01 December 2016

EI avios redemptions available online

You can now search for availability and book Aer Lingus flights using Avios on the Avios.com website ... although you probably won't want to actually book them there !

I've written previously about the high "carrier surcharges" that BA impose on european EI flights - and booking through Avios.com - they are even slightly higher !

Here's a few examples:

LHR - DUB  76 gbp
DUB - LHR  41 gbp
return 117 gbp

For context - if you chose a BA flight and had flown or earned miles in the last year (so were eligible for their lower fees reward flight) a single ex LHR would be 17.5 gbp and a single ex DUB would be 10.3 gbp (book through BA no Avios.com who charge everything at 17.5 gbp)

LGW - NOC  57 gbp
NOC - LGW  36 gbp (plus airport 10 eur "development" fee)
ex NOC return 94 gbp
ex LGW return 92 gbp

when I phoned up BA in June 2015 the NOC - LGW fee was 27 gbp
when I phoned up BA in August 2015 the LGW - NOC fee was 54 gbp

The longhaul prices are a bit more reasonable - but you still shouldn't book them through Avios.com

In the 13,000 avios category (for an off-peak economy single)

DUB - Hartford  100gbp
DUB - Boston  100 gbp
DUB - Chicago  109 gbp
DUB - JFK  100 gbp

In the 16,250 avios category (for an off-peak economy single)

DUB - Orlando  109 gbp
DUB - LAX  117 gbp

For a return flight the taxes and fees come to around 180 gbp - but a commenter over on HeadForPoints rang up BA and for the same flights the taxes and fees are 90 gbp

So ring up BA before booking EI flights on Avios.com

16 November 2016

Another attempt to get to LYR

I've written a few times over the last year about planning a trip to Svalbard - but I still haven't managed to execute it !

This winter it looks like Norwegian are flying just twice a week - on a Monday (departing at 09:50) and a Friday (departing at 08:45) - with return flights at 12:30 or 13:35

SAS has more options - with flights from TrOmSo on Mondays (depart 12:20), Tuesdays (depart 12:20,  Thursday (depart 00:20 and 12:20), Friday (depart 12:20) and Sunday (depart 12:20).

All these flights (apart from Thursday's midnight flight) originate in OSLo - stopping for 35 mins in TOS.

Norwegian have three direct flights a week from LGW - TOS on Mondays (depart 14:20), Wednesdays (depart 05:50) and Fridays (depart 14:20) - but these can cost anything from 31.50 gbp to 202 gbp plus each way.

It looks like SAS don't fly London - TOS direct.

05 November 2016

FlyBe check-in options - or lack of

The email from FlyBe confirming my NOC - BHX flight encouraged me to check-in online, saying that it opened 36 hours before departure ...

So of course I attempted to check-in ... but it wouldn't work.  Assuming that I was making a mistake, I kept trying and trying ... and failing, and failing.

Eventually I discovered a page on their website that listed check-in options by airport - including this nugget:

AirportcodeAirport Check-inSelf Service Check-inWeb Check-inAutomatic Check-in (email)Automatic Check-in (mobile)

So why the hell did they send me an email telling me to check-in online !

01 November 2016

Updated: London things to do

It may not be quite travel ... but there's lots of things in the city that I want to do ...

museums that i've never been to:

Bank of England Museum

Leighton House

Sir John Soane's

Freemasonry - book a tour to see the main hall

Wellcome Collection

Croydon Airport - open on first sunday every month

and a couple of museums that i haven't been for a while:

Imperial War Museum Lambeth

Wallace Collection

Updated - now done !

a cafe that i've been meaning to visit

30 October 2016

short trip to Åre

I wrote a while ago about trying to arrange a trip to Sweden to ski ... without any direct flights, it wasn't easy to arrange, and so I never went !

Now that Easyjet have announced a weekly flight on a Sunday from LGW to OSD (which is about 80km from the ski area), it should make the trip more feasible.

