Virgin Atlantic announces new daily service to Tampa, Florida

Virgin Atlantic has announced its transatlantic expansion with a new direct route from London Heathrow to Tampa, launching on November 3, 2022.

The new year-round Florida service will initially fly four times a week before increasing to daily from November 28. This latest addition follows the airline’s launch of direct flights between London and Austin, Texas in May 2022.

Tampa is known for its rich history and culture as well as being the home of the Superbowl winners, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and ice hockey legends, Tampa Bay Lightning. With year-round beautiful weather and stunning Gulf Coast beaches, Tampa is a perfect gateway to Florida’s top attractions with the popular theme parks of Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and Busch Gardens all within easy reach.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic, commented: ‘We are delighted to continue our expansion in the US with this new daily service to Tampa, Florida offering even more choice for customers on both sides of the Atlantic to connect between the US and the UK.

‘Florida is very much a firm favourite for our customers ever since our first flight to Miami back in 1986. With the popular theme parks and the stunning beaches of St Pete and Clearwater within easy reach, we know it’s an area our customers will love to explore.’

‘The region has a booming economy with high profile businesses moving to the area and many budding entrepreneurs registering start-ups in the city. We very much look forward to forging new relationships within the Tampa Bay community and cannot wait to welcome customers, both existing and new onboard, flying them safely to explore this exciting region.’

Joe Lopano, Chief Executive Officer at Tampa International Airport commented: ‘We at Tampa International Airport are thrilled to offer our first-ever nonstop route to Heathrow and launch this new partnership with Virgin Atlantic. Not only does this create another Tampa-London option for our leisure travellers, but there’s a huge upside for our thriving business community to now have a direct connection to the world’s premier business airport. We expect this to be a popular route during what we know will be a very busy winter travel season at TPA.’

Offering more than 190,000 seats each year, Virgin Atlantic will be the only airline to directly connect the Tampa Bay region with London’s hub airport, London Heathrow.

Flights are on sale from Wednesday July 13th at www.virginatlantic.com with return Economy fares starting from £436 per person, Premium from £937 per person and Upper Class from £2,256 per person.

British Airways announces resumption of transatlantic flight from Gatwick to Tampa

Following the reopening of US borders for British holidaymakers, British Airways has announced the resumption of its first US transatlantic flight from Gatwick to Tampa, Florida.

The airline’s services to Tampa will operate three times a week. British Airways will also resume flights from Gatwick to holiday-hotspot Orlando on Friday November 19. This is the first time the airline has operated to these destinations, and to the US from Gatwick, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.

British Airways is planning on operating to 23 US airports this winter, more than any other transatlantic carrier, with 246 flights a week from January. Besides Tampa and Orlando from Gatwick, flights to much loved cities Nashville and New Orleans will restart in December from Heathrow.

Claire Bentley, Managing Director of British Airways Holidays, said: ‘Orlando and Tampa are among our most popular destinations, so we know how much our customers are looking forward to heading back. Florida is such a diverse state, so whether it’s a relaxing beach holiday, a theme park adventure or an epic road trip, there’s something for every type traveller. In addition, we’re offering a wide range of British Airways Holidays deals to suit every budget.’

British Airways Holidays is also offering a number of holiday and fly-drive packages to Florida, including seven nights at the 3-star Ramada by Wyndham Kissimmee Gateway, Orlando from £499pp, travelling on selected dates between January 10 – January 31, 2022 inclusive; seven nights at the 3- star Universal’s Dockside Inn and Suites, Orlando from £969pp, travelling on selected dates between January 1- February 28, 2022 inclusive; seven nights at the 4-star Holiday Inn Harbourside, Florida Beach (Tampa): from £599pp, travelling on selected dates between January 10- February 10, 2022 inclusive and seven days at Tampa, fly-drive from £699p travelling January 1- 28 February 22. Reservations can be made before December 6, at www.britishairways.com.

British Airways operated its first flight to the US when restrictions lifted on November 8 to JFK airport on the airline’s BA001 service. The airline’s A380s will operate to the US once again, with the super jumbo jet operating to Miami from Heathrow from December 5, Los Angeles from December 9 and Dallas from March 27. The airline is currently operating seven flights a day to New York, increasing to eight from mid-December.

