Category : Latest News

This Week’s Air Travel News Round-Up

Thursday, September 24th, 2015 by Kate Goldstone

Here’s our latest round-up of air travel news and views from the wonderful world of airport parking, airport hotels and airport lounges.

Gatwick Airport

Gatwick Airport

Airport parking news – Rogue company dumps cars in field

As reported in the Daily Mail, this story proves it’s a good idea to make a few common sense checks before handing your vehicle over to an airport car park. The recommendation’s a good one when things aren’t always what they seem: one rogue parking company has just been fined for dumping a load of people’s vehicles in a field near Gatwick airport… and leaving the windows open.

The firm, called Airport Parking Ltd, charged customers £32.95 to park in a ‘secure’ place but the cars were actually abandoned in a nearby field and left unlocked. Worse still, Trading Standards staff actually discovered the cars’ keys had been thrown carelessly into a box and left unattended.

The dodgy company was fined £6,000 after their Directors admitted they had misled people, including making false website statements about the parking being secure, manned 24 hours and having regular security patrols, none of which actually existed.

Man comes back from holiday to find 800 extra miles on the clock

The Mirror tells another story that makes it even more important to ensure your airport car parking provider is legitimate and does what it says on the tin.

Phil Cockrell was surprised to find, on returning to collect his car after a two week holiday, a whopping 800 extra miles on the clock. Mr Cockrell’s extremely smart Mercedes was left at Gatwick airport while he was in Crete, but the ‘secure’ compound it was kept in didn’t prevent someone unscrupulous taking it for a long, unauthorised joyride.

On investigation the police found the car has been driven around four different counties over a period of a week, but at first the company involved insisted the car hadn’t been moved from the compound. They later said they were baffled by the event and would compensate the owner.

Gatwick Airport Parking

Gatwick Airport Parking

Airport car parking advice from the British Parking Association

Thanks to the British Parking Association for the following sensible advice. Follow this, buy your airport parking through a trusted supplier like us and you’ll stand less chance of something going wrong.

5 tips for airport parking safety and security

  1. Is the person who greets you in uniform or wearing an ID badge? If so, check the badge. If not, ask why not – are they really from the company you booked with, or an imposter?
  2. Are they at a kiosk or a stand? If there’s no official presence at the airport, are they legitimate? If they don’t have premises, probably not
  3. Check where they’ll keep your car while you’re away. If they can’t show you it, why not? Is it off-site and if so, is that what you expected? Do they even have a storage facility full stop, and if so do they really own it or have the right to use it?
  4. Look for the Park Mark, which is only awarded to car parks which have had a special annual police check
  5. Ask for a receipt and make sure it’s a proper one, including all the company’s contact details. Check the address is the one you expect and that the company name is the same as the one you booked with

8 comfy new airport lounges for 2015

So far this year we’ve seen a plethora of brand new airport lounges opening across the world, proof of their popularity as well as a hint that more and more of us prefer to escape the typical airport hustle and bustle for somewhere calm, quiet and well equipped, where there’s everything you need in one place.

Here’s a list of eight of the best brand new and refurbished airport lounge facilities on offer around the globe.

  1. Arlanda terminal 5 is your destination for SAS’ popular lounge, freshly upgraded and reopened
  2. Etihad has reopened its refurbished premium lounge at Abu Dhabi airport’s terminal 1
  3. There’s a new lounge at Salzburg airport’s terminal 1
  4. Lisbon airport has a new lounge on the 6th floor
  5. Emirates opened its first lounge in Japan at Narita International airport’s terminal 2
  6. There’s a new Cathay Pacific lounge at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok
  7. A new Plaza Premium lounge opens at Heathrow’s terminal 4
  8. Visit the SilverKris lounge at Heathrow terminal 2, courtesy of Singapore Airlines

Istanbul’s ‘inclusive’ new airport lounge for economy class travellers

Airport lounges are getting more democratic. Turkish Airlines, for one, is on schedule to move to its brand new home at Istanbul’s new airport in 2018, and they’re determined to cater for economy class travellers as well as business people.

The airline’s CEO Temel Kotil says they’ll be opening a dedicated lounge for Economy passengers travelling long haul, and it’ll be just as smart and well equipped as any good business class lounge with free snacks, smart showers and more.

Oslo Airport SAS Lounge

Oslo Airport SAS Lounge

Manila Ninoy airport finally gets its lounge act together

Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International airport has long been a nightmare for delayed travellers, voted one of the world’s worst. But things are about to change.

The grand opening of the Wings Transit Lounge heralds a new era for the hub, a place where weary passengers can take advantage of showers, cosy bunk beds and dedicated sleeping capsules, an actual spa, somewhere to stash luggage and five cool new lounge areas.

The new lounge is a total of 402 square metres in size and you’ll find it in terminal 3’s 4th Level Mall area, just before you get to Security. And it’s looking more like an hotel than a typical lounge, with its reclining chairs, twin rooms and even a family room. But there’s more: a massage facility, barber’s shop, basic pantry, business centre and dining area, all open 24/7.

Attempted murder at Luton airport hotel

According to the Luton Today website a man attempted to murder another at a Luton airport hotel over the weekend. Apparently the suspect was seen ‘acting suspiciously’ before the assault in the Hampton by Hilton hotel, which is close to the airport, on Sunday night.

The victim of the assault, a man in his early 30s, suffered nasty injuries to his head and was hospitalised, where he remains in a serious condition. The attacker, a 21 year old Latvian, was charged on Monday with attempted murder and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Hampton Hilton Hotel - Luton Airport

Hampton Hilton Hotel – Luton Airport

Ramada Glasgow airport take-over

The Cairn Group has bought Glasgow airport’s 114 bed Ramada hotel for a multi-million pound sum, and it’s set to invest a massive eight million pounds in the year to come on refurbishment and upgrades.

The hotel has four meeting rooms, all with wireless internet and natural daylight. And they’re an extremely important feature since business tourism is a vital market for the Group. They have several important corporate accounts with local, national and international organisations and five other Scottish properties under their belts, and they’re likely to want to invest in more properties as they become available, to meet growing business tourism demand.

Back next week with the latest news about air travel

We’ll be back next week with more. See you then!

Make the Most of Your Regional Airport

Thursday, September 17th, 2015 by Kate Goldstone

It’s remarkable. Britain is absolutely stuffed full of regional airports, many of which were built during World War two to house and support the sterling efforts of our bombers and fighter planes. And you can fly to a huge choice of popular and obscure destinations from them.

Edinburgh Airport

Edinburgh Airport

The Airport Guides website contains a comprehensive list of regional airports and major hubs, and there are a whole lot more private aerodromes scattered around the nation. So why is it a good move to go local rather than travel to one of the really big facilities, say Gatwick or Heathrow?

Here’s an exploration of regionals, why they’re a brilliant resource and some ideas about the amazing destinations available from them.

13 lucky reasons why flying regional is a great idea

First, why fly from a smaller airport near you? It’s a persuasive argument.

1. They’re usually near large towns and cities, so really convenient
2. If you’re travelling with small children, the shorter the journey to the airport, the better!
3. You save money on petrol
4. If you go by public transport, your fares are lower simply because it’s closer
5. Closer airport means lower can fares, and no need to book airport parking
6. Smaller airports are often less busy, perfect if you can’t stand crowds
7. Security checks may well be quicker
8. They’re smaller, which means they’re less confusing to navigate – with only a handful of departure gates, sometimes just the one, it’s easy to find where you need to be, and faster
9. Fewer shops means you won’t be tempted to blow your holiday money on stuff you don’t really need, just because you’re bored
10. You get friendly service and it can often be more personal
11. You support your local economy
12. Your journey home is quicker, a blessing when all you want to do is get back, make a cuppa and put your feet up
13. It’s greener than travelling a long way to a big airport

What are Britain’s most popular small airports?

The World Airport Codes site features a list of the top 20 UK airports by passenger numbers, and regional hubs fare well. All these have won a top 20 spot.

