Review airlines on TripAdvisor; see sunrise atop Empire State Building

AIRING OPINIONS TripAdvisor’s airline review section  has been fully up and running for a couple of months, following a limited beta launch early this year, with reviews for major carriers already in the thousands. It’s the most mainstream online platform for passengers to comment on their good and bad experiences, on the ground and in the air. While the reviews are interesting read­ing, the photo sections – there is one at the bottom of each airline’s page – are just as enlightening. The economy-class cabin photographs, in particular, can be sobering reminders of an experience that the subconscious seems to successfully delete by the time we reach the baggage carousel.

Google tries again to muscle in on crowded market for travel planning apps

Perhaps the most useful category is Food and Drink, which until recently was an area best researched on, a website that has been encouraging people to post pictures of their inflight meals since 2002. (I notice my photo of a Biman Bangladesh domestic flight snack box, taken that year, is still rated zero.) But while TripAdvisor’s airline reviews and photos are useful and quite entertaining, it will come as a relief to many to finally have a popular outlet to vent their spleen about an industry that generally seems to turn a dismissively deaf ear to complaints.

Inflight entertainment Comic relief for air travellers is provided in a new video (above) from American actor Ryan Higa’s apparently very popular Nigahiga YouTube channel. It’s a spoof commercial for the fictional EveRy Airlines, featuring – among other staff – straight-talking cabin crew (“One of my pet peeves is when people ask for things”), and grumbling passengers (“The guy who sits by the window but has to pee every 20 minutes”). Although made by and aimed at millennial travellers, the miseries of flying economy class are so universal that there’s something in there for everyone, including a safety video, which, the flight attendant admits, nobody watches but that is shown anyway “so you don’t sue us”. Look up “Honest Airline Commercial” at



Rise and shine Visitors to New York can make the most of their jet lag with the Empire State Building’s new Sunrise Experience. From October 1 to November 20, it’s an “unparalleled oppor­tunity to watch the city that never sleeps transition from night to day” from the 86th-floor Observatory. Tickets are limited to 100 a day and cost US$100 each, compared with the standard US$32 for those willing to endure five separate queues, or US$60 for a VIP Express Pass during regular opening hours (8am to 2am). The latest sunrise during the opening period is 7.32am on November 5, and the earliest is 6.33am next day, when the clocks go back. For reservations, go to



Deal of the week Westminster Travel is selling a two-night business-class package to Phuket, starting from HK$5,920 per person (twin share) for accommodation at The Village Coconut Island Beach Resort, which gets good online reviews. More than 20 other hotels are offered, including The Slate, which rebranded from Indigo Pearl last month, from HK$6,420, and the Banyan Tree, from HK$7,550 for a twin pool villa. Also on offer is Keemala (below), with its weird and wonderful Clay Pool Cottages, Tent Pool Villas, Tree Pool Houses and Bird’s Nest Pool Villas, from HK$9,400, including airport transfers and a 90-minute massage. An (expensive) extra night there comes with fast-track immigration, a degustation dinner, champagne and a walking tour of Phuket Town. All prices include business-class flights with Dragonair and daily break­fast. Details at Note that Phuket International Airport’s long-awaited new terminal is now open for use by all international airlines.

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