Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Quick guide to inflight drink costs

Inflight catering is a difficult item to compare, the airlines have different offerings and also some different currencies, so I did a little exercise in comparing 3 different objects from the bar, here is a quick comparison, Air Europa came out best

AirlineCup of Coffee18.7ml bottle of wineBottle of Still water
Ryanair.com£2.65£5.31£2.65Converted at £1= €1.13
British Airways£2.30£4.50£1.80
Vueling.com£2.30£4.86£1.85Converted at £1= €1.13
AirEuropa.com£2.21£4.421.77Converted at £1= €1.13

Saturday, 22 July 2017

UK Airports with direct rail links

southampton airport.
Southampton Airport.
With airport parking costing so much, it's a good idea if you can travel by train directly

airports with direct rail links are   (someone pointed out that we had left out Birmingham, apologies there,also pointed out Bristol Temple Meads is 8 miles from Bristol Airport with a rail link bus, little too far to include in the grid)

AirportJouney TimeFrom
Southampton60 MinutesClapham Junc & London WaterlooNational Rail
London Gatwick31 MinutesLondon VictoriaNational Rail
London Heathrow 15 MinutesLondon PaddingtonNational Rail
London Stansted47 MinutesLondon Liverpool StreetNational Rail
Manchester20 MinutesManchester PiccadillyNational Rail
Glasgow International32 MinutesGlasgow CentralNational Rail
Glasgow Prestwick49 MinutesGlasgow CentralNational Rail
Edinburgh Airport30 Minutes(by Tram)EdinburghTrams.com
Close not quite thereBus jouney from Station to Terminal
Luton Airport49 MinsLondon Kings CrossNational Rail
Birmingham Airport13MinsBirmingham New St to Bimingham IntlNational Rail
Liverpool Airport20 MinutesLiverpool Lime StreetNational Rail

Friday, 21 July 2017

Hand Luggage a quick comparison EU No Frills

European No Frills airlines, compare the different sizes, Flylolo.com using Air Europa  is
Hand Luggage as opposed to hold baggage.
doing free hold baggage if booked before 30/7/17 with promocode: FREEKILOS

AirlineAllowanceMax. DimensionsMax. Weight
Aie Europa1 cabin bag22 x 14 x 10 in (55 x 35 x 25 cm).10kg
Aer Lingus1 cabin bag + 1 personal itemOverall dimension 115cm10kg
British Airways1 cabin bag + 1 handbag/laptop bagcabin bag: 56cm x 45cm x 25cm handbag/laptop bag: 45cm x 36cm x 20cm23kg per bag
easyJet1 cabin bag56cm x 45cm x 25cm inc. handles/wheelsNo weight restriction
Flybe1 cabin bag + 1 small personal item55cm x 35cm x 20cm10kg
Jet21 cabin bag + 1 personal item56cm x 45cm x 25cm10kg
Monarch1 cabin bag or 2 separate pieces of hand luggage56cm x 40cm x 25cm10kg
Norwegian1 cabin bag + 1 personal item55cm x 40cm x 23cm10kg
Ryanair1 cabin bag + 1 small bagcabin bag: 55cm x 40cm x 20cm small bag: 35cm x 20cm x 20cm10kg
Thomas Cook Airlines1 cabin bag + 1 personal item55cm x 40cm x 20cm6kg
Thomson Airways1 cabin bag55 x 40 x 20cm5kg
Vueling Airlines1 cabin bag + 1 smaller bagcabin bag: 55cm x 40cm x 20cm smaller bag: 35cm x 20cm x 20cm10kg
Wizz Air1 cabin bag42cm x 32cm x 25cm10kg
Valid as at 17/7/17

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

HS2 and why is it costing 15 x the cost of TGV per mile

Artish Impression of HS2.
The governments announcement of contractors for HS2 brings the issue of Infrastructure to forefront of public debate,

(1) Why 220mph and not 180Mph (As is TGV)?
Duplex double decker TGV.
(2) Are we allowing for Duplex trains like TGV (Eg are we building in the required head space of bridges)?
(3)  Why was this railway not about extra capacity but speed, which has dogged the project from the start?
(4) Why is HS2 costing 15 times the cost of TGV? well France has more space than the crowded UK, but 15 times the cost per mile?

I think the reason and it's typical of the Civil services approach to infrastructure projects, they make false assumptions and take wrong positions and then the Politicians don't ask the relevant questions at the concept stage. many politicians don't have practical experience in the working world, doesn't show!

Its a similar situation on Airports, we spend more money and time on lawyers rather than compensating residents for the inconvenience of new infrastructure,

Governments for the last 60 years have been trying to modernise the Civil Service, but they rely on the civil service to come up with the options.  One well known ex minister I speak to said to me that "the civil servants will come up with 3 options, two are suicidal and the third one is the one they you to choose"   It's a brave politician that goes against civil servants as they are soon briefed against via other politicians.

