Popular Posts

Monday, October 31, 2011

Qantas dispute: hundreds of passengers left stranded at Heathrow as Australian airline grounds flights

Australia's national carrier grounded its global fleet indefinitely until unions representing pilots and ground staff reach an agreement with the airline over pay and conditions.

The dispute will affect 70,000 passengers worldwide and 600 flights on one of the country's biggest travel weekends, Qantas said.

Among those hit are 17 Commonwealth leaders who, after attending a summit hosted by Australia's prime minister Julia Gillard, have been left stranded in Perth.

Ms Gillard said that the dispute could have implications for Australia's economy.

"The Qantas dispute escalated today and I am concerned about that for the national economy ... it could have implications for our national economy," she said.

The airline has been hit by a series of strikes since the company's management announced a restructuring and outsourcing plan in August.

The union members have expressed concerns about the proposal, saying it would result in job cuts in Australia.

A Heathrow spokesman said four Qantas liveried planes were due to take off from the airport today - meaning hundreds of passengers who were scheduled to depart are now unable to fly.

British passengers abroad who are due to use the carrier will also face travel disruption.

The Foreign Office issued a statement advising those due to travel with the airline in the next 48 hours to check on the Qantas website or to consult their tour operator.

The carrier plans to "lock out" all employees involved with industrial action from Monday evening. Staff will not be required to turn up at work and will not be paid.

The airline had been forced to reduce and reschedule flights for weeks because of a series of strikes over staff concerns that their jobs are being moved overseas.

Flights already in the air when the announcement was made were continuing to their destinations but all others were cancelled.

The airline said customers booked on Qantas flights should not go to the airport until further notice and a full refund would be available for those affected.

A spokesman said: "Qantas regrets that this action has become necessary and apologises sincerely to all affected passengers."

A spokeswoman for British Airways, which has a joint services agreement with the airline, said: "British Airways-operated flights between the UK and Australia are not expected to be disrupted at this time.

"Customers who are booked to travel on a British Airways service operated by Qantas are urged to check the status of their flight.

"If your travel commences within the next 24 hours please contact our call centres to discuss alternatives."

Qantas statement in full

Aircraft currently in the air will complete the sectors they are operating. However, there will be no further Qantas domestic departures or international departures anywhere in the world. This will have an estimated financial impact on Qantas of $20 million per day.

The lock-out will continue until the ALAEA, the TWU and AIPA drop the extreme demands that have made it impossible for agreements to be reached.

Jetstar flights, QantasLink flights and Qantas flights across the Tasman operated by Jetconnect will continue. Express Freighters Australia and Atlas Freighters will also continue to operate.

Requirements for employees are as follows:

- Until the lock-out commences, all employees are required at work as normal and will be paid.

- Once the lock-out commences:

- employees who are locked out will not be required at work and will not be paid.

- employees working overseas will not be locked out and will continue to be paid.

- all other employees are required at work and will be paid as normal.

Customers booked on Qantas flights should not go to the airport until further notice. A full refund will be available to any customer who chooses to cancel their flight because it has been directly affected by the grounding of the fleet. Full rebooking flexibility will be available to customers who wish to defer their travel.

Assistance with accommodation and alternative flights, as well as other support, will be offered to customers who are mid-journey.

Only customers travelling within the next 24 hours should call Qantas contact centres (on 13 13 13).

Qantas regrets that this action has become necessary and apologises sincerely to all affected passengers.

Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (5218)

Qantas strike: Australian airline grounds all flights

A statement said all employees involved in the strike would be locked out from Monday evening with all international and domestic flights grounded from 0600 GMT on Saturday.

Aircraft currently in the air will continue to their intended destinations, but there will be no further departures.

The airline has been hit by a series of strikes since the company's management announced a restructuring and outsourcing plan in August.

The union members have expressed concerns about the proposal, saying it would result in job cuts in Australia.

Chief executive Alan Joyce called his decision "unbelievable".

The airline issued a statement saying customers booked on Qantas flights should not go to the airport until further notice.

Full refunds will be given to those affected by the grounding.

Baggage handlers, engineers and pilots have been involved in the industrial action costing the company A$15m (£8.82m) a week.

Total costs are estimated at A$68m (£42.8m) the company said.

Anthony Albanese, the Australian minister for transport, said the government would take action to intervene in the dispute.

He said the government had received no advance notice of Qantas' plans to ground flights, and was very concerned about the decision.

Mr Albanese said the government was making an urgent application to an industrial court to bring an end to all industrial action at the company.

He said: "This will be aimed at both actions by unions and by Qantas management."

Announcing the grounding of the airline, Mr Joyce said on Saturday: "The airline will be grounded as long as it takes to reach a conclusion on this."

He said that he would not take "the easy way out" and agree to union demands. "That would destroy Qantas in the long term."

"I'm actually taking the bold decision, an unbelievable decision, a very hard decision, to ground this airline."

Qantas to resume flights after arbitration hearing ends

An Australian labour tribunal ordered Qantas Airways to resume flights and its unions to immediately terminate all industrial action and return to the negotiating table to resolve a dispute after the airline grounded its entire global fleet.

Qantas says some flights could resume as soon as Monday morning.

It could take several days for the backlog of flights to clear.

The Australian government ordered the arbitration hearing after the carrier grounded all of its aircraft amid a dispute with striking staff, leaving tens of thousands of passengers stranded worldwide.

In the last few weeks, workers have staged strikes and refused overtime work over concerns that some of the airline's 35,000 jobs would be moved overseas.

Yesterday a Qantas spokesman said 600 flights had been cancelled because of the industrial action - affecting 70,000 passengers.

The strikes have cost the airline 15 million Australian dollars (£10 million) a week.

The national carrier, which made a pre-tax profit of $552 million in the year to June 30, plans to cut 1,000 jobs and order $9 billion worth of new aircraft as part of a makeover to salvage its loss-making international business.

Union statement in full

Joyce holds knife to Australia's throat

Published on Saturday, 29 October 2011 20:23

AIPA Vice President Richard Woodward said the move was pre-meditated, unnecessary and grossly irresponsible.

“Alan Joyce is holding a knife to the nation’s throat,” Captain Woodward said.

“No one predicted this – because no one thought Alan Joyce was completely mad. This is a stunning overreaction. It is straight-up blackmail.

“I knew he was trying to kill Qantas, but I didn’t know he wanted to do it this quickly.

“This is a grave and serious situation and the board should move to sack Mr Joyce immediately. This is the saddest day of my 25 years with Qantas.

“AIPA’s industrial action has been limited to making brief, positive in-flight announcements and wearing red ties. In response to this, Mr Joyce has now locked out every pilot working for Qantas. This is nothing short of crazy behaviour.

“Mr Joyce is stranding thousands of Qantas passengers all across the globe so he can engage in his mad game of one-upmanship. All so he can pursue his delusion that Qantas should be an Asian airline, instead of an Australian one.

“We believe this action is unlawful and we are currently seeking legal advice. He has locked out short-haul 737 pilots who aren’t even involved in any action at all.

“This would have been planned months in advance. Let’s be clear about this: Mr Joyce would have planned to strand thousands of Qantas passengers all across the globe months ago.

“To ground your entire fleet – when doing so is completely unnecessary – is not the act of a sane and reasonable person.

“He has snatched his ill-deserved millions on Friday and grounded the airline on Saturday. It’s just tragic and unnecessary.”

Qantas boss apologises for disruption as flights resume

Flight QF41, an Airbus A330, pushed back from the Sydney terminal at at 3:41pm local time, and lifted into the air at 4:02pm, bound for Jakarta, Indonesia.

More than 70,000 passengers were stranded when Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce, took the drastic step of grounding his entire fleet on Saturday in an attempt to end a long-running industrial dispute with unions.

At the government's instigation, Australia's labour tribunal ordered Qantas to resume flights and banned trade unions, which have waged a damaging campaign of industrial action, from staging more strikes.

Mr Joyce has apologised for the disruptions and vowed to return to "business as usual" over the next 24 hours.

"We very much regret the inconvenience and stress that has been caused by this action. We will be doing all that we can to put things right. And my message today is that all of our customers now can book with confidence with the airline going forward, because all industrial action now ceases," Mr Joyce said.

Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has expressed her satisfaction that the tribunal, Fair Work Australia, was successful in forcing Qantas and its unions to get the planes back in the air.

"Earlier this morning, Fair Work Australia granted the government's application to terminate all industrial action relating to Qantas. This is a win for passengers stranded around the country and around the world. This is a win for the 1 million Australians who work in tourism," she said.

But Gillard was critical of Qantas' decision to ground its entire fleet.

"I do not accept that Qantas' only choice on Saturday was to take the extreme action of grounding all planes and leaving tens of thousands of passengers stranded. I do not accept that," she said.

Qantas says it has lost about A$70 million (£46 million) since September from industrial action in its dispute with three trade unions over pay, working conditions and its Asian plan.

Full operations are not expected to be restored until Wednesday.

Qantas flights resume after industrial dispute

At 3.30pm, Australia's air safety regulator CASA cleared Qantas to resume flying. Over the next hour cheers went up at Australian airports as gates finally opened for boarding. The first flight to take off was an Airbusbound for Jakarta from Sydney, followed by a domestic flight from Melbourne to Sydney.

The company warned the 70,000 passengers worldwide that have been affected by the disruption to expect delays, but said a full service was expected to be operating by Wednesday.

In a shock move, Qantas grounded its entire fleet of 108 planes on Saturday, disrupting nearly 70,000 passengers and bringing to a head a bitter battle with trade unions over wages, working conditions and its plan to base more operations in Asia.

The decision forced the government to step in and to demand the tribunal make an urgent ruling on the dispute. In the early hours of Monday morning, the tribunal ruled that all industrial action must cease and gave Qantas and the unions 21 days to reach an agreement or face binding arbitration.

Alan Joyce, Qantas CEO, said he was "delighted" with the outcome, widely considered to be a victory for the airline, but the unions warned they could appeal the tribunal's decision if the company did not negotiate in good faith.

Mr Joyce said that 108 planes would return to the skies over the next 24 hours with the help of extra staff and services to clear the backlog.

Mr Joyce defended the drastic action as "the right decision" and said that he had no other option but to ground the fleet.

But he apologised to passengers for the disruption.

"My message for all of our customers is you can book with confidence because all industrial action now ceases."

In early trade, after opening 0.3 per cent down, Qantas shares rose 6 per cent.

Qantas estimates the grounding has cost the company A$110 million (£72m).

It has also damaged the airline's relationship with the government, which was left fuming at the grounding.

"I do not accept that Qantas' only choice on Saturday was to take the extreme action of grounding all planes and leaving tens of thousands of passengers stranded far from home," Julia Gillard, the prime minister, said.

The dispute has dogged Qantas for months but it escalated recently when it announced plans to cut 1,000 jobs and order $9 billion worth of new aircraft as part of a makeover to salvage its loss-making international business.

Union representatives said they would work with Qantas to resume flights as soon as possible but some accused Mr Joyce of reckless and "megalomaniacal" behaviour.

"The board should immediately sack their out-of-control CEO," said Captain Richard Woodward, vice president of the Australian and International Pilots Association.

But Mr Joyce said the grounding was a successful tactic to end months of rolling strikes and to force a conclusion.

"That was the only way we could bring that to a head," he said.

Qantas said a series of rolling stoppages by unions had cost the airline almost A$70 million since September and driven down bookings, threatening its survival.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

British Red Cross launches appeal for homeless quake survivors

The British Red Cross has launched an appeal to help tens of thousands of people left homeless by the recent earthquake in Turkey.
Volunteers and staff from the Turkish Red Crescent – one of the Europe’s best-equipped earthquake response organisations – have been working around the clock for three days to help survivors.
Funds from the British Red Cross appeal will be used to support the work of the Turkish Red Crescent, and help provide thousands of survivors with temporary shelter, including tents and blankets.
“Hundreds of people have been confirmed dead, thousands are injured and tens of thousands of people have been made homeless,” said Katy Attfield, British Red Cross head of disaster management.
“The area affected is mountainous, it’s freezing, and making sure survivors have protection against the elements is vital for keeping them safe.
“The Turkish Red Crescent is doing an incredible job, and as the scale of the disaster becomes clear, there is an important role for us to support them financially and with supplies as they respond to this tragedy.”

Deadly weapons seized at airport

THESE are just some of the fearsome weapons seized by customs officials at the UK’s borders from holidaymakers who bizarrely thought they could bring them back into country as souvenirs.
The chilling collection of knives, knuckle dusters and imitation firearms were on display at Birmingham Airport on Thursday.
And UK Border Agency officers say most of the weapons are brought in to the country by unwitting Brits looking for unusual souvenirs.
But they risk prosecution by doing so.
Even if the items are brought in to the country innocently, passengers could fall foul of strict laws governing weapons possession.
Among the  deadly discoveries were butterfly knives,  police batons and a stungun disguised as a torch.
Many holidaymakers are caught out because the weapons are freely available to buy in foreign countries.
Items from Bulgaria and Turkey accounted for a large percentage of the 230 weapons seized since June.
And weapons purchased as souvenirs from market stalls in Eastern Mediterranean countries also featured in the bumper crop of offensive items.
But items from further  afield, such as a lethal-looking pair of machetes, had also been seized.
Alex Lawther,  assistant director for the UK Border Agency in the Midlands, said: “Most of these items are freely available on sale at the market in Bulgaria, Turkey, Cyprus and parts of the Eastern Mediterranean.
“Many people mistakenly think they can bring one home as a souvenir.
“Those caught trying to smuggle these dangerous weapons into the country or simply unaware of the controls in place should be warned that these weapons will be found and taken off them and they could face prosecution.”
Even if there is no criminal intent, Mr Lawther said that the deadly weapons could fall in to the wrong hands.
He said: “The weapons get more and more sophisticated, some of them are really vicious and could have terrible consequences.”
Mr Lawther said that weapons are often brought in by young people, unbeknownst to their parents.
He said: “A lot of the time when you find one it’s in an adolescent’s suitcase.
“They’re often surprised when we find it, but there has been the occasional argument with a parent who claims it’s just a souvenir.”
Confiscated weapons are either sent to a special warehouse to be disposed of, while some are put on display at the UKBA’s ‘Seized’ museum in Liverpool.
From 1 April 2010 until 31 March 2011, 2,477 offensive weapons were seized from people travelling through UK ports.

High charges discourage smartphone use abroad

High roaming charges, data protection concerns, or simply a lack of an Internet-compatible device – according to a recent survey, these are the reasons why many travelers reject smartphone use abroad. Together with ITB Berlin, Hochschule Heilbronn polled a total of 4,000 people from Germany, France, the Netherlands, and the UK to find out their willingness to make use of local services abroad with their smartphones. These services identify a subscriber’s geographical position, which make it possible to access navigation systems, maps, special information, and booking services in the area. The representative survey was carried out by IPSOS, an international market research institute.
According to their findings, unpredictable roaming charges discourage travelers from using phone services abroad. Overall, 66 percent of the respondents in all the countries put together said that charges abroad were the main reason for not using local services when on holiday. Fifty-five percent of those polled lacked a suitable device to even access these services. The high cost of these phones prevented them from buying one. Forty-one percent voiced data protection concerns and for that reason would rather not use local services.
Dr. Manfred Lieb, Dean of Studies at the Faculty of Economics 2 and in charge of the survey, said, “What is interesting is that people in every country display a positive attitude towards modern technology, the Internet, and mobile devices and that they accept desktop capabilities which have been transported to mobile devices.”
David Ruetz, Head of ITB Berlin, said: “The survey does, however, show that people’s use of smartphones on holiday is determined by costs and not by a non-availability of service apps. In order to achieve broader smartphone use, charges must become more transparent. At the same time, users’ data protection concerns must be taken seriously, and online services must be made as secure as possible. These are some of the topics we will be examining at the newly-enlarged eTravel World section at ITB Berlin 2012.”
A look at the various European countries reveals individual differences: for the majority of respondents from Germany (68 percent) roaming charges were the main reason for not using local services abroad. Around 70 percent of the men and 67 percent of the women polled would rather not use smartphones due to costs. In second place were data protection concerns, voiced by 50 percent of both men and women. This was followed by the high cost of purchasing a suitable device.
In the Netherlands, the high purchase cost was the main reason discouraging smartphone use abroad. Both men and women, as well as older respondents, gave this as their reason. For younger people aged between16 and 29 who took part in the survey, it was high roaming charges that counted most. The second and third-place responses were high roaming charges and data protection concerns.
Respondents in the UK and France said high roaming charges discouraged them from using smartphones abroad. This was followed by a lack of a suitable device, due to the purchase cost, and data protection concerns when surfing the Internet abroad.

Hurricane Rina has its eye on Cancun

Hurricane Rina is predicted to turn into a ‘major’ storm mid-week and hit the holiday resort in Mexico, Cancun.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) has forecasted the weather system will reach the popular tourist area on Thursday after strengthening over the next 48 hours.
At present the thunderstorms are around 195 miles southwest of Grand Cayman island and has winds that so far reach 80 miles per hour.
A number of people have been reported killed by flooding and mudslides as the storm brushed over Nicaragua and Honduras.
The sixth named hurricane in the Atlantic in the last 12 months comes as he season draws to a close, meaning the possible damage is amplified as in many areas the ground is already waterlogged.
The NHC has told citizens and tourists in Belize and on the east coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to observe Rina’s progress.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office also recommends British tourists to keep up-to-date with local radio and television broadcasts and follow orders given locally during a tropical storm.
The NHC have predicted that winds are likely to reach 120 miles per hour, making this a category 3 storm.
‘Rina is likely to intensify further during the next couple of days as it traverses the very warm waters of the northwest Caribbean Sea,’ the NHC said.
NTI Media is a news agency based in Birmingham, they have been supplying content to newspapers, magazines and broadcast media for over 25 years. NTI Media pride themselves on providing content of the highest quality to both media and corporate clients.

Ocean cruises generate billions of Euros

It almost goes without saying ocean cruises these days generate some pretty hefty bucks – in fact, billions of Euros annually, to be exact. And there seems little sign the continued growth of the industry, year-on-year, is in any way, shape or form likely to slow down any time soon, despite the economic hardships being experienced across the world.
Last month, the cruise industry was held up as an example of “European excellence”, with passenger numbers reportedly up by nearly 10% over the last year, and market share during the same period increasing by a staggering 30%, generating more than €35 billion worth of economic benefits.
European Cruise Council chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, speaking at the Seatrade Europe Cruise & River Cruise Convention in Hamburg, Germany, hailed the excellence of the European cruise industry in terms of growth and economic impact.
But he also appealed to industry, governments, NGOs and the public to pursue a “common objective” to help the cruise industry to continue to grow and lead the economic recovery at a time of economic difficulties.
He said, “Our common objective has to be to protect and nurture this European excellence, which is seriously challenged not only by one of the most serious economic downturns of our era, but also by several very serious threats.”
Mr Lefebvre d’Ovidio made a commitment that the European Cruise Council was determined to work with regulators to tackle the many current challenges to the cruise industry, from environmental issues to piracy. And he appealed for an “intensified dialogue” between the industry and regulators.
“We need Europe to remain a good place to do business, all cruise sector stakeholders – the industry, governments, NGOs and the public – should intensify the dialogue between themselves and with the legislators, in order to achieve the ambitious objective of sustainable growth.”
He concluded that “despite these many challenges that still need to be faced, we remain firmly optimistic that the cruise industry will continue grow in the years ahead and will continue to be an example of European excellence.”
Mr Lefebvre d’Ovidio, who is also chairman of Silversea Cruises, was appointed ECC chairman in 2010. The ECC, which has 30 cruise members and 34 associate members, aims to promote the interests of cruise ship operators within Europe and bring the benefits of cruising to a wider public audience.
Last year, cruise passenger numbers increased by 9.3%, with passengers spending almost €100 in each port visited. As well as generating €35.2 billion of goods and services, the cruise industry supported 307,000 direct and indirect jobs, an increase of more than 55% compared to the previous five years.
According to the ECC, 99% of the world’s cruise ships were built by European shipyards, and that, in turn, meant 99% of all supplies were bought from European manufacturers. The investment of €10.3 billion in new ships announced for 2011 and 2014 testified to the fact that the cruise industry was a key driver in maintaining a European shipbuilding industry.
NTI Media is a news agency based in Birmingham, they have been supplying content to newspapers, magazines and broadcast media for over 25 years. NTI Media pride themselves on providing content of the highest quality to both media and corporate clients.

Only 1 in 5 people feel informed about the aid given by the UK Government to developing countries

Latest results from IDS’ UK Public Opinion Monitor (UKPOM) suggest that low levels of public awareness of how aid is spent is damaging public support for UK Government aid spending. Survey results reveal only 21% of people consider themselves informed about UK aid, yet the Government has committed to increasing aid spending to 0.7% of GNI from 2013 onwards.
Published today, the research also finds that overseas aid is the most popular good cause for UK public charity donations, with respondents indicating that they give more regular donations to overseas aid and disaster relief charities than to any other good cause.
Awareness of aid and poverty issues clearly has a big impact on the public’s views about aid. For example, when asked about the UK Government decision earlier this year to continue to provide £280 million per year in aid to India, 58% of people thought the UK should give no aid to India at all. Reasons given for this include people’s perceptions of India’s space programme and the number of rich people in its population.
However, just 4 out of 10 people knew that India had more poor people than any other country in the world, and more than the whole of Sub Saharan Africa combined. Once informed of this, 30% of the previously unaware respondents changed their view and decided to support the £280 million India aid commitment.
Professor Lawrence Haddad, IDS Director said:
‘It’s heartening to see that the public hasn’t lost its appetite for giving, with a positive response to recent humanitarian disasters, and with overseas aid standing out as the most popular charitable cause to donate to.
‘But this research makes clear that improving public awareness and understanding of aid would really help encourage public support. At a time when the Government is committed to protecting the UK’s aid spend, it’s more important than ever that we communicate the experiences faced by poor people around the world, and the success stories of aid having a positive impact on people’s lives.’
The research also examines the public’s views about three humanitarian crises: the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the 2010 Pakistan floods and the current Horn of Africa famine. The analysis appears to show that complex humanitarian crises that unfold over longer time periods (e.g. famines) provoke less public support than sudden crises (e.g. earthquakes). Respondents expressed more extreme concern about the Haiti earthquake in its immediate aftermath than they expressed over the Pakistan flood at the time of the disaster or recently over the current Horn of Africa famine.
People also claimed they had given the most in charitable donations to Haiti, in comparison to Pakistan and the Horn of Africa. This is supported by data from the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) that show that the Haiti earthquake was the second most popular appeal in the DEC’s history, with the Horn of Africa ranking third and Pakistan floods fourth.

Ryanair boss plans to double the size of the airline

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has revealed expansion plans that would make the company one of the biggest airlines in the world, introducing routes to Scandinavia, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
The budget airline chief executive has unveiled ambitious expansion plans that could see the amount of passengers double and stretch its reach across Europe.
Mr O’Leary announced in an interview with the Financial Times that he wants to increase passenger numbers from 72 million to between 120 – 130 million within the next decade.
The airline is currently in talks with US, Chinese and Russian plane manufacturers over plans to buy over 200 new aircrafts.
He wants the delivery of the new aircrafts to happen between 2015 and 2021, insisting they would only be purchased at ‘cheap prices’.
Between 2010 and 2011 the Dublin-based airline carried 72.1 million passengers, these plans could see their fleet of around 270 aircrafts double.
These new plans would allow the airline to use 50 of the new planes to fly passengers to and from Scandinavian destinations. Another 100 aircrafts would fly to new routes in the Baltic Sates, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Mr O’Leary added that the difficult economic conditions will allow the company to increase its share in the short-haul market as the demand for low-cost travel increases.
The outspoken Irish man’s cost cutting suggestions have been at the centre of controversy, where incidents have included: charging to use the toilets on planes, removing a toilet, space for standing passengers and scrapping the co-pilot role.
Their most recent announcement was that passengers will soon have to pay for flights using their pre-paid payment method if they want to escape card charges.
From November, the only way customers will be able to avoid extra fees will be by using the ‘Ryanair Cash Passport’, costs could mount up to £48 for a family of four buying return flights.

