Sharm el Sheikh flights cancelled into 2016

November 25th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

peter graves airplane1 Sharm el Sheikh flights cancelled into 2016British Airways and EasyJet are extending their cancellation on flights to and from Sharm el Sheikh, until the New Year. There’s been security alerts from the government, and the airlines aren’t taking any chances.

BA have said that, “following discussions with the Government”, they are cancelling all flights to and from Sharm until 14th January. EasyJet have said the same, cancelling flights until 6th January.

Serious business. If you have flights to Sharm booked with either of these companies, contact them to see what your options are. Customers on any cancelled flights can claim a full refund, or if you prefer, you can use the value of the ticket towards another flight. If you’re determined to fly to Sharm, you can postpone your ticket for a later date.

British Airways said: “We are keeping flights which are scheduled to operate from Saturday January 16, 2016 under review. The safety and security of our customers will continue to be our top priorities in any decisions we may make.”

EasyJet have said that this move is “to help provide some certainty for our customers’ travel arrangements over the Christmas period. We are sorry for the inconvenience this will obviously cause, but we hope that being clear with all our customers at this point helps you to manage your plans with more certainty.”

“The situation is beyond our control and passenger safety will always be our number one priority.”

To contact EasyJet, their customer services are open 7 days a week, 8am-8pm, at 0330 365 5000. For British Airways, call their customer service team at 0344 493 0787.

More long-haul flights from Manchester

November 23rd, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

plane 300x225 More long haul flights from ManchesterManchester Airport said that they could support 25 more long-haul routes, which nearly doubles the amount they do now, after they started winking suggestively to Air China Ltd, who became the latest major carrier to look at flights outside of London.

The airport managed to achieve a 12-month passenger tally over 23 million for the time it its history this week, and is the only airport outside of the capital to have two runways.

Based on the current demand, Manchester Airport reckon they could support 20 to 25 more long-haul destinations, with managing director Ken O’Toole saying: “With no new runway capacity coming into the southeast in the next 15 years, if ever, Manchester is now the focus for growth.”

“We’ll reach 25 million passengers in the short term, and we think the airport has the potential to get into the mid 30 millions by the late 2020s or early 2030s.”

Air China stopped flights to Gatwick in London a couple of years ago, and has now applied to the Civil Aviation Administration of China to serve Manchester from Shanghai four times weekly, starting early next year. That’s in addition to Hainan Airlines Co. offering four weekly flights from Beijing, following a visit to Manchester by President Xi Jinping. Cathay Pacific have been flying to Hong Kong since 2014.

The airport will also be adding flights to LA, Boston, San Francisco, Detroit, and Dallas, among other US destinations too. They’re also looking at adding Bangkok, Mumbai, Delhi and South Africa to their services.

Great news for travellers in the North of England.

Rail chiefs have ‘lost grip’ on projects

November 20th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

train Rail chiefs have lost grip on projectsRail bosses are being chided this week, as MPs say that they’ve ‘lost their grip’ on the various projects on the network. They’re causing delays, overspending and generally, everyone’s worse off as a result, thanks to their actions.

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chair Meg Hillier said: “Network Rail has lost its grip on managing large infrastructure projects. The result is a two-fold blow to taxpayers: delays in the delivery of promised improvements, and a vastly bigger bill for delivering them.”

The PAC report has raised grave concerns about rail investment in the UK, and they want a review of the industry’s regulator. One thing that got their dander up, was the spiralling costs of the electrification of the Great Western railway line between London and South Wales. Initially, that was going to cost £1.6bn, but in 12 months, it has increased to £2.8bn. The report referred to this as “staggering and unacceptable”.

The report also said that there’s ”far too much uncertainty” over electrification of the Midland Mainline from Sheffield to Bedford, and the Manchester-York Transpennine line. Who would’ve ever predicted this would have happened, eh?

The committee have stated that the rail network’s 2014-19 investment programme could never have been delivered within agreed budgets, and that the role of the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is now being questioned, and that the Department for Transport should consider the regulators future.

Hiller continued: ”It is alarming that in planning work intended to support these plans, its judgement should be so flawed. Our inquiry has found that the agreed work could never have been delivered within the agreed budget and time frame.”

“Yet Network Rail, the Department for Transport and the regulator – the Office of Rail and Road – signed up to the plans anyway. Passengers and the public are paying a heavy price and we must question whether the ORR is fit for purpose.”

