Easter break safe from BA cabin crew strike

Holidaymakers travelling with British airways could give a sigh of relief yesterday when it was revealed their will be no strike from the BA cabin crew – temporarily at least.

Instead peace talks will continue for a 28-day extension, to prevent further peace talks.

Just days after both Unite and BA consulted a clinical psychologist, in an effort to heal the deep rift between the two parties, Unite’s new leader, Len McCluskey, and BA’s new chief executive, Keith Williams meet to try and compromise and reach a deal over the dispute.

However, throughout the 28-days of peace talks the union can still call a strike if they wish, at any point during this time.

The risk of a strike hitting the busy Easter holidays or Royal Wedding are now decreasing but there are still worries it could hit the school half-term break.

Meeting senior figures, Mark Hamilin is said to be acting as ‘a long term relationship builder’. Mr Hamilin, who’s company specialises in dealing with issues of trust, was acknowledged in a joint statement by BA and Unite who said their process of ‘cooperation building’ had been ‘assisted by a highly-regarded external company’.

BA and the union said it hoped that ‘the optimism of recent weeks can be turned into a reality’.

Insiders have said the 28-extension is a ‘positive sign’, and an agreement was hoped for.

BA and the union said it hoped the ‘the optimism of recent weeks can be turned into a reality.’

Australia’s Interstate Airline Fares Tumble, Spark One-Off Flight Purchases

The cost of travelling within Australia has decreased significantly over the past five months, giving an increasingly large amount of the population access to low-cost fares and simply travel options. A study of airline prices has revealed that passengers in Australia and New Zealand enjoy some of the cheapest in the world, with flight ‘value’ measured in distance travelled and compared to fares.

The value on offers has been most visible throughout June and July, where the low cost of travelling between Australia’s eastern states lead to a surge in short-distance bookings. The most popular route was that between state capitals Sydney and Melbourne, with tickets available for less than $70AUD on many of the country’s leading airlines – pricing rarely seen during peak travel periods.

It’s a similar situation across the Tasman Sea, with air travel prices in New Zealand dropping due to the prevalence of flight comparison services and ‘last minute’ booking agents. Domestic fares within New Zealand rarely surpass $100NZD (£45 GBP) and are a frequent purchase for families that are split between major population centres and small regional towns.

However, the period of ultra-cheap fares isn’t expected to last. Australian low-cost airline Pacific Blue announced its intentions of leaving the New Zealand market, instead focusing on delivering services exclusively to Australian airports. The company is a subsidiary of Virgin Blue, an airline that many believe has been responsible for the rapid fall in Australian air travel prices.

With the continent’s summer drawing nearer and travel plans being finalised, the likelihood of fares remaining at their current point is slim. Those looking to make the most of low-cost fares should be booking while the climate is cold, as the decrease in competition and increase in demand is likely to drive fares up throughout Australia’s summer period.

With Low-Cost Airlines Promoting No-Bag Travel, Tourists Fly Light

Over the last decade, low-cost carriers and budget airlines have expanded their reach to a point that few could have predicted. With the growing cost of travel and declining levels of consumer savings, they certainly occupy a niche that’s very much in demand today. But alongside the massive growth in the budget airline sector is a steady level of consumer displeasure, particularly at extra fees.

North American Spirit Airlines is the latest low-cost carrier to cause a consumer fuss. After charging consumers between $20 and $45 to take their carry-on bags onboard the plane, the company became a popular media criticism target. Bloggers, writers, and major media outlets have all lampooned the company, claiming that its policies indicate a casual attitude towards customer satisfaction.

But customers, on the other hand, appear to be fairly pleased with the policies on offer at many low-cost carriers. Despite its reputation for frugality, Spirit Airlines markets to an audience of returning customers, many of whom are happy to work around the penny-pinching regulations. For high-end travellers the fees are a major annoyance; for low-cost flyers, they’re something to work around.

Given that the airline’s fares tend to be lower than those offered by other carriers, the fees aren’t that big of an issue for its core audience. The United States is currently involved in legal action against a group of airlines for their value-added fee systems, and Spirit isn’t on the list. While other air travel providers have found their niche in charging for changes, Spirit has charged for optional extras.

It’s a policy that’s sure to offend high-end travellers, but it’s one that few ultra-budget fans object to, particularly in this economic climate. If the thought of flying coast-to-coast without so much as the clothes on your body isn’t exactly appealing, the growing fleet of low-cost airlines are probably best avoided. But for the large low-cost travel market, it’s little more than a minor inconvenience.

‘Green’ Charges Attract Criticism from Travel Regulators, Tourists

Overseas travel operators are tricking tourists into paying unnecessary ‘green travel’ fees, only to pocked their extra spending to increase profits. A series of recent exposes have covered one of the travel industry’s largest and most widespread scams – the addition of environmental service fees, ‘green’ recycling taxes, and other bogus charges to tourists’ hotel bills in an effort to boost income.

Service fees and booking charges have attracted criticism from travellers, particularly those that discover the extra charges without being aware that they are being added to their bill. The service charges, however, at least maintain a basis in reality and provided service, having contributed to experiences, facilities, and customer services used while travelling.

