Posts Tagged ‘holiday’
The Foreign Office has warned that you shouldn’t travel to the country at all, unless it is completely essential, after the government received intelligence that a terrorist attack is “highly likely”. This comes a month after last month’s terrible beach shootings.
They said in a statement: “Further terrorist attacks are highly likely, including in tourist resorts, and by individuals unknown to the authorities whose actions may be inspired by terrorist groups via social media. You should be especially vigilant at this time and follow the advice of the Tunisian security authorities and your tour operator, if you have one.”
Thomson and First Choice are bringing their staff home and extra flights are being made available to get tourists back. It is thought that there’s around 3,000 Brits currently travelling into the country.
If you’re over there at the moment, you should immediately contact your tour operator. If you’re travelling independently, you should make your own arrangements to leave while commercial airlines are operating, said the Foreign Office.
If you need consular advice, then get in touch with the British embassy in Tunis. British nationals who need emergency assistance outside normal office hours should call 00216 71 108 700, where you’ll get information on what to do and how to contact the Global Response Centre.
Thomas Cook and First Choice have said that they’re cancelling all future bookings to Tunisia until 31st October. They say: ”Customers due to travel to Tunisia up to and including 31 October will be given the opportunity to amend their holiday free of charge to any of our destinations currently on sale, or receive a full refund.”
Thomson and First Choice have all the information you need here, including when the flights out of Tunisia are.
If you want to contact them about bookings you’ve made, then call the customer service centre on 0800 009 3847 or 0203 636 1998 between 9am-9pm on Monday-Friday, 9am-8pm Saturday and 10am – 8pm Sunday.
Monarch have said that full refunds are available for customers on cancelled flights and should contact their customer services team on 0333 003 0700. All the details you need from Monarch can be found here.
ABTA added: “Holidaymakers should be aware that travelling out to Tunisia at this time is likely to invalidate travel insurance policies. Most insurance policies will still provide cover for travellers in a country at the time of Foreign Office advice change. Those with holidays booked within the next 48 hours to Tunisia are advised to contact their travel company to discuss available options.”
“If you have booked a package you will be entitled to a refund or alternative holiday.”
A company has transformed Hitler’s holiday camp (sorry, that will never stop sounding like a fantastically camp b-movie, possibly starring Beryl Reid) so members of the public can enjoy the seaside on the German island of Rugen.
So what’s the craic? Well, Prora was meant to be a holiday camp for Nazis (think Butlins, only with marginally more levels of despairing hate) and was completed in 1936, however, it wasn’t ever opened to members of the public.
However, in the last decade, it has been transformed from an abandoned mess into modern hotels and apartments.
Axel Bering and Michael Jacobi, the project investors, say they’re resolutely not-arsed about the history of the building that once belong to Hitler. Bering, from Denmark, said that the resort reminded him more of his childhood holidays. Some of the holiday apartments have already been sold and there’s families visiting the resort already.
Prices start from £125,000 for three-bedroom apartments, and the priciest ones will set you back £900,000.
Not only that, there’s also going to be a shopping centre, swimming pool and tennis courts and all manner of things being added in the not-too-distant future.
One of the people who has bought a flat there – Roland Glockner, an advertising exec – said that it was “love at first site”, adding: “It was right by the sea, the nature was fantastic, it was nice and quiet and not so expensive. Perfect for the family or as somewhere to grow old.”
If you want to read up on the history of the gigantic space, then click yourself silly, here.
A report from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has fired off a warning to you sun-worshippers, saying that some holidaymakers who have booked vacations online have been collectively conned out of £2.2m in 2014.
Crims have been targeting online booking firms to swipe money from unsuspecting folk, and many of those only find out that they’ve been had once they arrive at their hotel, who tell them that there’s no record of their booking.
The NFIB report shows, during a 12-month period, that 1,569 cases of holiday booking fraud were reported to the police’s fraud squad, with most complaints relating to plane tickets, hacking accounts, posting fake adverts online and setting-up bogus sites. Two groups particularly targeted were sports fans and religious groups, paying for fake tickets to religious sites and/or sporting events, where places are limited and people can charge more.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said: “Holiday fraud is a particularly distressing form of fraud as the loss to the victim is not just financial but it can also have a high emotional impact. Many victims are unable to get away on a long-awaited holiday or visit to loved ones and the financial loss is accompanied by a personal loss.”
“We would also encourage anyone who has been the victim of a travel-related fraud to report it so that the police can build up a case, catch the perpetrators and prevent other unsuspecting people from falling victim.”
61% of them also believe, that if a company were to promise them more time off, they’d consider switching to them.
