Monday, 17 October 2011

Air travel Myths: Flights and air fares

There are many myths concerning air travel that you would be wise to avoid and learn the truth about. Many of them concern missing flights and what your rights are should this happen.

1. If you miss your flight you will be booked on the next one
This is usually a myth as it all depends on the circumstances surrounding the missed flight. Basically if there was no way that you could avoid missing the flight then you will usually be allotted a space on the next flight. Flight providers take a dim view on tardiness that is your fault so beware!

2.You will be reimbursed if the flight is cancelled
Once again, it depends on who, or what, is responsible for the cancellation. If it is the flight providers fault then you will usually receive a refund. However, if the weather is the culprit then the airline can wash their hands of any money that you expect back - so make sure you are insured!

3.Your flight will wait for you if you check-in late
Having been a victim of this, I can assure you that the pilot will certainly not wait for you as you stumble aimlessly towards the boarding gate. If you are running late, get to the gate ASAP!

4. If you book as a group you are guaranteed to be seated together
Untrue. The flight provider is under no obligation to sit you together. Once again, I can vouch for this one and it's really not fun. Being split from your group is more likely to happen if the flight is close to being filled and you are one of the last to check-in.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Defining Jetlag

For many of us who run the gauntlet of the long-haul flight the dreaded jetlag has become something of a nemesis.

You know the deal, you set down at your vacation hotspot hoping for a speedy transfer so that you can make the most of the hotel pool before the day is up. Instead, you are warmly welcomed by your good friends fatigue, headache and, best of all, irregular sleep pattern - Collectively know as jetlag.

This horrible affliction is common and you are most likely to experience it if you fly through multiple time zones as  it is in essence a disruption of the body clock. You see, the human body despite its inherent cleverness, is susceptible to the most basic of things...

...In the case of jetlag the body is experiencing different light patterns to what it is used to, thus disrupting the finely tuned sleep-wake cycle. As well as this, the body will not be used to the new times in which you choose to eat - It seems that the human body is something that adapts to a particular routine, so beware all those that choose to go against it!

The severity of jetlag is affected primarily on the distance that is travelled and the individual in question. Some of us just seem to have the knack of adapting well to the surroundings and soldiering on through it which is often the best piece of advice. For the rest of us jetlag remains our greatest flying opponent!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Truth About Air Travel

Myths surrounding air travel are flying about everywhere. From mobile phone use on flights causing crashes, to intoxication occurring far quicker in the air than on the ground.

But barely any of these have any substance to them. In this quick run-down we'll separate fact from fiction.

Myth number one is that electronic devices on planes interfere with navigation equipment thus causing plane malfunction. Many people believe that this ban is in place because phone signals interfere with GPS signals, but the basis for this ban is that phone signals bouncing between mobile phone towers will prevent mobile communications from the ground making it to the cockpit. Either way there is very little evidence to suggest this would really cause major disruption.

Myth number two. Air conditioned air on planes causes rapid spread of germs and sickness. This is a big untruth that many people believe to be true. The air filters on board these aeroplanes are in fact very sophisticated and extract 99% of all germs and viruses and therefore cleaner than much of the air we breathe in our everyday lives. 

Myth three - Drinking at high altitude gets you drunker, quicker. Inebriation is measured by the quantity of alcohol in your bloodstream and therefore you will not be affected by the altitude at which you are flying.

Myth number four suggests that you can book your flight on any day of the week and your final price will not be affected. This is in fact false as flights being booked on a weekday and a weekend can differ by substantial amounts. Research has shown that Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays offer best value for money combine this with a decent flight provider and you're on to a winner!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Ryanair Vs Easyjet

They are the two biggest budget airlines in the UK, riding the wave of the no-frills airline movement for the last decade allowing anyone to travel almost anywhere for a nominal fee.

But, budget airlines are in the budget bracket for a reason. They provide you with the bare essentials and make the passenger do much of the work to avoid overheads and drive down costs.

So what are the main differences between these two juggernauts? Which airline scrimps the most and which offers the greatest level of overall comfort?

Both airlines fly from all of the major airports in the country so evens on that one, but in terms of flights from London Ryanair operates primarily out of Stanstead whilst Easyjet seems to have more of a share at Gatwick. For this reason, Easyjet takes a point here for operating from the more accessible, larger airport.

Inflight, both airlines provide very little in terms of comfort. No free magazines (apart from the airline's own), no complimentary food or drinks and no television or media. Food and drink can be purchased on-board but prices are heavily inflated. The seats are not what you would class as luxurious on either airline but they are sufficient for short-haul flights. Seats are free-for-all upon boarding so you may have to brace yourself for scrumming and elbows-at-dawn upon boarding! No winners here!

