Tip of the week: Better rail connections
The February edition of the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable reveals two improvements that could benefit British travellers in Europe. An extra early-afternoon train from Lille to London will, say the compilers, "improve connections (especially on Sundays) from Toulouse, Marseille, Lyon Perpignan and Geneva". And Milan's Malpensa airport at last has a rail connection to Milano Centrale station – which, apart from being an architectural masterpiece, has excellent train links across Europe.
Destination of the week: Avignon
The Provençal city on the Rhone is the unlikely subject of a summer battle between train and plane. Eurostar has its usual Saturday-only summer service between London St Pancras and Avignon Centre station; travelling out on 6 August, returning a week later, costs £205, But the Air France subsidiary, CityJet, has just announced that Avignon's handy airport will be the next destination to be served from London City, with a summer-only link on Fridays and Sundays.
The fare difference is surprising: a flight out on 5 August, returning on 14 August, costs only £140.
Bargain of the week: Virgin Atlantic digs deep
Anyone who booked a Virgin flight in the seat sale that expired three days ago may be miffed to find that the airline has cut fares even more in a new promotion, running from today to 15 February.
Transatlantic economy fares from London look attractive enough: New York is £344 return, Miami £399, and Orlando £429. Los Angeles is a steal at £423.
Even better are the Premium Economy prices – particularly given that Air Passenger Duty doubles for anything above basic economy and constitutes £150 of these fares. Nairobi is £834 return; Hong Kong is £949; Shanghai and Tokyo are both on sale for £999; and Antigua and Barbados are £850. These are all for low season.
Warning of the week: Egypt
With violent anti-government protests in Cairo, Suez and Upper Egypt continuing , the Foreign Office warns that "Opposition in Egypt to western and British policy in the Middle East is widespread... Be alert to events which might trigger public disturbance."
The latest travel advice says the situation is unpredictable and may change quickly. "Monitor the situation closely and stay away from demonstrations and large gatherings of people, public buildings or other sites which may become the focus of demonstrations, such as Tahrir Square in Cairo. Exercise caution, and observe instructions given by security authorities and tour operators."