But of course the last closed shop is the legal profession, the one that Margaret Thatcher could not unravel, reason why?  half of politicians are either Lawyers or barristers.  As Sgt Fraser said in Dads Army "we are doomed"   to make the same mistakes over and over again!

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Easy way to clear US Imigration

Aer Lingus aircraft, part of IAG group.
The IAG group (Owner of British Airways, Iberia & Vueling) take over of Aer Lingus last year was a stroke of genius by Willie Walsh CEO of IAG, with the continuing political snail pace of progress finding extra Runway capacity in the UK he saw a way of expansion by flying aircraft from the UK via hubs in Eire on to the USA.

Not many people know that Eire has for long had US immigration clearance on Irish soil, so US Immigration officers work in the Eire to clear Passengers, so the flight then becomes a domestic US flight from Eire onwards.  This is partly a hangover from the days when Shannon one of the last land points in Western Europe would have many European propeller aircraft stopping there as a refuel point before the long slog over the Atlantic to Gander in Newfoundland.

So if you fly via Shannon, Dublin and now Cork you can clear US immigration and save hours in long queues.   But recently Edinburgh has gained the same privileges and Norwegian using the new B737-800 Max have started to build a network of low cost flights to the US, they did have a loss leader launch of £49 oneway, but this was massively under cost and oversubscribed.

So if you want to fly from your regional airport, look at flights via Eire and save money, reduce stress and do things a little differently, a theme I keep harking back to 

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Save on Insurance? I wouldn't recommend it , but ways to mitigate the risk for free

European Health Insurance Card.
I would not recommend anyone to skimp on insurance, but with many banks and credit cards throwing in a basic insurance policy excluding comprehensive medical expenses there is a way to do it

The Reciprocal health agreements with EU countries and others allow for your medical expenses to be paid for (Or Partly paid for) by the government of the country you are visiting with an ultimate claim back to the UK Government, eg Free medical care.  It is as if you were resident in the country and you will receive the medical care that any citizen would receive, pobiously some countries care systems are not as good as the UK's but some are better!

But you have to apply for a EHIC card  Government official Link , be careful that you go to carpetbagger sites that charge you this is free, so use that link,

If you want to play it 100% safe then can I suggest getting a quote from here Insurance Link  its particularly good for under 55's, but can do 55-65yrs as well, but I would still apply for the EHIC.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Save money on Airport parking

There are many suppliers on airport parking, On-Airport, Off Airport, Valet parking and park and Parkandgo.co.uk, I have used them for at least 20 trips and have always had good service and no problems.So I can recommend them to you.

They are offering a 12% discount for July bookings (Any departure date)   PROMOCODE: JULY12

I would recommend the valet parking as it's so much more convenient to other methods and I find it hassle free dropping my car off at the terminal entrance,  to give you an idea of parking costs for 7 nights in late july 31/7/17 for Manchester I list the prices I was receiving at date of publication, this is before the 12% discount

Off Airport     £55
Meet & Greet £65
On Airport      £70

EU No Frills Airlines you may not be aware of!

S7 backers behind the Cyprus airlines re-launch.
Vueling, part of the IAG group and sister airline to British Airways, based in Spain, but flying much Vueling.com

Volotea, based in Palma Majorca, they fly from Southampton to Palma and Ibiza Volotea.com

Helvetic based in Zurich, they fly to Shannon , but also many other EU destinations ex Zurich

Norwegian, probably well known now, but they have a sizeable fleet ex Gatwick and fly as far a field as South America, North America and Thailand as well as many European Destinations www.norwegian.com

BlueAir a Romanian  carrier who fly from Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham and Luton to Romania destinations as well as direct to Cyprus from Luton  Blueairweb.com

Cobalt Airlines from Stansted, Birmingham, Manchester and Dublin to Larnaca  http://cobalt.aero/  as well as onward to Iran

Cyprus Airways relaunched by Russian airline backers (S7 airlines) using Charlie Airlines (Huge fleet), they don't currently fly to the UK, but watch this space https://www.cyprusairways.com/

AirEuropa  Madrid and palma carrier flying scheduled flights via the Madrid base to destinations over Spain   https://www.aireuropa.com/en/flights  Also they have a partnership with FlyLolo.com  flying flights to the Canary islands at Christmas   Gatwick, Manchester and Glasgow to Tenerife and Manchester to Arrecife (Lanzarote)  www.flylolo.com  

Best place to get an overview of all airlines including Easyjet.com and Ryanair.com is via Skyscanner.net the best search airgine for fares

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

How to save money on inflight buy-on-board Catering

Airlines are now making Buy-on-board catering a profit centre in it's own right, with the increased security arrangements (no more than 100ml of liquid) this all plays into buying water whilst on board.

