OPEN JAW: WHERE READERS ANSWER BACK
Saturday 05 February 2005
Your article about the Airbus 380 versus the Boeing 7E7 says passengers will prefer to fly direct to their destination from an airport near them (using a 7E7) rather than go via hubs (on an A380). Well, we would - but there is another problem: the holiday companies are fixated with Heathrow and Gatwick.
We live 20 easy minutes from Manchester airport. So do a lot of other people. However, when our neighbour bought a package to China, she had to go via London - even though that flight only took her to Frankfurt where they picked up the plane to Beijing. Manchester has direct connections with Frankfurt so why does she need to go via London? "Because the tour starts from London," said the tour company woodenly.
There are plenty of flights from other UK regional airports to European hubs - Birmingham to Paris for instance - so I am not just banging the drum for Manchester. Tour operators seem unwilling to consider using direct connecting flights from large regional airports in the UK to hubs in Europe. So Manchester might get a 7E7 flight to Mumbai but I bet tours will still "start from London".
You refer to the demise of Polonia, the Polish no-frills airline, and say that no financial protection is needed for passengers. But more than 20 budget airlines have either failed to get off the ground or have gone out of business in the past two years (including Duo, JetMagic, Flying Finn, etc). What happens with these failures is that passengers may be able to get some money back from credit card companies but most passengers can't be bothered or get confused with the paperwork.
In contrast, ATOL-bonded tour operators such as ourselves have to provide lots of financial information to the CAA and lodge a substantial bond with them to provide full refunds in the event of our failure.
Why should airlines be able to dodge their responsibilities and not provide any form of protection whatsoever to passengers? And why are you endorsing this ridiculous argument?
If left to their own devices do you honestly believe the airline industry is going to self-regulate? Oh - just like the tabloids do? Tremendous.
Nick Morgan, managing director, Le Ski
Why reconfirm flights? A travel specialist responds
We always ask our passengers to reconfirm flights, because of the dreaded "schedule change". Airlines are prone to adjust their timings after tickets have been issued - anything from "one minute later" to "24 hours earlier". Changes in departure time are a frequent occurence in Argentina and Brazil, and can lead to missed connections and missed flights. For travellers on the move the best solution is reconfirmation. One short call could save a lot of pain.
Andre de Mendonca, director, South American Experience
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