Travel: Something French To Declare

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Freebie of the week

Free travel for culture-lovers

Visitors to the English and Scottish capitals can benefit from free bus links to two arts venues. In Edinburgh, visitors to the newly opened Dean Gallery - opposite the Gallery of Modern Art - can get there on a new free bus. It runs every hour from the Portrait Gallery and National Gallery in the city centre. The service is sponsored by the car company BMW, and runs every hour between 10am and 4pm (2pm-4pm on Sundays).

Ticket-holders for shows at Sadler's Wells in London qualify for free travel on the 19, 38, 73 or 341 buses, from places such as Chelsea, Victoria and Piccadilly. The buses stop right outside the opera and dance venue. If you present your theatre ticket and outward bus ticket at the Box Office, you will be given the cash for both outward and return journeys.

All travellers, cultured or not, can benefit from a free ride on Britain's most expensive railway. The Heathrow Express operates free of charge between Terminal Four and the central part of the airport, serving Terminals One, Two and Three. The ride to or from Paddington station in London costs pounds 10, but under-16s travel free with adults so long as the grown-ups have bought their tickets in advance.

Trouble spots: summer

charter flight

Plans are being drawn up to limit disruptions for holiday makers bound for destinations, such as Italy, Greece and Turkey, which could be affected by the war on Serbia. With no sign of an early end to Nato action, charter airlines are seeking to minimise delays when the main summer season begins next Saturday.

Russell Ison, from Britannia, said that due to re-routing there may be an extra 10 or 15 minutes added on to journey times, but said departure times from the United Kingdom would be affected.

"At the moment there is a small amount of extra time on flights to Greece, Turkey and Cyprus."

The airline, Flying Colours, said its captains may be asked to fly faster to cut delays.

"Flights into Turkey are being delayed by up to 30 minutes, so we are working on flying at increased speeds," the airline said. "It does not seem to have affected Greece."

Air 2000 are also expecting minimal delays of 10 or 20 minutes for flights destined for eastern Mediterranean resorts in Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus, along with destinations such as Israel, and Egypt.

"We are monitoring the situation on a daily basis and will do anything we can to make sure customers are not delayed," said Air 2000.

In addition to the crisis in Kosovo, the threat of terrorist activity in Turkey is still an issue. Britain's biggest holiday company, Thomson, said that the reduction of customers wanting to travel to Turkey due to recent political threats has been small. "It has affected consumer confidence but the Foreign Office advice is that it is safe to go and customers are reassured when they call in."

There has also been concern that low booking levels for May and June could lead to flights being consolidated, but the leading charter airlines say they have no plans to cancel or combine departures.

Bargain of the week: the

secret Caribbean, in style

To celebrate its 25th anniversary of flights from Heathrow to the Caribbean, Trinidad-based BWIA (0181-577 1100) has come up with a deal where one person pays the business-class fare, while the other travels for pounds 25. This provides a cut-price route to two verdant and unspoilt destinations, Dominica and Guyana. For a business-class return ticket to Dominica, each passenger would pay pounds 1,126; to Georgetown, Guyana, pounds 1,314 each.

A similar deal applies in economy class on flights to Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia and Tobago; each passenger pays just pounds 309 return. You must book by next Friday.

Louise Parratt

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