In the News this Week...

brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
  • EasyJet is to launch flights from Southend

    about 8 years ago

    EasyJet is to launch flights from Southend. Starting next April, the airline will operate from the Essex airport to some ten European destinations including Barcelona, Faro and Ibiza. By then Southend will have a new, multi million pound terminal, scheduled to open this Autumn. It will be under a minute's walk from a new rail station, with up to eight services an hour from Liverpool Street and Stratford – gateway to the Olympics complex. Next year a hotel will open at the airport. EasyJet claims passengers will be able to get from plane to train in 15 minutes.

  • Passengers who buy first class return tickets on the Gatwick Express

    about 8 years ago

    Passengers who buy first class return tickets on the Gatwick Express ( now get free lounge access in the airport's North and South Terminals. The move results from a deal struck between Gatwick and No. 1 Traveller, the independent airport lounge operator. Access to the lounges, which offer complementary food, drinks and wi-fi, normally costs £25 per adult (children are also admitted). You need your email confirmation and receipt to get in. Initially, the offer is available for booking until August 31.

  • Germanwings ( ) is the latest airline to recognise

    about 8 years ago

    Germanwings ( ) is the latest airline to recognise that some passengers are prepared to pay a modest amount extra for a little more legroom. Taking advantage of the installation of new seats throughout its fleet, the carriers is providing greater comfort in the front ten rows for a €15 supplement per flight. Germanwings operates to cities in Germany and onward from a range of UK airports and from Jersey.

  • Venice will impose a hotel room tax on tourists from next month

    about 8 years ago

    Venice will impose a hotel room tax on tourists from next month, according to reports. Like their counterparts in Florence the city authorities will to levy a charge of  €1 per person per night per star rating. The move is planned to take effect from July 1. Between November and February the tax, which will not apply to children under 10,  is expected to be reduced. 

  • Budget airline is to launch three new routes from Manchester

    about 8 years ago

    Budget airline is to launch three new routes from Manchester next year. In March it will start flying on four days a week to Paris. May will see the introduction of weekly services to Bergamo, a jumping off point for the Italian lakes and an alternative gateway to Milan. Also in time for next summer Jet2 will start flying three times a week to Toulouse. Fares on all three routes will start at £29.99, including taxes. Flights are already available for booking.

  • News 89

    America's romance with Mississippi sternwheelers is blowing hot again.

    about 8 years ago

    America's romance with Mississippi sternwheelers is blowing hot again. Two companies are currently planning to start new cruises down the mighty US river – one building an all new vessel, the other aiming to refurbish an existing one. American  Cruise Lines ( says its Queen of the Mississippi, currently under construction in Maryland, will be “the first brand new overnight sternwheeler” built for use on the river in almost 20 years”. Its plans is to reflect the history of paddlewheel vessels while providing 21st century comforts. So after dining under crystal chandeliers, passengers will be able to take lifts back to their staterooms.

    She'll be faster than her predecessors, too, enabling her to call at more river towns on each seven night itinerary. Meanwhile the Great American Steamboat Company formed by a group of cruise and travel veterans, aims to bring the 436 passenger American Queen, built in 1995, out of mothballs. Like the Queen of the Mississippi her itineraries – likely to include a fall foliage cruise – will also take in the Ohio River.

  • Premium economy seats are now available on all Delta Airlines' long haul flights

    about 8 years ago

    Premium economy seats are now available on all Delta Airlines' long haul flights The airline says they offer 4in more leg room and 50% greater recline than those in standard economy – plus travellers booking them can board earlier and drink themselves to sleep with free spirits. Bad news is that legroom is 2 – 3in less generous that that in British Airways or Virgin Atlantic's  premium economy cabins – but don't dismiss it on those grounds until you've also made a price comparison.

  • News 88

    AmaWaterways introduces new `home to cabin’ luggage service

    about 8 years ago

    For clients sailing on any of its European and Russian luxury river cruises AmaWaterways is offering a home to cabin luggage collection and delivery service, with prices from £82 for one case (20kg) one way, regardless of start point or destination.

    Steve Williams, MD of Fred Olsen Travel who represent AmaWaterways in the UK said “This new luggage transportation service is part of AmaWaterway’s ongoing commitment to customer excellence, in keeping with the continually upgraded enhancements on board the cruise line’s luxury river cruisers.

