Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Richard Branson sticks up for Uber

October 5th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Richard Branson15 415 300x267 Richard Branson sticks up for UberUber may offend a number of people, but Richard Branson isn’t one of them. A number of business sorts have stuck up for Uber after some new rules to hinder the service are being considered. Branson said that taxi firms need to ‘accept’ that the app has changed the industry, and in turn, they need to adapt and respond to it.

Talking to some awful event, he said: “Once you’ve let the genie out of the box and people are benefiting from something, you can’t put it back in.”

“You cannot stop progress and you can’t turn the clock back. Countries that try to ban Uber are holding themselves back. It’s like banning Google because it’s competing with education. You must embrace it.”

The new rules being considered are basically bans on some of Uber’s key features. Transport for London (TfL) have been saying that there should be a five minute gap between ordering a taxi and its arrival, for some reason. And there should also be a ban on operators showing cars that are for hire within a phone app.

Of course, this isn’t solely aimed at Uber, as there are a number of taxi hailing apps and services out there, but the success of Uber has definitely forced the situation.

What do you think?


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.

uber 300x200 Uber supporters hit out at plans to restrict service in LondonIn That London, there’s plans to crack down on Uber, and restrict the service they provide. Black cab drivers will be pleased at that, but supporters of Uber are not. Who supports Uber? People who get cheaper fares from them and business leaders.

Together, presumably, they have reacted angrily to the idea that Uber could be hamstrung, with London’s transport authorities accused of “arbitrary” proposals that could “damage London”.

In fact, these words came from The Institute of Directors, who represent thousands of big bosses across Britain, and they are not at all impressed with Transport for London’s plans to ban some of the features that come with Uber’s business. Elsewhere, roughly 100,000 (and counting) people have signed an online petition supporting Uber.

The TfL are unrepentant though, saying that the consultation they’re carrying out will hopefully provide new regulations which should improve passenger safety, and “maintain a clear distinction between the taxi and private hire trades”. So what are they planning on doing? Well, they’re looking at imposing a minimum five-minute wait between ordering a car and it arriving, and a ban on showing cars available for hire on apps.

“These new rules would embed economic inefficiency and create artificially high prices for passengers,” said Simon Walker, director general of the IoD. “Imposing a minimum five-minute wait time will just mean passengers stand on the side of the road looking at their car, unable to get in – wasting time, clogging streets and costing money. Outlawing companies from showing available cars on an app is a Luddite solution to a problem which doesn’t exist.”

“Their proposals for further restrictions to an already heavily-regulated industry are backwards and would damage London’s reputation as a city which celebrates innovation and embraces change.”

laptop airplane travel computer 300x225 Lufthansa to offer broadband on short flights   will everyone else follow suit?German airline Lufthansa is planning to offer broadband access on their short and medium-haul flights from next year. They say that a deal with Deutsche Telekom and satellite crew Inmarsat will let passengers enjoy “the same speed and quality” of internet access they get at home.

Naturally, this being an airline, they’re going to charge for it, and as yet, they haven’t decided how much.

Internet access is still relatively rare on flights, and other forms of public transport, which is daft. You’d think, in 2015, everyone would be on it, but alas not. Will this move from Lufthansa get everyone else’s arses in gear? We hope so.

Norwegian airlines have it right, offering broadband to travellers for free.

Lufthansa reckon that their broadband will allow you to stream videos, which is pretty great. As we all know, public WiFi can be a bit on the delicate side. When you add delays in pages loading, and high costs to low speeds, Lufthansa won’t need to do much if they want to wow passengers.

Anyway, if everyone else could get a move on – it’d be a really good way of making sure your customers don’t spend their flights moaning and will be able to ignore that child that wants to scream its way through the sky.

How To… rob a hotel safe

September 9th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

We thought it’d be funny if we had an article called ‘How to rob a hotel safe’, when in actual fact, the gist of this particular post is to say ‘Hey! You might not want to keep your valuables in hotel safes after seeing this’.

