Category : Latest News

Jan 2015 UK Airport News – The Latest Air Travel Tales

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 by Kate Goldstone

The festive dust has well and truly cleared, the world is back to normal and there’s plenty of strange, weird, wonderful airport news flying around about the UK’s airports.

UK Airports

UK Airports

Top UK airport news stories for January 2015

Here are a few of the best, including some sensible and useful stories as well as the stuff of pure entertainment.

Heathrow Airport Expansion – News update

Last week Heathrow airport announced record passenger numbers for 2014, up 1.4% on 2013 at a massive 73.4 million people. That’s an awful lot of passengers. Air cargo was also up, this time 5.3% on 2013, at 1.5 million tonnes. It’s no surprise really, since passenger numbers have been steadily increasing since 2010 and experts estimate Heathrow airport could potentially handle a mind-blowing 90 million passengers a year under their current capacity.

A month earlier the All Party Parliamentary Group on Heathrow and the Wider Economy released its report into Noise from Heathrow Airport. The report reveals how the government and aviation sector have ‘seriously’ underestimated the impact of noise from the airport, both present and future. It also examined the impact of a third runway.

London Heathrow

London Heathrow – from ecopolitology.org

The report contains calls for those responsible for expansion to measure  noise properly using the WHO’s formula as well as a series of demands regarding the need for full information about future flight paths, respite periods, estimates of the number of people affected, population growth in affected areas and cuts in night flights. At the same time, apparently, Heathrow Airport’s CEO has confirmed that a successful third runway would open the doors to a fourth.

Both the West Windsor Residents Association and the Old Windsor Residents Association held Open Public Meetings on 20th January at Windsor Racecourse, to highlight the potentially disastrous effects of a third runway at Heathrow. The meeting featured presentations from local experts on noise, housing, transport and health, looking into the repercussions of an estimated 50% more flights, some flying over places that were previously fairly quiet and unspoiled by airport noise. Expansion may also mean 70,000 more homes for the predicted extra 112,000 employees and their families, but the region is already having difficulties coping with existing demand for more homes, schools, hospitals, doctors and improvements to transport links.

Heathrow expansion headlines this week also include damning reports about how an extra runway could ‘destroy’ Windsor and create homes ‘turmoil’. On balance it looks as though a decision to expand Heathrow is causing more disapproval and difficulty than positive reactions. If you lived near the airport, how would you feel?

Cool new routes and flight frequencies announced by UK airports

Airport expansion is in a constant state of flux. It looks like it’ll probably stay that way. But airlines are busy increasing their routes to meet public and business demand. Here are a few of the new and expanded routes on offer soon at an airport near you.

  1. If you regularly fly to Scotland from the south east you’ll be pleased to hear that Ryanair will be flying between London and Edinburgh more often, four times a day from winter 2015 onwards. It will particularly please the 25% of Ryanair customers who regularly travel the route on business.
  2. A new Glasgow/Berlin route, again from Ryanair, is set to delight travellers as the airline expands with a focus on Scotland. Flights are set to increase to five times a week, quickly expanding to daily flights between the cities. The Glasgow to Stansted route will benefit from more Ryanair flights, too.
  3. Ryanair also plans new routes between Edinburgh and Alicante, Frankfurt, Krakow, Malaga and Tenerife, all from autumn 2015. And the airline will be providing even more exciting new routes from Scotland as soon as a bunch of shiny new planes on order arrives from the manufacturer, Boeing.
  4. At the same time EasyJet, Ryanair’s arch-rival, is cutting its Gatwick to Moscow service from 13 times a week to 11 times a week, reducing the service further to daily flights from March 29th onwards.
  5. Leeds Bradford Airport is introducing 9 new holiday destinations for Summer 2015 through seven operators. Jet2.com and Jet2holidays are running new routes to Malta, Tunisia, Greece and Turkey. Monarch and Cosmos are offering direct flights to Naples and adding Alicante to their summer flights portfolio. Thomson and First Choice have added all-inclusive packages to Crete. Omega has kicked off a new service to Friedrichshafen and Ryanair have resurrected flights to Riga.
  6. New direct flights from the north east of England direct to the USA are due to be trialled before rolling out, courtesy of Newcastle Airport and United Airlines. What can passengers expect? As the Northern Echo says:

“You can take a train from (Newark Liberty International) airport and be at Penn Station within 25 minutes and then you have the centre of New York at your fingertips. As a destination for business and leisure travel it is pretty much peerless. The fact that it is non-stop is a key selling point. It means you can arrive in New York at lunchtime. There is no messing about with connections.

It also means that passengers from the North-East will be able to make 300 connections from New York, 100 of them non-stop to US cities such as Las Vegas, Houston, as well as destinations in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

The flights, on Boeing 757-200 aircraft, will start on Saturday, May 23 until September 7, and run daily, except Wednesday and Thursday, to the States, and Tuesday and Wednesday back across the Atlantic, with the outbound flight leaving Newcastle at 9.10am heading for Newark airport, near New York.”

Airport Departures

Airport Departures – from dailymail.co.uk

Airport news – Thomas Cook flight diverted when passenger hit on head by falling shoe

A  poorly pensioner, who was hit on the head by a shoe, forced a crowded plane bound for Birmingham airport, UK, to make an emergency landing. Hilda Holland was taken to hospital in Portugal, taken off theThomas Cook flight from Fuerteventura by stretcher. The flat shoe hit Hilda on the head when a fellow passenger opened a locker above her seat and it fell out. The plane diverted to Lisbon, where the OAP and her husband were taken to hospital and she was treated for shock.

Grubby 1st class conditions shock former BBC TV reporter

1st class isn’t always what you get. Or so found the ex-BBC TV reporter Owen Thomas, who was so disgusted by the muck on a first class British Airways flight to St Lucia that he actually committed it to film. He’d saved up for ages to enjoy his trip of a lifetime, with first class tickets to the island costing a whopping  £9,000 in the peak holiday season. Even the Purser on board admitted levels of cleanliness were ‘pretty bad’.

First Class Air Travel

First Class Air Travel – from foxbusiness.com

Great news for north eastern plane-spotters

If you love plane-spotting, you’ll adore the new bar at Newcastle airport, with its splendid runway views. The bar is called Cabin and it’s designed to deliver a premium passenger experience, with its stunning island bar-inspired décor and atmospheric lighting.

If you’re feeling posh it’s perfect, partnered with big brands like Champagne Lanson, Peroni and Corney & Barrow to deliver an outstanding and truly diverse drinks list. The food sounds pretty darned good too, including salted cod croquettes, special Cabin pate, Mezze, charcuterie from a local farm and fab cheeses from Pong.

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More next week…

Come back next week for more news, views and comment about everything to do with airports, from airport parking developments to new routes, gossip and crazy air travel-inspired news items.

Gatwick Airport Expansion: Latest Developments

Thursday, January 8th, 2015 by Kate Goldstone

Airport expansion is inevitably a sticky issue. So what’s going on right now as regards building a new runway at Gatwick airport, one of the biggest and busiest in the nation with two terminals but just one runway? Here’s a summary of the situation as the New Year gathers momentum.

London Gatwick Airport

London Gatwick Airport

The current situation at Gatwick – Expansion news

In a binding agreement dating back to 1979, West Sussex County Council prevents Gatwick from expanding via a second runway until 2019. It obviously doesn’t mean the airport can’t make plans in advance of the date. But things are moving very slowly indeed. As Wikipedia says:

“In 1979, an agreement was reached with West Sussex County Council not to build a second runway before 2019. In its original consultation document published on 23 July 2002 the Government decided to expand Stansted and Heathrow, but not Gatwick.

However, Medway Council, Kent County Council and Essex County Council sought a judicial review of this decision. The judge reviewing the lawfulness of the Government’s decision ruled that excluding Gatwick from the original consultation was irrational and/or unfair.

Following the judge’s ruling and the Secretary of State for Transport’s decision not to appeal, BAA published new consultation documents. These included an option of a possible second runway at Gatwick to the south of the existing airport boundary, leaving the villages Charlwood and Hookwood to the north of the airport intact. This led to protests about increased noise and pollution, demolition of houses and destruction of villages.”

