Something To Declare: Destination of the week - Barcelona

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The Independent Travel


Destination of the week: Barcelona

Fifteen years ago, the only way to fly from Britain to Barcelona was aboard the twice-daily departures on British Airways and the Spanish national airline, Iberia. The lowest fare was about £150 return. Today, there are dozens of flights from airports across the UK to the Catalan capital – many of them on no-frills airlines. Consequently, Iberia has been selling return flights from Heathrow for dates in March for £67 return through the website www.thomascook.com; book by next Thursday, 27 February.

Warning of the week: don't misbehave on your Astraeus or Iceland Express flight

"Incidents of unreasonable passenger behaviour are becoming both more frequent and more violent," says this airline, which on Thursday starts flying between Stansted and Iceland on behalf of the new no-frills airline, Iceland Express. But mind how you go: "If you are upset because you are not allowed to smoke or your flight has been delayed, please don't take it out on the cabin crew. It's not their fault. They are not there to be abused, they are there for your safety. To combat unreasonable behaviour and to protect our crew and passengers, any passenger who becomes intoxicated during the flight risks the aircraft being diverted to the nearest suitable airport where the offending passenger will be off-loaded." The airline says it will recover the extra cost involved from the passenger; it could run into thousands of pounds.

"Astraeus will seek criminal prosecution against any person using violence or violent threats towards any member of the crew or other passengers."

Bargain of the week: America by train, for peanuts

Poor old Amtrak. The National Passenger Railroad Corporation is in a right muddle and continues to lose cash like there's no tomorrow (which there probably isn't). One reason could be the fact that its online Rail Sale fares are being sold for less than the cost of a cab to the airport. This week I have bought a pair of 800-mile trips (Washington DC to Chicago and Chicago to Albany, NY) for $16 (£10) each. Only eight Rail Sale seats are allocated to each train but no-one else seems to want them, so there is usually plenty of availability. Book at www.amtrak.com at least two weeks before you want to travel. Naturally, at these prices, there is no scope to change reservations or get refunds.

Train of the week: it's a bus

One problem afflicting the Stansted Express rail link from London Liverpool Street to the Essex airport is that the first departure does not arrive in time to check in for early flights. Starting on 3 March, the train company will introduce a 4am service from London, and a 4.30am departure on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (on other days, there is already a service at this time). Unfortunately, these new links are provided by buses, not trains. The service will be slower, though the company will say only that "the estimated journey time on the coaches is no more than 90 minutes" – which could mean the 4.30am bus arriving after the 5am train. Even so, the 4am departure should get you to Stansted in good time for the first flights of the day.

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