Something to declare: Africa by 'private jet'; flight delays; Marylebone and beyond
Saturday 13 October 2007
Destination of the week: Africa by 'private jet'
Timbuctoo, Victoria Falls and Madagascar: these are all locations on next year's luxury air safari of "remote Africa", which begins on 7 November 2008 in the prosaic surroundings of Luton airport.
Each winter, The Captain's Choice Tour (0845 603 5764; www.captainschoice.co.uk) charters an under-utilised Boeing 757 and flight crew from First Choice Airways. The usual 200-plus seats are taken out and replaced with an all-business-class configuration seating just 92. The aircraft flies during the day, and every night passengers (and crew) are accommodated in luxurious hotels.
The exotic itinerary for the 19-day trip also includes Leptis Magna in Libya, the Ngorongoro crater in Tanzania and the spice island of Zanzibar. If you have to ask the price, you possibly can't afford it: £12,495, based on two sharing; the single supplement is a further £1,330. The basic price works out at around £27 per hour for the duration of the trip, but in return you get champagne, caviar – and the chance to stay at Libya's only five-star hotel, the Corinthia Bab Africa in Tripoli.
Seminars about this and other luxury tours are to be held this month and next: in London on 30 October, Southampton 31 October, Bournemouth on 1 November, and Oxford, Leeds and Chester on 6, 7 and 8 of November respectively. You should book a place in advance.
Warning of the week: flight delays
The latest punctuality statistics from the Association of European Airlines makes depressing reading for British Airways – or, more accurately, for its passengers. The airline's house journal reveals that under 55 per cent of the airline's flights in June started within 15 minutes of scheduled departure time, making it easily the worst performer of the leading traditional airlines.
The percentage of "on time" flights among most of BA's rivals was in the low 70s, but Air France had problems with its long-haul flights (only 57.4 per cent on time or up to 15 minutes late). Air France managed seven out of 10 punctual short-haul flights, but both Lufthansa and Alitalia fell short of this for European services.
The best-performing carriers were the Dutch airline KLM and SAS Scandinavian Airlines, which despatched 73 per cent of flights within 15 minutes of scheduled departure time.
Bargain of the week: Marylebone and beyond
While St Pancras is under repair in advance of Eurostar's move there one month from tomorrow, the title of most attractive London terminus is monopolised by Marylebone. The station, as featured in The Beatle's Hard Day's Night film, is the start or finish for some of the UK's lowest and most innovative rail fares.
Chiltern Railways is currently offering mobile-phone users a deal of £5 each way between London and Birmingham, as well as intermediate stations such as Banbury, Leamington Spa and Warwick Parkway. These E-day tickets must be booked online at www.chilternrailways.co.uk; the virtual "ticket" is sent to your mobile phone.
Next spring, travelling between the capital and north-east Wales and Shropshire will become much easier when direct trains start to connect Marylebone with Shrewsbury, Wrexham and other towns.
The train operator, Wrexham & Shropshire (0845 260 5233; www.wrexhamandshropshire. co.uk), plans five trains a day, with a journey time of 200 minutes between Shrewsbury and Marylebone.
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