The Airports Commission released an interim report on London Airport expansion choices in December 2013 and short listed Gatwick Airport as a potential site. In early April last year Gatwick Airport published three options for public consultation. The Commission will deliver its final report to the British government during 2015.

Gatwick Airport Runway

Gatwick Airport Runway

Gatwick airport expansion – The objections

Willie Walsh, the CEO of the British Airways’ parent company, has already ruled out supporting a second runway at Gatwick airport because, as he sees it, there isn’t a decent business case to support it. At the same time the Chief Executive of the Sussex Wildlife Trust is worried about the idea because of the detrimental impact it’ll have on wildlife and our precious green spaces.

Local people are divided: some support a second runway at Gatwick because of the perceived economic and employment benefits, others are against Gatwick expansion because of the extra noise, pollution and congestion it’s likely to bring.

Then there’s the biggest argument of all: is expansion appropriate full stop, in times when human-led climate change is already having an effect and continuing to harness fossil fuels is less of a sensible option than ever. Many of the aircraft in the skies today are thirty, forty, fifty years old, engineered before green considerations came to the fore and they’re often heavy CO2 emitters.

New technologies, on the other hand, are making things better. Take jet biofuels, for example, created from oilseed crops. Carbon offsetting schemes are becoming more popular. New ‘green’ departures and are being achieved through continuous rates of climb. And greener minimum thrust, continuous descents and approaches have been put in place at some airports, by some airlines, to help reduce carbon emissions.

3 options for a second runway at Gatwick

Here are the three options suggested by the airport for public consultation:

  • Option 1 – A 3.4km runway 585m parallel to / south of the current runway

Under this option there’d be a runway for take-offs and another for landings. The inevitable hike in passenger numbers would be catered for by expanding the existing north terminal in a southerly direction to make a new remote pier to the west. It’d also mean a new short term multi-storey car park for both the north and south terminal, something we’re obviously interested in as airport parking specialists.

This one’s also the least expensive and the choice that requires the least land, estimated at another  388 hectares. It causes the lest extra noise but on the downside for the airport, it comes with less capacity than the other options.  The maximum capacity increases airport traffic by a whopping 24 million travellers per year, peaking at 70 aeroplane movements an hour: 389,000 a year.

  • Option 2 – A 3.4km runway 1045m parallel / to the south of the current runway

This option takes passenger growth under consideration by building a third terminal between the two runways, near to the rail link with its own access roads from the M23 and A23. In this case there’d be three new short term multi-storey car parks and the plan would require 573 hectares of extra land, which would mean demolishing the commercial buildings on Lowfield Heath. The shuttle would be extended too, linking the three terminals closely via extra carriages and more frequent services.

This choice is more expensive and is bad news for people who live in North Crawley, North Horsham and East Grinstead. It also means flights would pass directly over the pretty village of Rusper, just  6km from the  new runway’s westerly take off and landing points.

Again, we’d have one runway dedicated to taking off and another to landing. Passenger traffic under this option is predicted to rise to 40 million per year, peaking at 85 aircraft movements an hour, 483,000 flights per year.

  • Option 3 – Similar to option 2 but…

We’re looking at the same infrastructure as option 2 here, but option 3 comes with an extra short-term multi-storey car park. Plus both runways would be used for take-offs and landings.

This is the noisiest option. Simultaneously using two runways a mile apart for take-offs affects a much bigger chunk of land than the other choices. On the brighter side, 76% of the time prevailing westerlies mean take-off and landing go from east to west, in other words into the wind and over less populated areas.

The people who live in these less populated areas would bear the brunt of the extra noise. And the plans also more than doubles the number of people already using Gatwick airport, peaking at 47 million travellers every year. It would mean 95 aircraft movements per hour, which stacks up to 513,000 a year. Let’s face it, that’s an awful lot of noise and disruption.

Gatwick Airport Directions

Gatwick Airport Directions

What’s the most likely outcome?

There might be no outcome at all. Agreeing the best option is only the beginning of  a very long and complex process, with plenty of opportunities for anti-expansion campaigners and local people to delay matters. And with climate change high on the political agenda at last, there’s also the chance that any and all airport expansion may eventually be vetoed for the good of the planet and the benefit of our children’s future.

On 5th January 2015 a poll of 1,036 Londoners revealed that, when given a choice of where to build a new runway, 45% chose Gatwick compared to 39% for Heathrow.  The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin believes Britain should increase its capacity to compete internationally. So do various other politicians, business leaders and aviation experts. But others are convinced there isn’t a case for expansion at Gatwick or anywhere else, including the Aviation Environment Federation, which says that, contrary to some reports, the UK is definitely not suffering an airport capacity crisis.

Many conservationists, including those at Friends of the Earth, are certain the business case isn’t convincing, as well as being far from compatible with climate change targets. And the opposition group Airport Watch says the UK is perfectly capable of making the most of its existing capacity instead of expanding.

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Whatever happens, it’s unlikely we’ll see work starting any time soon. Which is a relief for some and a disappointment for others. In the meantime, there’s no real way of telling how the Gatwick airport expansion plan will pan out… if at all.

How would you feel if you had to put up with 70-90 planes an hour flying over your home or place of work?

The Gift of Travel – Cool Travel Gift Ideas

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014 by Kate Goldstone

Some of us love nothing better than staying at home, holidaying within the British Isles. Others are born travellers, willing to drop everything and head for exotic places whenever the opportunity arises. Some say travel broadens the mind, others say it only broadens the mind if you’re already broad minded. But one thing’s for sure – most of us enjoy travelling to one extent or another… and even if we don’t enjoy the actual travel bit, the process of getting from A to B, we love it once we get there!

Christmas Gifts

Christmas Gifts

Christmas travel gift ideas

Travel industry tradition dictates that as soon as the festive season is over, the telly fills up with travel agency and destination adverts and millions of us start thinking about booking our main holidays. Which means travel-related Christmas gifts are an easy win if you have a travel-obsessed friend or relative. Here are some travel-inspired Christmas gifts that are guaranteed to thrill.

Ryanair travel vouchers

Travel vouchers are brilliant because they leave the ultimate choice to the person you give them to. Take Ryanair, whose travel voucher system lets you buy vouchers worth £25 to £200. They give your loved one the choice of 1600 flights every day, connecting a whopping 183 destinations across 30 European countries. You can buy them online and they’ll be emailed to the recipient, who can redeem them via the Ryanair website.

Virgin experience days flying vouchers

Gravity? Who needs it? Virgin Experiences offer a brilliant range of flying lessons and flight-based treats. You can learn to fly in a light aircraft, a helicopter or even a stunning vintage Tiger Moth, a truly legendary flying machine.

If your family member would rather not drive the craft themselves but prefer sitting back and letting someone else do the hard work, you can book them on a helicopter flight over either London or Portsmouth. Remarkable views, a unique perspective and a magical flying experience await you.

Virgin Experience Days

Virgin Experience Days – from virginexperiencedays.co.uk

If you love the idea of flying but feel a bit farty about actually getting airborne, you can still get the full flavour at ground level. How? Via a multi-million pound flight Boeing 737 Flight Simulator. Now that’s what we call a flying lesson gift experience to remember!

Virgin also offers a host more crazy flight-inspired experiences packed with adrenaline.  How about parachuting, skydiving, hot air balloon trips, gliding or flying in a microlight? Not for the faint hearted but huge fun for dedicated adrenaline monsters.

Random fun gift ideas for travellers

The Not On The High Street website lets you shop by personality, which is seriously handy for the jet setter in your life.

How about a classy pair of map location cufflinks, which you can personalise? Or a scratch-off map poster, a personalised travel notebook, a compact mirror with a map printed on the lid or an extremely posh real leather luggage  tag? There’s even a beautiful handmade vintage map lampshade. As we write they have a cool  115 travel related gifts to choose from.