  • Edinburgh
  • Bristol
  • Liverpool
  • Newcastle
  • East Midlands
  • Aberdeen Dyce
  • London City
  • Leeds Bradford
  • Southampton
  • Jersey

Plenty more local airports sit just below the top 20 including Cardiff, Guernsey, Exeter, Doncaster-Sheffield, Bournemouth and Southend.

Bristol Airport Checkin

Bristol Airport Checkin

Love smaller airports? You’re not alone

According to a report on the Just The Flight website, flying from nearer home is becoming more and more popular, and a CAA report supports their findings. The CAA says that a mighty 95 million of us took off from a regional runway last year, 9% more than two years earlier. It looks like we have an emerging trend, not just a blip.

More cool destinations than ever

In line with the trend, regionals are upping the ante, adding a growing list of top holiday destinations on the menu. Not so long ago you’d be forced top travel to a big airport because of limited regional destinations, now it’s much, much better. Take Liverpool’s John Lennon airport, which currently offers at least 60 popular cities and regions: short, long and medium haul.

If you tried to fly regional recently but they didn’t go where you wanted to go, it’s worth giving it another try next time. And if your nearest regional airport doesn’t fly to your chosen country or city, another one near you might. That’s the beauty of them – Britain is small, there are loads of regionals to choose from, and there’s probably more than one near you or. Or at the very least, nearer than the closest major hub.

Glasgow International Airport

Glasgow International Airport

If you’re city-hopping within Britain, there’s a wealth of internal destinations on offer at regional airports. The last thing you want is to be stuck in massive queues in a huge, busy airport when all you’re doing is flying up to Scotland or down to Cornwall.

The future of local airports

All the indicators point to a bright future for local airports. The government supports expanding local facilities, which also come with extra jobs for local people, and plenty of small airports are submitting expansion plans. Of course success breeds success, which means a growing number of local airports are starting to attract interest from big investors, which will in turn help improve their already much-improved facilities.

All this is great news for travellers, even better if you’re a frequent traveller or go abroad a lot on business. You claw back valuable time and money, experience less stress and get where you need to be with minimal mucking about. With more destinations than ever and more in the pipeline, you’re onto a winner. And there’s more. Over time, economic theory says increased demand for regional flights should bring prices down. Which means flights should ultimately cost less.

Inspirational regional airport destinations

Travelzoo provides some cool examples of cheap holiday deals from regional airports. It’s exciting stuff. Here are just a few of thebest special holiday deals flying from local hubs.

  • A 3 night boutique break in Monaco, flying direct from local airports in the south east, perfect for romantic couples, engagement breaks and smart corporate incentives
  • A 5 night inclusive holiday on Portugal’s gorgeous Algarve, flying direct from the Midlands and ideal for convenient sunshine without a nightmare journey to and from the airport
  • Fly from the north for 5 star travel to destinations across Asia and Australia, great if you want to cut that long, long total journey time down as much as you can
  • Enjoy the delights of exotic Dubrovnik for 7 nights, flying direct from Scotland. If you’re looking for a hen or stag week destination, it’s right on the button
  • You can fly direct from Bristol to Barcelona for 3 nights of sophisticated city living, or from Edinburgh direct to Cyprus for some well-deserved sunshine
Newquay Cornwall Airport

Newquay Cornwall Airport

What’s your local airport like?

We’d love to hear about your regional airport experiences. Feel free to share via the comments box.

Airport, Aircraft and Air Travel News

Thursday, September 10th, 2015 by Kate Goldstone

It’s that time of the week again, when we trawl the web to provide you with the latest news about all things air travel: crashes and near-misses, foolish in-flight behaviour, airport parking news, stories about airport lounges and more.

easyjet preparation

Another Easyjet Flight is Prepared

Here’s this week’s pick of the crop: mucky planes, aircraft catching fire, Lufthansa’s latest strikes, in-flight pranks going horribly wrong and a peep at the brilliant BA Dreamliner plane.

Travelmath airplane hygiene study reveals muckiest bits

According to a story from CNN, when the website sent a microbiologist to analyse 26 samples from five US airports and four flights handled by two major carriers, they got more than they bargained for.

The lab results were scary, revealing how the tray table in front of every seat is the grubbiest and least hygenic part of a passenger aeroplane. Apparently aircraft tray tables come complete with an average of 2155 colony-forming units – clumps of thriving bacteria – per square inch.

How come they’re so grubby? It looks like it’s one of those areas that gets neglected in the rush to get an aeroplane ready for its next flight. Staff have limited time to get everything done, and tray tables are a low priority.

Bacteria Cultures

Bacteria Cultures

Does the dirt really matter? You could easily end up transferring bacteria from the tray to your mouth, a fact that’ll worry some people much more than others. To those of you who think a constant stream of dirt is an excellent way to keep your immune system in good nick, it won’t raise an eyebrow. To those of you who spray anti-bacterial stuff on every possible surface and live in horror of the ubiquitous tiny organisms you can’t see, it’ll probably put you off going anywhere near a tray table, ever again.

Airport drinking fountain buttons proved the next-worst offenders, followed by the over-seat air vents in the aircraft themselves. The loo flush buttons come next, with seatbelt buckles and toilet stalls completing the list in sixth place.

If you’re shuddering with disgust as you read this, there’s good news too. Travelmath revealed that none of the samples taken contained any really nasty beasts like E.coli, which can be infectious and, if you’re vulnerable, can make you very ill.

In-flight salt ‘joke’ goes badly wrong for 14 Brits

As reported on the AOL website, 14 British tourists have been banned from Jet2 for life after a remarkably stupid prank. The men’s “disruptive behaviour” forced an emergency landing and their plane, which set off from Glasgow and was headed for Tenerife, was diverted to Portugal.

Why all the fuss? One of the men apparently stuffed a bag of salt into a friend’s luggage for a joke. The aircraft’s crew spotted the bag mid-flight and, worried it was drugs, diverted to Faro after the entire group became aggressive and verbally abusive when challenged. Thankfully the Portugese police boarded the plane at Faro airport and escorted the offenders safely off the craft.

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Oddly, there are conflicting stories. Some passngers say the men weren’t causing any problems at all. Others say the salt should have been spotted much earlier, before the men boarded the flight. What, after all, are security gates for if not to pick up stuff like that? The airline, however, said the men’s behaviour towards the cabin crew was so aggressive and verbally abusive that the captain made an instant decision to divert for everyone’s safety.

It just goes to show, ‘jokes’ like this are simply not funny in an air travel context, when most passengers are quite nervous enough without their fellow travellers behaving like fools.

Lufthansa staff strike bites… but 500 flights are still operating

According to the BBC, Germany’s biggest airline, the strike-weary Lufthansa, has announced that 500 flights are still operating despite the latest round of industrial action by pilots.

The Lufthansa subsidiaries Germanwings, Eurowings, Swiss, Austrian Airlines or Brussels Airlines are not affected, with flights running as normal. But the airline pilots’ long haul strike has already been extended to cover short and medium haul flights.

The pilots’ union is called Vereinigung Cockpit. They’re involved in a long running argument with the airline over pensions and pay. And this is the unlucky 13th strike in just a year and a half. A Frankfurt court prevented the company from stopping the current strike and the union is unrepentant, promising more in future unless their demands are taken seriously.

Why all the trouble? Lufthansa wants to restructure in the face of stiff and increasing competition from other carriers. The Gulf airlines and cheap flights operators are taking over their core market and they want to hang onto market share. The resulting changes to pilot contracts have proved incredibly unpopular, even though they bring pilots’ pay and conditions into line with cheap flights operators.

Germany’s employers’ association, the BDA, claimed the industrial action was damaging the entire German economy. At the moment there’s an impasse, and you might want to double check your Lufthansa flight is still going ahead.

BA jet bursts into flames at Las Vegas

We awoke this morning to find the new filled with reports about a BA plane that caught fire just before take-of from Las Vegas airport. It looks like the cause of the fire was a faulty engine, thankfully shut down by the aircraft’s crew before evacuating everyone.

