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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! from all at TravelReady Ltd.

We hope you all had a great christmas, and wish you all the best for the new year by offering all our customers 10% off any order with no minimum spend!

Simply apply discount code ‘ 23LH5D ‘ at the checkout

(offer expires 31 Jan 2013)

From frosts to floods – UK prepares for stormy weather

Parts of Britain are on flood alert yet again after heavy rain and strong winds swept the country.

The Met Office issued severe weather warnings for the south-west and much of the north of England, together with areas of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

By Friday morning, the Environment Agency had issued 14 flood warnings, meaning flooding is expected. Nine of them were in the south-west, two in Wales and three in the south-east. More than 60 alerts – flooding possible – had also been issued.

The Met Office said the heaviest rain overnight fell on Devon and Cornwall with 15mm drenching Plymouth and 14mm hitting Bodmin. Winds of almost 60mph (95kph) were recorded at Berry Head in Devon and 40mph gusts blasted Portland in Dorset.

Even stronger winds were predicted later on Friday – up to 80mph in Orkney, northern Scotland, and 50mph gusts across much of the country. Blizzards could also cause problems on higher ground.

The Environment Agency is concerned that areas where the ground remains saturated after last month’s downpours are at particular risk of flooding. But it is also worried that coastal areas could flood because the latest deluge is coinciding with high tides.

Nick Roseveare, of the Environment Agency, said: “We are keeping a close eye on conditions around our coastline and will issue flood warnings if the risk of flooding increases.

“The critical periods will be the early morning tides over the next three days. If they coincide with rain, there’s a risk of tide-locking, where water is held in rain-swollen rivers and cannot escape into the sea because of the high tides. This could result in localised flooding.”

People have been advised to stay away from seafronts, quaysides and jetties along the south coast to avoid powerful waves.

Among the areas subject to flood warnings were some seafront properties in Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, Poole harbour in Dorset, and estuaries in south Devon. Part of Kingsbridge town centre, in south Devon, was flooded at high tide on Friday morning. There was also more misery for some residents on the Somerset Levels, which have been hit by a series of floods this year.

The high seas meant disruption for rail passengers in Devon after the line at Dawlish flooded. First Great Western was warning on Friday morning of delays of up to two hours.

But it was not all about rain. In West Yorkshire on Friday morning, drivers were warned to take extra care after a high number of collisions were caused by vehicles skidding on black ice. Sections of the M1, A1, M62 and M606 were clogged after a series of crashes.

A West Yorkshire police spokesman said the force was asking people to take “extreme care” when travelling.

“West Yorkshire police have received an exceptionally high amount of road traffic collisions throughout the early hours of the day, mainly on each of the major motorway networks due to vehicles skidding on black ice.”

There were no reports of serious injuries.

The weekend is expected to be a little more cheerful. It is still likely to be breezy but there should be bright spells for much of the UK.

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Ryanair bring in credit card processing fee and £6 admin charge

BUDGET airline Ryanair is to introduce a two per cent processing fee on all new credit card bookings made from tomorrow.

The Irish company said it was making the announcement in order to comply with a recent Office of Fair Trading ruling.

Ryanair also announced that from tomorrow its passengers would have to pay a £6 administration fee to cover the airline’s website costs.

The only exceptions will be bookings made using Ryanair’s “cash passport” scheme in Ireland, Germany and Spain, where administration fees can be avoided until February 1, February 15 and March 21 2013 respectively.

Ryanair said it was continuing to “deliver the lowest fares and a no-fuel surcharges guarantee to all our passengers” and that passengers could avoid credit card fees by paying with a debit card.

Later, the Office of Fair Trading said: “We have not required any airline to introduce new payment charges, increase their credit card charges, or scrap any discounts they wish to offer.

“We took action to make sure that debit card charges are included in the headline price and credit card charges are transparent and not sprung on shoppers towards the end of the booking process.”

A Fifth of Holidaymakers Travel Uninsured

According to a survey by ABTA, 20 per cent of all holidaymakers travel uninsured, putting themselves at risk of high medical bills if they fall ill or have an accident abroad.

The over 65s fare slightly better, but 16 per cent still venture abroad without taking out appropriate cover.

With the winter ski season about to start, it is even more important to ensure suitable insurance cover as the cost of medical treatment and repatriation following a skiing accident can easily run into thousands of pounds.

Some travellers wrongly assume that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) provides full medical cover when travelling in Europe. But while the card gives UK residents access to state healthcare within the EU, it doesn’t cover for the cost of repatriation and some countries expect patients to pay treatment costs upfront.

Gordon Morris, Managing Director of Age UK Enterprises, said: “For older people it can often be difficult to get travel insurance, and even more so for activities like skiing and snowboarding. At Age UK Enterprises, we believe that people should continue to do the activities they love as long as they are able to – regardless of their age. This is why our insurance has no upper age limit and also offers cover for skiing holidays.

“Our advice to customers is to shop around for travel insurance that suits their individual needs and offers the best value for money. Always read the small print and check for any hidden charges, cancellation fees or exceptions that could invalidate a claim.”