Funkyleisure.co.uk is Britain’s top festival and backpacking shop, home of masses of useful and quirky gifts for youngsters off on their gap year travels during 2015. Everything from backpacker travel card games to travel phone chargers, solar inflatable lights, temporary door locks, body and chest wallets, shewees, eye masks and travelling water purifier kits.

Avios air miles travel cards

How about Airmiles? In 2011 they changed their name to Avios, but they still offer the same thing: when you shop with certian retilers and fly with certain airlines you can collect airmiles and when you’ve collected enough, you can fly somewhere new and exciting for free.

Avios Travel Card

Avios Travel Card – from avios.com

You can collect Avios from household names like Tesco, Shell, BA, Iberia and many more collection partners. Then you can redeem them against flights, Eurostar journeys, cruises, wine clubs and various cool holiday extras including car hire, hotels, travel insurance and leisure experiences. Perhaps you could apply for an airmiles card for someone you love?

Travel books on Amazon

Amazon has a massive collection of beautiful and useful travel books. Take The Travel Book, a journey through every country in the world from Lonely Planet Travel Books. It contains information about 229 countries and destinations plus more than 800 stunning images to inspire the travel-obsessed, even if they’re just keen armchair travellers. The Amazon Kindle store is also full of excellent travel and related ebooks.

The perfect travel gift for 2015, Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015: The Best Trends, Destinations, Journeys & Experiences for the Year Ahead is an exceptional book, packed with the best places to go and things to do all around the world. It draws inspiration from the knowledge and passion of the organisation’s staff, seasoned travel authors and the online community. And every destination featured has been through a strict selection process to win a place in the book.

  • The top 10 countries, regions and cities to visit in 2015
  • The best travel experiences on the cards for the coming year
  • 16 top travel lists to explore
  • More than 35 particularly spectacular and thrilling events, detailed month by month
Travel Around the World

Travel Around the World

If someone you know has always wanted to just drop everything and go… but doesn’t know where to start and how to get it sorted, you might buy them How to Drop Everything And Travel Around The World – How to Do It, Where to Go & Why It’s Cheaper Than You Think. Here are the chapter headings to whet your appetite:

  • Are You Ready? Let’s Go On An Adventure!
  • Making Up Your Mind to Travel
  • Getting Your Sh*t Together Before You Leave
  • The Essential Guide to Packing
  • Where Are You Going? Let’s See Some Ideas!
  • Worldwide Travel Tips: Where to Go, Sleep, And Eat
  • Tackling Issues On The Road (Where Would We Be Without Surprises?)
  • Staying Sane Abroad
  • Let’s Cut To The Chase: How Much Will It Cost Me? (Hint: It’s Cheaper Than You Think)
  • What Are You Doing Here? Bon Boyage!
  • BONUS CHAPTER from “Productivity NOW! The Ultimate Guide to Get Explosive Results, Maximize Your Productivity & Erase Procrastination Forever!”
  • Much, much more!

SafariQuip for the finest tried and tested travel & adventure gear

Being properly equipped is half the battle. If you want to buy top quality travel related gifts from a company run by people who are totally passionate about travel and adore adventures, SafariQuip have been selling the finest equipment to fellow travellers and outdoor enthusiasts since the 1980s.

Rolling in cash? Buy a plane…

For all we know you’re loaded, rolling in it, on the rich list. If so, why not buy a plane and take control of your own travelling life? Cessna has a great choice of beautiful, reliable flying machines, everything from their famously luxurious Citation business jets to Caravan turboprops and single engine light aircraft.  As they say on-site:

“For more than eight decades, we have been innovating aircraft engineering to lead the world of aviation. Continuing that tradition of pioneering in aviation technology, we are driven by ingenuity. We have been reinventing the way you fly for more than 85 years. Our aeronautical engineers have imagined hundreds of original aircraft concepts into clean sheet designs advancing to the latest computer-enhanced technology and flight-simulation tools and, finally, to prototype. Because it takes years for a new aircraft to reach its maiden flight, we are always designing for tomorrow’s world.”

Here’s wishing you a splendid Christmas

Whatever you buy, wherever you go, whatever you do, here’s wishing all our lovely customers a very happy festive season and a thrillingly adventurous 2015.

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Computer Fail Flight Disruptions – What’s Next?

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 by Kate Goldstone

We talked about flight delays, flight disruptions and cancellations a couple of weeks ago, mentioning how easily it can happen in a seasonal context. Then, on 12th December, passengers faced widespread flight disruption after a computer failure at Britain’s air traffic control centre, NATS. We couldn’t have predicted it. Nobody could. So what was it all about? And could it happen again?

Computer System Failure

System Failure

Computer glitches ‘r’ us – Airport woes

When National Air Traffic Services encounters a technical fault, everything grinds to a halt. It has to, otherwise lives would be put at serious risk. This particular glitch caused issues at airports throughout Britain, including the major hubs Heathrow airport and Gatwick airport. And it happened only a year after a dramatic telephone system fail at the NATs control room in Swanwick, Hampshire, just one of several crises since the centre started life in 2002.

A total of 84 flights out of 1300 or so were cancelled at Heathrow on the Friday. Gatwick suffered flight delays of up to 90 minutes with 19 cancellations. And there were cancellations and delays at numerous other airports including Stansted, London City, Newcastle, Luton, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Southampton, amongst others.

The government became embroiled more or less instantly, saying the disruption was not acceptable and asking for a full explanation. Labour called for ministers to “get a grip” and the Labour chairwoman of the transport select committee, Louise Ellman, insisted it was “vital that we establish what happened”. So what, exactly, went wrong?

UK Daily Air Traffic

UK Daily Air Traffic – from independent.co.uk

Flight disruptions in December – What went wrong at NATs this time?

Apparently a single dodgy line of code in one of NATs’ 50 or more computer systems – a mistake hidden amongst literally millions of lines of code – caused the problem. But the issue runs much deeper than a simple one-off failure. It appears some parts of the NATs computer system are ‘elderly’ and as such they pose an ongoing challenge.

How come? Imagine you set up a computer system ten years or more ago. It worked perfectly at the time, but as the years pass you need to upgrade and update it to cope with extra flights, new technologies, new safety measures, security and so on.

Do you replace the whole system every time? It’s probably too expensive and, at least at first, unnecessary. So you bolt extra functionality onto the legacy system and carry on as normal. It works for a while. But eventually the whole thing begins to fall over. You need to start from fresh. But the cost is overwhelming.

That’s how it often happens. And NATS isn’t alone. Banks have suffered from the same kind of thing, where old, complex computer systems are less and less able to cope with the contemporary demands made on them. As a result they crash every now and again, leaving millions of us unable to get into our bank accounts.

Heathrow Terminal

Heathrow Terminal – from techweekeurope.co.uk

Can they fix it?

The Swanwick system is made up of fifty different sub-systems, containing a total of around four million lines of code. NATs are spending a whopping extra £575 million over the next five years to update the systems, but they can’t just switch everything off to carry out repairs. They have to do the work while the system’s running.

Swanwick controls an enormous 200,000 square miles of airspace above England and Wales. It handles more than 5000 flights every day. And it’s no stranger to software issues, technical problems and computer glitches. One of the reasons is the simple fact that the system runs at “full pelt” all the time, so when something small goes awry it has a profound effect. Add the fact that NATs is facing cost-cutting as well as redundancies and you get the picture.

Thankfully the system was up and running again pretty quickly and by the Saturday, things were more or less back to normal.

Vintage Computer Room

Vintage Computers – from blogto.com

Will it happen again?

There’s always a risk one computer system or other might fall over. Then there are other kinds of delays. Extreme weather,  communications problems, technical issues, long immigration queues, re-fuelling, air traffic congestion, politics, airport staff strikes and embargoes, volcanic eruptions, terrorist attacks, security problems, illness and even drunk and disorderly passengers have all led to air travel nightmares in the past.

Wherever you’re flying to or from, at whatever time of year, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for delays, just in case. We’ve written an airport survival guide to help you cope.

How do you know if flight delays are imminent?

The Flightstats website includes a real time flight tracker and airport delays service, where you can look up the status of flights and get the information you need to plan ahead effectively, checking your journey either by flight, by airport or by route.

