This Flight From Melbourne Could see you Ringing in the New Year in Antarctica

Antartica Flights
Antartica Flights

The unique New Year’s Eve Antarctica Flight from Melbourne still has limited seats available from $1,199 per person

Those looking for a memorable way to welcome the new decade this New Year’s Eve should look no further than Antarctica Flights. Departing from Melbourne mid-afternoon, the return chartered Qantas flight positions guests over the icy continent right in time to ring in the New Year. Passengers will bear witness to glaciers, icebergs and lunar landscapes as the sound of a four-piece jazz band plays live in the cabin. 

And with up to 19 weather dependent routes with up to four hours viewing time over the ice, no two flights are the same. Paired with Qantas’ full international flight service, commentary from the cockpit and Antarctica experts hosting the flight, the plane descends to as low as 10,000 ft and swoops in figure-8 patterns to maximise viewing opportunities of research bases, mountainous peaks and colossal icebergs below.

Better yet, no passport or luggage are required. You can even go in your board shorts, if that’s your thing.

Limited seats also available on the 16 February 2020 flight from Melbourne.

Aman Takes to the Skies With Private Jet Debut

Aman Private Jet Exterior
Aman Private Jet Exterior

The new private jet is available for charter to elevate existing multi-destination Aman journeys, to create bespoke itineraries incorporating several Aman destinations around the world or for use between non-Aman destinations

Aman Resorts is the latest hotel group to take to the skies, with the recent launch of the Aman Private Jet – an airborne extension of the Aman resort philosophy.

One of the world’s most luxurious and spacious personal aircrafts, Aman’s new Bombardier Global 5000 seats a maximum of 12 passengers and promises one of the smoothest rides in the private skies, reaching top speeds of 923 kilometres per hour. Available for charter to elevate existing multi-destination Aman journeys, to create bespoke itineraries incorporating several Aman destinations around the world or for use between non-Aman destinations, journeys can be tailored to the needs of its guests.

As you would expect of a private jet charter, each booking is fully customisable and every itinerary flexible, with an Aman Jet Concierge on-hand to plan every detail of the guests’ travels. Guests can choose their in-flight meals ahead of their journey and have access to their luggage throughout their flight as well as constant, high-speed WiFi connectivity. Other unique Aman touches include a tea ceremony and amenities from the brand’s all-natural range of Aman Skincare products.

To celebrate the launch of the jet, Aman has curated four new journeys incorporating multiple Aman properties, that explore some of the world’s most beguiling destinations.

Bali & Beyond offers passengers the chance to build a bespoke Indonesian itinerary encompassing up to five Aman destinations. These include Aman’s trio of Balinese retreats – Amandari, Amankila and the Aman Villas at Nusa Dua – as well as Amanjiwo overlooking Borobudur in Central Java’s spiritual heartland. Unique tented camp Amanwana, on the island of Moyo in the Flores Sea, is also included, offering an unparalleled opportunity to experience the cultural, spiritual and natural diversity of the world’s largest archipelago.

From the rural peace of Hangzhou’s West Lake and the thousand-year old history of Lijiang to the 21st century dynamism of Shanghai, The Secrets of China journey combines stays at Amanfayun, Amandayan and Amanyangyun to create a personalised private jet tour of the country’s hidden wonders – both ancient and modern.

Indochina Past & Present takes in the ancient culture and scenery of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam with Amantaka, Amansara and Amanoi worthy places to rest your head in between flying.

From the Himalayas to the Sea combines a Bhutanese spiritual escape with a Phuket beach break, incorporating a minimum seven-night journey through Amankora’s five lodges and a three night stay at Amanpuri in a consecutive journey. Guests can enjoy traditional Bhutanese blessings and culture, followed by secluded beach views.

As well as all flights, private transfers and accommodation at Aman properties, each of these journeys includes private tours of key cultural sites plus a host of exclusive privileges at each resort. These range from personalised spa treatments and traditional blessing ceremonies, to unique culinary and cultural experiences.

The Non-Stop New York to Sydney Flight Could be Closer Than you Think

Qantas crew arriving in Sydney
Qantas crew arriving in Sydney

 The proposed New York to Sydney non-stop flight will take around 19-and-a-half hours, shaving almost three hours off the current New York-LA-Sydney route

Flying to direct to The Big Apple could be closer than you think, with the world’s first New York to Sydney non-stop commercial flight having taken place last week. The Qantas flight, which took 19 hours and 16 minutes, is one of three ultra long-haul research flights the Australian airline announced in August would take place this year as part of Project Sunrise – a goal to operate regular, non-stop commercial flights from the east coast of Australia to London and New York. The direct flight will shave nearly three hours off the existing New York to Sydney via Los Angeles flight.

