Something To Declare: Istanbul and beyond; Brussels; code-share city breaks; BA-Iberia
Saturday 22 January 2011
Destination of the week: Istanbul and beyond
From a British perspective, the sole destination on the Turkish airline Pegasus is the twice-daily flight from Stansted to Istanbul's second airport, Sabiha Gokcen. But unusually for a low-cost airline, Pegasus (0845 0848 980; flypgs.com) offers easy connections at its hub to other destinations in Turkey, the Middle East and the Caucasus. For travel in late March, sample fares are £214 return to the eastern Turkish city of Van; £183 to the Georgian capital Tbilisi; and £206 return to Beirut in Lebanon.
How do these compare with connecting flights on other airlines? To Van, the saving is around £20 compared with Turkish Airlines; to Tbilisi, around £90 compared with Lufthansa; and to Beirut, around £130 compared with Cyprus Airways.
Warning of the week: Brussels
"Pocket picking, purse snatching, and theft of light luggage and laptops are common at the three major train stations: Gare du Nord, Centraal Station and especially the Gare du Midi, the primary international train hub," warns the US State Department in a new and detailed warning about the Belgian capital.
"Pay particularly close attention to your personal belongings when in Metro and train stations. One ploy that thieves use is to distract you to spray shaving cream or another substance on you. Another trick is for the thief to ask you for directions while an accomplice steals your luggage. It is a good idea to hold on to your hand luggage at all times.
"Be aware that small groups of young men sometimes prey on unwary tourists, usually at night and often in Metro stations in Brussels. These thieves typically seek small, high-value items such as mobile phones and MP3 players."
Bargain of the week: Code-share city breaks
This weekend sees the marriage of British Airways and the Spanish national airline, Iberia. The merged carrier has a code-share agreement with American Airlines. This should mean that you get a good deal on a multi-city itinerary. To test it, we chose a London-Madrid- New York-Montreal-London itinerary for a variety of dates next month, allowing a few days in each city. The fare was a constant £863. If you are prepared to accept only a day in Madrid (with about eight hours between flights) the fare falls to £720. We compared the deal with one of the online flight agencies, asking for a quote for a similar itinerary. The fare: an astonishing £10,524, plus a warning that meals on Iberia flights would cost extra.
Tip of the week: BA-Iberia
What will the merger of these two airlines mean to you, whether you are a passenger or work for one or other of them? Get the views of Simon Calder in the Independent Traveller's live webchat, at 1pm on Monday 24 January: www.independent.co.uk/asksimoncalder
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