What about delays on the way there? You can punt the details of your journey into the BBC travel website and it delivers real-time advice about delays on the roads and railways.

Can I claim compensation for delayed flights?

The Money Saving Expert website contains everything you need to know about claiming compensation for flight delays, including a suite of helpful template letters to save you time and hassle, plus a handy table revealing how much you should be able to claim. Here’s a quick summary of the rules:

  • Whatever happens, you must be delayed for more than 3 hours to claim. The length of the delay drives how much you can claim. If you’re delayed more than three hours or your flight is cancelled, you might be eligible to claim anything between £100 and £470 in compensation.
  • Compensation is paid per person.
  • The rules only apply to EU-regulated flights, where your plane left from an  EU airport, including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
  • It doesn’t matter which airline you’re booked with or which EU airport your flight landed at. Here’s an example: your flight from Manchester to Miami is delayed. You qualify for compensation no matter which airline. But if you fly Miami to Manchester you can claim for flying with an EU airline but not with a non-EU airline like Air India. And yes, it is confusing!
  • You can claim for delays as long ago as February 2005, but claiming for delays pre-2008 gets tricky. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland you can only claim for delays over the past 6 years. And it’s only 5 years for Scotland, under Scottish Law.
  • You can only claim if the delay was within the airline’s control, which includes staffing issues and under-booking. Things like political troubles and terrible weather don’t count.
  • In England and Wales you can claim when a technical fault has not been caused by ‘extraordinary’ circumstances.
  • If the crew turned up late you can claim depending on the reasons for their lateness. It’s done on a case-by-case basis.
  • If your plane arrives late from its previous destination, things get murky. The law doesn’t make it 100% clear whether or not you can claim, but it might be worth trying.
  • What if your plane was diverted to a different airport? If you arrived at your final destination more than three hours late you might be able to claim. It depends what caused the diversion.
  • If you missed your connection, whether or not you can claim depends on the cause of the disruption.
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Getting the airport car parking bit sorted

There’s one thing you can be reasonably sure of. We’ve had a good hunt around the wonderful interweb and can’t find a single story about airport parking going horribly wrong. Arrange it through us, sit back and relax in the knowledge that the parking side of thing is highly unlikely to go pear-shaped!

What Can UK Air Travellers Expect This Christmas?

Thursday, December 4th, 2014 by Kate Goldstone

What can you expect this Christmas if you’re travelling by air? Who knows? Anything could happen, the British weather being what it is. Take last year, where travel chaos reigned on Christmas eve. Here’s our take on surviving potential delays at the UK’s airports this festive season.

Gatwick Airport Christmas 2013

Gatwick Airport Christmas 2013 – from skift.com

Christmas air travel chaos – Could it happen again?

Gatwick Airport on Christmas Eve 2013, and it’s total chaos. The airport’s departures were transferred to the south terminal after flooding caused a massive power failure on Christmas Eve. Thousands of passengers were stranded, some for as long as twelve hours, and dozens of flights were cancelled or delayed.

No trains ran to or from the airport for most of the day, since fallen trees had disrupted the entire network. And as a result of the delays, most local hotels were full to bursting point. Thankfully the airport provided food and bedding.

Of course it wasn’t the airport’s fault – there wasn’t a lot they could do in the face of such extraordinary weather conditions and they don’t control the National Grid. But in April this year a report by MPs called it a “wake-up call for airports across the UK”.

The main problem was the lack of information, which really took its toll. The House of Commons Transport Committee report highlighted a lack of toilets and drinking water too, and the fact that people weren’t given accurate, timely updates. They also said there was a lack of clarity about who was in charge.

Will delays and cancellations screw up people’s Christmas air travel plans this year? Is there any sensible advice about coping with airport delays? And what’s the weather going to be like this Christmas?

Christmas Travel Chaos

Christmas Travel Chaos – from dailymail.co.uk

Improved airport procedures and protocols for Christmas 2014

This year Gatwick airport has set aside a £30m resilience fund to help fund solutions to future delays. And they say they’ll be better able to get the “operational resilience issues” side of things under control, too. This means making “well-drilled plans” that “put passenger interests first”.

As a spokesperson said, “extensive work has already been undertaken to improve contingency plans and passenger welfare in times of disruption.” It isn’t just Gatwick, either. Apparently other British airports are putting similar measures in place, just in case.

An earlier review by Gatwick itself into the crisis said it’d be good to have a “passenger champion” at every terminal to support travellers and answer their questions. Gatwick has also kicked off a series of new flood defences designed to protect it from flooding in future, a wise move since climate change experts predict Britain’s weather is set to get wetter.

Gatwick Airport Travel

Gatwick Airport Travel – from gable-end.com

The MPs’ report recommended the Civil Aviation Authority bring forward improvements in passenger information so people know their rights when facing disruptions to their travel plans, not least about compensation. The Committee’s chairman Louise Ellman also said people should be reimbursed quickly for the extra money they spend because of air travel disruption. A spokesman for the CAA said:

“Both Gatwick and Heathrow are required to have their contingency plans in place by October and, once published, we will regularly review them – taking action where necessary if we feel the plans are not sufficient to protect passengers during disruption.”

Flooding isn’t the only threat to airports this Christmas

Flooding is one thing. But delays at airports can be caused by snow and fog too, and by very high winds. Then there’s the ever-present terrorist threat, which can lock an airport down instantly. Your destination airport might be closed for one reason or another, which will also cause issues. Again, there’s nothing airports can do about any of it after the fact, except do their best to look after passengers and keep them properly informed.

What is the weather forecast for Christmas 2014?

It’s impossible to know what the Christmas weather’s going to be like until a few days before the festivities begin. But TheWeatherOutlook website provides updates based on the latest medium and long range meteorological data.

As we write, on 3rd December, the weather on Christmas Day looks like this:

  • The south – Too mild for snow
  • Wales – Cold, perhaps with some snow or rain
  • The Midlands – Cold and dry
  • The north – too mild for snow
  • Scotland – too mild for snow
  • Northern Ireland and the Republic or Ireland – too mild for snow

Other forecasters believe it could get a fair bit colder towards the end of this month. It’s a lottery, which means checking the forecast nearer the time is your best bet if you want to be prepared. You can’t beat the BBC weather website for accuracy and trustworthiness.

UK Winter Weather

UK Winter Weather

What do airport websites say about their own policy on delays?

Taking a look at a few major British airport websites including Heathrow airport, Stansted airport and Luton airport, there’s no sign of their official policy on delays. The information doesn’t appear on-site, even when searching internally for ‘delays and cancellations policy’. Or does it? If you know where to find the information, let us know by leaving a comment. Then we can share the information with our readers.

 Airport SMS update services

Luckily most big airports provide an SMS update service, for example Heathrow’s SMS update service, where you get real time tracking and updated information about flight times, delays and cancellations over your mobile phone.

15 tips for Christmas air travel delay survival

So you’ve checked the BBC weather website or wherever for the latest Christmas forecast. And it’s absolutely dreadful. With the best will in the world, you might face delays. Here’s some common sense advice about surviving the experience with your sanity intact:

  1. Check with your airline before setting off for the airport
  2. Check with the airport itself, via their website
  3. Sign up for the airport’s SMS update service for real time information
  4. If you can, take some bottled drinking water with you just in case
  5. If you’re travelling by public transport, check for delays and start off earlier if you need to
  6. If you’re driving, check for jam and congestion so you can do your best to avoid it
  7. If the airport doesn’t give you regular updates, keep the pressure on. The more passengers insist on proper information, the more likely you are to get it
  8. Take plenty of DIY entertainment with you, whether it’s your smartphone, laptop, tablet, Kindle or a real book
  9. Check what you’re not allowed to take in your luggage so you don’t get delayed even further
  10. The same goes for hand luggage – the rules are complicated and change frequently
  11. Head for the airline counter as soon as you know there’s a delay or cancellation. If you’re quick enough you might just be able to snag a seat on the next flight out
  12. Ask airline staff I they’re offering vouchers for overnight stays, food and alternative flight tickets
  13. Be polite to airport staff– you’re much more likely to get the help and support you need if you’re nice. After all, it isn’t their fault you’re delayed
  14. You might have a report to write, a book you’ve been dying to read, a loved one to whom you owe a long email or a family Skype conversation that’s long overdue.  Make the best of a bad situation
  15. Stay positive! Scientific research proves the more negative you are, the worse the entire experience will feel. Stay positive and it won’t feel anywhere near as bad. It’s under your control

Nobody knows what the long range weather forecast holds in store this Xmas. But last year’s issues at Gatwick airport have driven some profound changes in the way airports handle disruptions, delays and cancellations.