“Flying non-stop from the East Coast of Australia to London and New York is truly the final frontier in aviation, so we’re determined to do all the groundwork to get this right,” said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce in August on announcing the research flights.

A total of 49 passengers and crew were on the New York to Sydney flight, with a series of experiments assessing inflight passenger and crew health and wellbeing taking place throughout the journey. Tests ranged from monitoring pilot brain waves, melatonin levels and alertness, through to exercise classes for passengers. Cabin lighting and in-flight meals were also adjusted in ways that are expected to help reduce jetlag, according to the medical researchers and scientists who have partnered with Qantas. While night flights usually start with dinner before it’s ‘lights out’, for the New York to Qantas flight the passengers were served lunch and the cabin lights were kept on for the first six hours, to match the time of day at the destination.

The findings from the research flight will be used help shape the cabin design, inflight service and crew roster patterns for Qantas’ ultra long haul flights in the future.

The direct flight marks a significant milestone for commercial aviation, wihch wasn’t lost on aviation staff in both New York and Sydney, according to Qantas Captain Sean Golding, who led the four pilots operating the service. “We had a lot of interest from air traffic controllers as we crossed through different airspace because of the uniqueness of this flight. We also had a special sign off and welcome home from the control towers in New York and Sydney, which you don’t get every day.

“Overall, we’re really happy with how the flight went and it’s great have some of the data we need to help assess turning this into a regular service,” Golding added.

Two more research flights are planned as part of the Project Sunrise evaluations – London to Sydney in November and another New York to Sydney in December, with emissions from all research flights to be fully offset. When the airline conducts its research flight from London to Sydney, it will be only the second time a commercial airline has done so.

A decision on Project Sunrise is expected by the end of the year.

Fast Facts

  • QF 7879 non-stop flight from New York to Sydney will take around 19-and-a-half hours subject to wind and weather conditions on the day. This compares to a travel time of 22 hours and 20 minutes on the current New York to Sydney via Los Angeles flight.
  • Distance between New York and Sydney is 16,200 kilometres.
  • The flight will be operated by a brand new Boeing 787-9, registration VH ZNI, named “Kookaburra”
  • Months of flight planning have gone in to determining the optimum flight path, including running daily plans to establish wind and weather patterns
  • Four pilots will be on rotation throughout the flight. Two additional pilots will be in the cabin, having flown the aircraft to New York.
  • Nearly half of the aircraft weight on take-off is fuel. The other is aircraft, passengers and bags.
  • Flight will travel at 85% the speed of sound which is around 930 kilometres an hour.
  • Cruising altitude will start at 36,000 feet for the first few hours and then as the aircraft weight reduces with fuel burn, the cruising altitude will increase to 40,000 feet.
  • Pantry galley weight will be 1,500kg’s (food, trolleys etc.)
  • Findings on crew wellbeing will be shared with the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority to help inform regulatory requirements associated with ultra-long-haul flights over 20 hours.

Affordable Private Jet Platform Lands in Australia


InstaJetz works with an approved network of premium aircraft operators and allows customers to compare available empty leg flights and choose the most cost-effective solutions for their trip

Private jet travel may no longer be out of reach for most of us, with the launch of InstaJetz, a new private jet and helicopter booking platform. On a mission to make luxury jet-setting more affordable and accessible for Australians, the Australian travel company offers flights to any city across the country, all of which can be instantly arranged through the InstaJetz platform. The service takes advantage of empty leg flights – the return portion of a one-way private charter flight, where the aircraft needs to reposition itself for its next customer, or to return to its home base – and operators are often happy to offer lower prices to fill the otherwise empty aircraft (and recoup costs).

InstaJetz works with an approved network of premium aircraft operators and allows customers to compare available empty leg flights and choose the most cost-effective solutions for their trip. Within a few clicks, customers can request when and where they want to fly, receive their quote, confirm and take off. Just to add to the exclusive experience, the InstaJetz team is available 24/7 to assist with anything passengers might need.

What to Expect From Qantas’ Upgraded A380s

Qantas A380 First
Qantas A380 First

The reconfigured A380 features a dedicated Premium Economy cabin with more seats, new Business Class seats and a redesigned, luxurious upper deck lounge

The first of Qantas’ upgraded A380s has completed its inaugural flight, delivering a new level of comfort for customers travelling on the national carrier’s largest aircraft.

