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Archive for December, 2009

Travel advice for passengers to USA

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Flights to the US have been severely disrupted because of sudden changes to security rules following the failed attempt to blow up a passenger jet as it approached Detroit.  Passengers are now facing an array of new security checks and restrictions both at departure airports and on board flights bound for the USA.  The latest advice from airlines is:

British Airways – BA has imposed a one-bag limit on all hand baggage on all US routes to allow extra security checks. Charges for placing extra hand luggage in the hold have been temporarily relaxed as a result.  Although BA does not want people to turn up at airports early, once they are there it is appealing to passengers to make their way to the departure gates as soon as possible to make time for extra searches.

Virgin – Most Virgin Atlantic passengers were already limited to one item of hand baggage but the restriction has now been extended to its “Upper class” ticket holders. As with BA, those who unaware of the changes will be able to check in the extra hand baggage free. Some passengers were initially told to bring books because the in-flight entertainment system was switched off but the confusion has now been resolved. Passengers are asked not to arrive at the airport earlier than usual but are being advised to head to departure gates quickly.

Delta – Unlike BA and Virgin, Delta is asking people to arrive as early as possible for their flights and expect delays because of the new security checks. Hand baggage is already restricted to one item so there are no changes to the rules but during the last hour of the flight all personal items must be stowed away. The ban extends to electrical items, blankets and even pillows.

United Airlines – Passengers are being asked to allow extra time for the check-in and the boarding process although no specific new limits have been imposed. There are also no changes to hand luggage rules.  With flights affected by delays of around an hour, passengers are urged to check www.unitedairlines.co.uk before setting off for information.

Continental – Passengers are being asked to arrive four hours early instead of the standard three to make time for the extra security checks. As with other airlines, passengers are being subjected to a second search at the departure gate.

American Airlines – Travellers are being asked to arrive three hours before their scheduled flight and check www.aa.com for updates on any possible delays in advance. No specific changes to hand baggage limits.

This information is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Flyglobespan folds

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Here we again, yet another airline, this time Flyglobespan, has collapsed as the Edinburgh-based parent company, the Globespan Group, has gone into administration. The airline operated flights from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, as well as transatlantic flights from other UK hubs including Manchester, Gatwick and Belfast. All flights have been cancelled without warning, leaving thousands of travellers stranded abroad, affecting an estimated 1,100 package holiday customers currently in Egypt and the Mediterranean and a further 27,000 with future bookings.

Package customers are protected under the Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (Atol) scheme but airlines are not included in the arrangement. So while those Globespan package holiday customers will get a refund and their flight home organised for them, people who booked directly with the airline, Flyglobespan, are likely to have to meet the costs of travelling home themselves. They include an estimated 3,400 holidaymakers in Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Egypt, according to the CAA. And, around 5,000 passengers had booked to travel with Flyglobespan over the next few days will now not be able to do so and will have to find alternative flights to their destination at onr of the busiest times of the year.

Flyglobespan is the latest victim of the financial crisis which has engulfed the aviation industry in the last two years and has seen at least two dozen carriers collapse, including Silverjet, Zoom, EOS, Sterling, Maxjet, XL Airways and most recently, SkyEurope. Those who booked directly with the airline are unlikely to get their money back. This is because they are not covered by the ATOL scheme which provides protection for those who have bought flights as part of a package holiday. Travel industry experts said those people who had booked flights through travel agents might receive a refund but those travellers, who made bookings through the company’s website, will not qualify.

The only hope for passengers who bought flights directly from Flyglobespan is to seek cash back from their credit card company, assuming they used a credit card for the transaction, but anyone who paid using a debit card, cash or a cheque can only hope that their holiday travel insurance provides protection against the collapse of an airline failing. Not all travel insurance policies will offer this but some insurers offer Passenger Protection Insurance sold separately or part of a travel insurance policy but always check the small print if this is offered because these are quite often restrictive in their cover.

This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Christmas travel chaos as  BA strike looms

Monday, December 14th, 2009

Holidaymakers are now facing near certain travel chaos this Christmas as BA cabin crew have voted to walk out on Tuesday, December 22 for 12 days, unless agreement can be reached between the airline and union negotiators. The industrial action by around 13,500 cabin crew will heap misery on passengers, at one of the busiest times of the year. If all flights are grounded during the 12 days of the strike, one million passengers will be hit and the union has vowed to cause as much disruption as possible.

However, it is unlikely that all flights will be completely grounded. Some short-haul flights could fly as normal but cancellations and delays are expected. The number of flights which have to be cancelled will depend on how the strike is organised and how many cabin crew take part. Previous experience suggests that British Airways will try to operate as many long-haul flights as possible and sacrifice shorter flights, which tend to be more frequent and easier to merge.

The big question is, are you entitled to a refund if  BA cancels your flight? The short answer is Yes, as EU regulations require that the airline offers you either a full refund of the unused parts of your tickets (to be paid within seven days) or the earliest  available flight, or flights, to your final destination. If your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to a full refund. If you are stranded abroad or at an airport in the UK as a result of the cancellation, then BA is liable to pay for meals and refreshments in reasonable relation to the waiting time and overnight hotel accommodation and transfers as necessary.