The survey by Expedia of nearly 8,000 people across 24 countries, also saw that Europeans enjoyed more holiday time than those in the Asia Pacific region and North America.
At present, the highest number of days offered to staff is 30 in Denmark, France, Germany and Spain, 28 in Italy, and 26 in Britain.
Down the other end of the scale, holiday allowance totalled 15 days in the US and Mexico, and just 11 in Thailand.
Also, Britain makes sure it takes as much of its holiday as it can, with the average Briton using 25 of their 26 days allocation, compared to Italians who only use up 21 days of their 28, and South Korea took only seven of 15 available days in the past year.
Expedia’s Andy Washington said: “While habits differ, the emotional impact of holiday does not.”
“Somewhere between 80 per cent and 90 per cent of people worldwide say that holidays make them feel happier, better rested, closer to their family, less stressed and more relaxed.”
So would you rather have more time off, rather than more money?
Companies ripping you off is nothing new, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t grass on them. As it is the summer holidays, you should be aware of some of the sneaky tricks tour operators are doing to screw you out of money.
Of course, in the peak season, prices go up for no reason, but operators are taking advantage of families in other ways.
HolidayPirates have got some operators rumbled and have shown that some parents are being hoodwinked into paying premium by charging them MORE for children than they do for adults.
In one case, they found that a holiday was being sold as £245 per person (including all extras for the school holidays), but the holiday is based on four adults sharing. However, if you swap two adults for two kids – for the same flights, same hotel, same everything – the price goes up to £344 each.
In some instances, you can’t just book for adults and take the children instead, so if you’re thinking of pulling a fast one, better buy some fake moustaches for the nippers.
Some tour operators will tinker with prices dependant on the child’s age.
If you book one holiday for a family of four (two adults, one infant and one child aged 12) and one for exactly the same sized family but with the child being 13 (two adults, one infant, one child aged 13), you’ll see a big hike in the price of £133 each.
Have a look at HolidayPirates’ findings and, when you’re booking your family holiday, be sure to play around with the options before processing any payment to make sure you’re not being ripped off.
When you’re terminally ill and jetting off for a bittersweet final holiday with your family, the last thing you want is some incompetent travel company ballsing everything up, causing you to be evicted from your villa an hour after you arrive.
Well, that’s what happened to Lorraine Beasant, who went to Mallorca for (literally) a bucket deal with her nearest and dearest and was confronted by local police demanding to know what she was doing there.
The Beasant family had booked the holiday through travel company Villa Parade last year, but the owner of the property said he’d cancelled his contract with the company in November 2013 and was no longer renting it out. So they turned up while the owner was out and neighbours then called the police.
So when did Villa Parade decide to tell Mrs Beasant she’d been moved to alternative accomodation? Er, the day before she left, April 11th, in an email, which she didn’t pick up in time.
She was then moved to another villa, but crucially, it had no downstairs bedroom, meaning that poorly Mrs Beasant had to drag her oxygen cylinder up the stairs. NICE.
In their defence, Villa Parade said they’d tried to phone her 4 times to tell her that her villa had been changed but had received no reply. A spokesman from the company said:
‘Villa Parade would like to stress that we were not aware of Mrs Beasant’s medical condition, but because everyone at Villa Parade are proactive supporters of Cancer Research UK we would like to offer Mrs Beasant and her family our sincere apology.’
OH WELL THAT’S OK THEN.
However, Steve was dealing with Thomas Cook. Now, not that long ago, Thomas Cook were sharing some of the preposterous complaints they get with everyone, but this time, they’re not being funny at all.
It seems Thomas Cook are having problems with their website (more complaints about that here), which is where Steve got stung.
He said: “So, I tried to book a holiday with Thomas Cook UK. The web site kept throwing up errors during the payment process. The booking failed. No records. No booking reference. But guess what? They took my money anyway.”
“I’ve tried their customer service folk online (who, of course, keep asking for a booking reference). No joy at all. What a rubbish company. Don’t bother with them.”
Below, the complaint shows the money being taken out of the account and, at the time of publishing, Thomas Cook haven’t rectified the problem.
Keep an eye on this if you’re booking a holiday with Thomas Cook. Customers have been complaining about the Thomas Cook site not working for some people; the last thing you want is to have your money taken off you with no holiday to show for it.
If you’re booking a holiday, it might be worth waiting for this issue to be rectified before booking.
Being on holiday is an expensive business, but if you’re Roger Bannister (no, not that one), you’ll be staying at home and having a Mr Whippy in the park from now on. On a recent trip to Rome, Roger, a company executive from Dudley, was charged £54 for four ice cream cones at a pavement cafe.
And it seems that the Rome tourist board is now getting righteously angry about it too, after local councillor Matteo Constantini witnessed the incident at the Antica Roma ice cream parlour near the Spanish Steps.
