioning off those seats elite flyers would see their upgrade percentages plummet.

Singapore Now Allowing Australians To Use E-Passport Gates

Starting in October, some holders of Australian passports will no longer have to endure the lines at Singapore Changi immigration – they’ll be allowed to use the e-passport gates just as if they were a local.

Singapore Changi Immigration HallImage: Rajiv Ashrafi via Flickr

Unfortunately this access won’t be granted for all Australian passport holders – there are a few caveats. For the time being the system will only be open to Australian passport holders who have visited Singapore 3 times in the previous 12 months and who have registered, in person, at Singapore airport’s Terminal 3. There is no cost to apply and more information can be found at the Singapore Immigration Authority website.

Pilot Diverts Airplane To Save Dog

An Air Canada pilot took the unusual (and highly applauded) decision to divert his flight to Frankfurt International airport when he became aware of a serious drop in temperature in the cargo area.

Simba, a French Bulldog, was in the heated cargo hold of an Air Canada flight traveling between Tel Aviv and Toronto when the crew became aware that something was wrong with the system that heats the hold. The pilot decided that the dog’s life was at risk (I’m impressed the crew even remembered they had a dog in the hold) and took the decision to divert to Frankfurt.

Once in Frankfurt, Simba was transferred to another plane and the passengers on Air Canada continued on their journey. Total delay to the passengers – 75mins and total extra cost to Air Canada – approx. $10,000 in fuel costs.

EasyJet Ends Its Moscow Service From Late-March 2016

EasyJet hasn’t been enjoying much luck with it’s flights between the UK and Moscow – and the economic sanctions currently in place on Russia can’t have been helping.

In January the airline announced that it would be scaling back its flight frequencies between Gatwick and Moscow from 13 weekly to 7 weekly and, in May, the airline scrapped its Manchester-Moscow route completely citing “falling demand”.

EasyJetImage: Christopher Doyle via Flickr

Now it looks like EasyJet is giving up on Moscow altogether. The airline has announced that, from 20 March 2016, the Gatwick-Moscow service is to be discontinued. Once again the reason given for the cancellation was “significant and sustained reduction in demand for travel between Moscow and London” which has been primarily influenced by “factors including the weakness of the Russian economy together with the tightening of the visa approval process“.

EasyJet had gone toe-to-to with Virgin Atlantic in 2012 when the BMI slots became available and, despite Virgin offering to run the route from Heathrow, the UK Civil Aviation Authority awarded the flying rights  to EasyJet.

Lufthansa Bringing Broadband To The Skies

If you have the need to work on planes then the advent of inflight WiFi has been a game-changer. I know that being able to work on an 11 hour flight across the Atlantic has been something I’ve really appreciated. For me, it has (a) staved off boredom and (b) allowed me to be a bit more relaxed upon arrival.

But the problem with inflight WiFi, at least so far, has been the slow speeds and the inconsistency in quality of signal…..but hopefully that’s about to change.

Lufthansa Internet

Lufthansa have announced that, from “early summer” 2016 it will begin to offer broadband onboard its short-haul and medium-haul flights. The airline’s press release goes on to say:

This will enable passengers on continental flights and flights within Germany to enjoy the full freedom to communicate and to use the Internet with a wide bandwidth above the clouds.

The new service from Lufthansa and its technology partner Inmarsat is based on the most modern broadband satellite technology from Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network (Ka-band) and offers seamless, reliable coverage on short and medium-haul flights.

I like the sound of “seamless” and “reliable”, two words which cannot really be used with any existing onboard WiFi network that I’ve experienced. And, while this doesn’t yet mean that we’re going to see trans-Atlantic (TATL) or other long-haul flights with this technology, it’s definitely a start.

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