The multimillion-dollar upgrade of 12 aircrafts includes new seating across expanded Business and Premium Economy cabins and a refresh of the aircraft’s First and Economy seating. The on-board lounge has also been redesigned. The upgrade comes at the same time as Singapore Air’s roll-out of their upgraded A380 aircrafts, which began last year.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the mid-life upgrade of the A380 would ensure its status as one of the most popular aircrafts with customers. “The A380 is a crucial part of our long-haul fleet and this upgrade program will see customers enjoy everything the aircraft has to offer for years to come,” he said, adding the upgrade would benefit customers in every cabin. “Australians are used to flying long haul and we know it’s important to make the journey comfortable.”

“By the end of this upgrade, we’ll have next-generation seating across our entire long-haul fleet of A380s, A330s and 787s,” said Joyce.

Designed by David Caon, the refitted Qantas cabins see a smarter use of space, with an all-premium-class upper deck (comprising Business and Premium Economy). “Working with Airbus, we’ve been able to use the cabin space more efficiently and improve the economics of the aircraft while also providing a better experience in every part of the aircraft,” Joyce said.

Qantas’ new A380 also features a larger, dedicated Premium Economy cabin including a self-service bar, with 25 additional Premium Economy seats installed, in response to increased demand for premium seating on long-haul routes. The Premium Economy capacity now reaches 60, shaving 30 seats off the Economy cabin.

The Qantas Business Suite, dubbed “mini First” by the airline’s frequent flyers, replaces the previous Skybeds, in a 1:2:1 configuration that now gives aisle access and greater privacy to every Business Class passenger. The total number of Business Suites has also increased by six to 70.

The expanded on-board upper deck lounge, now with seating for up to 10 Business and First passengers, showcases deep green leather couches and wood panelled walls. Passengers can order from a custom-designed menu of snacks and light meals created by Qantas chef Neil Perry and his Rockpool team – such as dry laska goreng with fishcakes and seared prawns and mushroom arancini in a tomato ragu – to be enjoyed in the upper deck lounge. The lounge also features a new self service bar where passengers can order signature cocktails including an Australian Negroni with mountain pepper and river mint as well as the Qantas signature gin and tonic with pink grapefruit.

As for ‘big’ First, the 14 First Class Suites have been upgraded and now offer contoured cushioning, seat finishes and a larger, higher resolution entertainment screen. First guests can also expect a redesigned Martin Grant ‘sleeper suit’, introduced from November, along with new amenity kits including socks made from bamboo cotton and skincare from Australian brand, LaGaia Unedited. The range incorporates a Qantas-signature Australian native scent of lemon myrtle and geranium in a refreshing facial mist, accompanied by a moisturiser and lip balm. From late November, LaGaia Unedited will also move into Qantas’ Sydney and Melbourne First Lounge spa facilities.

The Economy cabin, while not receiving contoured seats or pyjama sets, has a new colour palette and improved inflight entertainment.

With each aircraft taking approximately eight weeks to upgrade, two further A380 aircrafts are expected to undergo refurbishment before the end of 2019, with the remaining nine to be completed by the end of 2020.

Rolls-Royce Develops World’s Fastest All-Electric Aircraft

Rolls Royce all-electric aircraft illustration

The zero-emissions aircraft will reach a speed of more than 480 kilometres per hour

There’s a lot going on in aviation right now, with news that four-hour flights from London to Sydney could exist by the 2030s. But another aviation milestone could occur as soon as next year, with a team of British engineers, designers, and data specialists recruited from Rolls-Royce and beyond on a mission to put a high-performance, electric plane in the air in 2020. If successful, the company’s zero-emissions aircraft will make history as the fastest ever all-electric aircraft, reaching a speed of more than 480 kilometres per hour. The current record for an all-electric plane, set by Siemens in 2017, is 338 kph.

The initiative, called ACCEL – ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight’ – is part of Rolls-Royce’s strategy to champion electrification in aviation, and is partly funded by the UK government in partnership with electric motor and controller manufacturer YASA and the aviation start-up Electroflight.

According to Rolls-Royce, the team developing and designing the e-racer comprises some of the top minds from the world of Formula E racing. To reach their goal, the team will need to build an immense battery that’s powerful enough to beat a series of speed and performance records, light enough to fly, and stable enough not to overheat. ACCEL already has the most energy-dense battery pack ever assembled for an aircraft, providing enough power to fly 200 miles (London to Paris) on a single charge. “This plane will be powered by a state-of-the-art electrical system and the most powerful battery ever built for flight,” stated ACCEL Project Manager for Rolls-Royce, Matheu Parr. “In the year ahead, we’re going to demonstrate its abilities in demanding test environments before going for gold in 2020 from a landing strip on the Welsh coastline. 

