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# Saturday, November 29, 2008

This article suggests that airlines could soon introduce charges for seats with extra legroom such as those location by the emergency exits. The prediction comes after Singapore Airlines introduced the policy earlier this month. Air France and Virgin Atlantic have also already introduced charges for these seats. Travel experts have predicted that customers will have to pay around £75 for a return ticket to enjoy that luxury of stretching their legs and that the charges are likely to become common place across most airlines. Air France currently charges £42 (50 Euros) each way on flights to the US and intends to widen the policy to all of its long haul flights. Singapore Airlines charges £32 per sector on all of its long haul flights and is looking at introducing charges for other seat categories in the future. It all looks like bad news for those of us with long legs, it appears if you want to avoid cramp on the flight, you will need to pay for it.

posted on Saturday, November 29, 2008 1:10:31 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Trackback
# Friday, November 28, 2008

A consumer watchdog has called for post offices to reduce lengthy queues. The watchdog found that a firth of post office customers have to wait at least 10 minutes before they get to the post office counter. Although the average waiting time is down slightly the watch dog has criticised businesses for assuming that customers are happy to queue. It has said that priority should be given to improving services at poorly performing post branches that have problems with queuing and other service problems. Despite this the results from the watchdogs survey found that 94% of customers were happy with the service they receive from post office branches. It occurs to me that with more and post office branches closing the queues are likely to become longer not shorter as the remaining branches have to cope with more customers. Perhaps the watchdog needs to address this issue?

posted on Friday, November 28, 2008 12:14:58 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Trackback
# Thursday, November 27, 2008

To make sure that your cards and letters get to their destination in time for Christmas you might want to check out the last recommended posting dates which have just been released by Royal Mail. The last recommended date for mail sent to South and Central America, the Middle East, New Zealand and Australia is fast approaching so if you are planning to send cards to these destinations you need to get them in the post by the 5th of December. The last posting date for Europe is the 12th of December. You have a little bit more time for mail sent within the UK, 2nd class mail should be sent by the 18th of December and 1st class should be posted by the 20th of December.

At PC2paper we will still post your mail after the last recommended posting dates but will not be able to guarantee Christmas delivery after these dates. All Christmas cards are printed and posted in the UK so make sure you leave enough time for them to get to their destination. Remember you can also use our US, Thai and European printing stations to get your mail there even faster. A full list of the last recommended posting dates for the UK is below.

Friday 5th December: South and Central America, Caribbean, Africa, Middle East, Far East, New Zealand and Australia.

Wednesday 10th December: Japan, USA, Canada and Eastern Europe.

Friday 12th December: Western Europe.

Thursday 18th December: Second Class UK mail.

Saturday 20th December: First Class UK mail.

posted on Thursday, November 27, 2008 2:30:49 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Trackback
# Tuesday, November 25, 2008

This weeks Travel Blog of the Week is Candy from Strangers: Traveling the World in  Search of Sweets written by Malena. As the name of the blog suggest Malena has set out not only to travel the world but also to track down new and exciting types of candy. One of the more recent posts sees Malena in Switzerland where she takes the chocolate train to visit the chocolate factory naturally. The full tour includes a visit to the Gruyere cheese factory with a description of the cheese making process and some free samples before heading off to what appears to the highlight of the trip, the tasting room at the Cailler chocolate factory. Although the tour of the chocolate factory doesn't actually include a visit to the factory (due to insurance reasons) the main focus of the tour is the tasting room where you can eat as much chocolate as you want. The whole experience gets a fairly good review and Malena comments that the chocolate is very rich and it is hard to eat more than a few pieces. In the name of research she gamely tries a wide variety of flavours, its tough work but someone has to do it. In contrast the Haribo Museum in Uzes appears to be a rather disappointing experience. According to Malena getting to the museum is not easy with the bus only running once a day. Once there the museum focuses mainly on licorice which judging by the the authors comments are not exactly her favourite type of sweets. Whilst not offering a great selection of free samples unless you like licorice the museum is praised for the information it provides on the history of Haribo and the interesting statistics such as "if all of the Haribo gummy bears made in one year were placed in a line, it would circle the earth three times". Despite this the Haribo Museum does not come recommended. As well as the candy related travel articles this blog also contains various little bite sized posts called random candy where the author posts a picture a and a short description of some random pieces of candy with a short description. Pictured left are some gomitas which according to Malena are "sweet, soft, and flavour gumdrops". Its well worth checking out some of the other posts on this blog but beware it could leave you craving sugar.