Either way, it is up to you what you do with this information. What information? Well, a gentleman called Jim Stickley has decided to upload a video to YouTube, which shows you just how simple it is to get into a hotel safe.

If you have the correct tools for the job (which aren’t particularly expensive or sophisticated), even you could get into a locked safe.

As you can see, all you need to do is unscrew a thing, which is really easy, locate the lock entrance and BLAM! you’re half way there.

Then, with very little effort and a bit of bent wire, the safe is open and picked. As Jim Stickley has a particularly sneaky brain, he then shows you how to relock the safe, so no-one will suspect a thing.

So, in summary – if you’re keeping your valuables in a hotel room safe, you now do so at your own risk. Or, if you’re a ne’er-do-well with a job cleaning hotel rooms, the world’s your oyster. Until you go to hell, that is.

train1 297x300 Tinder for trains, which is what youve always wantedAre you ready for a chilling combination of words? Course you are. If you’re reading Bitterwallet, there’s something clearly and certifiably wrong with you.

“Think Tinder meets Groupon… for trains.”

That was the words of Edward Byrne, co-founder and Business Director of Paystobesocial, which is a new app which lets commuters in the UK hunt out other people for train journeys, so are all looking for ticket discounts. You might think that this seems innocent enough, but any mention of Tinder makes us think of grotty photos of people’s genitals.

Of course, with train fares set to rise, this could be very useful… but y’know, you’ll have to actually be social to reap the benefits. You’ll have to talk to other humans, and you lot HATE that.

“[We are] a tech startup that loves smart-tech but wants to encourage face-to-face social interaction. The app allows you to group with other people travelling your same train journey and gives you the opportunity to save 33 percent off your ticket price there and then through the National Rail GroupSave discount of 3-9 people. So being social to get rewarded!” said Byrne.

So what do you have to do exactly? Well, the app gets you to put in the details of your journey, and then, it’ll match you up with other people making similar plans. Once there’s enough of you, the group chat function is unlocked. Then, Christ knows what’ll happen.

“We are first to market with our Tinder meets Groupon model,” says Byrne. “[Our] closest competitor I would say is Maaxi [the group finder taxi app], but again we are very different as we provide the benefit of a social hub… with the added bonus of trying to save money on off-peak train tickets by simply grouping up with others”.

When Auschwitz is mentioned, a number of bleak images spring to mind, not least, the thought of Hitler killing huge numbers of Jews in those infamous showers.

So, with that, Poland is having a bit of a heatwave at the moment and the people who run Auschwitz have decided to help visitors cool down with showers, which of course, could well be a bit tasteless if you’ve got even the vaguest knowledge of what happened there.

auschwitz 500x500 Auschwitz add showers for visitors to use   cue outrage

People can stand under the showers and get a fine mist of water over themselves, to cool down in the former concentration camp. Presumably, when things get cold, the Auschwitz management will provide people with ovens to climb into, eh? Or maybe they’ll serve mouldy bread with a thin, meatless soup in the canteen for patrons?

Anyway, The Krakow Post reported that visitors have been fainting thanks to the heat, so installed the showers to help everyone cope with temperatures that have reached around 40 degrees Celsius.

Of course, the powers that be were just trying to be nice and do something useful for those visiting, but you’d think that the people who run a site where millions of people were killed might be a bit more sensitive wouldn’t you?

Bank Holiday forecast: travel disruptions

August 28th, 2015 1 Comment By Thewlis

summer holiday 300x293 Bank Holiday forecast: travel disruptionsIf you are lucky enough to have been paid this month, you might indeed be planning a little bank holiday getaway. Unfortunately, so is everyone else, with Which!!! calculating that nearly 10 million people are planning a getaway this weekend- which will inevitably lead to travel delays.

A fifth of the UK public plan to travel over the August bank holiday, with 62% of those taking to the road in cars and buses, 17% by plane and 15% travelling on trains. Almost half of those planning to travel this weekend are expecting a delay of some kind.