 “We’re monitoring more than 20,000 data points per second, measuring battery voltage, temperature, and overall health of the powertrain, which is responsible for powering the propellers and generating thrust. We’ve already drawn a series of insights from the unique design and integration challenges,” Parr added. “And we’re gaining the know how to not only pioneer the field of electric-powered, zero-emissions aviation – but to lead it. At this point, our confidence is sky high.”

This latest initiative comes two years after Rolls-Royce announced it would explore hybrid-electric propulsion – using a gas turbine engine as a generator to power an electric fan – for regional commercial aircraft through the E-Fan X demonstrator programme with Airbus and Siemens. Rolls-Royce also previously showcased a hybrid electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) vehicle concept, which could be adapted for personal transport, public transport, logistics and even military applications and take to the skies as soon as the early 2020s.

World’s Best Independent Airport Lounge Revealed

Plaza Premium Lounge London
Plaza Premium Lounge London

Plaza Premium Lounge has claimed the top prize at the Skytrax World Airline Awards

Plaza Premium Lounge at London Heathrow Airport T2 has been voted “World’s Best Independent Airport Lounge” at the 2019 World Airline Awards. This is the fourth consecutive time the airport lounge brand has achieved a first-place ranking, with the Plaza Premium Lounge in Brisbane additionally placing in the top 10.

“It is such a pleasure for Plaza Premium Lounge to once again be named as ‘World’s Best Independent Airport Lounge,’ not to mention our deepest gratitude for millions of global travellers and our dedicated team around the world that strives to make travel better every day,” said Song Hoi-see, Founder and CEO of Plaza Premium Group. “As the world leader in airport hospitality, we are committed to continuously enhancing our experience to alleviate the pain points of travellers.”

Closer to home, the Brisbane branch is known for prioritising wellness in its travellers’ airport experience with private spa and wellness facilities, as well as showers with customised amenities. Guests can expect to board feeling fresh and relaxed.

“In the past year, we have put in much efforts in upgrading our service quality and adding new features – from zone planning, ambient design, furniture selection, food and beverage offerings to facilities that cater to different travel types. Our goal remains unchanged, that is to create a journey to make travel better for all travellers,” Hoi-see says.

In the past year, Plaza Premium Lounges have opened in Sihanoukville, Cambodia; Ahmedabad, India; Rome, Italy; Cebu, Philippines; Langkawi, Malaysia and Helsinki, Finland. The award-winning company now has a global network of more than 160 locations in over 44 international airports, across 22 countries and regions and serving 15 million travellers every year.

Commonly deemed the “Oscars of the aviation industry,” the prestigious Skytrax’s World Airline Awards are determined through the largest global annual airline customer satisfaction survey and receive millions of responses from air passengers around the world.  The survey and the award selection are independent and free of any airline influence or interference.

Flight Review: Vietnam Airlines’ Business Class

Route: Sydney to Ho Chi Minh | Seat: 3A | Flight Time: 8 hours 25 minutes

The Cabin

The Dreamliner is my favourite way to get from A to B. It feels open and spacious with large windows and great lighting, and somehow the air seems fresher. Business Class seats 28 passengers with a 1-2-1, reverse-herringbone seat configuration, giving everyone direct access to the aisle.


The Seat

I was in seat 3A, a window seat that is far enough away from the galley and toilet to ensure you are not disturbed during the flight by noise or lights. Seats are comfortable enough and convert to a fully flat bed. I slept well, although a mattress topper would be a lovely bonus. The armrest can be raised for added privacy. There are two designated storage compartments as well as space under the leg rest, a dimmable reading light, and convenient power points and USB charging.


The Food

Orders are taken before we are airborne, unfortunately both my first choice for entrée and main are unavailable. Considering the cabin is only about a quarter full, and I am in the third row, this is surprising. My second choice is pretty good, though: smoked salmon confit with crème fraîche dashi cream, olive tapenade and nori powder followed by lamb backstrap served with potato chestnut puree and roasted parsnips. The flight attendants come through the aisles with a choice of bread and after the meal they offer cheese, fruit, pastries and pistachio ice cream with chocolate sauce.


The Service

The flight attendants are polite, courteous and efficient. While they are not chatty or outgoing, the service is prompt and I am given a cool towel and offered a drink within minutes of taking a seat. Menus and newspapers are distributed, with more reading material available at the front of the cabin.



Each seat has a 15.4” HD screen, which has both touch screen and hand held remote available. Headphones are provided, though I find my own more comfortable. There are several new releases on offer and some interesting documentaries, especially those showcasing Vietnam culture and destinations.


The Highs

Lighting was good, especially as I was in a window seat. There were very few announcements or disruptions. I put my Do Not Disturb sticker on and was not bothered at all. I like the designated business class mini bus to and from the aircraft. It means not having to wait for everyone to unload and squeeze in like sardines on the big bus.


