Home > Newstation E-Mail this page || Print this page

NewStation - (December 2002)

Free Health Checks At Changi Airport
Air travellers can now get their state of health assessed and receive medical counselling for free while waiting for their flights at Singapore Changi Airport. This free health check service, which allows air travellers to measure their blood pressure and body mass index, is jointly organised by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and the Raffles Medical Group. The free health check service is available Mondays to Fridays between 4pm and 7pm in the Departure/Transit lounge at Terminal 1. For air travellers who want a more detailed examination, they can opt for a package which comprises a blood glucose and cholesterol test at a subsidised fee. The results of the tests will be available within 30 minutes. In conjunction with the free health check, an exhibition area has also been set up to provide air travellers with health tips. The exhibition will display information on various health related topics, namely tips on leading a healthy lifestyle, in areas such as diabetes, heart disease and exercising in January 2003, and travel related health tips including jet lag, motion sickness and vaccination in December 2002. The free health check service will end on 18 January 2003.

BA Introduces ‘Penalty Cards’
British Airways passengers who are disruptive or abusive to ground staff will be issued with “football-style yellow cards”. Passengers who cause trouble at the airport will be warned to moderate their behaviour otherwise they could be banned from flying with the carrier or the police might be called. BA is the first airline to issue such warnings, as the number of “ground rage” incidents increase. The system is intended to stop the stressful situation escalating at 30,000 feet.

Europe-US Fares Could Fall
Transatlantic fares could decrease after the European Court of Justice ruled that “open skies” agreements between the US and eight European Union (EU) countries are illegal. Started four years ago, the case involves pacts between the US and eight European countries - Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, Sweden and the UK. At present, these countries restrict which carriers can operate transatlantic flights from certain airports within their borders. For example, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines and United Airlines are the only carriers able to operate services from London Heathrow to the US. Other carriers are forced to use less popular or regional airports or operate codeshares with airlines who are able to use the airport. However, American carriers are able to commence transatlantic flights from anywhere in the US. Without these restrictions, transatlantic services could be operated by more carriers, thus increasing competition and bringing down the price of tickets. The European Commission hopes to introduce a EU-wide accord on transatlantic flights.

Online Booking Cos To Test Auto E-Ticket Exchanges
A handful of corporate self-booking providers have said tests on self-service online e-ticket exchanges would commence no later than early next year. Such features have had limited presence in the marketplace despite clear demand from corporate users who change roughly 15 per cent to 20 per cent of their ticketed itineraries. Sabre’s GetThere subsidiary has announced plans to begin beta testing online refunds and exchanges in the first quarter of next year for “restricted or unrestricted tickets, on virtually any airline, for both domestic and international trips.” Worldspan, whose pioneering work on automated reissues and exchanges in the global distribution system recently helped enable both Northwest Airlines and Expedia to offer the feature on their websites, said its Trip Manager corporate booking tool would be equipped similarly in the next two months, with international itineraries included next year. Outtask said it would focus on such support during the first quarter of 2003, including a voice component. A spokesperson for Galileo said its Highwire division “considers it a priority.”

Restrictions On Pets’ Travel In UK To Be Lifted
Quarantine restrictions for cats and dogs travelling to Britain from the United States and Canada are to be lifted. The news will please various pet-owning celebrities who have pressed for the change, including the artist and dog-lover David Hockney who spends time in both California and London. The US president, George Bush, who likes to fly with his Scottish terrier, Barney, or his springer spaniel, Spot, could also benefit from the new law. The present restrictions have been in place for 100 years. The change will mean that cats and dogs, which now have to spend six months in quarantine when entering Britain from the US, will be allowed in directly if they are fitted with an owner’s microchip, and have been vaccinated and blood-tested to ensure they do not increase the risk of rabies in Britain.

US Fliers Mostly Positive On Federal Screeners
With federal employees handling security at US airports, travellers praised the efficiency of the new system but said they suspected there still would be problems. Bob Balzco of northwest Indiana, who was headed to Seattle from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, said terrorists could still get through security posts. “Look at El Al. A pen knife got on there. It’s supposed to be the most secure airline,” he said, referring to an incident on the Israeli airline. More than 47,000 airport security workers are now in place at 424 airports nationwide as part of the Federal Transportation Security Administration, replacing a private work force that was often criticised as inefficient, inattentive and poorly trained. Federal screeners have been phased in at various airports for the last few months. Sarah Marr, who was flying home to England from Boston’s Logan International Airport with her 2-year-old son, said the new system made her more comfortable but she doesn’t spend much time worrying about security. “I feel that everything is working very well,” she said.

Kenya Airways Upgrades In-Flight Services
Kenya Airways marked its 25 years of service with the launch of ‘Premier World', with added in-flight luxury services. The ‘Ultimate Comfort Zone’ features a new 180 degree recline flat bed, a prime attraction for business class passengers. Among the other features for an enhanced in-flight experience, the airline has incorporated in-seat laptop power adapters, complimentary stationery, and special KQ sales offices worldwide. The airline is also working on telephone check-in facilities in India. Commenting on the subject, Catherine Mwangi, Director, Communications Worldwide, Kenya Airways, said, " We recognise that among other things, we need to offer our passengers world class service that offers them an ambience that is closer to home." In an attempt to Indianisation, the airline had recruited Kenyans of Indian origin as part of its in-flight crew and also has plans to invite chefs from leading Indian hotels to design the in-flight menu. "We have also updated and diversified our in-flight entertainment programme and now have about 14 video channels and 10 audio channels. We are also working towards a five-star fine dining experience on board,” concluded Catherine Muigai Mwangi, Director Communications Worldwide, Kenya Airways.

Now, Airline Passengers Get Heads Examined!
Airline passengers in the United States, accustomed to having their bags, their pockets and even their shoes checked are now encountering state troopers trained to examine their heads. Logan International Airport in Boston has begun the nation’s first “behavioural recognition program,” in which police give what they describe as a “human lie detector test” to passengers with odd or suspicious behaviour. As they ask a series of basic questions, “We will be observing not only what is being said but how it’s being said, the body language, the words used, if they tend to be evasive or ambiguous,” state police Sgt. Peter DiDomenica said. The process takes only a few minutes if nothing seems out of place.
Phuket Hit By Travel Warnings
Thailand has said its popular resort island of Phuket had been hit by travel warnings by several Western countries after bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali killed more than 180 tourists. Sita Divali, chief spokesman for the Thai government, said Phuket hotel cancellations were on the rise. “These kinds of rumours and warnings have scared tourists away from Phuket,” Sita said, replying to questions about media reports that a foreign bank had warned its staff of possible terrorist threats to Bangkok in the November 17-21 period. Sita did not give details of tourist cancellations, but hoteliers in Phuket said hotel occupancy rates in October and early November had fallen because of the travel warnings.