International Civil Aviation Day

Like most toddlers, BB was fascinated by planes, but unlike most boys, this fascination has carried on as he grew up and has propelled him to his area of study and where he is today. But today, with the airline industry in shambles due to the ongoing pandemic, I wonder if he will continue in this field or will make a pivot, but that’s a topic for another day. So, when I heard about this day devoted to civil aviation, I knew I had to find out more.

Tomorrow is the International Civil Aviation Day which has been celebrated on 07 December each year since 1994 by the International Civil Aviation Organisation or ICAO. The ICAO is an autonomous UN Body accountable for keeping up with the safety standards of international aviation. The date was chosen because December 07 1994 was the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known more popularly as the Chicago Convention, was signed by delegates from 54 countries. This defining international agreement has since permitted the global civil aviation system to develop peacefully and in a manner benefitting all peoples and nations of the world. The purpose of the day is to recognise the importance of aviation, especially international air travel, to the social and economic development of the world and the day is intended is to help generate and reinforce worldwide awareness of the importance of international civil aviation to the social and economic development of countries, and of the unique role of ICAO in helping countries to cooperate and realise a global rapid transit network at the service of all mankind. The importance of aviation as an engine of global connectivity has never been more relevant to look to international flight as a fundamental enabler of global peace and prosperity.

Seventy-five years after ICAO’s foundation, the International Civil Aviation network carries over four billion passengers annually. The global Air Transport sector supports 65.5 million jobs and USD 2.7 trillion in global economic activity, with over 10 million women and men working within the industry to ensure 120,000 flights and 12 million passengers a day are carried safely to their destinations. The wider supply chain, flow-on impacts and jobs in tourism made possible by air transport show that at least 65.5 million jobs and 3.6 per cent of global economic activity are supported by the aviation industry according to research by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG).

Civil aviation, which includes all non-military aviation, both private and commercial plays a key role in human affairs. It lets us discover our world’s wondrous geographic and cultural diversity, enables us to learn about and benefit from each other and connects societies through global travel and trade, advancing access to food, education and healthcare. Today COVID-19 has severed international connections by air, cut off businesses from clients, kept tourists from destinations and disproportionately affected the vulnerable, it has also disrupted the operations and finances of airlines and airports worldwide, threatening their capacity to assure the global supply of medicines, vaccines, humanitarian aid and other vital goods. Aviation is also an energy-guzzling industry with emissions from the industry accounting for more than 2% of the global total, ranking it in the top ten emitters, so this time can be spent in thinking of ways to make the industry greener.

Every five years, coinciding with ICAO anniversaries, the ICAO council establishes a special anniversary theme for International Civil Aviation Day. Between these anniversary years, Council representatives select a single theme for the full four-year intervening period. The theme until 2023 is Advancing Innovation for Global Aviation Development. Aviation is an important engine of our world and will be playing a critical role in lifting the world to recovery from COVID-19. It connects us and allows us to meet family and friends and also broaden our horizons and our minds. To everyone in this industry, especially in these trying times, here’s hoping that times change for the better and the skies are once again filled with planes transporting people and goods across the seas and land.

Top 10 Airlines

The other day as I was really struggling to find inspiration to write, I chanced upon this article on Tripadvisor on the top airlines of the world, so thought this would be something nice to share for my travel hashtag!

So….drum roll…The top airlines in the world are…

  1. Emirates
  2. Singapore Airlines
  3. Azul
  4. Jetblue
  5. Air New Zealand
  6. Korean Air
  7. Japan Airlines
  8. Thai Smile
  9. Alaska Airlines
  10. Garuda Indonesia

Some of these are expected like Thai, Emirates and Singapore, but some are totally new to me. This list is based on feedback from TripAdvisor reviewers though, so it’s probably subjective.

I found another list on Aviation Blog which seems to be a more industry-specific list.

  1. Air New Zealand
  2. Qantas
  3. Singapore Airlines
  4. Virgin Australia
  5. Virgin Atlantic
  6. Etihad Airways
  7. All Nippon Airways
  8. Korean Air
  9. Cathay Pacific
  10. Japan Airlines

For category-specific awards:

  • Airline of the Year: Air New Zealand
  • Best First Class: Singapore Airlines
  • Best Business Class: Virgin Australia
  • Best Premium Economy: Air New Zealand
  • Best Economy: Korean Air
  • Best Cabin Crew: Singapore Airlines
  • Best Catering: Qantas
  • Best Lounges: Qantas
  • Best In-flight Entertainment: Emirates
  • Best Domestic Class: Qantas
  • Regional Airline of the Year: Aegan Airlines (Greece)
  • Most Improved Airline: Tianjin Airlines (China)
  • Ultra-Low-Cost Airline: VietJetAir.com (Vietnam)
  • Best Long-Haul Airline: Etihad (for the Middle East and Africa), Korean Air (Asia-Pacific), Virgin Atlantic (Europe) and Air Canada (the Americas)
  • Best Low-Cost Airline: Westjet (the Americas), Scoot (Asia-Pacific) and Norwegian (Europe)

Ticketing tales

On Tuesday I finally booked our tickets for our holidays this year. We’re going to Chennai this year as opposed to Mumbai since my sister is there and my parents will come there from Mumbai. Also since we’re going on a very short trip, we just don’t have the time to do two cities. We are going on a very truncated holiday this year for a couple of reasons – one, since I just joined this new position, I do not have many days of leave and two, GG has her ballet concert in the third week of December and she wanted to be a part of it so we leave the day after the concert.

