Latest and greatest in airline news

On-board butlers, 16-hour flights and endless champagne. We find out the latest on what’s going on in the sky – and it’s no longer just about getting from A to B, says Leigh-Ann Pow.


  • The airline is set to introduce the world’s first flying butlers, having completed training at the gorgeous Savoy Hotel.
    The 13 men and women learned the finer points of etiquette and protocol, valet skills and concierge services in order to eventually take care of passengers in the airline’s incredibly luxe The Residence by Etihad, the first of which will take flight in December on the Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow route.
  • The first of the airline’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will be delivered in December, initially operating between Abu Dhabi and Düsseldorf, and Abu Dhabi and Doha.
    Services to Brisbane, Mumbai, Moscow and Washington D.C. will follow in the first half of 2015.
  • Etihad’s fleet of B787 have undergone a facelift, with the new First Suite boasting a private sanctuary with chilled mini-bar and five-star cuisine prepared on board by world-class chefs; the Business Studio now offering larger seats that convert to a fully flat, pneumatically adjustable bed; and industry-first Smart Seats in economy will provide unparalleled comfort with a new ‘fixed wing’ headrest that maximises comfort and enhances the sleep experience.
    There will also be the latest Panasonic eX3 entertainment system, providing more than 750 hours of on-demand entertainment, improved gaming and high-definition screens in all cabins.
  • The airline has bumped up the luxe with the opening of a new Arrivals Lounge in Abu Dhabi for the exclusive use of its first and business class passengers, who can now freshen up before leaving the airport, have their suits and dresses steamed by housekeeping and get a complimentary refreshing wet shave by a fully qualified barber.
    There’s also a dedicated relaxation area, business facilities and complimentary broadband and wireless internet connections.
  • Etihad will introduce a bunch of new routes in the first half of 2015: Kolkata in February, Madrid in March, Entebbe in May, and Edinburgh, Hong Kong and Algiers in June.


  • Qantas Frequent Flyer’s has introduced a heap of new perks for members of its elite Platinum One program including Platinum membership for your spouse or de facto partner, double points earned with Qantas Restaurants, a bonus 75,000 Qantas Points when you reach 5000 Status Credits in a membership year flying with Qantas and Jetstar, and a further 100,000 Qantas Points when you reach 7000 Status Credits in a membership year.
    Points can be redeemed for flight upgrades, transfers to family members, flight and hotel bookings, wine from Qantas epiQure, or to buy gift vouchers.
  • The airline will operate six direct return services between Sydney and Vancouver from 3–22 January to cater for demand during the peak of the North American winter holiday season.
  • The big news from Qantas is that you can now fly the world’s largest passenger aircraft on the world’s longest route (nearly 16 hours), with non-stop A380 services between Sydney and Dallas/Fort Worth six times per week (every day except Tuesdays).
  • Qantas and its oneworld partners Cathay Pacific and British Airways have a brand new business lounge at Los Angeles International Airport, with a cosy communal fireplace and a stunning central glass atrium.
    Final touches will be completed in early 2015.

Cathay Pacific

  • Cathay Pacific’s The Pier First Class lounge is set to reopen in June 2015 with a whole new look. Reflecting the look of The Bridge Lounge, The Pier will take the whole residential concept to new heights.
    With the feel of a sophisticated apartment, the space will be divided into rooms, each with a specific theme and atmosphere.
    Details are top secret but we hear there will be a bar, a ‘Haven’ dining area with a full à la carte menu, and music curated for different rooms.
  • The airline will launch a new four-times-weekly non-stop service from Hong Kong to Boston, Massachusetts, from 2 May next year, providing the first direct link between New England and Hong Kong.
  • There will be 580 extra seats a week from Sydney to Hong Kong from December, with 1370 seats a week by early next year with the replacement of an Airbus 330-300 with a Boeing 777-300ER three times a week from December and daily from February.
  • Cathay Pacific Airways is proudly wearing the World’s Best Airline badge after the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards gave it the top gong based on a survey of 18.85 million airline passengers from around the world voting for their favourite travel experiences between August 2013 and May 2014.


  • Emirates has added the German city of Frankfurt to its roster of A380 destinations with the Frankfurt to Dubai route.
  • The airline is growing its services to and from the Italian fashion capital of Milan with the upgrade of one of its daily Boeing 777-300 services to an A380 from 1 December, and is perfectly timed to make the most of Milan Expo 2015 (Dubai is set to host the expo in 2020).
  • Texas is very popular these days, with Emirates recently commencing its own A380 service from Dubai to Dallas/Fort Worth.


  • The budget carrier’s first 787-9 Dreamliner is set for delivery in December, with its inaugural flight in January 2015.

Singapore Airlines

  • Business class customers can now indulge the exquisite taste of the Prelude ‘Grands Crus’ from Taittinger, selected by the airlines wine panel, which now includes wine identity Oz Clarke.
  • The airline has extended the Changi Transit Programme until 31 March 2015, offering transiting Singapore Airlines and SilkAir customers $40 (SGD) worth of Changi Dollar Vouchers per adult and child ticket for use at over 450 retail, food and service outlets at the airport.
  • The airline is set to launch its premium economy on the 777-300ER from the second half of 2015, followed by the A380s and A350s.

Air New Zealand

  •  Air New Zealand’s 787-9 Dreamliner is flying high with its daily direct Perth to Auckland service.


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This article appeared in issue 14


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