Age UK Enterprises offers single and annual multi-trip Travel Insurance, provided by Ageas Insurance. Age UK Travel Insurance has no upper age limit and offers cover for pre-existing medical conditions wherever possible.

For more information visit www.ageuk.org.uk/travel

BA offers additional luggage allowance on LCY routes

British Airways has launched a “seasonal shopping offer” entitling passengers to check in a second piece of luggage up to 23kg free of charge, on selected routes from London City.

The promotion is valid between December 1 and January 31, on BA Cityflyer routes from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Isle of Man, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Madrid, Stockholm and Zurich to LCY.

As part of the offer passengers will also receive a VIP card for Westfield Stratford City, entitling them to discounts at over 80 shops and restaurants within the shopping centre.

BA Cityflyer operates a fleet of Embraer E170 and E190 aircraft out of London City airport, with the exception of its recently launched Isle of Man service which is served with a Saab 2000 leased from Eastern Airways (see online news May 9).

For more information visit ba.com.

Celebrities’ Secret Winter Vacation Spots

Question: If you’re Jennifer Lopez (the ninth-richest woman in entertainment with a net worth of $110 million), you have a $350 million fragrance and fashion empire, and your husband just bought ownership in the Miami Dolphins, where do you spend your winter vacations?

Answer: Anywhere you damn well please, of course. But for JLo, “winter getaway” has sometimes meant heading to the Mexican resort Las Ventanas, in Los Cabos.

It’s not surprising why: the luxurious Las Ventanas has the perfect formula for any traveler looking to escape a dreary winter. There’s a long, crowdless, milky-white beach that stretches for miles; giant suites with private Jacuzzis on big balconies overlooking the sea; and Mini Cooper convertibles and fully loaded Kindles to borrow.

But what really draws JLo (and fellow superstars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Charlize Theron, Adam Sandler, Fergie, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Brad Pitt) is that the resort is private and remote. It doesn’t even have a sign. And when it comes to a getaway, “the number one thing celebrities look for is seclusion and privacy—places out of the reach of the paparazzi,” says noted wedding planner Mindy Weiss, who has organized nuptials for Jessica Simpson, Gwen Stefani, and Adam Sandler. Privacy at Las Ventanas begins at check-in, where there’s not even a desk. It’s handled in rooms so stars can come and go without being noticed.

Privacy is essential in cold-weather destinations, too, and part of Aspen’s appeal is that celebrities can just blend in—especially at places like the Little Nell. Right at the base of Aspen Mountain, the resort has been a celebrity hot spot for two decades, attracting the likes of Mariah Carey and Kate Hudson, who can mix in with minimal rubbernecking. “The celebrities really don’t stand out,” says Carol Hooper, the Little Nell’s head concierge, who has seen her share of A-listers eating burgers and going unnoticed during après ski, like any other guest. “They hang out in the lobby; they have lunch in the restaurants. They feel very comfortable here,” she says.

Another important element for stars: hotels that can handle any request. At the fashionable Setai in South Beach, which has played host to celebrities like Bono, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, and Leonardo DiCaprio, there’s a dedicated team of sales managers whose sole responsibility is to look after famous guests and be in touch with assistants and publicists. It’s one-stop shopping for anything the celebrity needs.

That person proved helpful a couple years ago, when an A-lister asked if one of the bedrooms could be converted into an exercise studio. No problem. And could the hotel bring a giant exercise ball? Done. And could that exercise ball be pink? Of course. The world’s best hotels get a lot of odd requests (see our story on outrageous concierge requests) but do their best to take care of their clientele—especially big names who are hibernating there for the winter.

Simon says: Why airline taxes are more than they seem

Why are British Airways’ airport taxes to Orlando from Gatwick £200 more than flying with Thomson on the same route? — Paul McDougall

The lowest Gatwick-Orlando return fare on BA is currently just short of £500. Yet the base fare is just £168 return. The remaining 60 per cent is commonly lumped together as “taxes”, but that term covers a multitude of sins — many of them normal commercial charges.

Genuine Government-imposed taxes on a trip to Florida and back total around £100, of which UK Air Passenger Duty makes up about

two-thirds, at £65. The US adds a sprinkling of charges such as customs and immigration fees and the Animal & Plant Health User Fee.

Neither nation has “airport taxes”, but each individual airport has its own passenger service fee — a commercial charge to the airline. BA, in common with most other airlines, likes to list them separately.

So far, Thomson and BA are on the same page. British Airways then chooses to add a £213 fuel surcharge, more than its lowest base fare. Virgin Atlantic does exactly the same.

Why? Apparently it is because BA and Virgin want passengers to conclude that the airline would dearly love to charge less, but cannot because of the oil barons.

The rational traveller will make a decision based on the final fare, regardless of how it is portrayed, together with factors such as timing, on-board comfort and in-flight entertainment.

The only time the tax breakdown becomes relevant is if you need to cancel a non-refundable ticket. What the airline classes as “Government and/or airport taxes” — i.e. fees that go to third parties — are refundable. But that fuel surcharge is not.