Roundup: Qatar Adds More Fights To Europe, Qantas Axing Seat Selection Fees, Four Seasons Ko Olina Now Taking Reservations & More

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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.

Residents of New York, Louisiana, Minnesota & New Hampshire may soon need more than just their driving license to get past the TSA. Even residents of American Samoa may fall foul of the new law.

Road Warrior Voices has been pointing out that the final phase of the Real ID Act is due to come into force from next year and that this could affect residents of states/territories whose driving licenses are considered non-compliant with the act.

Minnesota driving licenseImage courtesy of the Minnesota DVS

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is saying that 70-80% of all US drivers hold licenses from states that are either set to meet the Act’s standards or that have received an extension. But that still leaves a good many outliers and they’re the ones that should be prepared to bring along another type of ID (like a passport).

Some commentators in the blogosphere are suggesting that nothing will ever come of this – and they may well be right – but I’m not sure I’d want to take the risk if I held a license from a non-compliant state and my livelihood depended on my ability to fly.

Qatar Airways Continues Network Expansion Across Europe.

Qatar airways has announced that it’s ramping up it’s frequencies from Doha to 3 European cities from the beginning of December.

Stockholm sees a seasonal increase in flights from 10 to 13 weekly from 1 December to 25 March 2016 and will be serviced by Qatar’s 787 Dreamliners.

Qatar Airways Boeing 787 DreamlinerImage courtesy of Curimedia via Flickr

Copenhagen will see an increase in flights from 11 to 14 weekly from 2 December and, as there’s no mention of seasonality in the announcement, I’m left to assume that this is a permanent move.

Brussels will see the smallest increase in the number of flights it receives from Qatar with the schedule moving from 7 to 8 weekly flights. Once again there is no mention of seasonality so I’m left to assume this is also a permanent schedule change.

This is good news for Europeans looking for good value premium cabin travel to Asia – Qatar is one of the airlines that often crops up on my radar when searching for good business class fares (see here and here). More capacity can only be a good thing for those hoping for low ticket prices.

Qantas to axe seat selection fees on most international flights (but it’s not all good news)

From 23 September 2015 a good proportion of Qantas Economy class flyers will see their “advance seat selection” fees disappear. The AU$25 charge will no longer be levied on bookings in “economy saver” and “economy flex” fares but those booking the cheapest (“economy sale”) fares on international flights will see their fees increase by AU$5 to AU$30.

Qantas Seat ChargesImage source: Qantas

As is the case with most civilised airlines, seat selection will continue to be free in Premium Cabins (including Premium Economy) on all Qantas international flights – British Airways could learn from this.

Introducing Four Seasons Resort O’ahu At Ko Olina

The new Four Seasons resort on the west coast of the Hawaiian Island of Oahu is starting to take shape and, with the opening scheduled for “early next year”, they’re starting to take reservations.

The resort is clearly not overly confident about the “early” part of “early next year” because reservations are only begin taken from 1 June 2016…..but this is still very good news.

The Four Seasons Resort Ko OlinaImage courtesy of Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina

The 358 room resort is currently offering an introductory, fourth night free,  package to celebrate the opening – rates for the package start at $447/night + taxes (£290/€395 + taxes). Standard rates start at $595/night + taxes (£390/€530 + taxes).

I adore the Hawaiian islands and visit as often as I can although I confess that Oahu hasn’t been near the top of my list of the ones I enjoy visiting the most – I don’t see the point of Honolulu or Waikiki. But I’ve been meaning to visit the Marriott Villas at Ko Olina (which I’m told is in a much more relaxed part of Oahu) and now, with the introduction of the Four Seasons I’m probably going to have to make more of an effort to visit.