The Fine Print

Baggage:30kg checked baggage plus two carry-on items

Tip: If possible, get your visa before travelling to Vietnam. While it’s possible to get a visa on arrival, the immigration lines in Ho Chi Minh can be very long.

Singapore Air Teams Up With COMO Shambhala on New Wellness Menu

Como Shambhala Estate, Ubud, Bali
Como Shambhala Estate, Ubud, Bali

The partnership will see COMO Shambahala’s wellness-focused cuisine introduced on certain Singapore Air flights

Singapore Airlines and Singapore-based wellness brand COMO Shambhala have announced a partnership that will see COMO Shambhala’s award-winning wellness cuisine introduced on selected Singapore Airlines flights departing from Singapore.

The co-developed wellness dishes are set to be introduced progressively in the second half of the year through SIA’s Book the Cook Service. A new wellness menu featuring specially curated dishes will follow afterwards.

Founded in 2002 by COMO Shambhala owner Christina Ong, COMO Shambhala cuisine is a specially developed culinary system with specific nutritional purposes meant to help boost concentration, energy and balance blood sugar levels. In-flight meals will be prepared with seasonal and sustainable ingredients, with every meal having its own unique nutrition profile.

Singapore Airlines Senior Vice President of Customer Experience Yeoh Phee Teik said that the partnership with COMO Shambhala shows Singapore Airlines’ commitment to the continuous enhancement of the airline’s customer’s experience: “We are proud to be announcing this partnership as it reaffirms our dedication to the holistic wellbeing of our customers,” he said.

Future collaboration between Singapore Airlines and COMO Shambhala will potentially extend to onboard amenities, in-flight entertainment and further content relating to health and wellness.

“It’s an exciting moment for the COMO Group,” Olivier Jolivet, CEO of the COMO Group stated, “as this collaboration marks the coming together of the world’s most awarded airline and COMO’s passion for holistic wellness and nutritious cuisine that has been at the heart of our brand offering since the beginning of COMO Shambhala and COMO Hotels and Resorts.”

Founded in 2000, COMO Shambhala resorts practise a 360-degree approach to wellness that aims to improve physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing for every individual. Health-giving cuisine, exercise including Pilates and yoga, massage and bodywork, treatments, ancient healing therapies and intuitive counselling are delivered in a nurturing environment by COMO Shambhala’s expert therapists from across the globe.

COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali is the brand’s flagship resort, but the brand’s ethos can be accessed at all COMO’s properties around the world, which are located in the Turks and Caicos, Thailand and Bhutan, with city-based COMO Shambhala Urban Escapes located in Miami, Bangkok, Singapore and London.

British Airways to Launch New and Improved First Class

British Airways First Class

The improvements to First Class will include a new line of amenities and a stronger customer experience

In celebration of its centenary year British Airways is investing 12.2 billion AUD into improvements for First Class customers, incorporating new bedding, luxe amenities and updated menus.

From 31st March First Class passengers will experience new male and female lounge wear designed by Temperley London and amenities bags designed by Ultra Smart Pro-Collagen will be provided to guest. Inside, female passengers will find Cleansing Micellar Ffacial Wipes, Soothing Apricot Facial Wipes, Pro-Collagen Rose Mist, Ultra Smart Pro-Collagen Mmatrix Moisturiser, Ultra Smart Pro-Collagen Eye Cream, Hydra-Nourish Lip Balm, Sea Lavender and Samphire Hand Cream and Fortitude Deodorant. For the gents, Ultra Smart Pro-Collagen Eye Cream, Ultra Smart Pro-Collagen Matrix Moisturiser, Cleansing Micellar Facial Wipes, Skin Soothe Shave Gel, Fortitude Deodorant and Hydra-Nourish Lip Balm will be on offer.

All First Class guests can enjoy updated menu options using fresh seasonal ingredients and an all new a-la-carte menu as well as a traditional British high tea along with a selection of sandwiches, pastries and scones and tea infusions. All meals will be served on new bone china crockery designed by British tableware William Edwards, while drinks will now include fine wines and champagnes, soft drinks and various other spirits, served in Dartington glassware.

The airline has also upped the ante on its rest and relaxation time with an improved turndown service with new 400 thread count bedding, foam fibre mattress toppers and new blanket and bolster cushions. Guest can also now choose from over 1,000 hours of programs available on inflight entertainment channels with the added boost of high resolution audio and high performance headphones.

British airways will be investing 6.5 billion GBP over the next five years into new aircraft, new cabins, catering, new lounges, WiFi and new flight paths.