Here at DialAFlight we pride ourselves on always going that extra mile for our customers by trying to sort out any travel problems they may have - and judging by your letters and emails over the years, you think we do a pretty good job.
So you can understand how pleased we were to hear from successful author Adrienne Vaughan, who wanted to thank us for literally making sure her latest book is a best seller.
Romance novelist Adrienne 'lost' the hand written manuscript to her novel while on a flight we had arranged for her to New York. But thanks to a great piece of detective work from our broker Ivor, the story had a very happy ending.
As editor of Romance Matters, the magazine of the Romantic Novelists Association, Adrienne was joining more than 2,000 authors attending the Romantic Writers of America conference in New York last July.
She takes up the story: "As usual, the lovely Ivor sorted my flights out beautifully. As a novelist I adore long haul flights and being alone I can write lots of lovely undisturbed words while being attended to by helpful stewards who serve meals and pour drinks - heaven.
"I write longhand in ink in a notebook, so I spent the whole of the flight working on my latest novel 'Scandal of the Seahorse Hotel' - I write Irish-American romantic suspense and this was my fourth book.
"However, when we landed my notebook must have slipped into the gap between the seats. Convinced that I had it in my bag - I've never misplaced a notebook before - I left the plane, grabbed a taxi from Newark into the city, and checked into the hotel that Ivor had kindly arranged for me.
"I confirmed I'd be at the conference bright and early next morning then headed to the bar for a pre-dinner cocktail and a chance to continue my writing. So imagine my absolute horror when I discovered my notebook was nowhere to be found. Hours and hours of work, thousands and thousands of words gone, disappeared.
"Blind panic set in, I mean, this book would be the big one that they'll make into a blockbusting movie . . . where on earth was it? I had everyone in the hotel searching but to no avail - so I called Ivor and more horror, he had finished his shift and gone home.
"I sent DialAFlight a long detailed email about the lost notebook not really expecting to hear from anyone, any time soon, then went back to my room for what would be a sleepless night. But I should have known that Ivor would come to the rescue.
"In the early hours of the morning Ivor contacted me to say that he had found a member of staff at United Airlines who he had persuaded to go back on board the aircraft and check the area around my seat. Very grateful, but fearing that the notebook would have been thrown out with the rubbish, anxious hours passed.
"Then a call. It had been found and would be locked in a desk at the airport until I collected it personally ahead of boarding my flight back home. The candle I lit in St Patrick's Cathedral had worked!
"And here I am, 10 months later, just getting ready to publish 'Scandal of the Seahorse Hotel' and extremely grateful to Ivor, my knight in shining armour, and the staff at United, for saving the day and almost a year's hard graft."
Adrienne is now planning to book another flight to the Big Apple with DialAFlight to meet her newly appointed New York agent who has just found her a 'fantastic' US publisher . . . sometimes fact is stranger than fiction.
Online travel sites are ripping off customers by spying on their computer history and using their details to charge them more for holidays, a House of Lords report has found.
They have condemned the online travel industry, accusing websites of misleading customers through rigged pricing, fake reviews and doctored search options.
The report warned that online travel providers are offering controversial "personalised" pricing in which information provided, or revealed, by customers is being used to determine an individual price for a particular item or service.
Websites can gather information about potential customers via web cookies which allow them to "remember" people's computers, the preferences they have selected, and how many times they have visited a page. Sites are then able to bump up prices for people who have repeatedly visited them or viewed a particular holiday lots of times.
Labour peer Lord Whitty said: "We heard of an array of worrying practices by online websites that simply aren't transparent enough and leave consumers vulnerable to exploitation - from fake reviews to personalised pricing, from baffling privacy agreements, to rigged displays of search results.
"Even though some of these price restrictions have been banned, we heard allegations that online travel agents had intimidated hotels for offering better deals to their competitors. Witnesses described a number of practices by online travel agents intended to mislead consumers."
Peers have called for a "rapid" investigation and a revamp of consumer protection laws to require online platforms to fully disclose how they rank and present search results, publish ratings and reviews, and when they use personal data from consumers to determine prices.
How often do you travel?
Put it this way, my Twitter description location is 'always at an airport’.
What or where is your favourite destination?
At the moment I am in love with Barbados. The people are friendly and the weather is always incredible. You can swim with turtles and watch tiny monkeys on the golf course. It’s a paradise.
What do you like to do to completely relax on holiday?
Watch the tide as I love the sound of the waves. If I can I leave my door open with a mosquito net I listen to them crashing at night and it relaxes me to sleep.
