In recent years, we have seen the proportion of "taxes fees and charges" escalate to represent well in excess of 50 per cent of the total cost of many airline tickets. This is due to rising APD and, in particular, the fuel surcharges. The airlines have been able to devalue the worth of miles, as they recover revenues from the charged elements – namely fuel and to a lesser extent the airport charges and government taxes.
Frequent-flyer schemes can still represent excellent value for money if you redeem the miles on premium cabins such as Premium Economy, Business and First. I used my BA Miles in 2010 for a Club World return fare to South America, paying around £400 in cash for the taxes, fees and charges and points for the fare. Buying that ticket at the lowest price available at the time was around £3,500, so in my eyes great value.
So redeem wisely: use the schemes for items such as long haul/premium cabins or upgrades, or for car hire and hotels if you are not collecting enough points to fly further. Don't become obsessed with points collection, but instead use them as a bonus – not the raison d'être for booking in the first place.
Bob Atkinson, Travelsupermarket.com
What absolutely stinks about BA is their fuel surcharge, which is completely unacceptable, as this is an operating cost...
Brian Matthew Peers
You say, "Business travellers have long grumbled about the diminishing value of free tickets for loyal passengers". Business travellers do not pay anything for their tickets which they use for earning these points, so they really have nothing to grumble about. If they think that they should get some extra compensation for having to travel, they should talk to their boss instead and ask for more pay, or find a new position with less travel.
Paraguay – sold on an enterprising destination
I love visiting Paraguay, though all the South American travel guides seem to only have a Paraguay section that is usually short, somewhat incomplete and variable in accuracy. But last year Bradt brought out the first ever comprehensive, stand alone Paraguay guide in the English language. If you're a first-time visitor to this fascinating country, I'd recommend you grab a copy.
Traveller's Guideto Jamaica
I stayed in Treasure Beach back in 1980 and it was quiet, unspoiled and beautiful. Negril was picture-postcard Jamaica and it seemed like paradise. Not sure I would visit now, given the crime levels today.
Cape Verde – sun, sea and lots of sand
My partner and I are going on Sunday and cannot wait. Spending a week with wall-to-wall sunshine and miles of beaches sounds like heaven. A great read, which has generated even more excitement for our trip.
This is such a limited view of Cape Verde. I have just returned from a week or so in Brava, Fogo and Santiago – where I experienced great landscapes, met some very friendly people, climbed a volcano, saw the World Heritage Site of Cidade Velha and lots more.
No stamp of approval for easyJet passenger
In May, I flew on easyJet from Luton to Madrid to join my husband for a long weekend. We returned to the UK on 29 May and my passport expired two days later. Every time my passport was looked at on the outward journey and on the return leg by easyJet staff and by Immigration, I was reminded that my passport was due to expire imminently. Despite plenty of tut-tutting, no one prevented me from flying.
Christine Ellis, Cambs