The EZY flight departs LGW at 07:00, arriving OSD at 10:50 - and then departing at 11:10, arriving back into LGW at 12:55

The LGW-OSD price during March is between 42 gpb and 75 gbp for a single.

The OSD-LGW price during March is 27.50 gbp (26th), 33.50 gbp (19th) or 55 gbp (12th)

Getting to OSD on connecting flights from London takes a while - using SAS flights connecting in Stockholm, you could depart LHR at 10:35 and arrive OSD at 16:35 with a very safe 4 hour margin in ARN.  Prices in March are about 88 gbp single.

It would be possible to get a shared transfer for these flights for 295 SEK each way per person (approx 27 gbp each way).

The same company also does shared transfers from Trondheim - at 13:15 and 17:15 on a Thursday (and further times on a Sunday) - but sadly the only direct flight from London to TRD arrives into TRD at 23:35 on a Thursday.  The cost is 390 SEK per person each way.

However, there's a direct flight from TRD to LGW departing at 18:00 which would require getting the 13:30 bus from the ski resort (arriving at the airport around 16:00) - but it would be another option.

Another option would be to fly from London to Stockholm on Wednesday evening - so able to do a full day's work, and then travel up to Åre on Thursday morning.  This might work better, as it appears the standard "handover" days in Åre are Thursday and Sunday.  Flights are generally available for 52 gbp from LGW to ARN with Norwegian.

Flights from ARN to OSD are generally available for 54 gbp - with 5 flights a day from SAS and more from BRA (which are slightly more expensive).

Another option is the overnight train from Stockholm - a seat would cost 595 SEK and a berth would cost 746 SEK (68 gbp).  The day time train takes about 7 hours and costs anything from 195 SEK, with a more typical price being 365 SEK (33 gbp).  Prices are only currently available on the Swedish Rail website until 19th March - presumably because it's too far in advance.

As far as accommodation - it looks like there are basic self catering apartment/studios available near the main town for 268 eur for Thu-Sun - which sleep 2 or 3 people.

in summary

Wed 22nd eve LGW-ARN  52 gbp
Wed 22nd overnight train to Åre with cabin 68 gbp
Thu 23rd train to ski area 10 gbp
3 nights accomm 120 gbp (two people sharing the cheap accommodation)
3 days ski pass 114 gbp
3 days ski / boot hire 85 gbp
Sun 26th transfer to OSD airport 27 gbp
Sun 26th OSD-LGW  17.50 gbp

Total 493.50 plus transfer to and from LGW

29 October 2016

Ryanair seat allocation order

If you don't enjoy paying extra to select a seat on your Ryanair flight, and you have some time available ... you can use the allocation order that Low Cost Routes blog has worked out, to select a seat that you want.

It's worth reading the whole page - but the crucial point is that rows get allocated in the order:

33, 20, 19, 22, 15, 24, 12, 26, 10, 28, 8, 30, 18, 21, 14, 23, 11, 25, 9, 27, 29, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 (or 1,2, not sure), 17, 16, 31, 32

You can even watch a video showing how one flight got allocated, as an example.

I've used this order many times to avoid seats that I didn't want - it does take up quite a bit of time, as you have to keep checking the Ryanair website. Sometimes you miss out on the seat that you actually want - but I've always managed to avoid a nasty middle seat.

You can also use it just before online checkin closes to work out if a neighbouring row is likely to be empty !

25 September 2016

Updated: Countries and Cities to visit ...

