While Australian mobile carriers continue to slash the cost of global roaming, the best value is still a prepaid SIM card from the country you're visiting – and it's now possible to pick one up before leaving Australian soil.
Recently opened at Melbourne International Airport and with similar stores at Sydney Airport and online, retailer SimCorner stocks SIM cards from a number of countries including the USA, China, Hong Kong, the UK and New Zealand.
Using local mobile phone SIM cards has long been a favourite trick of savvy jetsetters looking to keep in touch with the office, friends and loved ones back home – and when shopping with SimCorner, you could actually pay less than you would abroad for the same pre-paid plan.
We checked out SimCorner’s prices and how they compare to buying the same SIM in its home country – here’s what we found.
SIM cards for the United States
For the United States, SimCorner stocks a range of regular T-Mobile SIMs plus a couple of Red Pocket data-only SIMs for use in iPads, portable hotspots and USB modems.
SimCorner sells the T-Mobile SIMs at face value in Australian dollars – so if you’d normally pay US$50 for a pre-paid SIM in the USA, you’ll only part with A$50 for the same product at SimCorner.
Better yet, T-Mobile normally charges a US$10 fee to purchase the SIM on top of your first pre-paid plan, but that’s also waived at SimCorner.
Looking at the data-only plans with Red Pocket, you’ll part with A$35 for an unlimited data SIM (3GB at up to 4G speeds, then throttled to 2G speed). Buying the SIM and plan directly from Red Pocket sets you back US$30, plus a US$9.99 fee for the SIM itself (roughly A$43.50).
That's an overall saving of A$8.50, with the added bonus of being able to use it from the moment you land without losing any time from your hectic business trip or well-earned holiday.
SIM cards for the UK and Europe
Over in the United Kingdom, you’ll pay a little more for the convenience of having your SIM before you arrive.
While SimCorner’s Lebara SIM comes in at A$25, we found comparable Lebara pre-paid plans available for just £10 (~A$17.50) in the UK, which included a free SIM and can be found at most newsagents, convenience stores and major retailers.
Twenty five dollars gets you a solid 2GB of data, or you can choose to trade some of that data for calls and SMS credit when activating your SIM.
For balanced phone users, we'd suggest the mix of 500 minutes of local calls, unlimited SMS, 102 minutes of talk time to Australia numbers and 500MB of downloads instead of the straight 2GB chunk, which is best put to use in tablets and portable hotspots.
Or, when connecting onwards within Europe, the pre-paid WorldSIM could take your fancy at just A$30 through SimCorner, complete with US$20 of credit to get you started.
You’d normally fork out US$49.99 for the SIM card and a lower US$15 of credit – making SimCorner cheaper and better value than buying the product direct from the WorldSIM website.
It's only US$0.35 per minute to call home to Australia from major European destinations such as France, Italy and Germany and Austria, and US$0.30 per MB of data.
Sending SMS messages isn't as cheap – you'll pay US$0.59 to text back home to Australia from the same countries, so we'd suggest using Apple's iMessage service to text using the data connection for a fraction of what you'd pay for a standard SMS text.
Crunching the numbers, your initial $20 credit gets you either 57 minutes of calls to Australia, 66MB of data or 33 Australia-bound SMS messages. That's not overly flash on a per-country basis, but that's still up to 89% less than you'd be slugged by roaming with Telstra across Europe.
Travelling further afield?
SimCorner also stocks SIMs for France, China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Indonesia and Thailand, but as we’ve found above, always check that you’re getting the best deal.
If you’re happy to pay a premium for the convenience of being set-up before your plane leaves the runway in Australia, you can also order your SIM via the SimCorner website.
You’ll pay an $8.50 delivery fee, but if it saves you hunting down mobile phone retailers and comparing mobile plans on the fly, it could well be worth it.
More on global roaming:
- Hong Kong's best prepaid SIM cards for your smartphone or tablet
- Which Australian mobile network is best for global roaming..?