And what about about travel insurance? Travellers are strongly urged to check that their travel insurance policies provide adequate cover for missed departure, travel delay and abandonment. Under the delay section of a policy, most insurers will give some benefit for periods of delay faced at the airport. Do check your individual travel insurance documents as some of the cheaper basic policies do exclude this protection. Also look out for holiday abandonment which, after a set period of delay at your departure airport, offers you the option of not continuing your trip and being reimbursed for your costs up to a specified limit.

This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance

Travel home need not cost an arm and leg!

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Arm and leg, what are they on about, we hear you say? Well, not literally but you could lose your shirt if you are not adequately covered whilst abroad and it all goes wrong. Shirt, come on stop the riddles – you’ve already lost me!

Sorry to lose you but the latest air ambulance and repatriation costs are a timely reminder on why it is essential to have the correct travel insurance when on holiday. An emergency abroad can be extremely expensive. If you need to be returned to the UK it could cost you thousands of pounds, unless you are adequately insured. Repatriation is generally covered in the medical cover section on these policies but it is important to check the small print very carefully to see if any exclusions apply.

For example, average repatriation costs to the UK are:

£35-45,000 – air ambulance from USA’s East coast.

£12-16,000 – air ambulance from the Canary Islands.

£15-20,000 – scheduled flight, stretcher and Doctor escort from Australia.

So to return to the point of this article, repatriation is costly and at a time when the number one priority is to get home, you do not want to be sat in a far flung destination wondering why you didn’t get the cover before you left. What is more, when you take out a policy that has the benefit of a 24-hour emergency service, serious accidents or illnesses will all be managed by the assistance company who will make any necessary arrangements, such as repatriation, and provide help and advice at a time when it is most needed.

This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Travelling to the World Cup?

Monday, December 7th, 2009

The World Cup draw looks to have handed England the best possible chance of progressing through to the quarter finals more easily than some of the other seeded teams, though nothing is straightforward.  But with England expected to do well in next year’s World Cup in South Africa, not even the current credit crunch will stop England fans from making the journey in their thousands. As tickets for the matches are likely to sell out well in advance of the opening games, there will undoubtedly be people who buy the tickets but then, through illness or accident, are unable to attend but have already spent a considerable amount on accommodation in South Africa and the tickets for the matches. So always be on the safe side and, when you book your tickets and accommodation for World Cup 2010, make sure you have a travel insurance policy which will specifically cover you for this eventuality.

This article is brought to you by travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Travel insurance on the cheap?

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

A common pitfall when buying travel insurance  is to take the easy option and sign up for the insurance package offered by your tour operator or to buy through a no-frills airline website. Not only do you risk spending over the odds if you do it this way but you could be buying a mediocre policy that doesn’t provide adequate cover and isn’t best suited to your needs. So can you find a better deal yourself by searching the internet?

More and more of us are doing our shopping on the internet. We do so for the convenience but the main reason continues to be the innate desire to find the best deal but, and it’s a big but, there are a lot of travel insurance websites to choose from out there. So you do need to be ‘savvy’ in your search and the increasing number of price comparison sites can often be a hindrance rather than a help.

Why is that? Well, simply these sites highlight the ‘headline grabbing’ figure, not to mention that many only show insurance providers that pay them a commission, so the consumer is often given a confusing and false picture. So can you find ‘cheap travel insurance’ on the internet? Most definitely, yes, but you do need to check that what is being offered will provide you with the cover you need.

When looking for cheap travel insurance, there are some simple rules to apply. Do your homework. Firstly, know what you want. Are you looking for a policy to cover you for just one trip or if you are going to travel more than once, then why not consider an annual multi-trip travel insurance policy instead? That could save you money over the year.

Read the policy schedule. Most internet sites are good at giving an instant quote – that is what they are designed to do but fewer provide easily accessible information to indicate what the policy covers. At the very least you should look at the policy schedule. This is the table that shows the level of cover against various risks. Choose a policy that satisfies your needs.

The areas that cost the most in a travel insurance policy tend to be cancellation, personal effects and medical cover. If you are booking long in advance, then cancellation cover is a must (normally around the £3000 figure is sufficient) as this safeguards you if you have to cancel because of, say, a close family illness or being called for jury service, to name but two examples. If however, you are taking a last minute holiday, then perhaps cancellation cover is not as necessary so you could reduce your premium considerably by choosing a policy with limited or no cancellation.

Likewise, reducing your baggage cover can see your premiums nose dive. When it comes to medical cover, the FCO recommends a level of £2 million as being more than adequate, so do you need to buy the policy that offers £10 million? This is another example of ‘gold plating’ a policy which will attract a higher premium. Check the small print. Very few of us take the time to read the small print but the ‘devil is in the detail’ for sure.

Ask yourself some key questions. Is where I want to travel covered by the policy, for example, is Egypt in Europe or Rest of the World as definitions do differ from company to company? Am I covered if caught up in a terrorist incident? Do I need to produce a police report if I have money or personal effects stolen? What about hazardous activities? Am I covered to bungee jump on my trip for instance? Make a list of simple questions relating to your trip and then check the policy.

So is there such a thing as Cheap Travel Insurance? Most definitely there is but the simple rule of thumb is that the cheaper the policy, the more restrictive it is likely to be. But you can help yourself by knowing what to look out for and wherever possible tailoring your insurance to your exact needs and that way make your travel insurance cheaper.

This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.