by Sebastian Powell -
8 Comments

The ever so hated Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) when paying in a foreign currency makes a comeback to LoyaltyLobby this week. I encountered this by using one of the outlets at the Park Hyatt Beijing.

DCC SCAM

This method of ‘generating extra revenue by screwing your customers’ is not new and mostly the frequent traveler encounters this at the hotel front desk or sometimes car rentals. However you can also encounter this at regular stores and restaurants.

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by John Ollila -
4 Comments

When I was on my way to Mykonos earlier this week, a friend of mine suggested that I withdraw euros from ATMs that you can find from London’s Heathrow airport.

Travelex London Heathrow

Travelex is one of those foreign exchange companies that does business at airports all over the world with terrible exchange rates. I did a piece last year about Travelex horrible exchange rates at the Hong Kong airport (access here) and Travelex ATM dynamic currency conversion charge in London (access here) back in 2012. [click to continue…]

by John Ollila -
6 Comments

It is not difficult to purchase a prepaid SIM card in China from China Mobile or China Unicom that allows data access, but what is it worth when you cannot access most of the websites and apps that you use (I faced this situation also back in January)?

China SIM 7-Connect Front

China blocks most of the Google services including Gmail and Google maps. Many websites use Google tools to speed up the delivery of their web pages and this can make websites extremely slow to load in China or pages will just time out. Facebook and Twitter are both blocked, but the FB Messenger app did sometimes work over regular hotel wifi. [click to continue…]

by Sebastian Powell -
3 Comments

Today I came across an incident that left me with half a smile and half worried about the state of cockpit crews these days. On a Aerolinas Argentinas flight from Buenos Aires to Rosario, the cockpit crew thought is was a good idea to allow some busty social media starlet with the name of Vicky Xipolitakis (never heard of that women before and not sure if I ever want to again) into the cockpit and take some selfies together.

Aerolinas Cockpit Image

After Xipolitakis then tweeted it to her ~400k Twitter followers the airline became aware of it. Aerolinas management took drastic steps and fired both pilots over the incident as reported here by the New York Daily News. According to the report she also had her hands on the controls although while on the ground.

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by Sebastian Powell -
1 Comments

I have received an email from Singapore Airlines this morning advertising a special arrangement of Formula One Singapore Grand Prix Tickets which will take place this year from the 18th to 20th of September. You can find the web based version of that email here.

This is quiet a popular event so I decided to check out what this offer is all about and at the same time checking the availability for points redemptions at Hyatt for the Grand Hyatt Singapore and the SPG Portfolio.

SIA F1

For the tickets themselves, whilst for sure available through the usual outlets, SIA offers special arrangements with the possibility to earn from 2,500 up to 15,000 Krisflyer miles depending on the ticket category. See details below:

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by Sebastian Powell -
1 Comments

In case you are planning to visit anytime soon, North Korea will open a new terminal (Terminal 2) at Pyongyang International Airport on July 1st 2015.

The ‘Dear Leader’ Kim Jong-Un already did a grand inspection tour of the new facilities and since we haven’t heard of any casualties (yet) he must have been satisfied with the progress.

PYAirportKJU

As Channel News Asia reported today, Kim has pushed this project forward along with many other construction projects in the country and even used the army to complete these developments.

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by Sebastian Powell -
1 Comments

The U.N. aviation safety body ICAO made good on it’s warning to ‘Red Flag’ Thailand over serious concerns in air safety procedures and lack of oversight (See previous LoyaltyLobby article here).

ICAO Thailand Downgrade

3 Months ago the ICAO notified the Thai authorities about their concerns and issued a deadline to implement improvements and comply with those standards of the Category 1 classification. This deadline has now expired and as a consequence the Red Flag has been put in place, making it impossible for Thai Carriers (especially charter carriers such as Thai Air Asia-X, Nok Air, Nok Scoot etc) to file new routes and expand their international network.

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by John Ollila -
3 Comments

Travelers from countries requiring visa to enter the United States planning to visit this summer may need to have plan B in place in case they don’t have them issued yet.

US Visa

The US State Department had a hardware failure in equipment that tunnels the applicants biometric data to a central database. It may take another week before the issue is resolved. [click to continue…]

by John Ollila -
6 Comments

Viet Nam News (the English daily newspaper) was reporting (access here) that Vietnam is easing visa requirements for five new countries on July 1, 2015.

Vietnam To Extend Visa Free Countries

The tourism sector had been hoping to include all the Schengen countries + Australia, USA and Canada, but this got first watered down to nine and eventually only five got approved. [click to continue…]

by John Ollila -
1 Comments

Indonesia was supposed to extend the list of 15 countries that have visa free travel to 45 back in April (read more here), but the implementation took until June 9, 2015, when president Widodo signed the regulation and it was then published on official paper on June 13th. .

Indonesia VOA

You cannot extend the stay over 30 days if you don’t purchase the VOA stamp and this new facility is only available at select air and seaports. [click to continue…]

by John Ollila -
4 Comments

The consolidation of the US airline industry over the past decade or so have left three network carriers of American, Delta & United and Southwest that control 80% of the US traffic plus a number of smaller players such as JetBlue and Virgin America.

New York Times Airline Discipline Could be Costly For Passengers

American Airlines swallowed US Airways that earlier merged with America West. Delta bought Northwest and United purchased Continental. Southwest Airlines purchased Atlanta based AirTran. This consolidation has lead to less competition between the airlines and ever increasing prices. [click to continue…]