What is the recipe for a fabulous holiday?
To chill out and think of things I sometimes don’t get a chance to at home. I like to reflect on my goals. When I last visited New York, experiencing the views high up really got my creative side going.
The best piece of advice you have been given whilst travelling?
Always take an overnight bag with toiletries, a bikini and essentials if your luggage goes missing. Think, “if it doesn’t turn up for 24 hours - what do I need?"
Describe your most memorable travel experience?
Having travelled around the world to speak at events over the last two decades my most interesting trip was definitely to South Korea and Vietnam. Neither of them were anything like what I expected, both so beautiful and green they reminded me of Scotland, though I was there during monsoon season.
Your favourite airline and why?
British Airways is my favourite airline but I love Virgin too. The flight attendants are always helpful and pleasant and the range of destinations they cover is ideal.
Describe your perfect holiday?
Not necessarily lying on a beach. I love being active and exploring the country I am visiting. It’s great to go somewhere with a different culture and way of life to sample. Nothing beats the feeling of leaving the country with more knowledge than you came with.
What’s your favourite hotel?
Sandy Lane in Barbados. It’s out of this world.
A location on your bucket list?
I have been close but never quite reached Thailand and it’s one of the places I will have to visit in the near future. The thunderstorms are said to be breathtaking! It’s one of the places I’d want to go for a little longer than usual, something my schedule doesn’t allow for very often.
For speaking enquiries and bookings, visit www.michellemone.com
Waxing lyrical about country music
A music-themed Madame Tussauds is to open at a shopping centre in Nashville, Tennessee, with Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash likely to be among the country music stars preserved for posterity. More touchy-feely than the London branch, the new attraction, in the Opry Mills mall, will offer visitors the chance to interact with the waxwork figures while enjoying a rousing country-heavy soundtrack.
Clearing the way to the USA
Visitors to America from the UK will be able to clear US immigration and customs before they fly, under plans revealed by US authorities. The scheme, which already operates in several Canadian airports, Abu Dhabi and Shannon and Dublin airports in Ireland, aims to cut down the notorious immigration queues at American airports by treating pre-cleared passengers as domestic arrivals. There's still some waiting to be done however, as pre-clearance is expected to be offered at Heathrow and Manchester airports within the next five years.
On the wagon in Drybiza
Ibiza could become Drybiza this summer as the Balearic Island considers a ban on drinking on the streets in the party capital of San Antonio. Fines of up to 750 euros (around £600) could be handed out, even to people drinking water in public places, although the law aims to target large rowdy groups. "Given how difficult it is for police to differentiate between whether it is alcohol or a soft drink being consumed, it is necessary to adopt an outright ban, said a town councillor.
Cheeky Venice gulls make their Marks
The historic cafes on St Mark's Square in Venice have admitted that they're losing a year-long war against thieving seagulls, which swoop on food as soon as it is served. Water bombs, balloons, and playing the call of a peregrine falcon have all failed. Now members of the St Marks Association, including the famous Cafe Florian and Grancaffe Quadri, are asking for suggestions from the public on how to stop the aerial menace. Among the suggestions being considered is a plan to spray gull-repelling chemicals into the air.
The Berlin 'Air' rift
Authorities in Berlin are cracking down on Airbnb and its rivals, with the threat of hefty fines for users who rent out entire properties rather than single rooms. The new law, which came into force this month, is part of an attempt to safeguard affordable housing for the city's residents. Offenders are subject to fines of up to £79,000, and locals have been advised to report any suspected law breakers.
Day trippers face Barca bill
Tourists visiting Barcelona on a day trip could be made to pay a tax even if they don't stay overnight. The charge is the brainchild of the city council under the left-wing mayor Ada Colau, who is keen to increase the return on the millions of visitors who flock to the Spanish city to see the likes of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia, the sandy beaches and the bustling Las Ramblas shopping street. Visitors staying in Barcelona already pay a tourist tax but the council believes a 'day-tripper' tariff for travellers not staying for the night would best mitigate the impact of mass tourism and be particularly effective in raising revenue from cruise passengers.
For those seeking the ultimate treehouse experience with all the luxury that a boutique hotel provides, the tree house villas at Keemala in Phuket welcome guests to an enchanting evergreen wonderland enveloped by nature.
So close yet so far from the parties of Patong on Thailand's biggest island, the tranquil setting of this wellness-focused resort encourages guests to rebalance, rejuvenate and relax among the trees, streams and waterfalls. Featuring two floors, these spacious villas are complete with a private pool; and interiors of the seven Tree Pool Houses incorporate suspended furniture and cocoon like beds and loungers.