posted on Tuesday, November 25, 2008 3:38:12 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Trackback
# Friday, November 21, 2008

Train fares will rise in the new year with some tickets going up by nearly double the rate of inflation. Regulated fares including season tickets are due to increase by an average of 6% from the 2nd of January 2009 with unregulated tickets including leisure and advance fares rising 7% on average with some rising as much as 11%. The train companies have said that the revenue will be reinvested but the watchdog Passenger Focus have said that some rises are unjustified.

posted on Friday, November 21, 2008 1:47:44 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Trackback
# Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Virgin Atlantic have said that they are planning a bid for Gatwick airport in conjunction with other parties. Gatwick airport has recently been put up for sale by the current owner BAA. Virgin is talking to a group of interested parties about a bid for the airport which is valued by analysts at around £2.5bn. Australian company Macquarie, Germany's Fraport, and the owners of Manchester airport are among the firms thought to be interested in buying the airport.

posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 4:27:20 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Trackback
# Tuesday, November 18, 2008

This weeks Travel Blog of the Week is Everything Everywhere written by Gary Arndt. Gary set off on a trip around the world in March 2007 after selling his house and putting all his possessions in storage. Since then he has visited over 40 countries to date. His blog is predominantly a photo travel blog with a new picture being posted every day but also includes some short accounts of his travels. Some of my favourite pictures include the Cave-Entrance-Palawan-Philippinesentrance to the underground river in Puerto Princess, Palawan in the the Philippines (left) and  these roots growing oTa-Som-Back-Temple-HDRut of the stone at the Ta Som Temple in Cambodia (right).

One article from Gary's time in Nha Trang Vietnam highlights how local knowledge can often prove more beneficial than a guide book. He tells a story about a European couple who ask for a room at a guesthouse. When told that it will cost $20 a night the couple are surprised and refer to a guidebook which is a year old and quotes a price of $10-15 a night. On querying it with the owner of the guesthouse the couple are told that she has put in internet access and air conditioning since then, hence the higher price. It should really be common sense that whilst guide books can often provide a good overview of any area that prices do frequently change. Gary on the other hand asks a local man if he knows where he can find a room for $20 with internet access. He finds a place in just minutes and is even driven there on the local mans motorbike, all for just a small finders fee. This blog is well worth checking out for the stunning pictures and the informative articles, a well deserved Travel Blog of the Week.

posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2008 8:27:41 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Trackback
# Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Trading standards officers have been handed out leaflets at airports to warms passengers holiday makers about bogus holiday clubs. The scams involve fake Spanish holiday clubs with the tourists being lured by a tout handed out scratch cards and claiming they have won a prize. The cards are often a ruse to lure unsuspecting tourists to a high cost sales pitch. They are then persuaded to sign up for a fake holiday club that can cost thousands of ponds in membership fees. The OFT said "In most cases, consumers find they have bought little more than access to an internet booking service offering the same service they could get at a travel agent for free". Victims of the scam have lost an average of £3,030 each.

posted on Wednesday, November 12, 2008 3:22:25 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Trackback
# Monday, November 10, 2008

blogoftheweek_thumb3004483222_b162a737d5_bThis weeks Travel Blog of the Week is Life of Justin written by Justin Wright. The blog  looks predominately at hiking destinations within the US. One of the most recent articles looks at the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. The article gives a positive view of the caverns which can be viewed for just $6. The review helpfully mentions that there is a lift to take you down to the caverns but does not recommend using it if you can make the walk as it skips some of the best parts of the walk. Despite warnings that the hike is strenuous Justin comments that its a fairly easy hike but does recommend hiking shoes as it can be quite steep. Its all useful information and worth checking out if you are planning a visit to the caverns. The article is also illustrated with several stunning pictures such as the one on the right.

3003086942_ffa71fa432_o Another post deals with another very different hike. This time its backpacking at the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. The interesting thing about this hike is that instead of following the path as you would normally, here you follow posts in the ground looking for the next one on the horizon and then walking towards it. Camping overnight under the stars looks to be a really cool experience and the shots of the stars in the sky are worth checking out. Overall this hike gets a favourable review.

