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Monarch Airlines’ improvements to bring back “humanity” to flying
May 30th, 2014 by elisa

Monarch Airlines’ new managing director has pledged to bring “humanity and warmth” back to flying in Europe.

Andrew Swaffield, who joined the airline in April, said that these qualities had disappeared from European air travel, and that the customer often gets lost in the process of a “race to the bottom in terms of the cheapest and the biggest and the most efficient” adding, “We’re small enough to think that we don’t have to be like that.”

Monarch have already begun to implement some customer improvements, including posting 45 staff at nine of its major airports to assist customers.

“The feedback tells us that our customers are increasingly finding the airport experience very difficult, so we have put Monarch employees in the airports, in Monarch uniforms, whose job is purely to help customers,” he said.

“We are measuring how it’s going down and so far it’s been entirely positive.”

He said the next stage would be to improve communication, particularly when things go wrong. This would include being open with customers about what’s going on, particularly with delays or technical problems.

Swaffield emphasised the importance of price being key at the internet booking stage, particularly as people don’t tend to differentiate between anything but price, adding “but once you’ve got somebody experiencing something better, they will come back, especially when they are travelling with their loved ones.”

Finally, he emphasised that the airline will be responding to customer travel trends and will adjust its schedules accordingly.

“It’s no longer just about Saturday departures and two-week stays, it’s about flying midweek or for long weekends and taking more, but shorter trips.”

 

Monarch has just been awarded ‘WorldHost Recognised Business’ status after 1,690 of its staff, from pilots to office workers, undertook an intensive 10-day WorldHost customer service training programme.

A rise in travel spending
May 20th, 2014 by elisa

Positive growth for the travel industry as Mastercard Advisors report a rise in travel spending in three out of the first four months of this year.

Group head and senior vice president at Mastercard Advisors, Sarah Quinlan, said sales growth has been rising steadily throughout the early part of 2014, which is “a vast improvement” on 2013 overall.

The sunny weather and rising wages in April have made a positive impact on the travel sector.

“Travel businesses in the UK should be encouraged by the positive sales growth in April,” she said.

“As the economy strengthens we would expect to see momentum build this year with consumers becoming confident to spend hard earned wages on summer holidays or short city breaks rather than saving everything for a rainy day.”

Overall, retail sales are up 5.5% year-on-year in April, however, Quinlan still warns that any increased travel expenditure will be gradual, as wages have only shown slow improvement and discretionary spending on travel is still a luxury for many.

Rudest flight attendants
May 2nd, 2014 by elisa

We tend to expect the attendants on our flights to be the epitome of cheeriness and professionalism; but a recent survey of 14 North American airlines assessed the rudeness rating of flight attendants, with some surprising results.

The Airfarewatchdog commissioned survey found flight attendants at Spirit Airlines to be the rudest at 26%, with Air Canada second at 11%, and perhaps rather surprisingly in fourth position, Virgin America with 9% of the votes.

The Virgin America ranking is a surprise considering it came out on top in an Airline Quality Rating study just weeks earlier.

Least rude were Alaska Airlines and Southwest, both receiving only 1% of the vote.

3,400 frequent fliers were asked to choose from the 14 airlines, with the results weighted by number of passengers flown by each airline to account for the fact that larger airlines would have a bigger response.

Full results:

Spirit — 26%

Air Canada — 14%

Frontier — 11%

Virgin America — 9%

Allegiant — 8%

United — 7%

US Airways — 7%

American — 5%

AirTran — 3%

Delta — 2%

Hawaiian — 3%

JetBlue — 3%

Alaska — 1%

Southwest — 1%

£240 million in unclaimed travel compensation
May 1st, 2014 by elisa

Compensation for delayed or cancelled flights totalling around £240 million was failed to be claimed by passengers last year, according to passenger rights specialist refund.me.

Although the figure seems large, it’s much lower than the £355 million left unclaimed in 2012 and is due in part to improvements made by airlines to keep delays under the limits that would trigger compensation payments, plus more passengers being aware of their rights.

The no win, no fee firm helps eligible passengers fight for compensation under EU Regulation EC 261. Since 2004, passengers have been entitled to claim compensation of up to £490 for late cancellations or flights or delays of more than three hours, other than due to circumstances beyond airline’s control.

