London Gatwick announces expanded services to US for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays

Gatwick Airport has announced an expanded services of 51 flights per week to popular destinations in the US including New York, Orlando, Boston and Tampa. The improved transatlantic schedule comes in time for the peak booking period ahead of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season.

With the new schedule, London Gatwick passengers will have increased choice to enjoy New York’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, sample the Black Friday sales, the city’s multitude of Christmas markets, the Rockefeller Centre ice rink or plan a festive trip to Disney World in Orlando.

JetBlue’s second daily New York flight, which will commence on October 31, complements its daily Boston service, while British Airways and Norse Atlantic also fly daily to New York City. Passengers can also fly with British Airways to destinations including Orlando (11 times per week) and Tampa (five times per week).

In addition, Gatwick announced last month that Delta Air Lines would be returning to the airport from next April, with daily flights to New York JFK.

Stephanie Wear, VP of Aviation Development, Gatwick Airport said: ‘We are delighted to be building back our popular connections to North America post the pandemic. It’s exciting to be able to offer passengers more choice once again, when travelling between Gatwick and the USA.

‘We are already seeing huge demand for JetBlue’s Boston route which launched in August, while four daily options to New York speaks for itself. Both Orlando and Tampa are fantastic options for families, especially with Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary celebrations ongoing, and we hope to be welcoming more flights to US destinations very soon.

Sky Crockford, Visit USA, said: ‘We are thrilled to see travel between the UK and USA bouncing back post covid. The USA has always been hugely popular with holiday makers and families from the UK. There is so much on offer to see and do for every type of vacationer.’

According to data from Visit the USA, more than 4.8 million visits were made by Brits to the USA in 2019, with 5 million forecast for 2024. Meanwhile, data from Visit Britain shows 4.5 million Americans visited the UK in 2019, with a total estimated expenditure of £4.18bn.

Virgin Atlantic to offer direct flights Edinburgh to Barbados and Orlando

Virgin Atlantic, the British premier carrier, has said earlier this month that it will set up a base in Edinburgh later this year, offering direct flights to Barbados and Orlando.

It’s the first time that Virgin Atlantic will operate international flights from the Scottish capital in its 37-year history. The flight to Barbados will be Scotland’s only direct service to the Caribbean and will launch on December 5, 2021. Flights to Orlando, the theme park capital of the world, will launch on March 30, 2022.

The new Caribbean flights will operate twice weekly on an Airbus A330, while the new Orlando flights will also be twice weekly, operating on an Airbus A330-200. The fares start from £419 and customers on the Barbados route will be able to choose to fly in one of three cabins on the A330.

Gordon Dewar, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport, said: ‘A premier city like Edinburgh deserves premier airlines and we are extremely excited to welcome our newest partner Virgin Atlantic to Scotland’s capital city.

‘To be able to deliver flights to Barbados, Scotland’s only direct route to the Caribbean, and Orlando is a fantastic boost to us as we prepare for the post-Covid recovery, and it is a huge show of confidence in Edinburgh Airport’s ability to deliver for passengers across the country.

‘We look forward to the new routes launching and watching passengers head off on the holiday of a lifetime from Edinburgh Airport with Virgin Atlantic.’

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic, commented: ‘Commencing international flights from Edinburgh marks an exciting new chapter for Virgin Atlantic and we couldn’t be happier to be flying from a new home in Scotland. I know our teams are itching to show Edinburgh the Virgin Atlantic spirit and flair we’re famous for.

‘Our two new routes provide an array of holiday options to suit everyone. From family fun and the thrills of Orlando’s theme parks to the stunning beaches and chilled out vibes in Barbados, we’re confident there’s something to love for all of our Scottish customers.’

Virgin Atlantic will be joining its joint venture partner, Delta Air Lines, at its new home in Scotland. Delta currently flies to both New York and Boston from the Scottish capital, with additional partners Air France KLM operating services to both Paris and Amsterdam.

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.


Top sun-kissed destinations for family holidays

Are you aching to get away from the drizzle of the UK and feel the sun on the back of your neck? With plenty of sun-kissed destinations perfectly suited to family holidays, we take a look at the locations which could bring you the sunshine you deserve over coming months.

