Something To Declare: Club World on sale; high-speed Indian trains; behave yourself in the Maldives
Saturday 24 October 2009
Bargain of the week: Club World on sale
Air Passenger Duty rises from November, which will be especially galling for travellers in the posher seats: on a flight to Singapore or Buenos Aires, for example, the tax element rises from £80 to £110. Even so, next Thursday, 29 October, British Airways will launch a short-term sale aimed at filling empty seats in its premium cabins. If you book three weeks ahead for travel up to the end of June next year, you can save a fortune over the normal Club and First fares.
Until the sale begins, the actual fares will not be revealed – but it is safe to say that levels as low as £1,500 return to California or the Far East can be expected. While the airline is keeping secret flight-only prices – to guard against competitors upstaging them – it has revealed some inclusive packages.
Three nights at the five-star Ritz-Carlton in Dubai, pictured, costs £1,779, including return Club World flights from Heathrow, while a three-night stay at the five star The London NYC in New York is priced at £1,749, including Club World seats (so expect the flights alone to be sold for around £1,250). There will also be good deals on European fares – typically £300 return to many destinations such as Nice, Milan and Copenhagen. Holiday prices start at £499 per person for three nights at the five-star Pulitzer in Amsterdam, including return Club Europe flights from Gatwick.
Tip of the week: High-speed Indian trains
This autumn, a new breed of trains has begun running in India. Named "Duronto" (the Bengali word for "quick"), they are intended to be the flagships of the Indian Railways network, with fewer stops and faster journey times. They have been introduced partly in response to the spread of low-cost flights between India's major cities.
Duronto services linking Delhi with Calcutta, Pune and Chennai, and from Mumbai to Calcutta, have already begun, and many more services are due to start over the coming year. See indianrail.gov.in for more details.
Destination of the week: North and South
Two leading tour operators launched their 2010 programmes this week, featuring destinations at cooler latitudes than usual.
The leading cultural tour operator Martin Randall Travel, is running tours to Hadrian's Wall in late May (five days, £1,620) and to Northumbria in early July (nine days, £2,380); 020-8742 3355; martinrandall.com .
Notable among the Exodus Polar Expeditions (0845 330 6013; exodus.co.uk ) is a trip "In the wake of Shackleton" trip to Antarctica. An attempt will be made to land on Elephant Island, where Sir Ernest Shackleton and the crew of the Endurance sheltered for months. The trip will also visit South Georgia, pictured, location for the most remarkable escape in the history of exploration, and the Falklands. It will be accompanied by Jonathan Shackleton, a cousin of Sir Ernest.
Prices for the one-month expedition start at just under £14,000 for a berth in a triple cabin, excluding flights.
Warning of the week: Behave yourself in the Maldives
Anyone tempted by British Airways' new link from Gatwick to Malé, capital of the Maldives, should be aware of strict rules on imports and behaviour in this Islamic nation. The Foreign Office says you are not allowed to bring in materials deemed contrary to Islam, including pork, alcohol, "idols for worship" and bibles. Alcohol is available on resort islands, but should not be taken elsewhere.
Same-sex relations are illegal; "convicted offenders could face lengthy prison sentences and fines," says the Foreign Office.
An explosion in Sultan Park in Malé two years ago – said to be the first-ever bomb in the Maldives – hurt 12 people, including two British tourists. It was caused by an improvised explosive device triggered by a mobile phone.
Advance approval is normally required to visit most non-resort islands, other than the capital island. For permission, contact the Maldives High Commission in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo (25 Melbourne Avenue, Colombo 4; 00 94 11 258 7824).
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