Friday, 21 November 2014

BA launches Krakow flights - travel news headlines

Lisbon’s electric car tours
Electric cars with GPS audio guides are now available in Lisbon. Visitors can follow a range of themed itineraries or make their own. You could follow the route of Tram 28, for example, which passes the Portuguese capital’s best known sights, or concentrate on the city’s Moorish heritage. Prices vary but these two tours cost €29 for 1hr and €34 die 1hrs 30mins respectively – with €15 extra for each additional hour. Information at www.lisbonecotours.com.

BA to start Krakow service
British Airways is to launch flights to Krakow from Heathrow. From May 1 it will operate four round trips a week to the former Polish capital – on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Great War tours on snowshoes
Snowshoe tours of the First World War front between Italy and Austria will be on offer in the Dolomites ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo this winter. A guide and a re-enactor/narrator will accompany the hikes in period uniform. Groups will walk to the restored Cima Gallina defensive position.  The tour takes about 1hr 90mins. Go to www.lagazuoi5torri.dolomiti.org, which also has details of tours on skis covering a theatre of the Great War which s relatively little known in the UK. (Read The White War by Mark Thompson published by Faber & Faber).

Birmingham to get new Big Apple link
American Airlines is to launch daily flights between Birmingham and New York next spring. Starting in early May the carrier will fly, leaving the Midlands at 10am and arriving at JFK Airport at 12.55pm. Eastbound services will depart at 7pm, arriving at 7.10am next morning. Flights will be operated under a code share deal with American’s partner British Airways, meaning they’ll be bookable through BA’s reservation system. And travellers from Birmingham to Barcelona will benefit from fresh competition from June 1 next year when Spanish airline Vueling launches flights to the Catalan city, starting with three round trips a week.

Peak beauty spots go on line
The Peak District has become the first national park accessible via Google Street View(http://maps.co.uk). That doesn’t mean you can take a virtual hike anywhere you fancy, however. As the park’s chief executive Jim Dixon notes, it was impossible to film every inch of its 555 square miles. “Instead we have selected some of the highlights. These are the trail areas where we offer ranger-led walks, family activities and cycle hire and bike maintenance.” Places which can be viewed on line include the High Peak, Monsal and Tissington trails.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Canada to demand e-clearance - travel news headlines

Canada to demand travel e-clearance
Planning a holiday in Canada? From next April you’ll need to get authorisation on line. The flip side is you can expect to get through immigration more quickly on arrival. The eTA (Electronic Travel Authorisation) will cost the equivalent of Canadian $7 and will be valid for up to five years. The move applies to travellers from all countries expect the US.

US tightens traveller screening
Travellers from Britain to the US will now need to answer extra security questions when they make their electronic (ESTA) applications for permission to enter the country. The move comes amid fears that western based fighters returning from Syria may pose a threat. Expect to be asked to provide your parents’ names, for example, contact details, city of birth and employment information.

Luxury Irish train planned
A luxury touring train is to be launched in Ireland. Belmond plans to start operating the luxury sleeper in summer 2016 after acquiring 10 carriages from Irish Rail. The train will be called the Grand Hibernian. It will visit destinations in the north and south. Belmond is the new brand recently introduced by Orient Express Hotels. The company continues to operate other luxury trains, including the Venice-Simplon-Orient Express.

New hotel opens in Liverpool
Liverpool’s 110 years old, Grade II listed Royal Insurance building has become a hotel. The opening of the Starwood group’s Aloft Liverpool follows an £18m conversion, which has removed the property from English Heritage’s Buildings at Risk register. It has a fitness centre and free wi fi is available throughout the hotel. 

BA to start Bilbao flights
British Airways will launch flights to from Heathrow to Bilbao in northern Spain – home to a spectacular branch of the Guggenheim Museum - on March 29. On the same day Spanish airline Vueling, which is belongs, with BA, to the International Airlines Group, will move its Bilbao services from Heathrow to Gatwick. 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Newcastle to get New York flights - travel news headlines

Newcastle gets Big Apple link
United Airlines will fly between Newcastle and New York next summer. Between May 23 and September 7 the airline will operate five round trips a week, with departures from the UK at 9.10am on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Austrian farm hike launched
A two week holiday hiking between Almen – Austrian mountain eateries with accommodation – has been launched for next year by Ramblers Worldwide. The trip covers the first 160kms of the 350km Almenweg, which links these small Alpine farms in Salzburg province. Typical of the dishes they serve is the Brettljause, a selection of cold cuts including home made cheeses and home cured pork products. The package costs from £1250 including flights and full board, with some nights spend in Almen, some in hotels.
www.ramblers.co.uk

Swiss flights take off from Southend
Flights from Southend airport to Bern have been launched by Swiss airline SkyWork. Bern is a handy jumping off point for the Jungfrau area, including the ski and summer resorts of Wengen and Grindelwald. On some days the carrier is operating two round trips but its timetable shows no services on Saturdays and only one outbound flight on Sundays, arriving at 10.30pm. So travellers to the Alps will either have to get to their accommodation late at night or fly on weekdays, when there’s an early morning departure from the Essex airport.

