Posts Tagged ‘travel’

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.

delays airport Government now asking airport shops to pass on savingsWe talked about airport shops doing you out of money, and now, the government have actually noticed. No, honestly.

Government people are now joining in the complaints that are saying airport shops need to cut their prices after it turned out they weren’t passing on VAT discounts to passengers.

Treasury minister, David Gauke, said: ”The VAT relief at airports is intended to reduce prices for travellers, not as a windfall gain for shops. While many retailers do pass this saving on to customers, it is disappointing that some are choosing not to.”

“We urge all airside retailers to use this relief for the benefit of their customers.”

Of course, you can urge businesses all you want and they still might not listen. Obviously, to make something happen, you need to threaten them with something. As yet, no-one at the government is promising to do anything official, other than moan about it and hope that businesses have a sense of fairness.

Steve Baker, a Conservative member of the Treasury select committee, echoed the sentiment of being diddled out of pennies, saying that passengers were being “ripped off”, adding: “Consumers are entitled to expect that tax savings will be passed to them rather than become another addition to the bottom line for companies.”

“I always thought that showing a boarding pass was an official requirement.”

The boarding pass issue focuses on the fact that airport shops ask to see your boarding card, even though it isn’t an actual requirement. Basically, the only reason airport shops ask to look at them, is so them can use them to claim VAT relief on all sales relating to people who are travelling outside the EU.

Seeing as it isn’t a legal requirement for passengers to show their boarding cards when buying stuff at airports, next time you’re in one, try telling them that you’re not prepared to show them and see what happens.

The airport duty-free VAT scam

August 8th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

delays airport The airport duty free VAT scamRetailers who ply their trade in Britain’s airports are being asked to come clean about the millions of pounds in VAT discounts they’re making on duty free items, which of course, saves them loads of money which they’re not passing on in savings to customers.

So what’s this about? Well, have you ever wondered why airport shops ask to see your boarding cards at the checkout? Well, this is not a legal requirement, but rather, the information the retailers are getting off them is so they can avoid paying 20% VAT on everything they flog to those travelling outside the EU.

That Paul Lewis fella says: “I think the problem here is that the retailers are not being straight with the public. They are asking to see passengers’ boarding cards but not telling them that this is so they can make more money by not paying the VAT on what they’re selling. What of course they should be doing is passing on the savings that they make to the passengers who are travelling outside Europe.”

“The problem is, though, that they have got a captive audience,” he continued.

Of course, airport shops are a swizz and ‘duty-free’ hardly ever means ‘noticeably much cheaper’. All it really means is that the retailers themselves are not paying duty. In the case of Boots, their airport stores charge customers all over the country the same amount as they charge in London stores, even though they avoid paying 20% tax on everything they sell to those travelling outside the European Union.

HMRC have said that there’s no need for stores to pay VAT on goods sold to passengers leaving the UK: “Duty free shops may treat the sale of goods to passengers intending to take them to non-EU destinations as zero rated exports, provided they retain suitable evidence such as by scanning the boarding card.”

“There is nothing in VAT law to require the production of a boarding pass to purchase goods in airport shops, but without such evidence the supply cannot be zero-rated as an export.”

“HMRC cannot comment on the pricing policies of individual retailers.”

EE launches £3-a-day 4G Euro Pass

August 4th, 2015 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

zzzw EE launches £3 a day 4G Euro PassAs the headline so succinctly told you, EE have introduced a new Euro Pass for those of you who like to roam. It is an add-on which allows you 4GEE Extra customers a bundle of data, as well as texts and calls, while you’re in Europe, for £3 per day.

Despite all the talk of roaming charges becoming a thing of the past, no-one has successfully killed them off yet. That means expensive charges for using your phone abroad. If you’re determined to use your mobile, this EE scheme could be just the thing.

So what do you get? Well, if you sign-up, you get unlimited calls and texts, as well as 100MB of superfast 4G data each day. Should you use up all your data, which is very easily done with the small amount offered, EE will give you another 400MB of 3G.

If you use all that up, you’ll find your internet cut off at the limit, in a bid to stop you from getting any nasty surprises when it comes to billing time. Now, for those of you who aren’t 4GEE customers, you’ll have to pay more for the plan, at £4 a day.

Obviously, this isn’t a deal that will suit everyone, but if you’re keen, EE’s Euro Pass is available in 39 European destinations and you can get it by texting EURODATA or EUROPASS to 150.

That said, roaming charges are meant to be disappearing completely within the European Union from June 2017, so as a result, this is obviously a limited offer.

From April 2016, there’s also going to be a 14 month interim period where all customers on all networks are going to be able to access their allowances abroad at reduced rates, which isn’t bad. Anyway, if you need something more immediately, and are an EE customer, this could do the job for you.

Celebrities get preferential treatment – we all know that. However, it is usually kept behind closed doors, so us plebs don’t get our noses rubbed in it. When it is open and brazen, some of us shrug, while others kick-off.

Well, over to British Airways, who have dropped a clanger by sucking up to Davina McCall on Twitter, being accused of double standards in the process.

