Tag Archives | Commission for Aviation Regulation

Dubious advice for prospective holidaymakers in The Irish Independent

Under the headline “Holidaymakers can save €140 each by flying from North“, Aideen Sheehan relays to us statements from an online travel agency telling us that:

Sluggish demand in the North means flight prices there are currently cheaper than from Dublin, resulting in significant savings for identical holidays.

SUN holidays can be up to €140 cheaper per person if you fly from Belfast instead of Dublin.

Presumably coming from a press release, the story is from travel operator ClickAndGo.com and is effectively free advertising for them through the remainder of the article.

Buyer Be Very Careful

If you're reading this, you're probably on a PC with internet filtering, or a poor connections, so you're missing a picture of the clickandgo.com logoWhat Ms. Sheehan fails to tell her readers is that anyone in Ireland booking their holidays with ClickAndGo.com and flying out of Belfast won’t have their travel covered by the normal licencing and bonding arrangements under the Commission for Aviation Regulation rules that they’d have if flying out of Dublin, for example.

They are, however, covered by the UK Civil Aviation Authority equivalent bonding scheme.

According to the Commission for Aviation Regulation website, who oversee licencing and bonding:

Under the Transport (Tour Operators and Travel Agents) Act, 1982, (the “Act), Tour Operators and Travel Agents are required to be licensed and bonded in respect of the sale and offering for sale, of travel originating within the State to destinations outside the State.

You’ll see that this says “within the State”. For the purposes of licencing and bonding, no matter what your politics are, flying out of Belfast means you’re not originating your holding from “within the State”, and therefore you’re unfortunately not covered unless there is the UK Civil Aviation Authority cover instead.

Independent Newspapers has “form here”

Back in 2009, Dan White gave travel advice in the Evening Herald which necessitated this warning post from me for consumers, Incorrect advice on Travel Agents in the Evening Herald. The key advice at that time, which is again relevant in light of this more recent article, was as follows:

If you book a holiday with an Irish travel agent, but if you’re departing from an airport outside the Republic of Ireland, then you are not covered by the Commission for Aviation Regulation bonding scheme. You would be covered by the UK Civil Aviation Authority scheme – assuming your travel agent has signed up to it (and many Irish travel agents don’t).

So, if you book your holiday from a Dublin travel agent but fly out from Belfast, you’re not covered by the Commission for Aviation Regulation scheme.

Another thing to be careful of – the Commission for Aviation Regulation only covers anything booked from a travel agent that includes travel (i.e. flights). If you book a villa in the south of France, but decide to book your flights with Ryanair, then your villa booking isn’t covered by this scheme either.

 

 

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Incorrect advice on Travel Agents in the Evening Herald

Recently in the Evening Herald, Dan White provided some incorrect advice in response to a readers question about the safety of using travel agents given some recent high profile closures and the difficulties experienced by Budget Travel and Sunway Holidays. The question, in this article, from a reader was as follows:

With so many travel agents closing, is it safe to book my foreign holiday with an agent or should I go online instead? What happens if I book with an agent and it closes? Is my money safe?

The response from Mr. White was as follows:

First things first: if an Irish-licensed travel agent closes, as both City Travel and the Travel Collection did last week, customers’ money is safe.

All Irish-licensed travel agents and tour operators must be bonded with the Commission for Aviation Regulation. Since the bonding scheme was first introduced over 20 years ago, no customer has been left in the lurch.

Unfortunately, there are qualifications necessary to these statements that make them dangerously misleading and could lead to a false sense of comfort and complacency amongst Irish consumers when it comes to booking their holidays through a travel agent.

If you book a holiday with an Irish travel agent, but if you’re departing from an airport outside the Republic of Ireland, then you are not covered by the Commission for Aviation Regulation bonding scheme. You would be covered by the UK Civil Aviation Authority scheme – assuming your travel agent has signed up to it (and many Irish travel agents don’t).

So, if you book your holiday from a Dublin travel agent but fly out from Belfast, you’re not covered by the Commission for Aviation Regulation scheme.

