UK Green List Flights Begin

As Covid lockdown rules regarding overseas travel are loosened, thousands of British holidaymakers are headed for the sun.

Travellers from England, Scotland and Wales can now visit 12 countries on the UK government’s green list.

Although booksings are only a tiny fraction of the pre-pandemic levels, flight operators and holiday firms are hoping this is just the start of a turnaround.

Although Israel is on the UK’s green list the bombings mean very few people are headed there at present. Portugal and Gibraltar are seeing quite a bit of holiday traffic and people are taking the opportunity to fly to New Zeeland to reconnect with family.

Green list in full (17/05/21)

Falkland Islands
Faroe Islands
Israel and Jerusalem
New Zealand
Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira)
South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands
St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

Of course, the pandemic is still with us and the current view on the impact of the India variant is still undecided, so most travellers are gambling on a good outcome in this regard.

Heathrow doesn’t have to mean London

When you fly into Heathrow airport you are almost certainly going to Follow the millions of others who do exactly the same and head east into London upon arrival.

That is quite understandable. London is after all that one of the worlds greatest cities. There is so much to do,so much to see and for a very large proportion of tourists who come to Heathrow Airport, London is the only place they go to.

But of course it doesn’t have to be that way and around Heathrow Airport there is actually quite a lot more to see and do that doesn’t involve heading for the capital.

West of Heathrow

First on our list is the beautiful town of Windsor, home to her Majesty the Queen.In fact the royal family have been making Windsor their home for almost 1000 years. England’s most famous diarist Samuel peeps described Windsor Castle is the most beautiful castle that is in the world. Just 20 minutes from Heathrow you are bound to be similarly delighted when you get here. Our tip Is to join local guide Chris Brown on one of his now legendary private guided Walking tours of the town before going into the castle itself.

If after Leaving the airport you head a little further west than Windsor you Will find yourself on the road towards Oxford. Yes England is really not a huge place and Oxford is less than an hour away.The town centre itself is an absolute gem. A warren of honey coloured ancient walls surrounding many dozens of colleges.This is a university town and has both a thriving cultural life and a rather thumping night life too.

South of Heathrow

If instead of heading west you had headed south from Heathrow you could find yourself in a spectacularly beautiful countryside the South Downs as they are known are a series of rolling hills that extend for many miles and are officially designated as a place of a natural beauty.

Beyond the downs you are only a few miles from the sea. To the east lies Brighton A large seaside town with a great alternative lifestyle scene and amazing shopping in the narrow mediaeval lines.

To the west along the coast to reach a whole series of towns that just seem to get more beautiful than the last and then you reach to the Jurassic Coast where ancient fossils can you pick up of the sea shore at will

North of Heathrow

If instead of heading south from Heathrow you had headed north you would soon come to the Chiltern Hills which also sells just a foretaste of the Cotswold Hills which are a little further on the Cotswolds are without doubt one of southern England crowning glory is and some of the most beautiful villages in the country can be found here so all in all there are plenty of reasons to go to places other than London next time you fly in to Heathrow Airport.

Flybe collapse ends very cheap UK internal flights

For many months the flybe airline has been very vulnerable. The finances were shaky and the rumours were rife. A year ago the company was taken over by a consortium headed by virgin Atlantic which pumped £100 million into flybe. However even this level of funding proved to be too little.
Then came coronavirus or COVID-19 which spelt disaster for the now defunct Exeter based airline.

2,300 staff would appear to have lost their jobs this morning, a Severe blow to the Individuals concerned as well as the conomy of South West England.

Flybe was Europe’s largest independent regional airline but the money simply wasn’t there to ensure it’s continued operation.

119 routes, almost all within the UK have ceased causing travel misery for many tens of thousands of passengers.

While this might seem like a disaster many people have questioned the viability of regional airlines within the UK. On the grounds of both economic viability and environmental concerns it has been pointed out that airline travel is less preferable to rail and coach journeys which are well represented within the British Isles.

A number of competing airlines will be looking to take over some of the profitable routes in the short term but for most of flybe’s former operation this appears very much the end of the line.

Fly during the Coronavirus epidemic? You gotta be kidding!

Are travel professionals looking for flight bargains for themselves at the moment? No way Jose. Those in the know are (whisper it) not flying. This is because they know how high a transmission risk is when flying in a modern jet.

All major airports are screening passengers for the coronavirus, but the screening is no guarantee that everyone who boards a flight is virus free.

Wuhan Coronavirus appears to have an incubation period of up to 14 days before symptoms become apparent. Therefore there is a significant risk of people flying and thus transmitting the virus to fellow passengers before they fall ill themselves .

How risky is it?

The fatality rate in Wuhan where it started is 4.1 percent and in neighbouring Hubei it is 2.8 percent. However both of these cities are on lockdown and it has been claimed that this is affecting the transportation of medical supplies. Currently in the rest of China the fatality rate is just 0.17 percent, so the risk of actually dying from wuhan coronavirus is actually quite small.

The WHO have said that coronavirus-related travel restrictions are unnecessary and unhelpful, but in the last week we have seen airlines cutting more than 25,000 flights from their schedules. The WHO doesn’t have to worry about lawsuits!

The problem then is that air travel, by its very nature increases the risks of transmission by quite a margin. Once you are locked inside a flying metal canister if anyone else on the plane is infectious, there is a surprisingly high transmission risk.