But you can purchase from Amazon.co.uk 100ml reusable bottles  a 3 pack costs GB £3.16 that can be filled and re-filled with different liquids Squash, Fruit Juice etc here is the link  Amazon Link

Of course if your organised enough, then make yourself a packed lunch, but also if you are on a longish flight the one thing I would take is a travel pillow particularly if your on a red eye

This can also be purchased from Amazon at £12.99  Flight Pillow Link  or there is a cheaper solid bead for £3.95 from Ebay Ebay Link .  Finally kids get bored, you can purchase colouring books from a poundshop which will keep them quiet for a while :-)    Here is an article on how to get free water air-side and where to find fountains at airports Free water
£3.95 from Ebay.

Monday, 3 July 2017

How safe (Financially) are No Frills airlines

Don't forget financial protection on your next trip.
It's not widely known that No Frills airlines do not have any financial protection,  If an airline goes bust then you loose your money unless you paid by a Credit card to a UK based merchant provider where you will be covered by the 1973 Consumer credit act if your purchase was more than £100.

You can take out insurance SAFI (Scheduled Airline Financial Insurance)  which is in-expensive or may be included in your travel insurance policy cover.

In reality the likes of EasyJet, Ryanair and others who are large publicly quoted companies won't go bust, but smaller companies some based overseas are always at risk. in recent history a British No Frills company nearly went bust and had  the CAA intervening to ensure that solutions were put in place (EG extra working capital from new investors)

In the UK Tour Operators have to have ATOL licenses which means your travel arrangements are covered by the CAA and any repayments ultimately come from the Air Travel Trust Fund which is underwritten by the British Government. 

Friday, 30 June 2017

South East Runway debate & Manston Kent International

Manston Terminal.
I find it infuriating that the government has
spent so much money, time and
Manston Runway.
Aerial view with a large B747 in shot.
political capital in finding a solution to extra runway capacity in the South east when they are letting an existing airport close.

Manston (Kent International) has an excellent runway, one of the best in the UK, at 2,752M it outstrips other well known airports, Luton has 2180M, Southampton has 1733M  Gatwick has 3,048m Heathrow has two runways Northern 3,902m and Southern 3,658m. Manchester has 2,999 m

The airport is 4 miles from a railway and 18 miles from HS1 (Eurostar), a light railway could be built for approximately £30-40M per mile  

What annoys me is that the government turned down a project  to build a new approach road at £28M investment, but they are happy to pile in Billions to Heathrow when no one really locally wants it.  Thanet (Where Manston is) is an area that needs jobs and investment

It also has a small old terminal, but Bournemouth built a new Terminal for £13M,  so for an investment of circa £200M the government will have a new airport, with a rail link and a decent length runway in an area crying out for jobs, it's only 7 miles from the estuary, so Boris this is your estuary airport.

But Senior politicians have ignored this option, they are happy to spend billions on unwanted vanity projects,  My new company www.flylolo.com would fly from there if it opened

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Regional Airports

Southampton Airport with the railway and terminal only 99 steps apart.
Many of us have their favorite regional airport but we are forced to travel many miles more to the major ones simply because the flights are not available for our favorite smaller airport,    
it's a bit chicken and egg as operators don't want to fly to smaller airports because of lack of demand and passengers stop looking for any flights that go from regional airports because they assume there are no flights.

Skyscanner  is very good as they do give you a pretty comprehensive view of what’s operating and what’s not, also they feature connecting flights which can allow you to travel locally but not necessarily directly,

Airports to look at that you may overlook,  if you are in the South East then Southampton has it's own rail link and is only 61 minutes from Clapham Junction (67 Mins from waterloo) by a direct train also its on the junction of two motorways the M3 and the M27, Bournemouth is technically in the South West because it's in the county of Dorset, but it's only 30 minutes from Southampton by motorway or it has a railway station reasonably near at Christchurch.

Southend is a good alternative to Stansted  if you live in Essex or East London and Luton has a rail link although the last last 500M is by a coach, but there has been for a while plans to build a light railway from Luton Parkway to the airport up the hill.

Manston (Kent International was closed down, but there are rumours of it opening up again, this would provide a valuable new Runway of over 3000M for the South East

In the West Country Bristol is king, but you have alternate airports in Exeter, Newquay, Bournemouth or even Cardiff.

The Midlands you have Birmingham and East Midlands, but Luton can always be an alternate.

In the Northwest, Blackpool was lost to operations, but the favorite is Manchester and there is of course Liverpool it's smaller rival.  Leeds Bradford is a credible competitor and there is Doncaster (Sheffield) airport  which could be for people from the North West, but also form the North east and Hull.

