May 2014 Travel News & Alerts

01 May 2014
Etihad to debut new Economy Smart Seat

Etihad Airways, will debut its new Economy Smart Seat onboard the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft later this year, offering guests enhanced comfort and entertainment. 

The Economy Smart Seat is customised with a unique ‘fixed wing’ headrest which offers greater comfort and relaxation to guests. Upholstered in locally-sourced camel leather, the fixed wing headrest is designed to provide a firm surface for guests to rest their heads, as well as additional privacy between seats. There is a fleece blanket and pillow on every seat as well as a convenient entertainment and connectivity hub in the seatback in front with all services in easy reach. 

Peter Baumgartner, Chief Commercial Officer of Etihad Airways, said: “The new Etihad Airways A380 and B787 aircraft will reaffirm our status as the World’s Leading Airline*, with enhanced comfort and enjoyment for all, not just in premium cabins. 

Eighty per cent of the new product offering is a direct result of the feedback and information garnered from these workshops. =

JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul Opens in Korea

W Marriott Hotels & Resorts has expanded its luxury portfolio in South Korea with the unveiling of the new 170-room JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul.

The new hotel has 170 guestrooms, including 19 Executive Sky View Rooms and 15 Suites. A dedicated Executive Lounge with an open balcony serves the Executive Floor rooms. Among the hotel’s extensive health and fitness facilities are an indoor 25-meter lap pool, the exclusive Club 501 Fitness Centre and the indulgent The JW Spa. 

With a total of 10,570 square feet of meeting space and a Grand Ballroom that can accommodate up to 750 guests, the hotel is the perfect choice for the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) market. Among its state-of-the-art meetings facilities is Seoul’s first LFD (Large Format Display) 98-screen media wall.

“South Korea is a one of Asia’s fastest growing global economies anda strategically important North Asian travel hub,” said Simon Cooper, President & Managing Director of Asia Pacific for Marriott International. “JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul will further strengthen our luxury brand portfolio in this very important market and it will complement our existing JW Marriott Seoul which continues to be a great standard bearer for the brand.”

British Airways Begins Codeshare Arrangement With US Airways

British Airways and US Airways are launching a codeshare arrangement which will allow British Airways customers access to nearly 40 destinations in North America and the Caribbean. In the reciprocal arrangement, US Airways customers will be able to fly with British Airways to more than 70 destinations throughout Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Launched in a phased approach, the codeshare will initially cover nearly all of the two carriers’ trans-Atlantic flights. From today, British Airways customers will be able to book flights on US Airways to Charlotte and Philadelphia from 17 European destinations, for travel from May 14. Similarly, US Airways customers will benefit when the carrier’s code is placed on British Airways’ flights to London from 21 destinations in North America.

The remaining flights in the codeshare will be implemented in phases with all destinations to be included by the end of the summer.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company Announces First Hotel in Mumbai

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel to open the first Ritz-Carlton in Mumbai, the entertainment, commercial and financial capital of India, and the second in the country following the recent opening of The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore in Karnataka.

The 238-room Ritz-Carlton will be located in Worli, the heart of central Mumbai, a thriving new business district with easy access to the international airport. The newly built structure will be a beacon on the coastline of the Arabian Sea with magnificent views of the Mumbai skyline and is expected to open early 2017.

The new hotel is located in the social heart of Mumbai, home to Bollywood, historic attractions, and upscale shopping and dining. Among the hotel’s vibrant experiences will be an ocean-view bar, two specialty and fine dining restaurants, a Ritz-Carlton Spa and extensive banquet and meeting spaces for the high profile events and society weddings for which Mumbai is renowned.

Qantas Voted Australia's Favourite Airline

Australians have voted Qantas as the best airline in Australia in the 2014 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards.

TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel website and the awards saw thousands of Australian travellers vote for their favourite travel brands across 38 categories, ranging from cameras and sunscreen to carry-on luggage. This is the first year TripAdvisor included an airline category.

Qantas Domestic CEO, Lyell Strambi, said it was an honour for Qantas to be the first recipient of the award from an organisation so many travellers turn to for information they can trust.

“We are delighted to be recognised as Australia’s favourite airline,” said Mr Strambi.

“The award is a testament to Qantas’ superior travel experience. It is also a testament to the dedication and hard work of our staff, from our pilots and engineers to our cabin crew and ground handlers.”

Andrew Wong, Regional Director for Flights at TripAdvisor said, “The TripAdvisor community has spoken and Qantas was selected as a Travellers’ Choice Favourite for 2014. “Travellers around the world can’t go wrong with these travel picks from our savvy community.” 

The award follows a number of accolades for the airline this year.

