Budget Airlines – how it all started

Budget airlines, some of which are much maligned, have opened up the world to us, making it much more possible for us to travel to every corner of the globe. Here, Michelle from Gatwick meet and greet parking company, Help Me Park, explores the history of no-frills airlines:

These days it’s hard to imagine a world without budget airlines. Whether it’s a 24-hour business trip or an escape to a city for a few days, the budget airlines are for the most part, everyone’s saviour, if not always our best friend.

Plagued in recent years by bad press about poor customer services, expensive (and sometimes compulsory) add-on services and employee disputes, budget airlines have come under fire from the media and traveller.

However, have you ever wondered how it all started? Let’s take a look back down memory lane to see where it all began with two of the biggest names in low cost air travel.

Back in 1984, Ryanair was renowned for their customer services – yes, really! If a flight was delayed, customers would be given complimentary refreshments. However, as a result of its focus on customer service, the airline wasn’t making any money; in fact it was losing millions. So its founder, Tony Ryan, brought accountant, Michael O’Leary, into a somewhat troubleshooting role. O’Leary’s initial advice was to shut the airline down before it went bust. However, Ryan insisted that O’Leary look at other airlines’ business models that were making money.

O’Leary set off to America to look at operations at Southwest Airlines, and headed back with advice on what was to become the future of Ryanair – fast turnaround flights, at regional (and cheaper) airports, with no frills attached – basic flying at a cheap price. Even in-flight meals were axed, with snacks available for a revenue-generating charge instead.

Today, Ryanair has grown to become one of the pioneering founders of cheaper air travel. However, after much upset with staff and customers, the airline is currently undergoing a review of the amount of ‘frills’ it’s taken away, with a view to actually reintroducing them, as passenger numbers decline and profits fall. O’Leary, the airline’s current Chief Executive Officer, is on a charm offensive to turn the fortunes of the once leading airline around.

Ten years later, in ‘flies’ Stellios Haji-Ioannou, with his own answer to a budget, no-frills carrier – easyJet. With no experience in the aviation industry, he was funded by his shipping tycoon father, and re-wrote many rules on air travel, however he used Southwest Airlines as his inspiration.

To start, he cut out the travel agent and got passengers to book directly with the airline. What’s more, in a bold move, not initially supported by Stellios, the airline was the first to trial direct online bookings.

As it grew and grew, it set up bases in 23 European countries, its largest being at Gatwick Airport.

easyJet benefitted greatly by the TV show, Airline, which was a fly-on-the-wall documentary of the airline’s staff and operations at its Luton Airport base – the ultimate PR coverage, as viewers found a love for airline, but mostly the employees.

Over the last few years the airline has shifted its focus on key markets through business travellers and has increased its holiday offerings as short breaks become hugely popular with travellers.

As a result of the huge successes of budget airlines, such as Ryanair and easyJet, many other airlines have shifted their focus. Monarch Airlines introduced a new business model some years ago, focussing on cheaper flights to key city-break, business and sunshine destinations. BA even moved into offering cheaper ‘no frill’ fares on key European routes. Flybe, bmi and bmibaby also followed suit by entering the market place with cheaper, no frills air travel.

How to travel with hand luggage only

It’s the dream of every traveller to be able to pack and travel light.

Less baggage means less to carry around, less to worry about and certainly less chance of arriving at your destination without it.

Let’s face it, how many items of hold luggage go astray every year? Sometimes, baggage is merely delayed for a few hours or days, however, a lot ends up lost, never to be seen again.

Not only is there the risk of loosing checked-in luggage, there’s also the charge imposed for the privilege of carrying it, and the costly penalties if your luggage is overweight. What we initially believe to be a ‘cheap’ flight can sometimes double in price when you add the cost of checking in hold luggage.

The inconvenience of having to transport your luggage to the airport, having to wait an eternity for your luggage to appear on the luggage carousel and then having to transport it to your accommodation can make you wish you had never bothered and just listened to the advice of some seasoned travellers, that of ‘travel right, travel light!’

