New LCC ‘LEVEL’ TO ANNOUNCE MORE ROUTES

As part of our mission to bring you all the latest industry news and gossip, that’s fit to print, we have been telling you about developments in the Low-Cost or Budget airline market.

This week we publicised the launch of International Airlines Group’s (I.A.G.) new Low-Cost Carrier, which has been branded ‘LEVEL’. (I.A.G. is composed of British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling)

Barcelona is the hub for the new airline, but now further information is coming to light, which leads us to believe that a fresh set of announcements are to be made regarding some further routes.

It appears that Paris Orly and Rome Fiumicino are now in the frame to be bases for LEVEL, principally because they are hubs for LEVEL’s sister airline, Vueling.

Already LEVEL flies to San Francisco (Oakland) and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic fro Barcelona and it would make commercial sense to fly the same routes from Paris and Rome.(The other two routes Buenos Aires and Los Angeles, are already well covered by existing I.A.G. partners)

The efficiency of this comes in that the underlying strategy of the new airline which is to ‘join the dots’ with Vueling existing services. In simple terms, the Budget airline delivers the transatlantic flights and passengers are then checked in to short/medium haul flights by Vueling or one of the other I.A.G. members (such as Iberia).

The strategy is obviously a well thought out one.A centerpiece of which is to see off aggressive Low-Cost Carrier Norwegian, hence competing directly against Norwegian’s services to Los Angeles and San Francisco (Oakland). That is the reason LEVEL has started both services just before Norwegians launch dates.

Interesting times ahead, but as we always say more competition means lower fares and lower fares can only be good news.

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The U.S.A and U.K. ‘Laptop Ban’.How will it affect you ?.

INTRODUCTION

You will probably have seen by now, that there is to be a so-called ‘laptop-ban’ on certain flights to the States.

We thought we would do a little research and dig out the key facts, to see if this situation affects travelers generally.

First of all, it’s not a ‘laptop ban’ at all.The ban applies to certain Middle-East and North African airports and does not mean you cannot take your laptop on board.Rather, it means that your laptop will have to be stored in the hold instead of being hand-luggage.

Indeed it does not just apply to laptops, but all electronics larger than a mobile phone. So portable DVD players, tablets and cameras are also affected.

WHICH AIRPORTS ARE INVOLVED ?.

As mentioned, they are airports from Arab destinations (though by no means all).Here is the full list: 

Cairo, Istanbul, Kuwait City, Doha, Qatar, Casablanca, Morocco, Amman, Jordan, Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia; and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Nine airlines have direct flights from these airports to the U.S.A. (up to fifty times per day). They are Royal Jordanian Airlines, Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways.

British regulations are slightly different; applying to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. Airlines affected are: British Airways, easyJet, Jet2, Monarch, Thomas Cook, Thomson, Atlas-Global, Pegasus, EgyptAir, Royal Jordanian, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, Turkish Airlines and Tunisair

Strangely enough, the list is not the same as the travel ban (this was Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, which were banned from traveling to the United States for 90 days). The U.S. government seems at pains to point out that this is in response to a different, and as yet unspecified, threat.

The electronics ban will affect citizens of ANY nation traveling between these destinations. The inclusion of Dubai and Istanbul in this list is of particular concern, as these are key stop-over points for passengers from Asia and Australia.It is expected that there will be significant delays as airport checks will increase, and unsuspecting travelers have to transfer equipment to checked-in luggage. Passengers joining these flights from European destinations will not be affected.

Rather oddly, the ban does not apply to flights from the States to these destinations, nor to aircrew.Similarly, U.S. F.A.A. (Federal Aviation Authority) guidelines state that devices with lithium-ion batteries be taken on board as hand luggage, because of fire safety issues. These batteries power laptops, in-flight tablets, and cameras.The Turkish government has condemned the ban as unnecessary.

It seems that the ban, which began on March 21st, will last until October 14th. Airlines and Airports affected were given 96 hours notice.

Exemptions will be made for essential medical equipment.

