With that, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said that they have got in touch with all the British airlines “to require them to review all relevant procedures”.
The details of the crash in the Alps are well documented, so you’ll know that, in the lead-up to the crash, Andreas Gunter Lubitz waited until the captain of Flight 4U 9525 left the cockpit and then crashed the aircraft into a mountain range.
Post 9/11, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) brought in rules which require a member of the cabin crew to enter the cockpit if the captain or first officer needs to leave for some reason. These rules weren’t put in place across Europe.
The CAA said: “Following the details that have emerged regarding the tragic Germanwings incident, we are co-ordinating closely with colleagues at the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and have contacted all UK operators to require them to review all relevant procedures.”
“All UK airline pilots undergo extensive and regular medical assessments to determine their fitness to hold a licence. As part of this, aeromedical examiners are required to assess a commercial pilot’s mental health at each medical examination which, for an airline pilot flying with at least one other pilot, is undertaken annually.”
Virgin, Thomson, Monarch and Easyjet have said that they’ll be bring in the procedure immediately and Ryanair, Jet2 and Flybe already undertake this system.
Remember Ryanair’s plans to fly you to America for £10? Well, seems like this isn’t going to be a thing at all, although they’re probably happy with all that media coverage they got, thanks.
The airline issued a small statement saying that these flights aren’t going to be offered at all: “In the light of recent press coverage, the Board of Ryanair Holdings Plc wishes to clarify that it has not considered or approved any transatlantic project and does not intend to do so. ”
Of course, Ryanair and Michael O’Leary do have previous when it comes to talking a load of old cobblers, so this shouldn’t surprise anyone. Remember when they said they were going to charge people to defecate on their planes? That didn’t happen did it?
The only thing you can take seriously is the things that Ryanair actually do, rather than say they’re going to do.
That said, £10 one-way flights to America with Ryanair would invariably end up costing you much more money in hidden charges, as they whack on costs for baggage, paper tickets, food and whatnot, meaning you’d end up spending more than you would if you flew with British Airways and be dropped-off 430 miles from where you actually want to be.
The airline we all love to hate, Ryanair, could be set to take over (part of) the world sooner than you’d think, with the Board of the airline approving outline plans to fly between 12-14 European and US cities, on a transatlantic service at rock bottom prices, starting from £10. However, don’t get too excited, as none of this will come to fruition for at least four or five years, not least because Ryanair don’t have any transatlantic planes yet.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that O’Leary has offered the public a vision of a no-frills transatlantic airline offering cheap fares, with some skeptics suggesting that he has never really meant it and was just looking to secure fee advertising with headlines screaming about £10 transatlantic fares. However the disclosure that the board has approved outline plans suggests the company is now serious about proceeding. Which could be very exciting indeed.
Ryanair said: “The board of Ryanair, like any plc, has approved the business plans for future growth, including transatlantic. We are talking to manufacturers about long-haul aircraft but cannot comment further on this. European consumers want lower cost travel to the USA and the same for Americans coming to Europe. We see it as a logical development in the European market.”
But others suggest that Ryanair’s American dream has always been genuine, it’s just that they want someone else to have a go first, so they can learn from others’ mistakes. No airline has yet managed to run a profitable transatlantic service offering cheap as chip fares- Sir Freddie Laker’s Skytrain went bust trying during the 1980s. However, in 2013, Norwegian Air Shuttle, the Oslo-based low-cost airline, expanded from short to long-haul flying, with example prices of a one-way ticket from London Gatwick airport to New York of £149. While the company made a loss last year, and only flies to a handful of standard locations in the US, if Norwegian can make a go of it, you can bet your bottom dollar Ryanair will be all over it before you can bat an eyelid.
Norwegian’s prices are currently pitched at around half of rival airline prices, but Ryanair are still talking about £10/€10 flights, although they concede that there will only be a limited number of flights at this price. Other one-way tickets would be priced at £99 or more, and the airline would fill up to half of its seats with more expensive premium spaces, according to Ryanair’s head of marketing, Kenny Jacobs.
