Survey Suggests In-Flight Food More Expensive than Supermarket

Low cost airlines may offer fares for the budget conscious, but pricing of food is hardly aimed at the cost conscious traveller, says TravelSupermarket, a UK-based online travel company.

Recent research done by the company says that packed food, such as Pringles, cost around 495% more than the supermarket, while the average mark-up on food and drink for airline passengers is around 347% more than supermarket rates. Travellers often land up paying around 1,471% more for a 500ml bottle of water ordered in-flight.

Bob Atkinson, the company travel expert, said, ‘Holidaymakers flying with airlines that don’t offer a complimentary meal can easily fork out a small fortune on snacks which are considerably more expensive on board than what you’d pay in a supermarket, or even in an airport shop. Airlines realize hungry and thirsty passengers are a captive audience with no option but to buy from the trolley if they have failed to plan ahead.

Rather than leaving things until last minute, a much better option is to think ahead and either bring along your own food from home or buy sandwiches and snacks at a supermarket for your flight.

Alternatively, pick up a meal deal in airport branches of Boots, or WH Smith, before you board and save yourself around 50% on similar items bought on board. Many airports also offer voucher booklets offering a range of discounts on airport shops and restaurants, so look out for these before travelling if you wish to buy at the airport.

There is of course no getting around the airline liquids ban. However families can still save a significant amount by purchasing non-alcoholic drinks in the departure area before the flight – you’ll also find the choice is greater.’

Fly midweek and save a fortune

Travellers that are keen to get the best possible value for money from their travel arrangements would do well to organise their flights on a day in the middle of the week, according to the findings of a recent survey.

The survey was undertaken by consumer watchdog, Which?, and according to its findings, Tuesday is the cheapest day of the week to book a flight out of the UK, while Sunday is the most expensive.

Flights with budget airlines can be as much as 35 percent more expensive on a Friday than the equivalent flight leaving on Tuesday, according to the study findings. And selecting the most cost effective flights does not stop with simply choosing which day to travel on, the study also revealed that choosing a less popular time to fly, even on the same day, can also pay substantial dividends. For example, 86 percent of BA’s cheapest flights are in the evening.

The conclusions were drawn following research into 1,174 flights in September, to three European destinations, Dublin, Barcelona and Alicante. The survey benchmark was a return flight for one person with one piece of checked-in luggage, and the prices were compiled in August.

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, was quoted in the Daily Mail, saying: ‘With household budgets squeezed, holidaymakers will want to make sure they are getting a good deal on their flights. We found that people can save a significant sum of money if they shop around and can be flexible, changing the day or time they choose to travel.’

Allegiant announces new non-stop flight schedules

With a view to enhancing the convenience for holiday travellers, Arizona-based Allegiant Airlines has announced new non-stop itineraries to popular destinations.

The company said that the new flights on popular routes would help travellers who do not want to break their journeys to reach their destinations faster. In addition to the prospect of a faster onward journey, customers would also be offered the facility of combining their air, hotel and car-rental reservations together, and doing away with the hassle of extensive travel preparations.

The firm said that it has launched two new, non-stop jet services between Mesa and St. Cloud, and Minnesota and Hawaii. They will be available from December 15, 2012, and February 8, 2013, respectively.

Andrew C. Levy, president of Allegiant Travel Company, said, ‘We are pleased to bring a new affordable and convenient travel option to St. Cloud. We are confident area residents will appreciate the convenience of flying non stop to Phoenix and the value of bundling their air, hotel and car rental reservation together. We are pleased to bring another affordable and convenient travel option to Phoenix-Mesa. We are confident area residents will appreciate the convenience of flying non-stop to Hawaii and the value of bundling their air, hotel and car rental reservation together.’

The new flights are to operate three times a week between Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (IWA) and Honolulu International Airport (HNL). More details about flight days and times are available at allegiant.com.

The company said that fares start at $89.99 for flights to St. Cloud, and $199 for flights to Hawaii.

Volotea teams with car rental company

Volotea, considered to be the newest low-cost airline in Europe, has announced that it has teamed up with a European car rental company to provide an enhanced service for its passengers.

The company said that it has entered into a multi-year car rental partnership with CarTrawler. The arrangement means that travellers using the services of the air carrier will benefit from the company’s exclusive arrangement with the care-rental company.

In a statement, the air carrier said that domestic and international passengers travelling to and from nine European countries using Volotea’s services, can receive preferential car-rental facilities from CarTrawler. Customers flying in or out of Italy, France, Spain, Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Greece and Portugal can make use of the terrestrial service. The firm said that the arrangement would offer a comprehensive choice of car rental suppliers, rental locations and prices for Volotea customers.

