Over a third of British travellers are safe bet bookers, Skyscanner

A third – over 38 percent – of British travellers considers themselves ‘safe bet bookers,’ according to a survey by leading travel search website Skyscanner.

In trying to understand the booking behaviour of travellers, Skyscanner had identified five distinct flight-booking types. The identification of the booker types also follows Skyscanner’s recent study, which found that the best time to book flights is, on average, five weeks before departure.

The Safe Bet Booker has been identified as one who book his flights as early as possible, reluctant to risk holding off in case flight prices should rise or flights sell out.

The Competitive Booker is one who books if the price looks reasonable, and once booked, he checks every day to see if the rates are still competitive.

The Efficient Booker will book immediately after deciding on the destination, regardless of whether he is getting a good deal and would seldom wait to check prices. Efficient bookers are generally cash rich but time poor.

The Gambler is the risk-taking booker who seeks to get the very best price even if that may mean waiting until the last minute.

The Spontaneous Booker is one who is generally laid back while both booking and on the place to go. He simply books a flight, if it looks good value.

While 38 percent nominated themselves as ‘safe bet bookers,’ only 11 percent of Brits will hold off booking until nearer the time of travelling, identifying themselves as Gamblers. Many more – nearly 29 percent – have identified themselves as competitive bookers, while 12 percent saw themselves as efficient bookers and a further 10 percent identified with the spontaneous booker type.

Skyscanner’s Mary Porter said: ‘This study shows that we all look at booking our flights in very different ways with some competitive types almost seeing it as a game or a challenge while others have a far more laid back approach.

Of course those who have to travel at a particular time are more likely to want to book in advance and we understand that – however our advice would be to track fares by signing up for price alerts, allowing them to see when lowest fares become available.’


Europe Strikes Disrupt Flights from UK

The aviation industry was severely affected on Wednesday of this week, following a call for industrial action by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) in several European countries.

Flights were delayed and cancelled as air traffic controllers staged walk outs as part of the coordinated strike action across Europe, with workers leaving their posts in Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy, while further protests were held in Belgium, Germany, and France.

The strikes became violet in a number of locations in Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy, the four countries with above average unemployment rates in Europe. Unions in Spain commenced their protests as early as midnight of November 13, when the workers took to street in Madrid.

At least 70 people were injured in clashes with police, and some 140 arrests were made, while clashes in Lisbon resulted in injuries to around 50 people.

In calling for the industrial action, Bernadette Segol, the ETUC general secretary, said, ‘By sowing austerity, we are reaping recession, rising poverty and social anxiety. In some countries, people’s exasperation is reaching a peak. We need urgent solutions to get the economy back on track, not stifle it with austerity. Europe’s leaders are wrong not to listen to the anger of the people who are taking to the streets.

The Troika can no longer behave so arrogantly and brutally towards the countries which are in difficulty. They must urgently address the issues of jobs and social fiscal justice and they must stop their attacks on wages, social protection and public services.

The ETUC is calling for a social compact for Europe with a proper social dialogue, an economic policy that fosters quality jobs, and economic solidarity among the countries of Europe. We urgently need to change course.’

The industrial action has caused UK airlines, British Airways and Easyjet, to cancel or reschedule services to Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon and Thessalonaki in Greece, while a number of flights to Europe from London Heathrow and London Gatwick airports were also affected.

easyJet Warns of Flight Disruption in Europe

easyJet, the UK based airline, has announced a warning for its passengers flying to various destinations in Europe of a possible industrial action.

The airline is expecting hundreds of flights being cancelled and rescheduled across Europe, in view of a Europe-wide general strike called on Wednesday, November 14, 2012. The strike has been called by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), and will take place at different times in different countries.

The airline, in a statement, said, ‘easyJet has been advised of a General strike on 14th November organised by the European Trade Union Confederation with strikes and demonstrations across Europe.

This will effect different countries at different times during the day of the 14th November Spain and the Canary Islands will operate a 24 hour strike period from 00:01 to 23:59 and Greece will operate the strike period from 12:00/15:00.

easyJet are proactively trying to minimize disruption, however, we would like to warn customers that they could experience delays, to their travel plans.

Therefore it is with regret the following flights will either be delayed, rescheduled, or cancelled due to this action. We advise passengers planning to travel to/from these countries on 14th November to keep checking our website for updates.’

Bernadette Segol, the ETUC general secretary, said, ‘By sowing austerity, we are reaping recession, rising poverty and social anxiety. In some countries, people’s exasperation is reaching a peak. We need urgent solutions to get the economy back on track, not stifle it with austerity. Europe’s leaders are wrong not to listen to the anger of the people who are taking to the streets.

The Troika can no longer behave so arrogantly and brutally towards the countries which are in difficulty. They must urgently address the issues of jobs and social fiscal justice and they must stop their attacks on wages, social protection and public services.

The ETUC is calling for a social compact for Europe with a proper social dialogue, an economic policy that fosters quality jobs, and economic solidarity among the countries of Europe. We urgently need to change course.’

Why do you always catch a cold on a plane?

