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September 2008

U.K. Airlines Do Well In Awards, U.K. Airports Not So Much

Posted September 30, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Manchesterairport Passengers usually save their complaints for the airlines, but what about the airports? After all, according to awards being given out by a magazine, airports in the U.K. have a lot to answer for.

U.K.-based airlines such as British Airways, Virgin and even Flybe managed to scoop up many of the top spots, which were voted for by readers of Conde Nast Traveller. However, the best any U.K. airport—Manchester's—managed was to come in 15th.

The report did not mention how many airports were surveyed in total, but number 15 is still a lot better than any of the other U.K. airports. So, a tiny little pat (more like a tap, actually) on the back for Manchester Airport execs.

However, perhaps U.K. airports would achieve higher scores if Conde Nast readers were voting on other areas. What about awards for longest check-in queues? Or most confusing route to gates? Or most overbearing security staff? Come on, Conde Nast readers, give U.K. airports a chance to win something—start asking the right questions!

(Photo: International Airports)

After Long Wait, Qantas Finally Get Their A380s

Posted September 26, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Qantasairbusa380 It might have been over two years in the making, but sometimes, the good things in life take a bit of effort. And this time, it seems Qantas’ efforts might have paid off, as they finally took delivery of their first A380 this week at the Airbus base in Toulouse.

Despite a general downturn in the aviation industry (rising fuel prices, slowing economies ... you’ve heard it all before), the company’s chief Geoff Dixon is hopeful that his investment will eventually pay off. With an order of 20 A380s—Airbus’ second largest order after Emirates' 58 planes—Dixon’s decision had better work out well for the company sometime in the future.

However, despite competitors like Singapore Airlines and Emirates offering luxurious upper decks with everything from double beds to showers in the bathrooms, Qantas hopes to keep it simpler. Their upper deck will instead boast ... a small lounge. No word yet on what, if anything, will be featured in the lounge. Still, at least economy-class passengers won’t feel so hard done by if they know they’re not missing out on anything too special.

So this all seems like a nice upgrade for Qantas. But my question is, would you pay more to fly on the A380, even if you were just flying in economy class? Please leave your answer below in the comments section.

(Photo: Flight Global)

Channel Tunnel Fire May Aid British Airways and easyJet

Posted September 23, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Eurostar Things haven’t been looking good for most airlines recently. Rising fuel prices, falling passenger numbers and the possibility of a recession have all been factors in making airline CEOs look a little more down in the mouth these days.

Ironically, it's taken a near-tragedy to turn things around. I'm speaking, of course, about the recent Channel Tunnel fire.

While the fire has been bad news for Eurostar and anyone hoping to avoid excessive add-on fees, excruciating check-ins and embarrassing security searches, it has been a boon to those in the airline industry. That is, if the airline happens to fly to Paris or Brussels.

Eurostar services have been cut by up to 40 per cent, which gives airlines that make the London-Paris hop the chance to cash in. Tickets are said to be going for around £600. This relatively short (212km) journey across the Channel probably works out to be one of the most expensive airfares in the world right now.

Of course, even if you can spare the cash, you’re not necessarily guaranteed a ticket. British Airways only have a few seats left, even if you’re prepared to pay full price. If you’re a cheapskate and want to go cattle class, you can probably forget about flying to Paris anytime soon. Even budget airline easyJet isn’t so low-cost right now, with tickets going for around £400.

Don’t have the cash to splash? Well, either wait a few more months for reconstruction work in the Tunnel to be completed, or take the ferry across. Just remember to take those seasickness pills along. Alternatively, you could be a show-off and try to break some records by swimming across the Channel.

(Photo: FreeFoto.com)

EasyCar Exposes Lying Holidaymakers

Posted September 18, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Liar The next time you’re sitting in front of your computer getting a fine, pasty pixel-tan and the office loudmouth starts shooting off about his recent travels to Fiji and Tuva, resist the immediate urge to deck him. Calm yourself with the knowledge that he's nothing but a no-good liar.

