Something to Declare: Heading down south
Monday 23 September 2002
Only 20 years ago, many airlines still awarded passengers who crossed the equator with a certificate. But flying from the northern part of the globe to the south is now so commonplace that the airlines no longer bother - and instead compete aggressively on price.
From tomorrow and for the next six months, there will be more daylight south of the equator than north of it. Only 20 years ago, many airlines still awarded passengers who crossed the equator with a certificate. But flying from the northern part of the globe to the south is now so commonplace that the airlines no longer bother – and instead compete aggressively on price.
So if you feel starved of sun, take advantage of some of the highly favourable fares for travel to the south between now and mid-December, when the Christmas rush begins.
After years of high prices, Buenos Aires is the current bargain-basement destination because of Argentina's dire financial straits. You can reach "the Paris of South America" in October or November for £439 on Aerolineas Argentinas via Madrid, booked through South American Experience (020-7976 5511). For something organised, Journey Latin America (020-8747 8315) has room on its 16-day overland trip from Buenos Aires to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, at a price – including air fares – of £2,139.
You could conceivably combine South America with South Africa using the air link between Buenos Aires and Cape Town operated by, of all people, Malaysia Airlines. But it would almost certainly be cheaper to take separate trips. On the website www.opodo.co.uk, you can find return flights from London to Cape Town in November for £471 on South African Airways.
Cheap flights to New Zealand are available at almost any time of the year these days, but an interesting new routing is on Korean Air. It allows you to stay in the Korean capital, Seoul (where you have to change planes anyway), with the option of a stop in Fiji. Book through a discount agent such as Trailfinders (020-7938 3939 www.trailfinders.co.uk), for a fare in November of £681.
Bargain of the week: southern Europe, with frills, for less
GB Airways, a "preferred partner" of British Airways, suffers from more than its fair share of competition from no-frills airlines. Cheap rivals compete on many of its routes to France, Spain and Portugal. But the airline is hitting back with some of its lowest-ever fares from Gatwick and Heathrow. These apply for the usual winter trough: November, the first half of December, and all of January.
Through Airline Network (0870 234 4422, www.netflights.com), the lowest fare is £84 return, to Montpellier or Nantes. Palma, Valencia and Oporto in Portugal cost £89. Southern Iberian destinations – Faro, Gibraltar, Seville, Malaga, Almeria – are priced at £99. Book by 31 October.
Warning of the week: flying to Cuba
The "US Interests Section" in Havana – an embassy by any other name – has banned its staff from flying on the Cuban national airline, Cubana, citing its "safety standards, maintenence regime and history of fatal accidents".
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