With a bit of luck air travel delays for Christmas 2014, if there are any, will be a lot less painful than last year.  The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Let’s just hope we don’t have to eat it in 2014!

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Airport News for November 2014

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014 by Kate Goldstone

The airport world is rarely dull. There’s always plenty of exciting news about airport security, development, redevelopment and destinations, often peppered with controversy. Here’s a bunch of the best and most interesting airport news stories for late November 2014.

The latest news about British airports

Car thief in Humberside airport fence crash fiasco

What happens if you nick a car, drive it off, crash into airport fencing and end up on the runway, leaving a circling aircraft above you running low on fuel? You get thrown in jail for just short of four years, that’s what.

Humberside Airport Car Parking

Humberside Airport Car Parking

The police and courts took a very dim view of car thief Matthew Dobson who, at forty years of age, should have known better. He’d stolen the car from the port at Grimsby in August before driving at crazy speeds to  Humberside regional airport and crashing through the fencing onto the runway.

In a situation worthy of a place on TV’s World’s Craziest Fools, Dobson even drove underneath a helicopter as it was taking off, a ridiculously dangerous stunt. Then he careened down the runway at 80mph before finally ending up in a field. The KLM flight delayed in the air by Dobson’s antics was running out of fuel and had just seven minutes to divert to another airfield, a very dangerous situation that could’ve ended in disaster.

 Manchester airport named ‘UK airport of the year’

Manchester Airport of the Year 2014

Manchester Airport of the Year – from marketingstockport.co.uk

The north western air travel leviathan, Manchester airport, has been named UK airport of the year by the Airport Operators Association. Coming top of the coveted ‘passengers over 6 million’ category, it beat Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham airports, mostly because of its ‘phenomenal’ growth. As their CEO Andrew Cowan said:

“Over the last 12 months we have significantly grown, not just from a passenger point of view but from a destination perspective. This year we confirmed a direct route to Hong Kong, with Cathay Pacific, which will make Manchester the only airport outside of London with a direct non-stop service to China. As well as adding more routes we also continue to develop and invest in the airport, including rapidly progressing our £800m Airport City project and connecting the airport to the region’s tramway, a feat we achieved with Metrolink over a year ahead of schedule. It is for reasons like these, I believe, made us a worthy winner in the awards.”

Heathrow expansion would “double the UK’s exports”

According to the airport’s CEO John Holland-Kaye, adding a third runway to Heathrow would give Scotland access to the world’s largest hub airport “on its doorstep”. And it would also double the UK’s exports. While business leaders are excited, local people and environmentalists are definitely not.

Holland-Kaye claimed Britain’s only hub airport should be expanded instead of Gatwick, since it’s the only choice that would connect the nation with the world and keep it competitive. He also claimed a third runway could double UK exports by the year 2020 as well as increasing the airport’s long haul destinations from 80 to 120, making it the planet’s best-connected airport.

The government appointed Airports Commission is also mulling over another option, namely to extend Heathrow’s north runway, and they’ll make their final recommendations during summer 2015.

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What about Scotland? Apparently the country has been squeezed out of the short-haul domestic flights scene with 9 flights a day from Heathrow to Glasgow and 16 to Edinburgh, fewer than 10 years ago. Expanding Heathrow should mean more and better connections with Scotland.

It all sounds great unless, that is, you live in the Heathrow area, a place already menaced by endless noisy take-offs, landings and fly-overs. There’s no doubt the local environment will suffer, too. And last but never least, is it really wise to continue expanding airports when the effects of human-influenced climate change are already at crisis point and set to get much worse?

It’s probably going to be nigh-on impossible to get all the interested parties to agree. Whatever the government and their researchers recommend there will be a long, hard fight to win before the first stone is laid, assuming the plans for a third runway at Heathrow ever get that far.

The global aviation industry is already responsible for 2% of human-led CO2 emissions. It’s also the source of 12% of all transport-induced emissions. In fact aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions. With the EU taking action to reduce aviation emissions in Europe and the climate’s future in the balance, there’s an awful lot more than business revenue at stake.

Kent council withdraws support for a second runway at Gatwick

At the same time there’s been another development in the airport expansion wars as Kent County Council withdraws their support for an extra runway at Gatwick. The decision came about because of changes to Gatwick flight paths, which will “make life intolerable” for people living in the Bidborough, Chiddingstone and Speldhurst areas.

Rhino horn smuggling fail at Cardiff airport

Rhino horn is not a medicine. Rhinos are a threatened species, in considerable danger. So it’s good to see a 51 year old Chinese woman fined £2,250 plus £1,500 costs for attempting to smuggle Chinese ‘medicines’ containing rhino horn and other banned animal products – including bear bile – into Cardiff airport.

Rhino horn smuggled into Wales

Rhino Horn smuggled into Wales – from walesonline.co.uk

All the items she was attempting to smuggle into the country are banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.  The woman actually denied the offences but was found guilty by the courts. As a Border Force spokesman said:

“Just because items like this are available in other countries, it doesn’t mean they can be brought into the UK. Border Force officers take their role in enforcing international agreements like CITES very seriously and anyone tempted to bring endangered animals and plants through our airports should think again.”

Liverpool John Lennon Airport bullish about attracting more passengers

Andrew Cornish used to run Manchester airport, a truly gargantuan organisation. Now he’s at Liverpool John Lennon airport, tasked with attracting more passengers and increasing profits.

While 4.18 million people sounds like a lot, Liverpool airport’s passenger numbers are dwarfed by Manchester’s 20.6 million. On the up-side, as Mr Cornish says, the airport is:

“Big enough to cope, but small enough to care. There’s a pride and a passion in the people who work here and the people who travel through it regard it as their own airport. There’s still a lot to do, but there’s a real buzz to it.”

Liverpool John Lennon Airport

Liverpool John Lennon Airport

What is there to do? For a start there’s investment needed to bring the infrastructure up to standard, stuff like new carpets, flooring and loos. All this should help him generate 5.52m passengers a year, the airport’s current record dating back to 2007.

Apparently there’s already a growth plan in place, but he’d like to speed it up by giving the travelling public exactly what they want. In his view – which is great to hear - “Most people travelling from here are going on holiday and it should be an experience, not a chore.” He managed it at Manchester, so watch this space while Liverpool gets the Cornish treatment.

Super-efficient business travel is also on the wish list, namely letting business travellers turn up late rather than hours early, taking the pain out of business travel by air.  There are also plans afoot to engage better with local people, schools and businesses in an effort to bring the airport and local community closer for everyone’s benefit.

Better still, Mr Cornish is looking for new routes and more cheap flights providers, “working with the airlines we have got, and other airlines, to open up new routes or maybe additional routes with existing airlines.”

We’ll be back next week with more about Britain’s airports, flights, airport parking and any other news that strikes a chord with our readers.

Heroic UK Airfields of WW2

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 by Kate Goldstone

Take a look at the history and origins of British airports, major and minor, and it’s remarkable how many of them started life before or during World War Two. The First World War, of course, was the first war in which aeroplanes played a fledgling fighting part, but the second war with all its technological advances really put the stamp on warfare from the air.

Supermarine Spitfire

Supermarine Spitfire – from Badddog2k7

From the 1930s onwards Britain, suspecting trouble might be in the air again, built countless new airstrips in preparation for another war.

