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Thursday April 16, 2015

This Week's Travel News


Ombudsman Announced for Air Passengers

The Civil Aviation Authority has confirmed it will reform the way air travel complaints are handled. Passengers involved in disputes with airlines will soon be able to escalate their case to an independent ombudsman.

Following a recent CAA consultation, the regulator plans to end its role as a complaint handler, handing over responsibility for air passenger disputes to 'alternative dispute resolution' (ADR) schemes, such as the type of ombudsman-style bodies that are well established in other industries.

The CAA said hailed the move as 'a major step forward for consumers', which would pave the way for them to get 'quick, fair and binding solutions' to their disputes with airlines on issues such as flight delay compensation. Unlike under the present system, whereby airlines can choose to ignore a CAA ruling in favour of the customer, the findings on the ombudsman will be binding.

The proposals follow the European Directive on ADR, which requires schemes to be available to help settle any dispute that cannot be resolved though a business's own complaint handling procedure. The CAA will be responsible for approving all ADR schemes in the sector and for ensuring that any organisations delivering them are independent and impartial, and that passengers have access to a simple, efficient and effective process at low or no upfront cost.

The CAA will continue to handle complaints about disability and mobility issues for any airlines that are not part of an ADR scheme.

Holiday Operator Teams up with Jade Jagger

World renowned British fashion, jewellery and interiors designer, Jade Jagger has teamed up with leading holiday company Thomson to create a limited edition range of kaftans, to celebrate the launch of the brand new Sensatori Resort Ibiza. Jade has also designed a bespoke wellbeing space at the resort, which will open in May this year.

Resident and lover of the White Isle, Jade Jagger has encapsulated her signature style to create a chic range of kaftans, perfect for adding a touch of glamour to the poolside. The special edition accessories will be gifted for a limited time to guests staying at the resort this summer, and for those back in the UK, the range will also be available to purchase online with all proceeds going to charity.

Charlotte Brenner, Marketing Manager at Thomson said: "We are delighted to announce the partnership with Jade Jagger for this latest Sensatori Style collaboration. At Thomson we pride ourselves on going that extra mile to make the customer experience special, and hope that the striking kaftans and wellbeing space designed by Jade will be well received by our guests staying at the new five star Sensatori Resort Ibiza."


Express Service to Troon Back for Season

When it comes to packing for a getaway, it seems there's little we're prepared to leave behind according to a survey for P&O Ferries to celebrate the return of the fastcraft Express service between Northern Ireland and Scotland - just in time for the forthcoming holiday season.

Appearances are everything for more than three quarters of those surveyed who aren't prepared to leave all their favourite cosmetics behind even for a short break. A staggering 70 per cent won't leave home without their hair dryers and/or straighteners while seven out of 10 say their children's favourite cuddly toys always make the cut along with more than half who pack their 'must have' computer games.

Sarah Rosier, Head of Sales and Marketing, Irish Sea, P&O Ferries said: "Passengers can relax even before they step on board our ferries knowing that there are no baggage restrictions to worry about and no need to compromise on packing the home comforts we all appreciate when we're travelling."

Use Your Head to Beat Travel Fraudsters

ABTA, City of London Police and Get Safe Online have joined forces to issue a warning to the travelling public after fraudsters stole around £2.2 million from unsuspecting travellers last year, according to a new report. The report, by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau section of the City of London Police, found the average loss to fraud victims was £889.

The majority of those who had been conned paid by unprotected means, such as bank transfer or cash, with no way of getting their money back. Only a small proportion paid by credit or debit card, where some form of redress is available. The report said the most common scams involved fraudsters hacking into the accounts of owners on well-known accommodation sites. In other cases, fraudsters spoofed accommodation websites with convincing bogus imitations, leaving holidaymakers with non-existent bookings.

Travellers are being urged to stay safe online by checking that the web address is legitmate, do their research and don't just rely on one review, look for the logo - and check whether the company is a member of a Trade body such as ABTA. Never pay money directly into an owner's bank account and check all paperwork.


Make Sure You're Covered for Strikes, Northern Ireland's No 1 travel insurance provider, is reminding holidaymakers to make sure their policy provides them with adequate protection in the event of further Air Traffic Control Strikes this summer.

