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January 2016

Watch out for travel web scams

Beware of the fraudsters says ABTA’s fraud squad

Watch out for the fraudsters. That’s the warning from ABTA this week as travel’s peak booking season gets under way.

They warn of an increase in criminals using fake websites with promises of great deals and discount holidays.The fraudsters make large sums of money by taking payments for holidays, hotel and flight reservations that do not exist.

Action Fraud says people booking ski chalet holidays through two fake ski websites have been defrauded to the tune of £60k this year. And it is not just fake websites that are the problem.

Watch out for travel web scams says ABTA Last month a chalet in our Supertravel ski programme suddenly popped up on Airbnb. A picture had been cut and pasted from our website, a cheap price added and the fraudster had set the perfect trap for an unsuspecting bargain hunter. Fortunately we spotted it quickly and had the page taken down but it’s frighteningly easy to do.

ABTA says there has been an alarming increase in the number of consumers reporting fraudulent travel company websites. It says that members of the public risk being cheated by criminals posing as online travel agents especially using fake hotel and flight booking websites which cost very little to set up. Warning signs that a website might be dodgy include flight or holiday prices that are much cheaper than those offered by competitors particularly on peak dates, low resolution 'fuzzy' logos for trade associations or credit card companies.

We would add that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. If something sounds too good to be true then it probably is.

Bookings boom to safe destinations

Which will be the winning destinations in 2016?

We’re only a few days into the New Year but it’s already becoming clear which will be the winning destinations in 2016.

In Europe we’re seeing a huge resurgence in Spain as customers look for safe destinations. So too, they are heading for the Caribbean and Florida giving a wide berth to Egypt and to a lesser extent Turkey.

Russia has announced that it is ceasing tourist relations with Turkey (around 4.5 million Soviets go on holiday there each year) so we are expecting lots of deals there later in the year.

The big-spending Americans are traditionally very nervous travellers and already hotels all over Europe are seeing cancellations and a drop in bookings from across the Atlantic ... meaning there will plenty of vacancies and good deals to be had in the foreseeable future.

Costa Rica Monteverde Cloud Forest South Africa is booming because of the exchange rate. Earlier this month it hit 24 rand to the pound making the country incredible value. And nearby Namibia offers similar bargains.

Australia is not quite on that level but the favourable exchange rate means holidays are the cheapest they have been since 2009.

Our hot tips for 2016 are Cuba and Costa Rica. There’s a desire to visit Cuba before it becomes commercialised and American tourists start heading that way but there is a shortage of good hotel accommodation particularly in Havana and that won’t change in the near future.

Iran: The hot destination for 2016 Direct BA flights into Costa Rica offer the prospect of combining beach and jungle in a single adventurous trip. And there will also be non-stop flights from London into Peru so we are expecting demand from people wanting to tick Machu Picchu off their bucket list.

India is finally sorting its visa problems with a new e-visa scheme making a notoriously laborious process easier and cheaper.

But the wild card this year could be the thaw in relations with Iran which is anticipating a boom in tourism. The Foreign Office has lifted its ban on travel, their visa system is being updated and there are rumours of a BA flight into Tehran.

My best holiday ever

TV stand-up Russell Howard sees the funny side of desert skiing and his brother being butted by a dolphin

How often do you travel?
Quite a lot. I spend a fair amount of time living out of a suitcase, especially on tour. Last year I did a two and a half month working trip around America. It was a great way to see the country and a tour to me is a bit like a holiday.

Your earliest memory of going abroad?
When I was eight we went to Lanzarote. I remember my parents, brother and sister all plotting to scare me. They bought wolf masks before we left and when I was putting out the rubbish one night they jumped up from behind the bins. Apart from that, it was a good holiday.

TV stand-up comic Russell Howard and his brother Funniest travel experience?
About six years ago my brother and I were swimming with dolphins in Dubai and one of them butted him in the groin. I wish I was mature enough not to find that amusing.

City with the best nightlife?
In the UK I'd have to say Bristol, where I was born. Abroad, it has to be New York. Just hanging out in Greenwich Village on a long hot summer night is awesome.

