"Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen"
Benjamin Disraeli, British politician and stateman

I wrote an advice column in the Sunday Times for six years, in which I answered reader questions on travel. Thanks to my own trips, my time working for the airlines and selling travel at Trailfinders, I've always genuinely enjoyed helping friends and readers get the most from their holidays.

So here are items of travel news - sometimes small, but still significant, with travel advice weaved into them. A little preparation before a trip helps you go a long way...

The writing's on My Bathroom Wall - travel news 23rd May 2018
posted by Richard Green on 23/05/2018
33 Surge in new routes from Manchester

Passenger traffic through Manchester Airport grew by 17% to April 2018, helped by a string of new route announcents - there are now over 220 detinations reachable nonstop from the airport. While growth in the South East of England is constrained by a lack of runways, Manchester has been cashing in on its gateway to the North location and available capacity.

Recent new routes have seen Loganair introduce summer services to Stornoway, Sumburgh and Kirkwall, BA launch flights to Florence, and VLM to Antwerp and Ostend. Still to commence is Jet Airways to Mumbai from November 5th and Ethiopian Airlines to Addis Ababa from December 1st.

For an article on the city of Manchester a year on from the 2017 Arena attack, see My Bathroom Wall

33 DFDS makes a bigger ship yes
The oft touted busiest shipping area in the world is about to get its biggest vessel. European ferry operator DFDS has ordered a new ship to ply its cross-channel routes from Dover to Calais and Dunkirk  from 2021. It is being made in China and will be able to carry around a thousand pasengers and have 3,100 metres of cargo/car lanes.
An approaching swarm of low costs!

The growth of the low cost airline continues apace, with aggressive moves into long haul flights. In a state of flux, BA is bidding for LCC rival Norwegian, Singapore is consolidating its low cost airlines into the Scoot brand, and and Air France has dreamt up an airline aimed at milenials, Joon

Meanwhile Premier Air is busy forging routes to the USA from Stansted and Birmingham, Iceland's Wow is launching new flights to Delhi later this year. Also look out for new low cost carriers Jetlines, Flair and Swoop in Canada, and Level in Europe.

33 Trendy new terrace anyone?

As Global Warming inches the UK's weather towards being sunnier and warmer, a slew of great new places to eat and drink al fresco have sprouted in London and beyond. Roof East has gone to the Circus this season, then there's Bar Elba at Waterloo, the rooftop of the Culpepper in Whitechapel, Netil 360 in Hackney, and early adopter Frank's Cafe in Deptford is still going strong and filling it's large rooftop after 10 years. And check out London's Rooftop Film Club, which has rooftop screrenings in Peckham, Shoreditch and Stratford.

And hats off to the new 54m seaside terrace just opened at L'Horizon Beach Hotel & Spa at St Brelade on Jersey.

34 A plane crashes in Cuba...
A Boeing 737-200 operating as Cubana flight CU972 crashed outside of Havana on May 18th. The death toll - all but three of the passengers and crew - stands at 111, and questions are already being asked about the age of the plane. It was on lease from a Mexican carrier called Global Air, though the plane was delivered new to Piedmont Airlines back in 1979, making it 39 years old. 

The Writing's on My Bathroom Wall - travel news 4th August 2017
posted by Richard Green on 03/08/2017
33 Stopover for 'free' and for longer in Lisbon or Porto

To celebrate the first anniversary of TAP Air Portugal's stopover programme, the airline is to increase the duration of possible stopovers from three to five days, plus will allow a break in the journey on one-way fares too. Stopover packages are offered by several airlines and allow you to break a long-haul journey with a stop on the way for no extra air fare charge. TAP's new rules start in September.

  For more info see TAP Portugal Stopover
33 New boutique hotel opens in the Sri Lankan Highlands

The Sri Lankan Highlands are a gorgeously atmospheric blend of misty hills, historic settlements, and tea plantations. The new 5-room Camellia Hills, overlooking the Castlereigh Reservoir, has fine views, a swimming pool, and top notch service that includes a personalised butler, all meals, afternoon tea and other drinks. It's either a six-hour drive from Colombo, or a 30-minute scenic flight on a Cinnamon Air seaplane - see MyBathroomWall for a guide to seaplane flying.


For more info see http://www.srilankacollection.com/camellia-hills.

Canberra 5th Australian destination for Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways is to become the second airline to offer a long haul service from Australia's capital, Canberra, after Singapore Airlines, which flies there from Singapore. The daily Qatar Airways flights from Canberra to Doha touchdown in Sydney en route and will run from the 13th of February 2018.

It will save time and hassle on the route, as the Qatar Boeing 777 will stay on the ground in Sydney for just an hour, as against the next fastest 2-3 hours if - as now - you have to change planes.


See Qatar Airways and Visit Canberra

33 Old airport terminal - one careful owner - going cheap

Heathrow Airport is selling off Terminal 1 check-in desk by check-in desk. The venerable terminal opened in 1968, closed in 2015, and the sale includes everything from large chunks of terminal infrastructure (baggage carousels, travelators or a jetty anyone?), to the distinctive BAA yellow and black signage and London-themed artwork that was formerly displayed in the T1.

It's likely that some smaller airports may grab a baggage belt bargain, but don't be too surprised if your Shoreditch barber sits you at a check-in desk later in the year.


See the catalogue here http://cagp.com/events/heathrow-airport-terminal-1/

34 Travel armageddon looming?

Additional security checks at European airports are causing huge immigration delays for passengers, Carlson Wagonlit Travel and the GBTA (Global Business Travel Association) predict a 3.7% rise in air fares and hotel rates, and the Ryanair boss, Michael O'Leary, has crept from under his bushel to warn of no flights operating to or from the UK for a period post Brexit. 

The writing's on My Bathroom Wall 11th June 2017
posted by Richard Green on 11/06/2017




EasyJet starts new flights to Varna, Bulgaria; and other new routes

The Gatwick-Varna route is operated thrice weekly throughout the summer season with one-way fares from £12.99 and a new summer season twice-weekly flight from Berlin Schoenefeld starts on the 28th of June.

Other new routes include Air Canada, which has begun flying from Vancouver to Nagoya and Taipei, and commences Toronto to Mumbai from the 1st of July; United Airlines, which will start 18hr nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Singapore fron 27th October. 

  See easyJet, Visit Varna, and Visit Bulgaria, and read what it's like to be on an inaugural flight on My Bathroom Wall  



Resort unveils new glass-floored cable cars 

The Awana Skyway transports visitors along a 2.8km aerial route from the new Awana Transportation Hub, to Chin Swee Temple Station and SkyAvenue Station within the resort. Of the 99 gondolas, 10 feature glass floors.

  See Resorts World Genting, and to discover the best vertigo-testing cable cars in Switerland, see My Bathroom Wall



New ferry joins fleet operating routes from Singapore to Indonesian Islands

A new ferry has joined the Majestic Fast Ferry fleet on routes between Singapore and the Indonesian islands of HarbourFront and Tanah Merah ferry terminals in Singapore, the Batam Center and Sekupang terminals in Batam, and Tanjung Pinang in Bintan.


See Majestic Fast Ferry. Other ferry operators between Singapore and Indonesia include Batam Fast and Sindo Ferry




'Vegimite' on shortlist of names for new Qantas planes  

Qantas has revealed that over 40,000 suggestions were received in the competition run by the airline to chose names for the Boeing 787 Dreamliners that will operate next year's nonstop flights from London to Perth. Others making it to the shortlist include Skippy, Uluru, Boomerang, Great Barrier Reef and Don Bradman.


See Qantas 



Qatar isolation row hits passengers travelling to or connecting through Doha

Qatar Airways have been banned from flying to regional neihghbours Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and the Maldives. Etihad, Emirates, Gulf Air have suspended all flights to and from Qatar. Contact your travel agent or airline if you are booked on Qatar Airways flights, or are travelling to the region.


The writing's on My Bathroom Wall - travel news 1st of June 2017
posted by Richard Green on 01/06/2017
33 Rwandair starts first ever direct flights between Kigali and London

The inaugural flight touched down at London's Gatwick Airport on the 26th of May, after an 8 hour 40 minute flight from Kigali. Rwanda's national carrier will connect the cities three days per week using a wide body Airbus A330-200, with return fares starting from £368. This also opens up new connections from London (via Kigali) to Dar es Salaam (from £308), Entebbe (from £345), Mombassa (from £378) and others. Other Rwandair destinations include Brussels, Mumbai, Dubai and Istanbul. 

  See Rwandair and Rwanda Tourism, and My Bathroom Wall for a write up of what it's like to be caught giggling at close range by a Silverback Mountain Gorilla.
33 Qatar Airways offer free Doha stopovers, and Dubai airport instals sleeping pods

Passengers changing planes in Doha offered free transit visa and a night in a hotel - with an additional night for $50USD per booking. Four star properties free for economy passengers include the Holiday Villa Hotel & Residence, the Radisson Blu, and the Amari; and hotels for First and Business Class passengers include the InterContinental, Four Seasons, and Shangri-La.

