Was it just a silly season wind-up?

Continuing our monthly series, Jeremy Skidmore answers readers' travel queries
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The Independent Travel
I understand the Greek government has given tour operators a rebate on airport tax - is that going to mean lower prices for packages next summer?

Not necessarily. The Greek government is only offering the rebate, which amounts to around pounds 3.60 per passenger on departures from Greek airports, up to December 31. We have not been given any indication yet whether it will be continued into 1997. The Greek government has to make its mind up soon if prices for 1997 are going to come down. Ironically the current rebate is great news for operators, but won't benefit any customers going to Greece this year. The rebate comes far too late to be passed on to holidaymakers in any brochures and will just go straight into the pockets of the tour operators.

The ideal time to book summer holidays has been much discussed, but what about winter sports?

The winter brochures are already out and are booking well. My advice to anyone who wants a winter holiday, particularly skiing, is to book sooner rather than later because accommodation in some resorts is getting in short supply. Skiers tend to be sophisticated holidaymakers who know exactly which hotel and resort they want and book up when the brochures come out.

I've heard that travel agency staff are offered all kinds of bribes for booking clients with certain operators. How can I be sure of being offered what's right for me?

Some agencies are owned by tour operators and have, in the past, been given cash incentives to push the products of their parent companies. But this does not mean you will be sold something that is wrong for you.

The two biggest operators, Thomson and Airtours, own the two largest travel agencies, Lunn Poly and Going Places respectively. Lunn Poly and Going Places make it clear that they recommend their own group's products but also promote a wide range of other companies and pledge not to sell an unsuitable holiday to their customers. This is probably a fair statement because the range of products in their shops is so wide that they can cater for most tastes.

Elsewhere, all travel agents negotiate deals with certain tour operators. Even independents, which tend to sell a wider range of holidays than the multiples, cannot stock all the holidays on the market and are likely to have special deals with certain operators.

I've heard there's a new 18-30 airline but my travel agent doesn't know anything about it. Was it just a silly season wind up?

There is a new airline being launched in April 1997 by Flying Colours, the company which owns the youth specialist Club 18-30. The airline has been called, not surprisingly, Flying Colours Airlines and a lot of holidaymakers who travel with Club 18-30 next year will find themselves on the airline. Your travel agent may not know anything about the airline because it is not operating until next year, but the 1997 brochures are out and it is possible to make bookings now for next year.

I booked my winter cruise with Lunn Poly Direct in Coventry. I just learnt the office has been closed down. What happens next?

Firstly, don't worry: Lunn Poly has not gone bust and you will still be able to go on your winter cruise. To complement its shops, Lunn Poly had an office in Coventry which sold direct to the public over the telephone. Lunn Poly decided to close the Coventry office and concentrate sales through its shops.

If you have any queries about your cruise you can either go into a Lunn Poly shop and discuss them with a member of staff, or contact the retailer at its head office, Lunn Poly House, Clarendon Avenue, Leamington Spa, CV32 5PS.