Category : Latest News

Airport Parking Reviews – Purple Parking at Heathrow Airport

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 by Kate Goldstone

One of the most popular resources on our airport parking website is the reviews section. It’s packed with honest, genuine reviews from real people, who rate the parking facilities across all Britain’s major airports according to the quality of the transfers and facilities as well as the prices and service. Here’s an example:

“This was the first time that I had used Purple Parking Business and the service proved to be first rate. Check in and transfer to the departure terminal was efficient and very speedy. On my return to Heathrow I made the required phone call and the pick up bus arrived in about 5 minutes, took me back to the parking area where my car was lined up awaiting collection. Could maybe find a cheaper parking option but would not get a better service.”

This week we thought we’d provide a run-down of the performance delivered by one of the nation’s biggest and busiest airports, Heathrow, exploring what our customers think of Purple’s Heathrow airport parking facilities. The results, we think, make interesting reading and prove that, while there’s always room for improvement, everyone’s experience is different.

Purple Parking

Purple Parking at Heathrow Airport

Why does it matter? The companies whose products we sell take notice of reviews, using any trends that become apparent to improve their services and facilities in future. And this in turn has a positive knock-on effect for the business travellers who buy discounted airport parking through our site.

Everyone appreciates hassle-free parking and transfers, especially when you have to travel long distances for work on a regular basis, have a long drive ahead, have been travelling for hours, have the kids with you or are on your way to or from a well-deserved holiday. Next time you use our site to buy bargain parking, why not leave a review and help make things even better?

About Purple Parking at Heathrow – Business Parking Experts

Purple Parking Business is a high-tech undercover multi-storey car park with state-of-the-art CCTV and the very latest barrier technology. You can find out the fine details about what they provide on our special Purple Parking Business page.

Our site contains an impressive 1049 reviews for the service at the time of writing this post. Purple enjoys an overall rating of 82% with no wholly negative reviews and just 8% billed as ‘neutral’. There are plenty of 100% reviews, where users are perfectly happy and even completely delighted. But are there any discernible patterns as regards particularly negative or positive comments, things to watch out for if you’re planning to use Purple Parking at Heathrow?

Overall scores

The overall scores for Purple Parking are pretty good.

  • Transfers 66%
  • Facilities 87%
  • Price 83%
  • Service 83%

As you can see, the overall scores reviewers have given the service fall down in just one key area:  transfers. With more than 80% in the other categories, a 66% rating for transfers isn’t so good. But like all good businesses, Purple always do their best to make changes where it really matters, and airport parking reviews like ours are helping them to do exactly that.

 

Purple Parking Airport Transfer Bus

Purple Parking Airport Parking Minibus

Bus transfer delays on collection and return – An unhappy minority

Looking at the past few months’ worth of reviews there seems to have been an issue around bus transfers, with several people being left out in the cold for 30 minutes or more waiting for the bus, and some left hanging on while the bus transfer people failed to answer the phone.  On the other hand plenty of customers have said the shuttle buses are both frequent and efficient, with positive reviews far outnumbering less positive experiences. It appears reacting to issues pointed out by reviewers is having a positive effect on service quality.

Rude drivers – But most people found the staff extremely helpful

A few people recently found the transfer bus drivers less than polite. But the majority have found the staff at Purple Parking courteous, friendly and helpful. One customer even revealed how staff had gone out of their way to drop them at their hotel, saving them a whole lot of time and hassle.

“We were greeted by name by an extremely polite and helpful member of staff. Both transfers went smoothly and our car was all ready to drive away. Everyone we dealt with was friendly, will definitely use again. Thanks Purple Business Parking for making the beginning and end of our holiday a relaxing and hassle free experience.”

A Mr Dennis, who had obviously used the service before, commented that, “the company continues to improve with more real people on the ground these days making for much better customer experience.”

Heathrow Airport Purple Parking

Purple Parking at Heathrow Airport

Heathrow airport business parking prices

Very few people tend to express an opinion about Purple’s prices. A few mention it’s a bit expensive, but they add the caveat that it’s worth it for the sheer convenience and the time the service saves them.

Several people actually remarked on the good value for money the service represents, which is particularly apparent when everything goes perfectly to plan: the better the service people experience, the less bothered they are by the cost. According to one reviewer, “Could maybe find a cheaper parking option but would not get a better service.”

Heathrow Airport - Purple Parking Location

Purple Parking Heathrow Map Location

Finding the right place

Most people seem to find the Purple Heathrow parking facilities very easily, with problems only occurring when there were roadworks in the local area. It looks like their signage does a good job, a challenge when the area around an airport is often a complex hell of different signage and you need to keep your eyes peeled!

Transfer bus standards

Most people seem to find the transfer buses comfortable and clean, although one reviewer found their bus dirty and scruffy. Perhaps Purple had an off day?

The fine art of making good use of reviews

The great thing about having hundreds of reviews to read is you get an accurate overall picture. It makes much more sense than trying to glean conclusions from just a handful of opinions. One tip: more than 1000 reviews mean they go back some time. It’s probably best to check out the first few pages rather than delve too deep into the past, where the reviews people left are probably out of date.