One passenger called Graham Drew, was cheesed-off with a long queue, and decided to tell British Airways as such, via Twitter. As you can see below, Graham was told that no-one at BA would be able to ring him, and if he held the line, he’d get through eventually.

Makes sense. There would be a lot of people trying to get through to BA, right?

BA tweet 1 British Airways: one rule for you, another for celebrities

However, it is a different story if you’re the ex-host of Big Brother and Street Mate.

TV presenter Davina McCall tweeted about having a similar issue and, whoomp! there it is, someone from British Airways was all over it and offering to slide into her DMs.

BA tweet 2 British Airways: one rule for you, another for celebrities

Seems that ordinary people don’t get a phone call, but if you’ve done a keep-fit DVD and talked to your pretend mother on a Nutrisse commercial, suddenly, British Airways do have the staff for callbacks.

When the Metro called BA, they said: “Our customer service teams offer support and advice to hundreds of customers every day, often calling or emailing customers direct to resolve their issue as quickly as possible.”

This is either double standards, or British Airways have just found out that Lucy from their workforce does her job properly, while Gareth is a complete good-for-nothing.

August Tube strike will go ahead

August 4th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

london tube strike 300x207 August Tube strike will go aheadAfter the chaos of the last Tube strike in London, dwellers of the capital will know what’s in store now that there’s going to be another one.

Union leaders said that the planned Tube strike will go ahead tomorrow (Wednesday 5th August), with services shut down for 24 hours.

Aslef said that the latest contracts offered by London Underground was rejected, with its members walking out from 9.30pm.

Aslef officer Finn Brennan said: “We genuinely regret the disruption this will cause, but the blame for this must rest with the pig-headed determination of the mayor to insist on a September 12 launch of night Tube instead of allowing more time for a negotiated settlement to be reached.”

“The main concern is the complete lack of firm commitments on work life balance for train drivers. Our members want guarantees on the number of weekend rest days they will have under both the interim and long term arrangements for night Tube. Vague phrases like “will seek to mitigate” and “will explore” are simply unconvincing.”

Members of other unions are due to strike from 6.30pm on Wednesday, which means carnage at rush hour. Again, here’s the Bitterwallet guide to getting around London during a Tube strike, so you can at least try and make alternative plans.

The buses, DLR, London Overground, tram and TfL Rail aren’t on strike, but as you can imagine, they’re going to be much, much busier than usual. There’ll be extra river services put on too.

The RMT aren’t happy with the latest offer, saying that reps were ‘furious’ when they looked at the deal. General secretary Mick Cash said: “Our members have made it clear that the latest offer from London Underground is merely a rehash of the previous package and does nothing to tackle the core issue which revolves around staff being at the beck and call of management to be hauled in during their free time to try and plug the staffing gaps which riddle the mayor’s night Tube vanity project.”

“The night Tube plan has been botched from the off. The basics haven’t been done and those who will pay for this shambles will not only be our members but the London daily travelling public who cough up a fortune and who will find their safety and the reliability of the service compromised from September 12 onwards.”

Free WiFi on Red Funnel ferries

July 31st, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

public wifi 300x169 Free WiFi on Red Funnel ferries

Going to the Isle of Wight for your jollies? Well, if you travel with ferry company Red Funnel, you’ll be able to have free WiFi over summer, which is just grand.

The company says that they’re going to be offering improved connectivity and greater bandwidth, which they’re providing thanks to a fivefold increase in demand.

So, if you want to Instagram pictures of the sea, or want to livetweet someone who has appalling sea-sickness, ralfing their guts up over the side of the ship, you don’t have to worry about your signal dropping out.

Red Funnel say they’ve made a “significant investment” in all this, with the number of wireless access points being increased.

Marketing and communications director Jonathan Green said: “Following extensive trials, we are delighted to be launching our new on-board WiFi service to coincide with the start of the school holidays.”

“We are particularly pleased to have overcome the technical challenges of providing a robust connection to our high-speed vessels which is a technical first on the Solent and great news for Red Funnel’s 1.1 million Red Jet customers.”

Disneyland Paris charging unfairly to Brits?

July 29th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

mickey mouse disney 300x270 Disneyland Paris charging unfairly to Brits?If you’ve been eyeing up a trip to Disneyland Paris this summer, you might want to get a French pal to buy your tickets for you.

Why? Well, it looks like the theme park is charging different countries, different amounts, with people from the UK and German getting stiffed compared to the French. A new report says that British families are paying as much as £1,327 for tickets, while German families are paying £1,736. The French, meanwhile, are paying £955 compared.

As a result, there’s going to be a probe into what is going on by the European Commission.

EU rules say that businesses aren’t allowed to differ the price based on a person’s country of residence. Disneyland Paris weren’t having it, and said that their promotions were based on school holiday periods in local markets, and that, basic packages without promotional discounts were the same across all countries.

The EU looked into this and assessed the prices of other theme parks in Europe, and lo and behold, they found that the variation was not the same.

Elzbieta Bienkowska, EU commissioner for the single market, said there had been a number of complaints, and she said: “It is time to get to the bottom of this. I am interested in answers and explanations, On the face of it, I struggle to see what objective justification there could be for these practices.”

In the meantime, if you have some French mates, get them to buy your tickets for you.