And should someone accuse you of falling prey to the green-eyed monster, you can always set them straight by pointing them towards the facts.

A recent survey released by car rental company easyCar revealed that at least 15 per cent of British holidaymakers were guilty of, if not exactly lying, then stretching the truth a little. Men in particular were fond of embellishing their travel experiences to make their lifestyles seem more impressive.

Other sins include namedropping foreign destinations they hadn’t actually visited, and making it sound as though they had been to a country when all they really did was stop over at an airport.

So the next time that improbably tanned lady from Accounts tries to regale/ bore you with tales of her camel-riding adventures in Dubai, ask to see her passport. Her tan might have come from a bottle. After all, I’ve been to Dubai too (it looks very exotic from inside  the terminal).

(Image: The Beauty Brains)

Virgin Atlantic Sees End to Carry-on Liquids Rules

Posted September 16, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Bagofliquids Let’s take a trip back in time ... Try and remember the last time you packed for an overseas holiday. Remember the search for that perfect bikini to make you look a size 8 instead of the size 10 you really are? Remember packing that special bottle of moisturising shampoo to stop your hair getting all greasy in the tropical climate? Remember chucking that bottle into your carry-on bag because there wasn’t enough space in your check-in baggage? Remember how you watched while airport security took that bottle of shampoo out and binned it, right in front of your teary eyes, all because it was in a 150ml container?

Well, it could be nearly time to rejoice, bulk-buying fans! Last week, Virgin Atlantic said that ‘the time may now be right’ for a change to airport security regulations. The current rules state that containers holding more than 100ml of liquid cannot be carried in hand luggage. This has led to many frantic (and slightly amusing) pre-check-in scenes of people digging through their bags, dislodging various belongings and stuffing bottles where the sun don’t shine.

However, all this may be coming to an end. Four U.K. airports, including Heathrow, have recently purchased scanners that are able to detect liquids and even test if those liquids are dangerous. These scanners are now being tested by security services. A source within the security industry has said that ‘when they are happy that it works, the ban will be lifted.’

It looks like we can soon stop wasting our time decanting all our bottles into cute little 100ml plastic containers the night before we fly. Besides, we ought to be spending our time on the really important things, like finding that damned bikini.

(Photo: Rohan Travel Unlimited)

British Airways Open New Business-Class Check-in at Terminal 5

Posted September 11, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Britishairwaysbusinessclassseats Another week, another slice of good news for business-class passengers. This time, if you’re flying at the front of the plane with British Airways, rejoice, for there’s no need to slum it with the riffraff any longer. BA has just announced the opening of a new, dedicated business-class check-in zone at Heathrow’s Terminal 5.

The brand-spanking-new check-in area is located at the southern end of the terminal, near the first-class area and security gate. For those business people who are perpetually in a hurry, there are 16 ‘fast bag drops’, 16 check-in kiosks, and four customer service desks.

All this is a marked improvement from the past, when Club World and Club Europe (both of which are BA’s business-class services) passengers had to use the same check-in area as those who paid standard fare. This has come about because of the rising numbers of business-class passengers moving through the previously beleaguered Terminal 5.

However, it’ll be good to bear in mind that a quick check-in doesn’t make a transatlantic journey any faster. But sitting in business class might just make it feel that way.

Monarch Aims to Rule TV Ratings With CelebAir

Posted September 9, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Celebaircelebrity Cast your mind back to July this year, when we not so breathlessly broke the news that Monarch Airlines were teaming up with ITV2 for a ‘huge reality TV event’—their words, not mine.

For those of you holding your breaths waiting for CelebAir to take off ... well, it’s time to start breathing again and get a life. I’m sure you’ll already have booked your seats on the inaugural flight anyway. And for those who weren’t taking too much notice (How could you not? Pay attention!), CelebAir finally got off the ground last week, flying to destinations such as Faro, Alicante and Cyprus.