EasyJet not worried about terror, as profits grow

November 17th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

easyjet 300x180 EasyJet not worried about terror, as profits growThe chief exec of Easyjet said that they’re not expecting to see any lasting problems with trading following the recent terror attacks in France and Egypt.

Carolyn McCall said that increased airport security and worries about air travel would lead to a ‘cooling off’ with passengers, but if history is anything to go by, passenger growth always continues despite awful events. The best way to not let them win, is by getting on with your life, it seems.

This follows the news that Easyjet posted their fifth consecutive year of record profits.

McCall said that, by the end of Tuesday, all Easyjet passengers would have been brought back to the UK from Sharm, where a Russian plane was downed in an attack, killing all 224 people on board. ”It will take a little longer to get though airports, but I do not think that passengers will mind because it has to be safety first,” she said.

“There’s always a cooling off after tragic events,” she added; “But it does resume after a period of time, and I think that we will see this here.”

Annual profits at the airline, who have just celebrated their 20th birthday, were up 18% to £686m. Revenues were up 3.5% to £4.68bn, with passenger numbers up 6% to 68.6 million in the year to end-September.

“Our outlook for the longer term is positive. We expect demand in our markets to be sustained and for Easyjet to continue to be a winner in its markets. We will see passenger growth of 7% a year.”

Free travel for children in London from January

November 16th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

oyster swipe Free travel for children in London from JanuaryChildren in London are going to benefit from free travel on all train services in the capital.

If you live in That London and have kids who are under 11, then they’ll be able to travel for free on all services, according to Transport for London.

From January 2nd 2015, they will no longer have to cough-up money to travel on National Rail services. That’s alright isn’t it? Unless you’re the majority of children who live outside of London, clearly.

Under the current arrangements, the kids only get complimentary travel on TfL buses and trams, as well as on the Tube, DLR and London Overground when they travel with a fare-paying adult.

However, from next year, this free travel will be extended to trains after TfL said that they are committed to paying £500,000 a year to the train-operating companies to cover the cost. Great news for parents and their children – terrible news for people who hate the very sight of these little oiks and their Lynx deodorant.

Transport for London unveil their 2016 pricing…

November 12th, 2015 No Comments By Ben Telford

From the 2nd January 2016 there will be a 1% rise in TfL services but many prices will be frozen and we’ll also be seeing an extension on the free travel scheme for under 11-year-olds. This free travel scheme will also be extended to national rail services in London. What a time to be alive for anyone under 11.

What this means in pounds and pence is a 10p increase to £2.40 on some fares and a 20p increase for an all zones travel card taking this price to £17.20. These increases are likely to bring in an extra £43m. Enough to throw money at the problem of staff strikes? Maybe.

Boris Johnson is delighted. So delighted he said:

I’m delighted that we’re able to yet again freeze overall fares in real terms for our passengers.

It’s the third year in a row that we’ve been able to offer this great deal, allowing us to keep the cost of travel down while continuing our vital programme to modernise the network.

Hundreds of thousands of families will also benefit now that we’ve struck a deal to extend free travel for under 11s across all rail services in London.

By securing this deal on national rail services, we are taking away the fares confusion for so many and opening up wider travel in the capital for families to enjoy

TfL release map showing walking time between stops

November 11th, 2015 4 Comments By Ben Telford

map1 TfL release map showing walking time between stops


Suppose its useful if you want to walk between stops on the same line but its fairly pointless for showing distances between lines. We’ll file this one under “yeah, thanks”.

Egyptian flights cancelled over bomb scare

November 5th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

plane 300x225 Egyptian flights cancelled over bomb scareAll flights from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh to Britain, have been affected by a bomb scare. This follows the reports that a Russian Metrojet plane crashed in the Sinai region on Saturday, minutes after taking off from Sharm for St Petersburg, with the British government saying that they believed the plane “may well have been brought down by an explosive device”.

This means hundreds of tourists from Britain are going to be held up in Egypt.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Safety will always be the priority and that is why the Prime Minister on Tuesday night called (Egyptian) President Sisi to express concern and to ensure that the tightest possible security arrangements were put in place at Sharm el Sheikh.”

“As a precautionary measure we have decided that flights due to leave Sharm el Sheikh this evening for the UK will be delayed and that will allow us time to ensure the right security measures are in place for flights.”

Thomson Airways have also “has temporarily suspended flights to and from Sharm el Sheikh with immediate effect”, while EasyJet are “doing all possible to keep passengers informed.” Monarch have cancelled all flights to and from the area.