As a result, three quarters of bank holiday travellers are planning to alter their journey, with the most common concessions being leaving more time, travelling outside of peak hours or even travelling overnight, perhaps with a stop somewhere.

If you’re travelling by car, beware as August is traditionally the busiest month on the roads with motorway traffic 9% higher than average. The busiest roads (and therefore the ones to avoid if at all possible) are the M25, Manchester’s ringroad the M60 and the M1 south of the M6 junction at Rugby.

Those travelling by plane are ​also more likely to be delayed in August than any other month. Which!!! counted 38,000 flights delayed by 15 minutes or more last year, and 790 flights delayed by three hours or more, which could then be entitled to delayed flight compensation.

Finally, those travelling by train have not only bank holiday cramming to contend with, but also a number of major engineering works this weekend. And we all know that trains are always late in any case- just make sure you’ve looked up your train company’s compensation policy beforehand…

Which!!! executive director Richard Lloyd said, helpfully: “We all want to make the most of the bank holiday weekend, and with so many people looking to travel it’s important to plan ahead. Some delays are unavoidable, but if you’ve bought a ticket for an airline, coach or train journey then you could be entitled to compensation.​”

worlds largest pool 4 300x204 One in five of us dont get travel insurance when going abroadOne in five holidaymakers (20%) is travelling overseas uninsured, running the risk of bills running into thousands should they run into medical trouble overseas, according to travel association ABTA.

The latest survey of over 2000 people found that while the overall number of holidaymakers riding bareback is similar to last year, there has been a rise in younger travellers doing so, with a third of 16-24 year olds travelling uninsured, up from 22% in 2014, and a similar proportion (32%) of 25-34 year olds.

ABTA reckon that the younger generation are over-estimating the benefits of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which may be partly responsible for them not taking out insurance. We looked at why you need an EHIC last month, but also outlined the reasons why travel insurance is still necessary as well as your EHIC.

While it is good that younger folks appreciate the value of an EHIC, more than one in five (22%) of 16-24 year olds asked in this latest research believe they do not need travel insurance because they have an EHIC, but although an EHIC will give access to emergency state medical care throughout most of Europe, they don’t realise it is not a substitute for travel insurance and will not cover the cost of repatriation to the UK in an air ambulance, private medical care or additional expenses, such as accommodation for family staying in resort, for example.

Or it may be that people are eschewing travel insurance as a way to save money. As for any insurance product, if you don’t pay a premium and nothing goes wrong, you have saved the cost of that premium. The risk here is that if things do go wrong, that’s an awful lot of missed premiums’ worth of cash to find. Financial constraints were cited as a reason for not taking out travel insurance, with 30% of all respondents with children (who, it could be argued, are more likely to end up damaging themselves accidentally) saying cost is the principal reason they do not buy a policy.

ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “It is a real concern that we see so many travellers telling us that they have recently gone overseas without travel insurance. Every year we come across tragic incidents of people having accidents or falling ill overseas without travel insurance and then having to pay bills which can quickly run into thousands of pounds.

“Often they are younger travellers and their families are left with the burden of having to pick up the bill. Whatever your financial circumstances may be, avoiding taking out travel insurance is a very false economy.”

Compensation due for Ryanair passengers?

August 21st, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Ryanair New Plane Logo 214x300 Compensation due for Ryanair passengers?Everyone who flies with Ryanair will now have up to six years to claim money back from the airline if their flight is delayed, according to a court. Of course, Ryanair tried to limit the compo window to two years, but to no avail.

This ruling is likely to have a wider implication for the rest of the industry too.

The legal challenge was brought by two passengers, known as Goel and Trivedi, and they’d missed their two year Ryanair window, when they were trying to get money back after a delay of a flight. Thanks to a 2014 Supreme Court ruling (Dawson v Thomson Airways), there’s a limitation period for compensation at six years, but Ryanair tried to argue that only two years apply to their customers, thanks to a clause in their t&cs.

