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The Most Powerful Passports Of 2019

In a resounding demonstration of Asia’s growing power and influence on the world stage, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea now hold the joint top spot on the Henley Passport Index, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 189. These latest results consolidate 12 months of Asian dominance after Japan first climbed to the top spot in February last year.

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Following a visa-exemption from Uzbekistan, Germany currently sits alone in 2nd place, with a score of 188. Five countries now share 3 rd place on the index – which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) – with a score of 187: Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, and Sweden. The UK and the US look increasingly unlikely to regain the top spot they jointly held in 2015, with the UK now siting in 5th place with a visa-free/visa on arrival score of 185, and the US in 6th, with a score of 184. Afghanistan and Iraq remain at the bottom of the ranking with a score of just 30, a position one or both countries have occupied throughout the index’s 14-year history.

Global headlines for Q2 2019

· Japan, Singapore, and South Korea hold the joint top spot on the Henley Passport Index .

· Germany has risen to 2nd place, up from the 3rd place it held with France.

· France remains in 3rd place, a position it now shares with Denmark, Finland, Italy, and Sweden.

· The UK is in 5th place, while the US is in 6th.

· The UK’s Brexit process has not yet had a marked effect on the country’s standing on the index. Its fall from the 3rd place it held in 2016 is a result of gains made by Asian countries and not a direct consequence of Brexit.

· There are now 32 countries in the top 10 positions on the Henley Passport Index, with European countries accounting for the majority of these spots.

· Iraq and Afghanistan continue to hold the bottom (104th) spot on the index, with only 30 destinations accessible visa-free or with a visa on arrival.

Regional headlines for Q2 2019

· In Africa, Seychelles, Mauritius, and South Africa, respectively, continue to hold the top 3 spots. South Africa has dropped 16 spots over the past decade.

· In the Middle East, the UAE is in 1st place, Israel is in in 2nd place, and Turkey is in 3rd place.

· In the Caribbean, the top 3 spots are held by Barbados, the Bahamas, and St. Kitts and Nevis, respectively.

· In Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, Ukraine holds 1st place, Moldova holds 2nd place, and Russia holds 3 rd place. Moldova has climbed 21 places since 2009, while Ukraine has climbed 22 places. Georgia, in 4th, has climbed 17 places.

· In Southeast Asia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei, respectively, hold the top 3 spots, while Myanmar, in 91st place, remains poorest performer in the region. The country has dropped six places over the past decade, while the Philippines has dropped 11.

· In North Asia, Japan and South Korea are the global and regional leaders. China is the highest regional climber in North Asia over the past decade, having moved 12 spots up the ranking since 2009. North Korea, in 96 th place globally, remains the poorest performer in the region. The country has dropped 13 places over the past decade.

UAE, Albania, and China Leap Up the Ranking

The UAE continues its upward trajectory and is now just one spot away from entry into the index’s top 20. After the recent formalization of a mutual visa-waiver agreement signed with Russia, UAE passport holders are now able to access 165 destinations around the world without a prior visa. This current score marks an extraordinary ascent from the position the UAE held a decade ago, when the country shared joint 61st place with Thailand and Zimbabwe and had a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of just 52.

 

 

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Airport

Qantas Introduces new Group Boarding Inspired by US Practices

Qantas Introduces new Group Boarding Inspired by US Practices

Qantas, Australia’s iconic airline, is revolutionizing the boarding process for domestic flights across four major airports in the country.

Drawing inspiration from successful implementations overseas, the airline is introducing Group Boarding, a streamlined approach aimed at reducing wait times and enhancing the boarding experience for passengers.

This innovative method, already embraced by airlines internationally, marks a significant departure from traditional boarding practices in Australia. Following meticulous trials conducted in key hubs such as Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth, Qantas is confident that Group Boarding will not only expedite the boarding process but also contribute to on-time departures.

Group Boarding divides passengers into smaller boarding groups, eliminating the need for everyone to queue up simultaneously. Upon receiving their boarding passes, customers will be assigned to one of six distinct boarding groups based on factors such as cabin class, Frequent Flyer status, and seat allocation.

Clear signage and informative announcements at the gate will guide passengers, indicating when each boarding group is scheduled to embark. This proactive communication ensures a seamless boarding experience, with passengers boarding in an organized and efficient manner.

To further enhance convenience, Qantas App users and subscribers to text/email notifications will receive alerts informing them of the Group Boarding protocol for their flight. Additionally, the boarding pass scanner will restrict access until the designated boarding group is called, ensuring compliance with the boarding sequence.

The rollout of Group Boarding commences today at Brisbane Airport, followed by Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney airports in succession. This phased implementation will cover all domestic flights operated by Qantas’ Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 aircraft, heralding a new era of boarding efficiency and passenger satisfaction.

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Airlines

United Airlines Boeing 737-800 Flight Review: Domestic Economy Done Right

United Airlines Boeing 737-800 Flight Review: Domestic Economy Done Right

Welcome to another flight review, where we would be flying on United Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft on a 4 hour transcontinental flight from Las Vegas to Washington!

Las Vegas consists of 2 main terminals for commercial airlines, Terminal 3 and Terminal 1. Both Terminals serve different airlines, with Terminal 1 more focused on Low Cost Carriers, while Terminal 3 serving the main carriers such as Delta, American, United Airlines, together with international operators. 

We are currently in Terminal 3, which has a wide offering of food and drinks. Furthermore, since we are in Las Vegas, there definitely are some slot machines around the terminal for those who are hoping to make a quick buck before their flight. There was also supposed to be a gaming lounge, but it was closed due to renovation. 