How about prices? Well, if we compare one popular flight we can see a noticeable difference here. The initial cost of a ticket to Belfast from London costs £54 with Easyjet whilst Ryanair charges a more conservative £44. But add in the extras such as taxes and booking charges and the total cost of the Ryanair ticket is nearly double the initial price at £85! Compare this to Easyjet's £63 and the winner here becomes clear. Easyjet wins this one with ease.

In conclusion, in comparing three vital factors, it is Easyjet that comes out as the winner primarily due to the fact that they charge their customers less. Flights with Easyjet can be found through a range of online providers but for the best prices go with a reputable firm.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The finest food to grace the air!

On-board cuisine - you either hate it it!

Often, the arrival of food on a flight can come as welcome reprieve from the mundaneness of a long, arduous flight. But once it sits in front of you, there is usually a deep sense of annoyance at what lays before you. Luke-warm mashed potato, microwaved meats and congealed milk are often served in quaint moulded plastic dishes with mass-produced plastic cutlery that snaps whenever any pressure is exerted upon it....Mmmm, Mmmm

But, there are certain pioneers of the sky who endeavour to provide their passenger with a meal-time experience that is a welcome departure from the usual.

In first place must be Qantas who have been known to serve caviar before main meals! This is followed by a further eight courses that sample cuisines from all over the World. Of course, you must reside in 1st class to be fed such fine fayre, but it's perhaps a small price to pay for such a dining experience!

Next up is Gulf Air who provide passengers with an on-board chef who cooks up a range of culinary delights that sample many regions of the Gulf. So expect meals along the lines of honey-glazed quail and spiced Arabic lamb!

Third spot must go to Singapore Airways. Not solely for their food but also for their assortment of premium champagnes served on-board. So expect Dom Perignon or Krug as an accompaniment to your Korean eel fillet!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Dealing with long waits in the airport

Ever got to the airport far too early and thought 'What on Earth am I doing here already?'.... Yep. So have I.

I always wonder why I do it to myself - arriving at the airport so early because I have to take into account every possible eventuality that may somehow prevent me from reaching my sunny destination. The longest time I have spent loitering around an airport is 12 hours - a record that I am certainly not proud of but proved to be necessary due to the situation I was in at the time. Basically, in this case my travel mate and I arrived at Cairns airport speculatively in the hope of boarding a flight to Sydney which proved impossible. Hence a long, drawn-out wait until the next flight a whole half-a-day later.

During this nightmare of a wait my friend and I managed to amuse ourselves for a reasonable portion of it. Whether by eating our weight in fast food or by playing seemingly inane games that took on a distorted sense of higher meaning we survived (somehow) to board our flight in reasonably jovial spirits.

From that experience, I have extrapolated the five best methods of keeping one entertained whilst waiting for a flight...

1)Strike up a conversation with someone
Whoever it is, everyone has a story. Sure, in our case we tried (and failed) to chat to the prettiest things we could find but broaden your horizons by speaking to people of different nationalities and gain some insight into their World.

2)Play a game of how many
Categories include; How many moustachioed men will walk through gate number four? and how many times will this Mother clip this young boy around the ear?

3)Check out the duty free section
There is a wealth of entertainment to be had in this treasure trove. Cologne testing can take up a good couple of hours but beware of glares from the up-tight staff. Likewise, cheap sweet treats can be had for nominal amounts of cash and what better way to spend an hour than seeing how many Ferrero Rochers can be inserted into one's mouth without swallowing.

4)Explore the hidden avenues that your airport offers
You'd be surprised to find what hidden delights await you in your airport. The holy grail is a gaming arcade. Sure, their hard to come by, but once found, a couple of solid hours will fly by. Other joyous finds include Krispy Krème doughnut stalls and free internet connections.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Sad end to Superfast plane flight

A test flight for the World's fastest plane as ended in disaster after the crashing into the Pacific ocean.

The U.S military's Falcon HTV-2 was launched with promises of it being able to travel from London to Sydney in less than an hour with speeds reaching 22 times the speed of regular planes.

The plane itself is attached to a rocket before disengaging on the edge of space an re-entering the atmosphere but after a smooth start, the Californian air base lost signal after nine minutes - at which point the plane had flown for 139 seconds and had reached nearly 17,000mph!

The plane had already encountered a host of problems in testing with two test flights already being cancelled prior to this one. It's little wonder when you realise that the vehicle travels on average at 13,000mph or 20 times the speed of sound on its journey!

Hopefully this will not blemish the reputation of the hypersonic flight too much and we will see more examples of these amazing planes being tested soon.