Shangri-La Hotel At The Shard, London Opens

Located in the tallest building in Western Europe on floors 34 to 52, Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London is the city's first high-rise hotel. It offers unrivalled views of London in every direction, overlooking such landmarks as the Houses of Parliament, Tower of London and St. Paul's Cathedral. The hotel is also the first luxury property to open south of the River Thames and is conveniently positioned minutes from The City of London. It is the perfect location for corporate travellers needing to stay within the CBD of London. 

Every one of the hotel's 202 guestrooms and suites has a view, and the rooms are amongst the largest in London, averaging more than 42 square metres (452 square feet). They feature Chinese art reinterpreted in a modern, abstract way alongside a soothing colour scheme and mood lighting. All offer the exclusive "Shangri-La Bed" featuring patented body-contouring technology, marble-clad bathrooms with heated floors and Acqua di Parma amenities. Complimentary Internet access, one of Shangri-La's signature offerings worldwide, is available throughout the hotel, and butler service is offered in all suites.

Singapore Airlines to upgrade its First & Business Class in Boeing 777s fleet

Singapore Airlines will upgrade its entire Boeing 777-300ER fleet with the airline's latest first class, business class and economy seats beginning next year.

The US$325 million (A$346 million) refit will encompass all 19 of the long-range jets in SQ's current Boeing 777-300ER fleet in an attempt to deliver a consistent travel experience alongside the airline's new Boeing 777-300ERs. The project will also see the in-flight entertainment system upgraded.

Singapore Airlines says the refurb is expected to begin early in 2015, "with all aircraft completed by September 2016."

Etihad unveil's world's first "hotel style" cabin

Etihad Airways has announced a three-room cabin on its Airbus A380s among its plans to bring a boutique hotel experience to its flights. 

The Residence by Etihad will take up the front of the A380’s upper deck and has a living room, separate double bedroom, en-suite shower room and services of a butler. It can be bought for single or double occupancy with each having its own colours, carpets and table designs.

The rest of the upper deck of the Airbus aircraft will have nine First Apartments – private suites with separate reclining lounge seats and full-length beds; a mini-bar; personal vanity space and wardrobe. These will be in a 1-1 configuration and a shower room will be available for the first class guests. 

Its A380s will also include a serviced lounge and bar area for first and business class guests.

NATAS Travel Notice to Thailand

On 22 May 2014, the Thai military announced that it had seized power. A curfew has been imposed nationwide from 10pm-5am.  

Singaporeans should seriously reconsider visiting Thailand at the moment. The situation is unpredictable and volatile, and may evolve quite rapidly. Singaporeans in Thailand should monitor local news and developments closely and follow the instructions of local authorities.

New instructions could be announced at short notice. Singaporeans should avoid large gatherings, as well as all protests sites and their vicinity. Singaporeans who are travelling to Thailand should exercise a high degree of caution and take all necessary precautions for personal safety, including purchasing comprehensive travel and medical insurance.

In addition, Singaporeans are encouraged to eRegister with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at so that the MFA may contact them should the need arise. Singaporeans who are in need of consular assistance while in Thailand may contact the MFA’s Embassy in Bangkok or the 24 hr MFA Duty Office at: 

Embassy of the Republic of Singapore in Thailand

129 South Sathorn Road, Bangkok 10120 

Tel: 001-66-(2) 286-2111 or 001-66-(81) 844-3580 (24-hours) 

Fax: 001-66-(2) 287-2578 


Ministry of Foreign Affairs Duty Office (24-hours)

Tel: 6379 8800, 6379 8855 

Fax: 6476-7302



For more information please contact your Travel Manager

Changes to Saudi Arabia Visa Submission

All Saudi Arabia visa applications now need to be submitted in person by the applicant. This can no longer be done by someone on the behalf of visa applicant.

For further information please contact your Travel Manager

Changes to Vietnam Visa Submission

Please be advised that with effect from 29 May 2014 the requirements for applying 6 months multiple entry visas have changed.  

The Vietnam invitation letter is no longer required.  

Just the local company letter is sufficient. The local company letter should state the purpose of visit, Vietnam company name, address, contact person and contact no. This is to facilitate applicants who are unable to provide the invitation letter but wish to apply for 6 months visa.  

For 6 months applications the new requirements as follows: 

1) Application form 

2) 2 passport size colour photographs 

3) Copy of employment pass or Singapore PR 

4) Flight itinerary 

5) Local company letter. The letter must state the purpose of the visit, Vietnam company name, address, contact person and contact no 

6) Passport 

The processing times and cost of the 6 months visa remains unchanged.

For further information please contact your Travel Manager