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Friday commentary: Would you take a budget flight to the USA?

March 6, 2014 at 9:04 AM
All aboard! Ryanair jets off to the big apple Photo: Juanedc.com

All aboard! Ryanair jets off to the big apple Photo: Juanedc.com

Budget airlines. Love them or hate them, over the last decade they have enabled millions of us to afford to fly to Europe for a summer getaway. From city breaks to a week by the beach, they transport more of us from the UK than any other carrier; in fact Easyjet is the UK’s largest airline by passenger numbers. Way back in 2000, low-cost carriers accounted for just 8.6% of the market, but by last year that number had risen to 52% of UK airline passengers. Traditionally they have operated from the UK to mainland Europe’s top destinations. Last week Michael O’Leary – Ryanair’s always colourful CEO – made an announcement which could prove as disruptive for transatlantic flights as the budget airlines have been for European travel, with his intention for Ryanair to launch €10 (£8.20) one way flights to New York. Michael O’Leary said “We can make money on 99-cent fares in Europe”. Before going on to say “not every seat will be €10 of course, there will also need to be a very high number of business or premium seats.”

But do we want ‘budget flights’ on long-haul routes? Being cramped in with little leg room on a relatively short hop across to Spain, Italy or Greece is one thing, but how many of us will put up with it for the seven and a half hours to New York? Then there is the price. Michael O’Leary let us know that for €10 we will be paying extra for everything from baggage to printed tickets, meals and drinks. Factor in the ‘hidden’ costs of taxes and how much cheaper will it be? And will it be worth it?

This week we have been running a poll on our Facebook page to ask whether you would consider flying to the USA with a budget carrier. So far we have had a pretty even split, with 53% voting yes and 47% voting no. So the question goes out for you to debate with us, would you fly to the US with a budget carrier?

First we asked our panel for their views on budget airlines, and whether they would choose to fly to the US with a budget carrier, do you agree?

Kent: rural beauty on the edge of the city

March 5, 2014 at 8:16 AM
Blue sky over the white cliffs of Dover

Blue sky over the White Cliffs of Dover

Yes, South East England’s home to our crazy, smoky capital – but let’s forget about that for a few minutes. Transport yourself just an hour or so outside (or just a few minutes away from your work desk or kitchen table…) and come with me to what is arguably the loveliest home county: Kent.

The White Cliffs of Dover, pummelled by waves; Canterbury Cathedral, and its turbulent history; hop farms, orchards and vineyards in spades: the ‘Garden of England’ (rightfully named, thank you very much) packs a pretty hefty punch when it comes to attractions, but it offers lots of activities too – and they’re diverse, to say the least.

Fancy taking a breath of fresh air with me? I thought so.

Friday commentary: the cost of breaks during school holidays

February 28, 2014 at 5:04 AM
Family holidays time together

Family holidays – time together

Is it fair for travel companies to charge more during school holidays? It is a debate which has come to the fore in the past few weeks, since Paul Cookson posted on Facebook that he was “sick to death” of being “ripped off” by holiday companies who raise and lower prices between school holidays and term time. His post, intended for a few friends, went viral and spawned over 169,000 signatures to an e-petition, created by Essex mother of two Donna Thresher, calling on the government to limit price increases companies can levy during the school holidays. It seems a sentiment which is felt by many parents up and down the country and has even been debated my MPs in parliament this week.

But is it fair to say higher prices during a period of higher demand are a “rip off”? For many holiday retailers and travel companies, the summer represents the single part of the year they break even, let alone make a profit. So what is the answer? Capped price rises, removing tax at peak times, staggering school holidays or allowing parents to take children on holiday in term time? And could this lead to higher prices through the year for people without children?

We have reached out across the debate to ask the question “Is it fair for travel companies to charge more during school holidays?”

Step back in time: A history tour through France

February 27, 2014 at 4:57 AM
Visit historic chateaux, battlefields and Roman ruins on a historic tour of France (Photo: Jim Trodel)

Visit historic chateaux, battlefields and Roman ruins on a historic tour of France (Photo: Jim Trodel)

France has a wonderful array of historic attractions to explore, from Roman amphitheatres and prehistoric cave art to Renaissance palaces and medieval fortresses. Step back in time and let history come alive as you explore historic sites in France. Here are just some of the historic treasures you’ll find in France:

Delve into South Devon

February 24, 2014 at 4:54 AM
The seafront at Plymouth Hoe Devon England UK

Plymouth Hoe’s seafront in Devon

I can most definitely recommend a visit to Devon: the south of the region boasts some of England’s most beautiful countryside, with a stunning coastline and quirky villages and towns. It is no surprise that Devon has been a favourite holiday location for families from across the U.K. and from further afield for many years.

When you visit this region you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to planning how to spend your time: foodie, outdoor adventurer, thrill seeker or in need of rest and relaxation – you will not be disappointed. Wet weather (which I think we have all seen enough of) or fair weather, South Devon caters for all conditions. So looking ahead, half term is already upon us, the Easter holidays are fast approaching, and to add a bit of cheery weather news to the mix: The Independent has reported that it’s likely this summer will be one of the hottest on record. With that in mind, now seems the ideal time to delve into South Devon.