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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.

Heathrow rail service strike 4th June
May 30th, 2014 by elisa

A 24 hour strike on the Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect services has been announced for 4th June.

Rail union RMT has instructed all Heathrow Express members to take strike action from 03.00 hours on Wednesday June 4, 2014 until 02.59 hours on Thursday June 5, 2014 in response to an ongoing dispute over cuts.

The union claims 201 jobs are now under threat of redundancy because of the rail service’s plans to re-organise its workforce in order to save £6 million over the next five years.

It says the attack on jobs and working conditions are a result of the Civil Aviation Authority’s decision to cut £600 million from Heathrow Airport’s budget over the same period.

Ryanair on-time landing trumpet to sound its last
May 27th, 2014 by elisa

Ryanair’s on-time landing trumpet jingle will sound its last after passengers branded it “annoying”, “awful” and “cheesy”.

The airline has decided to stop playing the famous bugle, which sounds at the end of every flight that lands on time, after feedback from a Twitter-led survey.

The move is part of a series of customer service improvements started at the end of 2013. So far the airline has introduced ‘quiet’ flights with less in-flight announcements before 8am and after 8pm, it has also given passengers a 24-hour grace period in which to correct any minor errors made in bookings, and it’s removed the ‘Recaptcha’ security code for individual bookings.

A Ryanair spokesperson hinted that the bugle will be replaced by something else, and its “next customer improvement” will be unveiled soon.

Parents take legal action against term-time holiday ban
May 27th, 2014 by elisa

Parents are taking a stand against the ban on term-time holidays. Campaign group ‘Parents want a say‘ officially launched over the weekend and has already won support of 200,000 other parents.

The group is seeking judicial review of the rules, claiming that they are a breach of the human right to family life.

Last September, Education Secretary Michael Gove removed the policy which allowed schools to grant up to 10 days leave to families in “special circumstances”, also threatening parents with fines of up to £1,000 or even to be put in prison for taking their children out of school for a family holiday during term time.

One e-petition in opposition to the rules and school holiday price hikes gained well over 160,000 signatures in February and led to the topic being debated in Parliament.

The new campaign group is run by Karen Wilkinson, a mother of three from Bath in Somerset.

Its website argues that last year’s changes are unfairly criminalising hardworking families for wanting to enjoy affordable holidays together.

“The cost of a family holiday during the school holidays is an expense many working families simply can’t afford,” it says.

“Furthermore, it is not simply a matter of cost for many families; most businesses can’t allow large numbers of their staff to take leave at the same time either.

“Those hardest hit by this short sighted policy include the country’s highly valued public sector workers. Military families are restricted on when they take holidays due to work, training and overseas deployment, as are many NHS doctors and nurses for similar reasons.

“Those caring for our country’s elderly, operating national transport systems and our police force will also suffer under this policy, unable to enjoy family holiday’s when work schedules allow them to without facing fines for doing so.

“Government inference without due consideration to the families it will effect is unacceptable. The responsibility of making decisions about our children should be put back in the hands of the parent. All children who have a good attendance record should be allowed to enjoy and benefit from experiencing time abroad with their parents on an annual holiday of up to 10 day per year.”

 

Do you feel that the rules are unfair and unlawful? Post comments below. 

Orlando top destination for Brits
May 21st, 2014 by elisa

Brits just can’t get enough of the sunshine state of Florida, with Orlando the particular holiday favourite for this summer according to recent analysis.

The metasearch website momondo.co.uk analyses its UK flight search data from the last three months, for travel during the UK holiday period and a departure date between June and August 2014 and came up with Brits’ top summer destinations.

Orlando was the clear winner, proving the theme-park capital and family-friendly atmosphere is something that keeps it at the top of our summer holiday list.

The website also studied the most popular places in the world according to data from 20 of the UK’s biggest airports to create each airport’s “Top 5” summer destinations. Orlando appeared in seven out of 20 of these airport lists.

Other firm favourites were Spanish destinations of Alicante and Malaga, coming in third and fourth respectively on overall most-searched destinations for summer 2014. Both also appeared in the top five for 13 out of 20 UK airport lists. 

“It’s encouraging to see Orlando in favour with Brits this year as a popular place to visit over the summer holidays, with its excellent activities and parks for the whole family. And long-haul destination New York was also popular this summer too – at a time when the climate is warm.

“It seems the traditional Spanish summer break though will always appeal to Brits, with short-haul flights and a practical sun guarantee. It is interesting to see Turkey hot on the heels of Spain however, with Dalaman coming in fifth most-popular destination overall. Sizzling hot weather and great deals on this up and coming destination no doubt will be drawing the crowds in this year,” says Julie Pedersen, Spokesperson for momondo.

OVERALL TOP 10 MOST-SEARCHED SUMMER DESTINATIONS FOR BRITS

1) Orlando

2) New York

3) Alicante

4) Malaga

5) Dalaman

6) Bangkok

7) Faro

8) Palma de Mallorca

9) Los Angeles

10) Tenerife

New Cardiff to Tenerife flights
May 20th, 2014 by elisa

Ryanair will start a weekly Cardiff to Tenerife service from 30th October.

Flights will operate on Thursdays, leaving Cardiff at 11.15 and arriving in Tenerife at 15.20 local time. Return flights will be a 06.55, arriving in Cardiff at 10.50.

Tickets are on sale now.

Start to look for your perfect holiday accommodation on the island from our large selection of holiday villas.

Choose from a selection of quality villas and apartments in Tenerife with Greenslades Villas and Apartments. Many have private or shared pools to choose from, and travel and car hire can also be arranged.

Greenslades Villas and Apartments in Tenerife

Greenslades Villas and Apartments in Tenerife

Greenslades Villas and Apartments in Tenerife

Greenslades Villas and Apartments in Tenerife

Greenslades Villas and Apartments in Tenerife

 

 

 

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.

BA launch new summer sun flights from London Gatwick
May 19th, 2014 by elisa

Get closer to summer sun locations in 2015 as British Airways launches five new routes from London Gatwick.

From next April the airline will fly to Cagliari in Sardinia, Crete and Rhodes in Greece, and Bodrum and Dalaman in Turkey.

“This is the biggest launch of new routes at Gatwick we’ve had for several years and is brilliant news for families and holiday-makers wanting to get away from it all for that all-important break to relax in the sun,’ said BA head of commercial Gatwick Colm Lacy.

Cagliari will operate three times a week, Crete four times a week, Rhodes twice a week, Bodrum twice a week, and Dalaman four times a week.

Start browsing your holiday villa now at Villaseek.com!

 

Cheap tickets tricks for huge saving potential
May 19th, 2014 by elisa

Easyjet Flexifare screenshot

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.

 

 

Most family-friendly destinations
May 8th, 2014 by elisa

Florida beach picture by Flickr user Adam Caudill

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.

 

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