CONSEQUENCES

Travel experts have been quick to point out some side -effects of the ban:

Firstly, flights from these areas have many business travelers, who will be unable to work on their laptops in flight.

Secondly, many will be angry that electronic equipment with potentially sensitive political and business information will be out of sight.

Thirdly, valuable equipment, checked-in, is a godsend to thieves.

Fourthly, Budget airlines (in particular) will now be able to charge for extra checked-in items, meaning additional costs for passengers.

SUMMARY

U.S.and British Intelligence are obviously receiving information about potential threats.They are exactly that ‘potential threats’ and are taking cautious measures, which appear to be temporary.We think that caution is to be welcomed.

Air travel remains very safe.More Americans are killed by their lawnmowers every year than come to harm in the air !.

 

Posted in Abu Dhabi, Africa, Airline News, Airlines, Airports, Asia, Australia, Australia Flights, Baggage Rules, British Airways, Dubai, Emirates, Etihad, Flights, In Flight, Middle East, News, Qatar, Transport, Travel News, Turkish | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy St Patrick’s Day !.

We would like to wish all our Irish friends a Happy St Patricks Day, may you enjoy your day and your Guinness !.

And everyone has a reason to have a smile on their face, as it has never been a better time to travel to the Emerald Isle, with a number of new airports recently added as transatlantic destinations, on both sides of the pond.

Belfast (for Northern Ireland) recently re-joined the list of transatlantic airports and Cork was added for the first time. Norwegian Airlines has added new direct routes, as has Aer Lingus.Hartford Connecticut and Providence Rhode Island are now linked directly to Ireland for the first time ever. And prices are good too !.

The Irish Tourist Board is working hard to make you feel welcome.You will find plenty of music and arts festivals: both from traditional Irish culture and more modern genres from Jazz and Classical music to Rock. New themes are being developed in tourism, particularly dealing with rural Ireland and Irish history; such as working 19th-century farms and lessons in sheepherding.And of course local histories of the famous Potato famine, and the ensuing exodus of millions to the young United States. Bus tours are a particularly useful way to see bucolic Ireland, as it is easy to get lost in the winding country lanes.

In the North, a must-see is the Giants Causeway, off the rugged Northern coast, and the Titanic Museum in Belfast. Another modern must-do is a visit to the set of Game of Thrones if you are lucky maybe they will let you sit on the Iron throne.

For many, Dublin remains the biggest attraction and today, in particular, you will find a massive party in Dublin City center.As the focal point of the 1916 Easter Rising and always the historic nexus of government, Dublin has many Museums and attractive 19th-century architecture.Plus, of course, the Guinness Brewery and Jameson’s Distillery when you get thirsty. A bowl of delicious Irish Stew will greet the hungry in one of Dublin’s many pubs.Dublin Airport is the busiest in Ireland.

Wherever you go in Ireland, you are guaranteed to receive a warm welcome.

Posted in Aer Lingus, Airline News, Airlines, Airports, British Airways, cheap flights, Destinations, Dublin, Europe, Family Travel, Flights, History, Ireland, Must See Destinations, News, Norwegian Airways, Summer Travel, Top 10 Destinations, Top 10 Lists, Travel News | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tips for choosing your holiday

CHOOSING YOUR HOLIDAY

There are many factors that may determine where, and when, you take your holiday this year.Obviously, we all have individual factors that determine our selection.

TIME

Time is the main determinant.How much vacation time can I spare ?.This also affects the amount of time that you are prepared to travel, after all why spend a day getting to your destination (and a day getting back) if you only have a weeks holiday ?.

Also, long journeys have zero relaxation value, and the main purpose of most people’s vacation is to relax.It is also a fact that vacationing anywhere in the States takes traveling time anyway, going outside the country just adds to that. So the solution is somewhere not too far from U.S. shores.

COST

The other big factor is cost.A vacation should not clear out your bank account. Nor should the vacation present you with undue difficulties, such as places where people speak no or little English.

The other question you have to ask yourself is what kind of holiday do I want ?: for example cheap hotels, beach, mountains, activity or culture.