North East wise you have Hull (Humberside), Doncaster, Teeside and Newcastle airports.

Then you have Scotland with Glasgow Intl, Prestwick as an alternative or Edinburgh which is 30 miles away on the M8 motorway.  There is a scheme in scotland where as Scot Rail will give 50% discounted tickets to Prestwick airport from anywhere in Scotland  National rail link

Edinburgh does have Dundee also as a rival and you have Inverness in the north of Scotland

of course I have failed to mention one or two other airports, Norwich in East Anglia, Lydd airport in Kent, Gloucester and Cambridge airports, we need to cherish our local airports because the House developers are after them.

Seat Pitches for Leisure airlines

Have you ever wondered what the seat pitches are on Leisure airlines from the UK
EasyJet on the       A319   is      29 inchs          Easyjet.com
Ryanair's               B737800      30 inches        Ryanair.com
ThomasCook         B757200 is  29-30 inches    www.flythomascook.com
ThomsonAirlines    B737800 is  28 inches        Flytui.com
ThomsonAirlines    B757200 is  28 inches        Flytui.com
British Airways       Various    is  30-31 inches  BA.com
Monarch Airlines    Various    is  28-29 inches Monarch.co.uk/
Jet2 Airlines            Various   is  29 inches       Jet2.com/
CityJet Airlines      SuperJet  is   32 inches       Cityjet.com/
Flybe Airlines           Various  is   30 inches      Flybe.com/
AirEuropa                B737800 is  30-31 inches Aireuropa.com    

EU Flight delay compensation - quick guide

EU Rules EU Regulation 261/2004.
If your flight has been delayed by at least three hours (delay must be arrival time not departure time, e.g. the aircraft could depart 3.5hrs late and arrive 2hrs 59 mins late) or cancelled then you have the right to compensation under European law. Under EU Regulation 261/2004, passengers are entitled to up to €600 Euros (GB£530) in compensation 

the amounts available start from €250 (GB£221) for flights of less than 1,500km long which are delayed by at least three hours and go up to €600 (GB£530) for flights of more than 3,500km between an EU and non-EU airport, delayed by at least four hours.

Under the EU rules, an airline must pay compensation for cancelled or delayed flights, The flight must have departed from an EU airport, operating by any airline, or it must be arriving into an EU airport and be operated by an EU airline. The 'EU airport' also includes the following countries;, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Switzerland and Norway 

There has been some legal clarification regarding the rules recently in the UK two  Supreme Court rulings declared that carriers should pay out when a delay was caused by a technical fault.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Why are School Holiday flights so expensive?

No Frills Airlines lack flexibility in their model.
The question of flight prices for school holidays is a constant friction for for hard working parents trying to get an affordable break, particularly now that there has been a court ruling   confirming the legality of schools fining parents for term time absence’s.

The advent of No Frills carriers has actually made the issue worse rather than improving it for parents, the reason for this is that No Frills carriers to get the maximum economy fly the longest seasons possible, the year is split into two, so in the summer season there are 26 weeks of operations,  May, June & October are the least attractive and Carriers use below cost discounts to encourage travellers to take an off season flight, the net result is that many pensioners and people of working age get some fantastic deals.  

But the net result is that the no frills carriers have to cover these huge discounts somewhere and they do this by increasing massively the margins in peak season, so families end up subsidising the off season travellers.

It is possible to operate a peak season operation, there is a massive glut of aircraft, many aircraft because of the high price of fuel were in effect written off 5-10 years ago, but the fall in the price of oil has markedly changed things  in the aircraft market.

Many banks and leasing companies own these written off assets and they are finding there way back into the market, there are now ACMI airlines which set up with a low overhead operation in places like Malta flying under EU colours and lease the aircraft to some no frills airlines as well as tour operators who fly them for July-September.  You wouldn't think that the no frills airlines were taking advantage of these cheaper aircraft by the prices they sell at, as they are coining it,

But some of these aircraft are finding there way into the holiday market via charter operations which have to be covered by a CAA ATOL in the UK, so they are even safer financially  than the No Frills airlines which don't have any financial protections at all.  

So when you choose your flights, don't just go to the no frills airlines, use a comparison site like www.skyscanner.net and shop round, there are bargains to be found, also are are other regional airports, if you live in the South East, look at Southampton, Bournemouth, Luton and Southend.    If you live in the North West Manchester is good but also look at Liverpool and if you live over on the North east side try looking at Doncaster.

Tour Operators like TUI, Thomas Cook, Olympic Holidays are sometimes much cheaper, there are some small new startups to look at FlyLolo.com, Estrela Trave jetsgoholidays.com