The Icelandic airline WOW air have announced the £99 fare, which includes taxes, which is being offered on a selection of one-way journeys next year.
Passengers can travel from London Gatwick to Boston Logan International Airport from 27 March next year and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport from 4th June.
But there’s a but.
The flights aren’t direct, as there’s a stopover at Keflavík International Airport, in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik. Although going to Iceland for an hour or two would be amazing, even if it is just sitting about in their airport.
Additionally, there is a booking fee of £8.98 and it costs a further £39 to check in a bag, so customers are realistically looking at a minimum price of £146.98.
The Boston flight will operate five times a week and the Washington DC one four times.
In our small and crowded land of congested motorways, toll roads have often been held up as an example of how things could be done better. Tales of endless, straight, empty and un pot-holed motorways in France and Germany promise a better future for getting places, without getting a headache in the process. But now French environment minister Ségolène Royal has decided that the toll system isn’t working properly, and has proposed that toll company profits be slashed by reduced costs and becoming toll-free at weekend.
Her issue is that, since the French motorways were privatised eight years ago, they have been making a rather fine profit- €20 for every €100 taken according to her figures. Her plan to tax lorries on environmental grounds has fallen through (as we all know what happens when French lorry drivers get narked) so instead she is turning to the people making most money out of French roads. The problem is that there is now no Governmental money to pay for road maintenance and to finance sustainable transport projects. Someone somewhere clearly didn’t think this through when pocketing the motorway privatisation cash.
Ms Royal wants to hit motorway companies with a triple whammy- reducing motorway tolls by 10%, abolishing them at weekends and taking another 10% of the profit from tolls to “finance infrastructure investment funds”. She claims the hugely-profitable motorways, who have distributed a teeny €15bn of dividends to shareholders in the last eight years since they were privatised, have reneged on contractual commitments to reduce prices as they built the motorways, she said.
The motorway operators’ contracts allow them to pass tax increases on to road users, but presumably don’t require them to keep the roads in the tip top condition we Brits abroad expect- with this latest news causing them to threaten to abandon €3.6bn of planned works Prime Minister Manuel Valls got them to agree to last year.
So does this mean that the fundamental basis of private toll motorways is flawed? In the UK, we have a number of tolls in various places, largely bridges and tunnels, but the most well-known example of a toll motorway is the M6 Toll near Birmingham. The private/public partnership allowed the M6 Toll company to lease the land from the Government and build and run the motorway for 53 years, after which time the lease will revert to the Government.
The toll road’s latest quarterly figures showed an average of 45,473 vehicles travelling on the road per day, with the current cost of a car at £5.50 for the 27 mile stretch.
However, the M6 Toll was set up on the basis of attracting 74,000 vehicles per day, and while recent roadworks have increased traveller numbers, the new ‘active traffic’ system through the two busiest sections of the M6 (which correspond to the M6 Toll) is likely to ease congestion. The company has been making a loss for years- only because of huge loan repayments to it’s parent company- but it still clearly isn’t proving the cash cow its creators imagined. So are toll roads just a rubbish idea?
From the UK Government’s perspective, it’s been a win all round. They have had a new road built, some easing of traffic while they improve the M6, and they get the land (and the road) back in 2053. The original plan, however, was to extend the toll road up towards Manchester, but unsurprisingly, the M6 Toll company has been less than enthusiastic.
So is it the cost? When the toll road first opened the promotional cost per car was around £2, which drivers seemed to find acceptable, but is £5.50 too much? What would be the maximum amount you would pay to go on a toll road like this? Would it make a difference if it was 10% less (i.e. £5 per car) or free at the weekends as proposed by the French? Or do we just not do private motorways.
Interestingly, even the French think the free tolls at the weekend idea is a daft one, notwithstanding the fact that it would save them money. Twitter users have started using a new hashtag, #gratuitleweekend, with a wave of alternative suggestions ranging from free fruit and vegetables to combat obesity to free cigarettes or even cinema tickets, designer handbags and nightclub entry. Zut alors.
Designs for the new-look London Underground trains has been unveiled and it’s bad news for the drivers, as they’ve been written out. No wonder they’re going on strike.
Yep, the new trains are driverless and will run on the Piccadilly, Bakerloo, Central and Waterloo & City Lines.
Perhaps it will be like a DLR arrangement where they’ve made YOU the driver, or at least you’re the driver after you punched a small child to get that seat anyway.
Paul Priestman, director at PriestmanGoode, says: “TfL wanted the New Tube for London to celebrate the great history of transport design in London, whilst acting as a beacon of innovative 21st century public transport.”
“We took inspiration from iconic London landmarks and key attributes of British design to create a tube that is beautiful, simple, functional and maintainable.”
What he fails to mention is that they aren’t due on the tracks anytime soon, with 2020 being the ‘going into service’ date.
Priestman continues: “London’s Tube is one of the most iconic trains around the world. We are proud to have designed something that it is part of the very fabric of London life, celebrating all that’s great about London’s environment; cutting edge technology, rich history and diversity. The New Tube for London will take the city into the future by enriching the everyday journey of its passengers.”