Cape Verde islands - stay a bit longer this time
Ethiopia - including the mountains
Libya - Roman ruins, and desert
Madagascar - lemurs permitting
Namibia - including Okavango Delta
Zimbabwe - including Victoria Falls

Brazil - Rio including Fasano hotel infinity pool, Niteroi art gallery, grilled steak at Rubaiyat restaurant; Amazon
Canada - including polar bears
Costa Rica
Cuba - including Havana and Vinales
Equador - Galapagos
Mexico - Mayan stuff around Cancun
Panama - including canal
Peru - Inca Trail / Machu Pichu
USA - including Washington DC (done!), Grand Canyon, Boston - including Opera House, Chicago - including Frank Lloyd Wright buildings (such as Fallingwater), Denali NP, Total Solar Eclipse Aug-17
Venezuela - maybe a tepui

The Peninsula - done!
South Georgia - done!

Georgia - including the soviet architecture in Tbilisi
Indonesia - including Borneo
Iran - including Isfahan and Persepolis, Tehran - including Contemporary Art Gallery
Lebanon - including skiing
Kuwait - to fill in the gaps
South Korea
Sri Lanka - including blue whales
Syria - if there's anything left
Turkey - Istanbul

Australia - Tasmania, Western, Central and Northern, GBR
New Zealand - all

Aland Islands - done !
Austria - Vienna - including Opera
BelgiumAntwerp - including 5 Continents house
Croatia - including Zagreb
Cyprus - including border area and countryside
Denmark - Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen
Finland - the lakes, the north
France - Corsica; the bridge in the sky; Matisse chapel at Vence; LilleChateau de Chambord - for the double helix staircase; Versailles - including the Royal Opera; Nice - including Opera; Paris - L'Acajou restaurant, Jazz Club; Roubaix - including La Piscine museum; Ronchamp - Le Corbusier's chapel of Notre Dame du Haut; Chamonix - nice looking hotel; Noirmoutier including Plages des Dames - and nearby islands
GermanyProra and Dessau and Hamburg (for the funny tunnel, and miniature airport)
Gibraltar - airport and back walk up rock (done!)
Greece - Athens, Mount Athos, island hopping
Ireland - Cork - including butter museum, harbour tour, Titanic Experience, Crawford gallery
Italy - Sicilian volcanos, Sardinia, Tuscany including Montepulciano, Naples, Verona, La Scala in Milano, Como - La baia di Moltrasio bar and restaurant (try fish with Riso in Cagnone) - terrace in summer, Florence - Vasari Corridor will soon be open, Room of Paradise at the recently reopened Museo dell'Opera del Duomo; Calcata town; Castel Gandolfo (train from within Vatican) - must be booked in advance
Netherlands - Amsterdam Modern Art Gallery and other galleries, a concert at Concertgebouw, Panorama Mesdag in The Hague, Delft, Leiden, Het Loo palace
Poland - medieval cities (Krakow done!)
Portugal - including Oporto
Romania - rural parts (sort of done). Crazy road.
Serbia - Belgrade
Spain - including the Moorish bits, Grand Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona
Slovenia - try skiing
Svalbard - although a recent report suggested it was dull
Sweden - Stockholm always worth another visit
Ukraine - Kiev
UK - Falkirk Wheel, Cramond island, Ironbridge, Ludlow in Shropshire, Norwich for Europe's largest medieval street plan, Chatsworth House ...

16 February 2016

London to St Anton

I'm looking to get to St Anton on Saturday 20th February ... there are loads of different options from London ... so I ended up putting together a spreadsheet to work out the different total costs - including the various different baggage fees from different airlines, and the different rail costs from different airports.  Below are the cheapest flights I could find, ignoring the 7am departures !

I ended up booking this flight to Innsbruck - it has the shortest transfer time - so hopefully I will be able to go and pick up my skis and boots from the hire shop in St Anton on Saturday evening.  The trip from Innsbruck airport into town by bus is quite straightforward ... and with a direct train from the main station at 17:15, i could get a taxi into town if the connection was getting tight.

Dep LGW 13:25
Arr INN 16:25
Flight 76 gbp
Bag 18 gbp
Airport - HBf 2.7 eur
Inn HBf - StAaA 21 eur
Train time 1.5 hrs
Total 112 gbp

Whilst the option of going to Salzburg was a bit cheaper - the airport is a bit of a mosh pit at weekends during the winter, and i wouldn't get into St Anton until after the ski shops had closed.  And the amount Monarch charge for a bag in the hold is just crazy.