Orlando, Florida (USA)

If you’re looking for a fun-packed holiday with lots days out, Orlando is certainly a good option. Located in sunny Florida, famous for its pleasant climate, Orlando boasts such attractions as Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios, SeaWorld Orlando, the Kennedy Space Center and much more.

If your kids are the kind that love Disney movies (let’s face, don’t they all?) the chance to get up close to their favourite characters like Mickey Mouse and Dumbo will be an experience they will remember their whole lives.

For the parents, there’s always the swimming pool to lounge around at, or if you fancy leaving your accommodation there is a great range of golf courses for you to practise your swing.

Consider staying in one of the many villas that have sprung up to cater for the family market and enjoy the sun in what can only be described as a home-from-home.

Ibiza, Spain

You may associate the Balearic island of Ibiza with wild nightlife and never-ending parties but the reality is far different. Whilst active nightlife is one feature of the island, there are plenty of family-friendly resorts located on it too.

Choosing villas in Ibiza can be hard – there are just so many spots to choose from – but wherever you choose to stay you can be guaranteed of a warm welcome. Even the properties themselves are designed to reflect the warmth of the area and are usually painted in a traditional whitewash to reflect the heat of the sun.

The island is perhaps most popular for its beaches, which offer warm waters and cool sands for the enjoyment of parents and children alike. If you’re looking for something a little more active, the island has some great snorkelling and diving activities on offer with the chance to see plenty of wildlife in its natural habitat.

Almeria, Spain

Almeria is known for having the ‘best’ climate in Europe for a sunny break, with an amazing 3,127 hours sunlight a year and mild winters. The region’s scenery is astonishing; the long, deserted beaches are overlooked by rocky outcrops that are starkly beautiful.

You can sunbathe all you like on one of the resort’s unspoilt beaches which are sure to be a walk away from your villa. This is thanks to the popularity of Almeria, which sees reputable brands such as James Villas offer a range of accommodation in the local area.

For a day out and an educational trip for the kids, explore Spain’s Moorish past by visiting the hilltop fort of La Alcazaba, which dominates the skyline of the town. After this you can visit the Cabo de Gata Natural Park, a wild and isolated landscape dotted with picturesque fishing villages.

The Magic is Never Far Away in Orlando

Orlando is one of the major cities in Florida and in recent years has become a leading centre for bio-medical research and the now ubiquitous digital media. Its great selling points for tourists though are that it is sunny and warm throughout the year and has a wealth of state-of-the-art entertainments for all the family to enjoy. Cheap flights to Orlando are the ideal way to see this fabulous city and explore the surrounding area.

Orlando started its rise to prominence in 1856 when it became a county seat and in 1885 was incorporated as a city. It has never looked back, growing exponentially down the decades by absorbing surrounding towns and villages until now it dominates Orange County and is a magnet for visitors from the States and abroad.

For those who like good old-fashioned family fun Orlando can hardly be beaten, and its four Disney World Theme Parks rake in the tourists in their thousands. The Magic Kingdom is ideal for the smaller kids, whilst Disney’s Hollywood Studios have many interesting displays relating to cinematic history that everyone will enjoy. The Epcot (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) centre which opened in 1982 consists of the Future World and World Showcase parks and is packed with technology-based attractions such as Spaceship Earth, providing fun and learning at the same time. And be sure not to miss the Harry Potter Theme Park with its spectacular Forbidden Journey ride in an imposing replica of Hogwarts Castle.

Although Orlando is itself landlocked it makes up for this with an impressive copy of an exotic Caribbean island, no less. This is Discovery Cove, closely allied with the famous SeaWorld Orlando theme park. You can actually go snorkelling here and swim amongst the fabulous fish and (harmless) stingrays. You can also float through an aviary and swim underneath a waterfall. The cove has its own white sandy beach, and as only 1000 visitors are allowed into the Cove each day there’s plenty of space to relax and enjoy yourselves.

Once you’ve had as much as you can take of Mickey Mouse, Harry Potter and magic rides you can head for Downtown Disney, which is a vast entertainment and shopping complex in Disney World. This is all themed as well, as you’d expect, but the food is great in venues like the Rainforest Cafe, and if you’re into Lego there’ll be no getting you out because the Lego Imagination store is truly awesome. The nearby DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park is also a hit with kids and adults alike. Or head for the famous La Nouba Cirque de Soleil show for an evening of state-of-the-art acrobatics and incredible juggling by trapeze artists in weird and wonderful costumes.