Museum of American West set to open
The history of the American west will be the theme of a new museum scheduled to open in Arizona next month. The Museum of the West in Scottsdale promises to tell the story through paintings and photographs, narrative, multi-media presentations and “participatory exhibitions”.

Gatwick: new Canada flights planned
Canadian leisure airline Air Transat will fly from Gatwick to St. John's, Newfoundland and onward to Halifax, Nova Scotia, next summer. The service will operate twice a week from mid June until the start of September. (www.airtransat.co.uk/en/index.aspx).

Budget transatlantic flights planned
Icelandic low cost airline WOW is to launch flights from Gatwick to Boston and Baltimore Washington airport via Reykjavik. Departures to the former will start on March 27. Services to the latter – it’s about an hour’s drive to Washington DC - will begin on June 4. The airline says its lowest one way fare between March 30 and June 15 will be £99 one way but a check on the airline’s web site showed that price available on only a few flights one way.  Plus there’s a total of £17.48 in booking fees, a £39 charge for checked baggage and a minimum of £2 to choose a particular seat. But if you are prepared to add 3hrs to your journey time on the way out and about 4hrs on the return leg you should be able to trim your travel costs. A random check showed the total cost on WOW, departing in April 17 and returning a week later, assuming you take hold bags and choose seats, would be £436.65 (add £24 return for extra leg room) compared with £632 return in economy on British Airways on the same dates.

Boutique hotel has own beach hut
A new boutique hotel with its own beach hut has opened on a hill overlooking the Kent coast at Whitstable. The 18 room Crescent Turner on Wraik Hill has 18 rooms and a restaurant whose menu includes the local oysters, which the town celebrates with an annual festival in July. Guests may reserve the beach hut, which has cooking facilities including a barbecue and houses three canoes. 

Peak walkway opens
Hard on the heels of news that the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge will open next month in Austria, comes the announcement that another has just opened above the Swiss resort of Gstaad. This one’s claimed to be the first hanging bridge connecting two peaks. At 3000 metres above sea level it stretches for 107 metres between the View Point and the Scex Rouge with a view, in clear weather, taking in Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn and the Bernese Alps.

New flights to Slovakian mountains
Skiers and hikers have a new air route to the mountains following the launch of flights by Wizz Air from Luton to Poprad, in Slovakia. Poprad lies at the foot of the Tatra range in the north of the country. The airline flies there three times a week. Tour operator Mountain Paradise is taking advantage of the new service to offer long weekends on the Tatra slopes this winter. Customers will fly out on Thursday, back on Sunday, with a choice of a range of accommodation.

BA Heathrow flights switch terminals
British Airways flights from Heathrow to Belfast City Airport and Dublin have switched to Terminal 5 from Terminal 1. And services from Heathrow to Barcelona have moved to Terminal 3 from Terminal 5. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Geneva - new fast rail link: travel news headlines

London – Geneva: fast rail link
High speed train travel to Geneva with no need to change stations in Paris will be possible from December 14. Eurostar passengers from St. Pancras or Ebbsfleet will be able to switch to TGV Lyria services in Lille. Travel time to and from the Swiss city will be just over 6hrs. There will be a 37min wait in Lille on the way out (33mins on the homeward journey).

New flights from Leeds-Bradford 
Monarch Airlines will launch flights to Alicante and Naples from Leeds-Bradford next spring. Starting in late March it is expected to operate three round and two trips a week to the Spanish and Italian cities respectively.

Suspension bridge to open in Tirol
A pedestrian suspension bridge claimed to be the world’s longest is scheduled to open next month in the Tirolean market town of Reutte. The 403 metre bridge, will link the ruins of Ehrenburg castle with Fort Claudia. Visitors will cross at a dizzying 114.6 metres above the intervening gorge. Currently the longest such suspension bridge is on the island of Kyushu, Japan.