Personally, I prefer to travel light – it’s such a wonderful feeling being able to just glide past the luggage carousel while your fellow passengers are scrambling for the trolleys, hoping that their luggage won’t be the last unloaded.

Travelling light is an art, one that requires forward planning, the desire to not pack the kitchen sink and faith that you will have sufficient clothes to last the trip.

When travelling without luggage you don’t have to struggling onto public transport as your bag is light enough to carry and small enough to place under your feet or on your lap. Travellling becomes cheaper, you can rely on public transport, or you can hire a smaller car – how many times have you faced booking an upgrade because your luggage didn’t fit in the trunk?

Nothing screams tourist more than large suitcases.

How to travel with hand luggage only

Always check your airline’s website for details of your hand-luggage allowance – size and weight of bag and restricted items. It goes without saying that knives and sharp objects are banned from hand-luggage, but be aware of the liquids in hand-luggage rules and monitor restrictions in the lead up to your travel. Restrictions can and do change quickly, so always check.

Packing tips:

  • Pack with colours in mind – a colour-coordinated wardrobe allows flexibility
  • Pack lightweight clothing that can be washed and dried overnight in your room.
  • Don’t overdo footwear, a pair of lightweight shoes/pumps to travel in and a pair for evening/beachwear may be all that’s necessary
  • Don’t overestimate how many clothes you will need, so many of us pack an item because the occasion may arise when we will be required to wear it – and how often does that need arise? Exactly, just don’t bother, leave it at home
  • If you’re uncertain what clothing to pack, check out the weather for your destination. If it’s likely to be cool in the evening, one sweater or cardigan will do – there’s no need to pack more
  • Restrict clothing to lightweight items, forget jeans, they are too thick for warm weather, too heavy, take too long to dry, and take up far too much room in your bag.

When buying a travel bag specifically for cabin baggage, don’t forget your weight and size allowance and remember, external wheels count as part of the dimensions.

To be ultra sure about everything fitting in your bag, particularly if this is your first attempt at travelling light, pack your bag about a week before, weigh it and make sure you can carry it around comfortably. If all your items don’t fit, or your bag is too heavy, unpack it and reassess your items, removing anything you’re uncertain about.

Liberate yourself from the luggage nightmare, pack light and be the envy of the crowds at the luggage carousel.

3 Perfect Places for an Indian Escape

India’s mixture of exotic and ancient cultures makes it a very fascinating country to visit. The large country has many different types of experiences available to travellers, from relaxing on the beach, getting in touch with your spiritual side or just taking in the beauty and history of the area. With affordable flights available from almost anywhere in the world and cheap prices when you arrive, India is also the perfect budget escape. If you are planning an Indian holiday, Manali, Pune and Goa are the perfect places to experience while you are there to sample a great variety of Indian culture.

Manali
A holiday in India is not complete without a trip to the perfect destination of Manali. Situated on the Beas River in Northern India is popular destination in summer, with its lush green valleys and winding river, and winter, with snow covered mountains.

If you are adventurous, the forests, orchards and gentle winds make it an ideal place to go trekking, mountaineering and skiing. Traditional skiing is available but those who are braver may consider “Yay skiing.” There many campsites along the way to keep you sheltered while enjoying the view. On bright summer days, you can go horse riding, mountain biking or fishing in the Beas river.

Pune
Pune is the second largest city in the state of Maharashtra. It has a very large student population, so if you are looking for a lively and vibrant nightlife then this is the place to be. Pune has great restaurants, museums and it is also known for its hill forts. The panoramic views from these forts are breathtaking. Hotels in Pune are affordable as anywhere in India so it really is a great place to visit on a budget.

Pune’s varied historical background gives it a range of sightseeing options for tourists. Apart from a great social atmosphere, it also has activities or those who prefer more leisurely activities. There are gardens across the city as well as Pasham Lake, a peaceful place to enjoy a quiet day, relaxing and bird watching.

