Latest Simon Calder video diary

Simon Calder: British Airways 'plane on fire' over Heathrow causes travel chaos on one of the busiest weekends of the year

More than a dozen flights were diverted – many of them to Gatwick, Luton and Stansted, but some to more distant airports

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Have I been overcharged for this minor Emirates booking change?

Q. I booked an Emirates flight to Durban online, with what I was told was a special fare as I am a Skywards member. I chose the departure from Manchester at 2.10pm as our usual departure time of 9pm was not shown on the schedule. This meant a 10-hour wait at Dubai.

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Can you clear up a disagreement over International Driving Permits in California?

Q. Can you clear something up for me please, a colleague is insisting that I need to purchase an International Driving Permit to drive in California; I have been going to California for nigh on 20 years and I have a full picture driving licence which has always been sufficient. Would you recommend getting an IDP for the future? It seems a bit of a money-making racket to me.

Ed Dunham

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Other than Paris, any ideas for a city break where I can take my daughter?

Q. Simon, it's my daughter's 21st birthday in late August, I'd like to take her on a city break to somewhere not too expensive to get to but which will give her great memories. By the way, we've been to Paris.

Sarah Gee

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Can I avoid immigration queues in the US?

Q. I have flight to New York JFK from Bristol via Dublin in July. You said on Saturday that JFK is among the worst in America for long immigration queues. Can I avoid them, and can you point to a web link to show what we do at Dublin?

Patrick Mason, Taunton

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: How much do I need to worry about the scary advice on Quito in Ecuador?

Q. We've booked to go to Quito in Ecuador, but the advice from the FCO is scary to say the least. Can you advise?

Mike Pennick, Hindhead, Surrey

In the bag: cabin luggage gets more complicated

Battle of the bulge on before-breakfast Berlin-bound jet

Simon Calder: The man who pays his way

Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: What currency do I take to Macedonia?

Q. What currency do I take to Macedonia? The denar is not easily exchangeable, and the country is not yet in the EU. Please advise if taking euros or sterling would be the best option

Crispin Yeates

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Should I buy a separate ticket for a side trip from Australia to New Zealand?

Q I am attending a conference in Melbourne in September, and have been able to secure an extra five days off at the end of it. I want to take a side trip to New Zealand. Should I book a separate ticket or get the flights to and from as part of my main ticket?

John Slater, Stafford

Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: Can you advise about my Heathrow change-over to a connecting flight?

Q. I have just purchased a return flight on Virgin Atlantic to Los Angeles from Manchester, changing at Heathrow. (The extra cost was just £50 in total by the way, which I thought was superb.) I have just over 90 minutes between flights. I have never used a connecting flight before, so have looked up the process online, only to find a wealth of conflicting information. Can you advise?

Andy O'Dwyer, Ilkley, West Yorkshire

Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: What's the best Indonesia travel guide?

Q. What, in your opinion is the best travel guide for Indonesia?

Suzanne Calder

Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: What time of day is best for departures to JFK?

Q. I'm going to New York JFK in October. All the fares seem to be about the same, at about £450 return. So what time of day is it best to depart?

Peter Reynolds, Ealing

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    Day In a Page

    Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
    Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
    Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
    Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
    Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
    Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition