Travelogue – A weekend in Jakarta March 29, 2013Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Travel.
Tags: Airlines, Boeing 777, Business Class, Emirates, Emirates Airline, Indonesia, Jakarta, Travel, Travelogue
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A visual travelogue from my weekend getaway to Jakarta, Indonesia in October 2012. This was my first trip on Emirates Airline since joining them. Enjoyed the journey on Business Class onboard the Emirates Boeing 777-300ER. Lovely flight, fantastic service. Jakarta is a very chilled out destination. Very green city. Extremely friendly people. The welcoming smiles begin at the Visa on Arrival counter. It is one of the most populous cities in the Far East and can be a bit overwhelming, however I was able to find my unique oasis of tranquility. I enjoyed a relaxing stay at Le Meridien, watched the rains from my window, did a bit of mall crawling and city hopping, and caught up on much-needed sleep, before jetting back to Dubai. I wouldn’t mind going back to Jakarta again. Bali as well, next time!
All pics clicked on iPhone 4s.
Seattle Ahoy on the Emirates Inaugural March 9, 2012Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Aviation, Travel, UAE.
Tags: avgeek, B777, Boeing, Dubai, Emirates, Inaugural Flight, Seattle, Water Cannon Salute
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So I lost control of my #avgeek senses and flew off to Seattle for a weekend on the inaugural Emirates flight out of Dubai.
I’ve always wanted to go to Seattle, visit Boeing and the Future of Flight Museum, catch up with #avgeek friends in the Puget Sound and most importantly, get on an inaugural flight and experience a water cannon salute. So I HAD to be on the inaugural EK229 on 1 March 2012 and tick off a couple of items on the bucket list.
Seattle is an amazing place and I don’t say that just because it is the home of Boeing. I will be back soon with more stories on Seattle but till then, enjoy these 2 videos!
Click here to read a travelogue of my trip featured on ArabianSupplyChain.com.
40 out of 40 for Oman Air September 2, 2010Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Airlines, Aviation, Branding, Marketing, Oman, Travel.
Tags: Airines, Aviation, National Day, Oman, Oman Air
Launches 40th destination ahead of 40th National Day of Oman.
Pic credit: Christophe Selzere, JetPhotos.Net
Congratulations to Oman Air, the national airline of the Sultanate of Oman, who launched Kathmandu, its 40th destination today. 2010 is of great significance for the Sultanate as it marks the 40th National Day of Oman (the birthday of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said is on 18 November). Every corporate in the country is involved in a marketing activity to do with the #40, so it is great to see Oman Air celebrate in a unique manner by launching their 40th route.
Oman Air commenced operations in 1993. It achieved modest growth as a privately owned regional player till 2007, when the Government of Oman pulled out of Gulf Air, designated Oman Air as national carrier, recapitalized it and focused on developing it as an international airline. In 2007, Oman Air went long-haul by launching Bangkok and London. From then on, there has been no looking backwards for Oman Air, with a penchant of doing business differently from its bigger cousins in the region.
Pic credit: Smit ZhiFei, JetPhotos.Net
2008 saw a slew of changes at Oman Air. In February 2008, Oman Air unveiled its new branding and aircraft livery as a part of its plans to go international. The characteristic Red, White and Green national colors and traditional Khanjar gave way to Turquoise Blue, Silver and Gold along with a Frankincense smoke plume in an effort to project Oman Air as the new wings of Oman and the ambassador of a nation known for its timeless traditions, vibrant heritage and legendary hospitality.
The year also saw the launch of new routes to the Indian Sub-Continent and the unveiling of a new fleet and long-haul route expansion program. In July 2008, industry veteran and former chief executive of Srilankan Airlines, Mr. Peter Hill took over as the new CEO of Oman Air following the untimely demise of CEO Ziad bin Karim Al Haremi, who played a stellar role in initiating the redevelopment and change of image of Oman Air.