Many travellers come here for the Osho Ashram, found in the leafy surrounds of Koregaon Park. Here you’ll see people moving about in maroon robes, the Osho International Commune is also housed in Pune and many visitors come here to attend meditation programmes throughout the year.

Goa
Goa is a great option if you looking for a good time. As soon as you arrive, you immediately feel the holiday spirit enter your soul. There are many beaches, markets, temples and wildlife that you can see. Although there are many crowded beaches, there are also some unexplored ones waiting for your attention.

For those seeking more adventure, there are caves to explore and fantastic water sports such as jet skiing, parasailing and banana boats that will keep your adrenalin pumping. After a fun-filled day, get ready to party the night away with strobes lights and colourful festivals.

These three places are the perfect destinations to visit because they really show you the extent of the diversity in the country. From ancient buildings to pristine beaches and spiritual awareness, there is a lot to learn and experience from the Indian people.

Flying over Christmas? Don’t forget to pack these 8 essential items

Most of us dread packing; always panicking that we’re going to forget to pack an important item that will ruin our holiday if we forget it.

The best way to ensure you pack everything needed is to prepare a list and refer to it when packing. Actually, having two lists works well: one with absolute essential items that you can’t do without whatever holiday you’re taking – keep this in a safe place and refer to every holiday – and a second list with items required for your specific holiday.

The essential list should include the following:

  1. Passport
    It really does go without saying, that a passport is an essential item that you simply must pack, but do make sure that it’s in date and has a sufficient amount of time left on it – some countries require your passport to be valid for at least six months from the date of travel. It’s best to check entry requirements on the Foreign and Commonwealth website well in advance of your travel date.
  2. Tickets
    Tickets, self-printed boarding passes, booking reference, or sms text, whichever method of boarding your airline requires make sure you have it with you.

    If you are staying at a hotel the night before your flight, don’t forget to take your booking confirmation with you. And, likewise, if you’ve booked airport parking, such as meet and greet, don’t forget to take your booking confirmation; details of where to drive to; and the company’s contact telephone number with you.

  3. Travel insurance
    Whether you are taking a domestic, European or International holiday it’s essential to have travel insurance. If you’re travelling to Europe, don’t assume that an EHIC card is sufficient coverage; this only covers you for reduced-cost or sometimes free medical treatments and does not holiday cancellations, loss of possessions, or repatriation should you become ill or injured while on holiday.

    Don’t forget to take details of your travel insurance with you.

  4. Driving License
    If your holiday plans include car hire while on holiday, you will be required to show your driving license. Take both parts with you, not just the photo ID part.
  5. Money and Cards
    You won’t get too far on holiday if you forget to take your foreign currency with you, however, this can be overcome if you have your credit or debit card with you.

    Always purchase your foreign currency before you get to the airport, as you will have more time to compare rates and how much you get for your money. In the case of cards, you should inform your bank that you are going away and plan to use your credit / debit card abroad.

  6. Medication
    Whether you are required to take regular medication or not, it’s always advisable to take some painkillers, diarrhoea pills, plasters, hangover treatment etc. with you. It’s best to pack these in your hand luggage so that if your suitcase is lost or delayed you will be okay.
  7. Suncream
    Don’t forget to pack suncream – you will need it for most holidays, including skiing. Pack aftersun too, just in case you do burn.
  8. Mosquito Repellent
    If you’re travelling somewhere warm, it’s always advisable to pack mosquito repellent.

A further tip for packing is to allow sufficient time for packing. If you leave yourself too little time you are likely to feel rushed and hassled and you’re more likely to forget something important.

The above eight items should feature on your regular holiday packing list – do you have anything to add to this list? Feel free to add your suggestions to the comments below.

