Sunday, 26 May 2013

What citizenship if birth occurs mid-flight?


The premise

I once heard that if a baby was born mid-flight that there was a Treaty that allowed the mother of the child to choose the citizenship of the child being one of the following:

1)      the country from which the flight came,

2)      the country to which the flight was going, or

3)      the country over which the flight was at the time of birth.

I was never sure if it was just a myth or there was something to it so I decided to do some research.

Of course, many airlines don’t allow expectant mothers to fly in their last trimester but that doesn’t mean that mothers don’t go into labour and give birth during flights. Birth during a flight can occur for a number of reasons including premature births to the airline not being aware of the mother’s pregnancy.

The relevant international treaties

Article 3 of the United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1961) is set out as follows:

For the purpose of determining the obligations of Contracting States under this Convention, birth on a ship or in an aircraft shall be deemed to have taken place in the territory of the State whose flag the ship flies or in the territory of the State in which the aircraft is registered, as the case may be.

The problem is that this only applies to countries who are State parties to it - the United States of America is a significant exception to it. So if birth occurs on an American registered aircraft, the birth is not deemed to have occurred on American soil and as such the child does not automatically acquire American citizenship unlike if the child had been born there.
 
The countries to which it does apply are set out at:


Conversely, Australia is a country to which Article 3 does apply. However, Australian citizenship is not an automatic entitlement which stems from birth on Australian territory, unlike American citizenship. That is being born on an Australian registered aircraft only enlivens Australian citizenship laws, it does not mean an automatic grant of citizenship.

With QANTAS which is an Australian registered airline, if a child is born on a QANTAS aircraft then Article 3 means that the birth is deemed to have occurred on Australian territory. However, birth in Australia is not sufficient to acquire Australian citizenship. Australia does not provide citizenship on the basis of jus soli, unlike the United States of America, which is well-known for doing so.

In fact, the United States has in recent years started to attract what is labelled “birth tourism”, that is expectant mothers travelling to the United States for the sole purpose to giving birth to a child in the USA so that the child automatically acquires American citizenship.

 
Article 17 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (“CICA”) sets out that:

Aircraft have the nationality of the State in which they are registered”.

 
There are 191 State parties to the CICA.
 

What does all of this mean?


It means that what I had heard was not completely accurate.
 

1)      If the birth occurs on board a plane, which is registered to a country which is a State party to the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, the birth will be deemed to have occurred on the territory of that country and accordingly its citizenship laws will apply – if birth on the soil of that country is sufficient to acquire citizenship (that is the jus soli principle applies) the child will acquire that country’s citizenship;

2)      Of course, the country to which the aircraft is registered will often be either the country of departure or the country of destination, in which case as mentioned in 1) above, the law of that country will apply. However it is possible to be on an aircraft that is registered to a country, which is neither the country from which you have left or are headed, in which case the citizenship laws of a fourth country will come into play.

3)      If the birth occurs mid-flight over a country’s territory, that country’s citizenship laws will apply – for example, a baby born in 2006 on a flight from London to Boston while over Canadian airspace was granted Canadian citizenship;
 

So in short:


1)      There is no question of choice of citizenship – if a country does not automatically grant citizenship solely by reason of birth on its territory, the child will not be automatically entitled to the citizenship of that country even if the child is born either over that country’s airspace or if the child is born on board an aircraft registered to a country which is a party to the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

2)      The citizenship laws that will apply to the child will be:

a.       the laws of the country in which the aircraft is registered;

b.      the laws of the country over which the birth occurred (if any); and

c.       the laws of the country/ies of citizenship of the parents of the child.

3)      There may be conflicts between the laws set out in 2)a. to c. above, in which case the complex legal area of Conflict of Laws will come into play.


Readers, do you know any people who were born on an aircraft and who were granted a citizenship other than that of their parents?

Thursday, 25 April 2013

And then there were two...

