Showing posts from May, 2009

Distrust of the Italian Airlines leads to growth on the track

In December 2008 a third more travellers were reported using the super new train service of Italy affectionately called "The Frecciarossa" which commutes between the mega cities of Rome and Milan. 

Clearly the Italian Railway is launching a competitive challenge to Alitalia, Air One and the Budget Airlines that frequent the skies of Italy. 

As I travel around Italy frequently, it comes as no surprise to me that would be travellers are seeking reliable and comfortable alternatives. All too often passengers are treated with contempt in Italy or treated as an inconvenience at the airport. The lost luggage situation and luggage handler pilfering of items in transit is notoriously bad in Italy and I recommend all travellers to try and avoid checking-in luggage. This would be true for neighbouring France also. 

Concerning the positive development of the Frecciarrossa (meaning Red Arrow) and its clean streamlined high-speed service that covers the 600KM journey from Milan to Rome in j…

Increased rights for EU passengers

Undoubtedly the EU is taking a Global lead in protecting Air Passenger rights, which at Perpetual Traveller we whole heartily approve of. Its only a shame that IATA (the air transport association) and IAPA (internationa air passengers association) do not do more to support such measures on a global scale. 

Thanks to EU intervention, a technical fault with the engine on a plane is no longer considered to be an exceptional circumstance, according to a ruling from the European Court of Justice. 

As a direct result, airlines are now obliged to compensate passengers if a flight is cancelled due to that old addage "a technical problem". 

The only exceptional circumstances, that are now considered according to the European Court of Justice, are the following... 

- Acts of terror 
- Sabotage 
- Manufacturing faults on the plane 

Subsequently, technical delays could now give you a financial boost for the hassle! 

Grant Holmes 
Perpetual Traveller

Airlines gearing up for heavy losses

Mark my words, the situation in the Airline Industry is nothing short of a financial disaster! 

To illustrate, IATA (International Air Transport Association) is reported to state that it expects losses to the tune of 5 billion USD worldwide in 2009. 

The head of IATA Giovanni Bisignani said "The Industry is curreny facing its worst conditions for 50 years". 

It sewems that although the price of oil recenty dropped notably, the sector is suffering from a massive decline in passenger numbers, both business and private. 

The airlines in best position to survive this downturn are the stronger Budget Airlines such as Easyjet. 

Let's hope that the Industry takes a long introspective look at itself and starts to increase the quality of services again, with more options balanced with price. 

Grant Holmes 
Perpetual Traveller

Eurostar links UK with Switzerland

Eurostar high speed rail service has introduced through fares for as many as 18 Swiss cities.

The development was made possible as the Company teamed up with Lyria, which operates high speed trains between France and Switzerland, to provide passengers with 1 complete ticket for the entire journey.  

The key Swiss cities covered by the deal are Geneva, Lausanne, Zurich, Basel and Bern and the speediest journey involved are 6 hours 28 minutes to Geneva, 6 hours 19 minutes to Basel and 6 hours 50 minutes to Lausanne. The trips to Zurich and Bern both take more than 7 hours in total. 

Would be passengers will need to transfer from the Gare du Nord, where Eurostar arrives in Paris, to other main stations in the city. Return fares start from under £100, which is generally more than the Budget Airlines are charging, however potentially more convenient and hassle free. 

Eurostar’s Director of Communications Simon Montague said: “We are always looking at ways to facilitate greener travel throughou…


Wistfulness for ancient times and desire for progress, battlemented forts and modern architecture, Bedouin villages and creative designer hotels, Islamic culture and equal opportunities. Welcome to Oman, on the extreme south-eastern end of the Arabian peninsula, one of the most fashionable destinations of the moment. From years of being shrouded in total obscurantism, the country has been brought into the future by the hand of an enlightened sultan, Qaboos bin Said, who has given the country a major economic and social impetus by developing an exclusive tourism industry to replace (well, mostly) the revenues that were brought in up to now by oil. 
The first port of call is Muscat, once a stop on the trade route from Zanzibar to India and China, so near and yet so far from Dubai. Here, for at least an hour, you can forget palm-tree peninsulas, high-tech glittering skyscrapers and real estate megaprojects. In the city, which is formed by three central suburbs—Old Muscat, Mutrah and Ruwi—…


SummaryThere is an underlying threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

The main types of incidents for which British nationals required consular assistance in Bulgaria in 2007 involved petty crime and, replacing lost or stolen passports. You should be aware of young pickpockets in city centres and tourist resorts especially in crowded areas e.g. buses, trains and busy streets. Keep valuable belongings in a hotel safe where possible. If you need to contact the emergency services in Bulgaria call 112.