British Airways Fire

British Airways Fire – from

Fourteen people were injured, making this a lucky break indeed: the past record for fires abroad aeroplanes isn’t a good one. There were several deadly incidents during the 1980s including 1985’s horrific fire during an aborted take-off by a British Airtours plane which killed 55.

This is another hint that air travel has got a whole lot safer in the past three decades. Improvements to the aircraft themselves and staff training plus better maintenance means such incidents are much less likely, and the results much less deadly than they used to be. It looks like the old adage really is true: these days, the riskiest element of air travel these days is the car journey to and from the airport.

Got a few spare £££? Test-drive the ultimate in aircraft luxury

If you happen to have £2,500 spare, why not book yourself a first class flight on the latest and greatest plane around, BA’s remarkable new Dreamliner?

The craft’s first class cabin is a technological marvel, a masterpiece in passenger comfort. And the new planes arrive at the end of this month, with an inaugural route to Delhi plus flights to Abu Dhabi and Muscat to be added in November. The first class area has just eight seats, you can charge your phone from your seat and there’s cutting edge split-screen entertainment courtesy of a 23 inch telly.

So what does it look like? Prepare for a Star Trek of an experience with space age seat design, masses of personal storage, mirrors for grooming your gorgeous self and a handset to control your very own in-flight entertainment. Most fun of all, you can fix your reclining seat in a total of five extra different functions including ‘lumbar inflate’, and there’s even controllable personal lighting.

Why is the lighting bit so cool? You can set it to cut jet lag dramatically by making sure it reflects the time of day. This positive effect is strengthened thanks to the raft’s big windows. Last but no least it’s pressurised to a lesser degree than a regular plane,with an internal altitude 2000 feet lower than the usual at just 6000 feet above sea level. This has the added effect of keeping the air more most, less dry. So you arrive feeling less crispy!

Visit us next week for more air travel news

Come back next week for more interesting, intriguing and stimulating news from the wonderful world of air travel. Whether it’s airport parking, airport news or fresh information about airport lounge innovations and openings worldwide, we’ll keep you posted.

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Airport News: Delays, Drunks & Broken Promises

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015 by Kate Goldstone

It’s time for another airport news round-up… here’s some key airport news for the first week in September 2015.

London Stansted Airport

London Stansted Airport

Stansted airport and Luton airport score low

A report on the CityAM website reveals how Heathrow is the capital’s ‘best’ airport and Stansted and Luton the ‘worst’.

So says an analysis of 17,000 user reviews. Many people feel Luton and Stansted airports are plagued by delays, long security queues and sub-standard signage, making it difficult to find the right departure gate, all of which had led to both being awarded places in the bottom ten of the ‘Best airport in the world’ rankings.

The analysis, by Priceonomics, looked at user reviews for 71 major airports on the ratings site Skytrax. Heathrow came 16th, making it the 16th ‘best’ airport in the world. London City airport follows close behind. But Luton and Stansted were ranked 5th and 6th worst in the world based on customer reviews, with long queues the biggest issue.

Singapore’s Changi airport, however, came in as the planet’s finest with some remarkably good reviews considering airports, wherever they are, are not exactly a fun place to spend time.

Heathrow expansion resident compensation problems

According to the Colnbrook village website, residents are hell bent on setting up another Parish Meeting to talk about compensation for people whose homes and lives will be ruined if plans for an extra runway go ahead.

Heathrow - No Third Runway

Heathrow – No Third Runway

An unprecedented Meeting of the Parish took place in June and now there’s another on the cards, with the Colnbrook Community Association furious about parish councillors’ refusal to “honour promises made to residents” after the last meeting. As the CCA says:

“We believe that the wishes of residents who attended the meeting on 16th June should be honoured. Therefore we will arrange another Village Meeting at the earliest opportunity in order that residents may comment on the present positions on Heathrow and SIFE and agree on the proper way forward.”

Automated check-in steams ahead

As reported on the AFR website, more airlines are set to invest in DIY check-in technology. It means that long waits for the check-in desk could soon be a thing of the past, and while DIY check-in systems have been in common use for several years, the technology is going a whole lot further.

The idea is that travellers will eventually be able to turn up for their flights with their luggage ready-tagged, needing no help from airline staff. As we reported above, long queues are one of the biggest frustrations passengers face, and anything that can be done to resolve the issue must be a good thing.

Amongst others, British Airways is testing permanent electronic bag tags, a technology that means passengers will never need to attach another paper label to their luggage again. Instead they’ll be able to simply wave a smartphone over the electronic bag tag to update a unique barcode with their flight details, which is then scanned at a pre-security self-service bag drop.

Passengers at Gatwick Airport

Passengers at Gatwick Airport

If all goes well, BA is set to launch its new intelligent bag tags in 2016. Air France and Turkish Airlines are also testing electronic bag tags. And Gatwick airport is planning to create the planet’s biggest self-service bag drop zone as part of the North Terminal revedelopment. EasyJet already has twelve 12 self-service bag drops at Gatwick, with plans for 48 more by the end of 2016. And a clutch of airlines including Swiss International, Lufthansa, Air France and Iberia already provide self-print bag tags on some routes.

Fingers crossed the trend will spread and crowded airports like Stansted and Luton, which will become less of a chore to travel through.

Threatened villagers roll out their own ‘runway’

Again from the Colbrook website, the Stop Heathrow Expansion organisation has given the airport’s bosses some food for thought in the shape of their very own ‘runway’. A crowd of people from Heathrow village and other places threatened by expansion turned up outside the Oxford home of Heathrow’s CEO John Hollande-Kaye to roll out their very own mini ‘runway’ in protest.

Afterwards the protestors drove to David Cameron’s constituency, then the Witney Conservative Association, in an effort to remind the PM that he did actually promise that expansion at Heathrow would NOT go ahead. Last but not least, they turned up at Matt Gorman’s home. Mr Gorman is the airport’s Sustainability Director and he was apparently visibly disturbed by the whole thing, to such an extent that he actually called the police. How bizarre.

The unexpected visits formed part of the itinerary of Stop Heathrow Expansion‘s special picnic, attended by people from Colnbrook, Ascot, Binfield and Windlesham as well as Heathrow village itself. If you’d like to follow the progress of the so-called Heathrow Homeless on tour, you can hook up with the group on Twitter.

Airport news – Drunk women force emergency landings

As TravelPulse reports, a woman was taken off a flight because she was so drunk and disorderly she posed a serious risk. The woman, who was on a plane between London and the party island of Ibiza, apparently punched an EasyJet flight attendant, forcing the flight to make an emergency landing in Spain, where she was arrested and taken into custody.

Thought to have been totally poleaxed by drink when she boarded in London at just 6am, the woman was quiet enough until half an hour into the flight, when she punched a male flight attendant. But there’s more. Another incident saw a flight between Newcastle and Turkey flight forced to divert to Bulgaria because of another ‘disruptive’ female passenger.

The flight, which was full of holidaymakers travelling from Tyneside, was diverted after a drunken female passenger became abusive and disruptive. The pilot decided to land at Sofia in Bulgaria, where the woman was removed from the plane by Bulgarian police.

A spokesman for Thomas Cook Airlines said this kind of incident was ‘very rare’, but it doesn’t seem particularly rare to us, with reports of drunks on flights appearing with monotonous regularity. Do you think drunk people who disrupt flights should be banned from flying in future, or refused on board unless they pass a breathaliser test? Or do you think it’s acceptable for people to get on aeroplanes when they’re fighting drunk? Feel free to comment.

Edinburgh airport’s new World Duty Free outlet

Edinburgh Airport experienced record-breaking summer traffic. It saw a whopping 1.2 million or more passengers in July and August is also expected to be a record breaker thanks to the Fringe Festival. The World Duty Free chain is responding in kind  with a brand new walk-through shop at the airport, through which passengers are forced to pass to get to their flights.