On Tuesday 23 April 2013, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission ("ACCC") announced that it would not block Virgin Australia's proposed takeover of Tiger Airways Australia. While it acknowledged that there were anti-competitive concerns about the takeover, it also noted that Tiger Airways (currently mainly owned by Singapore Airlines) had said that it would leave the Australian market and be most likely to redeploy its 11 aircraft used in its Australian operations into its Asian operations.

So effectively, the ACCC was left with a situation of damned if you do and damned if you don't. That is, by allowing the merger, Australia would effectively have 2 airline groups: Qantas and Jetstar on the one hand and Virgin Australia and Tiger Airways on the other. However, if it didn't allow it then we would still be left with 2 airline groups being Qantas and Jetstar on the one hand and Virgin Australia on the other.

I've read many articles in recent months about the end of low cost airfares (mainly in the context of fares to overseas destinations, particularly to Europe, which is something of a coming of age trip for many young 20 something Australians) with which I disagree - I've seen fares as low as $798 from Melbourne to Brussels return with 5 star, full-service, airline, Qatar Airways and $1077 from Sydney to Amsterdam return with full-service, but not 5 star, China Southern Airlines.

Oops, off I go on a tangent again!

There is a serious risk that we will no longer see the cheap airfares that we have been accustomed to seeing with Tiger Airways Australia under Virgin Australia (think $41 return Adelaide to Melbourne that I saw recently). While Virgin Australia has itself moved away from being a low-cost airline to one aiming to get a share of the business customers, one hopes that Tiger Airways Australia will remain a low-cost carrier so that Australia has another low-cost airline to keep Jetstar competitive.

A lot of people have lost faith in Tiger Airways Australia, particularly with its unfortunate temporary grounding a few years back. Perhaps, having the backing of Virgin Australia will help Tiger Airways Australia get itself back in favour with the general public and may actually help get more bums on seats.

Ultimately, time will tell.

Does anyone have any stories to tell about previous airline mergers?

From buget travel to the most expensive and luxurious holiday package...

As you'd be aware from reading this blog, in the main, I let you know how to get great deals on flights and on hotels.

With this post, I am going from one extreme to the other. A company called VeryFirstTo is selling a once in a lifetime holiday which has been put together by UK luxury travel company Huntington Travel. It is a holiday which will take you to all 962 UNESCO World Heritage Committee sites (or at least those to which it is safe to travel).

What is the cost of this journey I hear you ask? Just a bit of pocket money really. 900,000 British pounds will buy you this experience!

Apart from seeing as many of the 962 sites, what else do you get? You will travel at a minimum of business class (I thought it would have been first class all the way for this sort of trip!). Accommodation is only the best hotels, such as Sandy Lane (Barbados); Hotel George V (Paris); The Plaza (New York); The Taj Mahal Palace (Mumbai); Cipriani Hotel (Venice); and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel (Moscow).

Obviously, it's also not a trip that you can do quickly either. Apart from needing 900,00 pounds for the experience, you will also need to have two years free to do it. Even at a leisurely 2 year duration, you're still managing an average of  1.3 World Heritage sites per day. So not only do you need to have the 900,000 pounds to spare, you also need to have enough money to support you for the 2 years that you are travelling.

It's not all about selfish indulgence either, a kind donation of 5,000 pounds will be made to UNESCO during the trip.

Apparently, there are two people who are currently finalising their itineraries, a very rich Chinese PHD student who will take the trip once he has finished his PHD (I've not done a PHD but I don't think I did anything but have a few drinks at the local bar when I finished my Masters) and an Italian businessman.

This truly is a once in a lifetime trip. Ah, we can dream, can't we?

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Advanced Priceline Name Your Own Price

Following on from my beginner's tute on how to use the Priceline NYOP function, I thought that I would share with you a slightly more advanced use.
 
