Philippine carrier Cebu Pacific Air waives rebooking charges for international, domestic flights

UAE passengers flying with a Philippine carrier will no longer have to pay extra when they make changes to their flight bookings within 24 hours of ticket purchase.

Cebu Pacific Air, which operates flights between the UAE and the Philippines, has announced that it is waiving the rebooking charges of a little over Dh164 and Dh200 (2,300 and 2,800 pesos) on short haul and long haul international flights, respectively. The corresponding fees for domestic flights, estimated to be around Dh107 (1,500 pesos), are also being waived. The new policy, which took effect on August 1, 2017, benefits Filipino expatriates, other flyers in the UAE and other markets, as well as domestic passengers in the Philippines.

The waiver on the rebooking and cancellations fees can be availed of by customers at all booking channels – whether the tickets are booked through a travel agent, ticket office or call centre.

However, passengers are advised that they may need to pay extra money to cover any fare difference when making changes to their bookings.

The airline has also recently made some changes to its booking systems to enable passengers to secure Manila airport terminal fee or international passenger service charge exemptions when booking via the carrier’s mobile app and website.

Countries that allow UAE residents visas on arrival

Keen to go for a long weekend somewhere, but hold a passport that makes it hard to just hop to a destination without pre-planning? Well, here are some options.

UAE residents from South Africa, India, Lebanon and more will be used to the struggle to get a visa when wanting to visit a country. But, thankfully, some nearby spots allow those with UAE residency visas to bypass typical visa regulations and get a visa on arrival. Here’s a guide..

Armenia

Armenia has a special visa-waiver programme for Indian nationals with a UAE residency visa. Indians normally can only enter Armenia as diplomats or with an invitation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, if they have a UAE residency visa they will get a visit visa on arrival thanks to an agreement with the UAE. (A short stay visa on arrival will cost around Dhs20 according to reports.) Meanwhile, Lebanese, Jordanian and South African nationals will get a visa on arrival (as will UAE citizens). Some of those who won’t? Pakistani, Syrian, Saudi, Nepali, Sri Lankan and all other African nationalities (among others).

Georgia

While there is no Georgian consulate that you can phone in the UAE, multiple airlines and travel companies told us that all people with a UAE residency visa can enter this burgeoning tourist spot for 90 days without a visa.You will just have to show your valid residence visa upon arrival.Holders of valid visa or residence permit of UAE are exempted from visa requirements. You can enter Georgia without a visa for 90 days in any 180-day period. Please, note that you must present relevant valid visa or residence permit along with your travel document/passport at the moment of crossing Georgian border.

Azerbaijan

If you have a UAE residence visa and you’re travelling to this oil-rich nation with an Emirati national you can get a visa on arrival. If you’re travelling without a UAE citizen many nationalities will need to get a visa before your trip, but citizens of 81 countries can apply for the visa easily online.

Montenegro

There were some reports that those with UAE residency visas could visit Montenegro and get a visa on arrival, and that this would start in July 2017, but we called the Montenegro embassy and they’ve said that that agreement is now over, so you’ll need to apply for a visa to visit there now if you’re from a country that needs one

Though the above information is checked and verified, please check with the embassies about your particular circumstances before you book your non-refundable flights.

4 UAE carriers suspend flights to and from Doha

Emirates, Etihad Airways, flydubai and Air Arabia have suspended flights to and from Doha starting June 6 until further notice after the UAE announced it was severing diplomatic ties with Qatar.

Etihad said the last flight from Abu Dhabi to Doha will depart at 2.45am (local time) on June 6, and the last flight from Doha to Abu Dhabi will depart at 4am (local time) on the same day. It added that the airline is providing all its customers who booked flights to and from Doha with alternative options including full refunds on unused tickets and free rebooking to the nearest alternate Etihad Airways destinations.

Similarly, flydubai said it was suspending all its flights between Dubai and Doha. In a statement, the carrier urged passengers who have purchased tickets to fly between Dubai and Doha, to contact their travel agent, the flydubai travel shop in Doha on 00974 4 4227350/51 or our contact centre in Dubai on (00971) 600 544445 to arrange a refund.

Emirates added that all customers booked on Emirates’ flights to and from Doha will be provided with alternative options, including full refunds on unused tickets and free rebooking to the nearest alternate Emirates destination. The carrier urged passengers to call its contact centre 600 555555, or visit the airline’s website.

Air Arabia said it was suspending Doha flights to and from both Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah airports from June 6. Bahrain-based Gulf Air, too, took a similar measure, announcing the suspension of all its flights between Bahrain and Doha effective midnight June 6 and until further notice.

