Something To Declare: Asia via Borneo; Scotland's Wild West; America toughens up
Saturday 23 January 2010
Bargain of the week: Asia via Borneo
Royal Brunei Airlines, based on Borneo island, is one of the lower-profile Asian carriers, but has daily flights from Heathrow to its hub. A new promotion, valid for purchase by 26 February, sees fares to some hard-to-reach locations at very low levels. The airline (020-7584 6660; bruneiair.com) is offering a flat fare of £445 return to cities with no direct service from the UK, including Manila, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City and Surabaya. You can fly out any time up until the end of June and stay away for up to six months.
Outbound, you can change the date for a fee of £75. For £50 you can book a stopover in the capital of Brunei, Bandar Seri Begawan. Inbound, however, you get a free stopover if you want one, and you can even change the date of the inbound flight once free of charge.
A business class option is available for a flat fare of £1,505, which offers stopovers in both Dubai and Brunei – but does not apply for flights to Manila.
Destination of the week: Scotland's Wild West
At £499, it's not the cheapest package holiday starting from Glasgow, but it is likely to be the most enthralling. The deal is offered from the stalwarts of Scottish travel, Scotia (0141 305 5050; scotiatravel.com).
You fly from Scotland's largest city to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, then have five days in which to meander the length of the Outer Hebrides, via Harris and the Uists, to Barra. A rental car and five nights' B&B accommodation are included. The climax is a flight from the world's only beach airport, at Barra, back to Glasgow.
Unlike other package holidays, this is not a seasonal price; it applies all year, though availability may be an issue in the summer peak.
You can make the journey in the opposite direction, though strangely it costs an extra £20 due to variations on airport charges.
Warning of the week: America toughens up
Anyone wanting to travel to the US on the Visa Waiver Program, which covers the vast majority of British travellers, must register online before being allowed to board a flight to America. The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (Esta) has been in effect for a year, but officials have implemented it with a light touch – people who have failed to register have still been allowed to fly.
From this week all that changes for travellers without a US visa: unless you register in advance (three days ahead is recommended), you won't be allowed on the plane.
The service is free, though many travellers have been stung by unofficial agencies that pop up on search engines and charge up to $50 for the privilege of applying. So we have created a short link, www.bit.ly/ApplyEsta, that takes you to the official site.
The online form asks for data such as your flight number and where you will stay. Most people will want to secure permission before they book a flight or hotel. Fortunately, this information is optional – you can still get permission without such details.
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