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Travel

New luggage rules set to make it even more expensive for holidaymakers

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One of the biggest changes to airline travel under the new safety measures is checking-in hand luggage, and airlines are currently still charging for this. 

Travel restrictions across Europe are starting to be lifted, and while the advice in the UK remains to avoid non-essential international travel, many British holidaymakers are looking into the possibility of trips abroad. 

When we do start boarding planes again, there are going to be some big changes in the airport and on the aircraft.

One of the biggest changes includes having to check-in hand luggage. The guidance states: “You are strongly encouraged to check-in baggage to the aircraft hold and minimise any hand baggage.”

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Airlines currently charge additional fees for adding luggage to the hold and it is unclear as of yet if this will be waived.

British Airways is charging £25 for putting a 23kg bag in the hold for passengers on their cheapest flight from Heathrow to Glasgow. Meanwhile, easyJet is charging £23.99 for a 15kg bag on a flight from Gatwick to Glasgow.

Under the new rules, airlines have been encouraged to extensively clean the aircraft and increase the availability of handwashing and hand sanitiser.

Other changes include having only wrapped snacks and drinks available and having to request access to the toilet on Ryanair, while easyJet has announced it will be offering no food to passengers and they must all wear masks. 

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Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, said: “They demonstrate how airlines can apply targeted and multi-layered measures to ensure air travel is safe for customers and crew.

“The guidelines pave the way for the introduction of air bridges, and there is no reason we shouldn’t be getting clarity from Government on when and how these will be established over the coming days.”

Only essential travel is currently allowed under the advice of the Foreign Office.

Travel

Take a look inside UK safari lodges where you spend the night with elephants and cheetahs

‘Guests will be able to get closer than ever before to our wildlife and make friends with their animal neighbours’

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West Midland Safari Park

If you’ve ever wanted to spend the night next to elephants and cheetahs then now’s your chance.

A collection of brand new luxury safari lodges have opened in the UK, and families can now book a holiday there.

West Midland Safari Park’s lodges offer the only overnight stay with elephants in the whole country, with the option to spend the night next to the cheetahs as well.

West Midland Safari Park

West Midland Safari Park

The lodges were originally scheduled to open last summer but the pandemic delayed this – bookings did initially open last year before being forced to pause due to the massive demand.

There are eight suites available, with six located in the elephant park and two next to the cheetahs, with fantastic close up views from your bedroom.

Each lodge can accommodate five guests, and feature open-plan living rooms with outdoor seating and balconies, as well as a king-size bedroom on the lower floor and room for three people to sleep on the upper floor, with the option to add a cot.

From your suite you’ll be able to watch elephants like the young male Sutton, his aunt Latabe and mum, Five, while two of the lodges overlook the cheetah area, where cheetahs like Asrael and Bappe – recently brought over from France – live.

West Midland Safari Park

West Midland Safari Park

Chris Kelly, Managing Director at West Midland Safari Park, said: “It’s been a long journey, but we are absolutely delighted to have finally opened our doors and welcome guests to our Safari Lodges experience.

“I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved, in delivering beautiful accommodation to offer guests the opportunity to stay onsite for the first time, but also in upgrading stimulating and enriching environments for the wonderful animals we have in our care.

“Our lodges are going to offer a special and unforgettable Safari-stay right here in the Midlands. Guests will be able to get closer than ever before to our wildlife and make friends with their animal neighbours.

“Being located on our reserves, guests will also have the chance to spot some of our other species and experience all the great attractions we have to offer, making it the perfect retreat for all the family.”

West Midland Safari Park

West Midland Safari Park

Chefs based on-site will prepare your breakfast and dinner and deliver it to your room, so you can eat while taking in the fantastic views.

For the price of the lodge, you’ll also get admission to the park and wristbands for the rides at the theme park, with prices starting from £147 per night for children and from £171 per night for adults.

West Midland Safari Park

West Midland Safari Park

While availability for the rest of 2021 is now limited due to huge demand, there are still lots of options available for next year.

You can check out the West Midland Safari Park website here for more info.

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Travel

Brits will be able to book summer holidays abroad this year, government announces

‘For the first time people can start to think about visiting loved ones abroad or perhaps a summer holiday’

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A government minister has confirmed that you will be able to book a summer holiday abroad this year.

Grant Shapps announced the news today, saying that the official advice not to plan foreign trips has now been ditched.

The transport secretary also said the government would attempt to drive down the cost of testing for anyone wanting a summer holiday or to see friends and family abroad.

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However, Mr Shapps urged people to wait a little bit longer to start booking anything, as the government won’t be publishing the ‘green list’ of countries for ‘two or three weeks’.

The Government will operate a ‘traffic light’ system for international travel when it resumes, which is currently penciled in for May 17th.

Countries will be classed as either green, amber, or red under the scheme, depending on each destination’s rate of vaccination and testing capacity.

He added, when asked whether people should start booking trips: “My advice today would be moving on from where we were before.

“I’m not telling people they shouldn’t book summer holidays now, it’s the first time I’ve been able to say that for many months.”

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According to reports, the US, Malta, Gibraltar and large parts of the Caribbean have been tipped for the green list, while Greece could also make the cut.

Spain and Italy could also join from June if their vaccine programmes have progressed well.

Mr Shapps advised people to wait and see which countries will be on the green list, saying: “And of course actually I think people would want to be clear about which countries are going to be in the different traffic light system and people predominantly of course will be looking to book in a green country.

“There’s only two or three weeks to wait before we publish that list itself but yes, tentative progress.

“For the first time people can start to think about visiting loved ones abroad or perhaps a summer holiday.

“But we’re doing it very very cautiously because we don’t want to see any return of coronavirus in this country.”

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Travel

Thousands of tourists are still being let in to the UK every day

‘We’ve got no grounds to refuse them’

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Thousands of tourists from other countries are reportedly being allowed into the UK every day, at a time when British people are banned from going on holiday abroad.

According to Border Force estimates which have been shared with The Times, around 40% of the 20,000 people arriving at British borders daily are holidaymakers, which equates to about 8,000 tourists per day.

Hundreds of these visitors are granted holiday visas from the Home Office, with one traveller from Peru getting a visa after saying the reason for their UK trip was to ‘visit Big Ben’.

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A Border Force source revealed to the Times that hundreds of people coming to the UK each day are ‘basically coming here on a two-week holiday’, adding that the agency has ‘no grounds to refuse them’.

They said: “As long as they’ve got an address where they say they’ll quarantine, and they’ve completed their pre-departure tests, they’ve got their certificates and everything else, they’ve got means and a return ticket, we’ve got no grounds to refuse them.”

On average nearly half the people arriving here are tourists, but at Gatwick and the Eurostar Terminals that number jumps to 80 or 90%, according to the data from whistleblowers.

Portuguese Gravity / Unsplash

However, the Home Office has responded by saying it ‘does not recognise these figures’, insisting that ‘tough health measures’ are being enforced at airports, train stations and ports.

Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, Kevin Foster, said: “We do not recognise these figures. We are enforcing tough health measures at the border for the small minority of people coming to the UK, including those entering on a visitor visa for legitimate reasons.

“Since January 2021, we have paused all decisions on visitor visas to applicants applying from a ‘red list’ country or where it is apparent an applicant has visited one of those countries in the last ten days.

“Border Force officers also have the right to refuse entry to any visitor who they believe has travelled to the UK to carry out activities not permitted under current local health restrictions, such as holidays or tourism, or who will not comply with self-isolation and testing requirements.”

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