Another thing to be careful of – the Commission for Aviation Regulation only covers anything booked from a travel agent that includes travel (i.e. flights). If you book a villa in the south of France, but decide to book your flights with Ryanair, then your villa booking isn’t covered by this scheme either.

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Toolin Travel – what you’re not reading in the news coverage

I’m not sure if this is relevant with regards to Toolin Travel, but if you’ve booked a holiday with them but your departure is from outside of the Republic of Ireland, Belfast for example, then you may not get your money refunded.

That would depend on whether Toolin Travel were also registered with the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK (the equivalent to the Commission for Aviation Regulation here in Ireland).

Given that it’s a Dublin based travel agency, I guess that most people would be buying packages flying from Dublin, but given that some packages might be cheaper with a Belfast departure, there could be some people affected by this.

To read more about this type of scenario, read here – Beware when booking package holidays! Click here to read the official story from the Commission for Aviation Regulation website.

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Ryanair complaint – long saga for Australian traveller

I received this letter from a very frustrated Ryanair passenger recently – an Australian travelling from London to Dublin with Ryanair.

While I referred the passenger to the Irish Commission for Aviation Regulation, I don’t believe they will have any joy with a complaint there. Given that the passenger was originating in the UK, it’s most likely that any complaint will need to be made to the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

I have asked for an update on how the passenger gets on, and will post any updates when I get them.

My friend, Miss *. ******** purchased two tickets online for us to fly with Ryanair. The tickets were for flight FR113 on Sunday 24th May, 2009, London Gatwick to Dublin (LGW-DUB). We checked in online before the flight.  Miss *. ******** has a European (English) passport and I have an Australian passport.

When we arrived at Gatwick airport there was much chaos due to a power shortage. This effected the baggage conveyer belts and brought things to a standstill. We lined up to ask about the required visa check, although online research stated that Australian passport holders did not need a visa for Ireland. After waiting for a long time in the check-in line and not moving, we became worried that we may not make it in time to the gate. Furthermore, there were people in line for many different Ryanair flights and destinations. I spoke with an employee of the airport and he confirmed that being an Australian, I did not need a Visa check to travel to Ireland. I believed this to be true as I was allowed to check-in on-line and was given a boarding pass from the Ryanair website. Having no baggage to check in we decided it would be best that we proceed to the gate so as not to miss our flight.

We proceeded through passport control and security. At gate 14 we again had our tickets and passports checked by security. It was only at the final check before boarding the plane that I was informed that I could not proceed because I did not have a stamp for the Visa check.  The lady representing Ryanair said that I needed to have the ticket stamped at the check-in. I explained the hopeless situation that I experienced at check-in with the power shortage, but she was apathetic and stated that I could not fly without the stamp or they, Ryanair, would be fined four thousand pounds. I raced back to security/passport control where again I was informed that I did not need nor did anyone need a Visa stamp to depart England. I returned to the lady representing Ryanair where she repeated that I could not travel without the stamp.

The lady representing Ryanair then took my friend’s ticket, Miss *. ********, and asked both of us to go with airport security to the Servisair Service Desk to stamp my ticket and return to the flight. We were escorted to the desk by security where we were met by another three Australians, all who were in the same predicament as myself. After waiting for some time I became worried that not only I would miss the flight for not having a stamp, but also my friend, Miss *. ********, who did not require a stamp and had also been escorted to the desk. When I asked the lady at the service desk about Miss *. ******** missing the flight, she reassured me that the flight had been delayed due to the power shortage and that the representative from Ryan Air was on their way with the stamp. We waited for 30 minutes and no Ryanair representative arrived.

The lady from the service desk then asked the five of us to follow her. We were escorted a back way through security and passport control. She then informed us that we had missed the flight, she would not answer questions on being reimbursed or provision of tickets for the next available flight. I had family waiting for me at Dublin’s Airport, who I was yet to inform about this dilemma and we had travel arrangements that depended on us boarding this flight. This event not only inconvenienced me, but those of many family and friends.