To take advantage of the offer, customers need to book their car rentals at www.volotea.com.

Alfons Claver, Volotea’s institutional relations manager, speaking to traveldailynews.com, said, ‘At Volotea we recognise the importance of delivering our customers the best possible service at the lowest possible price. CarTrawler has an important role to play in helping us to keep our services competitive. They have the scale and expertise required to maximise the revenue potential of car rental for our airline. They understand our passengers’ needs and deliver a product that is tailored to their needs.’

His comments were seconded by Joe Farinella, CarTrawler’s marketing manager, who said, ‘Our latest airline partnership with Europe’s newest low fares airline is recognition of our successful delivery of profitable car rental programs in this market and around the world. It further establishes our position as the number one provider of car rental to Europe’s low cost airlines. We are excited about joining Volotea so soon after their launch and we look forward to playing an active role in growing their car rental business.’

EC still undecided on allowing passengers to carry liquids in hand baggage

The European Commission (EC) has postponed taking a decision on allowing passengers to carry liquids in their hand baggage.

The EC had previously banned passengers from carrying liquids in hand baggage as a security measure, and it had set itself a deadline of April 2013 for the removal of the current restrictions. Authorities said that the decision was taken following consultations with stakeholders and trials conducted at airports.

In a statement, the commission said that the decision was ‘based on results of trials carried out at a number of EU airports and on extensive consultations with a wide group of stakeholders. The risk posed by liquid explosives to civil aviation is still significant.’ It added that its assessment ‘indicates that the removal of the LAGs (liquids, aerosols and gels) restrictions on April 2013, as currently envisaged in EU law, could present a considerable operational risk, mainly due to the scale of the change.’

However, the EC was optimistic that security measures being developed in this regard, especially the Liquid Explosive Detection Systems, have made considerable progress to adequately address prevalent risks. It added that it would be able to remove restrictions on carrying liquids in airlines, only in a phased manner.

The EC said that it hoped that from January 2014 ‘passengers should be able to carry on board all duty free LAGs provided that they are screened and then bring forward proposals for subsequent phases to achieve the final objective of screening all LAGs at the earliest possible date.’

The restrictions were introduced in August 2006, after a plot to detonate liquid explosives inside an aircraft travelling from the UK to the United States and Canada was exposed.

Airline Passengers Vent Concerns Over Extra Wide Airline Seats

Airline passengers feel that a move by Airbus, an aircraft manufacturer, to offer extra-wide seats on its A320 family of aircraft, is unfair, reports UK-based flight search engine, Skyscanner.

Previously, Airbus announced that it is considering the replacement of some of its standard A320 aircraft seats, measuring 18 inches wide, with new extra wide aisle seats that have a total width of 20 inches. The new seats will be offered in rows where regular seats will be reduced to a width of 17 inches.

Around 1,000 people have responded to s survey conducted by Skyscanner, and over three-quarters of them, or 84 percent, have reported that they feel that it is unfair to make passengers squeeze into a smaller seat so that the airline can benefit from the sale of more expensive, larger seats. Although none of the airlines that will be offering the bigger seats have announced a new price structure, a parallel can be drawn with how airlines have traditionally sold seats with extra legroom for a premium, so the assumption is that they will also be selling the extra wide seats at a premium price.

The survey has also highlighted that around 84 percent of passengers feel that the extra wide seats must be subject to an extra charge.

Sam Poullain, the spokesperson for Skyscanner, said, ‘The issue of charging more for bigger seats is a contentious issue as it gives airlines a financial incentive to reduce standard seat sizes. Airbus’ new extra-wide seat format is a clever way for airlines to generate more revenue, but it’s inevitable that some passengers will feel hard done by as they’ll be losing an inch from their seat widths.’

British Travellers Regularly Pay For Excess Baggage

British travellers can easily land themselves with excess baggage charges if they do not take more care when packing for their travels, according to a survey conducted by UK-based, Kelkoo Travel.

This summer alone, the excess baggage spend by British travellers is likely to be around £1 million a day, the report claims. The survey said that 55 percent of reported travellers have exceeded their excess baggage allowance in 2011, and spent a total of £186 million, or £48 per person. Travellers, on average, carry around 3.5 kilos of excess baggage, paying a charge of around 15 percent of the average airfare.

The maximum excess baggage cost was borne by travellers on budget airlines, who paid around £13.20 per kilo, which is much more than excess baggage charges of a charter flight at £7.15 per kilo, or a full service flight of £7.46 per kilo.

Around one in ten travellers have no idea what their baggage weight limit is, and around one in five does not weigh their luggage before checking in with their flights.