Catch a BA flight to Seattle or Las Vegas

BA are set to add extra flights from Heathrow to Las Vegas and Seattle in 2016. The airline will fly Heathrow to Vegas ten times a week next summer. They’re also adding a twelfth weekly flight to Seattle, departing on Mondays. They have also announced a direct flight between Heathrow and San Jose, California, to kick off in 2016. California’s wine country awaits you!

Back next week…

We’ll be back next week with commentary about British airports, routes, flights, airlines and more.

The Curious Traveller’s City Guide – Visit Brighton

Thursday, August 27th, 2015 by Kate Goldstone

So you’re planning to visit Brighton? In the first of our special city guides, we’re taking you on a trip to Brighton in East Sussex, aka ‘London-by-the-Sea’, home to more celebrities than you can shake a stick at.

Brighton Pier

Brighton Pier and Pebble Beach

Everyone knows about Brighton’s miles of pebbly beaches, piers, Royal Pavilion, Festivals, excellent independent shopping, vibrant gay scene and countless nightclubs. But there’s more to this famous fun city than meets the eye.

If you’re a curious traveller who gets a kick out of discovering the unusual, odd, interesting and eccentric, this Brighton guide is for you.

Welcome to Brighton’s curious side

First, the sensible stuff. Here are a few handy facts about travelling in and around Brighton.

  • The entire city has a 20mph speed limit, making it safe for pedestrians
  • There are plenty of cycle paths and places to hire bikes – but bear in mind some areas of Brighton are really hilly and steep!
  • The bus service is excellent, with unlimited all-day travel across the city and way beyond into Sussex for £9 per ‘family’ (2 people or more)
  • The train service is equally good
  • City centre parking is expensive unless you can get into the car park on Providence Place, in the North Laine shopping area just off Trafalgar Street, which is particularly good value for money
  • There are loads of taxi ranks in the city centre
  • Brighton is actually quite small – it’s easy and fun to explore on foot
The Prince Albert - Brighton

The Prince Albert – Brighton

10 places to explore – It’s off-beat Brighton

Here’s a list of things to do and places to see that the tourist maps and mainstream guides might not tell you about.

  1. Anna’s Museum on Upper North Street – Walk along the south side of Upper North Street, going east from the Dyke Road end, and you’ll see a tiny museum in a former shop window. It’s a collection of curiosities found by Anna, who must be around 15 years old by now. She’s been collecting strange, weird and wonderful natural things her whole life and her ‘museum’ has been a favourite with locals for years. You can find out more about it here.
  2. Brighton’s secret snickleways – The city is full of little snickleways: narrow passages between houses and shops. They’re often scenic and pretty, overhung by fig trees and climbing plants, giving you peeps into miniature patio gardens through gaps in smartly-painted flint walls and iron gates. The Clifton Hill area, directly west of the railway station, up the hill to your right as you look at the sea, has loads to explore for an alternative view of the city through the back gate. Frederick Gardens is fun, and the lanes running parallel to the seafront, in the city centre, are beautiful – Find Meeting House Lane and take it from there.
  3. Go bungaroosh / bungarouche spotting – Brighton sits on chalk, laid down millions of years ago in shallow, warm tropical seas. The only stone for miles around is flint, and it’s tricky to build with. Many of the city’s buildings are made using boungaroosh, a local word meaning more or less ‘anything you can find that’ll do’. Open up the stud walls in many a terraced house or shop in the North Laine or Hanover, fight your way past the lath and plaster and you’ll find the walls are ‘built’ using anything from chunks of broken brick, glass bottles and broken pottery to chunks of wrought iron, tin cans, horseshoes, gravel, sand and flint. Take a meander through the North Laine or Hanover area and see if you can spot any. You’ll see some fascinating sights, streets, shops and houses while you’re at it.
  4. Get the bus to Devil’s Dyke – Local buses include special weekend and public holiday routes direct to the South Downs beauty spots of Devil’s Dyke (no. 77) and Ditchling Beacon (no. 79). Both destinations come with absolutely spectacular views. The Downs north of Brighton are high and steep but once you’re up there on the top, the going is relatively flat. You can walk east or west and enjoy vast unfolding views across the Sussex plain into Surrey, wit the sea in the distance. In spring and summer the grassy downland landscape is fragrant with colourful wildflowers. Here’s a link to the city’s bus services page.
  5. Walk the Undercliff Path to Rottingdean – Head for the pier, face the sea then hang a left along the seafront, walking parallel to the beach. It’s an easy stroll to the Marina, at which point you can either go right and walk through the marina itself, admiring the boats, or stick to the path and bypass it on the landward side. This is where things get scenic. Continue along the foot of the white chalk cliffs, a glorious walk with the sparkling sea to your right, and you’ll eventually come to the beautiful little village of Rottingdean. The Black Horse pub, about half way along the high street on your left with the sea behind you, serves fabulous food, and there are several excellent cafes and tea shops.
  6. Marvel at Eaton Nott – Find the London Road and walk north, crossing it with the fire station on your right, walking past the big pub in the middle where two roads split. Now you’re on Preston Road. Eaton Nott is at number 26, open 10-5 Monday to Saturday. They sell a remarkable collection of curiosities including taxidermy, human bones, animal skulls, weird creatures in formaldehyde, fabulous jewellery, industrial lighting and gorgeous ‘roadkill couture’, headpieces, hats, collars and clothing made from roadkill. You have to see it to believe it – here’s a link. Even if you’re not in buying mode, it’s a facinating place to explore.
  7. Grafitti safari – Brighton has embraced the art of grafitti. It’s everywhere, it’s awesome and it’s about much more than rubbishy tagging. Make the London Road shopping area your must-see first then head sea-wards through the North Laine for a visual feast of embellished frontages and even entire back streets transformed from tatty eyesores into works of fine street art.
  8. It’s Hove, actually – Hove is Brighton’s posh relative, a place of leafy, broad avenues and large, sturdy Victorian and Edwardian residences. Much of the seafront architecture is Regency, though, and there are some splendid terraces and squares to explore, all decked out in a buttery heritage cream colour. Adelaide Mansions, west of Regency Square, is particularly grand. If you love that cool, precise, elegant Regency style, it’s worth a visit. If that’s you, you’ll also appreciate the Clifton Hill area, Clifton Terrace in particular.
  9. Visit a proper local pub – Brighton has more than its fair share of ordinary pubs. But the city’s local pubs are worth winkling out. They’re usually less manic than central watering holes and many serve fantastic gourmet food. Having said that you’ll need to get in early to catch a seat at The Basketmakers on Gloucester Road in the North Laine, the food’s so good. If you want to track down a proper ‘local’ pub, the North Laine, Clifton Hill, Hanover and Kemptown areas deliver plenty of choice.
  10. OMG, what massive Gunnera! – Gunnera and thin, chalky topsoil don’t go together. But the clever gardeners at the small yet wonderfully exotic garden on Preston Park Road, on your left as you head north out of the city, have managed to grow some epic specimens. They’re absolutely huge. Preston Park itself, directly opposite, is home to the Preston Twins, thought to be the world’s biggest and oldest Elm trees. If you’d like to see lots of real, live, thriving elm trees for yourself – a rare sight these days thanks to Dutch Elm Disease – they grow all the way up Elm Grove, just off the Lewes Road.
Brighton's Royal Pavilion

Brighton’s Royal Pavilion

Our next city guide? Coming soon

We’ll be back with more city guides shortly, taking a different view from the usual tourist stuff, exploring cities both at home and abroad.

Terrifying Runways, UFO Encounters and Airport Ghosts

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015 by Kate Goldstone

This week we thought we’d take a look at the spooky, mysterious and hair-raising side of airports. Buckle your seat belt and prepare to take off into a world where ghosts stalk the concourses, UFOs and passenger aircraft almost come to grief and landings are so terrifying only the world’s finest pilots dare attempt them.

plant and moon

Is Heathrow Haunted?

Airport ghosts – Is Heathrow airport haunted?

Whether you think ghosts are everywhere or nowhere, time travellers, echoes from the past, people who don’t realise they’re dead, actual spirits, hallucinations or simple quirks of physics, everyone loves a good ghost story.