Lincoln shooting - exhibition planned
The pistol used by John Wilkes Booth to shoot President Lincoln will be among the exhibits brought together in Washington next spring to mark the 150th anniversary of the event. “Silent Witnesses: artifacts of the Lincoln assassination” will be staged from March 23 until May 25 at the Center for Education and Leadership, opposite the Ford Theatre, where the shooting occurred. Other exhibits, assembled from a range of museums, include Lincoln’s top hat, cuff links, great coat and the contents of his pockets that fateful night.

Silver travellers grumble less
Is it because we’re that bit less starry eyed than the young – or is it that we’ve learned how to avoid the pitfalls of travel? Surprisingly, given our grumpy image, silver travellers complain less about their holidays than those in other age groups. Research from the Institute of Customer Service shows consumers express progressively higher satisfaction with tourism and transport providers the older they get. Tourism is the third highest scoring sector overall, following retail (non food) and retail (food). Transport, which includes airlines and ferries, is tenth. In the overall league table of top performing companies, which is headed by John Lewis. Center Parcs (13th) is the top tourism, followed by P&O Cruises (joint 24th) Marriott (joint 32nd) and Hilton (36th). P&O Ferries, classified and a transport company, is 29th.

New St Petersburg flights to take off
Russia’s Transaero Airlines is to launch non stop services between London Heathrow and St. Petersburg on October 29 with round trip fares starting at £186 – which includes on board food and drink. Flights will operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Departing from Heathrow at 6.30pm and arriving in St Petersburg at 1.50am. London-bound flights will leave at 3.40pm, arriving at 4.10pm. Flying time is 3hrs 30mins. Transaero is the second largest airline in the Russian Federation.

Sandals and Beaches to provide free wi fi
Free wi fi access will be available to all guests at Sandals and Beaches resorts from December 1. It is currently available only to customers booking premium holidays at the Caribbean all-inclusive resorts, such as those which come with concierge or butler service.

Sri Lanka gets new cliff top hotel
A hotel developed by a tea producing family has opened on a headland in Sri Lanka. Cape Weligama, a complex of 40 villas, overlooks the Indian Ocean from a cliff top near Galle Fort on the south coast. It has a gym, an infinity pool and a speedboat used for whale watching excursions. The property, which is set in 12 acres of landscape gardens, is part of Resplendent Ceylon, set up by Dilmah Tea whose aim is to create a collection of small luxury resorts offering guests a taste of Sri Lankan history and culture. Its first venture, Ceylon Tea Trails, opened in 2005. Both properties are members of the up market Relais & Chateaux consortium.

Battle of Waterloo to be re-enacted
A spectacular re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo will be staged in Belgium next summer to mark the bicentenary of one of history’s pivotal engagements. Some 5000 actors are expected to take part – with 300 horses and 100 canon. On June 19 the French attack will be staged. The following day it will be the allied counter-attack, with the fighting concentrated around the Hougoumont Farm, Over the two days there will also be a recreation of the bivouacs, providing an insight into the daily life of the troops as they prepared to fight. Tickets for each of the two battle re-enactments are already available on line at www.waterloo2015.org, priced €15.75. Admission to the bivouac exhibition is €6.75.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Top hotel awards - travel news headlines

Hotel with no TV wins award
A Scottish hotel with no TV, no wi fi and “poor to non existent” mobile reception has been named “Newcomer of the Year” in the latest edition of the annual Good Food Guide. The Moor of Rannoch Hotel in Perth and Kinross, described as “blissfully isolated”, fills the gap with board games, books, and wood burning stoves. Other awards: country hotel: is Wiltshire’s Pear Tree at Purton; top pub with rooms: the Talbot Inn at Mells, Somerset; small hotel: Yalbury Cottage, Lower Bockhampton near Dorchester, Dorset; country house hotel: Lords of the Manor in Gloucestershire; Scottish, Welsh and Irish hotels of the year: respectively The Green Park, PitlochryMilebrook House, Knighton and Newforge House in County Armagh – and best dog friendly hotel: Overwater Hall, Cumbria.

Blackpool Airport to close
Blackpool Airport is to close this week following failed efforts to find a buyer. Flights will cease after October 15. Passengers already booked to fly are advised to contact their airlines. In a statement its owners said: “We regret to announce that no agreement has been reached to secure the future of operations at Blackpool Airport. The airport operation has been making a loss for a number of years and unfortunately there is no option for the company other than to close. While the sales process announced at the end of August was a final attempt to secure the future of the airport, the airport's management had spent many months prior to this announcement approaching organisations with a potential interest in the airport in an attempt to find a buyer.”