Totally confused by the misleading information, inability of staff to disclose details of what they knew to be happening, the obstruction Miss *. ******** and I had experienced by the Servisair employees, who I trusted to be representatives of Ryan Air, and the inability of staff to produce a stamp or describe where I could locate one, I went and spoke to another employee at a Servisair desk. She informed me that we would need to take the issue up with Ryanair who are only represented by a computer, that is, on-line and not with Servisair.

We had lost our seats through no fault of our own. Miss *. ******** had lost her seat because she was instructed to wait with me. With family and friends waiting for us at Dublin airport, we had no other choice but to purchase another two tickets for the next available Ryanair flight FR 115, which with the delays did not leave until five hours later at 3:00pm.

The tickets for flight FR115 cost us 223.04 English pounds each, coming to a total of 446.08 English pounds.

The tickets that we were obstructed from using for flight FR113 cost 78 English pounds each, totalling 156 English pounds.

Hence the cost for the two of us to fly from Gatwick to Dublin was 602 English pounds.

Furthermore, when checking in for flight FR115 to get a stamp on my ticket which read ‘received’, the employee who recognized me from flight FR113 and could not permit me to board, looked at my passport and ticket as she did at gate 14. The only difference was the stamp ‘received’, which no one was able to produce until this moment and that I had no access to, another 446.08 English pounds later.

If Ryanair are only represented by computers then why was I allowed to check in online?  Why was Miss *. ******** asked to wait with me and not permitted to board the plane? Why do I need a stamp and why is it so hard to locate? Also, why are we as consumers expected to be understanding during inconveniences beyond the Airlines control, such as a power shortages, which caused delays to the flight. Yet, Ryanair did not reciprocate this sentiment to the four Australians and Miss *. ********, the consumers? What happened to service?

I am forwarding this letter to the consumer watchdog in England, Ireland and Australia in the hope that no other Australians fall victim to such fraudulent plane tickets. A copy has also been forwarded to Servisair GlobeGround and Ryanair. I have all required original documentation as evidence of the above events.

I look forward to your reply and welcome an explanation for how this can be permitted to happen and furthermore, be legal in England and Ireland.

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Beware when booking package holidays!

I wrote a piece for the Irish News Of the World covering this item a couple of weeks ago, but I think it’s worth reposting here again, to highlight something that I don’t think many people are aware of.

If you’re taking a package holiday, or if you’re planning on booking your own flights, hotel and car hire separately, there’s one item that you should remember to make sure you’re holiday isn’t ruined.

In February, a travel agent in Donegal went bust and while most of the people who had holidays booked with them will get their money back through the Commission for Aviation Regulation bonding scheme, many potential travelers will not because their flights were leaving from Derry or Belfast which, being outside the Republic,  is not covered within the bonding scheme.

If you’re tempted to take a flight for your holiday leaving from outside of Ireland like that, especially as it may be significantly cheaper, you should confirm that your travel agent is covered by an equivalent UK Civil Aviation Authority travel bond (look for ATOL protected).

Otherwise, because you’re traveling from outside the state, you won’t be covered if your travel agent goes bust.

Even if you fly from within Ireland, but book your own flights and then separately book your hotel accommodation, your accommodation isn’t covered because to be covered by the Aviation Regulator bond scheme, your holiday must include travel.

AND flights booked direct with airlines are not covered by the Aviation Regulator bond scheme, so if the airline goes belly up before you travel, you’re not covered.

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Five star Buys – Get hols for a lot, lot less

Irish News of the World

March 1st, 2009

Diarmuid MacShane

Holidaying on the cheap

We’ve just about made it through the winter, but things are still looking bleak with all the doom and gloom around. Maybe it’s time to think about taking a foreign sun holiday to give ourselves something to look forward to so we can get away from it all for a while.

In these financially difficult times, plans for a holiday need not be given up completely. With these top tips, I’ll help you find yourself a great sun holiday, but costing a lot less than you’d think.

First things first – decide how much you can afford to spend, and when you want to take your holiday. If you don’t have all the money now, start saving a little every week. Do this rather than depending on your credit card – that should only be for emergencies.