They’ll still hum of commuter B.O. though.
However, that didn’t stop one bloke doing exactly that one an American flight who reportedly said: “I have Ebola, you are all screwed.”
Of course, as soon as the plane landed, it all got a bit E.T. with officials in science suits boarding the aircraft and removing the joker. Thanks to people with mobile phones, someone caught a nice video of it all, including the air hostess calling the man “an idiot.”
As the man makes his way off the plane, you can hear him say: “I was just kidding… I ain’t from Africa.” Tough cheese. And little reward for the poor buggers who had to sit on the plane for two hours while medical teams ran tests and evaluations on Mr Backfired Joke.
You want to see the video don’t you?
Apple’s CarPlay system now come supported by Spotify and Pioneer.
Grooving drivers can now use the iOS edition with the in car entertainment solutions system. While Spotify were mentioned as being part of it when the CarPlay was launched, it is just now that everyone’s finally ironed their crap out.
CarPlay allows drivers to make calls, consult Maps, listen to music and access messages and it probably massages your buttocks if you ask it nicely. They can do all this with using the voice control button on the steering wheel to activate Siri or using the car’s native interface.
CarPlay is going to be part of Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo motors, with more to come, as it seems like all of them will give in eventually.
The future, eh?
A speed camera, which was installed on Cardiff’s Newport Road at the beginning of this year, has raked in £800,000 in just over six months.
The bane of the speeder’s life, has rinsed them for 13,000 drivers, and catches three time as many drivers than the UK’s next busiest speed camera. The previous biggest arse of a camera on the roads was the junction 25 on the M60 one.
The data comes from research conducted by LV insurance, who have also revealed that in 2013 speed cameras cost British motorists £22million in fines. According to the latest statistics, the cameras generated 13,624 penalty notices for speeding and 146 for red-light offences.
And in February there were more than 100 tickets issued, on average, each day. Which is simply a pisstake.
The GoSafe partnership, which operates Wales’ road safety cameras, say the area has a high flow of traffic and motorists should always comply with the speed limit.
However road safety groups have said the camera is not doing it’s job properly and should be there to reduce speeds rather than bring in money.
It’s a petrol WAR! No, not like the war for oil or the war on drugs. This is a lot more brutal than those.
Sainsbury’s announced it would cut petrol and diesel prices by up to 5p per litre.
Not to be outdone, Asda responded by unveiling reductions of 1p and up to 2p per litre for petrol and diesel respectively at its stores.
Apparently price cuts are likely to be larger in heavily populated areas where prices are already lower due to greater competition from the likes of Asda.
A man from the AA, who is known as Luke Bosdet, said: “The real value will be in places, often small market towns, suffering from the postcode pump price lottery – having to pay at least 3p a litre more than in neighbouring, more competitive towns. If that pulls down the price among other retailers, that will be a big benefit.”
In more heavily populated areas a 5p cut, amounting to £2.50 off the average tank of fuel, would only bring Sainsbury’s in line with cheaper rivals, he added. Although industry insiders questioned the timing of the announcement by Sainsbury’s, who are heavily tipped to unveil a dismal set of trading results later this week.
Brian Madderson, of the Petrol Retailers’ Association, said: “My initial cynical reaction is that this is an attempt to divert the press and the public away from some pretty bad news on their store sales.”
“Five pence per litre, in terms of an at-the-pump price rather than a loyalty card, is probably one of the biggest if not the biggest potential cut I have come across in the last five years so the cynic in me says there is much more to this than meets the eye.”
Grab petrol cheap anyway! Pay with your lives later!
Now, Europeans can livetweet annoying crying children on flights and immediately share Vines where they’re mid crash!
The EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) has lifted the restriction, meaning phones can be used even during take off and landing, which was previously limited to Airplane Mode only. Amazing scenes.
In a statement, the EASA said “The new guidance allows airlines to permit personal electronic devices to stay switched on, without the need to be in airplane mode,”
“This is the latest regulatory step toward enabling the ability to offer ‘gate-to-gate’ telecommunication or Wifi services.”
Passengers won’t be allowed to use their devices fully just yet, as each airline must undergo and assessment to check that their aircraft communications will not be affected by the move.
But the EASA is hoping that the airlines will have the rules in place in the next eight months.
After a routine quality control assessment in their plants in Germany and Spain, the company spotted issues with some of the models registered since May.
The car company quickly issued a warning to customers – approximately 3000 of the possibly hooky models are said to have been sold – that they should not drive the cars until they have been inspected.
“Vauxhall puts the safety and convenience of its customers first and, as this condition concerns their safety, the company is taking immediate action” Vauxhall has said in \ statement.
They’ve also told owners to head to the Vauxhall website to see if their vehicle is one of the ones affected by the issues raised.
Vauxhall said: “As a precaution, these vehicles should not be driven prior to inspection. Vauxhall puts the safety and convenience of its customers first and as this condition concerns their safety, the company is taking immediate action.”
“Customers can call the Vauxhall customer assistance centre for advice on 0800 026 0034 between 9am and 5.30pm.”
