web Musings of The Global Traveller

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Possible EU aviation security changes

A few changes are being considered by EU parliament.

  1. Carry on size restrictions which were due to come into effect 6 May have been delayed to 2008 (source EurActiv).
  2. Calls to harmonise rules, especially between EU and US (source oceanfm). See my entry on recent experiences for examples of how the supposedly similar security rules are actually different in terms and/or interpretation.
  3. Sky marshalls have been approved effective end 2007 (source EUobserver). Terms yet to be determined.
  4. With the six month limit on the liquids restriction regulation approaching, Commissioner Jacques Barrot states (through spokesman) that the continuation will be in place and that "no modifications are expected" (source Avionews). This is disappointing as some recent comments made by various Members of European Parliament (MEPs) said the rules would be changed to provide for the restrictions only at times of especially heightened security needs, not on a continuous basis.

Unintended stow away

In this age of supposedly high security alert it is amazing (but sadly not too surprising) to have this happen - a baggage handler got locked in the hold and had to phone for help when the aircraft began taxiing. BBC news story.

My recent experiences with liquids carry on rules

I've blogged a few times on the evolving liquids in carry on rules, most recently here.

I've recently flown through some 15 countries so thought it may be useful to some to show how apparently similar rules can be widely interpreted. Before the trip I found quality information on the rules hard to find (for some countries) - with various official and airline websites having contradictory rules.

Australia - same rule as USA (100ml liquids and gels within clear sealable zip plastic bag no more than 1 litre). Applies on both arriving and departing international flights. Domestic flights are exempt but not if they use the international terminals as some do - check with your airline. Duty free liquids are allowed but only in sealed bags from the departing or most previous airport if in transit, purchased same day as the flight, and with receipt clearly visible.

EU excluding UK - same rule as USA except only on departure and EU-wide duty free liquids are okay (ie not just from the departing airport).

New Zealand - same rule as USA but only applies to departing international flights. Domestic flights are exempt but not if they use the international terminals as some do - check with your airline.

Pakistan - no liquids at all. Gels are okay.

Philippines - no liquids at all, but at transit security they didn't care (NB I wasn't carrying any duty free liquids or water bottles).

Russia - liquids and gels are okay. No sprays allowed.

Singapore - same rule as USA but only applies to departing flights.

Sri Lanka - same rule as USA? (Sorry I wasn't fully awake going through security here.)

United Kingdom - same as EU but also only 1 carry on, no personal items except for coat.

USA - same rule as Australia except applies for all flights (domestic and international).

Vietnam - unclear. I left my baggie inside my carry on.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Networks, hubs and global flight paths trivia

Thanks to a blog post by John MacIlree on the global air transport network (more specifically this research report by Guimera, Mossa, Turtschi and Amaral) I now have some more travel trivia.

There are approx 4,000 places with airports (multiple airports in a city count as one) served by major airlines. I've flown to or from just a few % of these.

In the week of schedule data studied (back in 2000), there were approx 27,000 nonstop flight routes. I've flown widely but only just over 1% of these.

The average number of flights needed between any two places is 4.4. This seems about right. When I travel to the other side of the world I generally need 2 or 3 flights to get there, using most direct routing. I'm starting from a global hub and mostly ending up at a global or regional hub.

The most number of flights to get between two places using the most direct route is 15 - between Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands and Wasu in Papua New Guinea. My record (using the shortest possible route, not necessarily the one actually flown) is a paltry 4, three times. If en route stopovers are ignored my record becomes 5, twice. For me each of these cases were departing from a global hub.

Its interesting to see the distinction between well connected airports and central airports. Read the report to see why and examples.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Qantas changes - good and bad news

The latest Qantas Frequent Flyer newsletter has good news for Qantas passengers.

Domestic business passengers can now use the Qantas Clubs even if they have no status. This brings Qantas into line with all major airlines other than US-based ones and removes the irritation of infrequent passengers spending $1000 or more being penny pinched by denying lounge access.

I omitted to report last month's bad news for Qantas elite status members. It seems Qantas intends enforcing the existing rule requiring 4 Qantas or Jetstar flights per year to (re)qualify for status. Speculation on Flyer Talk is that this may be directed at US-based members who credit their American Airlines flights to Qantas to get status and thus access to Admirals Clubs and Flagship Lounges - something not available to AAdvantage elite members.

All the One World frequent flyer programs have this rule but until now only British Airways enforced it. Earlier, American Airlines made a step in this direction by requiring challenges for gold and platinum status to be done only on AA flight numbers. (What is a challenge you may ask? I'll explain more in a blog entry soon - but the short answer is a short cut to elite status.)

Looking up awards flying on Qantas (and other airlines)

Reader Winnie asks if there is an easier way to find award seats on Qantas than calling AAdvantage every few days to check.

The good news is there is a way to check for yourself online. I previously blogged about this, but it was hidden with a non-helpful blog title. So here is the advice again for Winnie and everyone else.

Here is a selection of tools that can help the savvy flyer pick up award and paid availability (note an understanding of what booking codes mean and how they work is needed - watch for a later post on this).

  • for One World FFPs, sign up to Qantas Frequent Flyer and use the online award search - no mileage is needed in your account (warning less than half of all one world destinations are included in the search engine, although the most common ones are all there)
  • for Star Alliance (*A) FFPs, sign up to Air Canada Aeroplan or ANA Mileage Club and use the online award search - no mileage is needed in your account (warning United Mileage Plus in particular has much reduced availability compared with other *A FFPs)
  • I am not sure if Sky Team FFPs have a similar lookup - if a reader knows please contact me using the link
  • for paid bookings check out Expert Flyer (can also find awards on Qantas and fare listings plus rules), or Seat Counter (can also find awards on United and Northwest - expect more to be added), or T & T (set up a profile with expert mode switched on or use login "flyertalk" and password "tandt"), or Availability Public Backup.

No one system is perfect however with practice in interpreting these tools do give a good guide as to whether that award or paid fare you are looking for is available.

I'll post some explanation of booking codes soon.

I'm back

Apologies for the lack of recent blog entries. I've been busy travelling around the world (some 15 countries this time), and while I had the best of intentions to blog every few days I was too busy enjoying the trip to do so. Forgive me, but I prefer to be out doing stuff than wasting time sitting in an internet cafe. In some airports the internet speed was terribly slow - reminding me how much I take decent speed for granted.

I do, however, hope to make it up to you all - I now have some more ideas for blog entries.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Flying, flying and more flying

Apologies for the lack of recent posts. Not only have I had the usual pre holiday rush to get everything done before I go (which feels like it negates the value of a holiday), but I've also had a fair bit of short flights around the place. It's times like these I really do need that printout of my schedule. Uh its Thursday at 3pm, where am I off to now?

In the midst of all this I had one flight on a paper ticket - my first in ages. I had to double and triple check I brought it with me, for it has been so long since I've had a paper ticket.

I'm looking forward to the first of many longhaul flights where I can relax, unwind and catch up on a lot of sleep. I'll post when I can.