Tuesday, 23 February 2010

How to exploit budget airlines

I did a radio interview the other day about budget airlines. The presenter was insisting that they catch people with hidden charges, or charge customers for everything. The facts are simple to me. You use a budget airline to get somewhere as cheaply as possible, so don't expect to be treated like a royal. Remember too that these airlines are commercial ventures. They are not charitable in any way, and want to make as much money as possible, so just play them at their own game and you'll be a winner.
1.When you book a flight, just take your time and read through the text carefully, unticking any box that does not directly apply to your flight.
2. Do not use their currency exchange system as you will lose out on the convertion.
3. Organise your own travel insurance
4. Pay with a pre paid credit card to avoid the credit card surcharge (the Electron card dodge has now been scuppered).
5. Be wary of the dubious speedy boarding system as there are many airports that will not get you direct access to the aircraft, so you will be paying for a speedy bus boarding!
6. Finally, if there are two of you travelling, find an empty three seats and leave the middle one free. You will be surprised how many people avoid sitting there.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

V&A Lecture

I gave a lecture on New York last Saturday at the Victoria & Albert museum as part of their World Cities series. Very well attended and very well received even if I say so myself. Part of my presentation was around the growing speakeasy culture in Manhattan and the opening of The High Line walkway on the west side.
By the way, have you heard about the new neighbourhoods in Manhattan? NOMAD is North of Madison, and DUMBO is Down Under Madison Bridge Overpass.

Snow fun in The Pyrenees

Got back safe and sound from a press trip to The Pyrenees. Visited two lovely resorts, Font-Romeu and Les Angles, right on the Spanish border. Actually one of my clues for the radio show this time was that this is an area where three languages are spoken. So, obviously Spanish and French, but hearing French people speaking Catalan was a real surprise for me.
Both resorts were very family friendly and specialised in activities for non skiers, so we learnt cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Had some fun climbing around an 'I Go Ape' style tree course and spent an afternoon in a naturally heated thermal spring.

Monday, 1 February 2010

The Pyrenees for Non Skiers

Today I am off to the Catalan Pyrenees to write about snow activities for non-skiers.
This has huge potential. Just think of how many people would love to get involved in doing snow fun but feel intimidated joining with experienced skiers.
Looking forward to it.

Airport Security

Don't get me wrong, I am all for safe and secure travel. What really annoys me is that there are many airports in the UK now that are charging passengers a fee to use a 'fast lane' service. This fee can be anything from £3 to £10 per passenger depending on the time of day or how busy the airport is.
This, in my view is scandalous.
What makes this even worse is that there are incentives from on airport services that offer free passes to use the 'fast lane', such as airport parking or even some airlines trying to promote a London service.

What happens if no one is using the 'fast lane' then? Does the machine in there lay unused whilst we are all standing in a long line waiting for the other 'not fast' lane to become available?
Do the staff running that machine sit about doing nothing while their colleagues are working frantically processing the normal passenger traffic?
And what about Bodyscanners then. Are they going to be used in addition to existing security are will they replace the current system? I can see it now, a 'fast lane' service for the bodyscanners too, with of course higher charges because the technology is that much more complicated!

How dare airports try to earn profits from what is a Government sanctioned security procedure. Why should they profit from terrorism?

It is all very wrong.