Basically, as you may recall, when bidding on hotels in Priceline's NYOP, you are bidding on unidentified hotels. You narrow your search by the following parameters:
 
city area;
 
star rating; and
 
price per night.
If you make a bid which is rejected by Priceline and you wish to bid again, you have 2 options:
 
1) wait 24 hours and you can repeat the exact same bid - i.e. dates, area, stars, price; OR
 
2) change something about your bid (dates, area or stars, not just the price) in order to bid again within 24 hours.
 
That's where this tutorial comes in. Recently, my sister was overseas and wanted to add on a night for a stay in Milan at the last minute. We had originally secured the Westin Palace, Milan by using the secret hotels function on Hotwire but I thought I would try Priceline to see if we could get the extra night any cheaper.
 
I knew from experience that on Priceline, the Westin Milan falls within its 5* hotels category and that it falls into the Northeast Milan zone.
 
That said, I went straight in and decided a low-ball bid of US$80 per night which once taxes and fees were added would be about US$100 per night.
 
In order to make this bid, I selected Northeast Milan, 5* and $80. It was rejected straight away as I thought it might be.
 









In order to determine which zones are rebid zones, I wanted to work out which ones did not have a 5* property in them so that I could then use them with the Northeast Milan zone to bid for a 5* hotel in the Northeast Milan zone. As you will see, in the image below, for the 8 zones that I have ticked there are no 5* properties available to bid on using the NYOP function.
 
 
 
 
 
 


Accordingly, if I am looking for a 5* hotel in the only zone that does have one, I can use these zones as free rebid zones to allow me to not change my star rating or dates yet still be able to bid within the 24 hour period. This meant that I was able to make 9 bids within 24 hours without changing the date or the star rating and still be guaranteed a hotel within the area I wanted (Northeast) because there are no 5* hotels in any other area in Milan available through this function. This was perfect with such a last minute booking.
 
I then closed out of Priceline and went back in again. This time I clicked on Assago and noted that the 5* field was greyed out. That means that Priceline does not have any 5* inventory availlable in that zone. I then also ticked Northeast as that is where I want to be. I upped my bid by $5 so it was an $85 bid before taxes and fees.
 
This meant that as far as Priceline was concerned I had changed something (area) about my bid so that I was entitled to rebid within the 24 hour period since my last bid.
 
 
 
 
My bid of $85 but instead of a flat rejection with a suggestion to bid again. I got this counter-offer to increase bid by $34 to $119 to get accepted.
 I decided not to do that but to proceed with using my rebid zones to see whether I could manage to get a hotel at less than the $119 + taxes and fees counter-bid price. To do this, I again closed out of Priceline and went back in and this time I clicked on Linate airport and Northeast Milan, selected 5* and bid $87.
Again, I was rejected and given the same counter-offer of $119.
 Went out and back in and this time selected Milan Malpensa and Northeast and again 5* and this time bid $90.
 
Again rejected and again suggested that I increase to $119 for acceptance.
 
Added Milano Due and bid $95
 
Rejected again! They really want me to pay the $119 which is exactly what the express deal price is... I don’t think so!
 
Added Northwest Milan and went up to $97 per night
 
Again rejected and again suggested that I pay $119!
This time added Sesto and bid up to $100.
 
Still no luck! They really don’t want to budge!
 
So I added my last second to last rebid zone of SOuthwest Milan and went for $102 per night
Again no! Tight arses! I’ve come up $22 and they haven’t budged with their suggested price of $119 for acceptance!
Lucky last rebid zone (well not really, but I'll explain more about that below): DUOMO + NORTHEAST MILAN – $105. Not holding my breath but still kind of holding my breath!
 
 Finally got accepted – so glad I didn’t go all the way up to the $119 they suggested!
 
Offer Price:
avg. per room, per night
US$105.00
Rooms:
1
Nights:
1     
Room Subtotal:
US$105.00
Taxes & Fees:
US$19.55
Total Charged to Card:
US$124.55
 
Otherwise, I would have either had to just bid the $119 that Priceline counter-offered with if I wanted to continue to bid that day without changing my date or stars or change my date or star rating. As I wanted the hotel for tomorrow night, changing the date was not an option.
 