The employees apparently voted in favour of the plan, after having chats with the unions and that.
Monarch’s chief executive, Andrew Swaffield, said the vote was “a step forward” in the company’s re-organisation.
Mr Swaffield added that there were still “further hurdles to be overcome” but that the company had secured future investments from Greybull.
“This is firm progress for Monarch, its employees and for its customers,” he said.
Jim McAuslan, General Secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa), reckoned that pilots had made “major sacrifices to secure the future of this important British company”.
“We welcome the announcement that Greybull are moving towards securing their position as majority shareholders in Monarch,” he said.
“It is now time for the government to engage with all of the parties concerned and do everything it can to make this deal happen and help Monarch survive and thrive.”
The company is having a bit of a reshuffle, and while 900 jobs are possibly at risk – around 30% of their workforce – it was vital for the company as it transforms itself into a low cost effort.
It’s September 12 2015. Oh.
The launch coincides with the Rugby World Cup happening in That London in the same month. Quite why the powers-that-be have timed it for rugby, is a quandary future generations will puzzle at.
Trains will run through the night on Fridays and Saturdays on five lines to coincide with the tournament.
The Night Tube will run six trains per hour through central London on the Jubilee, Victoria and Piccadilly, Central and eight trains an hour on the busiest section of the the Northern line.
It’s hoped that the 24-hour service will give a £360m boost to the economy over the next decade and almost 2000 jobs to be created.
The Night Tube will be self-funding as a projected £291m in additional fare revenue will cover the £287m operational and capital costs, according to TfL.
Novelty human Boris Johnson said: “London is a bustling, 24-hour global city and by this time next year we’ll have a 24-hour Tube service to match. Running trains all through the night was once thought impossible, but with the huge investment we’ve put in and upgrades that have been delivered we stand ready to take the Tube to the next level.”
Quite why it’s taken them so long to get around to it, when it dawned on them that it’s self-financing, is again, another mystery. Anyway. The evenings of being slightly terrified on a night bus are over! Now, you’ll be terrified in a tube deep underground instead. Amazing.
The London Underground service goes contactless today! We can only hope it causes complete mayhem all day, so the national news can tell the rest of the country about it all, like people in Merthyr give a hoot.
Anyway, you Londoners or People Visiting London, contactless payments come into force for the London’s underground, trains and trams from this morning and commuters will now be able to pay for their trips by smartphone or a contactless-enabled bankcard.
It’s already proven a hit* (*baffled and upset tourists) on the buses, and so now the entire TfL network has followed suit.
Contactless payments are still the same prices as Oyster Cards, however TfL promise they’ll calculate a user’s costs so they don’t pay over the odds.
Each use of a contactless payment will be registered on a user’s bank statement, while journey details will be stored on their TfL account, if they register. There’s been a pilot scheme already, with 3,000 Londoners taking part. Apparently around 65,000 journeys have been taken. Not each, that would be mad.
Shashi Verma, TfL’s director of customer experience, said “Offering the option of contactless payments will make it easier and more convenient for customers to pay for their travel, freeing them of the need to top up Oyster credit and helping them get on board without delay.”
TfL have also been banging on about CARD CLASH so that commuters don’t end up paying twice when two cards are read from the same handy wallet. They’ve even been handing out nice little reminder wallets.
So anyway. Be alert. No one needs CARD CLASH. It’s not a look.
The airline’s purchase of the Boeing 737 MAX 200s, will be able to carry more passengers due to slimmer seats and less galley space than the current 737-800s.
Obviously, Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO, reckons the extra seats would generate around €1million of additional revenue per plane per year. Oh as a bonus, he hopes it will start an old fashioned price war… “which, like all the old price wars, Ryanair will win,” the charmer bellowed.
Ryanair do say that the legroom will in fact be increased due to the seats and smaller galleys. The customers – although not fully disclosed – would have 30 inches of leg room.
However Airbus said the MAX 200 configuration would mean the removal of three of eight galley trolleys, which would leave just five trolleys for almost 200 passengers.
This is the latest in the ongoing quest to get more passengers on to planes other than just laying them on top of each other, or sitting on laps.
The number of economy seats in Boeing 777s has gone from 15% of its 74 777s taking ten abreast (up from the original nine) in 2010, to 69% in 2012.
Even Airbus have offered up designs which show an 11-abreast seating arrangement on its A380 superjumbo efforts, which would gain 35-40 more seats.
The nutjobs also tried to offer up a design featuring just saddles, but that might have been the result of someone doing some smoking.
Air-rage is increasing as a result of the battery hen scenes on the long-haul flights, with at least three planes having to be diverted in the last month.
Shall we look at a chart showcasing who has the most legroom on their economy flights? Go on, it’ll be fun!
Legroom (pitch) Seat width
Monarch 28 ins* 17 ins
Thomson 28 16.5-17.2
Thomas Cook 28-33 16.2-18.5
EasyJet 29 17.5
Ryanair 30 17
Aer Lingus 31-32 17
British Airways 31-34 17-18
(*with an “extra legroom” option of 32 ins for a fee)