A slightly more conventional day out looks at the Arizona Science Centre in Phoenix. As a family day out the venue gets a rather poor review which is partly down to it being fairly pricey and partly to the number of exhibits that are out of order. The initial thought here is that are too many unsupervised children and that the venue seems more like a zoo than a science center. This is obviously not a day out for people without children. The exhibits, however, are described as very cool but the science center gets a poor review because many of them are broken or have an out of order sign stuck on them. The center is also criticised for not including the special exhibits in the entrance price, if you want to see these they cost an extra $9. Overall as a family day out the costs would amount to around $92 for a family of four, the verdict is that at these prices it is simply not worth the money and you might be better off looking around for something that is a little better value. Its well worth checking out some of the other posts on this blog.

posted on Monday, November 10, 2008 8:40:54 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Trackback
# Friday, November 7, 2008

The City of Derry airport has spent more than £19 million on safety work. The money was used to extend the airport's runway with the demolition of 17 homes in nearby Donnybrewer. The British and Irish governments paid £14m towards the work with the remaining £5m being paid for by Derry City Council.

posted on Friday, November 7, 2008 6:17:27 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Trackback
# Thursday, November 6, 2008

BAA has announced a £230m funding package for the Crossrail project. The scheme which will cost a total of £16bn will connect Maidenhead in Berkshire to Shenfield in Essex via Heathrow and central London. The project which received the parliamentary go ahead in July is expected to start running its first trains in 2017. The new rail route will provide four fast trains an hour Heathrow and will run direct services from Heathrow airport though central London, the City and Canary Wharf. It will also mean creating new stations Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel and the Isle of Dogs. The 74-mile route (118.5km) will be underground for 26 miles (41.5km) and allow for stops at 38 stations.

posted on Thursday, November 6, 2008 2:29:20 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Trackback
# Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Profits at Ryanair have fallen 47% in the first half of the financial year. The fall has been put down to a doubling in the price of fuel. Although oil prices have since fallen Ryanair still expects to make a loss within the last six months of the financial year. Despite the fall in profits customer numbers have continued to grow with numbers being up 19% between April and September. Chief Executive Mr O'Leary has said that if oil prices remain below $80 a barrel that profits will recover.

posted on Wednesday, November 5, 2008 11:11:39 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Trackback
# Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The budget airline Ryanair will offer flights to the US for just eight pounds under a new scheme. The airline will buy planes from struggling rivals as part of a plan to beat the recession. Under the plans Ryanair will buy an additional 50 aircraft in an effort to try and undercut more expensive rivals. The cheap flights are likely to be available by the end of the year and will be available for those who book early. Airport taxes will be payable on top of the ticket price. Flights are expected to be available from Stanstead and Dublin to New York, Florida, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston.

posted on Tuesday, November 4, 2008 4:09:52 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Trackback
# Sunday, November 2, 2008

This weeks Travel Blog of the Week is Travelsphere. The blog contains a number of useful articles both destination specific and general travel tips. One article entitled 7 Top Tips to Pack Light and Right looks at how to pack less and so save money on checking in multiple bags. The tips include planning your outfits around your shoes as shoes take up valuable space in your suitcase. It suggests starting with two or three pairs of shoes that you will be taking and then working your outfits around these, rather than packing an extra pair of shoes just because they go well with a particular pair of trousers. The article also suggests packing neutral colours like black, white and cream and adding a few brightly coloured tops and accessories to liven them up, after all there is no point packing a lime green top if it doesn't go with any of the other item in your suitcase, the chances are it will come back unworn. Packing low maintenance fabrics can also save you space, the article suggests choosing fabrics such as nylon that don't wrinkle easily. Not only do they not crease as easily as linen but they can also be rolled up into a ball to save on that much needed space.

Another useful article looks at the Top Ten Way to Travel Cheaply and Stick to a Budget. This post is aimed predominately at first time backpackers. The tips include swapping items with other backpackers if you no longer need them, travelling overnight to save money on accommodation a purchasing discount cards. Other suggestions include opting for shared accommodation such as shared dormitories and where ever possible walking rather than using public transport. Its all great advice and just a taste of what you will find on this blog. Its definitely worth checking out the other articles if you are planning trip abroad.

posted on Sunday, November 2, 2008 9:32:52 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Trackback