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New Spartan Class. No frills, no bags and no choice of seat.

Once you’ve booked your flights the hard bit should be over. But reserving seats is rapidly becoming our customers’ biggest grumble.

Low cost airlines advertise prices which start off looking cheap but escalate alarmingly once the add-ons are included. Now the large carriers are playing the same game.

Generally, if you book the cheapest fare you can only check-in and reserve seats 24hrs before departure. But when planes are full, particularly around bank and school holidays this can mean families being split up. Airlines are hoping you will pay a premium in order to reserve seats together.

The rules change rapidly and our travel managers have access to the latest and most advantageous arrangements. They can suggest airlines which are more flexible than others - some even allow check-in up to 3 days prior to departure for their cheapest fares.

As you’ll see from our report below, the US airlines have started introducing an even more restricted economy fare we’ve dubbed Spartan Class.

You can’t reserve a seat, you get on the plane last and you can’t use the overhead lockers - any bag must fit under your seat.

If you’re prepared to wear all your holiday clothes, don’t mind sitting apart from your travelling companions and like middle seats this may be just the ticket!

New Spartan Class. No frills, no bags and no choice of seat.

Once you’ve booked your flights the hard bit should be over. But reserving seats is rapidly becoming our customers’ biggest grumble.

Low cost airlines advertise prices which start off looking cheap but escalate alarmingly once the add-ons are included. Now the large carriers are playing the same game.

Generally, if you book the cheapest fare you can only check-in and reserve seats 24hrs before departure. But when planes are full, particularly around bank and school holidays this can mean families being split up. Airlines are hoping you will pay a premium in order to reserve seats together.

The rules change rapidly and our travel managers have access to the latest and most advantageous arrangements. They can suggest airlines which are more flexible than others - some even allow check-in up to 3 days prior to departure for their cheapest fares.

As you’ll see from our report below, the US airlines have started introducing an even more restricted economy fare we’ve dubbed Spartan Class. You can’t reserve a seat, you get on the plane last and you can’t use the overhead lockers - any bag must fit under your seat.

If you’re prepared to wear all your holiday clothes, don’t mind sitting apart from your travelling companions and like middle seats this may be just the ticket!

Previously...

New Spartan Class. No frills, no bags and no choice of seat.

Once you’ve booked your flights the hard bit should be over. But reserving seats is rapidly becoming our customers’ biggest grumble.

Low cost airlines advertise prices which start off looking cheap but escalate alarmingly once the add-ons are included. Now the large carriers are playing the same game.

Generally, if you book the cheapest fare you can only check-in and reserve seats 24hrs before departure. But when planes are full, particularly around bank and school holidays this can mean families being split up. Airlines are hoping you will pay a premium in order to reserve seats together.

The rules change rapidly and our travel managers have access to the latest and most advantageous arrangements. They can suggest airlines which are more flexible than others - some even allow check-in up to 3 days prior to departure for their cheapest fares.

As you’ll see from our report below, the US airlines have started introducing an even more restricted economy fare we’ve dubbed Spartan Class. You can’t reserve a seat, you get on the plane last and you can’t use the overhead lockers - any bag must fit under your seat.

If you’re prepared to wear all your holiday clothes, don’t mind sitting apart from your travelling companions and like middle seats this may be just the ticket!

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It's back to basics in the economy class cabin

The new 'misery' economy fare explained

The old adage 'you get what you pay for' has never been more true when it comes to booking flights . . . and with a new class of air travel on the way, conditions are set to become a lot less palatable for flyers who put cash before comfort.

Last month American Airlines became the third US carrier to announce that it will now sell basic economy tickets, joining United and Delta, and industry experts predict that the idea is likely to spread to British and European airlines.

Known by detractors as 'misery class', the new basic economy fare offers seats in the regular economy cabin at a discount - typically about 10 to 15 per cent - but the tickets involve a raft of restrictions. Passengers have no pre-allocated seat, are not allowed space in the overhead locker (except on Delta) and must board the plane last.

Also, any bags must be small enough to fit under the seat in front and refunds and changes to the ticket are prohibited, as are upgrades.

Delta already offers basic economy on domestic flights and plans to roll it out across its international network by next year. All the airlines offering these cheap tickets say that they give customers a greater choice.

Yet opponents of the new class argue that it is just the latest indignity for passengers. George Hobica, founder of the consumer site Airfarewatchdog.com said: "There's no way you're not going to end up in a middle seat at the back of the plane - the bottom of the barrel."