A new Sleep-n-fly lounge has opened in Terminal 3 at Dubai airport, with 27 sleeping pods and cabins. Designed in Scandinavia, the single pods costs from $17USD for an hour, and seven hours from $77USD, while double-bedded cabins with pull out beds for children are from $60USD for two hours, and seven hours for $160USD.

  Find more details at Qatar Airways and Visit Qatar. And re Dubai see Sleep-n-fly. For the world's best airport hotels, see My Bathroom Wall
Perfectly located for tourists, three new metro stations open in Old Delhi

Delhi's new 'Heritage Line' opened on May 28th, an extension of the Violet Line with three new underground stations perfectly placed for visitors wanting to see the Delhi Gate, Jama Masjid (mosque) and Lal Quila (for the Red Fort).


See Delhi Metro and Delhi Tourism 

33 Other new airline routes for June

Low cost carrier Norwegian will start more long haul flights in June - from Belfast, Dublin and Edinburgh to New York (Stewart International) and Boston (TF Green Airport, Providence); Cork to Boston, and Edinburgh to Hartford/Springfield.

Plus Delta starts flights from London to Portland, Air India starts flights between Delhi and Stockholm, Aer Lingus start Dublin to Miami, AirAsia is to connect Kuala Lumpur with Sihanoukville (Cambodia's premier beach resort region), and Air New Zealand is to lay on 52 extra flights to assist fans getting to Ed Sheeran's 2018 concerts in Dunedin, Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington. 


See Norwegian, Delta, Air India, Aer Lingus, Air Asia, and Air New Zealand.

34 British Airways damaged by technical and customer service meltdown 

British Airways suffered a catastrophic computer failure on the 27th of May, grounding hundreds of flights around the world, and clogging London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports with aircraft unable to depart and huge numbers of angry passengers. British Airways may well be up and flying again, but the reputational damage will last for months, if not longer. The company seems to have forgotten the basics of how to deal with people during disruption, with only mealy mouthed and slow responses from the unsympathetic CEO, Alex Cruz. 

The writing's on My Bathroom Wall - travel news 21st April 2017
posted by Richard Green on 21/04/2017
33 Low cost long haul flights from London Gatwick to Singapore

Norwegian looks east for its latest new route announcement from Gatwick airport. Adding to its current flights from Gatwick to nine US destinations, including recently announced Seattle and Denver, the airline will add Singapore to the destinations served nonstop with new Boeing 787 Dreamliners from London. Flights start on Sepetember the 28th, anf fares are on sale now, from £179 one-way.

33 Novotel opens 39-story hotel tower at Canary Wharf, London

Joining Novotel's 11 other London properties, the group has opened a 39-story glass tower at Canary Wharf. The on mode industrially inspired interiors are topped off by the top floor BOKAN bar, restaurant and roof terrace. There's no reception desk in sight - instead 'welcomers' will help you use the check-in tablets. The hotel has 339 rooms, a coffee cafe, gym and pool.


Novotel Canary Wharf

Iberia introduces Premium Economy

Iberia is to rollout a Premium Economy offering across it's fleet, starting on flights from Madrid to Chicago, New York and Bogota on May 1st, and with Mexico, Miami and Boston to added over the summer. Compared with economy on Iberia, the seat pitch is 37" (as against 31"), 19" wide (18.1"), with noise cancelling headphones, connection ports, a welcome drink, table linen, amenity kit, priority check-in and new menu.


For more info see Iberia

33 New airline routes to Lisbon, Madrid and Bangkok
TAP Air Portugal has announced a new route fromLondon City Airport to Lisbon, starting on October 27th. It's good news for East Londoners wanting to city break in Lisbon, and for anyone connecting on to TAP's extensive African and Latin American destinations. Also re new routes, Iberia Express has started flights from Cardiff to Madrid, and low cost Indian carrier Spicejet has launched flights from Delhi to Bangkok.

London City Airport, TAP, Iberia Express, SpiceJet

34 Latest coral bleeching of the Great Barrier Reef threatens some of the world's best eco resorts

There are almost 30 hotels on the Great Barrier Reef, which covers an area about the size of Italy. The lodges are highly regulated and eco focussed; most have research institutions on their islands, are low key and have relatively few rooms, and push the educational side of a reef visit to their guests. Arguably well managed reef tourism is one of the factors needed to keep the plight of the reefs in the ublic eye. See My Bathroom Wall's look at the best of the Great Barrier Reef resorts.