And people think Ryanair could actually make a go of it. Analyst John Strickland told the FT that “Ryanair is well equipped to do this, in the sense that it has the pan-European market presence and critical mass needed. The key issues will be to obtain the right aircraft at the right cost and in sufficient numbers, along with offering some type of premium product.”
And the planes are currently the sticking point, with waiting lists and long lead times on both the Airbus 350 and the Boeing Dreamliner planes Ryanair would have to invest in. Which means £10 flights to the States are still a way off.
But the final interesting nugget spilled by Ryanair was that its new transatlantic service would not fly under the Ryanair brand. We do hope O’Leary asks us, its travelling public, to help come up with a suitable name for the new venture…
Passengers were flying to Dubai to have a lovely time, when suddenly, they were heading back to Heathrow. Not because of technical problems, but because someone had dropped their guts in a spectacularly vile manner.
Those on the flight had been complaining about the skin-stripping stench from the toilets which were enough to curdle milk.
Tory councillor Abhishek Sachdev was on-board (going to Dubai, eh?) and tweeted about the whole affair, prompting Bitterwallet to immediately think ‘whoever smelt it, dealt it’. That’s the way it works right? Even in adult life.
His tweet read:
Talking to the Mail, he said the pilot apologised to the passengers, and: “About 10 minutes later he said you may have noticed there’s a quite pungent smell coming from one of the toilets. He said it was liquid faecal excrement, those are the words he used. He said it’s not a technical fault with the plane, and he was very adamant about that.”
The flight was rescheduled for the next day and a British Airways spokesperson said: “We are very sorry for the discomfort to our customers.”
Meanwhile, someone somewhere can be proud or ashamed, depending on their constitution, of doing a crap so rancid that a plane had to stop flying.
Well, looks like some folk need to shape up, as a mother has vented her ire after she was told to cover up while she was trying to breastfeed her child on an EasyJet flight.
Gemma Leung, the mother in question, said that she didn’t even get her eight-month-old baby fed when a flight attendant told her she that she was going to have to cover everything up with a blanket for fear of upsetting the other passengers.
Again – imagine being upset by it. Getting irritated if the baby starts to cry and crap everywhere, sure, but a feeling of being distraught by a something as magnificently humdrum as a woman breastfeeding.
Mercifully, not all the attendants were thundering berks, as another returned to the ‘upsetting’ scene and apologised to Leung. “I’m totally outraged,” said Mrs Leung. “It ruined the whole trip for me and my mum. It’s just not right.”
EasyJet have made a public apology and reiterated that passengers are indeed allowed to breastfeed at any point during a flight, with a spokesperson adding: “The crew member was immediately corrected by another member of crew who apologised to Mrs Leung. This does not reflect EasyJet’s policy on breastfeeding.”
London has its own TfL to manage all things train-shaped in the capital, but a think tank has said that the Government should thrown £15bn at a similar transport body for the North of England in a bid to get everything ship-shape.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said this idea would only serve to help George Osborne’s vision of a “northern powerhouse” and they prodded the chancellor to include such a thing in his budget, which is happening on 18th March (so they’ve invariably left it a bit late, as he’s no doubt got the main meat of the budget sorted by now).
The IPPR would call this thing Transport for the North (TfN), although we’d prefer Tremendous Transport for the North so you could have TTFN as the acronym. This body would be responsible for rail, road, sea and air and determine what infrastructure investments should take priority and the like and could be made up of the existing Transport for the North alliance, which the government set up in 2014.
The IPPR plan also includes the need for a transport commissioner for the North, as well as a move toward a contactless, cross-boundary ticketing system.
Ed Cox, Director of IPPR North, said: “Northern transport infrastructure is dated, poorly integrated and lacking the large-scale investment it needs, but Transport for the North could be at the vanguard of a coherent economic plan that will fire up the northern powerhouse.”
“Devolving transport powers and budget to the North will help transform the region’s growth prospects and rebalance the economy.”
We reported a while ago, that the EU was all set to abolish roaming charges. However, that may not be the case now, as they’re going to be here for another 3 years.
