Monday, 18 August 2014

Asia flight pass cuts fares - travel news headlines

Asia flight pass launched
The SkyTeam airline group has launched a round Asia pass allowing travellers to undercut the price of booking with individual carriers. As an example it cites an itinerary starting in Guangzhou, China, and taking in Sydney, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, Taipei and Seoul, which costs €2029. Bought separately from airlines belonging to the alliance it would cost €2664. Passengers can buy passes in three mileage bands of 13,000, 17,000 and 21,00 and itineraries could include destinations as diverse as Uzbekistan and the Maldives. They can be booked through travel agents or direct with any of the 20 SkyTeam  members.

Monarch to pull out of East Midlands
Monarch Airlines is to stop flying from East Midlands Airport by the end of April next year. The change is part of its planned transformation into a low cost scheduled airline as it moves away from charters. In announcing its decision Monarch noted that its Birmingham base was only 37 miles from East Midlands by road. Chief Executive Andrew Swaffield said: “As holiday habits change, our customers want a greater choice of flight times and destinations – particularly for short breaks. As we evolve from our roots in charter flying to become a scheduled European low-cost carrier we are becoming more focussed in the services we offer which we believe will provide customers overall with a more attractive flying schedule in the future.”

Hotel guests will have the slopes to themselves
Guests at the posh Tschuggen Grand Hotel in the Swiss resort of Arosa will have exclusive use of the slopes on November 28 - the opening day of the season. The runs can be reached in 2mins 30secs using the hotel’s private mountain railway. Three night’ half board in a double room, with access to the Tschuggen Bergoase Spa and a ski pass for the 29th costs around £628.

New sun flights from Newcastle
Jet2 is to launch weekly flights to four sunshine destinations from Newcastle next year. Starting in May the low fare airline will operate to Antalya (Turkey on Fridays, Malta on Thursdays, Larnaca (Cyprus), and Zante – both on Wednesdays.

Circus comes to hotel guests
The staff bend over backwards for guests at the Sol & Luna Lodge and Spa, a five star property near Cusco in Peru. Well, some of them do. The hotel has four in house acrobats who formerly worked with the Cirque du Soleil and now perform outdoors with equipment including a trapeze -  against the backdrop of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Art on track – project launched
If you encounter an upturned railway carriage while out walking in the Northamptonshire countryside during the next few months, don’t rush to call the emergency services. It’ll probably be an installation by the Catalan artist and architect Xevi Bayona. He is one of a group of artists taking part in Changing Tracks, the positioning of outdoor public artworks on or close to disused railway lines, has just been launched. Venues include the Nene Valley. Aideen Berry, for example, has drawn inspiration from the now ridiculous seeming 19th century “Hints for Lady Travellers by Lillian Campbell Davidson with stop motion video projections at unexpected locations. The works will remain in place until November.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Delta plans new Utah link - travel news headlines

New Utah flights
Salt Lake City is not just a gateway to the national parks of Utah – such as Arches, Zion and Bryce Canyon. It’s also a good jumping off point for other spectacular parks, including Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley. Delta will launch a new service there from Amsterdam next spring, creating a new potential link for travellers from the UK who will be able to connect via Schiphol airport on flights by the US carrier’s partner, KLM. Delta already operates between Salt Lake and Paris.

Munich Airport offers unlimited free wi fi
Let’s hear it for Munich Airport which has just announced travellers can connect with the internet free of charge – for as long as they like. Previously passengers wanting to get on line using laptops, tablets or smart phones were allowed on 30 minutes free.

Amsterdam most popular summer city
Amsterdam looks like being the European city destination of choice this summer holiday peak, according to hotel market intelligence provider TravelClick. On average its hotels have committed bookings for 54.8% of their rooms. London and Paris are close behind, each with 50.6% booked, though at weekend in the former it’s closer to two thirds. Barcelona is averaging 37.5% and Prague is hovering around 22%.

Indian river cruises launched
River cruises in northern India have been introduced for next year by tour operator Cox & Kings.  The vessel used will be the RV Rajmahal, launched this year, whose draft allows t to negotiate shallow channels. An 11 night tour, with a week cruising between Patna and Varanasi, costs from £2495 per person.

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.