- Telstra's roaming rates skyrocket
- Global roaming options for China
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Air New Zealand's Airpoints frequent flyers will enjoy have access to Qantas Clubs around Australia under the newly-forged alliance between the two airlines.
As of October 28, 2018, Airpoints Elite and Gold members booked on a codeshare flight with Qantas will find the doors swing open for them at the two dozen Qantas Club lounges in Australia's capital cities and regional centres. They'll also be permitted to bring in one guest.
But it won't be as easy as flashing your shiny Airpoints card, as the following conditions apply:
- you have to be travelling on a domestic Qantas flight
- it has to be booked under the Air New Zealand codeshare (those flight numbers will be in the NZ7xxx range)
- and this must be booked as part of a trans-Tasman booking
This arrangement replaces Airpoints access to Virgin Australia lounges following the dramatic bust-up between the two former allies.
However, there appears to be no Qantas Club lounge access for Koru Club members, nor can AirNZ frequent flyers cool their heels in the more upmarket Qantas Business lounges.
The Qantas / Air New Zealand alliance covers selected flights on the domestic network of each airline, however trans-Tasman and other international flights are excluded from the arrangement.
Cathay Pacific will roll out its new 'business class dining concept' this month, with the meal service taking a step closer to a first class experience.
Meals will be individually plated and delivered to passengers by hand rather than by trolley, as the airline adopts more personalised and upmarket approach.
Cathay also expects this will result in a "quieter and calmer cabin environment", especially on late night flights.
Passengers will have a choice between three appetisers and "up to six main course choices" on flights over ten hours in the initial launch of the service to the likes of Chicago (on July 30), London/Gatwick (in August) followed by Frankfurt, Manchester and Washington DC (September); Amsterdam, Paris and Johannesburg (October), Madrid, Brussels and Barcelona (November) and London/Heathrow (December).
And, being very much on trend, light and healthy 'wellbeing options' feature in every main course.
On flights from Hong Kong the menu will be changed every month, with a quarterly menu refresh for flights to Hong Kong.
Fights from Hong Kong (but not, for now, the return leg) will also see a new range of Hong Kong Favourites inspired by local dishes, such as
- Hong Kong char siu pork with egg noodles, seasoned soy sauce, spring onion and ginger (shown below)
- Wok fried seafood in lobster soup with ginger, spring onion, crispy and steamed rice
- Beef brisket with flat rice noodle soup
- Mango with pomelo and sago
But before all that eatings starts, business class passengers will notice the new-look menus.
Printed as eight pages on quality paper, they not only detail the meals and drinks available on that flight but include foodie-friendly articles such as 'Anatomy of a Laksa' and feature a local chef revealing their favourite eateries both in Hong Kong and around thr world.
There will also be a breakfast menu card which passengers will complete before hitting the hay, so that they can wake to what the airline described as a "hotel room-service" experience.
However, these are set menus rather than allowing travellers to pick-and-mix from a wide selection of items.
In addition to what's described as 'traditional' Chinese and Western breakfasts, there's also a lighter Continental breakfast plus a minimalist Express breakfast of a piece of pastry and a drink, which can be served 60 minutes before landing for passengers who wish to maximise their sleep.
Refreshments will be revamped as a selection of 'most loved dishes' available throughout the flight as a snack between meals on services to North America and Europe, including the airline's signature burger and popular soup noodles. These will also appear on the main meal menu.
Next year will see Cathay's 'new business class dining concept' extend to medium-distance routes, with plans to include Sydney and Auckland in February 2019 and Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Adelaide and Perth in May 2019.
Very few watches can claim true originality, and the Cartier Santos is among those few.
The Santos made its debut way back in 1904 as a personal timepiece for aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont, making it both the first pilot’s watch and one of the earliest known men’s wristwatches.
As we've previously detailed, the Santos was borne from a request by Brazilian flyer Santos-Dumont, who told his friend Louis Cartier – then a Parisian watchmaker – of the challenge of timing flights using the then-conventional pocket watch, as pilots needed to keep both hands on the aircraft controls.