Holidaymakers face continued travel disruption across Europe as French air traffic controllers launch a series of strikes. France's civil aviation body has urged airlines across the continent to cut flights by up to 40 per cent as a preventative measure and hundreds of flights have already been cancelled as the air traffic controller's dispute looks set to intensify.

Ciaran Mulligan, Managing Director, says: "It is important that Holidaymakers are aware of what they are covered for in the event of strike action. We automatically include cover for strike on all our cover levels. We are also pleased to have the unique optional cover of 'Travel Disruption' available for unexpected costs incurred in making new arrangements due to strike action in addition to our strike cover and the cover can be added to a new and existing policy."

Free Cruise If You Miss the Northern Lights

Imagine standing out on deck, watching a vivid display of green and purple lights dancing across the clear Arctic skies above you. Enjoy a truly unique adventure with Hurtigruten this winter and not only will they include your flights and buy you wine with dinner, they are so confident they offer the best way to experience the Aurora Borealis, that they are offering an exclusive Northern Lights Promise.

The offer is open to passengers booking a 12 day Classic Round Voyage for departure between October 2015 and February 2016 inclusive. Staff on-board Hurtigruten's 11 coastal ships will be scouring the night skies and will announce any sightings of the lights. However, if they don't appear during the voyage, Hurtigruten will offer guests the choice of a free seven-day Classic Voyage North, or 6 day Classic Voyage South in an inside twin cabin (voyage-only, b&b basis), departing between October 2016 and March 2017.

Cecilia Abert, Hurtigruten commented: "Seeing the Northern Lights remains one of life's truly incredible experiences and we are so convinced that a voyage with us is one of the best ways to see them, that we have put our money where our mouth is."


Cool Prices to the Coolest Scandinavian Cities

Travellers from Ireland can visit beautiful Scandinavia from just 50 Euro per person one-way thanks to SAS's current seat sale. If you book before April 21 you can take advantage of this fantastic fare offer which is inclusive of taxes and charges as well as a 23kg baggage allowance.

You have the choice of exploring Stockholm's stylish streets and be wowed by the city's stunning palace, colourful buildings and shimmering waterways. Or maybe Gothenburg is more your thing, with its laid-back atmosphere and picturesque waterfront. For a getaway like no other fly to Oslo, home to world-class museums, galleries and a vibrant cafe culture. SAS also have unbeatable fares to the coolest city of all, Copenhagen, famous for its chic bars and shops.

Book your summer getaway with SAS before 21st April to take advantage of 50 Euro per person one way ticket offers to either Stockholm, Gothenburg or Oslo or from 55 Euro per person to Copenhagen. The travel period lasts from May 15 to February 29, 2016 and the bookings must be made by April 21, 2015.

Free Onboard Spend Offer on Equinox

As part of Celebrity Cruises' Modern Luxury Giveaway between April 10 and 20, 2015, customers booking selected 2015 sailings will receive up to $500 onboard spend, plus a case of wine delivered to their home.

Join Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Equinox on a 15-night Italy and Greek Isles fly/cruise from £1,769 per person (based on two people sharing a balcony stateroom upgraded from oceanview).

Price includes $500 onboard spend per stateroom, six bottles of wine delivered to the guests' home, return flights from London Gatwick, one night pre-cruise accommodation, transfers and a 14-night cruise departing from Istanbul (Turkey) and calling at Ephesus (Kusadasi, Turkey), Mykonos (Greece), Athens (Piraeus, Greece), Kotor (Montenegro), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Corfu (Greece), Rome (Civitavecchia, Italy), Florence/Pisa (Livorno, Italy), Nice (Villefranche, France) and Marseille (Provence, France), before arriving into Barcelona (Spain) for the flight home; meals and entertainment onboard the ship and all relevant cruise taxes/fees.

Price is based on August 23, 2015 UK departure. Offer valid on bookings made between April 10 and 20, 2015. Celebrity Cruises is also encouraging everyone to enter its competition to win a free cruise holiday. All entrants will also receive a free two-month tastecard offering discounts at thousands of restaurants across the UK.

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John Trew


Following seven eventful years as front-line Editor of the Belfast News Letter, John Trew wisely opted for the quieter pleasures of travel journalism.  Now, after 23 years and 270,000 miles, he is living proof that travel not only broadens the mind but the buttocks.

View John's articles

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