TUI announces expanded holiday programme from Bristol Airport for Summer 2022

TUI UK has announced the expansion of its holiday programme for summer 2022 from Bristol Airport with the reintroduction of flights to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, and expanded services to other destinations.

Following increased customer demand, TUI will increase flights to popular destinations such as Tenerife and Paphos, which will operate three times a week, while flights to Florida will operate twice a week.

The new Bristol to Turkey programme will see four flights a week operating to Dalaman, three to Antalya and two flights a week to Bodrum. There will also be an extensive Greece programme available, with the choice of nine Greek islands on offer. Flights to Halkidiki and Santorini will operate once a week, twice a week to Skiathos and Kefalonia, three times a week to Corfu, Heraklion, Kos, and Rhodes and four times a week to Zante.

For next summer, TUI will also reintroduce flights to one of Egypt’s most popular destinations, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, flying twice a week. For customers looking to travel long haul, there will be two options available from Bristol Airport – Cancun and Orlando Melbourne International.

TUI will also offer 10/11-night holidays for customers travelling from Bristol Airport. The number of flights to Bodrum, Fuerteventura and Hurghada will be increased to twice a week for summer 2022.

Richard Sofer, Commercial & Business Development Director at TUI said: ‘As the airline with the largest regional airport network in the UK, we’re committed to offering our customers as much availability as possible to our great range of holidays. We’re delighted to expand our summer 2022 programme from Bristol with increased flying to several destinations and a reintroduced route, providing even more flight options for our customers.’

Dave Lees, CEO at Bristol Airport said: ‘We are delighted with TUI’s exciting, expanded Summer 2022 programme from Bristol Airport. The additional flights are particularly welcome as the routes remain high on the wish-list of customers using Bristol Airport. The improved range of destinations and improved frequency will help ensure TUI offers customers throughout the South West and Wales a great choice and options of holidays available from their regional airport.’

TUI UK launches Dreamliner flight service from Doncaster Sheffield to Florida

TUI UK, the UK-based holiday operator, has launched its new TUI Airways Dreamliner flight from Doncaster Sheffield airport to Orlando Sanford in Florida.

The new weekly flight to Sanford, Florida will be operated on Boeing 787.

In addition, TUI also announced a new summer 2020 route to Cancun from Doncaster Sheffield Airport, as well as a further new route to Girona, Spain.

Dawn Wilson, Managing Director of TUI Airways said: ‘We are so excited to be launching flights from Doncaster Sheffield to Florida today as we know how popular Florida is for UK holidaymakers and the importance of flying from a local airport. We’re always looking at ways to provide a seamless, end-to-end experience for our customers, which is why we continue to introduce more and more fantastic destinations from regional airports.

‘We are also delighted to be announcing a brand-new summer 2020 route from Doncaster Sheffield to Girona, a popular Spanish destination which will operate alongside another long-haul favourite Cancun, Mexico. We are confident customers will benefit from our continued growth at Doncaster Sheffield airport.’

Chris Harcombe, Aviation Development Director at Doncaster Sheffield Airport, said: ‘This is a momentous day for us here at DSA. The team has been excited about this maiden long-haul flight since it was first announced in 2018, increasing TUI seats from DSA by 25% from this April. This and the new route to Girona illustrates huge confidence in DSA and our established reputation for an easy, friendly, relaxed service for our customers. We’re proud to be the home of long-haul flights for the region and look forward to our Cancun service starting next year.’

TUI Airways has three aircraft based at Doncaster Sheffield, and will be flying to 27 destinations this summer.

Thomas Cook Airlines offers premium service from Cardiff to Orlando

Thomas Cook Airlines, a British charter airline based in Manchester, will operate a one-off flight to Orlando on its long haul Airbus A330 fleet next summer, on Friday August 28, 2015, Cardiff Airport said in a release.

Offering holidays for 14 nights, Thomas Cook’s return flight only prices start from £537 (Adult Economy), £466 (Child Economy) and £771 (Premium). Thomas Cook’s Orlando holidays on offer include 14 nights at the Rosen Inn from £949, based on two adults sharing a standard room, on a room only basis. The new service is on sale now alongside a range of package holidays.

The airline has also announced that it plans to run a further flight in 2016 – on Wednesday 25th May, also for a 14 night departure.