4 tips for the perfect airport parking experience

  1. Check out the alternatives available at your chosen airport
  2. Every provider is different, so read their business page on our site so you know exactly what to expect and how the service works
  3. Make sure you arrive in good time
  4. Leave a review on our site afterwards so the company can take steps to improve areas where they’re not 100% perfect

Car Parking Accidents, Insurance Nightmares & Driver Tips

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 by Kate Goldstone

You’re headed for Heathrow airport car parking, where you’re planning to leave your vehicle while you’re away. Or maybe one of the many enormous Gatwick car parks. Unlike parking your car on the street where it’s vulnerable to prangs, airport parking tends to be much safer and miles more secure, with security patrols, dogs, high fences and CCTV everywhere. Which is great news for travellers. But ordinary car parking isn’t always as safe. What if you’re parking outside the supermarket or in an NCP?

We thought it’d be useful to look at the high volume of incidents that occur in car parks, the vulnerability of parked cars, how insurance companies deal with claims, what you should do if you hit a parked vehicle or discover your car’s been pranged while parked.

Asda Car Park Crash Wrexham

Asda Car Park Crash Wrexham – from dailypost.co.uk

How safe is parking in ordinary car parks?

According to the Daily Mail, “Prang and run bandits” colliding with other people’s cars when parked are responsible for a shocking £169 million in damage every year, a lot of dosh in anyone’s book. A fifth of the people who hit a parked car scarper without admitting what they’ve done, forcing innocent vehicle owners to foot the bill, and the average repair cost is breathtaking – a whopping £1800.

The insurer Accident Exchange reckons there are around 3.5 million car crashes every year in Britain, about 700,000 of which involve simple prangs to parked cars and half a million taking place when the damaged car’s owner isn’t around.

About 94,000 of the cowardly culprits get away with it, never to be traced. And while the £169 million consumer bill takes your breath away, the cost to insurers is even higher, with parked car prangs alone responsible for an astonishing £1.2 billion in repair bills. Ouch.

Worse still, it appears many of us, rather than trash our precious no claims bonus, would rather just pay for the repairs ourselves than make a claim. This more or less defeats the object of having insurance. Who benefits? The insurers and the prang-and-runners. It really doesn’t seem fair.

To add a layer of particularly nasty-tasting icing to an already nasty cake, uninsured and untraced drivers are responsible for adding an extra £40 a year to everyone’s motor insurance premiums.

Car Park Crash

Car Park Crash – from westerndailypress.co.uk

Apparently 80% of prangs happen on the street, with just 20% occurring in car parks. And the situation is set to get worse as more and more cars take to the streets and parking spaces, especially in urban and suburban areas, become even harder to find.

Because more than a third of British households have more than one car, inner city off-road parking is already huge issue. Unless we manage to curb our national obsession with multiple car ownership, it’ll only get worse.

Insurers’ “referral fees racket”

Having worked in the insurance industry for many years, I know most of them will do anything they can to wriggle out of paying claims. According to the AA, the average motor insurance premium has increased a disgraceful 89% over the past four years, an increase that leaves inflation rates in the shade.  But insurance companies insist it isn’t their fault. According to them, fraudulent claims for hard-to-disprove injuries like whiplash are to blame, leaving the good guys pick up the tab.

A reporter for The Telegraph wanted to find out more about the way insurers handled claims, so he set up a crash and noted what happened. You can read his story here, but the point we found most interesting was the fact that insurance companies habitually ‘steer’ punters to their own networks of approved repairers, and it isn’t always to car owners’ benefit. Far from it.

If you want to get your prang repaired by your local garage, who you know and trust, you are perfectly entitled to… but your insurer might punish you for it. In some cases, refusing to use the insurer’s recommended body shop can mean you’re charged a ‘non approved repairer excess’ fee. Good grief. If that isn’t totally out of order, we don’t know what is. Even more of a disgrace, very few drivers even realise they have a choice.

Here’s what The Telegraph’s article says:

“If an insurance company can mend your car in one of their approved garages they can control the costs of that repair. This sounds a reasonable proposition – most drivers would want costs to be kept down if it meant their premiums being reduced. However, some body shop owners and car makers are concerned that because insurance companies and their agents are primarily concerned about keeping costs down, the safety of drivers is potentially being compromised.

Body shop owners would speak to us only off the record, but Volvo, on its own website, states: “Insurance companies are reducing costs by having non-genuine parts fitted or panels repaired rather than replaced, which may compromise the car’s safety integrity.”

A spokesman for the ABI strongly denied that drivers’ safety was ever compromised. In contrast, when you are the not-at-fault driver – and the insurance company passes on the bill to a rival firm – costs are driven up unnecessarily, it would appear. Documents submitted by Ford to the Competition Commission, which has started to investigate the industry, suggest that the average price of a repair for a not-at-fault car is £1,530, compared with £1,375 for an at-fault car. Many experts believe that the discrepancy is far wider.”

What should you do if you hit a parked vehicle?

First of all, stop. If you drive off, you’re committing an offence under the Road Traffic Act.

Turn off your engine and switch your hazard lights on. If someone is hurt, call 999.

If the crash isn’t serious or a car is blocking the road, call the police non-emergency number 101. All car accidents should be reported to the police within 24 hours. If you don’t bother you can be fined, given penalty points on your license or even be disqualified altogether.

If you’re involved in a car accident you’re legally obliged to give your name and address to anyone else involved. Don’t take the blame even if you were 100% to blame and don’t have a leg to stand on.

Car Parking Lot Damage

Car Parking Lot Damage – from 3dbodyworks.com

Some people say it’s OK to say sorry. After all, you probably are sorry, and the word ‘sorry’ doesn’t mean you’re admitting blame, it’s just a very human reaction. Others recommend you avoid saying sorry altogether, which could be tricky when you’re a born and bred, naturally polite Brit!