Refund.me founder and CEO Eve Buechner commended improvements made by airlines: “After nearly a decade of citing poorly justified “extraordinary circumstances” to avoid compensation payments, airlines appear to have turned the corner on both service and post-service quality,”

“Some airlines now have more aircraft on standby or move to pre-emptively smooth things over with passengers by offering vouchers, miles and accommodation more willingly.”

However, Buechner warned that all this progress could be put in jeopardy when a planned review of EC 261 by the European Parliament considers whether passengers should not be entitled to compensation of less than five, seven or 12 hours.

“This would effectively nullify the progress made in the last few years and set passenger rights back to their standards of 10 years ago,” she said.

“The airline industry has made significant progress in improving passenger rights in the last two years. Passengers are more aware of their rights and airlines have become more compliant and offer better service as a result. It would be disappointing to undo this progress. It would lead to more delays, more cancellations and more stranded passengers.”

Refund.me processed more than 10,000 compensation claims last year, totalling more than £3.3 million, and claimed a 94% success rate.

The UK’s most punctual airport
Apr 16th, 2014 by elisa

The UK’s most punctual airport is London City, according to the latest figures from the Civil Aviation Authority.

Across the 10 airports monitored last year, 80% of flights were on time. At London City, however, 89% were on time. Heathrow is at the bottom of the list with 24% of flights delayed.

The average delay of all scheduled flights monitored in the last quarter was the same as last year, at 12 minutes.

Iain Osborne, group director for regulatory policy at the CAA, said: “Whilst it is pleasing to see the majority of passengers arrived at their destination in good time at the end of last year, our figures show that too many people still had their flights disrupted by delays.

“We also know there were a number of cancellations during December that will have disrupted other passengers.

“Some severe weather clearly played a part in this, but there is still room for improvement. Airports, airlines and air traffic control service providers all have a role to play in delivering that improvement and it is vital they work together to make sure fewer passengers have their journeys disrupted by delays and cancellations”.

Shift in desired destinations for 2014
Apr 10th, 2014 by elisa

The latest TripAdvisor Choice Awards for Destinations show a marked shift in desired city breaks for 2014.

Traditional destinations such as Paris, Barcelona and New York have all dropped significantly down the rankings, making way for more Asian destinations, with Beijing, Hanoi, and Shanghai all breaking into the top 10 for the first time.

Other favourites, such as Sydney, fell 12 positions to 22, and San Francisco fell 18 places to 25. London, however, remains as popular as ever and maintains its number three position for the second year running. It was pipped to the top spots by Istanbul and Rome, taking first and second place respectively.

TripAdvisor spokesperson James Kay said: “It is interesting to see traditionally popular destinations Paris, New York and Barcelona drop down the rankings.

“This year’s results show that there are a number of destinations around the world that are starting to compete with the more traditional ones.

“However, London still continues to sustain its position in the top five and while there is no doubt the birth of the royal baby helped keep the eyes of the world on London in 2013, but the capital’s continued appeal among travellers around the world surpasses any one event.”

In the UK Awards, two seaside destinations crept into the top 10 this year. Torquay in Cornwall is in a very respectable third place, and Llandudno in Wales sits pretty in eighth place.

The awards were determined by an algorithm on the TripAdvisor website that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for accommodation, attractions and restaurants gathered over a 12-month period.

The 2014 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Destinations winners

World’s top 10

1. Istanbul

2. Rome

3. London

4. Beijing

5. Prague

6. Marrakech

7. Paris

8. Hanoi

9. Siem Reap

10. Shanghai

 

Europe’s top 10

1. Istanbul

2. Rome

3. London

4. Prague

5. Paris

6. Berlin

7. Florence

8. Barcelona

9. St Petersburg

10. Budapest

 

UK’s top 10

1. London

2. Edinburgh

3. Torquay

4. Liverpool

5. Belfast

6. York

7. Bristol

8. Llandudno

9. Leeds

10. Birmingham

 

Reduction in APD on long-haul flights
Mar 20th, 2014 by elisa

Chancellor George Osborne announced a reduction in air passenger duty (APD) on some long-haul flights in yesterday’s Budget.

