I can sympathise with Simon Calder and his cancelled EasyJet flights, but at least he was given some notice. On a recent trip from Birmingham to Belfast, Bmibaby cancelled both the outbound and the return flight with no notice whatsoever, due to "technical problems". We eventually flew outbound via East Midlands, but Bmibaby is refusing to pay any compensation, or to cover the cost of our transfers between Birmingham and East Midlands. Their excuse is that they are not obliged to pay compensation for cancellations due to "exceptional circumstances". I find myself wondering what is exceptional about something that happens on two consecutive weekends.
It did seem a good tip of Simon Calder's, to take an empty water bottle through to airside and then fill it up. I tried it last week, but failed: there was only one tap supplying warm/hot water in the toilets, no water fountain, in both Birmingham airport and Murcia airport. Is there a knack or a secret supply?
I have just come back from a couple of weeks riding ferries, trains and coaches around British Columbia and the Rockies. For your information the Canada Line Skytrain is now open and running from Vancouver airport to Central Vancouver and Waterfront. Consequently the Airporter Bus services will cease operating from next Thursday, 1 October – on the basis that they will no longer be viable. With the Winter Olympics coming up this is not necessarily helpful for visitors with lots of luggage. It depends where in downtown you are staying, but many of the hotels currently served by the Airporter are not particularly close to Canada Line stations.
Speaking in tongues
A great "48 hours in Helsinki" article on Saturday – good to see that The Independent continues to look north! One minor gripe – the author mixes languages. He uses the Finnish form for every name (including those on the map) except for Salutorget, which is the Swedish name. I think both languages should be used for everything, or (not so good) Finnish only. Finland is officially bilingual, with an 8 per cent Swedish-speaking minority, nearly all in the south and west, so that the proportion in Helsinki would probably be higher than this figure.
I also hope that one day you will recommend 48 hours in Cardiff.
My wife and I have just returned from a Mediterranean cruise with Celebrity Cruises. While on board my wife bought a ring in the onboard shop which she paid for with a credit card. They did not have the "chip and pin" machine. Not content with her signature, they also asked for her PIN to be written down. I queried this later at the Guest Relations desk and was told it was normal procedure. It was, as I heard another customer being asked for hers in the spa the following day.
This seems a rather dangerous practice in these days of identity theft. I wonder if anyone else has come across this problem?
John S Darlington