Rob Thompson, Thomas Cook Airline’s Director of Commercial and Planning, said, ‘It’s great news for our customers in the South Wales and West of England region that we’re able to offer our first long haul flight for many years from Cardiff Airport – due to popular demand. It’s also a flight which will benefit from the recent announcement of the abolition of APD for the under 12’s travelling in economy – which means our long haul flights are ever better value for families.

‘Like many of our long haul routes, the Orlando flight will feature one of our new refurbished fleet, with our new Premium service. Our brand new long haul Economy cabins and service will challenge perceptions of our airline, and our new Premium will ensure our customers experience a great range of services, flying in style to their summer break.’

Spencer Birns, Aviation Business Development Director at Cardiff Airport said: ‘We are really pleased with Thomas Cook’s decision to operate flights to Orlando from Cardiff next summer and in 2016. Thomas Cook has recognised the big demand in Wales for Florida flights and we’re pleased our customers are being offered more travel options to popular holiday destinations from Cardiff Airport.’

The flight to Orlando will feature 49 Premium and 265 Economy seats. Thomas Cook Airlines has recently announced a new cabin experience for customers on its Airbus A330 long haul fleet, with new Economy and Premium services from May 2015. With a James Martin three course premium meal service including complimentary drinks, the new on demand in-flight entertainment system, as well as ergonomically designed seats with extra legroom options, the airline promises to offer an improved travel experience.

 

BA’s ‘Dreamflight’ takes 192 children on their dream holiday

British Airways (BA) ‘Dreamflight’ set off from Heathrow on Sunday taking 192 children on their 10-day dream holiday to Florida.

Co-founded by retired British Airways cabin crew member, Patricia Pearce MBE, Dreamflight is a UK charity focused on changing young lives by taking seriously ill and disabled children from all over the UK on a life-changing holiday to Disney World and Florida. Operating every year since 1987, ‘Dreamflight’ has been supported by British Airways since the beginning, helping over 5,000 children in total.

The especially liveried ‘Dreamflight’ aircraft, a British Airways Boeing 747, is chartered once a year, and children spend 10 fun-filled days away from family in Florida, discovering freedom, self-confidence, and a new outlook on life. During their holiday, they will visit Disney and Universal parks and also swim with Dolphins at Sea Worlds’ discovery cove.

Long-term patron of the charity, Sir Cliff Richard, was present to see the children off, along with gardening TV celebrity, Charlie Dimmock, who will be accompanying two children on the trip.

Sir Cliff said: ‘Dreamflight is a charity very close to my heart and I’m so pleased I can be part of this day to see the joy, and happiness this trip to Florida brings the children.’

British Airways captain, Andrew Bean, said: ‘I feel honoured to be flying the Dreamflight group of children to Florida. The children are such an inspiration to us all and it’s wonderful to be part of this special trip.’

Dreamflight children have made remarkable achievements in life. According to the website, in 2008, eight of the Paralympians who competed in Beijing, including the charity’s patron, Liz Johnson, had been Dreamflight children. Liz won Gold in the 100m Breaststroke at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics, and now provides great support for Dreamflight. She also serves as an inspiration for the children with her success story of becoming a world-class athlete.

 

Florida backtracks on law that penalised British car hirers

The authorities in Florida, USA, have backtracked on a recently introduced law that penalised British visitors wishing to hire a car in the southern state.

The law stated that all drivers of hire cars in Florida had to carry an International Driving Permit (IDP) in order that an English translation of their licence was always available for production. While the law was introduced to account for the many foreign language visitors that descend on Florida each year, there was no exemption for carriers of English language licences from the UK, Canada and Australia, all of whom had been able to drive in Florida on presentation of their domestic driving licences until the law was passed. Also, the law was introduced in January with no great publicity, so British travellers were only made aware of its implications when they arrived to pick up their hire car and were told that they did not have the correct documentation.

Florida-based car hire companies who saw the legislation as a threat to their very lucrative business in fly-drive holidays soon took up the issue, and the authorities initially bowed to the pressure by saying that the law would not be enforced. When it became clear that drivers were still wary of the possible implications of flouting a standing law, despite the authorities’ assurance that they would not be penalised, the law was finally repealed. So, once again British visitors to Florida only need to carry their UK driving licence by law.

However, Rosie Sanderson, head of International Travel at the AA, told the Daily Mail, ‘Car hire companies and insurance companies can still impose their own terms and conditions and I certainly advise that travellers check with their intended car provider prior to travel or obtain the IDP as a precautionary measure.’