Dep LGW 14:15
Arr SZG 17:20
Flight 33 gbp
Bag 23.75 gbp
SZG - StAaA 53.6 eur
Train time 3 hrs
Total 99 gbp

The Friedrichshafen option was quite attractive - but it would mean an earlier start in the morning, and some of the train connections were a bit tight (although there were plenty more trains, it would just take a bit longer).

dep LGW 11:00
arr FDH 13:45
Flight 52 gbp
Bag 18 gbp
FDH - StAaA 31 eur
Train time 2.5 hrs; 3 changes
Total 94 gbp

I've never flown to or from Memmingen airport ... but it just sounded like too much effort on this occasion (including a not overly frequent bus service from the airport to the train station) ... even though the fare is very good.

dep STN 11:45
arr FMM 14:30
Flight 33 gbp
Bag - guess 15 gbp
FMM - HBf 3 eur
Memm - StAaA 48 eur
Train time 4 hrs
Total 88 gbp

I really like Zurich airport, and the fact that mainline trains depart from underneath the airport - but the fare just wasn't competitive.

dep LHR 15:40
arr ZRH 20:05
Flight 86 gbp
Bag 20 gbp
ZRH - StAaA 54 eur
Train time 2.75 hrs
Total 148 gbp

I also looked at prices to Munich - but sadly the cheap Lufthansa flights arrived to late to make the last train to St Anton.

Flights to Geneva weren't particularly cheap, and the train costs around 120 euro each way - so the totals weren't competitive.

26 January 2016

Dublin to Ischgl for a few days skiing

Ischgl isn't the easiest of places to get to from Dublin ... there aren't (m)any direct flights from Dublin to Innsbruck (the nearest) airport to Ischgl ... so the journey is a bit longer ...

The other complication is that Swiss (the airline) seem to have gone back to the dark ages with their pricing ... single flights are exorbitant ... so if there isn't a flight in one of the directions on one of the days that you want - you're screwed !

Aiming to fly out of Dublin on Tuesday 2nd February ...

Dep Dublin 16:15
Arr Zurich 19:25
price 79 eur plug baggage (EI)

Dep Zurich Flughafen 20:18
Arr Landeck Zams bahnhof 23:42
price approx 60 eur

Taxi to Ischgl
price ?

Another option is to fly to Innsbruck on a connecting flight ... with plenty of time to check in again in LGW

Dep Dublin 07:35
Arr LGW 09:10
price 23.40 eur plus baggage (FR)

Dep LGW 11:30
Arr INN 14:30
price 68 eur plug baggage (EZY)

Bus F from the Flughafen terminal to the Hauptbahnhof takes less than 20 mins and departs every 15 mins
price 2.7 eur

Dep Innsbruck Hbf 15:57 17:01
Arr Landeck-Zams 16:58 17:57
Dep Landeck-Zams 17:05 18:05
Arr Ischgl 17:58 18:58

Price 16.1 eur for the train (postbus not bookable online - fare approx 10 eur)

A further option is to fly to Salzburg - one advantage of this routing is sold as a connecting flight by BA (although DUB-LGW is operated by EI) - so if you miss the connection in LGW, it's up to BA to find you a new one !

Dep Dublin 07:00
Arr LGW 08:25
Dep LGW 10:05
Arr Salzburg 13:05
price 157 eur including baggage

Dep Salzburg Flughafen 14:25 15:25
Arr Salzburg Hbf 14:47 15:47
Dep Salzburg Hbf 15:00 15:56
Arr Landeck-Zams 17:39 18:30
Dep Landeck-Zams 18:05 19:05
Arr Ischgl 18:58 19:58

Price 53.6 eur


Ischgl has a reasonable amount of accommodation bookable through the town's website - with B&Bs in the town (rather than in Mathon which is 5km away) from about 55 eur per person per night sharing.  Ganahl is showing availability on the website - others may be available offline by email the tourist office.