    Guests can travel much faster and more easily through airports unencumbered by luggage, and for those travelling by train, it’s much simpler to change platforms and stations without having heavy bags, making the entire cruise experience and the holiday itself more pleasurable”.

    Luggage can be collected from anywhere within the UK and the Channel islands and delivered directly to the ship, for guests to find in their cabins or suites on arrival. Prices are £82 for one case, £142 for two cases, £201 for three cases, £260 for four cases, outbound or return, for each journey.

    AmaWaterways 5* luxury river cruises start from £1376 per person for 2011 cruises, including all meals, free flowing wine with dinner, complimentary wi-fi and free use of on-board bicycles. Flights and transfers can be arranged on request.

    AMAWATERWAYS UK reservations: Freephone 0808 223 5009

  • Visitors to Florence could face paying a new hotel tax

    about 8 years ago

    Visitors to Florence could face paying a new hotel tax as early as July. According to the European Tour Operators Association the city plans to levy a fee of  €1 per person, per star, per night. So two people taking a short break of three nights  in a 5 star property, say, would pay an extra €30. ETOA says the tax was proposed as a way of offsetting the removal of a charge for permits paid by coach operators who bring groups into Florence.

  • News 85

    2011 year marks a half century since the building of the Berlin Wall

    about 8 years ago

    2011 year marks a half century since the building of the Berlin Wall. To mark the anniversary large black and white photographs will be placed along its former path, snapshots of the city as it was in 1961. They'll be on view from June 15, the date when Walter Ulbricht, the communist leader of East Germany, denied there was any plan to erect a wall,  until the end of August, the month when building began that same summer.

  • British Airways is launching new daily flights to San Diego

    about 8 years ago

    British Airways is launching new daily flights to San Diego – its latest
    Californian holiday hotspot, from June 1st. As the only airline flying
    directly from Europe, the new route offers greater access to local markets
    for business, as well as a popular leisure destination.

  • News 83

    See Los Angeles, the city of car culture, by bike or on foot.

    about 8 years ago

    See Los Angeles, the city of car culture, by bike or on foot. A local enthusiast-cum-entrepreneur, Danny Roman, is offering visitors the opportunity to do just that. After starting out modestly, running his eco-friendly business from his apartment, he has now opened a storefront in West Hollywood. His company, Bikes and Hikes LA (, offers a range of itineraries including a Beverly Hills and Bel Air celebrity home cycling tour. That lasts 3hrs and costs US$79, or about £50 ($67 for groups of 4 or more). More ambitious is LA in a Day, which involves biking and walking with a “power lunch”, covers 32 miles during 6hrs and costs $158 ($148 for 4 or more). For hiking purists there's a guided circuit in the Hollywood Hills at sunset.

  • News 82

    An innovative new vessel will be plying European rivers next year

    about 8 years ago

    An innovative new vessel will be plying European rivers next year. Latest addition to the AmaWaterways fleet, the twin hull 164-passenger AmaCerto will cruise on the Rhine, Moselle, Danube and Main. She will have staterooms with two balconies, a heated swimming pool, whirlpools, a walking track and a giant chessboard. Passengers will be able to access the internet via wi-fi throughout the ship, which will also boast a fitness centre and sauna – and a massage hair and beauty salon. Seven night cruises start at £1591. That includes full board, all excursions, internet access, wines with dinner, evening entertainment, use of the ship’s fleet of bicycles to go sightseeing – and port charges. Flights are extra,(

  • Planning to drive in Portugal? You now need an electronic device

    about 8 years ago

    Planning to drive in Portugal?  You now need an electronic device loaded with pre-payment on some sections of motorway. Temporary devices are available for €27 and top it up with  deposit of €10 payments which expire after 90 days. You can get it at motorway service areas or post offices. If you're renting a car, best check whether it is fitted with such a device already. Alternatively you could just avoid the following stretches:

    • Norte Litoral – A28: Auto-estrada do Litoral Norte (Littoral North-highway – between Porto and Vilar de Mouros/Caminha)'

    • Grande Porto – - A4: Porto/Amarante-highway (between Matosinhos and Águas Santas);  A41: Circular Regional exterior do Porto (Porto Regional Outer Circular); A42: Alfena-Lousada-highway

