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Holiday insurance wish list
Apr 9th, 2014 by elisa

Don’t you wish your travel insurance would cover real holiday-spoilers such as inedible hotel food, rude hotel staff and bad weather? If so, then you’re not alone. 

According to a survey by comparison website Gocompare.com Travel Insurance, over a third of travellers wish they could buy insurance against inedible hotel food.

The website asked 1,300 travellers about the things they wish they could insure against, that aren’t covered by typical travel insurance policies. Top of the wish list is delayed departures, on flights, ferries or trains. Currently many policies do provide some cover for delayed departures, but only to cover additional costs of being stuck in the airport for hours, not to compensate for lost holiday time.

Caroline Lloyd from Gocompare.com Travel Insurance said: “For many people, their holiday is not only a chance to relax away from the everyday pressures of life, it’s a big financial commitment they have spent months, if not years, saving for. So it’s not surprising that they want the perfect getaway with no delays, top-notch food and accommodation – not an encounter with Basil Fawlty.

“While our survey takes a light-hearted look at the holiday-horrors people wish they could insure against, it gives us the opportunity to highlight the importance of travel insurance in protecting holidaymakers against the unexpected – from freak weather, illness or injury, or theft or loss of baggage.”

Results of the survey:

Rank  Insurance wish list %
1 Delayed departure (flights, ferries, trains, etc.) 51
2 Disappointing accommodation 44
3 Misleading brochure description of hotel and/or holiday resort 44
4 Inedible hotel food 34
5 Bad weather 31
6 A noisy room 22
7 Being plagued by drunken teenagers in the evening 18
8 Rude hotel/accommodation staff 15
9 Annoying fellow guests 12
10 Terrible organised entertainment 7
Foreign airlines could operate internal flights during World Cup
Jan 6th, 2014 by elisa

Foreign airlines may be able to operate internal flights during this year’s football World Cup, according to the Brazilian president’s chief of staff, Gleisi Hoffmann.

Ms Hoffman said President Dilma Rousseff was considering the move in order to prevent extortionate price hikes on internal flights during the popular event. The Brazilian constitution grants the president powers to rule by decree in special circumstances, which means if decided, the measure could be introduced in good time for the start of the World Cup.

“We have not taken a decision as yet, but if there is abuse, that is one of the measures being considered,” Ms Hoffman told the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper.

“We have held meetings with hotel owners and the airlines. We want all the businesses to get a return for their investment during the major events [Brazil is hosting], but prices must be fair,” she said.

The BBC reports that Fifa, the world football governing body, has also expressed concern over the wider infrastructure, such as lack of visitor accommodation and overcrowding at airports.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter said that “Brazil has now realised that it started up too late”.

2013 round up
Dec 30th, 2013 by elisa

It’s nearing the end of 2013, so it’s time for our annual round up of travel news and features covered in this blog over the year.

January is normally the time when you start to examine your finances after the Christmas splurge, and this year was no different for the travel news. A Sunday Times report that found customers were seriously losing out on foreign currency exchange rates when purchasing their travel money at airports.  We also looked at the financial benefits of flying to an airport further from your destination and driving the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Spain was voted the best value destination for 2013, and Eve told us why she thought Spain was a great winter destination.

However, it was all about Greece in February! With its award-winning beaches and Thomas Cook trend survey that revealed a huge increase in bookings during the month. The month ended with a warning to check your travel insurance small print, as many travellers were reported to have fallen foul of clauses in their insurance, which meant they wouldn’t get a pay out on claims.

In March, a woman successfully smuggled a dog onto a plane; we looked at the biosphere reserve that is Menorca; and BA started selling tickets for flights on its ‘red carpet route’ to Los Angeles in its new super jumbo A380. Easyjet installed new, lighter, seats on its aircraft in an attempt to save on fuel and CO2 emissions. Bitter weather threatened to blight travellers’ Easter holidays, but this didn’t stop Peter Rabbit visiting children at Heathrow.

The bizarre law in Florida that all British Citizens must carry an International Driving Permit in the state was repealed in April. Samoa Air launched its controversial pay by weight flights and we looked at the facts about turbulence.

Easyjet began testing its volcanic ash cloud detection technology in May. We found that trillions of air miles are going to waste; and there was the slightly disturbing report of a flight being diverted because the pilot got locked out of the cockpit. There was good news for Harry Potter fans going on holiday in Florida, as the Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. Entertainment announced the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley “environment”.

A US ban on using a laptop during take off on flights was lifted in June.

Tenerife enjoyed at 14% rise in arrivals from the UK in July. It was also discovered that many English families were flying from Scottish airports to save up to £500 on their holiday travel costs. It may have been one of the hottest summers we’ve had in years, but this didn’t stop large numbers of Brits leaving for even sunnier holiday destinations in the last weekend of July. We gave advice on how to avoid common pick pocketing scams as the Foreign Office issued a warning about pick pockets in Switzerland.

As August enjoyed more of the heatwave, Ryanair had a drop in flight bookings; it also took legal action against an unfavourable Dispatches programme “Ryanair: Secrets from the Cockpit”.

