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Enhanced security checks mean any electronic devices that will not switch on will have to be left behind by passengers travelling to the US.
US homeland security confirmed that these checks would be implemented immediately at some airports abroad as it believes that there is a very real threat of terrorist attacks with the potential for phones to be turned into explosive devices that can avoid detection.
It said passengers at airports which offer direct flights to the US may be forced to switch on their electronic devices to prove to security officials that they do not contain explosives. This comes after it was announced last week that extra security measures would be put in place at airports and on flights due to an increased threat of terrorist activity.
The US Transportation Security Administration warned: “Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft. The traveller may also undergo additional screening.”
Conservative MP Sir Malcolm Rifkind warned against complacency on the issue because there are more threats than have been made public. Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Sir Malcolm said: “It is simply foolish to believe that the threat is either minimal or now behind us.
“We have, indeed, been fortunate but, sadly, this has not been because the terrorists have, since 2005, given up trying to do us harm.”
Delays and cancellations are expected from today as French air traffic controllers begin a six-day strike.
The strike over budget cuts is not as large as first feared, as one of the two unions that announced the action backed out at the last minute. However, flights to and from France, and also many flights that travel across French airspace will still be cancelled or delayed.
Eurocontrol, a European air safety organisation, estimated almost 14,000 hours of delays over the strike period. A similar walk out last year led to the cancellation of around 1,800 flights a day across Europe.
Ryanair has cancelled 26 flights to and from France, and British Airways has cancelled three return flights from Heathrow to Toulouse, Marseille and Lyon. Easyjet has cancelled 28 flights, but none of these are from UK airports.
Airlines have said that they will update customers daily on further cancellations.
BA said: “The level of disruption is likely to fluctuate in different parts of France at different parts of each day.
“Unfortunately this industrial action is also highly likely to lead to delays on other short-haul services which have to overfly France.”
“We expect to receive information from the French authorities the day before each strike event as to the levels of mandated cancellations for all airlines on each route.
“We aim to publish our revised schedules by 1400 GMT each day for the following day’s flights.”
Advice for travellers affected by the strikes
A statement on the Easyjet website said: “For cancelled flights, all our customers will be offered a free of charge transfer to a new flight or a full refund.
“We strongly advise customers who wish to travel and want to rebook Easyjet flights to AVOID rebooking flights for any day between 24th-30th June as there is a high likelihood of further disruption that could cause further cancellations.”
Ryanair has urged the French Government and European Union to intervene, calling for the air traffic controllers’ right to strike to be removed and in the meantime to allow neighbouring air traffic providers to keep the skies over France open over the strike period.
Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs said: “It is high time the EU Commission removed these air traffic controllers’ right to strike, in the same way as ATC in the US, and many of Europe’s armies and police forces, are prohibited from striking by law, to stop Europe being held to ransom by a small number of air traffic controllers every summer.”
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.
Easyjet Flexifare screenshot
Lowest fare guides and flexible dates options are really helpful in finding the lowest travel fares, but sometimes the cost of a flight or train when you want it is still too expensive.
Moneysavingexpert.com founder, Martin Lewis has just revealed a way to ‘trick’ Easyjet’s booking system to get the cheapest possible fare.
“The idea is to book a Flexifare on the same route at a less busy time, then switch to the dates you originally wanted. It’s not the easiest trick in the book, but if it works it could save £100s,” is says on the website.
It’s a bit of a risk as you need to know that your dates will still be available to switch to. The website provides a step by step guide on how to do this, which includes beginning a booking for 20 people on your desired flight to see if that many seats are available and therefore not likely to sell out so quickly.
One customer is quoted as saving £700 on flights to Lanzarote. The online posting said: “When we went on the Easyjet website the flights were over £1,500 including bags. We then booked the flexi flights, which were £848 – a saving of £700. A bit nerve-wracking for the 24 hours, but we know it works. There must be availability obviously on the dates you are changing to.”
A spokesperson for Easyjet said: “EasyJet’s aim is to provide easy and affordable fares for everyone which is why we provide a number of tools on our website to help customers identify the best flight for their budget.
