Make destination research a part of your holiday planning

  • 15 Aug, 2014
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camo Jamaica

Heading off to Jamaica for a holiday soon? Did you know that camouflage clothing is illegal in Jamaica and Barbados?

A recent research by online travel agent Sunshine.co.uk revealed that Britons spend on average 32 work hours planning, researching, booking and talking about their holidays. And this is just at work; for most of us holiday planning continues during lunch break, on the commute home, at weekends and pretty much occupies all our thoughts right to the point when we board the plane.

The planning itself, however, to most of us entails budgeting, comparing accommodation, airfares, transfers, car hire, local sightseeing spots, kids facilities, spas and the ins and outs of half-board /full-board menu; finding out local customs and laws takes somewhat a back seat.

The FCO’s Know Before You Go campaign urges travellers to research local laws and customs of their destination before they travel, to avoid misunderstandings or simply stay out of trouble with local law enforcement.

According to the FCO’s new study, while 70% of people believe that researching local laws and customs would make their holiday more enjoyable, less than 50% would actually make it part of their preparations when visiting somewhere new. Read More

Jet lag demystified: symptoms and prevention

  • 01 Aug, 2014
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Timezone Jet Lag

Jet lag, or desynchronosis to give it its proper medical name, is a physiological condition resulting from a disturbance to the body clock when travelling rapidly from one time zone to another. Passengers travelling by ship are less likely to be affected as their body clocks have longer to adjust, but for travellers flying across different time zones it can be a real problem and the further you go the worse the effects are.

It varies from person to person but jet lag usually lasts several days and as a rough guide you can expect the disruption to last one day per time zone crossed. This means that if you are spending a fortnight in New Zealand, you could well spend the majority of your holiday feeling lethargic and not quite with it.

The body’s circadian rhythm (or body clock) is set to our local time so that we feel tired at night, alert in the morning and ready to eat at set times of the day. Travelling east to west or vice versa means that we cross various time zones resulting in us either having difficulty sleeping when we have travelled west to east, or wanting to sleep early in the evening when we have travelled east to west. It is easier to delay our bedtime than make ourselves sleep when we are not tired so, in general, flying east to west is easier to cope with.

Who does it affect?

People who have a very rigid routine for going to bed and getting up in the morning will find it harder to adjust to a different time zone. Conversely babies and young children who are used to falling asleep during the day will find it easier. Jet lag seems to hit the over 60s hard, although the reason for this is not known. Read More

Travel related DVTs – risks, prevention, advice

  • 22 Jul, 2014
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Deep vein thrombosis

DVT, or deep-vein thrombosis, is a condition which occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep leg vein (typically the calf or thigh). If the clot stays put, stuck to the wall of the vein, it causes redness and swelling to the area. But if part of it breaks off it can travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolus) and cause serious illness or even death. It can also be a contributory cause of a stroke or heart attack. Unfortunately some DVTs cause no symptoms, for instance in the pelvis, and the first that is known of the condition can be a pulmonary embolism.

Why does it happen when flying?

Travel-related DVT is caused by sitting still for long periods of time in cramped conditions. The blood flow slows down and the blood collects in the legs when in a sitting position. Slow blood flow is more likely to cause a clot to form. A “long period of time” is considered to be four hours or more, and DVTs can be caused not only by flying but also travelling by car, coach or train. Read More

Technical defects no longer considered “extraordinary circumstances”

  • 14 Jul, 2014
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opened aircraft engine in the hangar

You could be forgiven for assuming that if your flight is delayed because of a technical hitch you will be entitled to free food and drink, accommodation and even financial compensation. However, as readers of our blog post on compensation will know, airlines have, up until now, been able to wriggle out of paying up if there have been “extraordinary circumstances”.

These had until very recently been deemed to include technical problems unless they had arisen due to lack of maintenance. In other words, if the cause of the delay could be proved to be out of the airline’s control, no compensation was due to the flying public, no matter how long the delay and despite the fact that the situation in other European countries was far more favourable for the passenger.

Now, however, Ronald Huzar, a passenger whose Jet2 flight from Malaga to Manchester in Oct 2011 was delayed by 27 hours, has sniffed victory, having seen the airline fail to sway the judge in the Court of Appeal.

Mr Huzar had initially had his claim for compensation turned down in Stockport County Court but was subsequently successful in his appeal at Manchester County Court. It was against this decision that Jet2 fought in the Appeal Court. This hearing concluded Mr Huzar’s lengthy battle for compensation and opened the floodgates for other passengers who have had their claims for compensation refused on the grounds of “extraordinary circumstances”.

Mr. Huzar’s flight had been delayed by a wiring defect in the fuel valve circuit which, according to Jet2, “could not have been prevented by prior maintenance or prior visual inspection. It was unexpected, unforeseen and unforeseeable and as such amounted to an ‘extraordinary circumstance’.” Read More

Must-be-charged gadget advice is issued by UK airports

  • 08 Jul, 2014
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man hands touching smartphone bright background, closeup

Update (10 July 2014): The extra security checks are now extended to all passengers flying into or out of the UK, not just the passengers boarding the US flights. It is advised that all electronic and electrical devices in hand luggage must be sufficiently charged to be switched on.

8 July 2014: Two major UK airports – Heathrow and Manchester – are advising the passengers to make sure all electronic devices they carry as hand baggage are charged before travel if they are taking a flight to the United States, as a result of a request from the US to implement enhanced security measures.

The new rules for those flying to the US state that “if your device doesn’t switch on, you won’t be allowed to bring it onto the aircraft.”

This check – just before boarding the plane – will be carried out by airline staff at boarding gates.

If you are flying with BA, you may be made to rebook if you happen to carry an uncharged device. Click here to read the full update from British Airways.

According to the BBC, passengers flying to the US may be advised to remove relevant chargers from their hold luggage at check-in so that they can top up carried-on gadgets if necessary.

Having an uncharged electronic device (such as a smartphone, tablet, laptop, e-book reader, etc.) could leave thousands of travellers with the dilemma of leaving their device behind or not being allowed on board their flight.

Airports are in the process of getting plans in place to deal with this new policy; therefore, delays and longer waiting times at security checks are expected.

We strongly recommend that all passengers travelling to America ensure their phones are fully charged and keep their chargers with them at all times.