Thursday, 31 July 2014

New airport link - travel news

Washington's new downtown airport link 
A new transport link had opened between Washington’s Dulles airport and downtown. Launch of the new Silver Line Metrorail service enables travellers to take the train to or from Wiehle-Reston East – one of five new stations on a new network extension – and complete the journey by shuttle bus. Buses depart every six minutes during the rush hours and every 12 – 20 minutes at other times. It costs $11 – or less if you board or disembark at an intermediate station. A taxi could cost you around $50. In four years time trains are scheduled to run all the way to the airport.

Birmingham gets new Berlin flights
Birmingham will get a new link with Berlin when FlyBe launches flights to the German capital’s Tegel airport on October 26. The airline will operate five round trips a week, on Mondays. Tuesdays, Thursdays. Fridays and Sundays. On the same date FlyBe will start flying between Birmingham and Aberdeen. It recently announced it would fill the vacuum threatened between London City and Aberdeen route following British Airways’ decision to withdraw from the route at the end of summer.

Ride India’s little trains on new tour
A new tour enabling customers to ride India’s last remaining 2ft gauge railways has been introduced by train holiday specialist Ffestiniog Travel. The 20 day trip takes in The Neral to Matheran line near Mumbai, the Scindia State Railway at Gwalior and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Other train travel is also included. Departure will be on January 10 next winter. The price, including flights, is £4350 person based on two sharing.

Denver station hotel opens
The Great Hall at Denver’s Union Station serves as the main lobby of a new hotel which has just opened there. The 112 room Crawford occupies the upper floors of the north and south wings of the building, which opened originally in 1881 and is undergoing a major transformation, including the opening of restaurants from which guests may order via room service. A rail link between the station and Denver International Airport is scheduled to open in 2016.

Hotel group pilots in room tablets 

Make sure you’re internet savvy as tablets look likely to become widely available in hotel rooms. The Mandarin Oriental group is testing a scheme  to make the information you usually get in big printed folders available via apps running on Microsoft Surface Pro devices. The apps will cover in room dining, concierge and housekeeping requests, for example. The scheme is being piloted at hotels in London, Washington DC, Las Vegas and Tokyo.

Free chargers at Heathrow
A symptom of the latest security scare at London’s busiest airport: Geronimo Inns are providing free chargers for electronic devices following the latest security scare. Passengers may now be deprived of their phones or other devices if they can’t be switched on at security checkpoints. Travellers visiting the Five Tuns in Terminal 5, the Three Bells in Terminal 3 and the Tin Goose in Terminal 1 will be not only be able to charge their batteries but will have access to power points if they have their own chargers with them.

Air NZ premium economy voted best
From small beginnings, premium economy has now become a widely available alternative for travellers who want a bit more comfort but baulk at the thought of paying business class fares. For the second year running, Air New Zealand’s premium economy has been voted the world’s best in the annual passenger poll by online are travel benchmarking specialist Skytrax. Qantas and Turkish Airlines came second and third respectively. Cathay Pacific was voted best airline overall. In the low cost category Norwegian, which has just launched flights to the US from Gatwick, came third behind AirAsia and its long haul arm Airsia X. The poll covers aspects of airline service from catering to staff performance.

BA to lunch new Canaries service
BritishAirways will start flying to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands on December 13. This will be the first time it has flown there for ten years, though it already operates to neighbouring Tenerife and Lanzarote. Flights will depart year round, twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Tougher rules for cruise ship smokers

Smoking bans continue to be toughened on cruise ships. Norwegian Cruise Line is the latest to prohibit it on stateroom balconies. The ban will take effect on November 1. The company will also only allow smoking on the starboard side of The Waterfront aboard two ships – Norwegian Getaway and Breakaway – and even then not outside restaurants. In the casino – presumably so gamblers can calm their nerves – it will be limited to passengers actually playing. Earlier this month it emerged that Carnival would also introduce a balcony ban, from October 9.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Airlines skirt Ukraine - travel news headlines

Airlines skirt Ukraine
Flights are avoiding Ukraine airspace following yesterday’s Malaysian Airlines disaster. The Brussels based air traffic coordinating organization Eurocontrol said it had heard from the Ukrainian authorities that routes over the east of the country had been closed until further notice, and it was rejecting any flight plans which took aircraft there. It was clear that aviation safety authorities had not expected an aircraft to be downed by a missile while flying at such an altitude. Thai Airways, to quote one carrier, issued a statement today saying all its flights to and from Europe had been rerouted.  British Airways said its flights were not using Ukrainian airspace save for services to and from Kiev.  “We are keeping those services under review, but Kiev is several hundred kilometres from the incident site. Virgin Atlantic said it was “not currently flying over this air space.” A spokeswoman said any effect on flight times was likely to be minimal.