Are you one of those people who always catch a cold when they’ve been on a long flight? It’s well documented that airplane cabins are an excellent place for the cold virus to live. But why is this and what can you do to combat the effects of germs?

Many people believe that you’re more likely to catch a cold on flights because of the re-circulated cabin air. However, this isn’t actually true. Fresh air is constantly being drawn into the cabin. As this is pressurised and then cooled down before passing through filters, most of the germs are removed. Air is also released through vents so it doesn’t remain in the cabin for the whole flight.

But if it’s not the re-circulated air that’s to blame, why do you catch colds after flights? A study in the Journal of Environmental Health Research found that the most likely causes were the close proximity of other people, shared air and the low humidity within cabins. At high altitudes the humidity inside reduces, which causes your natural mucus defences within your nose and throat to dry up. According to Gareth Hampson from online pharmacy Clear Chemist, planes are excellent breeding grounds for germs. “Germs can live for up to three hours on surfaces such as arm-rests, tables and seats. As your body’s natural defences are reduced, it becomes easier to catch a cold.”

Most people can’t avoid travelling on planes, so how can you limit your chances of becoming ill? One of the best ways of keeping your body healthy is to drink plenty of water. Not only will this keep you hydrated, but it also prevents your defence systems from drying up as quickly. Make sure you drink small amounts regularly, both before and during the flight and avoid caffeine and alcoholic drinks.

Hopefully, next time you’re on a flight you’ll be more aware of the germs and how you can avoid getting ill, so you’ll arrive at your destination fit and healthy.

UK Government’s Sustainable Aviation Policy Runs into Controversy

The UK Government has recently released the First Draft of its Sustainable Framework for UK Aviation.

Commenting on the report, Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association said, ‘We welcome the publication of the First Draft of the Sustainable Framework for UK Aviation, and look forward to all airports being allowed to grow sustainably, within a decent planning and regulatory framework, whilst delivering on cleaner, quieter, smarter aviation, to ensure the UK economy has the connectivity in needs in order to emerge from recession.’

London Gatwick Airport, has supported the UK Government’s decision to open discussions on how the aviation industry may grow without increasing its environmental impact.

Speaking on the Government’s decision to initiate a debate on the Sustainable Aviation Policy framework, Stewart Wingate, the chief executive officer of Gatwick Airport, said, ‘Aviation is a crucial part of the UK’s infrastructure and it should be allowed to grow and prosper but we share the Government’s commitment to balance sustainability considerations with the requirements to develop and sustain a competitive UK aviation sector.

Indeed, next week we will be publishing our master plan, which sets out our vision for achieving sustainable growth through to the mid-2020s. We recognise that noise for example is a major concern to those living near airports or under flight paths which is why our master plan will detail action plans for managing those, and other, impacts responsibly.’

However, in a recent development, the UK Government has also postponed a consultation on future UK airport capacity requirements, much to the annoyance of the industry.

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.’

Ticket Payment By Mobile Popular With Passengers

A large percentage of Airline passengers are keen to pay for their airline tickets using mobile devices, according to the results of a study that have just been released.

The Perfect Passenger Payment report, which was undertaken by WorldPay, a payment processing company that provides payment services for mail order, Internet retailers and point of sale transactions, involved 4,500 global consumers who had purchased an airline ticket online in the past twelve months. The views of 50 airline merchants were also included in the study.

Key to the report’s findings was the fact that 50 percent of those consumers questioned would use a mobile device to purchase airline tickets now if the service were available, and 62 percent expect to have the option of doing so in the future. 6 percent had already used a mobile device to book a ticket. Figures that are not surprising considering that 56 percent of consumers already carry a smartphone or tablet device.

With regards to consumers being presented with hidden surcharges during the payment process that were not explained from the beginning, the UK fared worst with 41 percent of respondents here having experienced this problem, compared to only 8 percent in Japan, the country that fared best.

Continuing the theme of fairness, 80 percent of consumers considered it unfair to be charged for using their preferred payment method, including 87 percent that favour e-wallets, 86 percent that favour direct debits, and 84 percent that favour debit cards.

The time-conscious might like to know that the average customer takes 25 minutes to complete the payment process for an airline ticket, with a sizeable twelve-minute variation between the Japanese who were fastest at 20 minutes, and the Brazilians who were the slowest at 32 minutes.

Phil McGriskin, chief product officer at WorldPay commented, ‘Consumers are increasingly embracing technology such as smartphones and tablets to purchase goods and services online and this report shows that there is a demand for among customers to be able to purchase airline tickets using mobile technology. Currently only a small percentage of airlines offer mobile payments to their customers but a high percentage of customers, particularly frequent flyers, would like the option to be made available. As more airlines embrace mobile technology for other parts of the airport-to-flight experience, we expect this to be extended to the payment process.’

Airline ‘Storm’ Means Cheaper Flights and Airport Transfers

Cheaper flights and bargain airport transfers sounds like a great thing for holiday makers. But what is actually going on in the airline industry at the moment, and how will it affect passengers in the long term?

Many airlines are currently revealing low profit figures for the past twelve months, with a number of the larger airlines, including Quantas Airways, reporting a loss.