Regulators have criticised travel providers that apply additional ‘carbon’ fees to hotel and flight bills, despite a lack of official policy regarding the taxes and charges involved. The fees tend to be levied against holidayers after their departure from the hotel in question, leading many to believe that the fees are simply a re-branded version of a decades-old credit card direct access scam.

Travellers that encounter unexpected fees on their hotel bill are advised to take them up with the company in question. When a company has fraudulently charged your account, as is often the case in travel scams and remote credit card usage, it’s best to contact your credit card provider and ask for a ‘charge-back.’ The provider will then hold the funds from the hotel until the cost is resolved.

Environmental groups suggest that the elimination of bogus green charges will pave the way for greater consumer acceptance of legitimate ‘green’ taxes, particularly those that contribute to park and air quality improvement efforts. For travellers, the hidden fees remain an annoyance, costing Britain’s independent tourists anywhere from £5 to £50 per occurrence.

BAA Strike Will Add to 2010 Airline Woes

Employees of BAA ( formerly British Airlines Authority) are threatening to strike, a move which could spell disaster for Britain’s tourism industry. The six airports owned and operated by BAA cover several of the UK’s biggest travel and aviation regions, and could result in thousands of missed flights and cancelled appointments if closure is the final outcome.

BAA was privatized in the late 1980s as part of efforts by the Thatcher government to minimize state control of assets. The company operates six airports within the United Kingdom and many more overseas, making it one of the largest of its type in the world. The closure of the company’s UK assets is projected to cost the travel industry tens-of-millions of dollars in lost revenue.

It’s also threatening to ruin thousands of holidays, particularly as the strikes are planned to occur during the nation’s peak tourism season. Unite union officials are aiming to avoid a strike, instead opting to negotiate for a more competitive pay deal directly with airport authorities. BAA’s offer of a 1% annual pay rise was rejected by the union, who claim that the workers deserve more.

Should the strike go ahead, it will be the second major setback for Britain’s travel industry. Delays and cancelled flights from the Icelandic volcano eruption have cost the industry several hundred million dollars already, with some of Europe’s largest airlines still involved in efforts to repay and reimburse those affected by the disaster.

With several leading travel firms teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, another setback could spell the end of commercial travel bookings. Recent strikes by British Airways and a lack of disposable income have already hurt the travel industry, resulting in missed revenue targets and several major bankruptcy cases. Approximately 35% of the involved employees support moves to strike.

Free Upgrades: How You Can Fly First Class Without a Specific Ticket

If there’s one topic that thousands of travellers focus on annually, it’s achieving a first class ticket upgrade without shelling out for a full-price ticket. The elusive upgrade has been a popular target for travellers since its introduction, largely due to the perceived luxury of first class travel and the often ludicrous costs of upgrading a ticket manually.

But beyond strange theories and luck-based lines of questioning, there’s not much information on how to earn a first class upgrade. We met with some travel experts and asked for their opinions on the best way to gain a free upgrade to first class. Tired of travelling in cramped coach? Read on and learn how to upgrade that ticket without upgrading the cost of your flight.

Fly often? Use your miles for a ticket upgrade.

There’s no need to spend thousands of miles on a ticket upgrade – by asking the ticketing agent nicely, you may be able to gain a seat in the first class cabin simply by demonstrating that you fly with a specific airline often. Airlines have found that most of their business comes from a small selection of travellers – let them know that you are one and you might score a free upgrade.

See empty seats? Ask politely for a free upgrade.

Once a flight has left the airport, the cost of upgrading your seat to a more luxurious one is, quite literally, nothing. If you can see empty spaces in the first of business class cabins, politely asking one of the flight attendants could help you secure a free upgrade.

Alternatively, a number of airlines offer first class seats in exchange for shifting your business to a later flight. If you are seated on an overbooked flight and don’t mind waiting an extra hour or two, consider offering to be ‘bumped’ in exchange for a complimentary first class upgrade.

High-End Flyers: Luxury Airlines See Bookings Increase

While the recent recession certainly hurt the travel industry, several of the world’s largest and most luxurious airlines appear to be on the road to recovery. New figures from a variety of travel industry bodies have demonstrated an increase in the number of people booking international flights, with a noticeable increase in the proportion of tickets booked on high-end airlines and ‘luxury’ carriers.

From 2007 onward, a number of smaller low-cost carriers have reported increased patronage and higher revenues, largely due to limited consumer travel spending. Travel industry experts theorized that the increase was relative rather than absolute, with a greater number of budget travellers opting to fly overseas during the recession, aiming to take advantage of low-cost hotel rooms and tours.

The increase in high-end flight bookings, on the other hand, represents a more ‘complete’ recovery for the travel industry. The ‘bread and butter’ of consumer travel – holidaying families and package tour travellers – appear to be returning to the air en masse, inspired by reasonable fares and visible promotional efforts from major airlines and international carriers.

Singapore Airlines is one of several high-end airlines to see increased demand, largely due to the gradual recovery of economies in the region. Singapore’s economy was damaged more severely than many others throughout the financial crisis, as the city-state depends on its financial services sector and heavily export-driven trading industry for income, employment, and prosperity.

For high-end airlines, the surge in bookings is likely to be accompanied with a smaller surge in the price of international flights, as airlines have a history of complementing demand with raised fares. Travellers aiming to maximise the value of their ticket are best off booking flights independently as soon as possible, before price hikes and the elimination of low-cost package tours occur.