Return flight

Need to get back into Dublin around lunchtime on Sunday 7th February ... so looking at options that give a full day skiing on Saturday 6th ...

None of the airports have late flights on Saturday to Dublin - so starting off looking at late flights to London (so could fly to Dublin on Sunday morning) ...

The last (sensibly priced) flight out on Saturday evening departs at 17:15 - so that's not much good

There's a 19:45 flight on Saturday evening from to London for just 37 eur - but you'd have to leave Ischgl by 2pm in order to make it

The 20:50 departure to LHR is 148 eur - that would mean leaving around 3pm

The last flight from to London on Saturday night is soon after 7pm - so that's not much use

Looking at travelling to direct to Dublin on Sunday morning - so spending Saturday night near the airport ...

dep Ischgl 17:58 (or 15:58) and arr Munich 22:21 (or 21:15) for 39 eur (no price showing for earlier timings)
dep Munich Sunday at 11:05 and arr Dublin 12:45 for 106 eur plus baggage (EI)
or Sunday evening departure at 20:10 (arr Dub 21:50) for 100 eur plus baggage (EI)

EI direct flight departing at 8pm (arr Dub at 21:25) for 102 eur
or connecting BA flight departing at 7am (arr Dub at 12:20) for 150 eur

No direct flights
connecting FR/EZY flights departing at 10:45 (arr Dub 15:35) for 150 eur with 2:35 in Luton to transfer / check in

No direct flights
connecting FR flights departing at 10:30 (arr Dub 15:05) for 99 eur with 2:05 in Stansted to transfer / check in

Looking at travelling to London on Sunday evening

8pm departure for 86 eur plus bag (EZY) or 9.15pm departure for 100 eur - but doesn't work with connections
to make the 8pm departure - would need to leave Ischgl around 2pm

9.25pm departure for 171 eur plus bag (EZY)
departing Ischgl soon after 3pm would get you to the airport by 7.45pm

sadly the last flight to london is at 5.40pm (for a crazy 473 eur) and the 3.10pm flight (for a still hefty 219 eur) isn't very helpful

the last flight to london is at 5.05pm for 157 eur with BA
departing Ischgl soon after 10am would get you to the airport for 2.30pm - trains only every 2 hours

23 January 2016

prices to Longyearben - a further update

flights with Norwegian:

Oslo - LYR
Mon 25th Jan 139.6
Wed 27th Jan no flight
Fri 29th Jan full
Mon 1st Feb 214.8
Wed 3rd Feb 96.6
Fri 5th Feb 96.6
Mon 8th Feb 150.3
Wed 10th Feb 64.4
Fri 12th Feb 204.1
Mon 15th Feb 150.3
Wed 17th Feb 64.4
Fri 19th Feb 419.0

LYR-Oslo LYR-LGW Extra
Mon 25th Jan 311.5 441.6 130.1
Wed 27th Jan no flight
Fri 29th Jan 53.6 151.5 97.9
Mon 1st Feb 128.8 194.4 65.6
Wed 3rd Feb 53.6 108.5 54.9
Fri 5th Feb 53.6 140.7 87.1
Mon 8th Feb 204.1 248.2 44.1
Wed 10th Feb 53.6 97.7 44.1
Fri 12th Feb 150.3 280.4 130.1
Mon 15th Feb 96.6 140.7 44.1
Wed 17th Feb 85.8 151.4 65.6
Fri 19th Feb 139.6 312.7 173.1

flights with SAS:

