Video Saturday – Emirates 50th Airbus A380

It’s Saturday again, so it must be time for another video.

This week, the Emirates Airbus A380 fleet grows to fifty aircraft, cementing the airlines position as the lead carrier to operate the type around its world-wide network

Emirates operate 50 Airbus A380s out of the total worldwide fleet of 138 aircraft, and by far and away the largest carrier, with the second carrier behind it operating the type is Singapore Airlines with 19 aircraft, followed by Lufthansa and Qantas with 12 aircraft each.

This won’t the last A380 that the airline will operates – with Emirates having a total of 140 Airbus A380s on order in total, and 90 further aircraft expected.


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British Airways increases booking fee, introduces hold charges

Fees are one of those things that either seem to increase or multiply. British Airways is doing both it seems.

First up is the annoyance of the credit card surcharge, which applies to bookings paid with a UK billed:

  • Visa Credit Card
  • MasterCard Credit Card
  • American Express Credit and Charge Card (Including BA’s own Amex Card)
  • PayPal Account

The fee goes up from £4.50 per passenger to £5.00 per passenger per booking. This does not apply if you’re paying by debit card (but you loose the Section 75 Consumer Credit Card protections)

And it’s showing as your get to the payment section of the BA site:

British Airways credit card booking fee
British Airways Credit Surcharge on the payment page, showing the charges

A new feature also on the British Airways site is the option to hold prices for 72 hours.

For a reservation charge of £5/€5 per person on short haul flights, and £10/€10 per person on a long haul flight you can now hold a fare for 72 hours.

British Airways Hold Flight

When the fare lock is paid, the fare won’t go up for 72 hours, and the price is guaranteed not to go up. Prices can go down though, and the fare will reduce. There are restrictions on the fare lock, with the following countries on both BA and Iberia flights:

BA Fare Lock destinations

For those who need extra time to book it can be useful. If you do go through with the booking, your hold fee is refunded.

Still.. more charges are never welcome. These are avoidable in some ways, but if you want to put your fare on a credit card (and be stung for a booking fee), or hold it and not take the ticket, it’s going to cost you a bit more from now onwards….


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Also remember that as well as being part of BoardingArea, we’re also part of BoardingArea.eu, delivering frequent flyer news, miles and points to European readers!

 

Heathrow Express Suspended this weekend

For those who are coming into the United Kingdom via Heathrow Airport, and want to get to London, you have the choice of the fast train (Heathrow Express), the slower train (Heathrow Connect) and the London Underground (very slow, but gets you there) to speed you the city.

The Heathrow Express area of Paddington Station - Image GhettoIFE.
The Heathrow Express area of Paddington Station – Image GhettoIFE.

Heathrow Express train departing Heathrow Terminal 1-2-3, Image GhettoIFE
Heathrow Express train departing Heathrow Terminal 1-2-3, Image GhettoIFE

However, this coming Bank Holiday Weekend in England and Wales, there will one less option to get to London Heathrow on Saturday 23rd August and the Morning of Sunday 24th August, as Heathrow Express services are suspended.

The suspension will affect:

  • Heathrow Express services all day Saturday 23rd August and the Morning of 24th August
  • Heathrow Connect will only operate between London Paddington and Hayes and Harlington
  • Inter-terminal trains will be suspended from 15:50 on Saturday 23rd August
  • Heathrow Express services commence from London Paddington at  12:25, from Heathrow at 12:2
  • Intra-terminal services will operate every 15 minutes on Sunday

If you’re affected, there’s three routes open to you

  • Bus 140 to/from the Heathrow Central Bus Station to Hayes and Harlington, with a connecting Heathrow Connect train
  • London Underground direct to London.
  • Coach from Victoria Coach station

Engineering work is one of those requirements of the rail network, when people need to travel during a Bank Holiday weekend (and there is a lot going on over this one – see National Rail Enquiries for an overview of what’s shut this weekend)

Either way – allow extra time this weekend if you need to get to and from Heathrow Airport.