In his Budget Report to the House of Commons, he said that he will reform APD to tax all long-haul flights at the same rate as those to the United States.

This is good news for the Caribbean, as passengers have had to pay the higher rate of APD to travel there than those that have gone to Hawaii, which is further away, but on a lesser APD band.

Osborne said: “I want to reform the crazy system whereby you pay less to travel to Hawaii than to fly to China or India.

“It hits exports, puts off tourists and creates a great sense of injustice in our Caribbean and southeast Asian communities in the UK.

“From next year, all long-haul flights will carry the same, lower Band B tax rate that you now pay to fly to the United States.”

The changes will mean that a family of four flying economy class to the Caribbean will save at least £64, and passengers flying economy to Australia will save around £27, and £108 in premium cabins.

Although hailed as a victory for the tourism industry, he also made clear that this was to help British businesses strengthen links to high growth business markets abroad and to make the UK an attractive option for business visitors as well as tourists.

The changes will be put in place on 1st April next year.

Smartphone users don’t browse, they ring
Feb 28th, 2014 by elisa

What’s the point of using a smartphone to book travel online when you are just going to ring the company anyway?

According to a new study from Google, 94% of smartphone users resort to contacting a business direct when searching products on their phone.

The travel sector’s click-to-call service, when mobile users can click through to call the company, has proved to be particularly popular. The service is mainly used during the purchase phase, and over half of the 1,500 people questioned would call a travel business to change their reservation or booking.

40% of people using their phones to search will resort to phoning a company when reserving a hire car, 37% when searching hotels, and 30% when looking at flights.

According to IAB Travel Audit 2013, 42% of the top 50 UK travel companies optimise their search results for mobile, and 45% of those use the click to call service.

Websites can only give so much information, and these results seem to show that many of us still like to conduct certain transactions person to person.

Airport parking charges
Jan 23rd, 2014 by elisa

Britain has some of the most expensive airport parking charges in the world, with peak-time charges close to double those of other major international airports.

Heathrow’s Terminal 4 is £12 for between one and two hours at peak-time, and a two hour stay is £11 at Luton and £10 at Stansted and Gatwick. This is compared to £5.50 at New York’s JFK airport and £6.60 at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle.

Glasgow and Edinburgh airports are also high at £9 and £8.90 respectively.

The only other major international airport close to British airport parking charges is Sydney, with a one to two hour stay costing £11.

The reason for Heathrow Airport’s peak tariffs is to help improve the journey times for passengers travelling to Terminal 4 between 0600 and 0800, and 1830 to 2030, with free time at the longer stay car park across the road.

A spokeswoman said: “We made the decision to make the long stay car park just a few meters across the road from Terminal 4 free for the first two hours with a bus connecting to the terminal every 10 minutes.

“The reason for this change is because Terminal 4 has been reaching over capacity during these hours with the volume of friends and family being brought to meet arriving and departing passengers – this is specific to Terminal 4 only.

“Without our intervention, the vehicle queue to the car park reaches back to the motorway, putting passengers at risk of missing their flight while impacting the safe flow of traffic.”

Where do Brits take their tea?
Jan 23rd, 2014 by elisa

Teabags picture by Flickr user dullhunk

Teabags picture by Flickr user dullhunk

Everywhere, it seems! More than a quarter of British holidaymakers have to take teabags with them on holiday. 

The research by Norwegian Cruise Line found 26.5% of Brits can’t leave home without their teabags, and a surprising 24% want to feel their holiday is a home away from home by packing their slippers.

Reasons for going away on holiday were mainly to escape the British weather, while 6% wanted to get away from their neighbour and 5% their partner!

The survey of over 2,000 people also found that one in five passengers have holiday superstitions or rituals, such as avoiding the number 13 in their seat number, hotel room or floor, and wearing the same outfit every time they travel.

Francis Riley, Norwegian’s vice president and general manager, international, said “British holidaymakers appreciate being able to explore new experiences on holidays, however like to have their home comforts and traditions with them as well.”

 

Do you have any holiday rituals or superstitions? Tell us in the comments box below!

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