OPTIONS

So what we thought we would do, is to add a few of our own thoughts to the process:

For the short/medium haul holiday, the Caribbean is surely one for the short-list.Low-Cost carriers, such as JetBlue and Southwest, are leading the way in making such airfares cheap and affordable.And increasingly other airlines are joining the Low-cost revolution.This not only means better value flights but the possibility of flying from an airport near you, rather than changing flights, as these airlines look out for local cheaper airports to base themselves in the U.S.A.

And the Caribbean is not just for the beach-hugger, in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize, there are many stunning examples of Aztec and Mayan civilization to see (Cancun is particularly nice for these), and not far from resorts.The Caribbean islands have some great historical locations including former Plantations, Colonial castles, and fortresses.Most Caribbean destinations (though not all) have cheap accommodation (it is best to avoid peak periods such as Spring Break.)

Europe too is not beyond the budget traveler, with some flights to old world destinations under $400 return.www.paylessflights.com currently has some great value offers to Spain and Portugal, and many other European destinations.

Europe also has a well-developed network of clean and inexpensive hostels, which are sometimes little different to Hotels.

Another advantage with Europe is that the U.S. Dollar is relatively strong against the Euro and the British Pound.You get much more for your buck in Europe these days.

A trip to the U.K. or Ireland should not be too hard on your pocketbook, and Europe is only five hours from New York or Boston. New airports are also offering flights across the Atlantic; among the latest is Hartford, Connecticut. Norwegian Airlines, in particular, are now offering cheap flights to the U.K. and Ireland, and to new destinations.

And then, of course, there is Canada, offering the usual friendly Canadian hospitality.Vancouver and Toronto are great cities to explore and offer plenty to do.How about a fishing trip or whale watching ?. And there is a rugged landscape; with some beautiful mountain scenery and forests, plus French-speaking Quebec for a little bit of Gallic style. Montreal has its own unique feel, as does Quebec City. And, of course, there is that delicious French food !.

Just a few hints, hopefully, to help you make your plans. If you need our help just go to the website www.paylessflights.com

Posted in Aer Lingus, Airlines, Airports, All Inclusive Resorts, Bahamas, Canada, Carribean, Central America, cheap flights, Destinations, Dominican Republic, Dublin, England, Europe, Family Travel, Flights, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, JetBlue, Mexico, News, Northern Ireland, Norwegian Airways, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Southwest, Top 10 Lists, Travel News, U.K., Wales, winter holidays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Change your Baggage Time at Dubai International Airport !.

STRANGE NEWS FROM THE GULF 

There are many interesting developments in the Travel Industry, new destinations, new routes, new concepts, indeed constant change. However, ‘Dubai International brought to a halt by round bags’ is not a phrase one expects to hear.

You would have thought that stretching 140km and covering 75 football fields, the baggage handling system at the world’s arguably most state of the art airport would be capable of literally handling anything that you could throw at it.

TOO BIG, WRONG SHAPE AND DEFINITELY NOT ROUND

However you thought wrong, it appears that the system is freaked out by that most fiendish of travel technology, the ’round bag.’ The system, apparently, only likes luggage with at least one flat surface. The baggage carousel may go round and round, but your cases can’t !.

The restrictions come into force on March 8th, and from then on round bags will be rejected. It appears the system also has problems with large baggage and other irregular shapes.

So from now on round bags are banned, and passengers will be given the ‘option’ of placing the offending bags in boxes (presumably slightly flat ones), but there will be a charge.

The baggage system has 15,000 trays and is run by 21 motors, handling 9.3 million items of luggage in January alone. Each bag averages 29 minutes in the system.

I am sure that many passengers have had problems with lost luggage and many more are irritated by hand luggage restrictions (so beloved of the low-cost airlines in particular). I am not sure that many can say their journey was inconvenienced by a pesky ’round bag,’ but at Dubai International, this apparently happens.

