20 May 2011

Your first encounter with a destination icon

 (Photo: flickr/geoftheref)
RunawayJuno has written an excellent post today about a child's excitement on their first flight. She asks the question "do you remember your first time?"

I don't, but it reminded me of a couple of other travelling firsts. I remember both having a huge impact on me.
  1. My first time in America. It was Boston and I remember walking out of the hotel and seeing a police car with all the red & blue lights and the chrome gleaming in the morning light. I grew up seeing American police cars on TV and in films but this just didn't seem real to me. I couldn't get my head around it for a moment. 
  2. My first time in Japan. I was walking in the early evening in one of the old parts of Kyoto and stopped in my tracks when I saw a real Geisha in full costume, clattering towards me on those wooden shoes they wear. She was stunning and I was stunned.

I guess the same must happen when people encounter their first London bus,  red pillar box, wild kangaroo, Tibetan monk or Canadian mountie.

Do you remember any first encounters with a destination icon?

16 May 2011

Target attribute - what's the thinking?

How many new windows can you open?
Ok you programmers & developers out there, what's the latest thinking on this?

Site wide external links should open in a new tab/window (target="_blank") or the current tab?

The purists always used to say 'current', but that's not the way I like to work so I've always made my links open in new tabs. 

That's because when I'm browsing I ALWAYS open links in new tabs so I can go straight back to the original page. Eg on a Google search, I right-click+tab three or four results that interest me, leaving the results page open so I can go back for more if they prove useless.

This is especially important on Travel-Lists, because... they are lists! It would do fabulous things for my stats if visitors had to re-open the list every time they wanted to click the next listing, but would be pretty irritating to use.

However, with a site re-design in the pipeline, I'm beginning to wonder. 

Not least because of the increase in mobile users. If I visit my site on my mobile, I can only open a couple of links before Android tells me I can't open another window. (According to tech forum posts the limit is 4 windows).

So is it time to ditch the 'blank'?

10 May 2011

Dreamliner represents something more than just an evolutionary airliner

I was talking to Yoshimi Ogura from ANA - All Nippon Airways, last night at the APRO (Airline Public Relations Organisation) event.

We were discussing the Boeing 737 Dreamliner, for which ANA is the launch customer.

As you probably know the Dreamliner has had a less than perfect development with endless delays. Since 2007 the delivery date (originally scheduled for May 2008) has been postponed at least 8 times, the latest delay being announced this January. ANA hope, finally, to take delivery, fingers crossed, before the end of the year, but none of the aviation journos I know are placing bets.

I was asking Yoshimi about the 'difficult to quantify' effect all these delays must have had on the airline, with people, training, equipment, resources, jobs... all being put on hold, then starting up again, then being put on hold.

She said something rather interesting. She said: Yes, it has been a strain for everyone but recently it's taken on an added significance.

Now, they just can't wait to start flying the first Dreamliner because "after all the bad things that have happened recently (earthquake & tsunami) we really, really want to have something good to talk about!"

The Best Airline in the World*

Qatar Airways A340-600 (Oops! Long gap since last post. I've been a bit buried recently, working on a new home for Travel-Lists and for this blog. Watch this space)

I had an interesting time at the APRO (Airline Public Relations Organisation) evening last night - sponsored by Qatar Airways (thank you, guys) who are, not just the *'Best Airline in the World', but are also expanding like crazy at the moment.

Last year they launched flights to 10 new destinations (Bangalore, Tokyo, Ankara, Copenhagen, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Phuket, Hanoi & Nice).

This year they have added five new routes (Bucharest, Budapest, Brussels, Stuttgart and Aleppo). The Aleppo service, which launched at the beginning of last month, is the significant one because it is their 100th destination.

Next month the Iranian city of Shiraz gets added to the network, along with Venice and Montreal. In July it's Kolkata (Calcutta), in September it's Sofia, in October, Oslo and in November Entebbe, Baku (Azerbaijan) & Tbilisi (Georgia).

Meanwhile they have been increasing frequencies on their existing routes and expanding their fleet, currently 97+ aircraft... not one of which is older than 4 years (and remember they started 14 years ago with four aircraft).

The plan is, that by 2013 they'll have a fleet of 120+ aircraft serving a network to 120+ destination.

Talk about 'busy, busy, busy'!

Model aeroplanes on shelf* Qatar Airways are self-evidently the "Best Airline in the World" and my saying so has nothing to do with the glorious model of a Qatar Airways A340-600 which was in my goodie bag last night. I remain a totally impartial and incorruptible travel journalist ;) and will continue to declare Qatar Airways the "Best Airline in the World"..... unless another airline (cough) does better. (Did you see what I did there?)