The government’s official travel advice says, in Egypt, there’s “a high threat from terrorism”. They advise against travelling to North and South Sinai, the area west of the Nile Valley and Nile Delta regions.

The say: “UK carriers will not take passengers directly to Sharm el Sheikh airport. We are working with the Egyptian authorities and air carriers to put special security measures in place which will permit travellers in Sharm el Sheikh to return by air, whether as scheduled at the end of their stay or before that if they wish. British nationals affected by this should contact their tour operators or carriers to arrange an orderly departure.”

If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the consular assistance team on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours). If you’re abroad and need emergency help, please contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

Tubes hit by DLR strike

November 3rd, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

The drivers on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) have gone on strike, which of course, makes problems for the Tube across London. If a butterfly flaps its wings in Lewisham, a tree falls over at Goodge Street or something.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union are doing a 48-hour walkout which kicked off at 4am, and passengers are being switched over to London Underground services where applicable.

Or, if you think you can walk it, have a look at this map below which shows you the distances between Tubes when doing it on foot.

Walking Tube map aryjoecreatives 0 500x330 Tubes hit by DLR strike

So why the strike?

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Our members on DLR are rock-solid in their action this morning and I want to pay tribute to their unity and determination as they fight to defend safe operational practices and the basic principles of workplace justice.”

“Pickets have been out in force and it’s now time for KeolisAmey to recognise the sheer strength of feeling on the shop floor and to get round the table for meaningful talks that address the raft of serious issues at the heart of this dispute. The disruption caused by the shutdown of DLR this morning is entirely down to the intransigence of the management and now it’s time for them to stop the posturing and start talking.”

Rory O’Neill, Transport for London’s director of DLR, said: “We are disappointed that strike action called by the RMT leadership is causing disruption to DLR customers. The only way to resolve their dispute with KeolisAmey Docklands, who operate the DLR on our behalf, is through meaningful discussion rather than unnecessary strike action.”

“We have put on extra buses, on existing bus routes, that operate along the DLR route and staff will also be available to help. Other TfL services are operating but will be busier than normal particularly at key interchanges with the DLR network. We ask customers who are able to, to consider avoiding the busiest times if they can.”

Here’s our guide to getting around London without the Tube.

Network Rail to make Christmas miserable

November 2nd, 2015 5 Comments By Mof Gimmers

train Network Rail to make Christmas miserableChristmas eh? You might be thinking of going seeing some loved ones, or going back to your parents for a massive feed. Well, if you can’t drive, you might have to walk, as Network Rail are all set to make travelling over the festive period pointlessly difficult.

That’s right! It is that time of the year, when Network Rail do their major engineering works! Not only that, but we’re told that it is the largest ever programme of engineering works across four key networks and lines! Right in the middle of a national holiday!

So which routes are facing disruption?

Great Western: Routes via Thames Valley, the south-west, Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect between Slough and Paddington closed on 27 and 28 December, then reduced services until January 3.

West Coast Main Line: Stafford to Crewe closed 27 and 28 December. Fewer services and diversionary route for Virgin Trains. London Midland services replaced by buses.

London to Gatwick and Brighton line: Closures between East Croydon and Redhill from 26 December to 4 January, with replacement buses for Southern and Thameslink services. No Gatwick Express.

London Liverpool Street to East Anglia: Line to Ipswich, Norwich, Cambridge and Ely closed between Colchester and Marks Tey on 7-28 December, with replacement buses. Ingatestone, Southend Victoria and Southminster line closed and buses replace trains 28 and 28 December.

Southeastern Services: Disruptions to Kent lines.

The good news here is that, should you actively dislike your family, and need a decent reason to not see them over Christmas, Network Rail have just given you a get-out-of-jail-free card.


Mobile roaming charges to be scrapped

October 28th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

roam 294x300 Mobile roaming charges to be scrappedMobile phone roaming charges in the EU are going to be scrapped by the middle of 2017, after European MPs formally approved the ruling.

The first thing we’ll notice is a significant cut in the charges from some point in April 2016. Then, there’ll be the full changes in June 2017. That means, if you’re in the EU, it should cost you the same to call and text people, as it does in your home country.

About time too.

This is great news if you’re on holiday and want to mess about on your phone, watching YouTube videos while sat on the beach or whatever. It means that consumers won’t have huge shocks when they get their phone bills if they’ve been away.