Chris Simpson, the chief marketing officer for Kelkoo, said, ‘While the fare for flying with a low cost carrier may be lower, additional costs for checked luggage, booking fees and higher charges for excess baggage can result in prices rocketing.

With summer holidays round the corner, travellers should look to compare prices not just between low cost and traditional airlines, but also between specific carriers as there are substantial savings to be made by shopping around. We’d also encourage all passengers to check their luggage allowance, and weigh their bags before they fly, to ensure they are not hit with an unexpected extra cost once they get to the airport. With airlines charging as much as £20 per extra kilo, this can be an expensive oversight.’

Aer Lingus Regionals Announces New Service to Birmingham

Aer Lingus Regionals, a service offered by Irish regional airline, Aer Arann, under a franchise agreement with Aer Lingus, an Ireland-based airline, is currently offering a new service from Ireland West Airport Knock, in Ireland, to Birmingham, England.

Aer Lingus Regional is offering a daily flight from Ireland West Airport Knock to Birmingham, with connectivity for business and leisure travellers to the second largest city in Great Britain. Flight bookings are available on the airline’s website.

The interim chief executive officer for Aer Arann, Sean Brogan, said, ‘We are delighted to commence our Aer Lingus Regional Ireland West Airport Knock to Birmingham service. We recognise the vital importance of regional air connectivity and the key role that this air link to Birmingham provides for business, tourism and leisure travel. We look forward to working with our partners in Ireland West Airport Knock to ensure that this route continues to be a success.’

Joe Gilmore, the managing director of Ireland West Airport Knock, said, ‘We are delighted to welcome Aer Lingus Regional’s first flight to the Airport from Birmingham.

Our Birmingham service has long been one of our most established routes from the airport and I am sure the uninterrupted continuation of the service will come as welcome news to the thousands of UK visitors who use this service regularly as well as the Irish people travelling to the Birmingham region for business and leisure purposes. We wish Aer Lingus Regional every success with the new service’ and look forward to working with them to grow the service.’

Caribbean Airlines Offers Service to Trinidad and Tobago from Gatwick Airport

Caribbean Airlines, an airline based in Trinidad and Tobago, has introduced a non-stop service to Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago, from London Gatwick Airport in the UK.

The new non-stop twice-weekly services commenced from Gatwick on June 15, 2012, from the North Terminal. With launch of its new services to the UK, Caribbean Airlines becomes the fifth international air carrier to begin offering services from Gatwick Airport in 2012

Guy Stephenson, the airport chief commercial officer, said, ‘We are delighted to welcome Caribbean Airlines and its passengers to our airport today. This non-stop service will not only be welcomed by business travellers with links to the economic hub of Trinidad but also with holiday makers wanting to soak up the Caribbean sun and vibrant culture this destination offers.’

Gatwick Airport has invested around £20 million a month to offer improved services and facilities to its passengers, which include faster check-in, competent security procedures, and offering direct transportation to central London. The airport currently boasts that it serves 200 destinations in 90 countries across the world.

Caribbean Airlines chief executive officer, Robert Corbie, said, ‘We are extremely happy to announce the start-up of our service from Gatwick to Piarco International Airport as our flights will provide a vital link between London and the Caribbean. We are well positioned strategically to become the preferred airline for all customers flying between London and the Caribbean with seamless connections to South America.’

Giant Jessica Ennis Greets Olympics Fans At Heathrow

British Airways has revealed a giant-sized image of British World Champion heptathlete, Jessica Ennis, on the flight path in to London’s Heathrow Airport, as a welcome to visitors and competitors arriving for the 2012 London Olympic games.

The image, which measures 53 metres by 75 metres, carries the wording, ‘Welcome to our turf,’ which can also be read as a reminder to arriving athletes from other countries that only one team has home advantage.

The image has been created using biodegradable paint and should be visible for the next five weeks, including on July 16, which is the date that British Airways expects most competing athletes to arrive in London. It is located in Thornbury Playing Fields in Hounslow, about three miles from Heathrow, and 600 litres of red, white and blue weatherproof paint was used to create it, taking two days for painters to complete the artwork on grass.

Jessica Ennis welcomed her part in the endeavour, saying, ‘I’m thrilled to be the first face that people will see arriving into the UK for the London 2012 Games. I hope it brings excitement to homecoming Brits, and reminds international athletes that we’re ready and prepared! We have the most dedicated fans in the world, who will get behind us every step of the way to give us a home advantage.’

British Airways estimates that it will fly 50,000 ex-pats back to the UK this summer. The airline has also launched a ‘Flying Britain Home’ campaign offering a quarter of a million pounds worth of flights to Brits that live abroad to fly back for the Games. A further 50 flights were available to Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes to bring home their friends and family for an extra boost during the Games.