Others worry that the new fares will simply be a vehicle to push up standard economy fares. Kendall Creighton, of the passenger rights group FlyersRights.org, said: "Basic economy is a stealth price increase. Yesterday's economy class ticket, which included reserved seating, checked bags and carry-ons, is now viewed by airlines as a luxury, rather than industry standard.

Meanwhile European carriers have been a tad reluctant to put their cards on the tray table when it comes to basic economy fares. British Airways said: "We are always reviewing our products and services, and looking for ways to innovate." Virgin were equally noncommittal saying: "We always want our customers to have the best possible experience."

'Misery' class arrives at a time when airlines are already cutting back on economy offerings. Last month BA dispensed with complimentary drinks and snacks in favour of paid-for M&S food on its short haul routes. Airlines are also squeezing in more seats to maximise revenue - so called "densification". From next year BA will have an extra 52 seats on its Boeing 777s as nine abreast becomes 10.

The airline is also adding an additional two rows to its short haul Airbus A320s and A321s operating from Heathrow so they can "lower the average cost per seat, charge a lower price and stimulate demand."

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Off round the world. But in which direction?

And how to get the best advice from an expert

It's not a problem you have to wrestle with every day, but when planning ambitious long haul trips involving RTW (round-the-world) tickets you have to decide what time of the year to go and which way you want to fly.

Whether you're visiting dream destinations like Australia and New Zealand for a holiday or to see relatives or you're a gap year student seeking adventure, both these questions have to be answered before you book.

At a recent Daily Telegraph Travel Show in London issues regarding RWTs came up time and time again, often from people who had just retired and were planning journeys of six to eight weeks or more.

And the advice from the newspaper's experts was not to go direct to a single airline, but to talk to a specialist agent like DialAFlight, which has an overview of all the current fares and options - including potential upgrades and offers in premium and business class - and may have suggestions for routes and stopovers that you hadn't thought about.

Our travel experts are only a call away and can help you plan any trip, however complicated, and will be happy to answer questions and assist with all aspects of your planned holiday.

But as a guide, most RTW tickets will set you off in an easterly direction via Asia. This means that on every leg of the journey you are behind the curve. You may arrive in Bangkok after an 11 hour flight, and your body clock is seven hours behind the local time. You have less flexibility to adjust to new time zones and are playing catch-up.

Your first few days in a destination can be a haze of biorhythmic confusion. Fly the other way, however, stopping first in North or South America, and on across the Pacific, and you have a bit of extra time in hand.

Because your body clock is ahead of the new time zone, you may find yourself going to bed very early at first, but each day you will wake up ahead of the game. You pay for this when you cross the International Date Line by 'losing' a day, but that probably doesn't matter much on a really long trip, particularly if you are prone to suffering from chronic jet lag.

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Portugal’s top for value this year

The Algarve ranked top in the Post Office's global costs index

Portugal has been named as the cheapest holiday destination in the world for Britons this year.

The country's ever-popular coastal region - the Algarve - ranked top in the Post Office's global costs index, taking into account the price of eight essential items, ranging from an evening meal for two to a bottle of sun cream.

The Algarve, which boasts golden beaches framed by limestone rocks on the Atlantic coast, beat Bulgaria's Sunny Beach into top spot with Spain's Costa del Sol third, followed by trouble-hit Turkey fourth and then the Czech Republic. The Japanese capital Tokyo was the only destination outside Europe to rank in the Top 10, coming eighth.

After a topsy turvey year for the pound, which fell heavily against the euro and dollar in June before regaining ground recently, British holidaymakers are being urged to keep a closer than ever eye on how currency affects costs.

Andrew Brown, of Post Office's Travel Money said it also pays to research where in-resort prices have fallen. For example, in the Algarve the cost of an evening meal is down five per cent on last year.

Brown cited South Africa, Mexico and Japan as places where Britons are finding much better value and said: "The pound may be weaker than it was a year ago, but if you compare today with five years ago , sterling is stronger now against 60 per cent of our 40 best selling currencies."

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My best holiday ever

Donny Osmond: 'I literally grew up in hotels from the age of six'

Singer Donny Osmond just loves chilling out in Hawaii . . . but also has a soft spot for Bath and Brighton Beach

How often do you travel?
Almost daily. I'm based in Provo, Utah, but have had a Donny and Marie show residency in Las Vegas since 2008. That means I'm on the road four days a week. Plus there are tours and other showbusiness related travel. But I make sure there are several weeks out of the year free for family holidays.

Favourite part of the US?
Hawaii, which I have visited regularly over the years. My wife Debbie and I got engaged there, so it has special memories. As I grew up in California, I love that state - the coastal areas around San Diego are lovely. I also love my home state of Utah where we like to hike at Sundance Mountain resort and at Park City. I've recently taken one of my sons skiing at Sundance too.

Best city you have toured in?
In the 70s when the Osmonds fame was at its height, I remember playing amazing venues like the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto where I met Michael Jackson for the first time. The Jackson Five performed before us and I always remember Michael peeking out from behind the curtains watching us from the side. In the UK, I have always enjoyed playing at Hammersmith and Earl's Court in London.

Favourite place in the UK?
Bath, where I stayed while I cut an album with Peter Gabriel in 1986. I also really like Brighton Beach.

Most adventurous travel experience?
A fishing trip to the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska with my father about 20 years ago. We went salmon and halibut fishing and I hiked in the mountains. It was a memorable trip that my dad and I would often reminisce about.

Best holiday ever?
Last August, as an early Christmas present, we flew the whole family (my five sons and grandchildren) over to Hawaii. I rented cars for everyone so we could all do our own thing - surfing, boating, windsailing - and spend time together too. We stayed at Maui, Kauai and Oahu and it was the perfect family holiday.

Favourite City?
Auckland, New Zealand. I love the scenery and getting out into nature. Prague is also lovely. I like the city centre and the historic astronomical clock.

Best piece of travel advice?
Always pack light. I can get an elephant into a carry-on bag... very rarely do I have to check in luggage.

For the full interview read Telegraph travel online

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What people are saying

A selection of customer comments from Trustpilot

And the award for excellent service goes to ... DialAFlight with 8 stars

Being a sad old 'git' I trawled through 12 pages of reviews to try and find some bad ones and, lo and behold, just one single star review! All the rest were 4 or 5 stars. I don't really understand the 4 star reviews as, having been a customer of DialAFlight for more years than I care to remember I would go off the scale if I could and give them, and in particular Ryan, 6, 7 or 8 stars. Our latest trip to New Zealand and Aitutaki was the usual 'well-oiled machine' and Ryan triumphed again with the Aitutaki accommodation. Excellent - no reservations. I would recommend this company to anyone.

Michael Spencer gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot.

Sparkling footnote: Michael's name was pulled out of the hat in our monthly Trust Pilot draw and a case of Prosecco is on its way.

I will be recommending DialAFlight to every passenger who gets in my cab

We booked a group of 12 people to NYC and all wanted to pay separately. Sadie, who looked after us, was absolutely brilliant. Great communication and kept on top of us to make sure we had everything in place for our trip. I have used travel agents to book holidays before but DialAFlight was recommended to me by a friend and I will certainly be passing on their number and Sadie's name to my friends and customers as I am a taxi driver who takes and picks up lots of customers going to the airport. The little extras that are offered by them make all the difference.

Jon Haynes gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot

Don’t waste your time on the web. DialAFlight is the only sensible option

If you are attempting to book from a discount website, you are wasting your time and money. I've been using DialAFlight for 8 years. Gordon is the first person I call when I travel anywhere. They are by far the best option for arranging flights at the best times and best possible prices.

John Murray gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot

Our trip Down Under went like a dream. We’ll be back...

We cannot thank Roger and his team enough for the help in planning our trip to Australia via Hong Kong. We took 8 flights, stayed in 6 cities and drove 2700 KM and all went according to plan. I know it’s a cliche but it was a "trip of a lifetime". We had absolutely no knowledge of either Hong Kong or Australia so needed total guidance. All of the recommended accommodation was brilliant and very well located. Our flights with Emirates and Qantas were excellent and the timings well thought out. We will definitely be using DialAFlight for our next trip!

Liz Felgate gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot

It’s all about trust and so much quicker than trawling around the internet

It's great to develop a relationship with someone you can trust to sort out your travel requirements. Miles is very friendly and efficient , options given and tickets booked in no time at all. Competitive with other sites and much much quicker than trawlling through hundreds of different options yourself on line. I definitely would recommend Miles to anyone.