Etihad Airways launched its “flying nanny” service to look after passengers’ children in September. Helly Kitty planes took to the skies with Taiwan’s EVA Air, and a computer glitch in US Airways system sold $0 flights on its website. Spain enjoyed record visitor numbers over the summer, proving the predictions earlier in the year.

In October, Manchester was announced to be the UK’s first Airport City; and Ryanair announced that it would work on a better customer service.

It was all about the measure of happiness for travel in November, and BA introduced interactive billboards to remind people of the magic of flying.

The Northern Lights in Norway topped Brits’ “must see” list in December. Britain also endured wide-spread bad weather with winds of up to 140mph battering parts of the country, and flooding hitting others.

That’s the round up for 2013, make sure to follow this blog for more travel news and articles in 2014, and book your holiday villas at a wide range of destinations on Villaseek.

Heathrow gets in the Easter spirit
Mar 27th, 2013 by elisa

Courtesy of Heathrow Airports Limited

Courtesy of Heathrow Airports Limited

It may be the busiest time of the year so far for Heathrow; but this Easter, the airport is preparing to make the experience as pleasant and seasonal as possible for passengers.

An expected 1.2 million passengers are expected to travel through the airport over the Easter break. Thursday will be the busiest for departures, with 116,000 jetting off on holiday.

Over the entire two-week school break, it anticipates 3.6 million total passengers, with over 40% more families. In preparation, there will be a welcome area for families, created in partnership with Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit™. He will be on hand to present storytelling and arts and craft sessions over the holiday period. There will also be free Peter Rabbit™ Passport activity booklets and chocolate treats distributed across all terminals.

Heathrow will also put on more staff, including 150 passenger ambassadors in the terminals to help direct parents to dedicated family lanes in security and free play areas in the departure lounges. The airport’s restaurants are also prepared for the holiday season with Kids Eat Free offers, high chairs and fun packs.

Those checking in to Terminal 5 will also be treated to performances from the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

 

If you travel through Heathrow this Easter, let us know about your experience! Comment below, or tweet us @villaseek 

2012 Round up
Jan 2nd, 2013 by elisa

Happy new year to all our readers! 2012 was an eventful year for travel news, so here’s a round up of the major stories that we covered over the year.

The year started with opposition to the newly introduced European Commission’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) with the China Air Transport Association (CATA) stating that its members would not cooperate with the new tax; followed by a meeting between other opposing countries to discuss possible retaliatory measures.

February continued with the debate over ETS. Europe dug its heels in to keep the scheme while opposing countries signed a declaration regarding measures they wished to be taken before they would comply.  Meanwhile, growing social unrest in Greece prompted warnings from the Foreign Office.

KLM and Malaysia Airlines launched their own cheeky social networking in the sky schemes in March. Cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines suspended international flights on eight major routes shortly after BA suspended its codeshare agreement with the airline. Ryanair caused controversy as it was investigated over leaving exit seats empty after introducing a premium charge for the extra legroom they provided.

April began with travel disruption in Spain and Portugal. Malaysia Airlines implemented adult only sections on flights. Up to 1,200 redundancies at BMI were announced after the takeover by IAG.

Speculation over the improbability of IAG finding a buyer for BMI Regional was quashed when it sold the airline in May.

Positive news in June as figures for international air travel rose by 7% compared to the previous year. However, these figures were not enough to stop Easyjet from announcing the closure of its base in Madrid.

A landmark move by the Office of Fair Trading forced airlines to be transparent about their credit and debit card charges in July. Strikes at major UK airports were averted at the last hour on the eve of the Olympics, preventing large-scale travel disruption.

The UK and the world was overtaken by London 2012 Olympics fever in July through to August. Helped by around 1,300 volunteers, Heathrow gave the athletes a grand London-themed send off.

A new generation of security scanners was trialled at Manchester Airport in September. A new compensation ruling was implemented in October for flights over three hours late. Hurricane Sandy battered the East coast of the USA at the end of October, which caused many flight cancellations.

Ryanair introduced a 2% credit card fee to bookings in November. In the same month, a new low-cost African airline, Fastjet, was launched.

Gatwick reinstated the volunteers which were so well received during London 2012 to help with Christmas cheer over the busy festive travel season.

 

So, that was 2012. What a year! Keep an eye on this blog for more travel news over 2013!

2011 Round up
Jan 3rd, 2012 by elisa

Happy New Year to all our readers! Before we move on to this year’s news, here’s a round up of some of the biggest stories we covered on this blog in 2011, it certainly was an eventful year!

January started with the troubled BMI threatening to withdraw its Heathrow – Glasgow route after passenger charges at Heathrow were raised (this was confirmed a month later). Ryanair returned to Manchester with four new routes. And the political troubles in Egypt disrupted flights.

Spiraling conflict in Egypt caused complete cancellation of routes to popular holiday destinations in February. Meanwhile, Which? launched a super complaint on airline card fee charges,the cost of Qantas’ engine troubles were revealed, and airlines flying from the UK finally started to show clearer air fares.