Upon reaching the gate, we were informed of an approximately 30 minute delay to our departure time, due to the aircraft leaving its previous leg late. 

Here is our aircraft, ship 3506, a 17 year old Boeing 737 which would be ferrying us to Washington. Here she is, decked in the old United Airlines colour scheme, The boarding process soon began, with passengers being called to called based on their boarding group, so as to ensure an orderly boarding process. 

We were warmly welcomed aboard by the cabin crew, where sanitising wipes were available upon request. For this flight, I selected 28F, a Window seat. The Economy Class layout in United’s Boeing 737-800 is in a 3-3 configuration, while Business Class is in a 2-2 layout.

This particular aircraft is still fitted with the old cabin of United Airlines, with no in-seat power outlet, small Inflight Entertainment Screens, together with a dated cabin.

United is currently updating their Boeing 737 fleet to have a wider Inflight Entertainment Screen, which includes a USB power port for you to charge your devices. It will definitely be a welcome change on the longer transcontinental flights especially. 

The seats are sufficiently wide, with a rather sufficient legroom offered on the aircraft. Although not generous, I was still able to stretch my legs, so definitely no complaints. The seat has two pockets, one right below the screen, with the other at knee level, which allows you to store your personal electronic devices safely. There are also adjustable headrests, which is always an amazing feature on a seat. 

Soon, we were greeted by the Captain, who warmly welcomed us onboard, before apologising for the slight delay, informing us that he would attempt to get us airborne as soon as possible. 

Inflight Service 

After approximately 30 minutes after takeoff, the flight crew prepared the cabin for snack service. Starting at the front of the cabin, they slowly made their way to the back. 

This is where I feel United really shines, especially for flights on the North American Continent. There are small snacks such as pretzels, chocolate and chips, together with non alcoholic beverages which are provided complimentary to the passengers. There is a wide range of beverages being provided, from Water, Orange Juice to even Ginger Ale. Everyone was given 1 choice of beverage and snack for this service.

Headphones were also handed out on demand, which was definitely what set United apart from other airlines in their Domestic Economy class. In fact, some airlines do not issue headphones for free on International Economy class on the North American continent flights. 

After approximately an hour, the flight crews were walking about, offering passengers a coffee or tea, or any other beverage. Passengers could also request for other drinks of their choice, together with snacks, though some snacks are chargeable. 

Passengers could request for drinks or snacks throughout the entire flight, with the crew occasionally making rounds offering water to passengers. 

United Airlines has the option of allowing their passengers to add their credit cards online, before boarding the flights, so as to ensure a contactless transaction. The cost of items ordered would be billed to that particular card, therefore negating the need for passengers to go through the hassle of finding their credit cards onboard. Cash payments are also not accepted onboard the flight, therefore requiring a card for in flight purchases. 

There is wifi provided onboard, with free internet access to messaging applications. The internet was rather fast, and offered great connectivity onboard, enabling you to stay in contact with your loved ones even in the air.

Free wifi for streaming and internet surfing is provided to T-Mobile customers, and other passengers could also purchase wifi for the entire flight for the same purpose. The wifi could also be used to stream movies to your own device, with a large range of movies and TV shows which could be watched online.

The selection of movies are definitely more than sufficient to keep everyone occupied for the duration of the entire flight. 

Soon, we landed at Washington Dulles International Airport, just slightly behind schedule. We deplaned via an airbridge to a remote concourse, where we were ferried to the main terminal via a mobile lounge, which in my opinion is quite a unique system. 

Delay Management done right

One thing which really impressed me thoroughly was United’s management of delays. Knowing that the aircraft would be approximately 10 minutes late, the flight crews identified those passengers who have connecting flights through lighting the crew call button, therefore providing a visible identification.

Upon landing, passengers were advised to remain seated and let these passengers deplane first, so they could make up for the lost time. United Airlines were also transparent with the information and steps taken to mitigate delays to the travellers’ travel plans through keeping everyone in the aircraft updated with the status of the aircraft arrival. 

Final Thoughts

United’s Cabin Service exceeded my expectations, especially with the offering of earphones to all passengers in Economy, ensuring that passengers were able to enjoy the wide selection of inflight entertainment offered. This is in stark contrast to certain North American Carriers, where they follow a bring your own headphones concept, resulting in some passengers being unable to enjoy the inflight entertainment. Furthermore, the attentiveness of the crew certainly played a part in ensuring an amazing flight, ensuring that the passengers were comfortable and well hydrated. 

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Airport

ANAC Halts Porto Alegre Flight Sales, Due to Severe Airport Flooding

ANAC Halts Porto Alegre Flight Sales, Due to Severe Airport Flooding

In response to severe flooding that has rendered Salgado Filho Airport in Porto Alegre inoperable, the Brazilian Civil Aviation Regulator, the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC), has enacted a temporary prohibition on the sale of airline tickets to and from the airport.

This measure applies across all sales channels, including travel agencies, and will remain in effect until ANAC reevaluates the situation.

The closure of the airport, located in the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, has had significant repercussions, affecting more than 490,000 passengers. The terminal remains indefinitely closed due to the flooding, with the runway still submerged under water.

In light of these circumstances, airlines are offering flexibility to affected customers. Passengers can reschedule their flights to Porto Alegre within a year of the original scheduled date without incurring additional fees. Alternatively, they can opt for a refund, either in cash or credit.

To accommodate displaced travelers, airlines have increased the number of flights to nearby airports in the southern region of Brazil. This increase aims to prioritize passengers who already have issued tickets.

According to ANAC’s directives, airlines must identify and prioritize contact with passengers who have a pending return journey, whether traveling to or from Rio Grande do Sul, to facilitate their reaccommodations preferentially.

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