    • Centro – A17: Littoral Centre-highway (between Mira and Aveiro); A25: only on the sections between Esgueira and Angeja (Aveiro area);  A29: Auto-estrada da Costa de Prata (Costa de Prata highway between Estarreja and Vila Nova de Gaia).
  • Heading for Beijing? Air China is opening an arrivals lounge

    about 8 years ago

    Heading for Beijing? Air China is opening an arrivals lounge at the airport where its passengers will be able to take a shower or get on line. It will be free for a trial period of two weeks from June 1. Initially, says the airline, first ans business class passengers will have priority. Later it will be available to “larger groups of passengers”. We're not clear exactly what this will mean. Reports from readers welcome.

  • News 79

    Liberate the boy racer in you in Ischgl this summer.

    about 8 years ago

    The streets of the Austrian resort will be turned into a mini Monte Carlo on July 1 and 2 as go-kart drivers compete in the Austrian resort's fifth annual grand prix. Forty teams, each with up to eight members, will take part. Groups of individuals can enter. And though the organisers warn  that it will be “quite competitive”, no previous go-karting experience is required. The cost per team is €7,790 euros, which includes a racing outfit for each member to keep -and food and drink during the race days. Go to to register.

  • News 78

    Costa Rica is to get a new all inclusive resort.

    about 8 years ago

    The Westin Resort and Spa at Playa Conchal will have thatched roof bungalows and “a lagoon style pool”. Transformation of the property, formerly known as the Paradisus Resort, is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year. This is a first toe in the all inclusive water for Westin's parent group, Starwood.  It comes as at least one major UK tour operator reports comparatively strong demand for this kind of holiday. The reason for this isn't hard to guess.  Travellers nervous about spending cuts like the reassurance of knowing exactly how much they'll be spending before they pack their bags.

  • News 77

    Why should travellers to the Caribbean pay higher air passenger duty than those to the US?

    about 8 years ago

     Liberal peer Baroness Floella Benjamin has raised the question in the House of Lords. The Trinidad-born actress and writer says: “I believe that the APD banding system introduced in 2009 was not intended to damage Caribbean tourism, but the law of unintended consequences has come in to play and evidence suggests that it is having a negative impact on the most tourism dependent region of the world – the Caribbean.” A tourist heading for Jamaica in economy class, for example,  pays £75 while a traveller to Los Angeles, which is much further away, pas only £60. The reason is that rates are based on the distance of a country's capital city from London. ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) says evidence from the Caribbean shows the high level of tax is damaging the region's economies.  Broness Benjamin says: “We must consider how government policy and proposed reforms to APD impact upon developing countries”. In March the Treasury said it would postpone changing from a per passenger to a per plane tax. The Government has set in motion a consultation on the way the duty works – due to close on June 17. 

  • News 66

    Prize-winning Silver Traveller makes tracks to Corfu

    about 8 years ago

    When John Edwards, from St. Albans, Hertfordshire, signed up to become a member of Silver Travel Advisor  little did he suspect that his travels in Turkey would lead to a trip to Corfu later this year. John became a member of the site during April and he also posted a review of his recent holiday in Istanbul.

    John and his wife Rosalind (pictured here during a rail journey in India) were delighted to hear that the couple have won a week’s stay in a villa on the island in the website’s monthly prize draw, courtesy of luxury villa holiday company CV Villas .

    Commenting on his good fortune John Edwards said “I am delighted to have won a week in a Corfu villa with CV Villas, and Rosalind and I are really looking forward to our holiday on this beautiful island, that we haven't managed to visit in our 33 years together!. We will be sure to write a review about our holiday experience for Silver Travel Advisor; everyone should contribute reviews with such great prizes on offer."

    John’s name was pulled from the hat in our monthly prize draw among new members signing up in April. 

  • Monarch Airlines has scrapped its debit card payment fee

    about 8 years ago

    Monarch Airlines has scrapped its debit card payment fee and is now charging passengers who book using credit cards a flat fee of £10. Group chief executive Conrad Clifford notes: “In these difficult economic times, there is absolutely no justification advertising one fare and then stinging consumers with hidden excess charges.”  The move reflects widespread irritation among consumers at high charges for paying with plastic – particularly when those charges pop up for the first time towards the end of the on lie booking process. Other airlines please copy.