In brief: More mockery of Depardieu
Korean Air gives its A380s a snazzy configuration, Hertz sweetens the pot for its new loyalty program, Ryanair mocks Depardieu for his toilet saga, Google adds weather forecasts to its Maps tool, Qantas may launch spin-off brand airlines, the world's first solar powered ferry takes to the seas, and more. Here are the stories travellers are buzzing about:
Hertz offers sign-up bonuses for its new loyalty program
The world's largest car hire company has replaced its #1 Awards loyalty program with Gold Plus Rewards, transferring points earned by members in the previous program into the new one. Under the Gold Plus program, points never expire and many rewards have no blackout periods. To encourage travellers to sign-up, Hertz is offering a 500-point sign-up bonus, which it says is worth a free weekend rental. In a bonus move, travellers can now sign-up for the separate #1 Club Gold service that offers expedited service (no need to stop at a counter at 40 major airport locations) for free. The company is waiving the $60 annual fee through 30 September.
A380s get a snazzy configuration on Korea Air
Monocle magazine toured Korean Air's A380, the world's largest aeroplane, to see its unique set-up. Business class passengers get the entire upper deck to themselves, with 180-degree lie-flat seats. There's a lounge, whose cash bar is staffed by an Absolut-trained barman. Down below, economy class passengers use the same entertainment system as business class, plus stretch out with 86cm of legroom, more than on a typical Western long-haul carrier. The story can be found behind Monocle’s paywall.
Google adds a weather layer to its Maps tool
Users of Google Maps will now see weather forecasts of their destination overlaid if they move their cursor to the top right hand corner and wait for a drop-down menu to appear that says "weather" along with "traffic" and other previously existing options.
Depardieu mocked by Ryanair
On Tuesday, French actor Gerard Depardieu was thrown off a CityJet flight after urinating on the floor. Yesterday, Depardieu issued a statement apologizing. The 64-year old actor claimed to have prostate problems and that the two-hour delay on the tarmac at Charles De Gaulle Airport was too long for him. CNN anchor Anderson Cooper reported the story with 17 puns, including "in-continental" and "oui oui" and "jet stream" that led to a full scale giggle fit on-air. Yesterday evening, low-cost Ryanair made the most of the indignity by featuring headiness of the story on its site under advertisement "Pissed off about high fares?"
Qantas may launch premium Asian carrier
Australian aviation reporter Ben Sandilands has been blogging all week about developments at Australia's major aviation company, Qantas. He reports that Qantas will soon launch a Singapore-based premium narrow-body carrier. Check out his blog Plane Talking for more intriguing speculation.
A low-cost airline comes to California's Bay Area
Spirit Airlines quietly entered the Oakland, California market this week by starting daily nonstops to Las Vegas, reports the BAT. The San Francisco market is one of the few major ones in the US that still has not been extensively exposed to competition by budget airlines. That means that fares are likely to drop on many routes in the upcoming couple of years as competition expands.
World's first totally solar-powered ferry takes to the seas
Visiting the waters off Hong Kong this week, PlanetSolar is a luxury yacht powered entirely through solar energy, with panels along the length of its top. Not yet ready for commercial use, the ship is testing the viability of its technology. See pictures at Digital Trends, and track its around-the-world journey at the ship's website.
The mega re-tweet
We scour Twitter to highlight a standout travel tweet.
"Random thought: you're officially "from" somewhere when you've replaced the majority of matter in your body with matter from that place." -- @glasswindow
-- Scott Sutherland, tweeting during a visit to Seattle with a fresh view on how long it takes to become a local.