At a national level, there are also signs of the current industry struggle. Low cost airlines such as Flybe are experiencing difficulties; the Exeter-based company have reported a 6.2 million pre-tax loss. Another low cost carrier, BMI Baby, will undergo closure this year.

In an overall view of the current European situation, the continent’s airlines have been predicted to deliver a record loss of over one billion dollars. For an industry that was flying high only a few years ago, many are asking how these dramatic changes have come about.

The causes for these losses are both obvious and discreet, with several factors contributing. Rises in oil prices last year hit the industry hard and, although prices have dropped by eight percent this year, the combination of oil prices and other strenuous influences have left many airlines struggling to recover.

The economic crisis has played a large part in the lead up to what has been described as an airline ‘storm’, and many fear that a global economic slump could be on the cards. Director General of the International Air Transport Association, Tony Tyler, stated that ‘If the world enters an economic slump, that will be even worse for the industry than the higher fuel price was on its own’.

As airlines struggle to accommodate the drop in passenger numbers caused by the economic crisis and rise in oil prices, downsizing and staff cuts are being considered and implemented. In fact, the rise in staff and airport costs have also contributed to the current ‘storm’ taking place in the airline industry.

The question many people are asking is, what does this mean for passengers? The good news is that the situation may in fact benefit many passengers flying in the coming year rather than have a negative effect. The drop in fuel prices has led to cheaper flights in the first half of this year.

Although passenger traffic is still comparatively low on some airlines, bargain prices are enticing more people to fly and ensuring that great deals are available.

Competition amongst companies supplying airport transfers is also ensuring that prices are kept low, and there are now a number of low cost alternatives offering great value transfers to all the major UK airports.

As Rob Gill, founder of Suntransfers.com says “Airport transfers have typically been the domain of the well healed business traveller. However through mirroring the “no frills” approach of the low cost airlines, services like ours are able to offer all the benefits of being picked up at the airport and reaching your destination in the fastest practical time.  You’ll still get the air conditioning, the only difference is the lack of chauffeur’s hat and a much, much reduced fare”.

Although a large proportion of the general public may be struggling financially at the moment, in many ways, there has never been a better time to travel. As airline economy wavers, now is an opportune time to take advantage of lower flight prices and cheaper transfers.

Written by Sophie McGovern

Budget Long Haul Flights Would Be Popular Says Survey

A survey carried out by Skyscanner, a UK-based flight cost comparison company, has revealed that the majority of those polled would welcome the option of a budget airline when planning a long haul flight.

More than 1,800 passengers took part in the survey, and almost three quarters of the respondents indicated that they would be prepared to give up the frills on offer from traditional long haul carriers, in opting for a more cost effective journey.

If cost savings were on offer, 48 percent of those polled would accept more limited legroom and less personal space on flights of up to nine hours in duration, and 30 percent said that they would tolerate those conditions for flights of up to ten hours.

Those surveyed were also asked which extras they felt would be indispensable, even when flying long haul with a budget airline. The survey revealed that 35 percent of long haul travellers would require an additional two inches of legroom over the 29 inches typically on offer on current low-budget flights. This was clearly the top preference, and considered to be more important than the inclusion of free hold baggage, which was prioritised by 18 percent of those questioned, in-flight entertainment, that was a preference of 14 percent of those polled, or the provision of food and refreshments for the journey, which was a preference of only 9 percent of respondents.

Budget airlines have already ventured into providing services on mid haul routes from the UK, to destinations including the Middle East. If there is a proven market for similar long haul flights, they are likely to want to exploit it.

Jet2.com Announces New Winter Flights to European Ski Destinations

Jet2.com, a UK-based low-cost airline operating out of Leeds Bradford Airport, has announced new flight schedules for its winter season of 2012.

The airline is offering four new routes, to Grenoble, in France, from Manchester Airport and Leeds Bradford Airport, in the UK; and Chambery, in France, and Geneva, in Switzerland, from East Midlands Airport.

The Grenoble from Manchester and Leeds Bradford airport routes are available for purchase from £31.99 per person and free ski carriage, while Chambery and Geneva flights from East Midlands are offered on sale from £36.99 per person.

The new flights from Manchester Airport are available twice weekly, from December 16, 2012 to April 14, 2013, while weekly flights from Leeds Bradford Airport are available from December 15, 2012 to April 13, 2013.

Steve Heapy, the airline chief commercial officer, said, ‘Our ski flights are becoming increasing popular, especially with Manchester and Yorkshire passengers, which is why we decided to add Grenoble to our growing portfolio of top European ski destinations from these two bases. We’re also thrilled to launch the new routes of Chambery and Geneva from East Midlands Airport, especially in light of the cancellation of bmibaby services – we want to bring continuity to local skiers who still want the convenience of a snow escape direct from their local airport.

We take pride in being a ski friendly airline providing unrivalled access to Europe’s finest ski resorts. Our great range of destinations, combined with our generous 22kg baggage allowance plus morning flight times – meaning people can hit the slopes as soon as they arrive – undoubtedly makes us the number one choice for ski fans.’