If you hit a parked car and the owner isn’t there, it’s your job to leave your contact details – a note under the windscreen wipers should do the trick. You should also gather as much information as possible from the driver themselves, if they’re there, and any witnesses:

  • names
  • addresses
  • contact numbers
  • motor policy details
  • whether they are the car’s ‘registered keeper’ and if not, who is
  • the registration numbers of every car involved
  • every involved vehicle’s colour, make and model
  • the crash time and date

If you can, also do the following:

  • make a simple drawing of the vehicles’ positions after the crash
  • note down the weather conditions and anything unusual about the road the crash happened
  • take a few snaps with your mobile
  • get the names of witnesses
  • get the names of any police on the scene
  • list the damage to all the vehicles involved
  • list any injuries to anyone involved, including passengers and passers by

If someone tries to do a runner without giving their details, call 999.

What should you do if someone else prangs your car while it’s parked?

According to the RAC, insurers usually offer a 50/50 settlement for car park collisions, but it’s up to you to prove who was to blame. If you can prove the pranger is 100% at fault, the RAC  recommends you claim on your insurance. On the other hand, an expert driver in the RAC forum says this:

“Don’t go for 50/50 easily but suggest you each pay your own damage. Claiming from the insurance will cost more in the long term.”

As another RAC forum member says:

“Just back from 4 weeks holiday in Cornwall. During our stay, on one occasion I was driving along a narrow road with passing places. As I approached a passing place, a young female coming towards me ignored the wider section that she was in, tried to pass in the narrow part, and our door mirrors collided. The clear plastic lens for the repeater indicator was broken in my mirror. Her mirror was undamaged.

We exchanged details, but a later phone call from “some unidentified male” claimed that her mirror was damaged and accused me  of speeding. Said he had visited the spot, and that he had found “glass” strewn around which proved I was speeding. This was a blatant lie, since I had picked up the broken lens bits and still have them in my car! He also claimed to have a witness.

It was a country road, and the only “witnesses” were my wife and the woman passenger in the other driver’s car. I called into the local police station, just to check if the driver was insured; which a WPC affirmed that she was insured. The WPC took the view that “he” realised that the insurers would go 50/50, and therefore it would be more economical to simply drop the matter and pay out for the repair; a view which, of course, is quite true.

So, a new lens assembly has cost me just over £25, and a further £41 if I don’t do the job myself. Reporting the matter to the insurer is a definite “no-no”. The total repair would be less than my £100 excess, so I would still have to pay for it, and, at renewal, my premium would suffer a permanent rise for “increased risk”!”

It seems crazy that people are avoiding making insurance claims because it costs them more in the long run. But I guess that’s the crazy world we live in. Until things change, it appears drivers need to think things through very carefully before deciding whether or not to claim for a prang on their motor insurance.

All car parking isn’t as safe and secure as something like official Gatwick airport car parking. So take extra care wherever you park.

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Your car park prang stories

Do you have any car parking prang stories to tell? If so, we’d love to hear them…

Airport News August 2014 – Diseases, Hoaxes and New Security Measures

Thursday, August 7th, 2014 by Kate Goldstone

Airports are always in the news, with a steady stream of fascinating stories covering everything from airport parking and security to jet lag (which we’ll cover in detail next week), the measures taken against terrorism, baggage limits, passenger safety and – occasionally – hot topics like new runways and new airport facilities. Here’s this week’s top trending topics.

Plane bomb hoaxer sectioned under the Mental Health Act

As reported by the BBC, the man who passed a spoof note to the pilots of a plane saying there was a bomb on board has been sectioned under the Mental Health Act and held for a ‘fuller assessment’ of his mental condition. We can only imagine the terror the 269 passengers felt when they noticed the fully-armed RAF Typhoon fighter plane escorting their aeroplane.

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport

Manchester airport, the plane’s destination, was temporarily closed and some flights were diverted to Liverpool and Leeds airports. But, all credit to the authorities and the airport itself, everything was back to normal by 2pm, with inbound and outbound flights only delayed by 25 minutes or so. It just goes to show that these days, airports will pull out all the stops to keep things running smoothly.

If you’d like to see footage of the drama one passenger, Josh Hartley, filmed the RAF escort on his phone. Here’s a link to the BBC story.

Manston airport business plan on the cards

Do you live in Kent? If so you probably mourned the untimely passing of Manston airport, which shut its doors in May with job losses numbering 150. Now there’s good news on the horizon. Councillors have  agreed to the recommendations highlighted by a report looking at ways to make the airport financially viable.

Thanet council is also keen to establish whether the airport might be attractive to private buyers, a necessary step since the report reveals that the project will need hundreds of millions of pounds spent on it. The first step is a twenty year business plan to give everyone involved the very best chance of returning the airport to useful life.

Manston Airport

Manston Airport – Kent

In the past a US-based investor called RiverOak has tried three times to buy the airport. In the end, five weeks before its closure, Manston airport was bought by Ann Gloag, the co-founder of the Stagecoach Group, for just £1.

Fingers crossed for all you Kent-based holidaymakers and business travellers. A good local airport will make your travelling lives much easier as well as saving time and long distance travel costs.

Baggage reclaim nightmares at Gatwick airport –  ABTA’s advice

Apparently a staff shortage was responsible for the deadly delays at Gatwick recently, where passengers faced long waits to reclaim their luggage. On the bright side, the baggage handling company Swissport has rallied forty more staff to help ensure it won’t happen again.

