Something to declare: South America, via Canada; The Maldives; Morocco in style; longer check-in at Heathrow

 

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The Independent Travel

Destination of the week: South America, via Canada

Anyone in need of a short-notice winter warmer should consider the "southern cone" of South America. Argentina and Chile are at their best this month. You may be deterred by the high fares to the respective capitals, Buenos Aires and Santiago, on the usual route, via Madrid. Returns typically cost upwards of £900 for travel in the next few weeks. But Air Canada (0871 220 1111; air canada.co.uk) offers fares of less than £800 to travellers prepared to take a longer journey, via Toronto. You can also build in a stopover in Canada's largest city to compare deep winter with high summer.

The schedules from Heathrow work well with South American departures and arrivals. The connecting flights to the Argentinian and Chilean capitals are "triangular": flight 92 goes Toronto-Santiago-Buenos Aires, flight 93 serves the South American capitals in the reverse order. So, with shrewd planning you can combine them into an open-jaw arrangement, minimising flying and crossing the Andes by road via the beautiful city of Mendoza.

Warning of the week: The Maldives

The Foreign Office reports "violent clashes between government and opposition supporters" in the Maldives. British travellers are urged to avoid going to the capital of the Indian Ocean archipelago, the island of Malé.

The UK High Commission in Colombo is sending a team to the Maldives to assess the political situation and the risks posed to visitors.

Meanwhile, the official travel advice says "If you are in Malé, or choose to travel to Malé, you should exercise caution, avoid demonstrations, and beware of spontaneous gatherings."

The warning does not cover Malé's international airport (located on a separate island just across from Malé), nor any of the tourist resorts where most visitors spend time.

Bargain of the week: Morocco in style

The business-class deals on flights from Heathrow on BMI (0870 60 70 555; flybmi.com) keep coming. The latest is a fare of £249 return to the airline's Moroccan destinations – Agadir, Casablanca and Marrakech – throughout March. This is barely more expensive than in economy. Besides more legroom and better catering on board, benefits include lounge access and a higher baggage allowance. You must book by 20 February; some dates may already be sold out.

Tip of the week: Longer check-in at Heathrow

Air France and KLM have increased the minimum check-in time at Heathrow Terminal 4. The previous limit of half-an-hour has been increased by 10 minutes, and the airlines warn: "Passengers arriving less than 40 minutes before their flight departure will not be allowed to check in." If you are running late, don't rely on the Heathrow Express from London Paddington: it does not run to Terminal 4, which is served by the slower Heathrow Connect.

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