You should carry a copy of the information pages of your passport at all times as proof of identity.

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.Local Travel 

Most cities and larger towns have cheap and extensive public transport. There are regular…

Bosnia and Herzegovina

SummaryThere is an underlying threat from terrorism in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

Tensions between ethnic and religious groups occasionally result in demonstrations. Since Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia in February 2008 there have been a number of demonstrations in various locations across the Republika Srpska, some have targeted Western interests. There also continues to be a risk of further, smaller demonstrations. You should remain vigilant and avoid large crowds and demonstrations.

Unexploded landmines remain a real danger, particularly in isolated areas in the mountains and countryside. You should therefore be careful not to stray from roads and paved areas without an experienced guide. See the Local Travel section of this advice for more details.

An increasing number of British tourists visit Bosnia and Herzegovina each year. Most visits are trouble-free. The …

Weather Forces Shuttle Landing in California

More bad weather across Florida forced NASA to land the space shuttle Atlantis at Edwards Air Force Base in California this morning (5/24).Read more
By Planet Data

TSA Cancels Use of Airport "Puffer" Machines

United States — In a blog post Thursday (5/22), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced it is phasing out the use of "puffer" machines used to screen passengers for trace amounts of explosives.
The TSA says it finds the devices, officially known as Explosive Trace Portals (ETPs), "do not meet the requirements for operational suitability due to frequent maintenance issues." Airports that have ETPs will continue to use them for now, but apparently no new devices will be procured.Read more
By Planet Data

Perpetual Travellers “Top June Events”

Genoa Italy 30 May - 1 Jun “A Thousand Sails”

La Regatta delle Antiche Repubbliche Marinare - (A Thousand Sails) is held every four years in the fascinating city of Genoa, this historic boat race and procession has been staged since 1956. As well as costumes and spectacular boats, there are scenes from medieval history and a race between teams of contestants from the ancient maritime cities of Genoa, Pisa, Venice and Amalfi. More specifically this traditional regatta is held in the bay of Genoa's Porto Antico.
Further information: St Petersburg, Russia: White Nights Festival 15TH May - 5th July  
The White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia is an annual international cultural event. The White Nights Festival consists of a series of classical ballet, opera and music events and includes performances by Russian dancers, singers, musicians and actors, as well as famous international guest stars. The Scarlet Sails celebration is the culmination of the White Night…


With your eyes pointed skywards, an unusual journey to some of the most evocative sacred locations in the city.As we all know, Rome is a city that evokes strong emotions. Like those we feel when standing in front of the Coliseum, with its long history, or visiting the Vatican Museums, those mines of priceless treasures, or the Capitol, an architectural gem designed by the great Michelangelo: a journey along a sacred and privileged route within the Eternal City. Having visited the Lateran zone and the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the oldest of the Roman churches, with masterpieces such as the Sacred Altar which reputedly has pieces of the table used by Christ at the Last Supper, the next stop is the “Sancta Sanctorum” papal chapel. Opened to Costa guests for the first time, an exclusive for the Italian cruise market, entry to the chapel will give you the chance to glimpse the holiest place in Christendom. Here you’ll stop to admire the precious relics including an iron of Christ begun…

TSA Reminds Flyers About Using Correct Information

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is launching a public awareness campaign to educate the American air traveling public about new identification requirements being phased in under the "Secure Flight" program.
With Secure Flight, the TSA is assuming responsibility from the individual airlines for uniform pre-flight watch list matching. The first requirement of Secure Flight is for passengers to make sure when booking reservations to use their name exactly as it appears on the piece of identification they plan to use at the airport. This went into effect May 15. 
The next requirements, coming later this summer, will be for flyers to provide their birthdates and sex when booking flights.Read more
By Planet Data

Greetings from Vienna Airport

Greetings from Vienna Airport where red is the colour. Here they take Security seriously and for some non Schengen flight the Passport Passport control is at the gate, along with a second security check and 3 checks of ones Boarding card.
On the topic of security at airports, which is a process that few people like and all experienced travellers know could be handled more intelligently so as not to alienate passengers, we are often asked how can one make the experience a little smoother.
Well to start with what you actual wear when dressing to be processed through airport security can make a difference. Here are some tips...
1) Avoid wearing a belt, so that you do not have to put it on and off again in public within confined. All your efforts should be focussed on retrieving your personal items. Wear elasticated trousers or closer fitting trousers.

