Well it is the end of the year, so its time for awards, and summaries, and trend reporting.
Here is a summary of what we here at 2PAXFly.com think are the lessons learned this year and emerging trends for those who travel together:
- Don't Bullshit Me!
We have learnt the hard way that each time Qantas 'improves' its Frequent Flyer scheme, we get less for our points, and have less opportunity to spend them where we want to, in the way we want to - and that's overwhelmingly on flights and upgrades.
- Give it to me Baby!
The recent improvements to the Virgin Australia's Velocity Rewards program were actually improvements. First they matched my status, then they allow me to pool my status points amongst 'family', earn and burn them on Singapore Airlines and give me a free taste of their lounges. (I like the new ones in Brisbane and Melbourne, but hate the fraying-at-the-edges Sydney one). To top it off I had the best Business Class experience with them on my way to and from LA this year. They are the one to watch.
- Why can't I have Free WiFi?
The move away from the $27 or more per-day charge in 5 star hotels for internet access seems to be gaining momentum. Hotels - it should come with the room at no extra cost like the linen does! Even Airlines are getting into this act - although not necessarily for free. Every major airline is experimenting or is about to experiment with wifi on planes. It won't be soon enough for me.
- Why use your crappy seat-back screen, when movies look better on my iPad?
Related to the above - now with many passengers taking on-board their own laptop or tablet, the on-board entertainment system of most airlines seems to have come out of last millennium - and in most cases it has. Lufthansa, Qantas, Jetstar and others are all experimenting with on board wifi, and handheld tablets - 'bring it on' I say.
- We don't forgive and we don't forget
When airlines 'done us wrong' we are slow to forget or forgive. Qantas's suspension of flights this year, and Tiger's failure to meet safety standards and consequent suspension will stay in the memories of most travellers. While sometimes price conquers all - reputation damage does linger. I would have only flown Tiger if there was no other option before - but now I think I would prefer to catch the train. While very much a loyal Qantas fan - the experience (and price) over the last few years has driven me away, and getting me back is going to take a lot of wooing.
- Cuba Baby!
Go soon, go now, have fun! While we applaud Obama relaxing the travel and trade restrictions on their hot sassy neighbour, you need to go soon before all the bad things about the USA come to wreck it. One of the most enchanting, hot, sexy, glass half full kind of places I have ever visited. The poverty is challenging, but the warmth of the people, the music and the decaying colonial architecture and the rum are sooo seductive. Go before all of that is gone. (watch the development of our new website www.2paxCuba.com as it develops over the next month or two)