“Our recently launched ‘low fare finder’ makes it easier than ever to find the lowest fares available on specific routes without the stress of needlessly changing dates and our Inspire Me tool enables customers to specify their budget and dates and sets out on a map where they can fly to for that budget.
“Flexifares are designed specifically for the business customer and offer the flexibility they require when travelling for business, however there is no guarantee of availability on alternative dates. Most of our passengers travelling during the peak summer understand that the earlier they book the cheaper the fare will be.”
Train fares are another contentious issue when it comes to the different prices for the same routes, often depending on whether you book early enough or use a rail card.
Tickets are grouped into three types: “Advance” for a specific train journey, “anytime” for any train on the route, and “off-peak” restricted to quieter times of travel.
“Anytime” tickets are usually most expensive because of their flexibility, but it can still seem too expensive when booking an “advance” or “off-peak” ticket, and this is where the money-saving trick comes in. If you are travelling on a popular and fairly lengthy journey, then it could be much cheaper to buy tickets for separate parts of the journey in a practice called “ticket splitting”.
For example, a one-way “advance” ticket from Oxford to Leeds will cost £90, calling at Birmingham New Street. However, a one-way “advance” ticket from Oxford to Birmingham New Street costs £33, and then from Birmingham New Street to Leeds another £49 giving a total fare of £82. This is a fairly sizeable percentage saving of the original cost, and can amount to much larger savings on other routes. National Rail allows ticket splitting (essentially travelling on the same train) as long as the train stops at the station you’re splitting the tickets for.
Another trick I found when trying to book an “anytime” ticket on thetrainline.com was that I still had to provisionally select a journey time to allow me to buy the ticket, but the price of the “anytime” ticket fluctuated depending on the time I was searching for. I selected a time later in the day to halve the price of the ticket at the time I was considering travelling, but could still use it at any point that day.
There are lots more possible money saving methods to cut the cost of travel. Let us know what your tips and tricks are in the comments section below.
Florida beach picture by Flickr user Adam Caudill
A survey of 2,000 British parents regarding the most family-friendly destinations in the world found Cornwall to be top of the list, with Orlando in Florida a close second.
The only reason Orlando was pipped to the post was because of the long flying time of around nine hours from the UK, otherwise, its world-famous theme parks and near-constant sunshine ranked extremely favourably for child-friendly holidays.
The Spanish islands of Majorca, Menorca and Tenerife, and the Costa Del Sol on the mainland made up the rest of the top ten for holidays abroad, with Devon, Somerset, Dorset and Isle of Wight for holidays in the UK.
Around eight in ten respondents said making sure a destination is child-friendly is their main priority when booking a holiday. Factors that contributed to a family-friendly holiday included nearby play areas, a good choice of food to cater for fussy eaters, and a shallow sea. Half of the parents polled said the ideal holiday destination must have nice beaches, and 28% said kids’ swimming pools are essential.
The study also found that the ideal holiday would last an average of 10 days, and involve less than five hours of travelling time, making many of the European destinations ideal for family breaks.
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.
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%
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.
A 16-year-old boy survived a five hour flight across the Pacific Ocean hidden in the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines plane.
Flying at heights of around 38,000 feet in temperatures of 75 or 80 degrees below zero, it’s amazing that he survived.
“For somebody to survive multiple hours with that lack of oxygen and that cold is just miraculous,” airline analyst Peter Forman told CNN affiliate KHON in Honolulu.
The boy had apparently run away from home after an argument with his family, and decided to sneak onto the tarmac at Santa Clara Airport, California. He then crawled into the wheel well of the aircraft bound for Hawaii.
He was discovered wandering around in a disorientated state at Honolulu airport. The FBI questioned the boy in order to piece together details of the incredible journey, then handed him over to child protective services.
“He doesn’t even remember the flight and it’s amazing he survived it,” said FBI spokesman Tom Simon.
No charges have been brought against the boy.
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”.
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
9. Siem Reap
Europe’s top 10
9. St Petersburg
UK’s top 10