Winning claimants Bott & Co Solicitors said: “We’re delighted that the court has dismissed yet another argument put forward by the airlines to restrict passenger rights. The Supreme Court decision last year said passengers have six years to bring a claim.”

“That is a definitive, binding, clear judgement from the highest court in England and Wales. This should have concluded matters but unfortunately Ryanair have been able to tweak the argument; we found ourselves running a complicated court case arguing the fine points of contract law.”

So, if you thought you’d missed your chance to claim some money back from Ryanair, because you were outside the two year window, think again! The solicitors think that this could open up compensation for over 2 million passengers, with claims coming in around £610m. It is worth noting that this will only affect customers who flew with Ryanair before 2013.

Ryanair have released a statement about all this: “We note this ruling which reverses Lower Court orders that a 2 year time limit for claims is reasonable. Since we believe a 6 year time limit for submitting such claims is both unnecessary and unreasonable, we have instructed our lawyers to immediately appeal this ruling.”

Tube Strike: Four days of carnage, or something

August 21st, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

london tube strike 300x207 Tube Strike: Four days of carnage, or somethingThere’s a planned strike on the Tube next week and, if we’ve learned anything from the previous ones, it is this – people outside of London will find it very, very difficult to care, and that the press will report on it all with words like ‘CHAOS!’ and ‘CARNAGE!’, like it is a Godzilla movie or something.

So, if you’re outside of London and don’t care, watch this funny video instead. For those inside the capital, or planning a visit, here’s some news.

Transport for London has issued a warning to commuters, saying that they’re going to face four days of madness and disruption on the Tube. This is all dependant on whether or not the strike happens, but really, we all know that it will almost certainly go ahead.

TfL has stated that Tube services will be affected between Tuesday 25th and Friday 28th August, with the first strike running for 24 hours from 9pm on August 25th, and the second for another 24 hours from 9pm on the August 27th.

Of course, those who work on the buses (why would they strike? We know it’s a great life on the buses – there’s nothing like you’ll agree), DLR, the trams, London Overground, TfL Rail, Emirates Air Line and the river services won’t be striking.

A TfL spokesperson said: “These services will operate as normal but they will be much busier than usual, especially during peak hours, between Tuesday 25 and Friday 28 August. Roads and National Rail services and terminals will also be much busier. We will run whatever Tube services we can on those four days, based on the staff that sign into their shifts. All customers are advised to allow more time for their journeys.”

“Extra bus and river services will run to help Londoners get around and roadworks will be suspended wherever possible. Additional Santander Cycles hubs will be in place at key central London locations to make cycling an easier option.”


Man gets ear bitten off on flight from Newcastle

August 19th, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

ear 300x191 Man gets ear bitten off on flight from NewcastleGetting a flight to Ibiza can be pretty arduous at the best of times. Ryanair banned booze on some Ibiza-bound flights, but that’s nothing compared to the nonsense that went on during a Jet2 flight from Newcastle to the Balearic island.

It has been reported that a passenger almost lost his ear after it was nearly bitten off during some airborne pagga.

Normally, fights involve a bit of punching, shoving and swearing, but it takes a special type of snowflake to try biting bits of another human off.

Anyway, the man was (allegedly) attacked on a busy Jet2 flight on Sunday night and is now in a Spanish hospital where they’re trying to save his ear. A witness told the Mirror how passengers, young and old, watched on in horror as the bloke ran down the aisle with blood pumping from his head, with his ear ‘hanging off’.

Another added: “It was absolutely sickening and I find it unbelievable that anyone would do that at all to another human being. But to bite someone’s ear off on a plane packed with other people at such close quarters and with families sitting around him is absolutely appalling, people were getting off the plane complaining of feeling physically sick.”

Enough to put you off those peanuts you just bought for £43.60.

Jet2 managing director Phil Ward said the company are working with the police to investigate the whole thing. He said: “The safety of our customers is of utmost importance to us and aggressive behaviour will simply not be tolerated.”