And who are the crew members that make up the ‘celeb’ portion of CelebAir? Let’s have a big hand for Dan O’Connor (of Neighbours fame), Michelle Marsh (former Page 3 ‘star’), Lisa Scott-Lee of Steps (you know, they had that song, it goes like this ... ), and wait for it ... X Factor loser Chico. Woo!

Just in case you have trouble recalling exactly who they are, fear not, most mere mortals are experiencing the same form of memory block too. Perhaps a couple of episodes of CelebAir will help refresh your memories?

Still, as mentioned last time, hats off to Monarch for performing an altruistic service and getting faded used-to-be's back into the spotlight, albeit just for the next fortnight or so. Although, altruism might probably be the last thing on anyone’s mind should they be stuck with Lisa Scott-Lee croaking 5, 6, 7, 8! for the better part of a flight to Tenerife.

(Photo: ITV)

Virgin Atlantic Boasts Record Profits

Posted September 4, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Airvirginatlantic2 Amidst increasing tales of doom and gloom, it’s nice to have something positive to talk about once in a while.

Unlike most airline executives, who these days complain about falling passenger numbers (and revenue), Virgin Atlantic's Richard Branson is able to boast of the exact opposite—a record increase in profits over the last year. While they might be trying to get rid of extraneous weight onboard, they are certainly no Skinny Minnies when it comes to raking it in.

The company announced last week that premium passenger numbers rose by 22 percent during the last year, while pre-tax profits rose 38 percent. This is especially good news if you happen to be lucky enough to be employed by Virgin. Why? Well, the company is about to give all the employees a bonus payout said to be equivalent to about one and a half week’s salary.

It looks like the good news is set to increase over the coming months, as Virgin have announced the launch of several new routes, and are focusing on providing better service in Upper Class, Premium Economy and Economy.

All in all, good news for Virgin Atlantic and their staff, but will all these profits be moved on to their passengers? Well, I’m not asking to be given free money just for buying a seat with them (though it would be nice), I’m thinking more realistically. For example, how about more generous portions of cheese during meal times? Surely another square of cheese can’t eat too much into those extra 38 percent of profits? With Virgin Atlantic find: Cheap flights to Boston, cheap flights to New York and of course cheap flights to London

(Photo: Virgin Atlantic)

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Go on Diets

Posted September 2, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Lightinflightmeal Think your garden-variety aspiring pop stars/models are the only ones to go on faddish crash diets? Well, these days, even the jumbo jets are doing that—and when I say ‘jumbo jet’, I’m not talking about anyone above a size 12. I’m simply talking about airplanes. And I probably shouldn’t use the word ‘crash’ in such close proximity to a sentence about planes.

In these belt-tightening, credit-crunching times, even the big boys of aviation are looking to get rid of some weight. And how are they planning on doing it, so the weight stays off and doesn’t come back? Well, if you’re part of British Airways’ cabin crew, rejoice, because one of the things they are planning to get rid of is paperwork. If you’re flying with BA, however, don’t start jumping for joy yet, as they’re apparently also trying to reduce the weight of in-flight meals. Let’s cross our fingers and hope that doesn’t mean the meals will end up disappearing like Posh Spice when she turns sideways.

Virgin Atlantic is also trying to lose some weight; this time, by shedding some clothes. Well, maybe not clothes exactly. Instead, they’re trying to reduce to amount of packaging their in-flight meals come in. The airline has already introduced lighter seat fitting and lighter cargo bins in their attempt to lose the flab.

With all the weight-watching going on, will there come a time when they decide to weigh their passengers at check-in, too? Anyone larger than any member of Girls Aloud will have to pay extra for the privilege of flying.

(Photo: FlyerTalk)

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For a trip to the lighter side of travel, where your in-flight meals are always free, there’s plenty of legroom, and your frequent flyer miles are actually worth something, come aboard the BookingBuddy Blog. Wait a minute—we can’t promise any of that—we’re just a blog! So all you’ll actually get are a bunch of words and pictures, and maybe some videos. But they’ll be funny, we swear.

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Snarky Since 2008.

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