Emirates’ First Class is Becoming Even More classier

Emirates is overhauling its first-class offering, reducing the number of available berths, as it seeks to cater to the world’s wealthiest travelers amid slowing growth.

The airline’s new premium section, to be featured on its Boeing Co. 777-300ERs, will have six private suites instead of eight, Emirates said in an e-mailed statement. The cabins will be presented in November sporting “a totally fresh new look,” said Tim Clark, Emirates president.

Emirates, which has been developing new first-class cabins for several years, has been hit by falling demand from premium Gulf passengers and industry-wide concerns about terrorism. To cope with some of the toughest operating conditions in its 30-year history, Emirates is revamping the bars on its Airbus SE A380s, mulling a premium-economy class for the first time and considering introducing narrow-bodies to its all-widebody fleet in cooperation with low-cost sister carrier FlyDubai.

The smaller cabins come just after Qatar Airways announced its Qsuite, a new business-class section with double-beds that morph into meeting rooms. The market for the most expensive seats on an aircraft is at a crossroads, with many carriers either scaling back first-class offerings, while others such as Etihad Airways are taking the opposite approach by adding three-room cabins.

Emirates, which is also known for onboard showers, will show its new first-class cabins and the corresponding routes at the biennial Dubai Airshow.

Emirates to start flights to Zagreb, Croatia from June 2017

Emirates has announced plans to begin daily flights to the Croatian capital Zagreb later this year.

The airline said the new Boeing 777-300 service to Franjo Tuđman (Pleso) International Airport would begin from June 1.

It first began its commercial presence in Croatia in 2003.

“We are also committed to our contribution to growing the trade and tourism flows between Croatia and Dubai, as well as encouraging incoming tourism from the Middle East and Asia Pacific, where Emirates operates 45 destinations,” said Thierry Antinori, Emirates’ EVP and CCO.

Flight EK129 will depart Dubai at 8:15am and arrive in Zagreb at 12:20pm.

Return journey EK130 will depart Zagreb at 3:35pm and arrive in Dubai at 11:05pm.

Emirates will offer 12 first class, 42 business class and 310 economy class seats on each flight with 16 tonnes of cargo.

The airline said it expected the new daily service to benefit travellers in neighbouring Slovenia and regions of Hungary and Austria.

Emirates also recently announced plans to serve its Narita route with an Airbus A380.

 

Zagreb, Croatia

Flights to Zagreb take culture-hungry travellers to a charming city where quaint cafes and locally owned restaurants line busy medieval streets. From the historic Upper Town to the attraction-packed Lower Town, the city embodies new European cool.

During the spring and summer months, venture beyond the capital to explore breath-taking national parks and go hiking in the mountains. You can also spend a few days in the city soaking up the culture – the Museum of Contemporary Art is a must – then head to Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, where you’ll find gorgeous Split. From there, swap the car for the sea and set sail to picturesque Hvar or Brac for a taste of the Adriatic.

Dubrovnik is not to be missed when you visit Croatia. Picturesque and full of history, the whimsical architecture of the walled Old Town will draw you in and ensure your holiday photographs pop.

But Zagreb isn’t just a summer break destination. In the colder months, the many museums offer both shelter and mental stimulation, and the ski resort of Sljeme on mountain Medvednica is just a twenty minute drive from the city. The traditional villages at the foot of the mountain produce some of the best gingerbread you’ll ever taste.

Business travellers with an interest in tech start-ups can seize opportunities in Zagreb too. All the largest Croatian companies, media and scientific institutions have headquarters there.

If time isn’t an issue, you also use Zagreb as your springboard on the ultimate Central European road trip.

What to do in Zagreb

Browse Britanski trg

Zagreb’s British Square is filled with fruit and vegetable hawkers during the week, but on Sunday mornings it’s taken over by an open-air flea market, with over 100 stalls selling all sorts of antiques. Early risers, collectors and culture vultures will all enjoy browsing the wares.

Sample nightlife in Tkalčićeva

The city centre’s main nightlife stretch is lined with cafes, bars and restaurants. Tourists’ hot spots are dotted along its spine, but be sure to delve down every historic side-street too. Otto&Frank is a firm favourite with both locals and visitors.

Wander the Botanical Gardens

A tranquil haven in the summer time, Zagreb’s Botanical Gardens date back to 1889. Fragrant flora and fauna is spread over five hectares, providing the ideal tranquil backdrop to a morning stroll.

Ride the funicular

This 66 metre long track connects the Ilica Street (Donji Grad) with Strossmayerovo šetalište (Strossmayer promenade) to the north (Gornji Grad) – once the busiest path in Zagreb. It may be the shortest cable car ride in the world, but it’s a must when you visit Zagreb.

