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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.

Tube strike 2014: causes chaos for passengers to airports
Apr 29th, 2014 by elisa

A 48 hour tube strike means passengers are struggling to get to London airports from today.

In addition to the Tube services, Heathrow said that its Heathrow Express and Connect overland services to and from the airport are also being disrupted.

A statement on the website said: “Due to the planned London Underground strikes, our trains are likely to be busier than usual so please allow more time for your journey.”

The Piccadilly Line is only operating between Acton Town and the Heathrow’s Terminals 1,2 and 3 and there is no Heathrow Connect service.

National Express is operating additional services between Heathrow and Victoria coach station during the strike period, however the coach operator has warned that some services may be subject to delays due to the impact of the strike.

All train services on the Gatwick Express are currently running normally, as are railways services to London City, however passengers are advised to leave extra time for their journeys.

The RMT union is striking over London Underground’s plans to close ticket offices and cut 960 jobs. It has warned that if the dispute is not resolved, then a second 72-hour strike, is planned to begin at 9pm on 5th May.

Stowaway survives flight in plane wheel well
Apr 25th, 2014 by elisa

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.

Swarm of bees grounds plane
Apr 21st, 2014 by elisa

A flight was grounded after a massive swarm of bees clouded the plane’s windshields and were sucked into its engines. 

The Allegiant Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Dululth, Minnesota, was forced to turn around and land back at McCarran International Airport when it was struck by the swarm.

Passengers reported a burning smell that filled the cabin, causing some passengers to panic.

“We thought [the pilot] was joking when he said ,’I’ve never had that happen before. We hit thousands of bees,’ ” passenger Cassandra Rogers told WDIO news.

Bees grounding flights might sound unusual, but there have been many incidents in which they have caused flight delays, although the swarms are most common on the ground rather than in the air.

Beekeeper Stephen Repasky told KDKA-TV that swarms form when colonies become too large and the queen takes half the bees with her to find a new home.

David Cameron stung by jellyfish in Lanzarote
Apr 21st, 2014 by elisa

David Cameron suffered a painful sting from a jellyfish while on his Easter holiday with his family in Lanzarote

Reports state that Cameron was warned by locals about the dangers of jellyfish, and even though he got his children out of the waves, he returned for another swim off the popular Arrieta beach.

Tourists described how he came running from the water a short time later, rubbing his arm shouting: “Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!”

Wendy, an ex-pat who has lived at the Canary Island resort for 12 years, described the type of jellyfish as “a reddy colour, quite small but with very long tentacles”.

The sting, although painful, was reported to be pretty minor and did not require treatment.

This incident just goes to show that it’s probably wise to heed the warnings of locals when on holiday in an area you don’t know very well.

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”.

Lufthansa increases capacity from UK and Ireland
Mar 28th, 2014 by elisa

Lufthansa is increasing its capacity from the UK and Ireland as a result of customer demand and the general economic upturn.

It will introduce larger aircraft on some routes and increase the number of flights on others.

Increased services on Aberdeen and Frankfurt are up by 23%, with capacity also up at Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and London Heathrow.

Glasgow to Dusseldorf has gone from six to seven flights a week, while Dublin to Munich will increase from three to four flights a week from April, and then five flights a week in July and August.

Flights from Heathrow to Frankfurt will be operated by the larger Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft, and Lufthansa are introducing some “subtle timetable adjustments” on the route from this Sunday (30th March) in order to create a better spread of flights in both directions.

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.

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.

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