In response, Cartier designed a large square-faced watch and fitted it to a strap so it could be worn on the wrist – quite a revolutionary concept at the time.
The first commercial Cartier Santos watches went on sale to the public in 1911 with solid gold cases and ultra-thin mechanical movements designed by French clockmaker Edmond Jaeger.
(In order to produce this movement for Cartier, Jaeger worked with Swiss movement manufacturer Jacques-David LeCoultre, a partnership that would lead to the birth of storied brand Jaeger-LeCoultre.)
The enduring design of the Cartier Santos was reimagined in the late 1970s as a luxury steel sports watch, later adding two-tone steel and gold and the now-iconic screwed bezel with exposed gold screws along the bracelet for a modern, industrial aesthetic.
For 2018, Cartier has once again re-invented the Santos.
The distinctive screw-set bezel now tapers at both ends towards the bracelet to create an organic, integrated look.
The satin-brushed case features a wide mirror-polished bevel along its length, extending all the way to the gracefully curved crown guards at 3 o’clock. A square watch the Santos may be, but there’s hardly a sharp edge or straight line to be found.
The case has been slimmed dramatically from previous incarnations of the Santos, allowing this watch to disappear easily under a shirt cuff when needed.
The bracelet is fitted with a new 'QuickSwitch' system allowing for easy swapping with the included tan calfskin strap or Cartier’s alternative crocodile straps, providing some style versatility.
Adding or removing bracelet links has also been made easier with a new 'SmartLink' design which allows the wearer to expand the bracelet during a hot summer’s day without requiring a tool.
While the bezel, case and bracelet have all been modernised, the dial remains classic Cartier. With Roman numerals, a railroad minute-track and heat-blued hands, it’s hard to imagine a more traditional look.
The 2018 Cartier Santos can serve dress-watch and sports-watch duties equally well, and boasts a history that few timepieces can match.
• In-house mechanical movement with automatic winding
• Seven-sided crown set with a faceted synthetic spinel
• Silvered opaline dial, blued-steel sword-shaped hands, sapphire crystal
• Water-resistant to 10 bar (approximately 100 metres)
• Medium version case width: 35.1 mm, thickness: 8.83 mm
• Large version case width: 39.8 mm, thickness: 9.08 mm
• Pricing from A$8,750 for the Cartier Santos Medium in steel, to A$52,500 for the Cartier Santos Large in solid pink gold with matching pink gold bracelet. For stockists, visit www.au.cartier.com.
Finnair will launch inflight Internet on its European flights this week, with travellers able to enjoy the high-speed satellite service free of charge during a two-month trial period running through to the end of September.
The Oneworld airline has already outfitted six of its single-aisle Airbus jets with technology provided through partner Viasat, which also provided the backbone for Qantas' Australia-wide WiFi system.
By the end of northern summer some 20 aircraft will be upgraded, with Finnair's entire single-aisle Airbus fleet slated for WiFi by mid-2019.
The system will be available on a gate-to-gate basis, so passengers won't even need to wait for their jet to reach level flight – which will maximise time online for many of Finnair's relatively short European hops.
However, parts of some European routes will present black spots to the satellite network, including above the Bay of Biscay and the North Sea, while some restrictions also apply over Latvia, Lithuania, parts of Belarus and Russia.
Over the two-month testing period Finnair intends to "gather information on system functionality and feedback on the overall customer experience."
"In entering the passenger testing phase, we’ll be gaining the critical insights needed to further optimise our service to ensure Finnair customers get a unique experience built around their needs, interests and usage behaviours," explains Viasat vice-president Don Buchman.
The airline has yet to reveal what pricing it will charge for its sky-high WiFi once the trial period ends, although frequent flyers will no doubt hope that some sort of monthly pass is available as an alternative to paying on a per-flight basis.
Finnair already offers WiFi on its long-range 'intercontinental' jets, with the first hour free for business class and Finnair Plus Gold members, then €3 (A$4.70) for three hours or €20 (A$31) for the entire flight. Finnair Plus Platinum frequent flyers are provided with free Internet access for the whole flight.