The CityWalk theme restaurants adjoining the two main parks here are a great hit with the kids, keeping them eating and entertained at the same time in the company of famous Disney characters who dance, sing and pose for photos to the great delight of their fans.

Head for Orlando for a holiday packed with the nearest thing to magic you’re ever likely to find.


David Elliott is a freelance writer who loves to travel, especially in Europe and Turkey. He’s spent most of his adult life in a state of restless excitement but recently decided to settle in North London. He gets away whenever he can to immerse himself in foreign cultures and lap up the history of great cities.  


Travel to the Heart of Florida… to yes, you’ve Guessed it – Orlando

The Doubletree Resort Orlando is the perfect hotel choice for those looking to enjoy the fun of Orlando. The Doubletree Resort Orlando is located in the centre of the magic, next door to SeaWorld and across the street from Aquatica, and only a short drive away from Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disneyworld Resort. The hotel prides itself on its contemporary style following a recent multi-million dollar renovation, and boasts a spa, three swimming pools, a mini golf course and a games room. With plenty to keep the kids occupied, and a sleek design with modern interiors, the Doubletree Resort Orlando is the perfect hotel for both children and adults.

Just a short ride away in the heart of Downtown Disney, the Disney Port Orleans Riverside Resort offers a taste of New Orleans and its Southern hospitality. The Disney Port Orleans Riverside Resort features Mississippi style rivers where guests can take advantage of the riverboats which travel up and down the waterways. With a number of different food outlets (which even includes a pizza delivery service to rooms!), a whopping seven swimming pools, and transport links straight to Walt Disneyworld Resort, the Disney Port Orleans Riverside Resort is an ideal hotel to come back to after a tiring day at the theme parks!

Orlando hotels must be among some of the most expansive and entertaining resorts the US has to offer. With Orlando hotels dotted from International drive, Walt Disneyworld Resort, Kissimmee to Universal Orlando Resort, there is a resort to suit every want or need whether that be a plethora of swimming pools, contemporary and modern design, delicious restaurants or close proximity to the fun and magic of Florida’s theme parks. In the heart of Florida, with exciting theme parks and attractions right on their doorstep it is no surprise that Orlando hotels attract families all year round and prove to be a favourite Virgin Holidays destination.

The Disney Yacht Club Resort is a favourite amongst kids thanks to the resorts three acres of swimming pools with water slides and whirlpools aplenty. The Disney Yacht Club Resort captures warm and hazy summer days on the Eastern Seaboards with classic, New England style surroundings. The nearby Epcot resort is just a short walk away, and Walt Disneyworld Resort is within easy access due to the hotels free transport system.

To book – or Call 0844 557 3859

Receive Exclusive Benefits at SeaWorld When You Stay at Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld

Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld has been named an official hotel partner of SeaWorld this year. The alliance comes with a long list of perks available only to guests of the world-class Orlando resort hotel.


Registered guests of the luxury hotel now receive a variety of exclusive, value-added benefits, which include:

Early entry to SeaWorld on select days during peak seasons

Complimentary front-of-the-line access to SeaWorld

Discounts on select food and gift purchases at SeaWorld and Aquatica (SeaWorld’s water park)

Complimentary all-day transportation to SeaWorld and Aquatica, and scheduled transportation to Discovery Cove and Universal Orlando

Exclusive access to the SeaWorld Rescue Tour on early entry days


To take advantage of the SeaWorld official hotel partner benefits, and for added savings, the hotel offers hotel packages that include:

“SeaWorld Orlando Vacation Package”

Accommodations in one of central Florida’s largest guest rooms

Two adult single-entry SeaWorld tickets

Rates from $259 per night


“SeaWorld & Aquatica Orlando Vacation Package”

Two adult SeaWorld/Aquatica tickets valid for duration of stay

Two adult single-day dining vouchers for each park (based on three-night minimum stay)


“Discovery Cove Orlando Vacation Package”

Unlimited access for two adults to Coral Reef at Discovery Cove, Tropical River and Aviary

Pass for 14 consecutive days of unlimited admission to SeaWorld, Aquatica or Busch Gardens (based on two-night minimum stay)