Lynn Scott-Rowell gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot

Read more reviews at the Trustpilot website

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This month's new hotels

Lapita Hotel

Lapita Hotel - Dubai

The brand new Lapita Hotel brings Polynesia to Dubai Parks and Resorts with an intriguing tribal theme, which serves as a unique getaway location right in the heart of this entertainment hub. Perfect for a family retreat, the resort will act as your base for adventure, you’ll enjoy a soothing and mesmerising stay, just moments from top attractions including Legoland, Motiongate and Bollywood Parks – so there’s never a dull moment.

Sani Dunes

Sani Dunes - Greece

Beach life meets the high life at the chic, sophisticated Sani Dunes resort. Featuring an elegant water’s edge ambience, the resort creates a ‘grown-up’ atmosphere where contemporary style combines perfectly with sublime touches of Mediterranean elegance. Restricted to guests over 12 years old, an exclusive spa, private beach and a selection of expansive pools await at this adult-friendly destination.

Kandima

Kandima - The Maldives

Located in the stunning Dhaalu Atoll, with clear blue waters and lush tropical greenery for company, the Kandima Maldives is a seriously stylish island resort. Featuring extraordinary restaurants and bars, the longest outdoor pool in the Maldives and plenty more, this lifestyle resort caters for guests of all ages and interests. A stay in one of 274 studios and villas will bring you tropical views from a private terrace, ensuring you can take home your very own snapshot of this remarkable place.

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What's on offer?

Our top 6 money savers you can't afford to miss

Save 20% on a slice of Grecian splendour at 5* Eagles Palace

Choose the 5* Eagles Palace Hotel for a romantic couples getaway in one of Greece's most captivating destinations. Neighboured by the magical Mount Athos, you'll find yourself being charmed by the incredible sights that surround you. Embrace the private beach at your doorstep and soak up the sun for that all important dose of Vitamin D and relaxation. Our offer includes a 20% saving on your stay as well as a free upgrade to half board and transfers. Flights from Gatwick to Thessaloniki are also included all from £659pp when you travel 14 Apr- 23 Jun.

5* boutique Thailand from £669pp

Enjoy a boutique retreat at the luxurious Nai Harn hotel, Phuket which overlooks a peaceful and beautiful bay on this paradise island. Gaze out to the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea, take an island-hopping cruise, indulge in pampering treatments at the tranquil spa and eat the freshest gourmet dishes in the contemporary restaurant. Our offer includes 7 nights for the price of 6 in a Mountain View Room with breakfast as well as a free massage, transfers and flights from Heathrow all from £669pp. Valid for deps 1 Apr- 30 Jun

FREE car hire in Orlando

Book a holiday of 7 nights or more to Orlando this February and receive 7 days FREE Alamo car hire when you fly with Virgin Atlantic. How about a 7 night luxury break at the 5 star Waldorf Astoria Orlando which sits among 482 acres of immaculate gardens? Our offer also includes your 7th night free at this incredible hotel as well as Virgin Atlantic flights from Gatwick all from £775pp based on a family of 4 sharing a room. Valid 27 Jun – 12 July. Hurry, limited availability of free car offer.

Luxury Mexico: Save £1500 per room at Paradisus La Perla or Esmeralda

Located in a stunning little bay, adults only Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Perla & family friendly Esmeralda are superior luxury resorts in the Riviera Maya, combining a prestigious Caribbean setting with world-class facilities. Whether you want to kick back and relax on the beach or beside one of the lagoon-style pools or try out a new activity or class, you can do it at either of these hotels. Try your hand at making cigars, sushi and cocktails, play beach volleyball or tennis, or go snorkelling. Alternatively laze on the beautiful beach and soak up the sunshine. 7 nights from £1399pp including flights from Gatwick and transfers. Valid 18 Apr - 30 Jun.

Save £150pp on a gourmet tour of New Zealand

Get your teeth in to this sensational self-drive tour of New Zealand’s North and South Islands and save £150pp. Starting in Auckland, your journey takes you to Rotorua, the Art Deco city of Napier, the Hawkes Bay wine region, Wellington, Blenheim in the Marlborough wine growing area, and ends in the beautiful relaxed city of Christchurch. As well as enjoying the fine food and drink, you will drive through lots of the spectacular scenery for which New Zealand is famous. 13 nights from £2695pp inclusive of flights and car hire. Valid for September travel.