Poor Rodge, aware that sit-down prices could be astronomical, ordered the cones to take away. But even so, the bill still came to 64 euros.
‘The cones had three flavours and a couple of wafers but if we wanted whipped cream that was another three euro on top each. How much would it have cost us if we had sat down?’
The owners of the cafe were typically bolshy about it, arguing that Roger had eyes and could read the prices on the menu and that he should just vaffanculo off back to Dudley if he didn’t like it.
‘We get this all the time,’ they raved, probably putting a fag out in a tub of pistachio. ‘We had a similar incident last week with a group of Spanish tourists but the prices are there in black and white. If they don’t want the ice cream they can go somewhere else.’
Councillor Constantini offered to refund the tourists and vowed to do something about rip- off Rome, saying ‘there needs to be tough action against these people.’
God, I could murder some ice cream now.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford a holiday this year, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s going to be cheaper to buy your suncream/condoms/beer goggles abroad than ever before.
In a bid to attract British holidaymakers and their rampant alcoholism, resorts in the Algarve and Costa Del Sol are lowering prices for everyday items like coffee, beer, soft drinks, cigarettes and meals. Some prices are down by 15 to 20%, according to the Post Office Holiday Costs Barometer (which I like to imagine is operated by Postman Pat wearing Fake Bake and Hawaiian shorts, but probably isn’t.)
Albufeira in the Algarve was the cheapest resort, thanks to its low-priced meals and drinks. The most expensive places in Europe to visit are Tuscany and Sorrento in Italy, but you probably already knew that.
The advice from the Post Office and their super shiny holiday barometer is this: choose your resort wisely this year, and you could save more overall. So despite a lousy exchange rate, you’ll still be able to get so drunk that you can crash into a swimming pool on a moped and then give everyone you encounter a sexual disease.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have launched a new app which is designed to stop Brits from crashing when they’re overseas. Believe it or not, foreign countries have different laws to those you’ll find in the UK.
As well as different road laws, the conditions of the roads and driving standards are wildly varied around the world. Driving your car in Thailand is nothing like driving a car through Britain.
In Thailand there were 68,852 traffic incidents resulting in 9,205 deaths while in the UK, there were a mere 1,901 people killed on the roads. See what we’re dealing with here?
“Accidents do occur and not all tragedies are avoidable, but the outcome could be very different with many lives being saved and critical injuries reduced if people adopted the same safety precautions abroad that they would naturally take at home.”
So, a load of information is being made available all under one umbrella, so now, there’s no excuse for you not knowing that, for example, in France, drivers are required to carry their own breathalyser or that in Belarus it is illegal to drive a dirty car.
Have a look at the information here and for god’s sake, don’t die.
It has been available in America for a while, but now Google Flights has launched in Europe so we can all compare prices of flights departing from the UK, France, Italy, Spain, and Holland.
As well as being a price comparison tool, users will be able to look at your flight options and book travel to any international airport, with searches filtered by airline, cost, total travel time and results will be displayed on a rather natty little map.
Google hasn’t actually made agreements with all the major airlines, which means that this won’t be a complete comparison service, however, it is only a matter of time before everyone’s on board with this as Google tend to get what they want in the end.
However, Ryanair and easyJet are noticeably absent, and they may well want to stick their heels in and refuse to play ball, mainly because they’re run by thundering berks.
Google said in a statement: “We are working to expand our relationship with other airlines, and bring Flight Search to more countries and in more languages.
Of course, Google Flights has competition already, with Expedia, Skyscanner and the Travel Supermarket already being big players in the market. With more competition, hopefully we’ll all be getting some decent travel bargains.
Unless Google balls it up like they did with G+ and Wave.
Often, complaints made to companies, defy belief. That’s because a lot of people who complain are hooting imbeciles. So imagine the kind of thing an imbecile might complain about if you sent them on holiday!
Well, imagine no more as a collection of complaints made to Thomas Cook have been rounded up and shared online, with customers moaning about the colour of sand, the distance countries are away from each other and a lack of air-conditioning in nature. Enjoy.
Gemma Fish spent £3,000 on a holiday to Mexico with Thomson, but alas, it wasn’t up to scratch. Not over-emoting at all, Fish and her fiancé were disgruntled by the ‘prison cell’ room they received. Obviously, she complained.
However, what followed wasn’t exactly protocol, with Thomson staff sending her a series of sweary messages, including one that told her to ‘shut the **** up’ and go book with Thomas Cook instead.
Gemma says: “When I arrived at my hotel, the room looked nothing at all like what was advertised on the Thomson website and not what I had expected given the price I paid. Quite frankly it was more like a prison cell than what you would expect after paying £3,000 for a holiday. It was just horrendous. I was appalled that they could do this to us.”