You might not expect something as relatively modern as an airport to be haunted. But according to Ghost Story UK, Heathrow has already gathered a rich collection of sightings and strange events. In fact it’s widely recognised as one of Britain’s most haunted places.

If you’re ever bored at Heathrow, waiting for your flight to be called, keep your eyes peeled. What’s that shadowy person-shape you spot flickering at the end of the dimly-lit passageway? It’s enough to take your mind off the fear of flying.

Dick Turpin – Heathrow’s most historic ghost

Of course he was around centuries before the airport, in the 1700s. But unlikely as it might sound, Dick Turpin, the legendary Highwayman, haunts the main terminal. Turpin allegedly appears in his signature tricorn hat. Several airport workers and airline crew have reported feeling his presence behind them, others say they’ve felt his horrid hot breath or heard a man barking close by, only to turn and find nobody there.

Dick Turpin

Dick Turpin

The name Dick Turpin comes laden with romance, and his story has been embroidered over the ages to become a Robin Hood-like tale of robbing the rich to feed the poor. In reality he was a horror, incredibly cruel, find of setting people on fire, raping and torturing. Why the legend? Apparently he caused a stir by swaggering his way to the gallows exuding ‘charm’ then jumping off into oblivion with gusto, more or less hanging himself. The peasantry loved it, stole his body and buried it with quicklime, ensuring there wasn’t much left for the scientists of the time to cut up.

The man who lost his hat

More hats. Following hot on Turpin’s heels, a lost and bewildered gentleman was spotted wandering the site of a tragic air crash on the approach to runway 2. The year was 1948, it was foggy and a DC3 Dakota had just crashed, killing everyone on board. As the rescuers worked frenziedly to find survivors, a man in a hat appeared through the mist and asked if anyone had seen his briefcase. As the men looked, he faded and disappeared before their eyes, melting into the mist. Apparently they found his body later, mangled in the wreckage.

There’s more. In 1970 the police had a call saying there was a man on the runway, clearly visible on radar. When the police arrived on the scene they couldn’t see the man even though the radar operators could still see him on their machines. They kept looking but couldn’t find the man anywhere. It remains a mystery.

The worried businessman in grey

If you spot a stressed-looking bloke in a grey suit and you’re in one of Heathrow’s VIP lounges, grab your camera. He’s seen fairly frequently but fleetingly, disappearing soon after he turnd up. Not so scary, you might think, until you find out how many people have seen him appearing from the waist up, legless. Creepy!

Manchester airport ghosts with an Air Force focus

The Manchester Evening News reports how the city’s airport is also home to plenty of hair raising sightings. When they unearthed a load of old airport documents they were surprised to find how many staff at the time had ghostly encounters, mostly around Terminal Three’s departure gates. Several people had seen a ghostly airman in the area, others came across an older man widely believed to be a night watchman killed on the spot a few years earlier. Slamming doors were also common, or at least the sound of doors slamming… when in fact no doors had been closed.

military fighter aircraft at Manchester airport

Fighter Aircraft at Manchester Airport

Late at night one airport worker saw a man in a pilot’s hat walk into the loos and heard the loo door slam shut. But there was nobody in there and the motion sensor hadn’t been set off. The uniform connection is interesting here, since Manchester airport is built on top of old RAF buildings, home to 613 City of Manchester Squadron in World War Two. As you can imagine a lot of young men took off from the site, never to return.

The scariest landing strips on earth

Back to real life, and three of the planet’s most hair-raising landings. As featured by The Telegraph, they’re not to be approached lightly. Take the Juancho E. Yrausquin airport in the Netherlands Antilles with its tiny, weeny runway just 1300 feet long. Pilots say it’s one of the planet’s most challenging with its deadly high hills to one side and sheer drops on the other three.

Landing at Kansai International airport in Japan is another terrifying yet fascinating experience – or a mighty thrill if you happen to be an adrenaline monkey. There wasn’t enough space to build a new airport on land so the Japanese built an entire new island off Osaka, a seven year project so big you can see it from space. $20 billion later, the airport is already threatened as global warming-led sea level rises continue.

Funchal airport on Madeira used to be famously dizzying with its horribly short 5240 foot runway. Now there’s a vast bridge made from girders, which supports 180 230 foot high pillars, on which planes land and take off. It’s clever. It’s a masterpiece of engineering. But take offs and landings still deliver a decent-sized thrill.

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UFOs spotted from aircraft

Ghosts on the concourse at one end, terrifying landings at the other end. So what’s in store for you in between, when you’re supposedly safe in the sky? UFOs, that’s what, and there are all sorts of reports about close encounters of the unexplained kind. And not just from nutty, overexcited, drunk or bored passengers, either. From pilots, the people we rightly trust to get us safely from A to B. If a pilot says he’s seen a UFO, who am I to argue?

JFK airport is your location for one UFO story, with amateur footage suggesting a bizarre object hurtling past a passenger plane as it took off. On the other hand one very British UFO expert, Mr Russ Kellett, isn’t convinced. In his words it, “could be anything. It comes behind from the aeroplane’s tail, you can tell it’s behind but it does move sort of like a bird, when something’s moving when the wings are flapping. If it’s moving away, it will give that appearance.”

In January 2014, as reported by The Telegraph, the captain of a Thomas Cook flight to the UK from Spain reported a “near miss” with a “rugby ball”-shaped object passing within feet of the aircraft over Reading. There’s been a report into the incident but the mystery craft, if that’s what it was, hasn’t been identified. As The Telegraph says:

“The captain said he spotted the object travelling towards the jet out of a left hand side, cockpit window, apparently heading directly for it. He said there was no time to for the aircrew to take evasive action. He told investigators he was certain the object was going to crash into his aircraft and ducked as it headed towards him.

The incident was investigated by the UK Airprox Board, which studies “near misses” involving aircraft in British airspace. The report states: “(The captain) was under the apprehension that they were on collision course with no time to react. His immediate reaction was to duck to the right and reach over to alert the FO (First Officer); there was no time to talk to alert him.”

It adds: “The Captain was fully expecting to experience some kind of impact with a conflicting aircraft.” He told investigators he believes the object passes “within a few feet” above the jet. He described it as being “cigar/rugby ball like” in shape, bright silver and apparently “metallic” in construction. Once it had passed, the captain checked the aircraft’s instruments and contacted air traffic controllers to report the incident. However, there was no sign of the mystery craft.

As part of the inquiry, data recordings were checked to establish what other aircraft were in the area at the time. However, all were eliminated. The investigation also ruled out meteorological balloons, after checking none were released in the vicinity. Toy balloons were also discounted, as they are not large enough to reach such heights. Military radar operators were contacted but were unable to trace the reported object.”

Have you had a strange, weird or unexplainable experience in an airport?

If you have a story to tell, we’d love to hear it. In the meantime, grab top value airport parking and airport lounge access on our site and have an excellent trip.

Air Travel: What If You Could Never Fly Again?

Thursday, August 13th, 2015 by Kate Goldstone

There’s more to the ongoing airport expansion story than an extra runway at Heathrow, if that’s how to cookie eventually crumbles. Now we’re seeing dramatic increases in the number of people travelling by air, as reported by a number of analysts, airports and newspapers.

Cairo Airport Crowds

Cairo Airport Crowds

What’s going on? Is there a limit to the number of passengers the nation’s airports can handle? More importantly, is air travel itself sustainable in the long term – how would you feel if air travel as we know it bit the dust, and you could never fly again? This week we thought we’d take a look at the stats and take you on a journey into the fictional future of aviation.

Dramatic growth in air passenger figures

According to Moodie Report Gatwick airport has just seen its busiest July ever. 6.4% more people flew from Gatwick this July, which means the airport served an impressive 4.3 million passengers in just 31 days. It’s the latest statistic in a run of month-on-month growth spanning two years, suggesting it’s much more than a blip. It’s a trend.