What travellers don’t know about UK airport histories

The south coast was under constant threat of invasion, right in the front line if the German army had crossed the channel. So this week we’re looking at two particular UK airfields of WW2 in the south of England, both of which have an illustrious war record: Stansted and Bournemouth.

Bournemouth airport’s splendid war record

August 1941 saw Bournemouth airport open as RAF Hurn, home to a variety of aircraft including Spitfire – everyone’s elegant Art Deco design favourite – as well as Wellingtons and Typhoons. In late 1942 Bournemouth became a base for several American squadrons and in 1944, as the war drew to a close, it was transferred to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Britain’s only intercontinental airport until Heathrow opened.

One young pilot’s tragedy echoes down the decades

The war’s impact echoes down through the years. Take this story, revealed in 2011.  A 20 year old Halifax Bomber pilot, Flight Sergeant Denis Evans, took off from the airport in March 1944, crashing into houses just moments after take-off. All seven crew members died, including the Denis himself, and two sleeping civilians also lost their lives when the plane crashed into their home in a Bournemouth suburb.

The RAF recorded the cause as pilot error, saying the young pilot wasn’t paying enough attention to his instruments. But in 2011 new evidence was discovered in the shape of two eye-witness accounts, both of which said one of the four Rolls Royce Merlin engines caught fire just before the crash.

As reported in March 2014, justice has been done and the young pilot’s name has been cleared at last:

“With Sergeant Dennis Evans in the cockpit during the crash, he would have been seen as the cause of the tragedy if not for extensive research showing that the plane had several flaws in its design. The investigation carried through multiple decades before Evans was cleared of any suspicion regarding the fate of the Halifax bomber, and he is among those honoured by the recent commemoration ceremony.”

Bournemouth Hurn Aiport in Wartime

Bournemouth Hurn Aiport in Wartime – from largescaleplanes.com

In subsequent years the airport was heavily involved in making planes, building Vickers Viscount aircraftduring the 1950s and ’60s and producing the BAC 1-11 jetin the ’60s and ’70s, at a time when Concorde components were also made there. The airport was finally sold to Bournemouth and Dorset Councils in 1969 and its life as a modern hub began.

The role of Stansted airport during the Second World War

In early 1942 the British wartime government and US military officials decided to build a US Army Air Force bomber airfield near the little village of  Stansted Mountfitchet in Essex. The US 817th Aviation Engineering Battalion arrived on site at Renfrew Farm in August the same year, tasked with converting the sleepy rural landscape into a massive military airfield.

The 817th left Stansted in November ’42, replaced by the 825th Aviation Battalion. They finished off the airfield roads, control tower, fire station and motor transport area, leaving in December 1943. May of ’43 saw runways and taxiways emerging thanks to the 850th Aviation Engineering Battalion, who stayed until spring 1944.

B26 Marauder at Stanstead Airport

B26 Marauder at Stanstead Airport 1944 – from readtiger.com

In February 1944, the 344th Bombardment Group moved in, along with squadrons 494,495, 496, and 497. They flew their first operational mission in March before the Group moved to France. The airport was also a vital maintenance base for the 8th and 9th Air Forces, both of which operated there. And after the war Stansted Airport functioned as a maintenance unit and a place to house German prisoners before repatriating them.

‘Band of Brothers’ revisit Stansted airport

In 2009 four of the soldiers who inspired TV’s Band of Brothers series unveiled a very special plaque at Stansted. They were all 88 years old. Buck Compton, Donald Malarkey, Ed Tipper and Bradford Freeman were there to share their war stories and commemorate the part played by the airport in winning the war.

All four of the 101st Airborne Division fighters made heart-warming speeches about their experiences. Donald Malarkey said “The UK is an incredible country and coming over here to fight during the war were some of the proudest days of my life”. Malarkey even met Churchill in person, a meeting he remembered with great pride. And all four men played a part in the D-Day invasions.

The TV series Band of Brothers was a worldwide hit in 2001, inspired by the 101st paratroopers division and based on their real-life experiences, produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. But the men themselves are almost as famous, and they were mobbed by autograph hunters throughout their visit.

London Stanstead Airport Tower

London Stanstead Airport Tower

Stansted 70th birthday celebrations

Emotions also ran high in June 2013 when the airport celebrated its 70th anniversary with a Thunderbolt flypast and the unveiling of a memorial. US veteran jets were present, special guests of honour to mark one of the largest WW2 US bases in East Anglia, home to the infamous 344th Bomb Group, the Silver Streaks who led the US Air Force into action on D-Day.

Retired 344th Bomb Group flying hero Major Edward W. Horn flew in from the US to join the ceremony designed to recognise the crucial role of the American Army Engineers in 1943 and the equally critical role George Washington Field, as Stansted was then called, played in World War Two.

Forgotten wartime airfields of southern England

During the war literally hundreds of state-of-the-art airfields were hastily constructed. Some were designed to cater for  heavy bombers, including dozens of special hard standings and complex support facilities. Others housed squadrons of fighter planes and transport aircraft.

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Many of Britain’s wartime airstrips survived to tell the tale, expanding beyond all recognition to create popular regional and national hubs for modern air travel. Others have been lost in time, leaving behind fascinating ghost airports that are often only visible from the air, having fallen into disuse or become peaceful farmland again.

Now and again you’ll spot a dilapidated hangars or the weedy leftovers of a runway, stores, mess or living accommodation. But from the air they spring back to life, their old wartime contours suddenly as clear as a bell. It’s an eerily fascinating experience.

Google Earth is a brilliant way to explore ghost airfields. There are some spectacular aerial images of forgotten British wartime airfields on the brilliant urbanghostsmedia website.

About Manchester Airport Facilities, Parking, Hotels & More

Thursday, November 6th, 2014 by Kate Goldstone

You’ll find Manchester Airport at Ringway, Manchester. Last year it was Britain’s third busiest airport as far as passenger numbers are concerned, and the 21st busiest in Europe – in 2013 almost 21 million passengers passed through its gates.

It’s also the biggest regional airport in the UK with more than double the passenger numbers at the next biggest, Edinburgh. You can fly to 225 destinations, more than any other British airport, via more than 50 airlines. It offers three terminals, two runways and the capacity for an impressive 61 aircraft to take off every hour.

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport – United Kingdom

A quick guide to Manchester Airport

Here’s our one-stop-shop guide to Manchester airport hotels, airport facilities and much more. Whatever you need to know, you’ll find it here.

First, the history bit…

The history of Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport started life as Ringway Airport back in 1937, like many British airports a product of Word War Two. During WW2 it was a base for the RAF, a vital cog in the military aircraft production and parachutist training machine. After the war it reverted to civilian status. In the early 1970s, when package holidays emerged as the next big trend, the M56 motorway opened and improved access. In the 1990s a rail connection was established, and two more runways added. The control tower is very new, built in 2013 to replace the original. At 60m it’s Britain’s second highest.

How to get to Manchester airport

  • By car – The airport connects directly to the motorway network, just off the M56 junction 5, and has its own approach road. It is very well signposted on all local motorways including the M6 and M60.
  • By cab – You’ll find taxi ranks outside all three terminals and the tariffs are clearly displayed at each rank.
    By taxibus – Airportcarz operate a taxibus service from all 3 terminals. You’ll find details in each terminal’s Arrivals area.
  • By bus – Frequent services operate to and from the airport 24/7. Buses connect to the city centre and depart every 10 minutes. National Express also runs a coach service to and from the airport.
  • By train – The airport connects direct with the rail network with its own station, called The station. There are frequent local and regional trains to the city’s main rail station, from which you connect to Britain’s  national rail network.
Manchester Airport Bus

Manchester Airport Bus

Terminals at Manchester

Terminals 1 and 2 handle scheduled and charter flights. Terminal 3 handles domestic flights, some scheduled EU flights and American Airlines flights to The States.