Scots to get Abu Dhabi flights
Etihad Airways is to start flying between Edinburgh and its home base, Abu Dhabi. From June 8 next year it will operate daily, non stop services using A330-200 aircraft with 240 economy and 22 business class seats. Flights will depart from Scotland at 9.15am, arriving at 7.45pm. Departures from Abu Dhabi will be at 2.40am, reaching Edinburgh at 7.40am.The airline already flies to London and Manchester.

Street View installed on cruise ship
Potential cruise customers can now “tour” Royal Caribbean’s ship Allure of the Seas using Google Street View. Following installation of the technology on board, they can see cabins, explore areas such as the Royal Promenade, which runs almost the length of the ship and is lined with restaurants, boutiques and lounges, go inside the restaurants and view facilities such as pools, the climbing wall and basketball court. Go to

Free wi fi at New York airports
Passengers will soon be able to access the internet free at several New York airports, including John F Kennedy and Newark. An upgraded wi fi system will allow up to 30 minutes us without charge. The move follows an agreement to revise the contract between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Boingo Wireless.

Dolomites hotel opens
A new hotel with a wrap around infinity pool has opened above the Italian Dolomites resort of Ortisei. The Adler Mountain Mountain Lodge, formerly the Hotel Mezdi, is 1800 metres above sea level, in the middle of a ski piste. It has 18 suites in the main building and 12 two-storey chalets a little further up the slope. Guests are encouraged to leave their cars in Ortisei and take a ski lift up, while the hotel tansports their luggage. If visitors want to drive the Adler has to get them a permit, as the mountains around are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rates start at €207 per person per night, full board, including activities such as guided hiking and skiing – and yoga at sunset.

French home stays launched
Fancy brushing up your French? Home stays with French families have been launched in the Mayenne area of the western Loire. Besides helping guests to extend their vocabularies and brush up their grammar the new “cultural immersion” programme, called Let’s Speak, includes visits to local bakers,for example, to learn how baguettes and flutes are made and trips §to markets to gain insights into food production. A week’s stay costs €722.50 per person for full board, based on two people staying with the same family or €270 for a two day. One night stay. 

Friday, 11 July 2014

New Cote d'Azur card looks a money saver - travel news

Cote d’Azur’s new tourist card
A new electronic tourist card has been launched, allowing free access to a huge range of attractions ands activities on and around the Cote d’Azur. It covers entrance, for example, to the Picasso, Renoir and Bonnard Museums, respectively in Antibes, Cagnes sur Mer and Le Cannet, and the International Museum of Perfumerie in Grasse. Also included in the list are various guided tours – among them an exploration of Cannes’ links with the cinema. For a complete run down go to www.coted’ It costs €39 per adult for three consecutive days or €54 for six days.

More Stansted flights for Ryanair
Ryanair is to launch 12 new routes from Stansted for next winter. The budget fare airline will operate to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Athens, Basle, Bordeaux, Bucharest, Cologne, Perpignan, Prague, Podgorica (Montenegro) and Skeleftea Swedish Lapland). And flights to Dublin from Prestwick will switch to Glasgow International.

Explore Hong Kong with a local
Free tours guided by locals are now on offer in Hong Kong. Visitors can check in for a consultation with one of a team of volunteers calls Hong Kong Pals who – according to the tourist board - are “eager to share their passion and enthusiasm for the city.” For example you could look at buildings with an urban planner or eat out with a local foodie. You can book on line and meet the volunteers at the Hong Kong Tourism Board visitor centres in Tsim Sha Tsui (Kowloon) or at the Peak (Hong Kong Island). Further information at

Warehouse becomes hotel
The red brick North Warehouse on Liverpool’s Stanley Dock has opened as a hotel. The Titanic Hotel is named in honour of the ship whose owners, the White Star Line, were based in the city. The line’s headquarters have already become a luxury hotel - 30 James Street – which opened recently. The Titanic promises 153 very large rooms and a spa with a pool and a gym.

Colombia and Panama flights launched
TAP Portugal has launched flights to the Colombian capital, Bogota, and Panama City from London. The airline is operating the route four times a week from Heathrow via Lisbon, on Mondays. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

New Dublin flights - travel news headlines

New Dublin flights
British Airways is to start flying to Dublin from London City Airport. From October 26 it will fly up to five round trips a day. The airline is also upping the number of flights it operates from the Docklands airport to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Go hiking in Hawaii 
Walking holidays on Hawaii have been launched for next year by HF Holidays. The trips involve hopping between four islands - the Big Island, Oahu, Kauai and Maui. A variety of walks include one in the Volcanoes National Park and another through Kauai’s Waimea Canyon. Customers will also go stargazing with experts at the Mauna Kea observatory and take in some sightseeing. There will be three departures. The 11 night holidays cost £4099 including flights from Heathrow or £3159 for those making their own travel arrangements.

