Bournemouth bombshell
Nov 4th, 2010 by jason

Ryanair has stopped all flights from Bournemouth during the winter months of November, December and January, blaming the government’s £11 air passenger duty (APD).

Ryanair says its decision to suspend winter flights from Bournemouth will be reviewed next summer when, based on market conditions and UK APD costs, it may return to a 12 month base operation at the airport.

However, the airline has launched four new routes from London Stansted, to Faro and Porto in Portugal and to Bologna and Milan Bergamo in Italy. The flights start on 31 October.

EasyJet’s winter boost
Nov 3rd, 2010 by jason

easyjetEasyJet’s winter schedule, running from 31 October through to March 2011, is its biggest ever, offering more than 11.5 million seats across 230 low fare routes.

The no-frills airline has more than 80 new routes this winter, with a host of sun destinations including Cyprus, the Canary Islands, Egypt, Morocco, Tel Aviv and Turkey.

In 15 years, British company easyJet has created one of Europe’s key transport networks, operating on 45 of Europe’s top 100 routes, with 19 bases across 28 countries, and a fleet of 182 aircraft. This year it will have carried 50 million passengers on over 500 routes between 119 airports in 29 countries. It’s the UK’s largest and Europe’s fourth largest airline by passenger numbers. In 2009, the airline carried 28 million passengers in the UK and 46 million in total.

More book at last minute
Nov 2nd, 2010 by jason

This year an estimated 1.28 million people left booking their summer holiday until two weeks or less beforehand, and 818,000 left it till the last seven days. That’s according to new research from Sainsbury’s Credit Cards, which also found that 290,000

travelled to their resorts within 48 hours of making their booking.

The trend towards late booking is partly the result of economic uncertainty and partly because more people are seeking last minute bargains. However, most people still book well ahead, which gives the widest choice and peace of mind. The survey showed that 8.0 million people booked this year’s holiday at least six months ahead, with a further 12.6 million booking between one and five months beforehand.

Sainsbury’s estimates that a total of £5.46 billion of summer holiday expenditure was placed on credit cards, with the majority of people (58%) paying that off within a month.

Meanwhile, a poll of 2,000 British adults by Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance has found that 11 per cent of Britons holidaying abroad have been the victims of theft in the last five years. They lost an estimated total of £1.7bn of possessions, yet only just over half the victims (51%) reported the incident to local police, which is normally required if an insurance claim is to be made. The average value of the items stolen was £326 per person.

Pickpocketing was the most common form of theft (21%), followed by stealing from a car (17%), bag snatching (16%) and theft from a hotel room or villa (15%). Cash was stolen in 35% of cases, with cameras (15%) and mobile phones (14%) next in line.

More ash to come?
Nov 1st, 2010 by jason

The Icelandic eruption that caused travel misery for millions of airline passengers in April could be just a hiccup compared with the potential impact of a bigger eruption, an Icelandic expert has warned.

At its peak in mid-April, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano caused the cancellation of more than 100,000 flights, affecting eight million passengers. But there could be worse to come, vulcanologist Haraldur Sigurdsson told a conference to discuss how to improve coordination of the global response to another eruption. Each of the eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in 920, 1612, and 1821-1823 was followed by an eruption of its larger neighbour Katla. If the same thing happens this time, Katla is likely to send up massive plumes of ash.

Nancy Graham, the director of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, called for new scientific standards to judge whether air space closure is necessary. Other speakers stressed the need for clear decision making if there is another eruption, calling for a ‘single European sky’ with air traffic in the whole of European airspace controlled by a single body.

While there isn’t much anyone can do about volcanic eruptions, it does make sense to check your travel insurance policy to see if it covers flight cancellations through volcanic activity.

More travel companies to fail?
Oct 25th, 2010 by jason

The collapse of Greece and Turkey holiday specialist Goldtrail in July won’t be the last this year, say travel industry experts.

Nick Harris of law firm Simpson Millar, which specialises in travel compensation claims, says companies in difficulty will often survive during the summer when business is good.

It is usually in the autumn when travel firms go bust. The timing of the Goldtrail failure is concerning but I doubt it will be the only travel business to face closure in 2010.

There is concern about the growing number of holidays created by ‘dynamic packaging’, where agents or operators put together what looks like a package holiday by buying the different elements – mainly flights and accommodation – separately. Some such providers are not accredited by ATOL, ABTA or the CAA, leaving travellers with no or limited protection if the company goes bust.

My advice to travellers is to avoid dynamic packaging where possible, said Mr Harris, or make sure that providers are accredited and have a solid reputation.

What this means for anyone booking a villa holiday is that it’s best either to buy a complete package from a villa specialist, with ATOL or ABTA accreditation, or else to book the flight and villa separately yourself, ensuring the flight provider is covered by ATOL accreditation.

Wizard ways
Oct 23rd, 2010 by jason

Harry Potter

There’s a new reason for visiting Florida, especially if you have young Harry Potter fans in tow. Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando has just opened its newest, grandest and most ambitious addition: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The Wizarding World is full of sights from the Potter universe. Rides including Dragon Challenge, Flight of the Hippogriff and the Forbidden Journey promise to bring thrills to guests of all ages, while sights like Ollivander’s Wand Shop, Hagrid’s Hut and Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods will delight Potter fans.

If that list of whimsical flights of fancy leaves you cold, flight search website Skyscanner is trying to drum up business with a list of alternative wizard venues. Starting with New Zealand, used as the setting when JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed. With unrivalled vistas and great natural beauty, it’s the perfect setting for the wizard Gandalf to bestride Middle Earth. Tolkien fans continue to catch flights to New Zealand to experience the world of hobbits, elves and orcs for themselves.

Orcs no good? Then there’s always the Wizard of Oz, in Kansas, USA. In 1900, L. Frank Baum described the adventures of one Dorothy Gale, a young girl who is whisked away by a tornado, ending up in the Land of Oz. Befriending a talking scarecrow, a cowardly lion and a tin man, she journeyed to visit The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and get back home to Kansas, where today fans can visit the Oz Museum which holds masses of memorabilia from the books, films and musicals.

Possibly even more magical, if you’re a basketball fan, would be a visit to the Washington Wizards in Washington, DC. Based in the capital city’s Verizon Center, this professional basketball team had a genuine wizard of the court play for them in the form of superstar Michael Jordan from 2001 to 2003. They still fill their arena for every game and their skill and showmanship make for an unforgettable experience. Or so they say.

Parc Asterix

Closer to home is Parc Asterix, a theme-park 22 miles north of Paris that’s based on the world of cartoon character Asterix. There you can meet the wizard, a member of Goscinny and Uderzo’s tribe of rebellious Gaul warriors who comically torment Julius Caesar’s legions in ancient France. Getafix is a potion-concocting druid who can prepare an elixir that grants superhuman strength to those who drink it.

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