Travel Questions: Who sells tickets for next year's big sports events?

Your questions answered by our panel of travel experts
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The Independent Travel
With so many big international sports events taking place abroad next year - the World Cup in France and the skiing Olympics in Japan to name but a couple - how can we get tickets and perhaps have a holiday at the same time ?

K MacAdam


Jill Crawshaw replies: Most tickets to major sporting events nowadays are sold as part of package deals, via appointed and licensed operators.

For the World Cup for example, starting on 10 June and concluding with the final at Saint Denis stadium just outside Paris on 12 July, operators are selling day-trip tickets with flights to specific matches, from a total of pounds 400. An overnight package with hotel accommodation, flights and tickets costs pounds 600. You can watch all three of England's or Scotland's opening rounds, following them around the country for considerably more.

Agencies to contact include David Dryer Sports Tours (0171 831 7799) and Sportsworld (01235 555844).

The Commonwealth Games take place in Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur between 11-21 September, and 60,000 foreign visitors are expected. Individual tickets vary in price from $12-$180 for the opening ceremony, $18-$200 for the closing ceremony, with athletics tickets from $6-$50. Once again these can be bought with flight and accommodation packages (with beach holiday add-ons) from SUKOM 98 (0161 486 1600), and from the official tour operator sportsworld (01235 555 844).

Several operators can organise cricket tickets abroad. If you want to watch England take on the West Indies in the five-day Test from 12-16 March, and have a relaxing beach holiday on Barbados, Caribbean Connection (01244 355400) can offer 12-day holidays at one of the island's top hotels with flights, accommodation (no meals) and tickets to all five days of the Test for pounds 2,537. Calypso Gold (0181 977 9655) also have a special brochure of holidays for cricket addicts which offers destinations throughout the West Indies.

Jill Crawshaw is a travel expert, writer and broadcaster.

We're worried about the new flu bug in Hong Kong

We are travelling to Hong Kong in the new year but we are worried about the influenza outbreak out there. Can you tell us exactly what is going on with this flu (what is special about it?), and whether there is anything we can do to avoid it. Sarah Shaw, Littlehampton

Dr Larry Goodyer replies: Quite a scare seems to have arisen regarding some recent cases of flu in Hong Kong. Although there have only been a few confirmed cases, as of 12 December the World Health Organisation has reported two deaths from this strain of influenza A H5N1 previously only found in poultry.

Usually an epidemic is caused by a strain of influenza virus which is only slightly different to those previously seen, so that the general population carries some partial immunity to infection. The problem with the new strain causing the cases in Hong Kong is that as it originates from birds it would not previously have been encountered in humans and there will be no resistance to any infections. Comparisons have been drawn to the 1918 pandemic in which 20 million people died.

At this stage though there does not seem to be any reason to panic as none of the cases resulted from human to human transmission. It is unclear exactly how the infections were contracted, but presumably the individuals had some direct contact with infected birds. Also unlike 1918 we have the technology for mass influenza vaccine production, although full development could still take some months. There are as yet no travel restrictions or quarantine arrangements for travellers to Hong Kong.

Dr Larry Goodyer is superintendent of the Nomad Pharmacy (3-4 Turnpike Lane, London N8, Tel: 0181-889 7014) which specialises in catering for travellers' medical needs.

My airline lost my luggage

During an international trip my airline lost my luggage following my checking in at the airport. My luggage contained some valuable camera equipment and an academic paper that I was working on, which is irreplaceable. I am having difficulty in covering the value of the losses from the airline and wonder what their liability is?

K Ganley


Ian Skuse replies: Under the Warsaw Convention (as amended by the Guatemala Protocol) airlines are liable to compensate customers for the destruction or loss or damage to baggage where either this took place on board or during check in operations or during disembarkation when the baggage was in the charge of the airline.

The airline can raise a question of contributory negligence if it can show that the damage or loss was caused by your negligence.

The liability of an airline is limited to the sum of approximately pounds 953 for each passenger, irrespective of the contents of your baggage. You should carefully review the terms of your travel insurance which are likely to be far more generous than the airline's own liability especially in view of the expensive camera equipment that was lost. I am afraid you are likely to have difficulty in making a recovery for your academic work although this will require many hours to re-create.

The limitation of the airline's liability was reviewed by ICAO earlier this year when a new draft convention was prepared which is being considered. However, it is likely to be some time before any new provisions come into effect.

Ian Skuse is the senior litigation partner with Piper Smith & Basham, which has specialised in advising the travel industry for over 20 years (tel: 0171-8288685).