The ten passengers sitting in the two rows closest to an infectious person are at reasonably high risk as are flight attendants. If the infectious passenger visits the loo, then other passengers visiting the same cubicle are also at higher infection risk.

If the cleaning of the cabin between flights doesn’t include pretty intense disinfectant use (and we have all flown on planes where that was obviously the case) then there is good data to suggest that certain viruses might live long enough on a seat or drop table to infect the passenger on the following flight. Whether coronavirus fits this model is yet to be established.

None of the above means that if you are near someone with coronavirus you will automatically get it, but who wants to increase their risk in any way whatsoever? Strangely enough, the air itself is probably the least worrisome aspect. Modern planes typically run everything through hepa filters at high enough rates that everyone is constantly being refreshed with filtered air.

What if the pilots get sick with coronavirus?

Actually not a major risk factor at all. Firstly they are on a seperate air system and even if a long haul pilot did start to get ill from coronavirus, the onset is no worse than the initial stages of flu (and for most people who do get infected, it never gets any worse than that… lets keep a bit of perspective here).

If you do have to fly, where should you sit?

Since people who have window seats are more likely to stay put rather than wander around the plane, they have a statistically lower risk of coming into contact with an infectious disease whilst flying. Also remember that hand sanitiser is your friend. Use it before, during and after the flight!

Update 25th Feb 2020 – Well it turns out you probably cannot fly anyway as there do seem to be quite a lot fewer landings and takeoffs in the last week. Flight BA564 destined for Milan was returned to Gate at Heathrow yesterday as passengers demanded they get off at news of the Virus spreading in Northern Italy.

Here is a list of airlines who have cancelled or suspended flights due to the outbreak

American, Air Canada, Air France, Air India, Air New Zealand, BA, Virgin, Delta, Egypt Air, ElAl, Ethiopian, Finnair, Kenya Air, Lufthansa, Royal Air Maroc, Shanghai Air, Turkish… the list keeps growing.

England To Romania with Austrian Airlines

Sometimes things go well. Austrian are a practically accident free airline.

June 2019 – Leaving Heathrow was no problem and the 737 to Vienna was dull (no food, no in flight entertainment) but arrived on time. Then the fun started. We had to run from one end of the airport to the other to get our connection. Took us best part of 25 minutes. The lady at the gate was shouting at us ‘Ve have to close ze gate’ as we rushed by her an on to a tiny Embraer turboprop. Why do they sell connections that only actually connect provided you are a physically athletic air traveller?

We slumped down in our seats and took in the fact that here at row 18 we had masses and I mean masses of legroom. Must remember row 18 for the future. All the other rows had the modern micro pitches beloved of accountants but hated by actual real human beings. So this plane was small and that makes nervous fliers more nervous still. I did a quick google check on the model of aircraft itself. There was a fatal crash last year. However it was one guy who stole one from a Seattle airport and then crashed it, so that doesn’t actually count.

Mind you, the Austrian seat belts are shorter than most. Anyone with a waist beyond 42inches was going to be in serious pain throughout the flight.

Austrian in-flight snacks come down to ‘etwas salziges Oder etwas susiges?’ Something savoury or something sweet? Depending on your response you get a child’s chocolate wafer or a tiny bag of bread pieces. We were so thrilled. Still, the beer was free.

Small planes bounce a bit more than big planes and coming over the Carpathian Mountains was an experience that shouldn’t be related back to nervous flyers. Saw one man in the aisle lift off the ground as if Spielbergian fx budgets were being spent on that guys personal movie. It was cool to watch and thankfully distracted me from the looming terror of the mountainside outside.

We landed, we got out, we quietly gave thanks to our gods for safe delivery.

The cost to our wallets had been negligible and the few hours of sweat and discomfort plus the odd moment of blind terror were a small price to pay for getting to Transylvania.

  • Food. 1/10
  • Entertainment. 0/10
  • Friendly staff 5/10
  • cleanliness 9/10
  • comfort 5/10
  • value for money 8/10

Why the future of air travel is electric

The fastest electronic plane can only do 200 miles an hour with a decent tailwind. However, by next year there will be an electric plane capable of 300 miles an hour. Things are moving very quickly in the world of electronic aviation.

Of course, the truth is that things have to. The current model is not sustainable. Humanity will either stop using fossil fuels or perish. We will have to stop pumping gas, so if we want to keep flying we need another power source. Think it’s all just sci-fi? Think again. Last year the Norwegian government announced that all domestic flights will have to be zero emission by 2040.

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Transatlantic price war rumours as jetBlue plans London to US flights

US airline JetBlue announced its intention to provide transatlantic flights in 2019. As they are a major carrier in the US, the announcement sparked speculation from air industry commentators that the decision to fly from London airports other than highly congested Heathrow could spark a round of price reductions from rival airlines.

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How Heathrow managed to upset absolutely everybody

Not an organisation noted for humility, the owners of London’s Heathrow airport have had a string of poorly managed PR disasters in the last few months. It might not be headline hitting “We sent everyone’s luggage to Reykjavik ” stuff, but the anger they have recently brought upon themselves is potentially far more damaging to their long term plans than anything as trivial as losing a couple of planes full of suitcases.

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