DUBAI EXPANSION CONTINUES

Dubai is on schedule to be the busiest airport in the world by 2020, and as well as being the regional hub for the Gulf States, is also being used for long-haul to Australia and the United States, as well as a convenient connection to Europe. Qatar, Emirates, and Etihad airlines are becoming world players in the Aviation industry.

It seems obvious that the authorities at Dubai International Airport are preparing to smooth the way for continued expansion.

At www.paylessflights.com we can meet all your travel needs.

Posted in Airline News, Airlines, Airports, Asia, Baggage Rules, British Airways, Destinations, Dubai, Emirates, Etihad, Flights, Middle East, News, Qatar, Transport, Travel News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

50 new routes launched across the Atlantic

THE SITUATION

Transatlantic flights are getting larger in number and to more destinations.European LCLH (Low-Cost Long-Haul) airlines lead the way.

THE BACKGROUND

Over 50 new routes were added in 2016, even when we take away the 28 services that were withdrawn that still leaves a healthy gain of 23.

The U.S. Big Three ( United, Delta, and American) still lead the way selling 10.35 million seats between them, but sales growth is relatively static with United -2%, Delta +2% and American +3%.

The fascinating figures for the longer term, are the growth rates recorded by the smaller airlines. Norwegian sold 42% more tickets in 2016, Air Berlin 57% more and Aer Lingus 21%. Taken in conjunction with small gains for other airlines, these figures reveal that 95% of seat growth is being made by European carriers.

The biggest percentage increase is recorded by an airline not yet in the Transatlantic top 15. That honor goes to Icelandic carrier WOW, which sold a massive 142% more seats. From a much smaller base, German airline Eurowings (part of Lufthansa) surpassed this with a 228% surge. The trend is set to continue with Air Berlin and Norwegian proposing to add a quarter of a million more seats this summer.

NEW ROUTES IN THE PIPELINE

All of this is against a background of new routes.This expansion is fueling the growth in capacity. It is expected that both Air France/KLM and I.A.G. (which includes British Airways) will soon make announcements of the establishment of new Low-Cost Long-Haul airlines. It is foreseen that a growing list of U.S. airports will join the list of direct non-stop flights from Europe. Hartford Connecticut joined that list with flights to Dublin, and New Orleans now has direct flights to Europe for the first time since 1982 (Frankfurt and London Heathrow). Currently, there is no sign of the launch of a U.S. L.C.L.H. carrier though rumors persist of a move in that direction by JetBlue.

CONCLUSION

The U.S. airline market is being shaken up by major changes.The consumer is the main one to benefit with falling prices and new routes. One major improvement is that direct flights to Europe will be a big bonus for U.S. travelers, who are used to facing hours of waiting for connecting flights.Anything that makes flying quicker and easier must be a good thing.It also opens up tourism markets both sides of the Atlantic, as more destinations mean more places to explore.And it is good for the business community too.

Posted in Air Berlin, Air France, Airline News, Airlines, Airports, American Airlines, British Airways, cheap flights, Destinations, England, Europe, Flights, France, Germany, Iberia, Lufthansa, News, North America, Norwegian Airways, Southwest, Top 10 Destinations, Travel News, United Airlines | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

India to issue free Sim cards to Tourists

Boost for Passenger Safety at Delhi Airport

You may have had the odd free thing at an airport, especially if your flight is delayed.Maybe a hot coffee or the loan of a blanket. Now, however, the Indian Tourist Authority has taken that to a new degree by issuing new arrivals with a free Sim card.

The plan copies a similar scheme in Indias smaller neighbor Sri Lanka. The Sim cards are not intended for unlimited use throughout your stay in one of the world’s biggest countries, but rather just to use to get to your immediate destination (in most cases a Hotel).The cards are only prepaid with seventy-five cents of credit (and 50MB of data), so they won’t last long, but it is a nice touch.The Sim card is also activated immediately.

Pilot Scheme to be extended

At the time of writing the Sim cards will only be issued to those arriving at Indira Gandhi Airport in New Delhi who are in possession of an e-visa.Once at the airport, you just present your visa confirmation e-mail to the desk of the India Tourism Development Agency, and you get some free welcome information including the Sim card.