2009 was truly a bellwether year for Oman Air. Under the leadership of Mr. Peter Hill and a revitalized management team, Oman Air went all out to dazzle the industry in a year of superlative achievements. The year witnessed in rapid succession the arrival of the first of Oman Air’s brand new A330s, the launch of Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Male and Colombo, the unveiling of new Balenciaga designed uniforms, the launch of industry-leading First, Business and Economy Class cabins on the A330 fleet. A $10 million destination marketing campaign in association with Ministry of Tourism saw both Oman and Oman Air make great inroads into European markets. During the 2009 Dubai Air Show, Oman Air finalized an order for 5 Embraer 175 aircraft with another 5 options.
In 2010, Oman Air became the first airline in the world to offer in-flight mobile and WiFi connectivity through OnAir onboard its long-haul Airbus A330 fleet. It is interesting to note that Oman Air covered impressive strides during a period when the airline industry was weathering a downturn.
Having made significant investments in infrastructure and improving its products and services over the last few years, the future looks robust for Oman Air. The airline has a strategic vision of differentiating itself from its regional competitors by being a niche boutique airline that is focused on driving point-to-point traffic rather than being a hub-and-spoke carrier.
The results of ‘Change is on its way’ and ‘Discover the future of air travel’ are promising. During the first half of 2010, Oman Air saw a 40% increase in available seat-kilometres, a 73% rise in revenue passenger-kilometres and a 14 point improvement in seat factor, over the same period last year with passenger numbers up by 46% and cargo by 44%.
Along with the ongoing development of Muscat International Airport, Oman Air is playing a key role in the development of 4 domestic airports coming up in Sohar, Ras Al Hadd, Adam and Duqm. In October 2010, Oman Air will launch Milan as its 41st route. The airline will take delivery of its 7th A330 in 2011along with the first of Embraer jets that will ply on domestic routes. Plans are on to refurbish the existing B737 fleet to the same standards as the luxurious A330 fleet. Oman Air will take delivery of its first B787 Dreamliner in 2014 (the airline will be acquiring them from ALAFCO). The first of 6 737s on order are expected to arrive in 2014 as well.
The fortunes of Oman Air will be tied to the successful joint promotion of Oman as a must-visit luxury destination by both Oman Air and Oman’s Ministry of Tourism (a point Mr. Hill emphasizes often to fill the birds), development of ancillary services related to hospitality, tourism, ground services etc., and a continual improvement of travel services in a region that offers unparalleled choice to the flying public and intense competition between regional legacy carriers such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways who are truly global in their reach and cut-throat Low Cost Carriers such as Flydubai and Air Arabia.
Mabrook, Oman Air. More power to your wings. Fly higher for Oman!
Tags: Airfares, Eid, Holidays, Muscat, Travel Deals
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The Eid holidays are upon us and there is very much a chance that those in Oman will get a week off from Thursday, 9th of September 2010 to Wednesday, 15th of September 2010(?).
If that happens, happy long week holidays to all you.
And just in case, if you are planning to fly out of town, here’s a quick look at airfares in Muscat.
Understandably, most of you must have already booked your tickets, especially to India. If not, you can use this guide to snap up the last remaining deals.
From my research, Bangkok looks like the cheapest value long-haul destination to fly to. And towards India, Air India Express continues its reign as the best great value airline to fly to that part of the world. Flying out on Thursday, Wednesday, 15th of September 2010 will prove to be more expensive that any other day, as most people would want to start their holiday at the break of the weekend. If you can fly out on Friday, 10th of September or Saturday, 11th of September, you can save a couple of Rials. Lastly, flying on a low-cost airline such as Flydubai, Air India Express or Air Arabia can get you a better value than a full-service airline. And it goes without saying that the fares will rise as we get closer to Eid.
These airfares apply on a single adult, return journey from Muscat and are inclusive of all taxes and surcharges. They are valid as of 26 August 2010, 1pm – Oman time.
Journey dates: outbound – Thursday, 9th of September 2010 and inbound – Wednesday, 15th of September 2010, unless mentioned next to the itinerary. All journeys are non-stop, unless indicated.
Let’s roll with the fares.
1. Cochin: MCT-COK-MCT: 194 Rials on Jet Airways.
2. Mumbai: MCT-MUM-MCT: 131 Rials on Air India.
3. Trivandrum: MCT-TRV-MCT: 196 Rials on Jet Airways. 176 Rials on Air India Express if outbound: Friday, 10th of September 2010 and inbound: Thursday, 16th of September 2010.
