Something to Declare: San Diego; Albania; Club 55; No-fly Turin
Saturday 21 May 2011
Destination of the week: San Diego
Third time lucky? That's what British Airways hopes for its resurrected link between Heathrow and California's southernmost city. The daily service begins on 1 June. BA's two previous attempts to serve San Diego proved uneconomic. But the new service will be staffed by the airline's "new fleet" of cabin crew, which will help to keep the costs down.
San Diego has many advantages over Los Angeles, 120 miles north along the Pacific coast. Purely practically, it is a far easier gateway than LAX; San Diego's airport, Lindbergh Field, is about 10 minutes' drive from downtown. The city centre is compact, and scattered around are some fascinating attractions: magnificent Balboa Park, a feast of architecture and parkland; Coronado Island, location for the hotel featured in Some Like It Hot; and North America's best zoo. The new BA link also provides the fast track to Mexico's Baja Peninsula, just south of the border. The service, on which BA has a monopoly, is selling well – judging from the fares BA is able to command. A return flight, departing a month from today and staying for a week, is currently on sale for £905. The comparable fare to Los Angeles is £70 lower.
Warning of the week: Albania
According to the Albanian Border and Migration Police, 175 British travellers arrive in Albania on a typical day. According to the Foreign Office bulletin released this week, the range of dangers they face includes "aggressive and erratic" driving techniques; luggage thefts from hotel rooms and public transport, "particularly in the coastal resorts of Vlorë and Saranda"; and "unexploded ordnance placed during the 1999 Kosovo crisis". The travel advice also warns: "We do not recommend using the dental facilities."
Bargain of the week: Club 55 is back
Rail travellers in Scotland born on or before 22 May 1956 get cheap, flat-fare rail travel restored tomorrow. An £18 return fare applies on all train operators between any two stations in Scotland (plus Carlisle and Berwick-upon-Tweed). There is no need for advance booking nor a railcard; you need only carry proof of age, though railcard holders save an extra £2.
A few restrictions apply on rush-hour services to and from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen, and no travel is allowed on East Coast Trains between Edinburgh and Aberdeen on Sundays.
More information: First ScotRail (08457 550 033; scotrail.co.uk).
Tip of the week: No-fly Turin in mid-July
The Italian habit of closing airports in summer for maintenance continues: the latest casualty is Turin, which will shut down from 9pm on 15 July to noon on 19 July. Ryanair's flight from Stansted will be diverted to and from Cuneo, 60 miles away, with free bus transfers.
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