2) Carry a light empty pouch (preferably with a zip) then place your watch, rings, bracelets, coins and metal items inside so…

Trinidad and Tobago Flights Canceled Due to Bad Fuel

Caribbean Airlines had to cancel flights in both Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday because of poor quality fuel received from the state-owned National Petroleum (NP).Read more
By Planet Data

Four Men Charged in Plot to Shoot Down Military Jets

Four men have been arrested in Newburgh, New York for allegedly plotting to blow-up a synagogue in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, and shoot down National Guard airplanes with surface-to-air missiles.Read more
By Planet Data

Iran Claims Long Range Missile Test a Success

Iran test-fired a new advanced missile today (5/20). President Ahmadinejad claims the missile has a range of about 1,200, which is enough to strike Israel, southeastern Europe, and U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf. It is reported that U.S. officials confirmed the launch, but not the details of the missile's range.Read more
By Planet Data

More than 90 Dead in Indonesian Military Plane Crash

Indonesia — An Indonesian military transport plane crashed into a village today as it was coming in for a landing at an air force base. At least 97 people in the aircraft and on the ground were killed, but there are some survivors. The plane was carrying military personnel and their families.Read more
By Planet Data

U.S. Navy Helicopter Crashes in Ocean Off Southern California

United States — Late Tuesday night a U.S. Navy helicopter went down in Mexican waters about 13 miles southwest of San Diego. The U.S. Coast Guard is on the scene and looking for survivors. A USCG spokesperson told CNN five people were on board when the copter crashed.Read more
By Planet Data


SummaryThere is a general threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Belgium shares a common level of threat with neighbouring European countries. On 11 December 2008 a number of terrorist suspects were arrested in Belgium. 
Theft and pick pocketing is a problem in crowded areas. You should take extra care, particularly of your belongings and passports, at all train stations in Brussels, but in particular at the Gare du Midi (Eurostar terminal) and Gare Du Nord in Brussels. Try to avoid walking around these latter areas at night time, particularly if you are on your own.
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.
Road Safety 

If you wish to drive in Belgium you must have a valid driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents. If you ar…


The threat from terrorism is low. But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

Visas are required to enter, or travel through, Belarus. This includes anyone travelling by train on popular routes such as Warsaw-Moscow and St Petersburg-Kiev.  

There are strong penalties for possession or use of drugs and you should avoid taking photographs of military or government installations.

You must register your stay with the Belarus authorities if you intend to remain in the country for more than three days.

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. Political Situation
Belarus is governed by a strong Presidential system with security forces loyal to it. Historically the authorities have shown little tolerance for…


SummaryWe advise against all travel to Nagorno-Karabakh and the military occupied area surrounding it.

Azerbaijan faces a general threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate and against civilian targets and places frequented by foreigners.

Outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in Azerbaijan have led to a small number of human fatalities. The last fatality was in 2006. You should avoid any political rallies or public gatherings of a political nature.

The main type of incident for which British nationals required consular assistance in 2007 was replacing lost and stolen passports. Crime against foreigners is generally low, but does occur.

For identification purposes you should carry the correct form of document at all times.

We recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.
Country ProfileThe political situation in Azerbaijan is cal…


SummaryThere is a general threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

There are complex driving laws in Austria, especially for caravan and motorhome owners.

If you intend to ski you should be aware that during and around the winter season there is continued danger of avalanches in some areas of Austria. Even during summer time this danger still exists for snow covered areas. You should take advice on weather and avalanche conditions before you travel and also while you are in the resort.

We advise you to carry your passport with you at all times as proof of identification.

We recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling to Austria. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.

Road Travel 

Only persons over 18 years of age holding valid driving licences may drive in Austria. The only exceptions to t…

Photos of Hudson River Airplane Salvage has an article about the interesting story of photographer Stephen Mallon, the man tapped to photograph the Hudson River salvage of US Air Flight 1549. There are also some impressive photographs accompanying the piece.Read more
By Planet Data

TSA Asking Travelers to Put Shoes Directly on X-Ray Belt

According to a TSA Blog post, starting this past week TSA security screeners around the nation "will be asking passengers to put their shoes directly on the X-ray belt instead of in a bin at the checkpoint."
The reasons why? To "declutter bins and give officers a better view of shoes coming through, as well as everything else."Read more
By Planet Data

Mock-Terror Training Event in Colorado

Starting today (5/15) and lasting until Saturday morning there is going to be a large-scale emergency exercise in Aurora, Colorado. Operation "Vigilant Front Range" will center around a mock terrorist incident and involve Buckley Air Force Base, University of Colorado Hospital, The Children's Hospital, and the University of Colorado Denver campus.
In preparation for the training event, local businesses are warning employees not to be alarmed if they hear large explosions or see smoke and a large number of ambulances and helicopters reports
The Aurora city government issued this release (PDF) about the exercise.Read more
By Planet Data

Air Force Wants Cyber Command in Texas

United States — According to local reports from cities which did not win the selection process (Denver, Omaha, Shreveport), the Air Force has selected San Antonio's Lackland Air Force Base as the home of its new cyber defense force.
Originally the Air Force was to establish the "Cyber Command" as a stand alone command, but now it is being realigned under Air Force Space Command.Read more
By Planet Data

Government Employees Die in Guatemalan Plane Crash

Guatemala — Five people employed by the Guatemalan government and a pilot died when their plane crashed Thursday after taking off from the La Aurora International Airport. The small plane came down in the yard of an unoccupied home. No one on the ground was injured.Read more
By Planet Data

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Gets new FSD

United States — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced today (5/14) that Mary Leftridge Byrd has been named the new Federal Security Director (FSD) for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.Read more
By Planet Data

RAF Wants to Purchase More Eurofighter Typhoon Jets

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced that the Royal Air Force (RAF) is negotiating to purchase a third round of the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet.
The aircraft are purchased through the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA), which is a consortium of UK, Germany, Italy and Spain.Read more
By Planet Data

Militants Threaten All Out Conflict in Niger Delta

Nigeria — The Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) on Wednesday issued an ultimatium to oil companies to either evacuate all their workers or face an onslaught of attacks against not just oil ships and installations, but also against airplanes and helicopters. On Thursday (5/14) MEND extended the deadline by 48-hours.Read more
By Planet Data

Air Travelers Pay Attention to Use Your Name on Your ID

Starting May 15, people traveling by air in the United States should make sure the name they are using to make reservations matches what is on the piece of identification they will be using at the airport. This is part of the requirements of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Secure Flight program in which TSA is assuming the responsibility of vetting passengers against the nations' consolidated "no-fly" watch list.
Phase two of Secure Flight begins August 15, 2009 when passengers will be required to enter their date of birth, gender and redress number (if available) when booking airline tickets.
Read moreBy Planet Data


SummaryWe advise against all but essential travel near the border with Azerbaijan due to the unresolved dispute over Nagorno Karabakh. This particularly covers the border areas of Tavush and Gegharkunic regions, where there is sporadic gunfire. In Tavush Marz we specifically advise against travel on the road from Ijevan to Noyemberyan, which passes close to the border and military emplacements, and on the roads beyond Berd.
There is a low threat from terrorism. But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

Presidential elections in February 2008 were followed by street protests ending in violence on 1 March 2008, followed by a 20-day State of Emergency.

We recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.
Local T…


Travel Summary

There is an underlying threat from terrorism. Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

Andorra is not a Member of the European Union and therefore EU reciprocal medical arrangements do not apply.

Visitors to ski resorts should take advice on weather and avalanche conditions before they travel and throughout their visit (see: and See the General (Winter Sports) section of this advice for more details.

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Local laws and customs

Andorra has strict rules on the possession and use of illegal drugs and applies zero tolerance.