Gatwick Airport Baggage Reclaim

Gatwick Airport Baggage Reclaim

What if there are more delays? The travel organisation ABTA has the answer: pack essential items in your hand luggage.
What do they mean by ‘essential items’? Anything you need on the homeward journey, for example your car and house keys, medicines, spectacles, wallet and anything else you really can’t do without if your baggage goes missing. Better safe than sorry!

Taking Pride in easyJet

Congratulations to easyJet and Manchester Airport who, together, have said they’ll be sponsoring this year’s Manchester Pride event on 23rd August. It’s the second time the companies have collaborated to sponsor the event and their third year of involvement.

With more than a hundred thousand people expected to turn up it’s a high profile event, and good old easyJet will be flying revellers in from far and wide. They estimate ten thousand extra passengers will descend on the city via the airline, with the airport servicing at least 324,000 people over the late August bank holiday weekend.

easyJet offers flights to an impressive 35 destinations from Manchester Airport, including the popular LGBT community destinations Mykonos, Amsterdam and Berlin. And the airport services a whopping 65 airlines flying to a total of 200 destinations.

The companies’ sponsorship highlights the strong relationships they’ve created with local people, and we’d like to wish both Manchester airport and easyJet good luck for the big day. If you’re attending, we hope you have a splendid time too.

Emirates suspends flights to Ebola-affected Conakry ‘indefinitely’

The UK Border Agency, doctors and government officials are all being briefed about what to do if Ebola arrives in Britain. It’s obviously a serious threat. So what about air travel in and out of Africa?

Emirates has suspended all of its flights to Conakry, in Guinea, West Africa, to help stop the spread of Ebola, one of the world’s most dangerous diseases. It was the first  major international airline outside Africa to do so in a bid to halt the worst ever recorded outbreak of the disease, which has already killed more than 900 people across four countries.

Ebola precautions

Ebola precautions

International air travel provides a way for diseases to spread horribly quickly, one of the biggest risks inherent in a global economy where air travel is often cheap, fast and widely available. The airline says any further bans will be guided by health authority and government advice. If you’re travelling to Africa make sure you refer to the government’s advice.

British Airways have announced that they are temporarily suspending flights to Sierra Leone and Liberia until 31st August. A few other airlines have suspended flights to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. British nationals already in or travelling to these countries should put arrangements in place for onward travel or exit. In other words, make sure you can get out of any of these countries if your airline suddenly suspends flights.

You can also check out the World Health Organisation’s website for Ebola updates.

Russian air space might prove an expensive no-no

To fly to Asia, EU planes usually use the shortest trans-Siberian route. But the recent horrific MH17 crash and resulting political furore have led Russian lawmakers to consider limiting or even banning European flights from entering Siberian air space on the popular Europe-Asia route.

According to the Russian media, consultations have been held between the Russian Transport Ministry and Foreign Ministry about restrictions on Western airlines flying in Siberian airspace, which they do dozens of times a day. It’s being seen as a tit-for-tat move to revenge any ‘unfriendly’ measures taken by the European Union, whether or not those measures are to do with air travel itself.

Watch this space… if you’re travelling the route, the cost of avoiding Siberian air space might just have an effect on your fares.

New airport security measures for mobiles, tablets and other popular gadgets

Air travellers are being asked to charge devices carried in their hand luggage as part of new security measures introduced at British airports. Passengers flying in or out of Britain will need to prove their gadgets are charged enough to allow them to be switched on. So what gadgets qualify? Phones, tablets, laptops and MP3 players are the obvious ones. But you’ll also need to prove these items are fully charged:

  • electric shavers
  • travel irons
  • hair dryers and hair straighteners
  • cameras and other camera equipment
  • hand-held games consoles
  • e-readers
  • to be on the safe side, anything with a battery
Airport Security Tightened

Airport Security Tightened

What’s it all about? Apparently the government is acting in line with advice from the USA, but there are no details available. Experts suggest it might be in response to efforts by Islamic militants in Syria and Yemen to build bombs which can evade airport security checks. Whatever the reason, it looks like it’s here for good, with no plans to step down in the foreseeable future.

Next week – Jet lag and how to avoid it

We’ll be back next week with an in-depth feature about jet lag, what it’s all about and, most importantly, what to do about it.

Friday Dreaming – The Mighty Volcanoes of Hawaii

Friday, January 3rd, 2014 by Andy

For our Friday dream holidays, we take a look at Hawaii, known to many of us today as a collection of tropical island paradises, where lots of hula girls play ukulele in grass skirts and coconut bras – but these islands have a much more firey, raw past that is often overlooked. If you love Hawaii appreciating where they come from is what really make the Hawaiian islands so amazing.

The stunning power of the beautiful Hawaiian Islands

 

The “Hawaii Shield” as the archipelago is known to geologist, was formed on the seafloor of the Pacific 500,000 year ago from a series of underwater volcanic eruptions that resulted in the aftermath of formation of Hawaii’s biggest volcano today – Mauna Loa. This triggered a chain reaction that has resulted in the formation of all the islands that are located in Hawaii today.

Due to Hawaii’s location on the Pacific tectonic plate as has turned the islands and volcanoes of Hawaii into a main hotspot, where due to the pressure and uplift creates a mass amount of lava. This all contributes to the plates moving at a rate of 9cm per year in the direction of the north-east, which is the overall reason for the scale and number of volcanic eruptions in the region.