Most adventurous travel experience?
Magaluf with my mates for a lads' holiday when I was 20. I had just dyed my hair blue and as a holiday it was spectacularly unsuccessful. We got drunk too early, failed to get into nightclubs, and spent a lot of time not going out. Dubai was pretty adventurous and as well as swimming with dolphins we went skiing indoors in the heart of the desert - which was pretty surreal.

Best holiday ever?
Mauritius in 2010. I took my whole family the day after my final gig of my first big UK tour, so it was really special. We went in early December and spent most of the time on the beach playing football, chess, reading and just hanging out. The most relaxing place I have been to is Bondi Beach in Australia. I always go there when I'm in Sydney, the sea is so warm and the sand so soft.

Favourite airline?
Emirates. I flew business class with my mum recently and she loved it. My least favourite airline is Ryanair - they'd charge you to sneeze if they could.

Where next?
Byron Bay in Australia with my family. It's my dad's 60th birthday present, so we are renting a house on the beach for two weeks.

To read the full interview visit www.telegraph.co.uk

Travel Gossip

What's up? What's down? Partying in Phuket, revving up in Vegas and drones banned in ski resorts

How safe is your airline?
Qantas has been named as the world’s safest airline for the 3rd year running. In their annual survey AirlineRatings.com also named the worst 10 airlines, all from Indonesia, Nepal and Suriname. They included Batik Air and Paramaribo-based Bluewing Airlines. Iraqi Airways was last month banned from operating in EU airspace, due to “unaddressed safety concerns” according to EU officials.

Turning up the volume on this once sedate Thai island Turning up the volume
If you like all the pulsating nightlife that has made Ibiza the world's party capital, but want to try somewhere a little more exotic for your holidays, then look no further than Phuket. This once sedate Thai island has been undergoing a process of Ibizafication, and the volume is set to be cranked up another notch with the signing of an exclusive deal with Ministry of Sound and Hed Kandi. The dance music giants will throw monthly pool parties and club nights at the new Dream Beach Club (formerly Nikki Beach).

Be quick if you fancy Cuba
Due to a huge demand for trips to Cuba, tour operators are advising holiday-makers to book at least eight months in advance if they want to secure accommodation on the Caribbean island. With travel restrictions being relaxed for the American market, and the rest of the world fearing that it won't be long before a McDonalds will be popping on every corner in beautiful and historic Havana, hotels and homestays are doing turn-away business. Our inquiries for Cuba have soared 80 per cent

Gone in 60 Seconds
If you have a hot streak at the tables in Las Vegas you will soon be able to spend some of your winnings riding around in a supercar. A 100 acre complex is being build on the fringes of Sin City and for £32 per lap of the one and a half mile circuit there's a good chance that your money will be Gone in 60 seconds! But if you're a petrol head what better way to splash the cash than by taking your pick from cars like a Audi R8, Corvette Z06, Ferrari 458 Italia and a Lamborghini Huracan. The whole place is set to look like a Premier League training ground's car park.

New train to China
Work has begun on a 260 mile railway linking Vientiane, the capital of Laos, with the Chinese border. The 4.1 billion project is expected to be completed within the next five years, with trains travelling at up to 125 mph. It will form a key part of the 2,000 mile Kunming-Singapore railway linking China, Laos, Thailand and Malaysia and will add a new dimension to travelling in those countries.

The coolest aircraft seat ever
In today's world of tablets with HD displays, phones with giant screens and PCs with beautiful touch screens, the video displays on planes don't cut it anymore. Panasonic, which makes most of the inflight entertainment technology thinks it has the answer with new ultra-thin 13 inch HD touchscreen displays that pretty much span the entire back of the seat in front of you. Emirates have started installing them in their Economy seats while Panasonic are working on their designs for Business Class.

A burden for the beasts
Popular elephant rides in Goa and Rajasthan may be banned by India's Supreme Court after the tourist pastime has come under scrutiny by officials. Judges in India have voiced concerns that the animals might be subject to torture and ill treatment at the hands of their owners at tourist spots including Jaipur's Amber Fort, where many visitors are carried up the steep hill on the backs of these gentle giants.

