In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Fastjet launches in Africa
Fastjet, the first low-cost airline for Africa, backed by easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, has launched with its British management team promising to “give people used to 12 hour bus rides the option to fly”.
Air travel in Africa is among the most expensive in the world, with some 45 minute flights costing more than £300.
Fastjet offers base fares from £13 before taxes, cheaper than taking long-distance buses, and begins its first commercial flights from its hub in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, on Thursday.
Its British bosses, former senior managers of airlines including easyJet, Go, FlyBe and Ryanair, intend to open new hubs in Kenya next and later in Ghana and Angola.
“There is no typical fastjet passenger,” said Ed Winter, its chief executive and formerly chief operating officer at both Go and easyJet.
“There will be everyone from people who have never flown before, to traders finding new markets, to government ministers. The idea is to give people who used to spend 12 hours on a bus to visit their relatives the option to fly for the first time.”
Fastjet’s first aircraft, a 156-seat Airbus A319 that was until six weeks ago in service with easyJet, took its inaugural public flight from Dar es Salaam on Tuesday, a 40-minute round trip over the Indian Ocean above Zanzibar.
Singapore makes a splash
Singapore is a different place than it was a few years ago. And for visitors that’s a good thing.
New hotels — including some architecturally stunning buildings — and major attractions, are popping up with surprising frequency, dramatically changing the urban landscape of this modern Southeast Asian city-state. Cranes are everywhere, signalling there is more to come.
Among the most notable recent attractions are the world’s largest oceanarium, a Moshe Safdie designed museum, and a new botanical garden that has attracted international attention.
MARINE LIFE PARK
The newest attraction in Singapore is Marine Life Park, which opened Nov. 22 on Sentosa Island, and includes the world’s largest aquarium and a waterpark. The spectacular S.E.A. Aquarium contains 100,000 marine animals from over 800 species comprising 10 different zones with 49 habitats.
The Discovery Touch Pool, the Lens Aquarium and Floor Aquarium, all provide up-close encounters with marine residents. Visitors see manta rays, hammerhead sharks, bottlenose dolphins and other creatures on an underwater voyage of discovery that begins in Southeast Asia, and continues through the Arabian Gulf and the Open Ocean habitat, which is the aquarium’s centrepiece. The world’s largest viewing panel, at 36-metres-wide by 8-metres-tall, will make you feel like you’re on a cavernous ocean floor.
The habitat is flanked by an Ocean Dome — an all-round viewing area and the Ocean Restaurant, which adheres to sustainable seafood principles. Eleven Ocean Suites occupy the opposite site of the habitat, offering a twist to ocean-viewing by providing overnight guests the experience of waking to an under-the-sea vista.
Adventure Cove Waterpark, the other main attraction, promises more thrills with six adrenaline-pumping water slides including Riptide Rocket, the region’s first hydro-magnetic coaster.
Here’s some dynamite advice: don’t make bomb jokes in airports
Confused about whether to make a terrorism-related wisecrack as you pass through security? Consult this handy guide.
As a leading member of the liberal intelligentsia, I am petitioned on an almost occasional basis for pearls of life advice. What, people want to know, is my single most important tip for happy and successful living? Today, because the world can’t fairly be expected to wait any longer, I’ve decided to reveal the answer. It is this:
Don’t make jokes about having a bomb in your luggage when going through airport security.
This advice is counterintuitive, I realise. And, regrettably, it comes too late for a 63-year-old man named Alejandro Hurtado – known to friends, I suspect, as an “inveterate joker” with a “ready smile” who “loves to laugh” – who prompted the partial evacuation of Miami International Airport on Monday after allegedly telling a gate agent he had dynamite in his bag.
In reality, he didn’t have dynamite in his bag, as bomb squad officers ascertained when they arrived on the scene. It was, Hurtado explained, a joke.
Not a funny joke, admittedly. But then, jokes made in airport security queues so rarely are. Last month, a hockey coach and funny guy named Peter Freisema triggered the evacuation of Anchorage airport when he joked, according to a member of airport staff, that his friend’s bag (can you guess the punchline?) had a bomb in it. Friesema protested that he was actually asking “what if my friend’s bag has a bomb in it?”, but I’m not sure this improves matters much.
The Transportation Security Administration’s blog regularly features similar side-splitting remarks. “I have eight bombs on me,” one passenger is quoted as saying; another, at Gulfport-Biloxi airport in Mississippi, “stated that he ‘possibly had a bomb in his bag’. He later explained … [that] he thought the statement would get him through security faster.”
Australian hotel lets guest overstay their welcome for days… for free
Hate having to wake up early in the morning to rush around and pack up your belongings and get out of your hotel room?
Well an Australian hotel is changing the game by telling guests they don’t have to check out if nobody else has booked their room for the day.
It means guests could stay for hours, days, or even a week for free by requesting the “Overstay Checkout” package at the Art Series hotels in Melbourne.
The world-first idea doesn’t cost the hotel anything as it’s all unsold inventory – but will make many guests smile.
“We think hotels keeping the rooms vacant is a bit of a waste,” Art Series CEO Will Deague said. “If people are not using them, why not let guests stay longer – even if it’s a few days.”
They’re calling it the world’s latest checkout. For now, the deal is available as a trial for stays between December 16 and January 13.
The downside? Guests still need to wake up early to call reception between 8am and 11am and request an overstay checkout for the day. The earlier the call, the better chance of scoring another night for free.
“Remember though, it’s first in, best dressed. We give the longest Overstay Checkouts available to the first guests who request them each day.”