The Amazing Mauna Loa

Not many people know this but Mauna Loa is even bigger than Mount Everest itself, but is obviously classified as a volcano so cannot have the title of “world’s highest mountain”. Towering a massive 56,000 ft above sea level it beats Everest by a staggering 27,000 ft!

When it was first formed, Mauna Loa brought about a rich, fertile but barren volcanic landscape. However due to the fertility of the soil it attracted many forms of wildlife and birds and eventually human settlers in the form of the Polynesians and eventually Europeans.

Although Mauna Loa is frequently active today, it does not have huge gassy eruption all the time unlike it’s European cousins. Mauna Loa is more famous for its constant flowing rivers of molten lava that have helped create the spectacular scenery that you will find all of Hawaii’s volcanoes within.

Go Back to Your Roots

If you wish to discover the roots and foundations of the land you call your home, there’s no better place than to get to grips with that than visiting the volcanoes of Hawaii. See how islands a born and crushed with a centuries instant. Witness the pure power of the rivers of molten lava that are constantly sculpting the landscape they inhabit. There’s no better place on earth to really discover and retrace our human evolution than beholding the spectacle that helped build the land we now inhabit ourselves -the volcano.

For a trip with a difference why not take a holiday of discovery that will have you looking as far back into our past as our own primordial roots and origins. As well as being in the beautiful Hawaii, I’m sure a few cocktails out of coconuts on one of their pristine beaches will be order.

A trip to Disney World Florida

Monday, December 23rd, 2013 by Andy

Do your children like Disney films perchance? Are you a big kid yourself deep down and just waiting for an excuse to take the family on a holiday to Disney World?

What better excuse than Christmas! Take the whole family on a fun, action packed, amazing holiday to the capital of every one’s childhood and dreams. Make a Christmas present to remember, by creating memories you will all cherish for years to come.

Since Disney World is a massive place, with 4 different regions and a water park within it – it may take you some time to around everything you want to see and do. Below we have created a list of great things to do whilst on holiday at Disney World, which will hopefully help guide you in having the best family holiday yet! Have a look at our “Top Things To Do At Disney World”

The Magical Disney World Castle!

Universal Studios

Ever wanted to sit on the actual ‘The Simpsons’ sofa? Fancy sitting inside the famous Delorean car from ‘Back to the Future’? Well now you can! A tour around Universal Studios at Disney World will have you gasping with excitement with many attractions from some of the most beloved films and tv-series of all time.

The Disney Zoo

You maybe in Florida but at the Disney World Zoo you can see animals from all over the world. From hippos and hyenas to giraffes and lions, not forgetting the amazing aquarium here that has dolphins and even killer whales! Don’t forget to stick around for one of the dolphin or killer whales shows that will have the whole family whooping and clapping with joy at the amazing tricks these majestic animals can do.

The Rides…

What would a trip to Disney world be without par-taking in some of the spectacular rides they have here? From epic Roller coasters such as Space Mountain and the Big Dip, to magical rides on the tea cups or getting wild and wet on the awesome rapids – no matter what age or preference you or your children have, you will certainly find a number of rides to keep everyone entertained all the day through!

The Disney Parade

Who’s your favorite Disney Character? Sleeping Beauty? Simba from the Lion King? Balou from the Jungle Book? Here’s your chance to re-live your childhood dreams and make those of your children come true by taking part in the amazing and spectacular Disney Parade. See all your favorite characters dance and sing all your beloved Disney songs, whilst marching through the entire Disney World Kingdom. A feast for the senses and something that should not be missed by anyone who loves Disney!

This Christmas, instead of buying lots and lots of gifts for everyone why not take everyone on a great family holiday to Disney World? Not only will you be making memories that you all will remember for the rest of your lives but you’ll also be spending some quality time altogether during this special festive season. Plus some Florida sunshine will be a welcome change to the usual Christmas weather that everyone will be used to!

If you are looking for a Winter Break to Disney World or any other location, take away one little stress by arranging a meet and greet service at one of our airport parking options.

An Outdoor Holiday in Alaska

Monday, December 2nd, 2013 by Andy

Alaska is the biggest state in North America, spanning over a massive 663,268 square miles of pure, raw untouched wilderness. Not for the faint hearted, Alaska is a mesmerising place with some of the most tremendous scenery etched out of numerous ice ages.

With a plethora of outdoor pursuits to embark on, you’ll never be bored or be stuck for something to do in this great vast mountainous place. Below we have listed a few of the top things to do whilst visiting this enchanting place.

Alaska welcomes the most spectacular of whales – The Humpback

Whale Watching

Every summer the great hump back whales make their journey upstream to Alaska’s chilly waters for their annual feeding and mating season. Take a boat out to the Alaskan Gulf to witness these beautiful creatures in their most natural habitat. Hopefully you’ll be quick enough to capture a snap of one of the great sea beasts before they descend for cover back under the waters!

Hiking

Step through glaziers, gaze up through ice caverns and trek through some of the most stunning mountainous scenery your every liking to encounter. Every twist and turn you make through Alaska’s wild terrain will have you gasping for another breath, over the sheer natural beauty that lay before you. Definitely are great place for people who like walking holidays and there are also some great bike treks around the forests in the summer months.

Kayaking and Rafting

Lake Wonder, reflecting the mountains of Mc Kinley beautifully in its waters just as the sun rises over the snow-capped giants – an image mere words cannot replicate. Take a slow relaxing row for two down one of Alaska’s many lakes or for the thrill seekers take a chance on the rapids and be tossed from one place to the next in all different directions. We repeat once more, certainly not for the faint hearted!