Other accommodation options include Clay Pool Cottages, Bird’s Nest Pool Villas and Tent Pool Villas.
Family and friends raised money to send my very sick sister to the Headache Clinic in South Africa. DialAFlight made booking our flights really easy and stress free.
My sister's case was complicated and we needed to extend our stay on two occasions to continue her treatment. On the second extension money was very short and the fee to Virgin for moving the flight was a worry.
Rocky at DialAFlight requested a letter from the surgeon and spoke to Virgin on our behalf getting them to waive the £400 fee. Our trip had gone from 3 weeks to 10 weeks so that money made a huge difference. My sister is now Migraine free, thanks to Dr Shevel at The Headache Clinic, Rocky at DialAFlight and Virgin Atlantic.
Sparkling footnote: Jane's name was pulled out of the hat in our monthly Trust Pilot draw and a case of Prosecco is on its way to her.
As a result of a very lengthy passport renewal process I was trying to book last minute flights to Dubai and tried several internet booking services without success. We were on the point of cancelling our trip but then I rang DialAFlight on the off chance they could help us.
Cooper was as helpful and informed as anyone could wish offering us several options and we were able to make a choice and travel on the dates we wanted. The whole process was simple and everything went very smoothly. I would recommend DialAFlight to anyone!
Excellent service. I had been trying to book flights for a group of 9 all flying out on the same date but two returning after two weeks and the rest returning after three weeks. I am no expert and could find no easy solution on the High Street unless I was willing to pay over the odds for complicated separate bookings.
The team DialAFlight made everything simple and the price was excellent. For hassle-free flights, advice and information I will always choose DialAFlight.
I have booked travel arrangements through DialAFlight for several years and have just returned from a four stop trip to Asia and the Middle East. Declan and his team were excellent in handling a number of alterations to my plans and when I missed a connecting flight from Hong Kong to Dubai the ‘out of hours’ team were tremendous - jumping onto things and getting me through to Dubai on a later flight.
This most recent experience of using DialAFlight has been the best yet; the company's level of service continues to get better and better. I strongly recommend them.
Read more reviews at https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/www.dialaflight.com
Mexico’s Pacific coast boasts some of the most delightful golden beaches in the world and you can see for yourself with 7 nights at the Secrets Vallarta Bay. Make the most of the unlimited luxury all inclusive experience and relish fantastic amenities throughout. Our offer includes a saving of 15% as well as flights with American Airlines from just £1649pp. Valid June 2016.
Retreat to boutique elegance and marvel in unrivalled views of the stunning Mediterranean at 5* Londa Beach from just £699pp. Well renowned for its luxurious spa breaks, the hotel offers the ultimate in Cypriot escapes from the blissful beaches of Limassol to the delights of the mountainous wine region nearby. Save 10% and enjoy daily breakfast at this luxury hotel with flights included. Valid 01 July – 26 August.
Find your very own secluded spot in beautiful Bali as you discover the meaning of privacy in the charming village of Sanur. Stay 8 nights for the price of 6 at the stunning Pavilions Bali and enjoy your very own private pool at this deluxe romantic getaway. Our offer also includes breakfast and flights with China Eastern Airlines, prices start from £835pp. Valid 01 November – 05 December.
Embrace the hustle and bustle of New York City with a cultural stay in the heart of Manhattan’s theatre district. Staying at the 5* Chatwal Hotel, you’ll find yourself moments away from the famous Broadway theatres and media centre that make this part of the Big Apple so popular. Stay 4 nights for the price of 3 and get flights with British Airways included with this £955pp offer. Valid: 23 August – 31 August.
Take a great Australian road trip and travel along the Great Sunshine Way from Cairns to Brisbane at your own pace with this enchanting 13 night tour. Along the way you’ll take in glorious beaches, lush rainforests and sugarcane plantations, as well as the unforgettable Fraser Island all from just £2099pp. Our offer includes savings of 10%, car hire and flights with Singapore Airlines. Valid 01 October – 18 October.
The opulent St Regis Abu Dhabi is the place to go for exquisite service and uncompromising luxury. From just £549pp, you can the highlights of the city well within reach and be perfectly placed to make the most of the major shopping districts and exciting museums here. Plus, enjoy complimentary lounge access (in LHR, EDI and MAN) and complimentary transfers to hotels in Abu Dhabi when booking flights with Etihad between 15-28 May. Valid 11 August – 20 September.