My sister also really wanted to stay in a 5* property so for me changing the star rating was also not an option.
 
In the end, after a little persistence it all paid off! I managed to get the Westin Palace for less than the counter-bid price and for about half of the retail price!
 
PS. I mentioned above that the last rebid zone was not technically my last rebid zone. That is because had that bid failed I could have ticked two rebid zones plus the Northeast Milan zone when making the next bid. For example, I could have ticked Assago Forum + Historic Centre (Duomo) + Northeast Milan and 5*. That would have tricked Priceline into letting me bid again within the 24 hour period because even though I had placed bids for Assago Forum + Northeast Milan and for Historic Centre (Duomo) + Northeast Milan, I had not placed a bid for all 3 at once.
 
If you have any questions about rebid zones, please feel free to ask them in the comments field below and I will reply as soon as I can.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Frequent flyer programs - you don't always (and shouldn't) have to pay to join them

In Australia, I think it is fair to say that domestically we have 4 airlines (Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar and Tiger) and of those there are 2 frequent flyer programs (Qantas Frequent Flyer and Virgin's Velocity).

Virgin's Velocity program has always been free and remains so. To join, you can sign up on its website at http://www.velocityrewards.com.au/content/ProgramBenefits/JoinNow/

Qantas (and Jetstar but only on certain flights where you can accrue points) on the other hand has for as long as I remember involved a one -off joining fee. Currently, that fee is A$82.50 for an individual. See https://www.qantas.com.au/fflyer/dyns/joinff

I found that I wasn't flying Qantas often enough to justify the fee as I probably wouldn't earn many points on the few flights I took. However, there is a way to join the Qantas Frequent Flyer programme for free, which Qantas of course doesn't like to advertise. That is the Woolworths Rewards program.

If you sign up for the Woolworths Everyday Rewards card (which is a free loyalty program) you will automatically be able to apply for Qantas Frequent Flyer membership for free! Even if you don't shop at Woolworths you can still apply online for its rewards card and then for membership Qantas' program. Nifty, isn't it? I found out completely by accident when I had suddenly found myself flying Qantas more frequently than in the past and decided that perhaps it was time to join the frequent flyer program.

If you click on Link to Qantas Frequent Flyer you will be taken to the page where you can link your Everyday Rewards membership (if you already have one) to your Qantas Frequent Flyer account (and also be able to sign up for one if you don't already have one).

Of course, once you're a member of a Frequent Flyer program, apart from earning points by flying, you can also earn points by having a credit card with a linked frequent flyer points scheme. In addition, some programs have partnered with retail outlets so that if you scan your frequent flyer program card when shopping there you can also earn points.

Tiger Airways, not surprisingly, being a budget airline, does not have a frequent flyer program at this stage. It was quite critical in 2010 of such programs as you can see in this article.


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Taking advantage of hotels' best rate guarantee

Most hotels have on their website words to the effect of a best price guarantee, being that if you find a rate for the same room and dates at the hotel via another website that they will beat that price.

Each of them of course come with terms and conditions as to how to make this work and it would seem from reading some of them that perhaps the guarantee is not as iron-clad as it may have originally seemed.

Starwood Best Rate Guarantee

That said, however, I have had some luck with the Starwood Best Rate Guarantee for a booking made last year. My sister was travelling to Europe and I had helped her book most of her travel and accommodation. She had fallen in love with the Hotel Bristol in Vienna, Austria and decided that was where she wanted to stay.

We looked online and saw that a hotel selling website had a double room with breakfast for the rate of 482 euros. We also noted that there was a 10 euro cancellation fee if the room was cancelled any time up to one week before the reserved dates.

We then looked at the Hotel Bristol website and saw that it had a rate of 310 euros per night (so 620 euros for the entire 2 night stay).