Skiing and Snowboarding

If you like skiing and snowboarding Alaska is definitely the holiday destination for you. As eco-tourism is a very big thing in Alaska many of the slopes and runs are all natural and uncultivated, as to not interfere with the wildlife and nature surrounding them. Bearing this in mind, some of the course can be very rough and wild so ensure you only take on the slopes that you’re confident you can do.

As well as a winter destination, Alaska comes into full bloom during the summer months and is a feast for the senses. A whole wealth of unusual wildflowers and plants grow here and the summer warmth brings to life all of the animals that hibernate during the winter, such as the bears and mooses. A treasure to watch, make sure to take a professional guide with you as these are wild animals in their natural habitat and can be unpredictable! But don’t let such things put you off, as Alaska during the summer and winter hosts a wide fun of amazing things to do in the most beautiful and magical setting.

Valentine’s Day in Paris

Monday, November 25th, 2013 by Andy

Sophisticated and scenic, cosmopolitan and iconic, the ultimate way to warm the soul during the cold winter months is undoubtedly a passionate Parisian getaway during the season of love. Paris is the definitive destination to send Cupids arrow through the heart, or just an inspiringly beautiful setting to spend time with someone special.  Here are some top tips on the best things to do in this beautiful city.

love locks

‘Love locks’ on the Pont de l’Archevêché

Pont de l’Archevêché

Seal your love with a ‘Love Lock’. This is where you and your lover have both of your initials inscribed on a padlock. Near the Notre Dame cathedral, on the bridge ‘Pont de l’Archevêché’ , there are thousands of these inscribed padlocks which lovers have locked onto it, which is an interesting and touching spectacle. Tradition says that to throw away the key is to symbolise your love as locked together for eternity.

World Famous Hot Chocolate

To warm your cockles, why not go to the renowned and world famous Angelina’s for a Chocolat Chaud (or Hot Chocolate). It is typically Parisian with its sweeping gothic architecture, and grand pieces of art hung on the walls; a truly beautiful and ornate tea room.  It has an amazing cake selection to accompany this world class setting, heavenly for the sweet tooth!

Notre Dame

A visit to Paris would not be complete without seeing this incredible ancient building, an unmistakable landmark with its two dominating bell towers, located just next to the majestic River Siene. This Catholic Cathedral is one of the earliest examples of gothic architecture, and looking at it you can see how Victor Hugo was inspired to write the world famous novel ‘the Hunchback of Notre Dame’. Looking up into the towers it is easy to visualise this legendary character looming up there in the darkness.

On a cold February day where better to cuddle your loved one close than inside Notre Dame, which is so heart warmingly spectacular you cannot help but feel romantic. Its altar is almost other worldly, so epic in size and intricacy that whether you are religious or not, being here feels truly spiritual.

Eiffel Tower

The penultimate Parisian landmark we have all seen many times before, whether we have actually been there or not. Standing directly under this steel monster in the flesh is overwhelming, a true feat of engineering, you can feel the oppressive weight of the steel so dizzyingly high towering above you.

Needless to say the higher up the tower you go, the more of an awe inspiring view you will get. By day and night it is an absolute dream. Feeling the cold air up there is so pure and visceral. A common spot for lovers to propose, who knows perhaps some of this magic will rub off on you and you will find yourself on one knee!

As a winter destination, you can’t go wrong with Paris, and there is certainly no more romantic place to spend Valentine’s Day!

Air Passenger Duty – What is it, and How Does it Affect Your Holiday?

Monday, November 25th, 2013 by Andy

When you fly from a UK airport to anywhere in the world, you will automatically pay Air Passenger Duty (APD). What was in 1994 an extra £10 tax on long-haul flying has soared to, in some cases, an up to an extra £188 per seat.

The UK government makes £2.8 billion from the tax every year – a measure they deem necessary, but one which is increasingly being called into question by airlines, foreign tourist boards and passengers. Many believe that the economy would actually be better served by reducing the tax – through jobs, GDP growth and inbound tourism.
We believe that this isn’t a matter that’s simply a concern for the aviation industry and government to sort out: this issues affects you, as the passenger stuck in the middle of it all. We have therefore written a guide that will tell you how much you are likely to pay on your next flight, ways you could be saving despite the tax and what you can do to make your voice heard on the issue. In this guide, we aim to help you answer these questions, and more:


How is Air Passenger Duty calculated?

Air Passenger Duty is levied on all flights departing from UK airports. The amount you will pay per person on top of a ticket depends on two things:

  • Which band your destination falls into. There are four in total (A,B,C or D), determined by how far your destination’s capital is from London: at 2,000 mile intervals, the price climbs higher
  • The class you’re travelling in – economy class rates can be substantially cheaper. Premium Economy and above is charged at the standard rate, and private aircraft have their own (substantially more expensive) rates


How much Air Passenger Duty will I pay?


As explained above, where you’re going and how you travel affects the amount of tax you will pay. You can travel as far as the north coast of Africa by paying just £13 for an economy class seat – but if you travel just a little further south you’ll have to pay over £50 more. Extra long haul flights (Australia, Argentina) involve a tax of £94 per person for economy travel – and travelling in comfort will be £166 per head. For a four person family, that could be anything up to £664 on the top of an already expensive set of tickets.

The graphic breaks down how much tax you’re paying to fly, until 31 March 2014:

AirPassengerDutyWorldMap

Not sure which band your destination falls under? Have a look at Appendix 1 – Destinations by band over at Hmrc.gov.uk (press Ctrl+F to search. If the country doesn’t appear, it is likely that it is in Band D).