2013 Cyprus events not to be missed

Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean and attracts just shy of one million British tourists a year. With 326 days of sunshine each year, mouth-watering cuisine, charming scenery and only a four-hour flight away it’s not difficult to see why the island is a popular holiday destination.

On offer to visitors in 2013 is a wealth of events such as:

March

Cyprus Marathon
Taking place every March in the Paphos area, the Cyprus marathon draws professional and non-professional runners from across the globe, incorporating three different distances – the marathon, half-marathon and the 10 km road race.

Starting at Petra tou Rominou – the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite – the race offers participants the chance to soak-up the panoramic views from the island’s rugged coastline with a large proportion of the course along the Paphos seafront. For more information visit www.cyprusmarathon.com

Easter celebrations
Easter is one of the most fascinating times to visit Cyprus. While the weather is warm (highs of around 18 degrees) without being too hot, the island’s rich religious and cultural heritage comes to the fore over a two-week period that sees the whole of Cyprus transformed into a buzzing celebration of both new life and ancient traditions.

Highlights include lively flower processions and colourful ceremonies, while food plays central role as mouth-watering feasts of spit-roasted lamb and delicious traditional cheesecakes and breads are prepared on key religious days.
Centuries-old ceremonies still dominate the two weeks and villagers across the island invite visitors to join their ancient customs.

June

Kataklysmos / Water festival
The annual Kataklysmos (Water Festival) takes place on the day of the Holy Spirit – 50 days after the Orthodox Easter.

Kick-starting the summer season, all coastal towns from Larnaca through to Paphos come alive over the bank holiday with boat races, swimming competitions, a series of performances by popular Greek and Cypriot singers and dance troupes, as well as the traditional chatista contest – an off-the-cuff repartee of rhyming songs in the Cypriot dialect.

July

Shakespeare Festival
Performed on the ancient stage of the stunning Kourion Theatre – one of the most spectacularly located ancient sites in Cyprus, which enjoys an uninterrupted backdrop of Mediterranean sea – the annual Shakespeare Festival is organised by the Performing Arts for Cyprus Charities. Performances take place daily throughout the month of July.

30 August to 9 September 2013

Limassol Wine Festival
The annual Limassol Wine Festival has been one of the island’s highlights for more than five decades, and is a chance for visitors and locals alike to take part the traditional custom of grape treading as well as enjoy free wine tastings of some of the region’s finest wines – such the famous Muscat and Commandaria grapes. It is also an opportunity to savour flavours of the local cuisine – such as the fasolia yiahni of haricot beans in a rich tomato sauce, accompanied with fresh onions and freshly cooked bread to soak up the delicious juices; as well as enjoy a variety of concerts and theatrical performances throughout the ten-day festival. www.limassolmunicipal.com.cy
September

Ayia Napa International Festival
An annual highlight, the Ayia Napa International Festival, is held in the monastery’s Seferis Square (Plateia Seferi), in the heart of the town. Bringing the community together year-on-year with traditional Cypriot music and folk dancing, all manner of concerts and an abundance of art exhibitions showcasing Greek legends, mythology and archaeology, it really does showcase an exciting alternative for this thriving town.

Going on holiday? Make sure your home is covered

There are loads of things to think about when you’re going away on holiday – especially if you’re going away for a long time. But have you thought about what you’re leaving behind?

Some people don’t know that leaving your house unattended – especially if it’s for a long period of time – could invalidate your home insurance. Typically, your cover might be at risk if your house is empty for more than a month.

So what can you do if you’re jetting off on a long holiday – or leaving your home empty for another reason? Here are some tips from Home & Life – who provided this article.

Talk to your insurer

The best way to find out whether your insurance will cover your home while you’re on holiday is to ask. If you’re going away for longer than your policy covers, you might be able to adjust your policy accordingly. Note that this may increase your premium.

According to Thisismoney.co.uk, if you’re only going away for a bit longer than your policy limits you to, your insurer might be flexible. They might agree to extend your cover, but sometimes you will have to meet certain conditions. For example, you will probably have to prove that you’ll secure your home to high standard. In some cases you may be asked to turn off your water, gas or electricity supply.