Swim in Jarun Lake

Join the locals in a cooling dip in Jarun Lake during the summer. Adrenaline junkies can enjoy the many water sports on offer, or if you’d rather stay dry, the pebble beach is surrounded by biking trails. Located in the south of Zagreb, Jarun Lake is known as the ‘Zagreb Sea’ thanks to its multifaceted nature.

Shed a tear at the Museum of Broken Relationships

This slightly cynical museum tells the tale of failed romances through a collection of artefacts, donated by jilted lovers who feel the objects represent their broken affairs. The exhibition is strangely compelling, and there’s also a café on-site where you can indulge.

Henderson Island has ‘world’s worst’ plastic rubbish density

Henderson Island An uninhabited island in the South Pacific is littered with the highest density of plastic waste anywhere in the world, according to a study.

Island, part of the UK’s Pitcairn Islands group, has an estimated 37.7 million pieces of debris on its beaches.

The island is near the centre of an ocean current, meaning it collects much rubbish from boats and South America.

Researchers hope people will “rethink their relationship with plastic”.

The joint Australian and British study said the rubbish amounted to 671 items per square metre and a total of 17 tonnes.

“A lot of the items on Henderson Island are what we wrongly refer to as disposable or single-use,” said Dr Jennifer Lavers from the University of Tasmania.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, described how remote islands act as a “sink” for the world’s rubbish.

In addition to fishing items, Henderson Island was strewn with everyday things including toothbrushes, cigarette lighters and razors.

“Land crabs are making their homes inside bottle caps, containers and jars,” Dr Lavers told the BBC.

“At first it looks a little bit cute, but it’s not. This plastic is old, it’s sharp, it’s brittle and toxic.”

A large number of hard hats of “every shape, colour and size” were also discovered, the marine scientist said.

Scale of waste

Henderson Island is listed by Unesco as a coral atoll with a relatively unique ecology, notable for 10 plant and four bird species.

It is 190km (120 miles) from Pitcairn Island, about 5,000km from Chile, and sits near the centre of the South Pacific Gyre – a massive rotating current.

The condition of the island highlighted how plastic debris has affected the environment on a global scale, Dr Lavers said.

“Almost every island in the world and almost every species in the ocean is now being shown to be impacted one way or another by our waste,” she said.

“There’s not really any one person or any one country that gets a free pass on this.”

She said plastic was devastating to oceans because it was buoyant and durable.

The research was conducted by the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, and the Centre for Conservation Science at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Singapore luxury ‘car vending machine’ dispenses Ferraris, Bentleys

A futuristic 15-story showroom in Singapore dubbed the “world’s largest luxury car vending machine,” has opened offering customers million-dollar supercars, including Ferraris, Bentleys, Lamborghinis and Porsches.

The facility built by used car dealer Autobahn Motors (ABM) simulates a “fish-bone” system capable of minimizing wind resistance. About 60 luxury cars are displayed in its illuminated showcase.

Vehicles on offer run from modern luxury sports cars to classics, including a 1955 Morgan Plus 4.

According to the company, customers on the ground floor choose from a touchscreen display which car they want to see. The car arrives within one to two minutes using an advanced vehicle retrieval system.

The vending machine format aims to make efficient use of space in land-scarce Singapore as well as standing out from the competition, said ABM General Manager Gary Hong.

“We needed to meet our requirement of storing a lot of cars. At the same time, we wanted to be creative and innovative,” he told Reuters, adding that developers have shown interest in using the company’s Automotive Inventory Management System for parking services.

US company Carvana also uses vending machine-like towers to sell used cars. In March, it opened an eight-floor facility that holds up to 30 cars in San Antonio, Texas. In total, the company has four locations across the United States, with the first car vending machine opened in late 2015. Carvana customers can drop a coin in the slot and pick up their new purchases at the vending machines or have the cars delivered directly to their door.

Hair therapy boosts Turkey’s receding tourist numbers

On his to-do list for his trip to Istanbul, Palestinian tourist Jameel wants to visit the Blue Mosque and take a tour on the Bosphorus, like any other tourist.

But he has one more, less conventional purpose — to have 1,500 strands of hair implanted one by one, in an increasingly popular anti-hair loss treatment in the Turkish metropolis.

With over 300 clinics specialized in hair transplant alone, Istanbul is becoming a growing hub in the industry, attracting patients from all over the world but mainly from the Middle East and the Gulf.

Experienced surgeons, advanced technology and relatively low prices are a plus for many tourists. And its growth in the last couple of years has come as a boon for a city where foreign tourism has fallen drastically since a spate of terror attacks in 2016.