When is Air Passenger Duty next due to rise?


Air Passenger Duty is subject to an annual rise, and short of treasury intervention, these will be the new rates from 1 April 2014:

AirPassengerDutyNextRise

Notable Quirks – How to travel 5,500 miles in Band B


Because the bands are determined by how close a country’s capital is to our own, some destinations fall into cheaper bands than may be expected:

  • The most commonly cited example is the United States, which falls into Band B because Washington D.C. is less than 4,000 miles away. However, the west coast (e.g. Los Angeles) is around 5,500 miles away (Band C)
  • Hawaii is comfortably into Band D territory (approximately 7,200 miles away) but as it is legally part of the United States of America, it is considered to be in Band B. This is different to how the rules treat overseas territories (such as the Falkland Islands which falls into Band D)
  • Caribbean tourism has been heavily lobbying the UK government citing the above fact – Most of the Caribbean is only around 4,200 to 4,600 miles away from London – most of the US’ landmass is further away than this, but air travel to Caribbean destinations is still taxed with an extra £16 to £32 over US prices
  • Russia is so big that it is the only nation the UK government has elected to split in two. Nevertheless, the portion of Russia east of the Ural Mountains is taxed only as Band B. A city like Vladivostok (5,200 miles away) is treated as if it’s closer than neighbouring Band C countries like China and Japan
  • Smaller countries still give rise to quirks in the system. Southern Vietnam is further away from London than Cambodia, but because the capital, Hanoi, is in the north, the country edges into Band C

Thankfully, these quirks largely make your flights cheaper than you may expect. Nonetheless, they do undermine a sense of internal consistency in the tax.


How can I plan my holiday around Air Passenger Duty?


While we don’t believe that the existence of Air Passenger duty should get in the way of your quest to see the parts of the world that truly capture your imagination, you may consider actively avoiding the tax if:

  • You’re more concerned about visiting a particular region or climate than a specific country
  • You’re happy to put off going somewhere in a higher band in the hope that aviation industry lobbying will reduce charges in the future

Please note that the banding quirks we mentioned earlier don’t always have a lot to do with the actual cost of the flights. A flight to Hawaii is still going to cost you a similar amount to most flights to the other side of the world, regardless of the amount of money the UK government are taking.
Instead, we would generally recommend seeing whether neighbouring countries fall within different bands to see whether there’s likely to be any notable savings on your flight. Indeed, it may be worth considering taking a flight to one country, and crossing the border on locally booked transport. We’ve listed a few alternatives that some may consider:

  • Caribbean beach holiday alternatives – if all you’re after is sun and sand in a island locale, there are a number of subtropical destinations that may serve as a great alternative. The Azores and Canary islands are in Band A, and Bermuda is the closest you’ll be able to get to the Caribbean without paying for a Band C trip
  • African Safari holiday alternatives – Southern and eastern Africa are renowned for their safari experiences, but the vast majority of countries are in Band C. The one exception is Uganda, which proponents call “unspoiled” and “more authentic” than its neighbours, such as Kenya and Tanzania
  • South America – Brazil is the southernmost country still within Band C: Chile, Argentina and even the relatively northerly Peru are all in Band D
  • The Indian Subcontinent – Pakistan falls into Band B whereas India and Bangladesh are in Band C. Anyone considering a cultural tour of the region may want to consider travelling from Lahore into India via the bus and train services available.
  • South-East Asia – Cambodia is surrounded on all sides by Band C nations (Thailand, Laos, Vietnam), but is in Band D. Thailand additionally shares a border with Malaysia, and may therefore be the best option for travel around the region.


What can we do about Air Passenger Duty?


Changing your holiday plans to avoid APD isn’t a valid long-term tactic. If you are unhappy with the way you are being taxed, there are other ways of getting your voice heard:

  • Sign an E-petition. Currently, the most successful open petition currently has over 32,000 signatures – it has already received a response from the Government but needs a push to 100,000 signatures to be heard again. However, it suggests only the suspension of APD over school holidays
  • The existence of the epetitions site doesn’t mean that traditional means of contact with your government aren’t still open – consider contacting your MP to raise your concerns
  • Keep a close eye on Afairtaxonflying.org, a site where the aviation industry is coordinating its efforts

The sheer volume of petition signatures, letters to MPs and negative coverage in the national press is in some way disheartening: the current government seems set on maintaining and increasing Air Passenger Duty.

Nevertheless, though APD increases have been curated by all three of the main parties in the past, it’s important to remember that UK government elections are coming in 2015. The louder passengers shout about APD, the more likely that the issue will become part of party manifestos.

Air Passenger Duty timeline


AirPassengerDutyTimeline

November 1994 – Air Passenger Duty (APD) is introduced by Conservative chancellor Kenneth Clarke as a two band system. Passengers are charged £5 for travel within the UK and EEA, £10 for travelling elsewhere.

November 1997 – New Labour chancellor Gordon Brown doubles APD: passengers are now charged £10 for UK and EEA travel, and £20 for travel elsewhere.

April 2001 – Gordon Brown decides to restructure APD to introduce tiers based on the class traveled in: a reduced rate is introduced for economy travel. EEA travel gains a half-price reduced rate, but rest of world travel actually gains a doubled standard rate – a £40 tax.

Februrary 2007 – In his final year as Chancellor, Gordon Brown announces that APD is to double.