Dusseldorf from Stansted
Germanwings is to launch flights between Stansted and Dusseldorf – an excellent weekend break destination – on August 22. The airline will operate two round trips each weekday and one n Saturdays and Sundays.

Thai Airways delays Heathrow switch
Thai Airways has postponed its move from Heathrow’s Terminal 3 to the airport’s newly opened Terminal 2, which was planned for July

Friday, 27 June 2014

Cyprus Airways to move to Stansted - travel news

Stansted move for Cyprus Airways
Cyprus Airways is to switch its Larnaca flights from Heathrow to Stansted from mid-September. The move follows the sale of the airline’s Heathrow take off and landing slots to American Airlines.

New hotel for Warsaw
Warsaw has a new hotel. The 300 room Hampton by Hilton is close to the Polish capital’s main railway station and not far from heart of the old town, which was reconstructed after the Nazis blew it up. Free wi fi access is available throughout the property.

Zillertal golf course set to open
The first golf course in Austria’s Zillertal is scheduled to open in Uderns on July 1. At 550 metres above sea level the 18 hole course covers an area of 65 acres. The complex will include practice areas, a golf school and a clubhouse. A four star hotel next to the course is planned to open in the Autumn. 

Severe weather museum opens
Extreme Mount Washington, a museum providing insights into the notoriously severe weather experienced on the 6288ft summit in New Hampshire, has just opened after a $1 re-build. It was there that the world’s highest wind observed by man speed was recorded in 1934 (a higher speed has since been recorded remotely). The anemometer used to measure that blast is among the other exhibits. Visitors can learn how rime ice forms and use simulator which allows them to “drive” a snowcat up a road to the summit. In favourable weather – generally May to October – you can drive, hike or take the cog railway to the top.

New tour bus in service in Vilnius
The Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, is offering a new hop on, hop off bus service. With 24 or 48hr tickets, the route has six stops near main tourist attractions and hotels. There’s also an audio guide service on board. Tickets, which can be bought on the bus, at the Vilnius City Tour agency or at the city’s tourist information centre, where you can also book a walking tour of the old town. They cost from around £11.50.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Spain car hire firms under fire - travel news

Spain: car hire firms under fire
Car hire fuel “rip offs” in Spain have come under fire from Which? The watchdog organisation has teamed up with Spanish consumer group OCU to demand companies charge fair prices in line with those available at local garages – and stop requiring customers to pay for a full tank when they drive off – and failing to refund them for unused fuel when they return the car. Six out of 10 Which? Members said this so called “full-empty” policy was the only option available to them and 72% thought they had paid prices higher than those at local garages. Which? says that in many cases travellers hit by this practice are unable to use a tankful. Someone hiring a Fiat 500 in Mallorca, for example, would need to make the round trip from Palma airport to Puerto Pollenca nearly seven times. It commends Alamo, Enterprise and AutoReisen for operating a full-full policy, where customers are asked to return the car full so they don’t pay for unused fuel.

Cruise and walk – single supplements axed
Single supplements have been scrapped on some Ramblers cruise and walk holidays for customers prepared to book by the end of June. Departures on which the deal applies include sailings to Spain and the Baltic and around Britain and Ireland.  The cruises are on Fred Olsen ships.

UK launch for Japan walking tours
A travel company specialising in tours of Japan on foot is now selling holidays in the UK. Hong Kong based Walk Japan which primarily appeals to travellers over 50, offers 11 itineraries of various lengths, including a six day circuit if Mount Fuji and an 11 day hike along the ancient Nakasendo Way - crowded in the 17th century with merchants, pilgrims and samurai - between Kyoto and Tokyo,

Richard III centre set to open
Following the discovery of the much maligned monarch’s remains beneath a Leicester car park last year the King Richard III Visitor Centre is scheduled to open in the city on July 26. Titled “Dynasty, Death and Discovery” the exhibition will include a reconstruction of Richard’s face and a replica of his skeleton showing his injuries –among them the fatal blow – at the Battle of Bosworth. Timed tickets are available at

Viking sites make “must see” list
Lonely Planet has included Viking Denmark – and umbrella label for places linked with those fearsome old explorers – on its latest list of “must see” destinations in Europe. Others on the list include the Outer Hebrides and Plzen in the Czech Republic, birthplace of pilsner beer. On the Viking trail the guidebook publisher’s recommendations include visits to Roskilde, where five of their ships are displayed in the Viking Ship Museum, the Viking ship grave and museum on the island of Funen – and  the town of Ribe – founded around 700 as a Viking marketplace.