Winter sun and summer sun all wrapped up in one travel insurance policy

With summer in the UK coming to an end and the economic gloom persisting, many great offers on winter sunshine breaks are coming on the market, to beat the seasonal blues and tightened budgets.
The travel industry seems to want to stretch the horizons of people seeking a winter break, with the availability and popularity of more remote, unspoilt getaways being heavily promoted. Alongside the traditional Spanish sun seeking destinations, there are great offers for Africa, the Indian Ocean, Asia and the Caribbean.
Travel insurance specialist, World First Travel Insurance is also encouraging holiday makers to re-think how they book their travel insurance too. Rather than taking insurance for a single trip, they are encouraging people to consider buying an annual multi-trip policy as it is often much more cost effective. Turning a single trip policy into an annual policy may cost less than £30, so it is always worth asking your insurer to quote for both. If you decide to take advantage of the many exotic holiday offers the cost of insurance certainly won’t hold you back. Worldwide annual policies with World First Travel Insurance start from £50
Martin Rothwell, Managing Partner at World First Travel Insurance says, “In the current economic climate getting value for money is essential for consumers.  With travel insurance, very often the best way to save money is to think ahead and anticipate when and where and with whom you might travel so you can buy an annual policy.”
Standard annual policies can cover travel abroad for up to 31 or 62 days at a time and the number of trips you can take is unlimited.
There is still plenty of flexibility if you a buy an annual travel policy and your plans change. You can add different regions to you policy mid-term, if, for example you start with a Worldwide policy excluding the USA, Canada and Caribbean but then decide to travel to the States, this can be added at any point.  You can increase your cover according to what you plan to do, such as adding scuba-diving and watersports to a policy.  Or similarly, if the value of what you might take with you increases, for example you want to take your laptop so you can stay in touch with friends and family back home while you are on your remote island getaway, you can increase your cover.
An annual policy provides peace of mind and one less thing to do whenever you decide to take a break, knowing that you have your insurance sorted when you book trips in advance or decide upon a quick getaway during the year.

Walking with dinosaurs in western USA

The enormous creatures clumped towards us and stood directly in front of our minibus.

I saw the water in my canteen ripple with their every step.

The adult male lowered its head and stared right through the windscreen at me.

It grunted — a giant, glassrattling snort. My heart in my mouth, I lifted my camera and gingerly pressed the button.

OK, fine. I wasn't actually in Jurassic Park and these weren't T-Rexes, they were bison. (Big, scary bison, mind. If their diet wasn't exclusively composed of grasses, sedge and other low-lying plant life, they probably would've eaten me.) But while I might have missed out on seeing any of your actual Tyrannosaurs by 65million years or so, I was right in the middle of their old stomping ground.

The Western United States is full of dinosaurs — absolutely chocka with them. The only drawback for those seeking a real-life Jurassic Park experience is that they're all dead.

But even though nobody's done a John Hammond and brought dinosaurs back from extinction — yet — at the Museum Of The Rockies in Bozeman, Montana, they've come pretty close.

If you love dinosaurs even half as much as I do, you have to visit the Museum Of The Rockies.

It's got one of the best collections of dinosaurs on the planet.

And it's run by Jack Horner — the man who changed the way the world thinks about these prehistoric creatures and who helped inspire Michael Crichton to write the original Jurassic Park book.

Jack was one of the first palaeontologists to realise that dinosaurs were related to birds.
He discovered a Maiasaura nesting site in Montana that proved the fearsome-looking beasts were actually loving parents.

And he's currently rooting through the genetic code of chickens to see if he can find enough scraps of dino DNA to hatch a real-life dinosaur from an egg.

I was lucky enough to be shown around the museum by Jack himself — a wry, silver-haired Montanan who seems always to be carrying a pickaxe — but even though he isn't around on a day-to-day basis, he's recorded an audio tour that will introduce you to all of the museum's residents, including "Big Mike", a 38ft Rex discovered up the road in Hell Creek.

Seeing these fossilised monsters face to face is awe-inspiring — even more so when you realise that back in the Cretaceous period, the things would've been lumbering around the car park.

Although Bozeman is in the middle of nowhere, it is surprisingly easy to get to. I flew there from Chicago in three hours for £180 return and there are regular flights from many major US cities — so making a detour on holiday in the States is simple.

I stayed at the town's Hilton Garden Inn — a clean, cheerful and family-friendly hotel which serves delicious, T-Rex-sized portions of pancakes and bacon for breakfast, slathered in maple syrup.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...