CityJet to pull out of Cambridge
CityJet is to axe its flights from Cambridge airport later this month. The British Airways subsidiary has been operating daily on both routes. The last departures will be on October 25. In a statement the airline said it had developed a strong working relationship with the airport “and will continue to explore potential opportunities for future routes.

New Madeira flights
Norwegian Air Shuttle is to launch winter services from Gatwick to Madeira on October 28. The low cost airline will fly there twice a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Russian hotel prices plunge - travel news headlines

Silver travellers stay sociable
We may get grumpier as we grow older but a high proportion of us remain tolerant enough to holiday with friends. The figure is close to one in five (18%) holidaymakers over 55, according to the latest annual Holiday Trends Report published by travel trade organisation ABTA. Sadly a high proportion also holiday alone - 13% in the 55-64 age category, rising to 21% of those over 65. The research also show a significant number take breaks with their immediate or extended families, suggesting that in tough times holidays are another drain on the Bank of Mum and Dad.

Russian hotel prices plummet
The Ukraine crisis has hit Russia’s tourism industry hard, new figures show. Hotels there operated 15% emptier on average in August than in the same month last summer, according to research company STR Global. That’s already having an impact on room prices. Those in Moscow were down by 18.2% on average compared with August 2013 when calculated in euros. And even when currency fluctuations were taken out of the arithmetic, prices in roubles fell by an average of 9% for the country as a whole.

Hotel reaches for the sky
Staggering views are promised from a hotel planned in Los Angeles. The 900 room InterContinental will have a lobby on the 70th floor. Scheduled to open in 2017 It will housed in a 73 storey skyscraper – billed as the tallest in the western Americas - on a site previously occupied by the Wilshire Grand. The building will also incorporate office and retail space.

BA to send Heathrow smartphone alerts
British Airways customers with smart phones using Heathrow’s Terminal 5 will no longer need to keep an eye on the departure screens from the start of October. They will be able to receive alerts that their gates are open and the aircraft is boarding via the airline’s app. A few weeks after the service become available it will be extended to Terminal 3.

Gentler skiing at Colorado resort
Looking for somewhere off the beaten track to ski this winter? Colorado’s Crested Butte, long known for its superb expert powder tree skiing, has been extending it to cater for intermediates. Over the past two summers it has worked with the US Forest Service to identify suitable areas where trees can be thinned to make glades. Skiers seeking more gentle gladed terrain will have new options for the coming season in the East River area and off the Teocali lift. Getting there will also be easier following the introduction of United Airlines flights from Chicago to nearby Gunnison.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

BA to fly to Kualka Lumpur again - travel news headlines

BA to fly to Kuala Lumpur again
British Airways is to fly direct to Kuala Lumpur again. It last operated the route in 2001. Starting on May 27 next year the airline will operate daily flights to the Malaysian capital from Heathrow using extended range Boeing 777-200 aircraft with first, business, premium economy and economy cabins. Outbound flights will depart at 8.15pm, arriving 12hrs 45mins later at 4pm local time. London-bound services will leave at 11.05pm, arriving at 5.25am next morning.

River cruise and walk
The appeal of combining a river cruise with guided walking will be tested next summer by Ramblers Worldwide Holidays and Fred Olsen Cruise Lines. The two operators, who already combine their expertise to run sea cruise and walk packages for are offering an 8 night holiday on the Loire and Garonne in France. Passengers will sail from Dover aboard Fred Olsen’s Braemar on 1 August.
Prices start at £1125.

Lace museum opens
The New Bruges Lace Museum – Opening 19th September 2014The history of lacemaking is unfolded at a new museum just opened in Bruges. It began there in the 16th century and soon began to play an important role in the culture and economics of the Belgian city. In the 19th century, religious groups also started teaching the skill. The museum is housed in one of the former schools they founded – that of the Apostollinnen sisters on Balstraat 16.

Hold baggage fees legal – court rules
Airline fees for carrying checked luggage are legal, the European Court of Justice has ruled. The court in Luxembourg had been asked by a Spanish court to consider whether the country’s ban on such fees was compatible with EU law. This followed a complaint by a passenger against the low cost airline Vueling. In its ruling the court said the cost of carrying hold baggage was, as a component of the price of the service, a significant element. And it noted that it cannot be excluded that some air passengers prefer to travel without checking in baggage on the basis that doing so reduces the cost of their plane ticket”.

New London hotel opens
A new hotel has opened in London’s Holborn this week. The 174 room Hoxton, which is housed in a Grade II listed building, has two restaurants. Room rates, which range from £69 to £269, include one hour of free phone calls to landlines and US mobiles in the UK, US, Australia and most of Europe. The property is sister to the Hoxton in Shoreditch.