March brought faster flight times under a deal signed by traffic controllers. But by far the biggest news of the month was the huge tsunami which hit Japan and led to re-routing of flights to avoid possible radiation risk, and advice to leave Tokyo.

A Skyscanner survey found Spain back in favour for British holidaymakers in April.

In May Belfast Airport started to charge for going for a cigarette break, and the ongoing battle between Unite and British Airways was finally settled!

More natural disasters happened in June with violent aftershocks in Christchurch, New Zealand and volcanic eruptions in Chile.

The News of the World phone-hacking scandal broke in July with airlines withdrawing their advertisements as a result.

In August research revealed the use of smartphones were ruining people’s holidays.

The Rugby World Cup was held in New Zealand in September, where Wales’ hopes were dashed.

The first biofuel passenger flight took place in October, however green campaigners claimed it wasn’t as environmentally friendly as everyone thought.

Europe announced a ban on body scanners at airports in November, but the UK decided to go against the decision.

Finally, December saw 150mph winds hit parts of Scotland, which is where we are now at the start of 2012 as tremendous winds continue to batter the UK once more.

 

So, what travel news is in store for 2012? Keep up to date here!

 

Review of 2010
Jan 6th, 2011 by elisa

Volcanoes grounding flights, snow grounding flights and stopping trains, strikes galore – 2010 has not been the best year for the travel industry, but in this run down of some of the top stories covered in the Villaseek blog throughout the year I’ll include these and also try to find some good news to include as it wasn’t all bad!

January started with the controversial full body scanner trial at Manchester Airport.

There was the awful Haiti earthquake which sparked calls for aid from holiday makers nearby and help from airlines to deliver aid packages.

The full review of the Eurostar travel delayswas revealed and spared no one.

Easyjet and Ryanair fought it out in a battle over an unflattering advert.

There was some increase in the business travel economy.

The year was plagued by strikes by British Airways cabin crew in a battle over pay and working conditions, the first were in March.

The BA and Iberia merger was agreed in April.

Perhaps one of the biggest pieces of travel related news was the volcanic ash cloud which closed down airspace across much of northern Europe and cancelled the travel plans of millions of people throughout April and May.

A coalition government was formed in the summer and one of the first things they did was to scrap the planned third runway at Heathrow.

There were more BA cabin crew strikes in May, the first for 5 consecutive days.

Despite the strikes and ash trouble, some good news for the aviation industry came as a study showed growing satisfaction with airlines.

A new campaign was launched in July to make passengers more aware of their travel rights, which made for a very informative read.

A study found that three weeks in a holiday villa is the perfect holiday!

Which? revealled airline processing fee rip offs in September.

Airbus’ with Rolls Royce engines got an awful couple of months of bad press after a mid-flight emergency on a Qantas flight.

The year ended with festive gridlock at airports and across the country’s roads due to the snow.

So, it’s been an eventful year indeed! If you want to catch up on the year’s UK travel news, then check out the 2010 review on our sister site, Holiday Cottages.

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.

Football failure is travel’s gain
Jul 6th, 2010 by elisa

England’s World Cup failure is the travel industry’s gain, as predicted in my previous blog on the subject.

Ryanair reported the best week of business at Liverpool airport last week after England were knocked out of the Cup by Germany. Bookings surged to all destinations – except, rather unsurprisingly, to Germany.

The low cost airline says week-on-week comparisons showed football fans made plans to leave the country in their droves as soon as England were defeated.

Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara said: “English football fans sent our booking system into overdrive as soon as their football team crashed out of the World Cup with bookings soaring by 30% in just one week to destinations throughout Europe – except Germany.

“It is clear that football fans wanted to snap up one of Ryanair’s guaranteed lowest fares, before the national team returned to England, so that they could look forward to a great value summer holiday.”

Is this a representative number? Have any World Cup fans who read this blog done the same? Were you planning on booking a holiday anyway or did the defeat spark off the desire to fly away somewhere for a bit of R & R?

“A Taste of Spain” in London 6th June
May 16th, 2010 by elisa

A Spanish festival designed to promote the country to potential visitors will be held in Regent Street, London on 6th June.

The “Taste of Spain” event will include giant paellas, flamenco dancers, medieval food markets and a range of participatory sports challenges. A dedicated ‘Hall of Spain’ will be a key feature for visitors to wander through 80 years of Spanish sporting history and experience the range of sporting activities available in the country.

In the interactive area, there will be an F1 pit-stop challenge that will give visitors a chance to carry out an F1 tyre change against the clock. An F1 simulator will feature the Montmeló FI track in Barcelona and state-of-the-art MotoGP simulators will transport guests to southern Spain to the popular ‘Circuito de Jerez’.

Football enthusiasts can take part in a kick point challenge, tennis players can compete for the fastest serve, basketball fans can try their luck in ‘shoot the hoop’ and golfers can participate in a ‘nearest to the pin’ contest.

Regent Street will be traffic free to allow for many other activities based on the different regions of Spain, including food, culture and music.

“A Taste of Spain” will take place on Regent Street from noon until 19.00 on 6th June.

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