  • Terminals 1 and 2 are linked by travelators, a 10-15 minute walk
  • Terminal 3 and 1 are linked by a covered walkway
  • A Skylink connects all terminals to the airport railway station

The 10 busiest routes from Manchester

Manchester is a particularly popular hub for the USA and Middle East as well as for EU destinations. Their top ten busiest routes are:

1. Spain
2. UK domestic flights
3. USA
4. Germany
5. UAE
6. Turkey
7. Greece
8. Ireland
9. France
10. Italy

Facilities

As one of Britain’s busiest hubs, Manchester is no stranger to customer service and they provide excellent facilities, more or less anything you could possibly want including all the expected shops, bars, restaurants and cafes plus:

  • Smart airport lounges, one at every terminal (which you can book direct through us)
  • A space for worship
  • Help if you’re scared of flying
  • Car rental
  • WiFi
  • Express check-in and fast-track
  • Duty free and travel money
  • Showers
  • Leisure facilities
  • Entertainment for the kids including play areas and places to watch the aircraft
  • FREE WiFi
  • Trolleys
  • Business facilities
  • Support for disabled and less able people
Manchester Airport Shopping

Shopping at Manchester Airport

Cheap Manchester airport parking

Bear in mind there’s a strict no waiting policy on all surrounding access roads, put in place after the 2007 Glasgow airport terrorist incident. Pick-ups must take place via the official short stay car parks, multi-storey affairs situated right next to terminals one and two.

Terminal 1 short stay multi-storey was smartened up recently and features handy colour-coding for the different levels, great news when otherwise they all look the same, and handy when you’re in a rush.  Every parking space has its own sensor and light, and if a space is empty the light shines green.

You’ll also find long stay parking at Manchester near the terminals and there’s a regular courtesy bus. One car park serves terminals 1 and 3 and there’s another for terminal 2.

There are also a couple of long stay ‘JetParks’ less than a mile from the terminals, a cheaper choice than on-site car parking. There’s a 24/7 shuttle bus that runs every quarter of an hour.

There’s also a special Shuttle Park for long term parking, with its own courtesy bus, located off-site to the east of terminal 3. And there’s a handful of privately owned and operated car parks close by, all with shuttle buses.

How to get the best deals on parking at Manchester airport? Do it through us and get an excellent price, booking before you go for convenience.

Manchester Airport Map

Manchester Airport Map

Hotels near Manchester airport

As you’d expect from such a busy hub, there are plenty of excellent hotels close by and on-site. According to Expedia the most popular include:

  • Hilton Manchester Airport - Less than 5 minutes to the airport by courtesy bus, with 12 meeting rooms to cater for up to 250 people.
  • Bewleys Hotel – Easy access to terminals 1 and 3, a 24 hour free shuttle service plus long-stay parking
  • Crowne Plaza – Free shuttle transfers, modern and comfortable
  • Etrop Grange – Something a bit different, a lovely Grade II listed Georgian Mansion built in 1780, near the city centre and the airport, with meeting rooms for as many as 150 people
  • Radisson Blu – Great facilities including a private car park, pool and spa, WiFi and  a fully equipped gym
  • Manchester Airport Marriott – close by with a countryside setting, leisure centre, spa and hair salon
  • Hallmark Hotel – a relaxed boutique hotel with 4 stars, just 3 miles from the airport
Crown Plaza Hotel Manchester Airport

Crown Plaza at Manchester Airport – from essentialworld.travel

Manchester airport hotels with parking

If you don’t fancy leaving your car in long stay, you can leave it at a wide variety of convenient hotels near the airport, perfect if you’d rather sleep comfortably close by and fly fresh in the morning instead of travelling at all hours of the night. It means you’re less likely to be delayed too, with no missed flights to worry about. You can either book a room on its own or combine a stay at a Manchester Airport hotel with parking.

There’s plenty of choice including:

  • Bewleys  – A great quality 3 star hotel with secure APH parking close by, a mere 3 minutes walk from Terminals 1 and 3
  • Britannia –  A 3 star hotel with on-site secure parking just 15 minutes from the airport
  • Cresta Court – 5 minutes from the airport, 3 stars, parking at the secure APH Manchester car park or use the special APH Meet and Greet service
  • Crowne Plaza – 4 star luxury just 2 minutes from the airport, on-site car parking at the Hotel as well as the secure APH car park
  • Premier Inn North Manchester Airport  – 5 minutes from the airport, parking at either the secure APH car park or off-airport at JetParks
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Enjoy watching the action from the Airport Hotel pub

If you enjoy watching approaches, landings and take-offs, whether or not you’re flying, you can visit the excellent Airport Hotel, a Robinson’s Brewery pub half a mile from the airport itself with a beer garden facing the end of taxiway J.

Latest Ebola News – UK Airports

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 by Kate Goldstone

The Ebola crisis has been a slow burn until recently. The epidemic has been slowly and surely spreading, crossing borders and entering new continents, and it’s only recently that the world’s governments have started sitting up and taking notice, treating the epidemic very seriously indeed.

Ebola Protection

Ebola Protection – from wired.it

About Ebola, airport screening and safety precautions

What’s the latest news about Ebola precautions at British airports? We thought it’s be useful to give you the facts about the disease itself and how the UK government is dealing with it, so you know exactly where you stand and can make informed travel decisions.

Ebola news: First, where to go and where not to go?

It’s obvious that visiting the African nations worst affected by the virus comes with considerable risk. The Ebola Virus Wikipedia page is full of up-to-date information. The situation is still pretty fluid, which doesn’t help with decision making. Wikipedia currently says this:

“An epidemic of Ebola virus disease is ongoing in parts of West Africa. It began in Guinea in December 2013 then spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone.  A few much smaller subsidiary outbreaks have occurred elsewhere, with outbreaks in Nigeria and Senegal that appear to have been successfully contained, and secondary infections of medical workers with very low case numbers in the United States and Spain, neither of which is yet showing any signs of spreading in the general population.

As of October 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local governments reported a total of 8,400 suspected cases and 4,033 deaths (4,633 cases and 2,423 deaths having been laboratory confirmed), though the WHO believes that this substantially understates the magnitude of the outbreak  with possibly 2.5 times as many cases as have been reported. On 14 October, during a news conference in Geneva, the assistant director-general of the WHO stated that there could be as many as 10,000 new Ebola cases per week by December 2014.”

How does Ebola spread?

There’s been a lot of scaremongering. In fact human-to-human transmission can only happen via direct contact with blood or bodily fluids from an infected person or, considerably less likely, by contact with objects someone actively ill has contaminated. No airborne transmission risk has been documented. Dead bodies are still infectious, and you can catch the virus through unprotected sex.

Difficulties containing the Ebola outbreak

Apparently the man who first discovered the Ebola virus, Doctor Peter Piot, believes this latest outbreak isn’t following the virus’s usual linear spread pattern, with it “hopping” all over West Africa. Because past outbreaks have been in remote areas, they were less of a threat. This time it has spread to busy urban areas, making transmission harder to track and stop as well as increasing the number of people likely to come into contact with victims.

Ebola Donald Trump Tweet

Ebola – Donald Trump Tweet

British airports’ response to the Ebola crisis

The Department of Health says around 85% of UK arrivals from affected countries will arrive here via Heathrow airport. In September 2014 around 1,000 people arrived in the UK from Ebola-affected West Africa.

Five hours ago at the time of writing this post, the BBC News website announced that Heathrow airport would start screening passengers who are flying both to and from “countries at risk”. The decision follows the Health Secretary’s expectation that a “handful” of cases are likely to reach Britain before Christmas 2014.

Screening is set to begin at Heathrow airport Terminal 1, then it’ll be extended to the remaining Heathrow terminals as well as Gatwick airport and the Eurostar service, apparently by the end of this week (17th October).

Ebola screening at Heathrow airport

Ebola screening at Heathrow airport – from nydailynews.com

What about screening before people reach Britain?

The majority of people flying from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are already screened once at the other end, before being let on the aircraft. The new UK procedures will involve at-risk people being identified by British Border Force officers when they arrive here, then screened by experts from Public Health England.

What does Ebola screening involve?