The concert is on a Sunday and so we wanted to leave on the first available flight on Monday morning. That happened to be Jet Airways. I have flown this airline before and have liked the service they provide although both I was not too crazy to fly this particular airline to Chennai as it is a single aisle aircraft. Both S and BB didn’t want to fly this airline, but because it was the only one with a flight in the morning, we decided to go for it. Now the fun starts in my story. I checked the prices around 2 pm and it should me around S$ 2200 for 4 tickets. When I got home and tried buying the tickets around 6 pm, it had increased to S$ 2700. I was angry but still went through the online reservations system as I didn’t want to waste one day of the 13 we were going to have. Then there was some issue with my credit card and the transaction didn’t go through. When I redid the booking, the cost was now more than S$ 3000! I got angry and checked the fares for Singapore Airlines. The fares there were only S$ 2400, but the flight was at night. That was it, I decided to go with SIA and booked my tickets. I then wrote to Jet Airways about my experiences and so far, they’ve still not given me a reasonable explanation (one that I can understand) for this whole fiasco. Initially I thought of not blogging about this, but given what happened, I think I should do it so if there is anyone out there reading this blog (the one or two people maybe, hopefully?), it’s a lesson to them.

Image courtesy airlines.net

Image courtesy of airliners.net

Below are my two emails to Jet and their responses:

My initial note to them using the feedback form on their website

Hi,

I tried reserving tickets to Chennai yesterday. When I checked the fares around 2 pm, I found a figure which was acceptable to me. Then when I tried booking the tickets around 6 pm, the rate had increased by around $500 compared to 2 pm. During the transaction, I had a query for which I tried calling your office here in Singapore, but was on hold for 15 minutes during which my transaction time had exceeded and I could not make the booking. Then when I tried again, this time the rate increased by another S$200. This means that between 2 pm and 6 pm, the rate for 4 tickets increased by S$700! This inspite of not having icon near the rates to show that they are increasing or even letting me know before I book the tickets that the rates will be increasing! When I tried your office at that point (it was around 6:10 pm), I got a recorded message saying that the office is closed for the day. I got fed up and booked my tickets using another carrier. I then see an email which came to me at 8:15 pm saying that my tickets are on hold. I had already booked my tickets with another airline by then so this was of no use to me. I do not think this is the right thing to do. I would appreciate if someone called me or wrote to me with an explanation on why this happened. I have flown Jet many times and have always had a good time with the airline, but when something like this happens even before you fly, it makes you want to rethink using the airline.

The first response from Jet

Thank you for your mail and contacting Jet Airways.

We would like to mention that fares are dynamic and can change based on flight loads, seasonality and promotions. 

With regard to the contents of your communication, kindly allow us to mention that we have various classes / levels of fares loaded in our system taking into account different factors such as demand, season, traffic on any given route, cancellations etc. 

May we assure you that we are not in any way trying to discourage our passengers as a matter of fact these fares are designed to benefit our passengers. 

We look forward to your support and apologize for all the inconvenience caused. 

Huh? Maybe I am thick, but I don’t think they actually answered what I asked them

My response to this email:

Thank you for your email. I don’t think that there were so many people trying to book the exact same date combination as I was within that 4  hour period that the prices increased by S$ 700. I don’t see how the prices can be adjusted so much in such a short period of time. If what you say is correct, then the prices should have stayed at that increased rate of about S$ 3000+ for 4 tickets to Chennai on the same dates that I booked. I just checked your website for the same dates and the prices are in the range of S$ 2600, which is about S$ 400 lower than what was quoted to me when I tried to book the ticket. Does this mean that the time we book the ticket has a bearing on the prices? I would like a response from you since if this is true, the next time I fly the airline, I will know the best time to book my tickets.

Their reply

Thank you for your mail and contacting Jet Airways.
With regards to the same, the Online Booking Engine on jetairways.com quotes fares from a pricing database, which is delinked from the actual system where the booking is made. The reason why we have used this approach, is to optimize the speed of the system, so that our guests do not experience delayed responses. 
Once the guest confirms his purchase, as a check point, the system then reconfirms the actual fare in the backend reservation system. If it is a match, it goes ahead with ticketing and if not, the repricing page is shown, where the guest needs to reconfirm the new price to proceed. Note, at this point in time, the guest can withdraw his willingness to purchase the ticket. 

The probability of the reprice page to show up is less than 1% as we have automated mechanisms to pick up the fares dynamically from the system based on an internal logic flow. Note, there can be times where the guest cancels the reprice page request and tries again from the start. The probability of the old fare being shown is very high as the system takes time to then update the new fare into the database. 

I am not going to reply to this email, but will think multiple times the next time I fly this airline. I used to be such a fan, but now, they’ve lost a paying passenger! C’est la vie…