From next April, roaming fees – charged in addition to domestic prices – will be capped at 0.05 euros (3p) per minute, and texts will be capped at 0.02 euros (1p) and for data at 0.05 euros (3p) per MB of data, excluding VAT. When mid-2017 rolls around, the charges will be scrapped completely.

There’s also some new EU rules on net neutrality too, which will see people able to look at whatever they like on the internet, without being blocked or having their connection throttled.

European Commission vice president Andrus Ansip said: “The voice of Europeans has been heard. Today’s vote is the final result of intense efforts to put an end to roaming charges in the European Union and to safeguard the open internet.”

Conservative MEP Vicky Ford added: “Ending mobile roaming fees from 2017 will be welcomed by millions of people, as they will be able to use their apps, make calls and send a text just as if they were at home. We have also ensured important safeguards to prevent excessive usage, and to make sure that phone operators are not forced to offer roaming services at a loss, meaning that domestic customers do not end up subsidising those customers who travel.”

“We have achieved a sensible timescale that gives mobile operators the time to sort out the marketplace in preparation for the abolition of roaming fees.”

TripAdvisor 300x256 Which!!! consumer site tried to fake review TripAdvisor?With fake reviews very much in the news following the news that Amazon has plans to sue over 1,000 fake reviewers, our dear friends over at Which!!! have decided to put the integrity of TripAdvisor under the spotlight and have sent in some “undercover researchers” to expose the sites flaws. And they have found some.

But why have Which!!! targetted TripAdvisor? Well, in a survey of nearly 900 of their subscribers, 85% said they trusted reviews on TripAdvisor. Which means it’s even more important that these reviews are reliable and trustworthy. However, owing to the fact that TripAdvisor don’t verify the identity of reviewers, and that reviews aren’t validated or even checked by a real person unless it has already been flagged, Which!!! theorised it would be comfortably possible to post fake ones.

Additionally, rumours abound that certain, less honest of establishments would actually pay actual money for fake reviews to help them climb the slippery slope of TripAdvisor ratings- evidence showed that a single favourable or rubbish review can cause a listing to jump or plummet dozens of places, and this can be lucrative- research by Cornell University in New York found that even a small lift in TripAdvisor’s rankings increased a hotel’s per-room revenue. So it’s serious business.

As a result, and in the name of espionage, Which!!! successfully posted a series of fake listings and reviews in a test of the popular site TripAdvisor. They didn’t just post fake reviews, Which!!! submitted three hoax listings to the site, and wrote 54 fake reviews about them. Every one of our listings was published along with 18 of the 54 reviews.

While the watchdog’s investigation proves it’s possible to create fake listings, which they claim could lead to ‘accommodation fraud’, in which non-existent establishments solicit payments from unwitting travellers, this is not breaking news, as an Italian newspaper did the same thing earlier this year

Ultimately, Which!!! admit that two of their listings were “merely” flagged for suspicious activity, and only a quarter of their fake reviews actually made it on to the site. So the system isn’t prefect, but perhaps it is adequate- TripAdvisor claims its sophisticated fraud-detection tools ultimately identified and removed 90% of the fake reviews Which!!! submitted although some were removed after they were initially published. TripAdvisor’s own study also says that 93% of users felt the reviews they read accurately reflected their experiences.

So what do you think? Is TripAdvisor a valid and useful tool when researching travek and leisure options or is it all a load of bunkum?

Eurostar to make you dismantle your bike, to travel

October 14th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

bike cycling Eurostar to make you dismantle your bike, to travelFancy going to France for a nice cycling holiday and thinking of getting there on the Eurostar? Well, unless you’ve got some mechanic skills, you might want to reconsider, because Eurostar have introduced a new policy that will definitely annoy a lot of cyclists.

Basically, if you want to take your bike on the Eurostar, you’re going to have to dismantle it, and then reassemble it on the other side.

At the moment, you can put your bike in a registered luggage system, for a charge of £30. However, as of next month, that’ll all change. That’s even worse than the UK train system, which is far from perfect. Of course, a lot of cycling groups are very irritated by this.

National cycling charity CTC has echoed the complaints of their pals in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, saying that this is going to stop cyclists from using the Eurostar. We await the inevitable lawsuits that are thrown Eurostar’s way, as someone fails to attach their front wheel properly and ends up in an accident.