“I came to Turkey for the hair transplant and a bit of tourism. Turkey has an excellent reputation when it comes to hair implants,” 27-year-old Jameel said, speaking to AFP after the surgery at an Istanbul hospital, on condition of not using his full name.

Faisal Abu Ahmad, from Saudi Arabia, said his uncle underwent the treatment in Turkey and so he followed suit.

“Rapid hair loss pushed me to undergo the operation. I started getting bald spots,” he said.

At the tourist hubs of Istanbul such as Taksim Square, it is hard to miss the men wandering around with shaved heads and bandages after their operations, proudly sporting the branded headbands of their clinics.

They have become so ubiquitous that residents of Istanbul joke that a man with a bandaged head could be the city’s new symbol.

“Prices are very, very attractive. However, the second most critical element is the quality of this treatment,” said Talip Tastemel, the general manager of Clinic Expert.

“Turkey is very advanced in cosmetic surgeries and hair transplantation, so the patients are buying a very high quality treatment at a quarter of the normal cost” in some other countries.

Package offers for foreign patients include pickup from the airport, hotel accommodation, the surgery itself and tourism.

Around 1,200 euros ($1,312) would get a patient three days in Istanbul and a top quality medical treatment, whereas the same surgery could cost up to 6,000 euros in Europe, or only slightly less in the Middle East.

The operation is carried out with Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) where tiny hairs are taken out one by one from areas where the patient still has hair like the nape of the neck.

After the harvesting, they are implanted in the areas where the patient has lost hair. The procedure takes around eight to 10 hours, while the tiny transplanted hairs can take weeks or months to take root and grow.

5,000 foreign patients on monthly basis

Emre Ali Kodan, consultant for the Health Tourism Association, said 5,000 foreign patients undergo hair transplants in Turkey every month, with the vast majority coming from the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

“We are setting our sights on a 10-percent increase in hair transplant alone (in 2017). It would not be a dream to reach up to 6,500 patients a month,” he told AFP.

Patients from Greece, Italy and Russia are also showing interest, he said.

“Despite the decline in the tourism sector in 2016, we see a five-percent growth in health tourism, based on statistics,” Kodan said, adding that the aim was to achieve up to seven billion dollars in revenue this year.

Taştemel said the hair treatment sector was showing a resilience lacking in other branches of the tourism sector, which saw revenues plummet more than 17 percent in the first three months of this year compared to the same period in 2016.

No problem in sector

“Even when there were problems in the tourism industry it didn’t affect the medical tourism domain very much,” he said.

“We kept doing a high number of operations even during the crisis period.”

A pharmacist himself, Jameel said he tried many medicines to stop hair loss but they didn’t work.

“At this age, losing your hair has a big impact on your looks.

“That’s why when you lose it, you start looking for solutions to fix this hair problem,” he said.

Taştemel said men need to be proud of their hair.

“To be honest, men don’t have many accessories to present themselves with. It is mainly our cars, our watches and our hair at the end of the day,” he said.

“We are not able to use make-up.

“The look that we have comes mainly from our hair, so when you lose it, it is like something is taken from you.” Clinic Expert offers a range of cosmetic surgeries but hair transplants are its main business and Taştemel said success rates tended to be good.

“In medicine you cannot guarantee a result, you can expect some failures occasionally, but in hair transplantation this is at the very minimum,” Taştemel said.

“Anybody who does this in a decent clinic with a decent doctor, and a decent technique should expect 100-percent success.”

Stuttgart airport offers travellers prayer booth

Designed by Berlin artist Oliver Sturm, The prayer booth at Stuttgart Airport’s Terminal 3 features 300 prayers from various religions in 65 different languages. the photo booth-sized cabin offers a vast variety, including the Christian Lord’s Prayer, the Jewish Shma Israel and the Islamic muezzin’s call to prayer.

Feeling nervous before your flight? Travellers at one German airport can now receive spiritual solace by entering a booth and listening to a prayer of their choice before boarding the plane.

 

The photo booth-sized cabin offers a vast variety, including the Christian Lord’s Prayer, the Jewish Shma Israel and the Islamic muezzin’s call to prayer.

The Hindu Hare Krishna chant and a funeral ceremony from the Solomon Islands are also available. An airport spokeswoman said today the ‘Gebetomat’ prayer booth, which was first designed by Sturm in 2008, was installed Thursday and is free of charge.

flydubai Spring Sale is now on..

flydubaiBook your flights from Dubai to select destinations in Economy or Business Class today by flydubai and save up to 20%. Fares start from AED 448, so don’t miss out. Offer valid until 31 January 2016 to fly between 01 February and 30 April 2016.




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Emirates Airlines announces daily flight to Panama City

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