Something To Declare: Last-minute flights; Gatwick transit shutdown; Brittany; South African football flights
Saturday 12 September 2009
Bargain of the Week: Last-minute flights at the airport
Charter-flight operators are still selling off empty seats at low prices to people who turn up at the airport or book a few days ahead. At Gatwick, Skybreak (0871 6666 737; skybreak.co.uk ) has ticket desks at zone B in North Terminal and zone H in South Terminal.
The best deals are to destinations not frequently served by scheduled airlines; in the past week, confirmed flights to Bastia on BMI charters were sold at £84 for a fixed one-week return, while one-way standbys to destinations such as Kefalonia and Dalaman have been sold for under £100.
Warning of the week: Gatwick transit shutdown
In the 21 years since Gatwick's North Terminal opened, the driverless transit shuttle to South Terminal has covered 2.5 million miles. From 28 September, it will close for a replacement system to be installed. Until that opens in May next year, buses will connect the two terminals. These are scheduled to run every three minutes (every six minutes between 6pm and 4am). Passengers are advised to "allow 20 minutes to change terminals".
The closure will mainly affect North Terminal passengers, on airlines such as British Airways, Thomson and some easyJet services, because trains and most buses serve the South Terminal. One notable exception is the easyBus service from London, which runs direct from Fulham Broadway underground station and Gatwick North Terminal every 20 minutes between around 6am and 10pm. If you book online at easybus.co.uk you pay a maximum of £12.99 return, though lower fares are available if you book a long way ahead.
Destination of the week: Brittany
North-west France can be wild and wonderful in autumn, and as demand for trains, boats, planes and accommodation dwindles you can travel at low cost with high quality. Trains with Rail Europe (0844 848 4069; raileurope.co.uk ) from London St Pancras via Paris to Rennes, for example, are available at £99 return on a wide range of dates – though, strangely, trains via the French capital to St Malo are more expensive. Brittany Ferries (0871 244 0425; brittany-ferries.co.uk ) has fares of £69 one way for a car and two people from Plymouth to Roscoff, and £81 from Portsmouth to St Malo. By air, Ryanair (0871 246 0000; ryanair.com ) has services from Luton to Brest, which have been selling this week at £20 return.
Once in Brittany, you can get six nights for the price of five at the region's 21 youth hostels with the Pass Bretagne; you ask for the free pass at the first hostel and collect a stamp at successive hostels, then cash it in at the sixth. The website breizhtrotters.com has more information, in French only.
For our most recent 'Traveller's Guide to Brittany', see tiny.cc/Lj1ex .
Tip of the week: Get your South African football flights booked now
England's success in qualifying early for next year's World Cup in South Africa presents fans with the chance to get ahead of other Europeans in securing flights at reasonable fares. Assuming teams such as France, Italy and Germany qualify for the finals, flight prices to South Africa are likely to rise sharply.
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