“Gatwick continues to meet passengers’ needs by providing them with more choice, value and destinations. These results put us ten years ahead of the forecasts used by the Airports Commission to predict future air traffic movements,” said Gatwick’s obviously exasperated CEO Stewart Wingate. “Our growth in the last 12 months is actually more than the Commission concluded could be added at Gatwick in the first year of a new runway being operational here – this is further proof of the flaws in the Airports Commission analysis and shows its conclusions are fast unravelling.”

At the same time Heathrow airport also reports record breaking passenger numbers through July, exceeding 7.2 million passengers for the 31 day period. They served 254,375 people on the 31st July alone.

Gatwick Car Parking

Gatwick Car Parking

The Express reports soaring passenger numbers at Stansted airport, which also had a bumper July, its busiest for seven years. Their dramatic midsummer boom was partly down to the launch of three new long haul routes from Thomas Cook, taking holidaymakers to Orlando, Las Vegas and Mexico. The resulting 12.5% rise meant they serviced an extraordinary 2.19 million of us throughout the month.

The Newnham Recorder, meanwhile, reports on record passenger numbers at London City airport. The numbers are putting London’s Mayor Boris Johnson under increasing pressure to approve City Airport expansion.

Stuck between two powerful arguments

At first glance it’s a strong argument: record numbers of passengers squeezing through airport doors surely means airport expansion is a no-brainer? On the other hand scientists say we’re on a climate change knife edge right now, and CO2 emissions have already pushed the planet’s climate past a key target we really didn’t want to reach.

It’s difficult to reconcile long and short term thinking when faced with climate change. We need to create a healthy green economy, but there are all sorts of growing pains to bear in the interim. There’s a fundamental mis-match between what we have to do to make ‘now’ work properly, and how we need to behave now to ensure the future will be liveable for our children.

Could we expand regional airports?

Can regional airports meet extra passenger demand? Potentially. And it’d mean fewer people would have to travel London-wards, taking off from closer to home. They’d emit less CO2 on the journey to and from the airport, which is good news. But flying per se is so environmentally unfriendly that any benefit would probably be swallowed up by increasing numbers of passengers demanding more and more flights.

It’s ironic. The more we travel by air, the more we expand airports, the faster we’ll bring about runaway climate change, and the sooner we’ll bring about the death of the air travel industry. All of which brings us to the crucial question: is air travel sustainable, full stop?

Is air travel sustainable?

If passenger numbers keep increasing, how long will it take before Britain’s airports start bursting at the seams? That’s the economic challenge. If we keep on flying at our current rate, how long will it be before climate change bites us good and proper? That’s the green challenge.

We need to halt global warming at less than 2C above pre-industrial levels. To achieve this target, as an article on the Greenwise Business site says, “the increases in air travel in the developed world seen in recent years, thanks to the proliferation of cheap flights, will have to be severely limited in future.”

Whichever way you look at it, economic or environmental, humanity’s love affair with air travel doesn’t look particularly sustainable right now. So what would life be like without it?

Alternative ways to travel short and long haul

There are always short haul alternatives: trains, buses, coaches, the Channel Tunnel. It just tends to take longer to get from A to B. Long haul is an altogether different matter. All you have, as an alternative to aircraft, is the sea. Travelling by ship is very slow indeed compared to trains and planes. But it gets worse. Like planes, ships are at the mucky end of the CO2 emissions spectrum. They’re notorious emitters, and green shipping is just as far away as green aircraft.

Return to Cruising?

Return to Cruising?

Anything else? Not really. There’s a solar powered plane making its graceful way around the world right now. But that’s a million light years from carrying passengers, at the experimental stage. It looks like we’re stuck, with no reasonable long haul alternative to the aeroplane.

Long distance travel in the future

What will travelling by air be like for our children and grandchildren? What will the future of air travel look like? Will there even be such a thing?

We might end up in a world where we look back at the bad old days – where we flew regularly at horrific environmental cost without really thinking about it – with shame. We may have to get used to not being able to travel thousands of miles in no time at all, more or less on a whim, for very little money. And we might have to get used to it pretty quickly if global warming follows its current trajectory.

If you can’t fly, will it matter? It’d certainly be a big shock to the system, knocking a whopping great big hole in the Zeitgeist. But travel isn’t essential for a good, long and healthy life. It’s an added extra, icing on the cake. We won’t die without holidays in Florida.

There’s a lot to be said for enjoying the process, in this context enjoying the journey as much as the destination. It was something our pre-air travel ancestors were past masters at, inching their way across vast distances slowly, steadily and determinedly by train, bus and tram, on foot, by horse and by bicycle.

Business travel is different, of course. While it’s good to meet face to face for a strong commercial relationship, it isn’t essential. You can always use cutting edge online technologies, including walking, talking holographs of people beamed in real-time, concurrently, to meeting rooms all over the world.

Can you see yourself coming to terms with taking days, perhaps weeks, to get to your destination? How would you feel if you couldn’t just take off and fly whenever you want? How would having to change the habits of a lifetime affect you? Feel free to leave a comment.

Climate Change Threatens Air Travel

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015 by Kate Goldstone

Rome’s Fiumicino airport is struggling. A fire in May affected the airport’s capabilities for two whole months. Thousands of holidaymakers were left stranded and all domestic and European flights were cancelled after a fire broke out in a coffee bar in Terminal 3, with twenty foot flames and a vast pillar of filthy smoke. Apparently the smoke inside the airport got so thick within just a few minutes that it was impossible to see.

Rome Airport Fire

Rome Airport Fire

Then it happened again. Last week an actual forest fire in the vicinity caused all sorts of chaos, including cancellations and delays. It appears fire causes big problems for airports and the airlines and people that use them.

A hotter climate means more fires

Forest rangers said the blaze affected around 40 hectares of a nearby 16000 acre nature reserve. The Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano says the recent fire at Fiumicino wasn’t an arson attack, but officials say three separate forest fires were probably started intentionally.

Wildfire in California

Wildfire in California

Whatever the cause, the bigger the fire the more difficult it is to control and put out. And as the climate warms, fires are bound to become a greater threat to all our transport systems. All it takes is a quick search on Google to realise droughts are common currency these days, with mega-droughts already affecting huge areas.

Global warming and air travel

Rome’s situation acts as a warning signal – as if we needed one – that the world’s climate really is changing. A warmer climate often means fires are more likely, and bigger, and their effects will inevitably be more difficult to contain. In fact, as Californians and Aussies know only too well, dramatic droughts are already a big issue.

Unless we move fast to mitigate global warming, the droughts and the wildfires that thrive in such dry conditions will become more common across the entire planet. And they’re bound to affect air travel.

California suffers the worst drought in 1200 years

California has long been battling its worst drought in 1200 years, a crisis that has already hit the state’s farmers and the economy that depends on them. The state is facing one of the most severe droughts on record, with a State of Emergency announced in January 2015 and action already being taken to prepare for water shortages.

Drought in California

Drought in California

With record-breaking heat affecting much of the State, Californians are having to get used to conserving their water, reducing their consumption by at least 27% under new emergency water conservation regulations.

As you can imagine, the resulting political and social conditions have become highly contentious. For example, water politics is coming to the fore as residents of Westlands,a fast-drying stretch of US farmland, try to cope with the changes. Here, the land is becoming ever-more laden with naturally occurring salts and the toxic trace element selenium. The parched terrain was once uninhabitable desert, and only the efforts of mankind turned it into arable land. Now it might end up reverting to desert, partly because there just isn’t enough spare water available to keep it fertile.

Australia baking under a relentless sun

Then there’s the Australian drought, the latest in a series of worsening water crises. In the second half of 1991 an incredibly severe drought hit Queensland, becoming the worst on record during ’94 and ’95. By October 1994 part of the Darling River system had completely collapsed and the Condamine River had turned into a sad series of muddy puddles.

From July to August 1995 things got even worse as a particularly strong El Nino weather pattern drove temperatures even higher, so hot that very few wheat and barley crops survived and the state had to import 50% of their grain from other parts of the country.

Then came the 2000s drought, named the Millennium drought, widely thought to be the worst since white people colonised Australia. 2006 proved the driest year on record for many parts of the country and the horror continued until late 2009. This time the drought wasn’t considered officially over until May 2012.