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ESTA’s – Remeber to renew yours if heading to the USA!

For those of us not in the USA, but in US Visa waiver countries, a US ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is required to be completed before you travel.

The process itself isn’t difficult to complete, but does require renewal every two years. Thankfully, if you registered an email address when you registered previously, you’ll get a warning email that your ESTA will expire… but in the most simplistic form:

ESTA Renewal notice
Redacted Expiration Warning.

The text goes like this:

ATTENTION! The travel authorization submitted on <redacted date> via ESTA will expire within the next 30 days. It is not possible to extend or renew a current ESTA travel authorization. You will need to apply for a new ESTA travel authorization. Please reapply at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov if travel to the United States is intended in the near future. If there are 30 or more days left on the old authorization you will receive a warning message during the application and be asked if you wish to proceed.

E-mail Security: If you are concerned about clicking the above link, ESTA can be accessed by typing https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov in the address bar of your browser.

Whilst the email itself is very simple (and in some respects does look like a phishing email), the advice at the bottom of the email to type the web address is reasonable, to take you to the US Department of Homeland Security ESTA web site for complete the application.

ESTA Screenshot - https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov

And pay the $14 fee ($10 for the fee, $4 for processing) for your ESTA to be approved.

This is available for 38 countries in the US Visa waiver programme – a list is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_System_for_Travel_Authorization.

Frequent travellers note that this needs to renewed or applied for 72 hours before departure -  and ideally a lot further before. You can also check the state of applications that are pending, or the validity of your current wavier at the site.

However, even years after the introduction of ESTA, there are still “scams” and “assistance services” to complete your form and charge you more for the privilege of completing the process (which you can do yourself, and takes a total of 10 minutes). So do yourself a favour (protecting 1) your wallet and 2) your identity) by heading to the official site at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/

Still, it’s another $14 for a Visa that’s not a Visa. At least the price hasn’t shot up since 2010…


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Trying to stow away at Birmingham Airport isn’t a great idea

I’ve got to admit, I do have some time for my local airport – Birmingham Airport, even though I don’t frequent it as often as I should.

Birmingham Airport at Night - Image GhettoIFE

Birmingham Airport at Night - Image GhettoIFE
Birmingham Airport at Night – Image GhettoIFE

It’s network whilst focusing on Low Cost Carriers and European Carriers (connecting traffic onto the hubs of Paris CDG, Amsterdam and Frankfurt), with a reasonable Star Alliance presence makes it a good regional jumping off point.

However, it does attract its fair share of oddities… such as a drunken man boarding an empty Lufthansa plane and breaching security at Birmingham Airport by climbing through a baggage carousel, on 17 July.

 

The person in question – Lee Jezard – as well as breaching airport security, also stole £36.45 worth of food at the airport branch of Cafe Nero.

When discovered aboard a Lufthansa flagged Embraer 195 by cleaning staff, and initially told them “I’m the co-pilot”.

It doesn’t get much better.

It seems Mr Jezard maybe had one too many drinks that night he breached security with very little idea how he arrived at the airport.

It is a bit of a comedy, but there are questions why Birmingham Airport security did not respond, with the airport conducting a full investigation into the incident.

Birmingham Magistrates fined Mr Jezard £95 for each of the three offences, along with the £36.45 from Cafe Nero, £185 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.

The story is at The Guardian and The BBC.

But if you’re partying in Broad Street, The Chinese Quarter, or anywhere in Birmingham… control your alcohol. Last thing you want is to end up at the wrong side of Birmingham Airport…


Want to keep up with me at GhettoIFE? Join me either by signing up for my newsletter, or follow me on Twitter @GhettoIFE for when there are posts to the blog!

Also remember that as well as being part of BoardingArea, we’re also part of BoardingArea.eu, delivering frequent flyer news, miles and points to European readers!