The writing's on MyBathroom Wall - April 7th 2017
posted by Richard Green on 07/04/2017
33 Ryanair to offer checked through luggage on connecting flights

In a major move for the low cost carrier, Ryanair is launching checked through bags on connecting flights through it's Rome hub, to be rolled out across it's network 'pretty quickly'. You'll need a minimum of three hours between flights, but it's a big help for passengers connecting on Ryanair flights.

  There's nothing live on Ryanair's website about this yet, but for a guide on how to make hassle free flight transfers, see My Bathroom Wall
33 Conrad opens new Bora Bora hotel with 86 overwater villas

Located in a private cove on Motu To'opua, 20 minutes from Bora Bora Airport, Conrad Hotels has opened a 200 room resort, including 86 overwater bungalows. There are already a dozen resorts offering overwater accommodation around the island, which join a staggering 8,000 stilted villas worldwide.

  See Conrad Bora Bora, and for the lowdown on whether an overwater villa is all it's cracked up to be, see 'Is a dreamy overwater villa always better than a beach room?' on My Bathroom Wall, and The South Pacific made simple on My Bathroom Wall
Boom times for Manchester Airport

Manchester airport is seeing a boom in the number of flights and destinations, with new daily flights to Muscat with Oman Air (starting on May 1st), to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific (up from five flights per week to daily from the 1st of December), and daily to Casablanca with Royal Air Maroc (started 4th of April). 


See Manchester Airport, Oman AirRoyal Air Maroc, and Cathay Pacific

33 London's V&A most boring exhibition ever, the History of Plywood
Opening on July the 15th, the venerable V&A is dedicating a whole exhibition to 'the eclectic history of plywood'. More than 120 objects will be brought together - including hatboxes, tea chests, surfboards, and illustrations of the highest flying aircraft of WWII, the Mosquito (made from plywood). From fragments of layered board found in Egyptian tombs, to the downloadable and self-assembly WikiHouse, the exhibition will reveal all you ever wanted to know - and perhaps more - about the history of plywood.

The exhibition, Plywood: Material of the Modern World, is free and runs from July 15th to November 12th 2017. V&A

34 Boeing reveals economy squash for all of its new 777-9 series planes 

The hugely unpopular 10 abreast economy seating is likely to be used by all new customers for the new aircraft - a mainstay of the long haul holiday market. Currently BA, Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines all offer the roomier 9-abreast configuration on their 777 planes, but BA is changing it's older 777's flying from Gatwick to be 10 abreast, and so too will airlines ordering the new 777 version, including Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines.

The writing's on My Bathroom Wall: March 24th travel news
posted by Richard Green on 24/03/2017
33 British Airways throws in the towel while snatching away free food and decent legroom

Once upon a time it seemed that legacy carriers could co-exist with the bare bones service concept offered by Ryanair, Easyjet and the like. But no more - BA, and other traditional airlines, have been busy cutting service and adding seats to compete with them.

Norwegian, Scoot and 'Air Asia X' have shown that long haul low cost works too and have forced BA to salami slice the long haul flying experience too - adding in 10 seats to the Boeing 777, charging for hold luggage in economy, and even cancelling an amuse-bouche with First Class passenger's first drink for heavens sake!

Via its parent company IAG, which owns BA, Iberia, Vueling and Aer Lingus, it's latest airline venture is a new if-you-can't-beat-them-join-them airline called 'Level'. It will fly long haul and low cost from Barcelona.

  Level launches in June with flights from Barcelona to Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Punta Cana and San Francisco (Oakland), with fares from USD149 one-way.
33 Nordic Cuisine sees Michelin stars

Iceland has received its first ever Michelin star, with the awarding of the award to Reykjavik's Dill restaurant. In the heart of the city and founded by chefs Chef Gunnar Karl Gíslason and Sommelier Olafur Orn Olafsson, the restaurant seeks to rediscover Nordic culinary roots. Focussing on Icelandic produce Dill offers a new seven course menu each week, for 13,900 Icelandic Krona (£100). 

And the same goes for the Faro Islands. Ten kilometers across the tip of the peninsula from the cute Faroe-ese capital of Tórshavn is KOKS restaurant, an airy hillside venue with great sea views that specialises in seafood and offers a 17-course tasting menu for 1,400 Danish Krone (£162).

  See Dill and Inspired by Iceland Inspired by Iceland. And Koks KOKS and Visit Faroe Islands
MTV supercharges Gibraltar's festival

MTV is partnering the Government of Gibraltar to rebrand the music festival formerly known as the 'Gibraltar Music Festival'. MTV's youthful brand reaches about 785 million households, and promotion of the inelegantly named 'MTV Presents Gibraltar Calling' is expected to boost the number of festival goers over the weekend of the 2nd and 3rd of September. Headliners include Clean Bandit, Craig David and Steve Aoki, plus  Bananarama, Midge Ure and Village People.


Gibraltar is often overlooked by visitors to Spain's south coast, but the Rock itself is reason enough to visit - for it's caves, battlements museum, monkeys and cable car - plus there's history and querk galore. As Brexit looms expect the territory to regain the limelight for many of the wrong reasons, so visit now to experince the new airport terminal and hassle free border with Spain. Buy festival tickets via Gibraltar Calling. For general Gib info, see Visit Gibraltar

33 Kong's Skull Island new location tours
The much anticipated - that is what they say isn't it - Skull Island slice of the King Kong story was filmed in Vietnam. The sweeping scenery has inspired tour operators to concoct trips to the area pegged to old hairy shoulders latest outing. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts visited Iceland, Hawaii, Australia and Thailand before plumping on Vietnam; and shot in Halong Bay and the Tam Coc Caves.

The Experience Travel Group have a two-week Skull Island Location Holiday from £3,557, including flights from London with Vietnam Airlines, accommodation, guiding, transport and some meals. At the budget end of the scale, just grab a flight to Hanoi and take the bus to Halong Bay - there is a good backpacking scene, which surely will include nightly showings of the film in al fresco bars, and locals offering cheap local tours to filming locations. 

34 London's Westminster attack & laptop ban

The terrorist attack near to the Houses of Parliament is a shock for London, but ignore the scare-mongering coming out of the USA. One tube station and several roads adjascent to it were closed for a few hours, but the city carries on as normal. See Visit London to learn more about why London attracted 36.7 million overseas visitors last year.

Banning electronic devices from the cabins of flights heading from Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia to the UK appears at first sight ill conceived. The measures are likely to last for some months, so check the rules before flying to the US or UK from the Middle East and be sure to pack you devices in a secure hold bag before you reach the airport - as there will likely be confusion at check in and through security.

And in the interim, check with your insurer to see if laptops and tablets are covered from loss or theft whilst flying, as Allianz Global Assistance UK does.


The writing's on My Bathroom Wall - March 14th travel news
posted by Richard Green on 14/03/2017
33 Iran Air gets new planes, at last
American-lead sanctions meant that Iran Air was restricted in what new aircraft it could buy – practically none in fact - and importantly too, in the spare parts it could get hold of in order to keep its aged fleet flying. I steered clear of flying Iran Air for this reason, but a new 100 plane order means that the carrier will at last have some new jets. The new A330 was the first widebodied jet delivered as part of the Airbus order.  Iran Air
33 UK's FCO lifts travel ban for Lamu Island
Both are best reached via the Manda Airstrip, served by Air Kenya, Safarilink, Fly 540 and Jambojet from Nairobi, and Mombasa Air Safari from Mombasa. So the unspoilt coastline, and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lamu Old Town are back on the radar.  See the FCO advice for Kenya https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/kenya, and Visit Kenya
First ever Bangladesh call by a cruise liner
Silversea’s Silver Discoverer expedition ship visited Maheshkhali Island - close to Cox’s Bazar in southeast Bangladesh - where passengers were greeted by a fleet of rickshaws and local school kids performing traditional songs. Part of a three- day stopover in Bangladesh on a two-week cruise from Colombo to Kolkata, nearby attractions include Hiron Point, Charaputia, Harbaria, Kokilmon, and the Sundarbans mangrove forest. Silversea has two further Bangladesh calls this year. Silver Sea
33 New swim-up-to-suites open in the Caribbean
Long since daydreaming material for holiday makers thinking of going to the Maldives or Tahiti, until now there haven’t been any seriously upmarket over water villas on a Caribbean Island. Sandals
34 Eight bodies of Bahamian swimming pigs found on beach
The self-plunging pigs of Big Major Cay have been a tourist attraction and pin ups for the tourist board for years, but eight of the animals have recently been found dead. Once again it is the indirect affects of tourism that has done for the phenomenon; as visitors have been throwing treats to them. The food lands in the sand and the pigs ingest too much sand when foraging for them on their beaches, and die. See Tourism Bahamas


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