Now you can't drone on about skiing
All but a handful of ski resorts in America have effectively forbidden the use of drones this winter. The National Ski Area Association, which represents 313 resorts, now requires skiers to get written permits for the use of airborne cameras. In France and Switzerland, laws banning drones from flying over people make their use in ski resorts illegal anyway. But it's not all bad news for the selfie-obsessed as some resorts, including Winter Park in Colorado and Verbier in Switzerland, are opening dedicated drone zones where skiers and boarders can, for a fee, have their efforts filmed by professionally operated aerial cameras.

Quirkiest hotel of the month

Pack your trunk for a jumbo sized break
Elephant Villa Sri Lanka: Your chance to sleep in the elephant's belly Sri Lanka is famous for its rugged beauty, rolling tea plantations, spicy cuisine and elephants. Now visitors to this amazing country have the opportunity to stay in a 40ft, two storey elephant hotel.

Aptly named Elephant Villa, the hotel is situated at Kumbuk River, bordering Yala, Sri Lanka’s premier wildlife sanctuary. The villa sleeps between 2-10 people and offers two large, eco-styled bedrooms, a lounge area and spacious bathroom for a fun eco-friendly alternative to a standard hotel.

Please call for more details.

What people are saying

A selection of customer comments from Trust Pilot

How I lost £3000 when I didn’t use DialAFlight

It has been over five years since I came across DialAFlight and can confidently say I have never been let down. My daughter and I travel at least 3 times a year to different destinations and have always booked our holidays with Richard who always seems to decipher our requirements, from ambiguous information I provide, by coming up with an ideal package. The one time I booked a holiday online myself things went terribly wrong and I lost about £3,000!

I had to turn to Richard to fix the problem by securing us another holiday. Needless to say, there is always someone at DialAFlight to offer support no matter our location. I recommended a friend who lives and works abroad to DialAFlight several years ago for their accommodation requirements in the UK and received very positive feedback from them too. So thank you DialAFlight. Our 2016 plans will soon hit your inbox.

Georgina Shikhukhulo gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot


Niall is so good I had to leave a review

I have never ever actually written a review for anyone or any company. But I decided Niall from DialAFlight deserved some recognition for his patience and tolerance and for the hard work he has put into every holiday I have booked with him. Definitely, beyond the call of duty. I would recommend DialAFlight to anyone for getting the best deal with peace of mind that everything has been catered for a perfect holiday. Thanks Niall.

Tash Black gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot


Stranded in the Caribbean but DialAflight came to the rescue

I am a frequent flyer and have used DialAFlight to book flights and hotels for the past three years due to the competitive rates they are always able to offer, their great customer service, and the knowledge that they are always on hand to assist in any way they can.

I recently travelled to Dominica, and had the unfortunate experience of being stranded following the devastating storm Erica. I was unable to leave the Island, and did not know who to turn to for assistance, as I was going to miss my connecting flight back to London. In desperation I contacted DialAFlight and spoke to Charles who managed to change my flight (3 times due to the constant changes of the reports as to when the Dominican airport would be open) book me and my family into a hotel and help to reassure us by offering to speak directly to the unhelpful travel agents in Dominica.

Thank you DialAFlight and especially Charles who offered exceptional customer service at that most stressful time. Will I ever use another agent? NEVER

Ophelia Barzey gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot


Debbie saved me £1000 AND got me free nights in a hotel

I spent some time on the Internet looking at flights and holidays in Grenada over the Christmas so that I had some idea of availability and costs before ringing DialAFlight. Details of our requirements were taken quickly and efficiently by Debbie who suggested that it would be best for her to ring back in a few minutes rather than keep me hanging on.

Ten minutes later she came back and said: 'Can you go on 10th December rather than 19th? If so, I can save you £1000 and give you four extra nights!' Needless to say, I booked it. Once again DialAFlight showed that they are able to put together packages well below the prices that you can find yourself - and in a fraction of the time. The follow-up paperwork all arrived promptly and we even had a courtesy call from one of Debbie's colleagues on the Sunday before we went just to make sure that there were no problems. Just the best!

Peter Edwards gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot

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

Read more reviews at https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/www.dialaflight.com

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