Instead of going outside and enjoying what Mexico had to offer, she preferred to contact Thomson through their 24-hour ‘holidayline’ service. This was a complaint that couldn’t wait ’til she’d got back, clearly. That said, she was moved to a better room but she still found time to complain about the noise, poor food and the beach.
Then, a month later, the emails kicked in. She says: “I don’t swear myself, so I was absolutely gobsmacked that they were even able to get through the system with that language in.” One email read: “Gemma do u really think we give a ****? Because we dont so shut the **** up with ur moaning and book with Thomas Cook coz we dont want ur custom lol and the hotel have said u r one MOANING bitch.”
A spokesman said: “Thomson would like to apologise to Ms Fish for the unacceptable emails she received. An employee interfered with a number of internal email accounts, sending inappropriate emails. We carried out a full internal investigation, as well as supporting the police in their investigation, the issue was dealt with immediately and the staff member was dismissed.”
It seems that there’s something of a resurgence in the humble package holiday as people bid to get some vitamin D without all the hassle of having to think of anything.
And who can blame them?
Nearly half of all overseas holidays booked in 2012 were part of a package deal, rising sharply in the last couple of years according to figures released by ABTA, The Travel Association.
Domestic coach tours and rail breaks were also up, showing that the 1970s version of a holiday was back in a big way.
Victoria Bacon, Head of Communications for ABTA, said consumers valued the “security and cost effectiveness that package holidays provide”, adding that “at the same time the market has also evolved to offer greater choice to holidaymakers. It’s no longer just a week in Benidorm. The market is now very sophisticated, with packages to cater for every taste and budget – whether you want two weeks all-inclusive in the sun, a cruise around Asia or an adventure holiday in South America.”
DIY holidays were down also. It seems that, in times of recession, people want fuss-free holidays where someone else sorts out all the boring bits of a break for you.
The travel website business is all over the place at the minute. What with booking.com and Expedia being investigated by the OFT for breaches of competition law by getting into bed (geddit) with Intercontinental Hotels, who could blame consumers for looking further afield for travel bookings. Even if they find a website that sounds like some kind of weird sexually transmitted disease.
Italian owned venere.com seems, on first glance to be another handy hotel booking site. You can browse properties in your desired area, find it on a map, and see customer ratings and book directly through venere. As a huge benefit, you don’t even have to pay upfront, but can settle up directly with the hotelier when you leave.
However, as most things that sound too good to be true actually prove to be too good to be true, we have discovered that venere.com isn’t actually a hotel booking site at all.
Avid bitterwallet reader John contacted us after he’d got into a spot of bother with his venere.com reservation. You see, John had booked a certain number of nights in his chosen hotel, and had received email confirmation of the booking from venere.com. That email confirmed the total price to pay on departure, and that the booking was non-refundable now made. The hotel, however, had vastly different booking details.
It being the summer season, the hotel were fully booked. John and his family looked like they would be turned away, but eventually the hotel were able to squash them into a smaller sized apartment for the missing nights. John was understandably unamused with this situation, but the hotel were adamant they had only received the shorter booking in John’s name.
On his return to the UK, John contacted venere.com to inform them of the mistake and to enquire how this had happened. After all, he had an unequivocal confirmation from venere.com of his proper booking. He received no response. After a number of further emails, John was eventually sent a cover-all email that had absolutely no reference to his personal situation.
What this email did say, however, was that “only the properties have access to the reservation requests they receive through Venere.com … The role of Venere.com is to create a direct contact between Venere customers and properties. (Bitterwallet’s emphasis)
So venere.com does not actually book rooms on your behalf, it merely requests the rooms from the hotelier. Sometimes incorrectly so. Presumably then, the confirmations issued by venere.com are a confirmation of request, rather than a confirmation of booking. Which is entirely not the same thing.
We investigated further and found that the room rates offered by venere.com are of limited supply, but that once those rates are ‘sold out’, you can still find them cheaper on competitors’ websites, or even directly with the hotel. Travel forum discussions we found on the web suggested that venere.com customers also emailed the hotel after receiving their venere.com ‘confirmation’ to ensure the booking had been made and that the details were correct.
So. If Venere.com do not guarantee your room booking, may not offer the best rate and you are advised to contact the hotel about your booking, why on Earth would you want to use them? We could not think of a suitable answer so we contacted venere.com to ask them.
We put it to venere.com that “there is no point booking through your website as you are merely an introduction service and customers would need to check the booking has been received by the hotel anyway, meaning they may as well book through the hotel” directly. They had nothing to say.