Drought in Australia

Drought in Australia

Australia’s Federal Government handed out a massive $4.5 billion in drought support. But the dry spell’s environmental legacy lives on, for example at Lake Albert where, like in the USA, the waters are still extremely salty, surrounded by acid soils and salt-ruined groundwater.

How does climate change affect air travel?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency says it all. They admit climate changes “may impact airplanes, airports, and airstrips, affecting air travel and infrastructure.”

  • Extreme heat results in restrictions, flight delays and cancellations. The same goers for increased flooding and high winds, both of which are being predicted by many climate change models. Storms can force entire airports to close, and these events are also thought to be becoming more common and more severe as a result of climate change.
  • In addition to airport closures and flight delays flooding can damage facilities, including airstrips. Some of the US’ busiest airports have been built in low-lying coastal areas vulnerable to flooding, including huge hubs like New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. And current predictions for climate change-driven sea level rises put both Newark and LaGuardia airports at risk of storm surges.
  • Then there’s ice… or a lack of it. Many of Alaska’s remote airstrips in Alaska are built on permafrost. When it melts the ground subsides, potentially damaging the foundation and structure of the airports and eventually leading to extra expense, rebuilding or even relocation.

In fact there’s only one bright side to a warmer climate: apparently warmer winter weather will cut the need for aircraft de-icing.

Will there be enough water to support airports’ needs?

As temperatures rise, people and animals need more water to thrive. Many important economic activities, including creating the energy we need to travel, require water. As the planet warms the amount of water available for these activities will probably be cut. If you don’t have enough water on your airport site, for instance, to put out big fires, can you really carry on providing safe air travel services? Or will you have to give up and close down?

Many areas of the USA, especially in the west, already face water supply issues, along with growing demand. The west of the nation experienced less rain than ever during the past 50 years, and the resulting droughts have got worse and lasted longer. It’s a scary pattern. As the EPA says in an online example:

“The Colorado River system is a major source of water supply for the Southwest. It supplies water for more than 30 million people in the cities of Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Denver. Recent droughts, reductions in winter precipitation, and warmer, drier springs have caused water supplies in Colorado River reservoirs to decrease. Expected climate change impacts on Colorado River water supply include increased year-to-year changes in water storage in reservoirs are possible, even under current conditions.”

What if climate change gets really extreme?

Most of the effects of climate change we see at the moment are inconvenient and awkward rather than life threatening. But humans are fragile. We die if it gets a couple of degrees too cold. Give us a heatwave and thousands of us drop like flies.

If equatorial and desert areas heat up as dramatically as many scientists predict they’ll eventually become uninhabitable, which means a lot of the exotic places we currently travel to on holiday will be too hot for human life to survive. If anything is set to affect air travel, it’s that!

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In the meantime, we hope you enjoy your flights to wonderful, exotic, hot and sunny places. Unless the human race manages to tip the balance, we might not be able to visit them safely by the time we reach the next century.

7 Reasons to Take Your Holiday in the UK

Thursday, July 30th, 2015 by Kate Goldstone

Why fly abroad for your holidays? It might seem an odd question for an airport parking focused business to pose, but we’re human too and we sometimes find air travel less than a pleasure.

Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight – Beautiful Coastline

Security issues, crowds and delays seem to be becoming more of an issue as time passes and with IS up to more dirty tricks than ever, being 30,000 feet up in the air doesn’t feel particularly safe. As someone famous once said, there are only two emotions involved in flying: terror and relief.

If you’re feeling too farty to fly these days, what awaits holidaymakers in good old Blighty, on our own familiar shores? And what about travelling Europe by train instead of flying? We thought it’d be interesting to take a look at the alternatives. If you’re perfectly happy flying, well done you. Walk this way for excellent value, easy-to-arrange airport parking. If not and you’re planning to take your holiday in the UK or travel to Europe a different way, read on.

1. Flying is fabulous… as long as there aren’t any delays

We took a trip to Amsterdam last week. The journey there was seamless and smooth without a single delay. The return flight was a different matter, with our plane delayed at least two hours and yet more delays on the trains home from Gatwick. A journey that should have taken around two and a half hours door to door took an awful lot longer, and by the time we got home we were exhausted.

Like any other kind of journey, flights are only enjoyable and convenient when everything works like clockwork. Otherwise it’s just a matter of gritting your teeth, putting a stiff upper lip in place and getting through it somehow. Not the best start to a holiday, and certainly not the best ending. When you’re flying long haul delays can be an absolute nightmare, especially if you’re traveling with the kids.

2. Airport security gets even more onerous

On one hand, you know it’s for your own safety. On the other hand it’s horrible being searched, having to take your shoes and belt off, decanting your belongings out of your pockets for x-raying, having to leave stuff behind because the rules say you can’t take it through security. It doesn’t exactly make you feel safe. Instead, it tends to make you even more aware of the risks.

Last time we flew, in 2012, security wasn’t this strict. And there’s no real reason it shouldn’t get even more strict if the terrorists scale up their antics.

3. The fear factor

The crazier the terror attacks become, the more widespread their reach, the more of us they kill, the less safe it feels being on board a plane. We might all know that flying is a lot safer than driving on a motorway or crossing the road but once you’re up there above the clouds, the facts start to feel a bit hollow.

No wonder Britain’s amazing home-grown wonders are attracting more stay-at-home vacations than ever. The new craze for glamping and staying at home for holidays is becoming a seriously cool option.

4. The wonders of a holiday in Britain

Every county in our green and pleasant land is stuffed with attractions, things to do, stuff to see and experience. Our nation is absolutely tiny, roughly 700 miles at its longest and 300 at its widest. You can fit the entire landmass into some American states several times over. But at the same time our geology is incredibly complex, which means the landscapes change frequently and you experience several completely different types of countryside in one tiny area.

Henley on Thames

Henley on Thames Landscape

Take Cumbria, home to the majestic Lake District. Scotland is over the border to the north, the county has oodles of beautiful coastline and also includes a big chunk of the Pennines, backing onto the stunning Yorkshire Dales. Or what about Sussex with its numerous beach holiday towns, vibrant cities, chalky South Downs, ancient history and fabulous shopping.

The same goes with our weather. OK, it might not be Mediterranean but it’s usually fairly reliable: cool in spring and autumn, warm in summer, chilly in winter. At least we’re used to it – the British weather isn’t going to deliver too many surprises. And because we’re such a teeny, weeny country, travelling the length and breadth of it in search of the best of the sunshine isn’t that much of a challenge.

5. Europe by train

The Channel Tunnel means rail travel in Europe is an excellent alternative. It tends to be more expensive than flying but it’s a great deal greener and if you book early there are some great deals to be had. It takes longer to get from A to B too, but all it takes is one delayed flight and the train suddenly becomes a viable and enjoyable option.

No hanging around in airports. No battling the fear of flying. You just get on your train and you’re off. Better still, when you travel by train the journey itself becomes part of the holiday, part of the fun, part of the experience as a whole rather than something you just want to get over with as soon as possible.

You zoom through France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany or wherever, a great way to find out more about how people live, the kinds of houses they build, the way the land is farmed and more. Instead of thousands of feet of clouds and empty air beneath you, you’re surrounded by fascinating countryside. European trains are splendidly comfortable and almost alarmingly efficient. You arrive feeling serene and mellow instead of bedraggled, cramped and scared half witless by the turbulence you encountered during landing. That’s more like it!

6. Europe by ferry

Ferries are another way to experience a journey to the full and welcome the travelling aspect of things into the holiday fold. Like the train it’s more leisurely, with epic views of the sea to enjoy whether you’rer travelling from Hull to Rotterdam, Newhaven to Dieppe, the Isle of Wight to Spain or Folkestone to Calais.

You can take your car, or leave it behind and hire a vehicle at the other end, or travel the rest of the way by train. Either way it’s much more of an adventure – and more laid back – than sitting on a plane without any views, after a cattle market of an airport experience, with someone’s whiny child kicking the back of your chair for the entire journey.

