What’s hot: June 2019

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Just About Travel tells you what’s hot (and what’s not) in the travel world right now


Pee for free at London stations

will we ever see 24 hour running?

Good news: there’s no longer any need to spend a penny to spend a penny at any of London’s major railway stations. Network Rail have now stopped charging passengers at London Bridge, Charing Cross, Victoria, Waterloo, Euston, King’s Cross and Liverpool Street (where there was a draconian 30p charge) as part of its ‘passenger first’ programme which will also see the introduction of water fountains at most of its stations and more seating.

However not all stations have followed suit… those caught short when passing through Marylebone and Blackfriars stations for example, will still have to pay to use the toilets as these stations aren’t run by Network Rail.

Plastic free skies

Qantas is reducing its dependence on plastic

Qantas has joined a number of airlines making an effort to cut back on plastic by launching its first commercial service using only products that can be composted recycled or reused meaning out plastic cutlery, packaging and headrest covers are mercifully a thing of the past.

The Australian airline has pledged to cut 100 million items of single-use plastic by 2021.

Last year Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines and Delta unanimously agreed to reduce single-use plastics on flights, while Portugal’s HiFly is aiming to banish disposable plastics by the end of 2019.

Madrid madness

Piazza Mayor Terraza in Madrid

If you’ve made it to Madrid today to watch Tottenham HotSpurs take on Liverpool in the Champions League final, chances are your bank manager won’t be too happy.

After the two English teams made it through to the final  – against all odds – of the Europe Cup, euphoric fans logged onto airline websites only to find that the price of a ticket to the Spanish capital had surged to more than £1,000 on the weekend of the big match on both direct and non direct routes. Ouch.

Even worse? A week after the football show has finished, return flights to Madrid with British Airways and its sister airline, Iberia, cost as little as £83.

Accessing Machu Picchu

Magical Machu Picchu

The iconic Inca city of Machu Picchu is unquestionably one of the most iconic tourist spots on the planet with more than one million travellers making a pilgrimage to this corner of Peru, each year.

However given it’s tricky location – at 8,000 feet up a mountain via a challenging trek – has meant that Machu Picchu has always been out of reach to travellers with disabilities.

But just because it was, doesn’t mean it is… Enter Wheel The World, an accessibility-orientated travel company which uses specialist wheelchairs and tour guides to reach remote places, who are helping to make reaching Machu Picchu that bit more easier.

Boycotting Brunei

STA Travel – the world’s largest student and youth travel agency – is the latest organisation to announce a boycott of Brunei because despite the country’s claim that it will not impose the death penalty on those convicted of having gay sex, homosexuality is still criminalised.

An STA spokesperson explained the company’s decision thus: “We’re proud of our open and diverse culture and we expect our partners to demonstrate the same. We do not support in any way the laws being introduced in Brunei (including on Brunei-registered aircraft and vessels). Because of this we have stopped selling Royal Brunei Airlines flights.

Anybody who bought Royal Brunei Airlines tickets through STA Travel and who no longer wants to use them can claim a refund, and we will help those customers to make alternative travel arrangements.

We’ve taken this stance to add our voice to the calls on Brunei to reverse this change in the law and in support of LGBTQI people everywhere.”

Carry on cruising

The Riviera – Image © Oceania Cruises, Inc

Calling all cruise enthusiasts. A new cruise online-only booking engine called Supercruises has launched providing a new and simple way for passengers to book their next cruise experience.

Holiday makers can browse from 11,000 different global cruise packages featuring 14 of the world’s largest cruise lines – including P&O Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean- in 30 global regions and covering over 1000 ports.
For the full low-down, visit www.supercruises.com

Spending the summer in Athens and Vienna

the Acropolis at night
The Acropolis in Athens

With British holidaymakers preparing to book their summer holidays this year, London Stansted Airport has revealed the cities and countries that have seen the largest percentage growth in its passenger numbers – travelling to the destination from the airport – over the last five years.

Step forward Athens. Once overlooked by the likes of Paris, Rome and Barcelona, the Greek capital has seen a 77 per cent increase in passenger numbers flying to the destination since 2013.

Elsewhere destinations such as Vienna in Austria (77 per cent) and Lisbon in Portugal (76  per cent) are also on the up, according to the research.

Meanwhile in the Middle East, Dubai (40 per cent) has risen in popularity among holidaymakers due to the demand for more luxurious experiences and will continue to do so into 2019 with an increasing demand for long-haul travel.


Sri Lanka ‘safe’ again


Maithripala Sirisena, the Sri Lankan president, has claimed that the emreald isle is safe for tourists following the Easter Sunday bombings which police are blaming on two Islamic groups. “‘The country is in a safe position right now” said Sirisensa.

However the The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) continues to advise against “all but essential travel to Sri Lanka, due to the current evolving security situation following attacks on 21 April 2019” but says the advice does not apply to anyone transiting through Colombo airport “providing that passengers remain airside in the airport”.

Our advice? While the FCO’s guidance is a tad excessive and damaging to tourism, the chance of another attack can’t be ruled out so proceed with caution.

Flight attendants

Flight attendants are being exposed to shocking levels of verbal, physical and sexual abuse from self-medicated and inebriated passengers, according to new research from Direct Line Travel Insurance.  Almost half (46 per cent) of cabin crew say they have been verbally insulted by a passenger under the influence of medication, such as prescription painkillers, in the last 12 months alone, with 38 per cent suffering physical abuse. Flight attendants also report being sexually harassed while on duty (seven per cent) by passengers high on medication.

Drunken and disruptive behaviour on an aircraft can result in fines of up to £5,000 and two years in prison.

New Zealand

map of New Zealand
New Zealand

British tourists travelling to New Zealand  will have to pay for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) from October 1.

The travel advisory was issued by the Foreign Office on May 16 stating that UK nationals entering New Zealand by air or cruise “will need to hold an ETA before travelling to New Zealand.”

Applications will open from next month and will costs £4.60 (NZ$9) for mobile applications and £6.10 ((NZ$12) for web applications. The ETA will be linked to passports and will be valid for two years (unless the passport expires before then).

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