Find specialist cover

If your insurer won’t cover you, you might have to invest in ‘empty house’ insurance. This kind of insurance is likely to have a lot of terms and conditions attached. For example, many empty house policies will cover your buildings and fixtures – but not necessarily your contents. Or they may offer contents cover – but at a higher price.

In this case, it might be best to put all of your contents and belongings into storage while you’re away. It depends what’s cheaper and more convenient for you.

Consider a house sitter

The best way to make sure that your house is still covered while you’re away is to ensure it’s still occupied. Ask a friend or relative who you trust to watch your house for you.

Alternatively, there are services that help you find a house sitter online. Just make sure you go through all the appropriate procedures to make sure your house sitter is trustworthy.

Top tips to ensure a stress free ski holiday this year

A skiing trip can be great fun, whether heading to the slopes for the first time, or making an annual return to that favourite resort. Buying essentials, booking ski passes and finding the right accommodation all need to be done beforehand, though understanding what to do if things go wrong is also vital. Ensure a smooth run on your ski trip and swot up on the procedures to follow in the event of a holiday accident.

Prices are often hugely inflated in ski resorts, so make sure you pack all the essentials before you leave. The obvious items like hats, gloves and scarves should be included – and duplicates too, if space allows. A thermal layer is also important, and for ultimate comfort opt for silk garments. Helmets are a sensible idea for preventing injuries, especially if you are a novice: if on a one-off trip it’s usually more cost-effective to hire these. It may be chilly but don’t forget the dangers of the sun too, and pack a high factor sunscreen, lipbalm with SPF and sunglasses with suitable protection. An aloe face cream or aftersun is also helpful for calming sun-beaten skin. Many resorts and hotels have chic bars and restaurants for après-ski drinks and dining, so be sure to look the part and remember to pack a formal outfit or two.

To save money, time and hassle pre-book your ski pass rather than doing it on arrival. Many websites offer discounted passes and, if holidaying in Europe, these have the added benefit of allowing you to pay in sterling online, rather than Euros on location. Make sure you do this as early as possible, as many operators have sussed this money-saving trick and restrict the number of passes available in advance.

Skiing is no longer seen as a holiday option for the elite, as it once was. As such, accommodation options vary widely. An all-inclusive resort or chalet may be handy for those who have a set budget and want to know what their costs are upfront. Alternatively, if you are thinking of driving or taking the train a self-catering chalet can be a good option, especially for families, as provisions can be bought cheaply in the UK and brought with you.

The dangers of skiing should not be forgotten and accidents and illness can easily occur. To enjoy your holiday it’s important to both take preventative action beforehand and understand what to do if things go wrong. To avoid muscle pulls and strains start a fitness programme before you leave, and warm up every morning pre-ski. Always check weather conditions on the slopes and heed any warnings from local authorities. Always check your equipment is maintained to a high standard and, even after skiing, ensure you’re kitted out correctly by wearing non-slip shoes.

It is essential to take out travel insurance beforehand. Companies usually offer specialist insurance for winter sports, and the best deal can easily be found using a price comparison site. If you suffer from an accident which wasn’t your fault whilst skiing, it may be possible to claim compensation by seeking professional legal help. Being in a foreign country and not knowing the language can make things tricky, but these firms can usually be relied upon on to provide guidance at each point of your claim. If you are sick or ill whilst on a skiing trip inform your insurance company and, in severe cases, the British Embassy. If holidaying in Europe remember your European Health Insurance Card, and don’t forget the value of safety measurements, like wearing a helmet.

British thumbs up for foreign delicacies

A recent survey has shown that the majority of Brits (97 per cent) questioned are likely to be more adventurous with their food when on holiday than when at home in the UK.

The research from Viking River Cruises also found that three out of four Brits (77 per cent) try to recreate their favourite foreign dishes when they return to the UK.