Save over £1000pp on a luxurious Silversea cruise of South Africa

Explore the many wonders of the Rainbow Nation in ultimate style on a sensationally luxurious Silversea cruise. Starting in vibrant Cape Town you’ll voyage on board Silver Spirit to Port Elizabeth, Durban, Richards Bay and East London with a thrilling choice of optional shore excursions to enjoy on your way including safaris, township tours and hippo adventures. Save over £1000 with our offer which includes 9 nights in a Vista Suite with butler service as well as an additional 3 nights at 5* Belmond Mount Nelson in Cape Town all from £3259pp. Offer includes flights with KLM from a choice of UK airports.

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10 things we didn't know last month

1. All change at Gatwick terminals

Passengers flying with British Airways from Gatwick will now depart from the South Terminal for the first time in 30 years, instead of the North. The move is part of a merry-go-round of airlines that will see easyJet, Virgin Atlantic and BA - swap terminals. For passengers, it means that those flying with Virgin and arriving at the airport by train, will now have to catch the two minute rail shuttle from the South to the North terminal.

2. Sex on the beach and drunk in the street. Brits on Ibiza!

Spanish police officers are refusing postings to Ibiza because they are not paid enough to deal with semi naked drunken British tourists who fight in the street and have sex on the beach. They say keeping the 750,000 Britons, who visit the Mediterranean island each year, in check is a thankless task meaning the destination's police numbers are at breaking point.

3. Airline scraps seat back screens

Airlines are ditching seat-back screens

Passengers on American Airlines new fleet of aircraft will have to bring their own entertainment because the cabins won't feature any built in video screens. The world's largest carrier said it decided to ditch seat-back monitors on its new Boeing 737 Max aircraft because nowadays most passengers travel with mobile phones, laptops and tablets. Instead of investing in screens, it will upgrade in flight internet speeds to ensure passengers can browse the web and stream movies quickly.

4. Bubble river taxi is really in Seine

Futuristic podlike river taxis could be zipping around the Seine in Paris this summer. The eco-friendly Sea Bubbles are solar powered and 'float' above the water on drag-reducing foils. Designed by a French yachtsman and a Swedish windsurfer, the five-person fibreglass craft are currently being tested in Paris. Fares are likely to be around £9.

5. Now passport pictures can be taken on your phone

Travellers renewing their passports online are to be allowed to upload photos of themselves taken on their phones or tablets, rather than sending in hard copies. However, selfies will not be permitted, and the rules relating to plain backgrounds and neutral expressions will still apply.

6. Cozumel’s underwater oxygen bar is a world first

No diving experience necessary! If you can walk and breathe – you can participate in the bar.

The world’s first underwater oxygen bar has just opened in Cozumel, Mexico. Guests breathe enriched, scented oxygen while shooting bubble guns, playing Jenga, writing messages to each other and guests on the outside, and having their photo taken in the underwater photo booth. The fun lasts approximately 30 minutes and no diving experience is necessary.

7. Put your foot on the Accelerator

Europe's highest and fastest rollercoaster opens in Spain this spring, and if you are quick of the mark you can be one of the first to ride it. Tickets for Ferrari Land at PortAventura, near Tarragona, have just gone on sale. The 112mph Vertical Accelerator, which is 367ft high, is the biggest draw of the new theme park, which also boasts FI simulators, a racetrack and a whole stable of Prancing Horses.

8. Hard to fort this new hotel

A warm welcome at Fort Bishangarh probably once meant boiling tar being poured over the ramparts. But now this 230-year-old defensive fortress, perched high on a granite hilltop in Rajasthan, has been converted into a luxury hotel. Over seven painstaking years, 59 suites have been created behind its seven feet thick stone walls, a spa put in the dungeon and a cigar and cognac bar in the turret. Excursions from the new hotel include hot air balloon flights, riding adventures and trips to nearby Jaipur and the Amber Fort.

9. UmpTignes reasons to ski in summer!

Not content with having the longest ski season in France, Tignes is upping its game. The Savoie resort is planning a 1,300ft indoor slope that will make it the first year-round skiing destination in the Alps. The £52m Ski Line is to be built at around 2,000 metres on the slalom piste at Val Claret. As well as providing a convenient facility for perfecting your turns at the peak of summer, it's expected to have an indoor pool with a surf simulator, a shopping centre and a Club Med hotel.

10. They're making it Easybekistan

British travellers no longer need a visa to enter Uzbekistan after the central Asian nation announced that it would be ending the requirement for citizens of 15 countries. Historically, tourist visas for Uzbekistan have been tricky for UK citizens to obtain. It is hoped that the policy change, which applies to stays of up to 30 days and comes into force on April 1, will encourage more tourists.

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