An IDP can be obtained from a UK Post Office for £5.50 and lasts for one year.

Florida puts foreign driving licence law on hold

The state of Florida in the US has put a controversial driving licence law on hold.

The law, which was passed with little publicity last year, stated that all foreign drivers should carry an international driving permit. Although the law was brought in to ensure that all drivers in Florida carried a version of their licence that was printed in English, its wording meant that holders of British and Canadian licences were also legally obligated to purchase a permit at a cost of just over £16.

The law caused an outcry, not only from British and Canadian drivers arriving in Florida, often unaware of the legislation, but also from the state’s car rental companies who had to deal directly with the disgruntled visitors. Now, the law has been put on hold while alternatives are considered, and those responsible for passing it have apologised for their oversight.

Florida state Republican, Ben Albritton, who introduced the bill, said in the Tampa Bay Times, ‘This one I just missed. I want to tell the people in Canada I am sorry. If I messed something up, I am man enough to fix it.’

And John Tupps, the deputy press secretary for Florida governor, Rick Scott, said. ‘We will work with the legislature to amend the law this year so it does not burden international visitors to our state, who make up an important part of our tourism industry.’

Despite the climb down, the Canadian Automobile Authority is still recommending that Canadian Nationals visiting Florida continue to purchase an international permit until the law is officially changed.

Each year, approximately 3 million Canadians and 1.3 million British travellers visit Florida.

Florida tightens driving rules for Britons

Even as thousands of British holidaymakers are heading for half-term holidays in Florida, the administration in Florida has tightened rules to dissuade rash and unsafe driving.

The administration has issued a warning that foreign drivers would need to carry an international driving permit as well as their local driving license to be authorised to drive a vehicle in Florida. The law could lead to jail terms for people who violate the law.

Until this year, drivers only needed a standard British photo card licence with the green counterpart to drive in the US. But Florida’s legislature has changed rules that would require them to also carry the international permit as well as their national licence. Violation of the law would lead to harsh penalties and mandatory court appearances, authorities warned.

A UK Foreign Office spokesperson said, ‘We have raised changes to Florida driving laws with the Florida authorities. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has advised us that they are urgently looking to amend the law for those countries who issue driving licences in English.’

Few British motorists carry the permit, which costs £5.50. It is issued by the AA and RAC by post. They can also be obtained in person at Post Offices.

About one million UK citizens visit Florida annually. Elle Hubbard of the rental broker, Tripwheels, said, ‘We had hoped that perhaps there might be a ‘grace period’ or leniency shown given that many tourists will be already in Florida and unaware of the new rules. However, we were told ‘Law enforcement is there to enforce the laws, we are not selective nor can we disregard the law.’

Plan Your Summer Trip for 2013 Now

Planning your summer trip next year, looking at those rain clouds hovering over Britain? Then here are some destinations finding favour with UK travellers for those looking forward to sunnier weather.

Direct Destinations, a UK based travel company, is suggesting that a popular travel destination for British travellers is the US. In 2012, travellers from the UK to the US increased 4% over that in 2011. Popular destinations in the US include California, New York and Florida.

Florida is the most popular US destination for British families with its sunny beaches and famous attractions, including Walt Disney World Resort, and the recently opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando.

Families are also opting for Cyprus, in the Mediterranean, for the sun and sea experience. In 2012 to date, around 100,000 UK residents have visited the island country, with its rich heritage and culture – a mingle of flavours from Europe, Asia and Africa.

A travel price comparison website, dealchecker.co.uk, has suggested that Dubai, in the UAE, is also proving to be a popular choice with British families for vacations. In the spring and summer of 2012, UK travellers searching for holidays in Dubai increased by 36% compared to the same period in the preceding year. Another report, by ACI Passenger and Freight Flash Report, said that Dubai International Airport has reported a 13.7% increase in passenger traffic in the first half of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.

Mark Attwell, the managing director of dealchecker.co.uk, said, ‘Cities across the Middle East and Asia have grown in popularity this year, from the relatively nearby Dubai and Istanbul to far-flung hotspots like Hong Kong and Beijing. From London, you can fly to Dubai in the same time that it takes to drive to Scotland, making this exciting and family-friendly city more accessible than ever.’