In order to secure the cheap rate in case it disappeared before the Best Rate Guarantee claim was assessed, I booked it on the website where we initially saw it.

The Best Rate Guarantee link at the Hotel Bristol website redirected me to the Starwood Best Rate Guarantee website which contains all the information you need about making a claim. It can be accessed at: http://www.starwoodhotels.com/bestrate/index.html

Claims have to be made either before making a booking or if you have already made a booking through the hotel itself then within 24 hours of that booking.

In the case of the Starwwood Best Rate Guarantee, if your claim is successful then you have the choice of either:
  1. an additional 10% off the Competing Rate per room per night; or
  2. 2000 Starwood Preferred Guests Starpoints per room per stay.
In this case, we elected for the 10% off the competing rate and we got exactly that. In order to secure the rate, once the claim was approved, all we had to do was book it via the Hotel Bristol's website and email the confirmation number. There was no need to pay all of it in advance or anything either.

So we managed to save money even factoring in the cancellation fee we had to pay to the initial website that we booked with and it didn't involve laborious paperwork either- just a simple form with contact details and the competing rate and site.

How about you? Have you taken advantage of any Best Rate Guarantees for hotel bookings either through the hotels themselves or through booking sites?

Monday, 18 February 2013

Priceline Name Your Own Price for beginners

As promised, I am going to give you a quick run-down of how to use Priceline's Name Your Own Price ("NYOP") feature.

Firstly, go to www.priceline.com

On the "Hotels" tab, type in the city you are going to. In the example below, I've used Paris. As you will see - once you start typing the city, it will bring up a drop-down menu to select the city you are looking for.




Enter your dates and how many rooms and select "Search Hotels".

















You will then be taken to a page which shows that the search is processing that looks something like this:



Once the search results are in, select the "Name Your Own Price" tab and you will see a page like the one below:




You will then need to select the area(s) of the city that you are interested in (by clicking in the tick-box). In this example, I have selected the first area shown, being Montparnasse. As you can see below:


Having done that, we see that there are no 5* properties available via Name Your Own Price - this is because the 5* option is greyed out and unable to be selected as you can see in the image above:


That being so, I will select 4* which means that it will only match my price with inventory matching
both the area of Montparnasse and being a 4* hotel. NOTE: if I were to select a 3* hotel it would look at both 3 and 4 * properties for a match. It will always look for a higher rated hotel but never for a lower rated one than you have selected.




I will then enter the price that I am bidding (note that this is not the total price that I would pay if I were successful as there are Priceline fees that are added on top. These will be shown on the following screen once I proceed and confirm the correctness of the details of the request). Here, I have gone for the extremely unrealistic US$40 per night.

Note that there is even a warning in red that the bid has very low chance of being successful - don't worry about this - even when you can be near the mark of the right bidding range you can see this. Don't let it deter you or make you bid higher than you intended to start out.


Once the desired price and the traveller's name have been entered, click on "Preview Offer" to see what the total cost would be if the offer is accepted:


On the same page, you are also able to choose whether you would like travel insurance and are asked to initial that you understand the T&Cs:


Once you have done that you will be asked to provide credit card details. "We're Ready To Get Your Hotel Room" and the request for payment information does not mean that your offer has been accepted. Priceline takes the credit card details before checking your offer against its inventory so that it can charge you immediately if you are successful:




Once you have done that and clicked on "Book Now" you will see a screen that looks something like this:



If your offer is rejected, as this one was (I changed it to $10 per night to be absolutely sure it would be so I didn't get charged but so that I could show you the process), you will see a screen like this:



If your bid is accepted you will see a screen and receive an email to the email address you provided to Priceline with the confirmation of both your successful bid and the name and address of your hotel.
So that's a quick run-down of how to use Priceline. There are more tips and tricks to it, which I will provide to you in another post.

Have any of you used Priceline Name Your Own Price? Have you had any success? What sorts of deals did you get?