Ebola screening involves taking people’s temperatures, asking them to fill in a questionnaire and noting their contact details. If anyone is suspected of having the disease, they’ll be taken straight to hospital. If a person has been in contact with an Ebola victim but don’t have any symptoms, Public Health England will contact them every day to check their status and they’ll also be given advice about what to do if they fall ill, who to contact and where to go.

The questions people will be asked to answer include:

  • Where did you start this journey?
  • Have you been near anyone with confirmed Ebola virus disease?
  • Have you cared for or anyone with a severe illness, or who has died of an unknown cause?
  • Did you visit any traditional healers while in the affected country?
  • Have you been vomiting or do you feel generally unwell?
  • Have you had any contact with dead bodies or been to any funerals?

Does Ebola screening in airports work?

While fever is one of the main symptoms of Ebola, it’s also a symptom of countless other, relatively harmless infections. Screening for fever, one of the symptoms of Ebola, is of limited use but despite criticism from medical and other experts, the government believes it’s better than doing nothing.

There’s more. Because there aren’t any direct flights into Britain from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea, people will arrive in the UK via connecting flights. They could turn up at UK airports where there’s no screening, which leaves a gap in the already-limited protection that screening provides. On the bright side, “highly visible” information will be provided at every British entry point.

Will you face delays at airports because of Ebola screening? It’s doubtful, but it’s wise to keep an eye on the latest developments in case things get worse and you need to factor in Ebola-related delays to your travel plans.

Ebola Cases and Deaths

Ebola Cases and Deaths – from themostimportantnews.com

What are the symptoms of Ebola?

The chances of developing Ebola in the UK remain low. But it helps to know the symptoms, which include a fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhoea and bleeding. Sadly, they can all come about through a disease as simple as a tummy bug. This is the official advice:

  • If you have these symptoms and you’ve been in contact with an infected person, it’s vital to ring 111 before going to your GP or turning up at A&E
  • If you have the symptoms but you haven’t, as far as you know, been in contact with an Ebola sufferer, the official advice is to call 111 or see your GP. If you’re very ill, go to A&E

How to stay safe from Ebola in the UK

First, it’s important to remember that the risk in Britain is currently very, very low.

Second, bear in mind that in every case outside Africa apart from two, in Dallas and Madrid, were infected in Africa
Those at the highest risk of infection are a patient’s relatives and healthcare workers.  But anyone who comes into close contact with an infected person is at risk.

Once someone recovers, they aren’t infectious any more. Having said that, the WHO says Ebola can be found in semen for seven weeks and other research says it’s more like three months – so if there’s any doubt in your mind, condoms are essential.

Ebola myths to ignore

Sadly there have been all sorts of silly scare stories and crazy myths, whether it’s the protective powers of raw onions – complete rubbish – or the wholly inaccurate claims about the  healing properties of condensed milk. They’re very unhelpful, but thankfully the BBC Health website has created a myth busting article to redress the balance. Here it is: BBC Health on Ebola myths.

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What happens next?

It depends how the epidemic progresses. Britain may end up closing its borders altogether to people travelling from affected countries or continents, and might even end up preventing UK citizens from travelling to affected nations. The disease’s progression is uncertain, and we won’t know ’til the situation becomes clearer.

Airport Car Park Safety and Security Tips

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014 by Kate Goldstone

In August this year the Birmingham Mail newspaper ran a story about luxury cars being stolen from a Birmingham airport car park. Worst of all, the car park owners’ insurance policy didn’t cover the theft, and the firm had to recompense punters from its own coffers for offering a less-than-secure valet parking service.

Of course the majority of people who use airport car parking find it perfectly safe. Most of us don’t have any problems. Having said that, with the best will in the world, stuff sometimes happens. So how do you reduce the risk of things going wrong while your car is parked at the airport?

Gatwick Airport Car Park

Gatwick Airport Car Park – from geograph.org.uk

Luckily BBC1’s Watchdog programme, with support from the British Parking Association, offers some common sense advice about how to make sure your airport car park ‘meet and greet’ services are as safe and secure as possible. It’s good advice, considering the number of British meet and greet airport parking services is increasing fast.

How to ensure meet and greet airport parking is secure

No wonder meet and greet is such a popular way of parking at airports. You avoid all the hassle of finding your own parking space. Instead, an employee meets you at the airport, in a designated place, and does everything for you. And they’re there, with your car ready, when you get home. It’s a brilliant idea, a hugely convenient service that can save you a lot of time and hassle.

Your car is supposed to be kept secure while you’re away. That’s the idea. But it doesn’t mean the meet and greet firm always keeps their promises. There have been a few horror stories in the press, where former meet and greet airport car park staff have been spotted giving lifts to fellow staff, eating in the cars and even damaging them.

Meet and Greet Parking

Meet and Greet Parking – from aph.com

Obviously when you leave your car at an airport car park, you do so at your own risk. But there are a few common sense checks you can carry out to cut the likelihood of something going wrong.

  1. Check the member of staff who greets you is wearing an ID badge and/or wearing a uniform. If not, hang onto your car keys and call the car park operators to check you’re not being ripped off by a stranger.
  2. Does the badge they’re wearing match the car park you’re in and the airport you’re flying from? If not, ask for extra reassurance or more evidence that they are who they say they are.
  3. Are you arranging your meet and greet car parking at an official kiosk in the airport? If there isn’t a premises and the person is just hanging around the airport or car park, don’t let them have your keys.
  4. What does your ticket look like? Check it isn’t just an expired one that the scammer has picked up off the floor.
  5. Do you know where your car is going to be kept while you’re away? It will probably be off-site, away from the airport, but if the representative can’t describe the location and point out the direction, be suspicious. Can they show you a photo or a map? If not, why not?
  6. Does the car parking operator own the premises where your car will be stored? Or are they renting it? Ownership can mean they really do have a vested interest in delivering a genuinely good, honest service, but bear in mind some will rent car parking space for perfectly legitimate reasons.
  7. Can you see a special Park Mark? The Park Mark is only awarded to airport carparks that have had an annual inspection by the police.
  8. Can the staff member confirm there are CCTV cameras in the car park, and tell you where they’re sited? CCTV is always obvious, rarely hidden, so anyone who has been to the car park will know where the cameras are.
  9. Don’t leave your car without getting a receipt. Check the receipt includes the company’s address details, and that the company name and address match.

There’s more you can ask. What about finding out whether or not the gates are locked at all times, or do they habitually leave them open? Are they insured for car theft? Do they ever subcontract car parking to another company? As a general rule the more questions you ask, the less likely you are to fall foul of a scammer. Most people get flustered when they’re forced to lie for any length of time, and it’s often obvious they’re fibbing.

The BBC’s Your Money Their Tricks series on airport parking

The BBC’s series Your Money Their Tricks has also looked at airport parking services. The programme acknowledged that most car park meet and greet services were perfectly legitimate as well as extremely handy. But they decided to find out how many meet and greet providers were actually tricking punters into thinking their cars were safe when they weren’t secure at all. They booked six cars in with six different companies, over three major UK airports, and each car was fitted with a special  tracking device.

You can follow the link above for the full story, but suffice it to say the results were variable. Some meet and greet airport car park services operated exactly as they should, others failed in various ways, some more spectacularly than others.

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Obviously we do our level best to check that every service we offer through our site is the best it can be. But the BBC’s research highlights how it’s always wise to check, do your homework and be adequately observant when you get there.

What about other places phony parking attendants and scammers operate?

If you need to park in an unfamiliar place, it makes sense to beware of phony attendants, uniformed or not. One common scam is to hand you a ticket that, unless you check, you don’t realise is simply an expired ticket thrown away by someone else.

If you come across something that looks like a stand-by car park, perhaps someone’s driveway or a commercial parking lot, check very carefully before parking there. You might find your car gets towed away because despite what the ‘attendant’ claimed, you don’t actually have any right to park there. Worse still, your car could end up stolen.

You’re being extremely careful… but all the same, you somehow manage to hit another car on the way in or out of the car park. If the other driver either tries to get you to shell out cash, refuse. If the incident was ‘real’, not a scam, motor insurance should cover it.

Official Car Park Attendant

Official Car Park Attendant – from telegraph.co.uk