Oslo - LYR
Mon 25th Jan 253.9
Tue 26th Jan 253.9
Thu 28th Jan
Sun 31st Jan 310.9
Mon 1st Feb 310.9
Wed 3rd Feb 119.9
Thu 4th Feb 310.9
Fri 5th Feb 243.9
Sun 7th Feb 201.9
Mon 8th Feb 253.9
Tue 9th Feb 160.9
Wed 10th Feb 103.8
Thu 11th Feb 253.9
Fri 12th Feb 253.9
Sun 14th Feb 201.9
Mon 15th Feb 253.9
Tue 16th Feb 253.9
Wed 17th Feb 103.8
Thu 18th Feb 253.9
Fri 19th Feb 253.9

LYR-Oslo LYR-LON Extra
Mon 25th Jan 269.5 231.5 -38
Tue 26th Jan 290.6 542.2 251.6
Wed 27th Jan no flight
Thu 28th Jan 156.6 479.2 322.6
Fri 29th Jan 155.5 n/a
Sun 31st Jan 238.6 386.2 147.6
Mon 1st Feb 155.5 210.2 54.7
Tue 2nd Feb 156.6 179.5 22.9
Wed 3rd Feb 155.5 386.2 230.7
Thu 4th Feb 218.6 386.2 167.6
Fri 5th Feb 135.5 210.1 74.6
Mon 8th Feb 347.6 438.2 90.6
Tue 9th Feb 156.6 386.2 229.6
Wed 10th Feb 155.5 386.2 230.7
Thu 11th Feb 176.6 303.2 126.6
Fri 12th Feb 135.5 188.1 52.6
Sun 14th Feb 156.6 231.2 74.6
Mon 15th Feb 155.5 210.2 54.7
Tue 16th Feb 156.6 210.2 53.6
Wed 17th Feb 119.4 303.2 183.8
Thu 18th Feb 137.4 303.2 165.8
Fri 19th Feb 135.5 210.1 74.6
Sun 21st Feb 238.6 479.2 240.6

flights from London (any airport) to Oslo (any airport) at any time ... and Oslo Gardemoen to London (any airport) in the airport (not very scientific - so some may be too early to connect with flight from LYR):

Lon-Osl OSL-Lon
Mon 25th Jan 44 130
Tues 26th Jan 44 130
Wed 27th Jan 32 76
Thu 28th Jan 14 102
Fri 29th Jan 37 76
Sat 30th Jan 37 130
Sun 31st Jan 61 72
Mon 1st Feb 14 52
Tue 2nd Feb 14 52
Wed 3rd Feb 14 33
Thu 4th Feb 14 52
Fri 5th Feb 20 33
Sat 6th Feb 14 56
Sun 7th Feb 22 31
Mon 8th Feb 14 31
Tue 9th Feb 14 31
Wed 10th Feb 14 31
Thu 11th Feb 29 33
Fri 12th Feb 55 56
Sat 13th Feb 66 76
Sun 14th Feb 66 31

Option A
Tue 2nd Feb - London - Oslo - 14 eur
Wed 3rd Feb - Oslo - LYR - 96.6 eur
Fri 5th Feb - LYR - Oslo - 53.6 eur
Fri 5th Feb - Oslo - London - 41 eur
Total Flights - 205.2 eur

Option B
Thu 4th Feb - London - Oslo - 14 eur
Fri 5th Feb - Oslo - LYR - 96.6 eur
Mon 8th Feb - LYR - OSL - LGW - 248.2 eur
Total Flights - 358.8

Option C
Sun 7th Feb - London - Oslo - 22 eur
Mon 8th Feb - Oslo - LYR - 150.3 eur
Wed 10th Feb - LYR - OSL - LGW - 97.7 eur
Total Flights - 270 eur

Option D
Tue 9th Feb - London - Oslo - 14 eur
Wed 10th Feb - Oslo - LYR - 64.4 eur
Fri 12th Feb - LYR - Oslo - 150.3 eur
Fri 12th Feb - Oslo - London - 56 eur
Total Flights - 284.7 eur