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World Cup fans could spend £5,000 phoning home
Jun 3rd, 2014 by elisa

Phone charges abroad can be a tricky issue, particularly when you’re on a contract, where your phone bill for calling home could skyrocket with roaming charges before you know it. 

Today’s Metro newspaper reports that England football fans visiting Brazil for the World Cup could end up with around £5,000 mobile phone bills due to the uncapped roaming charges in the host country.

Price comparison website, uSwitch.com is warning fans that they could be charged £465 a day because the charges are uncapped, plus they could spend £22 for a five minute phone call or to send 10 texts back home.

“Data caps that most networks will automatically opt customers into are very easy to opt out of by text – and it can be tempting to do so, particularly if footie fans get carried away by World Cup fever and want to send a picture message via Whatsapp or Skype friends and family from the stadium,” said uSwitch.com’s Ernest Doku.

Dataroam.co.uk offers a special Brazil data SIM card to avoid the expensive data charges with 30 day packages starting at £59.99.

If you have a smartphone it is probably wise to turn off the data roaming option on your phone all together, only switching it on when you really need it. Contacting your network provider to check costs before you go away, and if there are any special international data/call bundles would be wise; plus consider using a local SIM card to make cheaper calls to your fellow fans while in Brazil.

CAA suggests “noise tax”
Jun 2nd, 2014 by elisa

The Civil Aviation Authority is proposing a new “noise tax” similar to The Tax on Air Transport Noise introduced in France in 2005, reports the Telegraph. 

In its recently published Managing Aviation Noise report, the CAA proposed measures aimed at reducing noise from aircraft taking off and landing at airports in the UK, and compensating those living nearby.

The CAA said the tax would be a ‘last resort’, but if implemented it would penalise flights according to how much noise pollution they cause, with proceeds going towards paying for insulation in communities near airports. It could adopt a similar system to that in France whereby airlines are taxed depending on the number of people affected, the aircraft’s weight at takeoff, and the noise rating and time of day.

The report said: “If other measures do not go far enough to engage the aviation industry in the effort to manage noise, policymakers could consider a further incentive applied with the introduction of a noise tax.”

£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.

BA to use fuel converted from waste
Apr 16th, 2014 by elisa

British Airways has announced the site for the GreenSky fuel plant in Thurrock, Essex.

BA has joined forces with Solena Fuels for the project that will convert landfill waste into airline fuel. The airline will purchase all 50,000 tonnes of the jet fuel produced each year, for 11 years, at market competitive rates.

The airline says approximately 575,000 tonnes of post-recycled waste, normally destined for landfill or incineration, will be converted into 120,000 tonnes of fuels using Solena’s patented high temperature plasma gasification technology.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways’ parent company IAG, said: “The sustainable jet fuel produced each year will be enough to power our flights from London City Airport twice over with carbon savings the equivalent of taking 150,000 cars off the road.”

Due to be completed in 2017 the facility will create up to 150 permanent jobs.

Easyjet passengers allowed to use gadgets on flights
Apr 16th, 2014 by elisa

Easyjet passengers are now allowed to use personal electronic devices throughout their whole flight, including during take-off and landing.

Gadgets such as laptops, tablets and mobiles must be placed in ‘flight mode’ and mobiles cannot be used to make or receive calls or texts.

The move follows recent recommendations from the European Aviation Safety Agency, which have allowed for restrictions on the use of gadgets onboard aircraft to be relaxed.

Peter Duffy, Easyjet’s group commercial director, customer, product and marketing said: “We know that portable devices are an important part of our customers’ journey with us so we are pleased they can now use their electronic devices onboard in ‘Flight mode’ for the duration of their flight with us – we think this will be a popular change.”

Three more airlines sign up for inflight wi-fi
Apr 10th, 2014 by elisa

Three further airlines have signed up to OnAir, an IT system that allows for an inflight phone connection and wi-fi.

Kuwait Airways will fit 12 new aircraft and its fleet upgrades with Mobile OnAir and Internet OnAir delivered from December. TAAG Angola Airlines will introduce the technology on its new fleet, and Sri Lankan Airlines, which is also due to join the oneworld alliance on 1st May, is installing the system on six new aircraft as it renews its long-haul fleet.

OnAir, which is owned by SITA, the IT solutions provider to air transport, has regulatory approvals from over 100 countries as well as more than 375 roaming agreements.

Passengers will be able to use wi-fi, as well as phone, text, email and use their apps as usual from their phone. For Internet OnAir, passengers will log on and enter their credit card details before surfing the Internet just as they would at a wi-fi hotspot on the ground. Passengers using Mobile OnAir will have charges included in their monthly phone bill, as they would if they were using international roaming.

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
Track your flight stats
Apr 7th, 2014 by elisa

Want to know how many times you’ve flown around the world? A new online tool by British Airways shows customers how many times they would have flown around the world according to the total miles they’ve flown with the airline.

‘My Flightpath’ is available to members of the British Airways Executive Club and displays a timeline of all their flights since they joined. Members can also see where they’ve flown to, where they fly to most, and how many miles they’ve travelled.

Included in the site is ‘My Passport’ which awards stamps to customers when they reach certain milestones in their travels, such as the number of countries they’ve visited or number of miles flown. The stats can also be shared via social media.

Ian Romanis, head of customer engagement, said: “We wanted to give customers something that would help them to capture the magic of flying and we’re sure they will enjoy sharing their travelling milestones with their friends.”

Anyone with a BA booking can join the club free of charge and start tracking their stats.

Pre-ticked boxes for insurance add-ons could be banned
Mar 12th, 2014 by elisa

Pre-ticked boxes for insurance add-ons when purchasing services like a holiday could be banned by the Financial Conduct Authority.

The FCA claims the £1bn insurance add-on market is overcharging customers for products they may not need or use. An investigation in July 2013 by the FCA found poor competition at point of sale and low levels of claims. There was also a lack of information which prevented customers from making informed choices regarding the products.

25% of customers who bought insurance as an add-on were not aware that they could buy it separately elsewhere. 38% said they had not planned to buy the add-on before the purchase. 69% of those who bought it could not accurately remember how much they paid three to four months later, with 19% forgetting they had even bought it.

Christopher Woolard, director of policy, risk and research at the FCA, said: “There’s a clear case for us to intervene. Competition in this market is not working well and many consumers are simply not getting value for money.

“Firms must start putting consumers first and stop seeing them as pound signs.”

The FCA is proposing banning pre-ticked boxes to ensure consumers actively opt in to buy, and not have to choose to opt out. It will also require companies to publish claim ratios to highlight low-value products, which it hopes will encourage better quality products for consumers.

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.

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