As readers will already have noted the scheme only applies to Delhi Airport, but fifteen other airports are due to be added to the program.

Free Sim cards part of wider strategy

We can all acknowledge that this is a small thing, but it is often little out of the way gestures that get appreciated. Traveling of any kind can be stressful, international travel especially so, so having a Sim card to make that reassuring call home is sure to be seen as a very nice gesture. Especially since buying a Sim card in some countries can be fiendishly difficult (India is by all accounts one of these places, and it can take days to get a card activated). The Indian Ministry of Tourism is already operating a 24-hour toll-free helpline and providing help in 12 languages at New Delhi Airport. The e-visa scheme is available to visitors from 161 countries, and hence so are the Sim cards.

Tourism big business in India

The scheme is being marketed as being principally about safety and follows a national scandal last year when the government withdrew bank notes at very short notice, and panic broke out as people queued for hours to get new money. In a side effect, many tourists became stranded without valid cash (and, if in remoter areas, no access to ATM’s). A free Sim card may well have come in handy then. It should be noted that Tourism represented just under 7% of India’s GDP last year.

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Turkish Airlines just keeps on growing

MORE COUNTRIES AND MORE DESTINATIONS

It seems that not a day goes by when Turkish Airlines announces something new. Today is no exception, with Turkish announcing a new route; to its 120th country and 296th destination.

It’s not a route that immediately comes to mind (it is Conakry, the capital of the West African state of Guinea). However, it cements Turkish Airlines position as the leading carrier in Africa.

The Conakry flight is Turkish 51st route in the continent; all served from its Istanbul mega-base. The exotic island of Zanzibar, (just off the coast of Tanzania) was a new addition in December. Currently Turkish serves Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Entebbe in Uganda, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and Addis Ababa amongst an ever growing list.

EUROPE AND THE AMERICAS TOO

The range of destinations is pretty amazing; with the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca recently joining this long list as well (in addition to Bucharest and Constanta).

Across the world in the Americas, 20th December was another red letter day with the inauguration of flights to Havana and Caracas (making it a grand total of 17 destinations).

Existing services in North America include Boston, New York, Chicago, L.A., Miami, Atlanta, Montreal, and Toronto.

Whatever else is the case, Turkish Airlines has, without a doubt, acquired a winning formula; based on great customer care, competitive prices and a super onboard experience.

THE AWARDS FOLLOW

For six consecutive years, Turkish has won ‘Best Airline in Europe.’ But it also managed to collect ‘Best Airline in Southern Europe,’ ‘Best Business Class Dining Lounge’ and ‘Best Business Class onboard catering’ (Skytrax World Airline Awards). These are the industry ‘Oscars’ and are the results of over a million questionnaires issued at over 550 airports across the globe. High praise indeed.

Industry insiders are left wondering what Turkish Airlines are planning next ?.

In 2003 Turkish had just 55 aircraft, now it has over 300. Considerable effort is being made with corporate clients particularly in the U.S.A (the target is that the current 8% corporate client rate should rise to 20%), and a new airport is being built in Northwest Istanbul which will have a 90 million passenger capacity compared to Istanbul Ataturk’s current 55 million. By 2024 the capacity will be 150 million, making Istanbul the biggest airport in the world (sharing that position with Dubai). Investment is also being made in extra sales staff and new aeroplanes. The cooperation of the Turkish government as a development partner cannot be underestimated.

Posted in Africa, Airline News, Airlines, Airports, California, Canada, Carribean, cheap flights, Destinations, Flights, Florida, In Flight, Kenya, Middle East, new york, News, North America, Romania, South America, Tanzania, Travel News, Turkish, U.K., Venezuela, Zanzibar | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Never a better time to take a vacation in Mexico

Low Prices

It looks as if there are some real bargains in store for those hunting for a budget vacation, relatively close to home.

Now looks to be an ideal opportunity to take a break in Mexico with prices at recent lows.