4. Calicut/Kozhikode: MCT-CCJ-MCT: 142 Rials on Air India Express.
5. Delhi: MCT-DEL-MCT: 140 Rials on Air India Express. 134 Rials on Gulf Air with layover and change of aircraft at Bahrain.
6. Mangalore: MCY-IXE-MCT: 184.5 Rials on Air India Express, if outbound: Friday, 10th of September 2010 and inbound: Thursday, 16th of September 2010.
7. Dubai: MCT-DXB-MCT: 38 Rials on Flydubai.
8. Bangkok: MCT-BKK-MCT: 153 Rials on Qatar Airways with a layover in Doha & change of aircraft in Doha.
9. Kuala Lumpur: MCT-KUL-MCT: 241 Rials on Qatar Airways with a layover & change of aircraft in Doha.
10. London Heathrow: MCT-LHR-MCT: 259 Rials on British Airways with stopover at Abu Dhabi, no aircraft change.
11. Amman: MCT-AMM-MCT: 209.860 Rials on Flydubai with layover and change of aircraft at Dubai.
12. Cairo: MCT-CAI-MCT: 232 Rials on Emirates with layover and change of aircraft at Dubai.
13. Frankfurt: MCT-FRA-MCT: 225 Rials on Gulf Air with layover and change of aircraft at Bahrain.
14. Colombo: MCT-CMB-MCT: 192 Rials on Emirates with layover and change of aircraft at Dubai.
15. Kathmandu: MCT-KTM-MCT: 123.700 Rials on Oman Air, if outbound: Thursday, 9th of September 2010 and inbound: Thursday, 16th of September 2010.
To get these offers, visit the respective airline website, check with your travel agent or head to Expedia. Please note that air fares of Oman Air, Air India Express & Flydubai are not listed on Expedia.
The best cabin crew uniform in Indian skies August 17, 2010Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Aviation, Branding, India, Marketing, Travel.
Tags: Air India, Air India Express, Cabin Crew, GoAir, Indian, IndiGo, Jet Airways, JetLite, Kingfisher Airlines, Kingfisher Red, Livery, Paramount Airways, SpiceJet, Uniform
Close on the heels of JetLite unveiling their new cabin crew uniforms, IndiGo has decided to go for the PanAm designer look and shake up the skies.
Let’s have a fun contest today to find out the best cabin crew uniform in the Indian skies.
Who looks the sizzling best? Feel free to vote for your favorite airline uniform in the poll that follows the pictures. I pick Jet Airways.
* (Apologies for the ‘poor’ GoAir pic! Do share if you find a better one!)
Why customer feedback matters for an airport. The case study of Cochin International Airport. August 16, 2010Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Aviation, India, Marketing, Travel.
Tags: Airport, CIAL, Cochin International Aiport, customer feedback, Customer Service, Kerala, Kochi
One of the reasons I like Cochin International Airport (COK) is because of its large spaces. A lot of airports I have been to in India or in the Arabian Gulf region are bursting at the seams or are under a constant state of development.
Opened in 1999, Cochin International Airport has all the whistles and bells of a modern airport. Larger spaces. Faster check-in. A great view of the tarmac from the gates. A reasonable duty-free selection. And the airbridges, which means no bumpy rides in the bus to the plane or no getting wet in the rains. And yes, a bookshop will be open soon. I’m told that the newly opened international terminal at Trivandrum (TRV) is catching up with Cochin and I can’t wait to check it out soon.
I was recently traveling through Cochin and with a couple of hours to kill for my flight to Muscat, I chanced upon a register placed in a corner of the Departure Terminal under a board that said ‘Feedback on Airport Security’. I couldn’t help but glance through the feedback book and what I read is going to be the crux of this post.
