Flying the nest
Few airlines have had as close a relationship with the Boeing 747 as Singapore Airlines, which has been flying the aircraft since 1973, and at one time had more of them in its fleet than any other carrier. It was the launch customer for the Boeing 747-400 (above), in 1989, and its Megatop version of that aircraft became one of the world's most recognisable airliners. So when the airline puts its last 747 out to pasture next month, after a round trip between Singapore and Melbourne, it will mark both the end of an era and a milestone in the inevitable demise of the classic jumbo jet. The Airbus A380 has now taken the 747's place as the flagship aircraft of the Singapore Airlines fleet, and several other airlines, including Cathay Pacific, Qantas and Air New Zealand have begun phasing out their 747s. The latest in the line, the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental enters service with Lufthansa next month, but Korean Air is the only other airline to have put in an order, and the future doesn't look too rosy for what could well be the last passenger version of this classic aircraft.
Although Macau has made a pretty good job (at least compared with Hong Kong) of preserving its architectural heritage, the days when Hong Kong travellers could pop across for a weekend of authentically Portuguese-flavoured fun are pretty much over. The little shops with window displays full of dusty vintage port bottles, obscure Iberian spirits, massive tins of chorizo sausages and beautifully painted tins of industrial-grade olive oil have all but disappeared, and real Portuguese restaurants seem to be an endangered species. So for a taste of old Macau, it might be worth heading to Portugal. It was possible to fly there from Macau with Portuguese carrier TAP for about two years in the 1990s, just after the international airport opened, but a dearth of passengers put an end to that service. From July, however, you can fly to Lisbon with one stopover in Dubai on Emirates, which will also be starting flights to Barcelona, Spain, at around the same time. Open-jaw flights into one city and out of the other will be available for the price of a round-trip ticket to either city, and the carrier's generous 30kg luggage allowance in economy class means passengers can bring back plenty of those Portuguese goodies that were once the hallmark of a cheeky trip to Macau.
An extravagant package to see the Monaco Grand Prix, which takes place from May 24 to 27, is being offered by sports-travel specialist Roadtrips. Prices start from US$5,950 per person (not including flights), which will get you four nights' accommodation, round-trip helicopter transfers from Nice airport and 'preferred race-day viewing'. You can upgrade your package with luxuries such as race-day viewing and lunch at the Hotel de Paris and an invitation to the Amber Lounge dinner, fashion show and party, and daily use of a Ferrari F430, for closer to US$20,000. Roadtrips is based in the United States but is, of course, happy to take bookings from Hong Kong travellers.
Deal of the week
A three-night package to Rome, Italy, is on sale at Cathay Pacific Holidays, starting from HK$6,730 per person (twin share) for economy class flights and accommodation at the Best Western Roma Tor Vergata. The hotel's location is far from the city centre, however, and a better choice would be the next hotel up the price list, the centrally located San Marco (www.hotelsanmarcoroma.com) for HK$7,720. Those with more cash to spare can stay at the more upmarket InterContinental De La Ville Roma (above; www.ichotelsgroup.com) for HK$10,525, which is about the best place on offer with this package. You should also expect to pay another HK$2,282 on top of these prices once Cathay's hidden fuel surcharges and taxes have been added towards the end of your online transaction at www.cxholidays.com.