Andorra is not a member of the European Union and purchases of duty free tobacco, liquor and luxury goods are subject to …

Greetings from the Flower Festival of Larnaka

Greetings from Larnaka, where the Anthestiria Flower Festival took place last weeked, which is a celebration of spring and nature's rebirth. What a pleasure it was to see the parade of flower floats and locals carrying beautiful, fresh flowers along Larnaka's attractive seafront promenade.

The festivities date back to ancient Greek times, when feasts were organised in Athens every four years to honour the god of theatre and parties, Dionysus. Anthestiria were also the festivals of souls, plants and flowers, celebrating the rebirth of man and nature. The word Anthestiria derives from the Greek word anthos, meaning flower.

Meanwhile, our lead Perpetual Traveller article this week is to place Budget airlines on the spotlight and we will ask “How far can Ryanair go?” with their extra charges that is! La Dolce Vita focuses on Canada, whilst we have more from Aviation Security, Hypo Global, Global Security and Cyprus Events.

Here’s wishing you a colorful week!

Grant Holmes

How far can Ryanair go?

The Budget air travel market has grown significantly over the past decade across the globe and one of the leading airlines fuelling this rise in popularity is Ireland’s Ryanair, an airline that truly pioneered new destinations in regional airports all over Europe, avoiding the major hub expensive airports to support people in different locations, bring down the cost and to inadvertently promote trade, Tourism and travel between unlikely towns and cities. For this we respect Ryanair and no-one can dispute that their low cost formula does not work. 

Part of the concept was to offer people more choice, by de-bundling the classic flight package and allowing people to choose whether they eat and drink in flight or reserve a set seat at check-in. Under the veil of individual choice, millions of people chose to fly with Ryanair and the concept has been duplicated all over the world now, from Spice Jet in India to Air Asia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

However, recent newly invented revenue tacti…


Travel Summary

We advise against all travel to the north east border areas (i.e. the districts of Kukes, Has and Tropoje) between Albania and Kosovo because of the risk of unexploded ordnance placed during the 1999 Kosovo crisis and the poor condition of the roads.

Although public security is generally good, particularly in Tirana, crime and violence still represent a serious problem in some areas. Gun ownership is widespread.

There is an underlying threat from international terrorism. Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. 

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling to Albania. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.  

Local Travel

We advise against all travel to the north east Border areas (i.e. the districts of Kukes, Has and Tropoje) between Albania and Kosovo because of the risk…

More Airports Get Stimulus Funds for Security Technology

United States — Montana's Great Falls International Airport is receiving more than $386,000 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to fund the purchase of a Reveal CT-80 explosives detection system reports the Great Falls Tribune. According to Reveal's website, the CT-80 can scan 225 bags per hour.Read more
By Planet Data

DoD Recruiting and Retention Numbers for April 2009

United States — The Defense of Department has announced its April 2009 recruiting and retention numbers for its active and reserve components, and across the board all branches of the military met or exceeded their goals. In particular the Marines by far surpassed its target of 1,018 recruits by more than 60%.Read more
By Planet Data

AirTran to Offer Internet Access on All Flights

United States — Low-cost air carrier AirTran announced today (5/12) that by mid-summer it will offer in-flight Wi-Fi on all 136 of its jets. As with most other carriers offering mid-air Internet access, AirTran is deploying Aircell's Gogo Inflight Internet service. Pricing was not announced.Read more
By Planet Data

FAA Rejects Low-Level Navy Flight Down Hudson River

On Monday (5/11) the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) denied the Navy permission to fly a P-3 Orion airplane down the Hudson River at an altitude of 3,000 feet. 
This was a training flight from Maine's Brunswick Naval Air Station, which has been conducted multiple times since 2001, but with the recent Air Force One photo opportunity flight snafu over Manhattan, you really can't blame the FAA for being extra cautious and not granting permission for this type of flight.
Read moreBy Planet Data

Baggage Cart Sucked into 747 Engine at LAX

From LA Times:
"A large metal baggage container was sucked into the engine of a Japan Airlines Boeing 747 on Monday as the giant jetliner prepared to depart with 245 passengers from Los Angeles International Airport, authorities said."
Read moreBy Planet Data

Militant Safe House Targeted in Drone Attack

Pakistan — A suspected U.S. drone attack killed at least 8 people in Pakistan's South Waziristan region today (5/12). According to multiple reports, two missiles targeted a house used by Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters after returning from or before going to Afghanistan.Read more
By Planet Data