With more Brits heading further afield than ever before, holidaymakers are now giving weird and wonderful delicacies a go; the most popular dishes Brits tried for the first time include snails (six per cent) and frogs (five per cent). The survey also unearthed the more unusual items eaten by Brits abroad included sheep’s brain, cherry soup and one person admitted to eating bees whilst on holiday.

Whilst ostrich, birds nest soup and even guinea pig aren’t unlikely to make the menu, Britain’s ‘Come Dine with Me’ culture means that we’re trying to impress friends with our culinary creations more than ever before, taking inspiration from our travels.

Respondents also identified food markets as a must-visit on their trips away, as food lovers take inspiration from the likes of Rick Stein and The Hairy Bikers to pick up ideas to take back home.

The top five foods that we are most likely to taste for the first time when on holiday are:

  1. Snails
  2. Frogs legs
  3. Crocodile
  4. Kangaroo
  5. Snake

Preserving Holiday Memories

paddling

The days and moments spent with family often become the most precious of lifetime memories, and in the modern age the best way of capturing those moments is with a photo book or photo calendar.

We all have a camera and we are often at our most ‘snap-happy’ when on holiday. Many of us take 100s of photos on our trips abroad but often they seem to languish there until a memory card is full, at which point they are transferred to a computer where they are promptly forgotten. Time is scarce, and it can be a challenge to process, print, and artfully arrange photos into albums or scrapbooks. Yet there is always a desire to have a tangible memento of special times to be able to re-visit and share with others.

Putting together a photo book could not be more convenient since it is all done digitally on the Internet. A template is provided, so creating the book is as simple as filling in the blanks. Just follow a prompt that is given for each page of the book, inserting the desired photos and text to accompany it. Issues of layout can be adjusted according to individual tastes. After compilation is complete, simply click submit, and your work is done. There is a brief wait while the photo book is being printed by the publisher, and then the finished product is delivered right to your door.

In addition to being a cinch to produce, photo books and calendars are sleek and professional in appearance. With the durability of a book, there is no concern of photos getting smudged, crumpled, or misplaced. The concurrent text that may be featured with the photos eliminates the need of having to stand over someone’s shoulder and narrate; rather, they will be able to independently peruse it just like a story book. Being able to preserve and celebrate moments in time is invaluable, but, thankfully, capturing these memories in such an impressive format is quite affordable.

With such room for personalization, sharing the magic of memories in photo book or calendar form makes for a heartfelt and meaningful gift. Whether commemorating a significant event or documenting family fun, it is not only a gift but also a keepsake to be treasured.

Top tips for choosing the right holiday insurance

Taking out holiday insurance is essential if you’re going away. While no one likes to think that something may go wrong, insurance provides you with the peace of mind that you will be covered should something happen, allowing you to enjoy your holiday without that added worry.

However it isn’t always simple finding the right travel insurance for you so here are some top tips for choosing the right holiday insurance:

  1. Its worth doing your own research online to find the best value and most comprehensive cover for you. Avoid taking travel insurance through your travel agent as often this can be much more expensive than booking directly. Look on price comparison sites such as Money Supermarket or Go Compare to find the best deals.
  2. Travel insurance though shouldn’t be booked on price alone and you should always check the cover limits to ensure you agree with the protection offered by the insurer. Buying the cheapest travel insurance may mean if you do come to claim you may find you’re not covered!
  3. Consider an annual policy if you plan to travel more than once in the year. It is often more cost effective to take out an annual travel insurance policy. Also think if you are planning to make one of those a ski holiday you would need winter sports cover so make sure you factor that into the policy!
  4. Compare excess charges. Excess means if you do claim then this is the amount you will have pay when a claim is filed and often this can almost be as much as the item you are claiming for! Some insurers suchoffer a policy with zero excess.
  5. Always declare any medical conditions you and anyone you are travelling with suffers from as not doing so may mean any future claims are void.