Rail refunds for two minute delays?

August 18th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

train1 297x300 Rail refunds for two minute delays?A new scheme has been announced, to relieve us all of the near constant gloom regarding our trains. If your train is delayed by a couple of minutes, you will automatically be refunded, electronically.

This is an attempt to stop the rigmarole of getting refunds, and now, it is hoped you’ll get cash put straight into your account or onto your travel card. Of course, this will be a pilot scheme first, but it is an important step as it has been reported that passengers miss out on around £100m in compensation each year.

Railway minister Claire Perry, trying to distract everyone from the fact that train fares will be going up in January, said about the new refund scheme: “They can do it because of smart ticketing technology that they are rolling out - I want that to be rolled out right across the rail industry. I want passengers to not have to go through hoops to get compensation.”

The scheme is being tested on C2C services between London and Essex and will start next year.

With 9 out of 10 train passengers saying that they can’t be bothered claiming for compensation, because it is such a faff, this is encouraging news indeed.

Provided of course, the powers that be don’t balls it up.

Train fares go up at triple the rate of your wages

August 18th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

train Train fares go up at triple the rate of your wagesWe all know that our train services are run badly and are expensive, so the news that rail fares have shot up three times faster than our wages have over the past five years, should come as no surprise.

New analysis shows that regulated fare prices went up by 25% between 2010 and 2015, while the average take home pay only went up by 9% in that same time. This is according to the TUC who have been crunching some numbers.

Rail minister Claire Perry says that the government has plans that would see an end to ”inflation-busting fare increases”, and the powers that be have already said that regulated train fares (in England only) will rise by no more than inflation. Perry added: “Next year’s fares will see some of the lowest increases for decades.”

Hands up if you’ll only believe that when you see it.

The unions aren’t having it, and they think that returning the railways to the public sector would see a reduction in train ticket prices. TUC secretary Frances O’Grady said too many people commuting on trains are “seriously out of pocket” thanks to price hikes: “If ministers really want to help hard-pressed commuters they need to return services to the public sector. It would allow much bigger savings to be passed onto passengers”.

Just how much do they think will be saved? Well, the TUC and rail union campaign ‘Action For Rail’ thinks that putting the trains into public ownership would see £1.5bn saved over the next five years. A lot of the money would be saved after being recouped from the money private train firms pay in dividends to shareholders.

The transport charity Campaign for Better Transport have conducted a separate report and found that, again unsurprisingly, the UK if way behind the rest of Europe when it comes to flexible train tickets.

At the moment, season ticket holders in Britain only actually save money if they use their tickets for five out of seven days. People with part-time jobs are getting done over.

“The UK government and train operators are dragging their feet, meaning many part-time workers are being priced off the railway,” said campaigner Martin Abrams.

Thomson profits hit by Tunisian terror

August 13th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Bitterwallet Thomson seat fees Thomson profits hit by Tunisian terrorThomson’s parent company, the TUI group, have stated that their profits have dropped by £7m in the three months to the end of June, thanks to the Tunisia terrorist attack which saw 38 victims after a gunman opened fire on tourists.

Group chief executives Friedrich Joussen and Peter Long said: “This quarter was marked by the tragic events in Tunisia at the end of June. Supporting our customers, their families and our colleagues through this sad time remains our highest priority.”

Tunisia is a popular destination for those booking through Thomson, but all holidays to the country have been stopped in the wake of the tragedy.

The company are adamant that holidays will happen again in Tunisia, just as soon as they get the green light from the Foreign Office. As well as Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands are advising against all unnecessary travel to Tunisia.

The group also pointed out that the situation in Greece has also hampered their profitability.

TUI remain optimistic: “In spite of the tragic events in Tunisia and economic uncertainty in Greece, we have delivered strong underlying EBITA [earnings] growth in the quarter and summer 2015 trading remains robust.”

If you have concerns about Tunisia, here are some useful numbers for you.