There are several reasons for this development. Firstly low-cost or budget airlines have entered the market in an aggressive manner, Southwest has been particularly good in that respect, but others have joined the low fares party, and it really has been a game changer.

Secondly, the sheer volume of traffic to Mexico in itself drives down fares, more flights with fuller planes and competition drive down airline prices.

Falling Fares mostly everywhere

And it seems like just about every destination has experienced falling fares. So let’s take some real examples.Tickets to Cancun are on average $15 cheaper at this time in the winter than they were last year, Guadalajara, the eighth most popular destination, has fallen from $507 to $435.

Across the board, prices are down: Nassau in the Bahamas can be flown to for just $491 return and San Juan, Puerto Rico for just $438 return.

Internal Mexican air flights have also been falling too with some flights for less than $100 return.

Of all the regional players, only Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic has seen its airfare rise to just over $600.

The Background

It was only in August 2016 that most restrictions on flights to Mexico were lifted and airlines were quick to take advantage.Before this open sky agreement maybe only two or three of a countries airlines were allowed on to a particular route.From last summer airlines could fly whatever route they wanted as often as they want. Flight fares are falling but could be even cheaper but for taxes imposed by Mexico and the U.S.A. on travel. Taxes can amount to 20-30% of the fare.

The primary increase in flights has been to the resorts, and this will continue as Mexico City Airport is extremely busy, with consequent restrictions on new routes, due to capacity problems.

Cheap Flights, for all these locations, can be booked via www.paylessflights.com. And we offer great value Hotel deals.

Posted in American Airlines, Bahamas, Carribean, Central America, cheap flights, Destinations, Dominican Republic, Family Travel, Flights, Mexico, Must See Destinations, News, Puerto Rico, South America, Southwest, Travel News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Qatar launches world’s longest airline Route

With a few red eyes, passengers on Qatar’s longest nonstop air route arrived at New Zealand’s Auckland Airport on 6th February.

RECORD BREAKING FLIGHT

 
At a whopping 14,535 kilometers, the Doha-Auckland route enters the record books and deposes the previous record holder, which was Emirates with the Dubai-Auckland route (which is 342km shorter).

AIR INDIA ROUTE IS NOT THE SHORTEST ONE

 
Air India’s San Francisco-Delhi route could theoretically claim to be the longest journey over 15,300km, but the methodology measures the shortest possible route, which Air India’s fails to qualify as (being over the Pacific rather than the Atlantic).

IT’S A VERY LONG-HAUL ON THIS LONG-HAUL

Flying time for this path is also long, with an eye-watering 17 hours plus.The flight is so long that passengers will experience not one, but two sun rises.

EVERYONE GETS A PRIZE

To add to the occasion, passengers in business class were treated to a selection of New Zealand wines, and others were offered New Zealand smoothies and cakes. Everyone one onboard was presented with gifts from Qatar management.

DOHA ‘BEARS’ IT WELL

Fun fact about Doha is that the grand foyer features a 23ft sculpted teddy bear, canary yellow in color, that sits inside a lamp. Its value is estimated at $6.8 million !.

SALUTED AT AUCKLAND

Once landed at Auckland the new arrivals were treated to a water cannon salute by local firefighters and a traditional Maori welcome.The flight was timed to arrive on New Zealand’s national holiday of Waitangi Day (which celebrates the Treaty founding New Zealand in 1840). So New Zealand was probably celebrating anyway.

NEW ROUTE MEANS MORE CHOICE

Auckland is Qatar’s fifth destination in Australasia: following Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, and Adelaide. The new flight is expected to appeal to customers to Europe: for example Auckland-Doha-Amsterdam and Auckland-Doha-London. It is also thought to be of particular interest to business class customers, linking the Australasia to the Middle East and beyond.

The latest long-haul flight represents another chapter in vigorous expansion by the three Gulf Airlines: Qatar, Emirates, and Etihad.

Posted in Airlines, Airports, Australia, Australia Flights, Destinations, Emirates, England, Etihad, Europe, Flights, Middle East, Must See Destinations, News, Qatar, Travel News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment