Posts Tagged ‘travel’

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.

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.

Hungover? Order with emoji at hotel

October 23rd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Ever been so hungover that you can barely form a word? Ever been so hammered that words just swim around a page and you need something simpler to help you out? Well, Aloft Hotels have found a solution for you – emoji.

Look, we know old people hate emoji, but pensioners don’t need to use them – no-one is eradicating language or anything. It is fine. For the rest of you, if you book with The Starwood Hotels & Resorts, they’ve got a service called Text it, Get it (TiGi) which lets you order room service packages, which basically require virtually no human interaction.

emoji hotel 500x281 Hungover? Order with emoji at hotel

While you’re vomiting in a bin, you can text an emoji and someone will come fetch you a couple of bananas and some tablets. Or maybe you’re stoned out of your tree – you can tap some emoji and you’ll get some fizzy pop and some snacks. Very nice and much better than the garbled texts you’d be likely to send.

“Our guests can now talk to us like they talk to each other,” Starwood’s Vice President of Global Marketing Paige Francis said. We can assume they don’t mean customers can now call staff ‘pricks’ like you and your pals chat to each other.

And yes, of course this is gimmicky, but that’s hardly surprising from a hotel firm.

“There’s a social vibe in the Aloft experience combining with tech innovation,” added Francis. “It’s a natural fit for us. We’re really excited about this launch.” Vibe?! Now they’ve gone too far…

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.”

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.