The pointless and outdated charges were to come into play this summer, but now, roaming charges are going to stay until the end of 2018. And only then, the situation will be reviewed. With the average Brit spending £120 on these charges, this is a bit of a kick in the pants.
The telecoms industry aren’t happy about this either, as they say that this will affect their revenues, presumably because holidaymakers will prefer to switch their phones off while abroad, rather than use them. That said, they’ll happily take the money of those who do use their phones, so they won’t be too annoyed at all this.
A number of consumer groups across Europe, who have joined forces at the BEUC, have called this u-turn ‘outrageous’ and that ‘roaming is not justifiable in a single market.’
Only last year, the UK was planning on getting together with other European countries to sort out a fairer system which would abolish roaming charges, whereas now, everyone’s going to have to work out a common position with the European Parliament and Commission before any changes come to the fore.
“EU member states should hang their heads in shame,” said Belgian MEP and Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group leader Guy Verhofstadt.
For those of you counting the days, don’t worry, the next bank holiday isn’t that far away- Good Friday lands in exactly a month’s time. But is this the ideal time to book your next holiday abroad or not? The helpful chaps at Kayak have crunched the numbers and can tell you the ideal time to book, and which days to fly to get the cheapest deals. But it all depends on where you’re going…
On average, Kayak recommend that British travellers book around three months ahead of their departure date, but some destinations require looking even further ahead, with travellers needing five months waiting time for South America, four months in advance for the Caribbean, and a whopping seven months for trips to Asia. European jaunts can be timed to perfection as the best prices are available one month ahead of time, but those looking for a trip Stateside need to book only two weeks before leaving.
Kayak also looked at the best day to fly, and based on their data from between November 2014 and February 2015, flying in the middle of the week is the cheapest option for all long-distance routes. On average, the cheapest flights depart on a Thursday and return between Tuesday and Thursday.
Note that while weekend flying is normally most expensive, a simple change to a European long weekend could save you a packet. A four-day Friday to Monday weekend break would be weighted with premium prices, but a break of identical length from Thursday to Sunday actually comes in as the cheapest option. So what are you waiting for?
It’s still February, it’s still grey and it’s still cold. Why not book a sneaky ski trip, or plan something for sunnier shores to cheer yourself up, always remembering to also book yourself some travel insurance to go with that.
But before you buy, why not take a look at Which!!!’s top five tips for making sure you have the best chance of a successful claim when something goes wrong on your jollies.
Which isn’t pessimistic at all…
1. The best policy isn’t always the cheapest
Which!!! advise you to check you have the cover you actually need. In the same way that cheaper car insurance policies might not offer extras such as courtesy cars or legal protection, make sure the cover you pick does actually cover what you want to do. Sometimes going for specialist winter sports policies, for example, might be cheaper than adding winter sports cover to a cheaper policy.
Also, if you go away frequently, check whether it would work our cheaper in the long run to buy an annual policy rather than a number of shorter trip plans. Finally, travel insurance is included as a perk with some bank accounts- if that cover does the job, you don’t have to pay anything extra at all.
2. Check the terms and conditions
We’ve all heard the tales of obscure terms and conditions that compel you to offer your first born child or something, but terms are really important in travel insurance. Sometimes, certain countries or activities are excluded, so you need to know this before you buy. Which!!! highlight the need for disclosing any pre-existing medical conditions, and not being able to make such a disclosure in an online system is no excuse – you’ll have to give them a call. Non-disclosure of a condition could render the whole policy invalid, even if any claim has nothing to do with that condition.
Getting medical cover as part of your travel insurance after a serious illness like cancer can be difficult, or prohibitively expensive, but if you talk to the insurer, they can often arrange cover that simply excludes that particular condition- which is better than nothing and would still cover you if you broke your leg in an accident or something.
3. Don’t delay, file quickly
Which!!! say that, in the case of a claim, you should file claims as quickly as you can and make sure you send any supporting documents within the given time frames (a month is usual). Keep any receipts relating to your claim, and if you’re claiming for a broken possession, keep the broken item as you might need it as proof.
4. Rejected claims
Which!!! research found that 6% of claims were rejected over the past two years, with the biggest problem areas including holidays being cancelled or cut short, exclusions based on alcohol consumption; lost, damaged or delayed luggage and lost or stolen possessions.
Which advise you to complain in writing – by post or email – to your insurer if you feel your claim has been rejected unfairly. Insurance companies then have up to eight weeks to look into your case. If you speak to anyone on the phone, make sure to keep a note of the date, time and full name of the person you spoke with.
5. Go all the way…
If after eight weeks you feel your provider hasn’t handled your claim fairly, you can refer your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, which will look into the case for you.
More than half (53%) of travel insurance complaints, which is more than any other type of major insurance, are upheld by the ombudsman, so it’s likely to be worth your while to go further with your claim.
Travelling on a bus can be a miserable affair at the best of times and, as we know, there’s too many buses that are in a bit of a state when you get on them.
One bus in Yorkshire had a problem with the buttons that you press, which ring the bell to signal to the bus driver that you want to get off at the next stop. Well, Barnsley folk won’t let a little thing like that get in the way of anything. Forget getting maintenance teams out and all that faff – just write a note like this.
As you can see, the sign says “Bells not working. If you want bus to stop, shout ‘Ding Ding’.” It is impossible to read that without doing it in a Yorkshire accent.
Of course, this sign is bad news for those who too shy to shout or, indeed, can’t read. Either way, we like this system of fixing menial problems. More of it please!
Remember how bad the response was, when drinking on the London Underground was banned? Well, steel yourself, because the bosses of the railways are being asked to consider a ban on drinking on all trains.
So, that’d mean old dears not being able to have a G&T while going on a day trip or someone making a long commute more bearable with a can.
Of course, you can still get on a train absolutely bladdered, which means any notion of this being a thing to stop anti-social behaviour is out of the window. It also goes without saying that you don’t have to be hammered on booze to be anti-social, either.
What’s the big idea then?
Well, this is being floated by the Rail Safety and Standards Board because they want to do something about the number of people killed on the railways because they’re drunk. In the last 5 years, 18 people were killed and 250 were seriously injured after they fell from platforms.
So you’ll assume that the rail safety lot will be banning slippery shoes and people checking their phones when they should be looking where they’re going, too? Not to mention banning passengers from frequenting any nearby pubs, especially the ones that are actually inside the train stations themselves.
This is only in consultation at the moment and you can imagine the Rail Safety and Standards lot won’t be able to justify alcohol bans because, if they do and accidents keep happening, they might have to start spending some money on making train platforms safer, rather than blaming it on alcohol.
Well, the government are looking at connectivity on trains and have announced that they’re going to free up £50 million of funding for free WiFi on the rail networks in England and Wales.
Rail Minister Claire Perry said that the Department of Transport want to make sure that WiFi is available on more services by 2017. It’ll be useful for people who work while they travel and, naturally, it’ll be good for bored people wanting to stream TV shows or listen to Spotify without hammering their data.
In addition to all this, all future bids for new franchises and direct award agreements are going to have to include provisions for WiFi infrastructure. At the moment, the DoT are looking at improvements on Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern, Southeastern, Chiltern and Arriva Trains Wales.
Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “Free WiFi is a priority for many as being able to keep up with work, connect with friends or even check the latest journey information online helps make rail travel more productive.”
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, looking like a penis hiding in an old sock, said: “The government is earmarking around £50 million to provide free WiFi on trains; this and our other franchising improvements mean that nearly three-quarters of rail journeys will be made on trains with wi-fi provision.”
Apparently, a ‘third party error’ was responsible and sadly, even though a load of people snapped up the cut-price tickets, United said they would not be honouring the purchases. The flights would normally cost around £4,000.
Ever gracious, United Airlines released a statement accusing customers of trying to “take advantage of the situation”.
“United is voiding the bookings of several thousand individuals who were attempting to take advantage of an error a third-party software provider made when it applied an incorrect currency exchange rate, despite United having properly filed its fares,” they said.
“Most of these bookings were for travel originating in the United Kingdom, and the level of bookings made with Danish Kroner as the local currency was significantly higher than normal during the limited period that customers made these bookings.”
The glitch allowed users to book a round-trip flight between Heathrow and Newark Liberty International airport for 491 Danish kroner if, on United’s site, they changed their host country to Denmark.
People who got in while the glitch was still live, were able to buy cheap tickets to any US destination from Heathrow, as long as they opted for first class or business class.
Imagine the good publicity if United Airlines honoured the flights! Still, they’re probably still butt hurt from the time their Twitter account got hacked with all manner of risque messages.
Poor old Ryanair. The airline has a bad rep in Spain, owing largely to the tireless work of consumer group Facua, who never shy away from an opportunity to criticise Ryanair’s treatment of passengers.
Now, Ryanair has lost a second appeal against a libel decision that saw the budget airline described as “the lowest of the low” which “swindled and mocked its passengers”.
Ryanair had taken issue with, basically everything Facua said about the company, including comments aired on radio shows in which spokesmen for Facua criticised the treatment received by the airline’s customers, and sued the group for libel back in 2012.
However, in the original decision, the Andalusian court said that Facua had, in fact, demonstrated “abusive practices” by Ryanair, including additional charges for services such as printing a boarding card (which were later outlawed), and gave the example of one occasion when passengers at Seville airport were “held on a plane without air conditioning for a long period of time”. Bet that smelled nice.
The decision was given on the grounds that the consumer association had a “right to defend consumers” by highlighting complaints which the company could not disprove. Which was most likely because they were true. We are all now looking forward to Which!!! getting way shirtier in future.
In this latest appeal, Ryanair were left looking stupid again after a panel of Supreme Court judges ruled that the association had made reasonable use of its “right to freedom of expression in defending consumers” and was therefore justified in discussing the airline’s shortcomings in, seemingly, any way it saw fit. For example, Facua once described Ryanair as the “worst company of the year” and accused the airline of “inflating prices” in a “fraudulent” manner. However, the Spanish court decided such “offensive comments” were justified as the company’s “commercial practices have generated a notorious degree of dissent” among consumers. Ryanair was also ordered to pay costs. Bet you wish you’d played nice now huh?
But it’s not like Ryanair shouldn’t have seen this verdict coming. A separate lawsuit against Facua also found in favour of the consumer group in 2013 after the association had criticised Ryanair over a series of “emergency landing” incidents at Spanish airports- they claimed that on several occasions in 2012 pilots were forced to request priority landings, owing to fuel shortages. Ryanair sued Facua for saying they had a policy of “saving money in areas related to safety [which] put the lives of its passengers at stake”. A claim Ryanair refuted. Obvs.
Buses and trains are notorious for being late in the UK, with most people just accepting it as part of the service. However, all that might’ve changed as one lady made a note of all the late bus services and then invoiced for them successfully.
Elizabeth Thomas sent her invoice to First Buses, which totted up to £103.30 and they gave her a load of free passes.
She complained about a service in Bristol which had been consistently late, which she said, had been preventing her from spending time with her two children because her commute was taking longer than necessary.
“I’ve had to start leaving an hour earlier just to be sure I get to work on time, and by the time I get home I’m looking at a 12-hour day most days,” she said.
“That’s time I should be spending with my children. Is my time not valuable to First?”
Thomas looked at her Twitter and used the data she collated there, to document late buses (or indeed, buses that didn’t show up at all). She added up all the time she waited and put it into an invoice. She found that she’d wasted 11.24 hours waiting for First’s buses.
With that, she decided to charge First £9.19 per hour, which resulted in a cost of £103.30. Seeing as Elizabeth Thomas was successful, should we all start invoicing travel companies for late running services, to get some compensation or free stuff? Looks like a good idea to us.
First in Bristol got in touch to say this: “The success of this particular claim was due to the fact that there is a customer promise already in place in Bristol, which offers to pay out if a bus (in Bristol) is more than one minute early at a defined timing point, or more than 20 mins late at any boarding point, and the cause of the failure is within the company’s control. This is well publicized locally and means that there was, in fact, no need for an invoice to be submitted at all.”
All buses services across the country would do well to adopt this customer promise!