Why are Eurostar doing this? Well, they are claiming that this needs to happen so they can accommodate other passengers who have more luggage.

The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) said that this policy as “extremely inconvenient” in a letter to Eurostar chief executive Nicolas Petrovic. They added: “We understand that there is a limited space for baggage on the trains but it should be allocated on a first come, first served basis. We would therefore request that the current policy of allowing the carriage of complete bicycles is retained.”

Of course, this is going to madden the companies who organise cycling holidays and trips via the Eurostar. Assuming that cyclists are at least a little green-minded, they’re now going to be looking at eschewing trains for short haul flights, driving to the continent, or getting buses. It all seems less than ideal.

A Eurostar spokesperson said: “Passengers with bikes have and continue to be important to us. Our new policy has been introduced so that we can use the space on our trains more flexibly, by carrying the same or more bikes depending on the demand from passengers. The only change is that bikes will now need to be carried in a bike box, which we are happy to provide. When packaging bikes in this way they take up less space which means that we can carry more bikes or any other type of luggage.”

swegway 300x300 Segway/swegway boards   illegal on the roads and pavementsSweg boards, or self balancing scooters, or segways, or any number of other names as no-one can seem to agree on what they’re called, are all set to be a smash this Christmas.

Now, there’s been a problem with the off-board chargers (which you should know about), but there’s also a problem of them being illegal on the road. Of course, most people will want to mess around on these, on car parks or in the back yard or whatever, but the police aren’t keen on them.

They say: “Personal transporters, such as the Segway Personal Transporter are powered by electricity and transport a passenger standing on a platform propelled on two or more wheels. They are capable of speeds up to 12 mph. Under current legislation, the Department for Transport considers Segway Personal Transporters as motor vehicles, subject to road traffic laws.”

“The Department for Transports view is that the Segway Personal Transporter is a motor vehicle. The Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 (VERA) states that every mechanically propelled vehicle used or kept on a public road should be registered and licensed. As self-balancing scooters are mechanically propelled they require registration and a vehicle registration licence (tax disc). Additionally, the user would need a driving licence and motor insurance. Other legal requirements relate to construction and use, and to lighting.”

How about that?

If you have a swegboard and want to use it on the pavement outside your house, that’s also not on. The CPS say: “It is an offence under section 72 of the Highway Act 1835 to ride or drive a vehicle on the pavement. It is only an offence under this Act in England and Wales. In Scotland it is an offence under section 129(5) of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984.”

“You can only ride an unregistered self-balancing scooter on land which is private property and with the landowner’s permission. The Department for Transport would advise that appropriate safety clothing should be worn at all times.”

So there you have it. If you care about the law (you might not), this could change your decision to buy one of these things for someone at Christmas or what have you. It might not. You might be a massive rebel. Either way, now you know.

Automatic refunds for delayed trains

October 5th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

traintrack 300x225 Automatic refunds for delayed trainsTrain passengers will be automatically refunded if their train is delayed by (at least) half an hour, thanks to a new scheme called the Automatic Delay Repay (ADR). The service is being launched by Virgin Trains, but the government are looking at getting all the operators to use it.

So what’s the score? If you buy an advance ticket through an operators website or app, you’ll get money back if your train is sufficiently late. The money would be with you within three days, and you won’t have to claim for it as it’ll be automatic.

Journeys with multiple connections across different operators are not eligible under this new scheme, so if you want refunds, you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way. You can see our guide to getting compensation for a train journey, here.

Virgin are giving themselves a kick in the pants about this, as they’re the joint-second worst performing operator in England and Wales, with around 5% of their trains either late (by more than 30 minutes), cancelled or failing to make a scheduled stop in the past 12 months. As such, Virgin Trains think that they’ll be paying out an extra £2.8m under the new scheme, which in part, will be thanks to people getting refunds who previously couldn’t be bothered to do it as it all seems like a massive faff.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin says: “Virgin Trains are making the most of modern technology to improve the service customers get. Our plan is to make sure passengers across the country benefit from schemes like this and we are encouraging other operators to roll out similar schemes nationwide.”

So, here’s the things that will get you a refund for the trains:

- Delays of 30-59 mins will see you getting 50% of the cost of a single ticket or the relevant portion of a return ticket.

- Delays of 60-119 mins will see you getting 100% of the cost of a single ticket or the relevant portion of a return ticket.

- Delays of 120 mins or over will see you getting 100% of the cost of a single or both portions of a return ticket.