November 2009 – Alistair Darling introduces a four band system based on distance to a country’s capital city in 2000 mile bands.

April 2011 – George Osborne considers various paths of APD reform but ultimately rejects them and announces further price rises across all four bands

April 2012 – Now an annual event, further price rises come into effect.

April 2013 – Once again, prices rise. Additionally, the chancellor introduces a higher rate specifically to penalise private jets: aircrafts weighing more than 20 tonnes but having fewer than 19 seats.

April 2014 – Further rises have already been defined for the 2014/15 financial year:

[Source: BATA.uk.com, Hmrc.gov.uk and Abta.com]


APD Infographic

air passenger dury infographic

Air Passenger Duty Information – An infographic by the team at Air Passenger Duty Information by GoSimply

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The Magic of the Northern Lights

Friday, November 22nd, 2013 by Andy

The Northern Lights are one of nature’s most beautiful displays, mystical and hypnotising, giving the appearance of another worldly presence. Swirling colours sweeping, like a living, breathing, giant painting that fills the sky. Photographs of this cerebral piercing show do not do it justice. Seeing it in its full glory, right there before you is the only way to fully experience it. The colours will leave you stunned, a brand new visual experience. I can explain only so far, as words only restrict describing this profound spectacle.

The impressive Northern Lights over Tromso

The best place to see the incredible Aurora Borealis A.K.A the Northern Lights, is above the Arctic Circle in the majestic country of Norway. The best time to see them is between the Autumn and Winter equinox (September to March 21st) when it is dark from 6pm to 1pm.

There are lots of destinations to choose from, so here is a guide to the best spots-

Lofoten Islands

These islands are a prime example of Norway’s dramatic landscapes. Sheer towering mountains like giant fangs, topped with glacier ice twinkling like a mischievous winking eye high in the sky. Already perfection seemingly un-improvable, Aurora Borealis manages to do just that.

A good place to start when on the island is to visit the Polar Light Centre in the town of Laukvik. Here you can see an amazing 3D presentation of the lights, where you are given full scientific explanations, and you can ask any questions you wish. You will also be advised where best to view the real thing. This is a nice precursor to actually seeing Aurora Borealis, making even more meaningful.

North Cape

The Northern Light belt hits at Lofoten Islands, then covers all the way up to North Cape, which is right up on the same latitude as Greenland. This means from here you see the lights from the other end. This means you will experience alternative patterns evoking a slightly different mood, but it will still be just as ethereal and intense.

A popular thing to do is hike the mighty snow covered cliffs, but you must be careful and make sure you know your daylight hours from the night

Tromsø

This is the popular tourist destination town, and there are numerous ‘Aurora Tours’, where you will be taken to the best spots to see the lights. These tours are great value for money, but you have to remember seeing the Northern Lights is never guaranteed. It all depends on the weather and the magnitude of the polls. However, the tours operators are honest and have the experience to know if it is worth going or not.

Wherever you go to see them, if you do manage to catch a glimpse of this evocative dance of nature, it is an experience you will never forget. Norway is the most likely place to see the lights in the world, and a stunning country to visit nonetheless.

A Very Mexican Christmas

Friday, November 1st, 2013 by Andy

The next stop on our fantasy Christmas break is Mexico. The Mexicans celebrate Christmas from December the 16th to January 6th, and it is a jam packed festive season.  Mexico is a vast country with so many destinations, and so much to do! Here are some of the best places in this amazing country to spend your Christmas.

Mexico City

The thriving bustling capital city becomes a tinsel town, Christmas bonanza during the festive period. Expect lots of street parties with lots of traditional Mariachi bands, and plenty of markets selling traditional craftwork. You will see huge traditional Christian displays with reindeers, blown up biblical images, and lots of singing and dancing!

The bars in the Condesa and Roma neighbourhoods have a really nice bustling, warm Christmas atmosphere whilst retaining a true Mexican feel, expect plenty of Tequila!

Oaxaca

I would recommend Mexico City anytime apart from Christmas Eve due to it having some of the biggest traffic jams known to man. The local people will all be trying to get to the traditional late night Christmas Eve meal which is an important family custom.

Instead take the 2 hour drive to Oaxaca. Try to do so by daylight, due to the fact that you will be driving through some incredible volcanic landscapes that you wouldn’t want to miss out on being able to see. You can actually see the Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatepetl volcanoes during this amazing drive.

Ouxaca is very different to Mexico City, here you will be able to take a deep breath and be able to relax. You can get involved in some of the local traditions such as the Danza De La Pluma on the 16th of December, where lots of different indigenous groups come together to perform various dances on the Church steps. Also, a strange as it may sound the ‘Night of the Radishes’ is a real experience. This occurs on Christmas Eve and involves a multitude of intricate art made entirely out of radishes. You can expect some true masterpieces and an almighty celebration.

San Cristóbal de las Casas

The main city in the state of Chiapas, this is a fantastic winter destination. Following the political unrest during the 1990’s with the uprising of the Zapatista farmers, today this charming colonial town couldn’t be more peaceful.

The city of San Cristóbal de las Casas is surrounded by autonomous indigenous villages, stunning churches, natural wonders such as the Sumider Canyon, and Mayan Ruins. You can expect a more traditional Christmas here where you will get to see some truly local traditions. It has a slightly cooler climate than Mexico City, but still lovely and warm in comparison to the UK!

It is an amazing experience to spend a special time like Christmas somewhere completely different, be it with family, group, as a couple or on your own. Mexico at Christmas is a truly unforgettable experience never to be forgotten.