Booking package holidays as late as possible before departure means you’ll get the best value possible – sometimes up to 20% discounts are possible. The downside is you’re going to have a smaller choice of where to go. If your travel dates are flexible, this might not be as much of a problem.

Most travel holiday companies now provide special offer or last minute deals as well as an e-mail newsletter that will give you weekly updates of where the best deals are. Some companies will even give you an extra discount for booking online, maybe only 2.5% but it all adds up to an extra jug of sangria on the Costa!.

If you’re dealing with a travel agent, haggle a little to get a better deal. You could get yourself an extra discount, or possibly even a free upgrade on your flight or your room. Remember, it costs nothing to ask, and they might give you a special deal to guarantee your business – these days anything is possible! For travel agents who are finding business difficult these days, you never know what they might offer you to get your business. Play them off against each other – if nothing else, its fun!.

If you’re taking a package holiday, or if you’re planning on booking your own flights, hotel and car hire separately, there’s one item that you should remember to make sure you’re holiday isn’t ruined.

In February, a travel agent in Donegal went bust and while most of the people who had holidays booked with them will get their money back through the Commission for Aviation Regulation bonding scheme, many potential travelers will not because their flights were leaving from Derry or Belfast which, being outside the Republic,  is not covered within the bonding scheme.

If you’re tempted to take a flight for your holiday leaving from outside of Ireland like that, especially as it may be significantly cheaper, you should confirm that your travel agent is covered by an equivalent UK Civil Aviation Authority travel bond (look for ATOL protected).

Otherwise, because you’re travelling from outside the state, you won’t be covered if your travel agent goes bust.

Even if you fly from within Ireland, but book your own flights and then separately book your hotel accommodation, your accommodation isn’t covered because to be covered by the Aviation Regulator bond scheme, your holiday must include travel. AND  flights booked direct with airlines are not covered by the Aviation Regulator bond scheme, so if the airline goes belly up before you travel, you’re not covered.

On the plus side though, many ValueIreland.com readers have found that booking their individual holiday requirements separately can save them significant amounts of money, and can mean easier schedules – no 4am flights from Dublin.

Between Ryanair and Aer Lingus, many top holiday destinations are covered and if your travel dates are relatively flexible, it’s possible that you can get your flights for anything down to 1c each way (before taxes and charges obviously).

When it comes to booking hotels, there are loads of hotel search engines that will offer deals on rooms around the world. If you’re not sure where to go, the excellent TripAdvisor.com will give you the low down on the hotels to use or avoid. TripAdvisor also provides links to their own associated hotel search engines – Hotels.com being one that ValueIreland.com is happy to recommend.

Lastminute.ie has a special feature when it comes to getting hotel rooms on the cheap – the “top secret hotels”. These are unnamed hotels offered at significant discounts around the world. A quick tip to find out what these hotels are is to sort them according to price, or distance from a major amenity – you’ll then see the “top secret hotels” beside their not so secret version – the descriptions will be the same. Not so secret any more!

If you’re hiring a car when you go away, the good news is that normally it’ll cost you from 20-50% less than if you were hiring the same car in rip off Ireland. Assuming you need a car, a site like AutoEurope.ie can help show you the best offers around.

Many airline and hotel websites will give you a link to “special offer” car hire websites – give these a miss. In my experience, most of the time it’s actually more expensive to use these special offers than booking directly yourself.

It’s always a good idea to have travel insurance when you’re going abroad. Check if you’re credit card has travel insurance included for free – many do these days. It could also be included in the cost of a package holiday, and if not, ask for it to be thrown in for free.

A final quick tip will save you money if you’re booking on Ryanair flights – assuming it’s not taken away soon. To avoid paying the ridiculous €5 each way per passenger credit card fee, first buy Ryanair vouchers where there’s no credit card fees, and then use those to buy your flights where no charges will be levied.

Obviously there’s the usual issues to be aware of when using vouchers, but for a family of 4, this tip will save you €40.

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