1. Airport security needs be more friendly.
Majority of the people complained about the cold, indifferent attitude of the airport security staff. Someone wrote: “The airport security should learn to speak proper English; English being the ‘national language’ of India.” I don’t know if the airport authorities can influence behavioral changes among the security staff. I think airport security is managed and run by CRPF, a central government agency whose functioning is outside the purview of the airport management’s control. But yes, there was almost universal criticism of their ‘customer service’ skills and their general approach to dealing with travellers. Now some of you may ask, shouldn’t their focus be on airport security than being nice to people in an age of heightened terror and security risks, but isn’t it better to have pleasant people skills no matter what your job.
2. Please smile, Mr. Immigration Officer.
The immigration officials at the airport came under fire too. Someone had written – Can someone teach these people to smile? Or getting them to smile is like asking for the moon… something in that lines. Frequently traveling through airports in India, I know this is true. It doesn’t matter that the immigration official is probably one of the first people you come across in a new country, especially if you are a tourist. I have given up on all etiquette and polite manners when I submit my passport at Indian immigration. I give a cold stare and get a colder one back along with the stamped passport. On good days, I get the passport and boarding card flung at me. Oh why not, I’m being done a huge favor after all by this official who had to forgo his siesta at 6 in the morning to see the back of planeloads of travelers bound to the Arabian sands. This is where I admire the immigration officers at Muscat International Airport. They never forget to wish you, enquire your well-being and heartily welcome you to their country before stamping your passport.
3. “Can Cochin Airport have a dedicated smoker’s lounge?” What really impressed me about this request was not the request itself, but the sincerity and manner in which it was expressed.
“More than 60% of travellers and tourists around the world are smokers and hence this airport should make convenient arrangements for smokers to light up in peace without going out of their minds and troubling fellow passengers.” A feedback suggestion that is always substantiated with a fact has a better chance of going through. (In this case, the ‘60%’ fact).
4. A gentleman requested for a separate prayer room for gents as well as ladies… fair enough.
5. A traveler to Houston made the brilliant observation regarding the absence of a single clock in the entire boarding gate area. True, there are giant screens showing flight schedules, but it would be wise to have the local time on them as well.
6. A tech-savvy traveler requested the airport authorities to provide passengers with Worldspace Radio… a couple of them demanded a better selection of TV channels on the airport TV. I guess Asianet or Surya is not everyone’s cup of tea.
7. One of the ultimate requests was by a couple of travellers who requested a bar in the terminal; nothing like a neat Scotch on the rocks before departure. Full marks to that. And no points for guessing that they were Malayalees.
8. Almost everyone complained about the lack of decent dining facilities in the departure terminal and the exorbitant price of tea & coffee. A cup of coffee costs 50 rupees. (A passenger wrote that the price of coffee was more scalding than the coffee itself). And COK Airport Coffee takes the crown as one of the ultimate listless coffees I have ever had the pleasure of drinking.
9. A passenger wrote about the how the drive-in entrance at the departures & arrival terminal wasn’t covered leading to travelers and their luggage getting drenched in the rains as they entered the terminal building. A very valid point; I came under the showers too as I was leaving COK that morning. Not a good experience to take off wet.
10. Hidesign has a swanky outlet at the airport. I hope they are making money.
11. Thought to end the post: I find liquor at Cochin Duty Free cheaper than Muscat Duty Free. And the last time I checked, they were giving a bottle free with every 2 bottles of Jack Daniel’s.
A couple of thoughts on Feedback:
1. Feedback is vital.
For individuals, brands and organizations, feedback tells you what’s working right and what isn’t. Feedback is critical to customer service, product improvement, cost savings, productivity and work efficiency.
2. Feedback matters only when it is from the right person.
So I worked on this snazzy looking marketing campaign. Getting suggestions on its look and feel from my peers isn’t as good a feedback from the customers of that product or service.
3. Use the right tools to collect Feedback.
A complaint book at Cochin International Airport seems to a simple and old-fashioned method to collect feedback. But it is any day, a more effective and practical tool than a website form. The customer should find it convenient to share feedback and feedback collection should ideally happen at touch points where customers interact most with you.
4. Feedback should lead to action.
Feedback is of no good if you don’t act upon it. Also, it helps to acknowledge that have you received feedback.
To conclude, do enjoy this video of an Emirates B777 landing at Cochin.