7. Experience days in the UK

We do much more than airport parking, of course, which brings us to our experience days. Wherever you go for your staycation, there’s something thrilling to experience. And we offer a vast choice of briulliant things to do and see via our website, everything from a comprehensive theatre ticket offering access to the finest shows in the West End to a bunch of strange, weird and definitely wonderful activities and experiences to set the seal on one of the best holidays ever.

If that dings your bell, what kind of experience days do we have on offer? You’ll love the sheer variety of great British fun and games you can book through our site. Here are just three of the different types of sactivity we offer, just to whet your appetite. And here’s a link to the experiences page.


Stonehenge – Worth a Visit

303 driving experiences to choose from

Our driving experiences include off road buggy racing, quad biking, Star in a Car,  extreme supercar, junior Ferrari experiences and a whole lot more, involving every kind of vehicle you can imagine.

Our Supreme Supercar Experience is a popular choice, exciting, exhilarating and very fast, packed with thrills.  You’ll spend an entire day tearing up the tarmac in ten of the planet’s most pwerful and desirable vehicles including a Ferrari, Lamborghini and Aston Martin. At the end of the day you’ll be presented with a certificate as a memento of your big day. Will your heart race? Yes, it will… and in a much nicer way than the way it races when your ‘plane rocks and bucks its way through a load of turbulence – at least you’re in control of your own fate.

500 superb pampering experiences

Choose from more than 500 papmering experiences including luxurious face and body treatments,  spa retreats and  deep tissue massages. For example our Moroccan Rasul and Elemis Deep Tissue Massage, a brilliant way to cleanse and detox your skin through the ancient ritual of Rasul.

The smooth, rich mud used is famous for its healing properties, nourishing the skin and leaving you feeling fantastic. Then there’s an hour-long Elemis Deep Tissue Massage to enjoy, which restores your sense of wellbeing much more than being squashed onto a bargain basement flight for several hours of nervous discomfort.

2268 short breaks to treat yourself to

A weekend break somewhere gorgeous might be just what you need to chill out and feel fabulous about life again, much more relaxing than a long haul flight and without the slightest trace of jet lag.

Take our two night break at magnificent Cabra Castle,  dating back to the 1800s and set in 100 acres of stunning parkland deep in the lush Irish countryside. Ireland, of course, is just a ferry ride away from either Swansea (to Cork) or Holyhead (to Dublin), and it’s so beautiful there you might as well be on a different planet… even though you’re close to home.

What about you?

If you’re going to take your holiday in the UK this year, what drove your decision and what are you going to do? We’d love to share your inspiration with our readers.

Airport Wars and More – Top Airport News

Thursday, July 16th, 2015 by Kate Goldstone

As reported in The Telegraph , the bosses at Sussex’s Gatwick airport are furious. They’ve slammed the UK’s Airport Commission recommendation for expanding Heathrow, claiming their recommendation was based on an analyses that don’t bear close examination. And they’re not afraid to get vocal about it.

airports commission

UK Airports Commission

Along with a bunch of anti-Heathrow expansion climate change protesters being arrested this week, it’s a shot across the bow for the government and a hint that the final solution might be as far away as ever. Here’s a run-down of Gatwick airport’s unusually feisty response, plus – not to be overshadowed – a short, sharp blast of airport news from elsewhere.

A scathing attack over outdated air traffic forecasts

Gatwick’s chairman has launched a scathing attack on the Airports Commission, saying their recommendation for a third Heathrow runway is ‘flawed’, based on old air traffic forecasts and dodgy economic estimates.

The ‘old data’ side of the argument isn’t surprising since the Commission took so long to make their report. But there’s more, with Sir Roy McNulty saying they also underplayed the strength of Gatwick’s case for expansion. He also believes they underestimated the problems facing radical changes at Heathrow. He has already spoken to the government but he’s so angry he’s promised to write to David Cameron to relay his concerns formally.

aor traffic

Air Traffic Forecasts

Would Gatwick expansion have fewer economic benefits?

The Commission’s 342 page report concluded that a £17.6bn extra runway at Heathrow was the “best answer” to a looming aviation capacity crisis, despite contrary evidence that there’s no such crisis on the horizon. They claimed a second runway at Gatwick was feasible, but would come with considerably fewer economic benefits, odd since in a separate economic analysis from the Commission, Treasury-led models revealed only ‘modest’ differences between the economic benefits behind Heathrow and Gatwick expansion.

Gatwick set to cross the 40M passenger mark first

Apparently the Heathrow decision was based on a critical assumption: that Gatwick would be dealing with at least forty million passengers a year by 2024. It sounds impressive, but Gatwick is set to achieve 40m passengers this financial year.

Passengers at Gatwick Airport

Passengers at Gatwick Airport

Worse still, Gatwick had ‘repeatedly’ raised concerns about the forecasts but their worries were dismissed, “with a fairly superficial analysis”, according to Sir Roy. He’s bullish, insisting they’re absolutely certain the decision “does not make sense”.

Hurt feelings all round

Sir Roy also feels the report undervalues the feelings of people living around Heathrow, with more local residents due to suffer from noise, pollution, disruption, virus-like increases in airport parking sites and more. His opinion won’t go down well with people in the Gatwick area, who face exactly the same challenges to their homes and lifestyles. And he’s zoomed in on pollution levels, saying the Commission didn’t take the fact that Heathrow currently breaches European Union limits on air pollution into account.

An extra runway at Heathrow has already been proposed and stopped in its tracks in the past. Sir Roy believes the same thing will happen again, putting progress back another two, five, ten years… who knows? And this is his final argument. In his words, “As Einstein famously said, the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.”

Then there’s the Queen whose lovely home, Windsor Castle, would suffer increased noise from a third runway. It looks like the Royals could qualify for millions of pounds in payouts to soundproof the 900 year old building. Is there no end to the complexities behind an extra runway, wherever it ends up?

The Airports Commission fights back

The Airports Commission has retaliated, insisting that the lengthy three year reporting period they went through has looked at all the issues, including extensive consultation and analysis and delivering robust recommendations based on the best available evidence.

Despite their anger and disappointment Gatwick has fallen short of starting a judicial review. But the news marks the beginning of what could be a very long haul for everyone included: the airports, local people, the government and the flying public.

The Government has promised to decide whether to support the Commission’s recommendations or not by the end of this year, leaving things hanging to Gatwick’s benefit. They’re unlikely to make a firm decision, expected to make more of a ‘clear direction’. All we can do is watch and wait.

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More airport news for July 2015

  • British Airways has announced its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner plane will take a debut flight to Delhi this October
  • A BA flight made emergency landing at Heathrow when its engine burst into flames
  • Heathrow hopes to soften the expansion blow by building a 9,000 home ‘garden city’
  • Munich airport gets clearance for a third runwa, while the country’s powerful environmentalists fight on
  • Research reveals how increasing long haul flight times are down to high altitude winds slowing planes down, and it’ll have ‘significant implications’for airline industry’s CO2 emissions
  • Expansion plans have been unveiled for Leeds Bradford Airport to let it double the number of passengers it handles over the next 15 years
  • Heathrow is already showing resistance to environmental measures proposed for a 4th runway, saying it still needs to “assess” proposals for a night flying ban
  • Hundreds of flights were delayed at Heathrow as Plane Stupid protesters against the new runway plans broke in and chained themselves together
  • Ryanair says it might shut its Billund airport base, the airline’s second Danish base closure in just four days because of union strike plans. They already closed their new base at Copenhagen to avoid strikes
  • Armelle Thomas, the wife of a 93 year old war veteran, is livid after a letter from Heathrow arrived at her home 90 minutes after the AirportCommission’s recommendation. It was a reminder letter about the compulsory purchase order made on her home
  • On 2nd Julke a protester whose Harmondsworth home would be destroyed by a third runway blocked Heathrow tunnel for half an hour

We’ll be back next week with the latest news about airport parking, airport expansion, developments in the aircraft industry and the ever-changing world of aviation.