New river cruise guide
A new guide which compares and rates European river cruise ships is now available. It’s been compiled by Douglas Ward, who has written the annual Berlitz guide to cruising at sea for the past 30 years. The new guide – Berlitz: River Cruising in Europe – costs £14.99.

Friday, 13 June 2014

New cheap flights from Gatwick planned - travel news

More Gatwick cheap flights planned
Low cost airline Norwegian is to launch new flights from Gatwick to Berlin and Warsaw. Starting on September 15 it will operate six flights a week on both routes, promising fares starting at £29.90 and £34.90 respectively.

Watch bison return to wild
Tour operator Wildlife Worldwide has launched trips to witness the reintroduction of the European bison to the Southern Carpathian mountains in Romania. The continent’s largest land mammal was hunted to extinction in the wild by 1927. But in mid-May 17 bison were taken to an acclimatisation zone in the remote Tarcu Mountain Reserve. Ten more will be introduced during the summer. In early September the first bison will be released into the wild, becoming the first to roam these mountains since the 18th century. One aim of the project is to create business opportunities for local people, some of whom have already been trained as rangers and guides. Though the trips will concentrate on the bison, customers will also learn about and go in search of other wildlife, including brown bears. The five day packages, take place between mid-June and September and cost from £1495 including flights.

New Jaffna tours
The return of tourism to Sri Lanka’s war ravaged Jaffna Peninsula has gathered pace with the news that leading long haul operator Kuoni is dipping a toe in the water there. It has been included in its new Indian Ocean and Arabia brochure (covering the period September 2014 – December 2015). Customers will spend two nights in the city of Jaffna during a new tour (Definitive Sri Lanka) with only two departure dates. Alternatively they can go there on a private car and driver itinerary. Accommodation is at the Jaffna Heritage hotel – which is vegetarian and doesn’t serve alcohol.

Wheelchair for air travellers
A new wheelchair which can be stowed in an aircraft’s overhead locker has been developed by Staffordshire based manufacturer RGK. The TIGA fx is designed to fold front first. RGK, was founded by Russel Simms and Greg Eden, who met while playing wheelchair basketball for the Birmingham Bulls.

The Inca Trail in comfort
If you can cope with the exercise and altitude, Peru’s Inca Trail to Machu Picchu can now be tackled in relative comfort. UK travel firm Exsus is offering trips in what it calls “VIP style” – with big tents, hot water bottles, hot showers, slippers and a turn down service. “Gourmet” meals come with “fine wines”. It goes without saying that all the gear is carried by porters. It’s even possible to book an accompanying masseuse – at an extra cost. The tour also includes a visit on horseback to the saltpans of Maras and travel on the Hiram Bingham train to Cusco. It costs from £5195, including flights, based on four people travelling.

Provence farm becomes luxury hotel
A former farm in Provence has become a new five star hotel with its own gold course. Domaine de Manville sits in a valley beneath the medieval village of Les Baux in the Alpilles region. It has 30 rooms, 9 villas, a spa, pool and a restaurant on a 100 acre estate. Rooms can be booked through Small Luxury Hotels of the World. A double in mid-September, for example, costs around £260.

Sightseeing at the double
Cruising too sedentary for you? Crystal Cruises is now offering excursions on the run. Passengers are being invited to join guided 5-10 kilometre jogging tours of European port cities and beauty spots – along the canals of Amsterdam, for example, taking in some of the great sights of St Petersburg or setting off on paths by Loch Lomond. Reflective safety gear and refreshments are provided.

Iceland link for Birmingham
Icelandair is to launch flights between Birmingham and Reykjavik next year. From February 5 it will operate two round trips a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, using Boeing 757 aircraft.

Stroll along the prom – at sea
Two new ships promising “sea level promenades” have been ordered by MSC Cruises. Passengers will be able to walk right around them, says the company, stopping, perhaps, at shops and restaurants on the way. The ships – project name “Seaside” -will also have terraced balconies and lifts with sea views. Costing around £570 million each and carrying up to 5300 passengers, they are scheduled for delivery in late 2017 and spring 2018.

Quebec landmark hotel refurbished
Quebec City’s landmark Chateau Frontenac hotel, which opened in 1893 and overlooks the St Lawrence river and the Plain of Abraham, which Wolfe defeated the French forces under Montcalm, has just emerged from a million refurbishment. The re-vamp encompassed all 611 rooms, public areas including the lobby and ballroom and a newly built spa.

Over 50 and a keen traveller? Go to