Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer frequent flyer scheme is a favourite among savvy spenders, particularly for using miles to fly in business class or even first class to Singapore and beyond.
Earning those miles in Australia couldn’t be easier, thanks to a range of KrisFlyer-earning credit cards from banks including American Express Australia, Diners Club, St. George and Westpac. Australian Business Traveller highlights five of your best options, along with what you’ll pay in annual fees.
1. American Express Explorer, Business Explorer cards
Slip a personal American Express Explorer Card or the Business Explorer Card into your wallet to reel in two Membership Rewards Gateway points per dollar spent on most charges, equal to 1.5 KrisFlyer miles. There’s a $395 annual fee to pay, but that’s more than offset by a $400 travel credit for personal cardholders that can be used towards flights and hotels, or a yearly Business Loyalty Bonus equal to 37,500 KrisFlyer miles for eligible business spenders.
Apply for the personal card and spend at least $1,500 within the first three months – or apply for the business card and charge at least $3,000 within the first three months – to earn an added bonus of 100,000 Gateway points: worth 75,000 KrisFlyer miles! Primary cardholders also enjoy two visits to the American Express Sydney Airport Lounge every year, regardless of which airline they’re flying.
2. American Express Business Accelerator Card
If you have an ABN, you could instead pocket up to two Membership Rewards Ascent points per dollar spent on the American Express Business Accelerator Card – equal to two KrisFlyer miles – in return for a $160 annual fee.
After accruing 100,000 points in a single calendar year (from $50,000 in spend), the earning rate decreases to one KrisFlyer mile per dollar on all future transactions, except on insurance, utility and government payments which always earn the equivalent of 0.5 KrisFlyer miles per dollar.
3. American Express Platinum, Business Platinum and Platinum Edge Cards
The personal American Express Platinum Card, American Express Business Platinum Card and the American Express Platinum Edge Card deliver the equivalent of 1 KrisFlyer mile per dollar spent on most everyday charges, but offer double and even triple points with certain businesses, depending on where you spend the most.
Earn 3 KrisFlyer miles per dollar spent at Australian restaurants and 2 KrisFlyer miles per dollar spent with airlines, hotels and when overseas via the AMEX Platinum Card, or 3 KrisFlyer miles per dollar spent at major supermarkets and 2 KrisFlyer miles per dollar spent at major petrol stations through the AMEX Platinum Edge Card.
Business owners can instead earn 2 KrisFlyer miles per dollar on restaurant, airline, hotel, advertising, courier and computer equipment spend via the Business Platinum Card, while all three cards provide 0.5 KrisFlyer miles per dollar spent on government, utility and insurance payments, with the Platinum Card attracting a $1,200 annual fee, the Business Platinum Card a $1,500 annual fee and the Platinum Edge Card a $195 annual fee.
4. Westpac Altitude Black American Express with World Mastercard
Whip out Westpac’s Altitude Black American Express card to earn 2.5 Altitude Rewards points per dollar spent, equal to 1 KrisFlyer mile, or swipe the Altitude Black World Mastercard to net 1.25 Altitude points (0.5 KrisFlyer miles) per dollar spent.
A single $395 annual fee covers both cards – currently reduced to $195 in the first year – with 80,000 bonus Altitude Rewards points (equal to 32,000 KrisFlyer miles) also on the table for eligible new customers who apply by October 26 2017 and spend at least $5,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days of card approval.
5. Diners Club personal charge card with World Mastercard
Diners Club isn’t as widely welcome as American Express, but if you do transact where Diners is accepted, you’ll score two Diners Club Rewards points per dollar spent: equal to 1 KrisFlyer mile (2:1 conversion) via the Diners Club personal charge card with an attached World Mastercard.
When required, that MasterCard also pulls in 0.75 Diners Club Rewards points per dollar charged – equal to 0.375 KrisFlyer miles – while a single $299 annual fee covers both cards.
Honourable mention: St. George Amplify Signature Visa
AMEX and Diners Club cards are naturally your best bets for earning KrisFlyer miles, but for those times where Visa or Mastercard are more welcome, the St. George Amplify Signature Visa is hard to beat: pumping out 0.825 KrisFlyer miles per dollar spent, uncapped.
You'll start by earning 1.5 Amplify points per dollar spent – equal to 0.75 KrisFlyer miles after a 2:1 conversion – but will also pick up a 10% 'birthday bonus' on your yearly points haul every time your birthday month rolls around, giving you an all-out total of 0.825 miles per dollar spent.
Also up for grabs are 60,000 bonus Amplify points (30,000 KrisFlyer miles) when you apply by September 20 2017 and spend at least $3,000 on the card within 90 days of approval, plus 30,000 bonus Amplify points (15,000 KrisFlyer miles) in the second year when you pay the $279 annual card fee once more.
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.