The start of the T20 World Cup in India this week has got cricket fans shutting the Cricinfo browser on their desktop and researching travel opportunities. Over at Cheapflights.co.nz they're reporting a 387 per cent increase in searches for flight to India.
Following the bargain
Expect to see more from Cheapflights.co.nz. The online booking platform has ambitious expansion plans around the world, and they're chasing a much bigger slice of the market in Australia and New Zealand. They pulled in 120 million web and app visits worldwide in 2015, with eight million from Aussies and Kiwis, but their target for this year is 11 million in Australasia. In January they bagged 470,000 searches under their .co.nz platform and 1.7 million under .com.au.
Taken with Ireland
Liam Neeson - who does not live in Ireland - is fronting a tourism marketing campaign for, well, Ireland. The Taken actor, a US citizen, provides the voicework on a 60-second film encouraging the world to celebrate St Patrick's Day. Neeson has previously fronted a campaign for his old hometown Ballymena, in Northern Ireland.
Path to Cuba
Turns out if you open the doors, people do come in. Cuba has passed the one million mark for foreign tourists in 2016, a 14.6 per cent increase on the same period last year. A Tourism Ministry official said there had been "continuous growth" in the number of tourists to Cuba from Germany, Britain, the US, France, Italy and Argentina. It's the US travellers leading the way - 145,000 Americans visited Cuba in 2015, a 79 per cent increase on the previous year. With Air New Zealand's new connection to Houston opening up the Southern US, Central America and the Caribbean, the island nation is now firmly on the map for Kiwi travellers too.
It's the hotel room that's meant to get trashed, not the airplane. Iron Maiden's new tour plane, a 747-400 with their name painted on the side of it, has been damaged in a ground mishap in Chile. The plane - an ex-Air France Jumbo dubbed "Ed Force One", which is piloted by lead singer Bruce Dickinson - was tethered to a tow truck for refuelling when it collided with the truck badly damaging the undercarriage and two engines. Two airport staff were injured.
Our writer Christopher Adams is a big fan of in-flight wi-fi. "Being able to keep on top of work emails and tweet from 12,000m is a good option to have. A bonus on Emirates (where wi-fi is available on the carrier's A380 fleet and most 777s) is that it's cheap. The first 10mb is free and then it's US$1 ($1.50) for every 500mb after that."
We don't like...
But we're pretty fed up with that thing at most hotels where, after you've clicked the link saying "yes please" to wi-fi, you still then have to open a web-browsing page on your phone and click another thing before any of the apps will work. What a bore. Give us one-click access to the internet please.
Tell us what you like and don't like in the world of travel. Email TRAVEL@NZHERALD.CO.NZ
Letters to the Travel Editor
ON LUGGAGE ALLOWANCES
Reading the comments in Travel recently about Air New Zealand's 23kg check-in baggage [allowance], I wish that the airlines would consider allowing more than one piece. I struggle even to manage 20kg in one bag and would prefer to split up the load. Most airlines, especially for international flights, restrict the weight but not the number of pieces. It would also help the baggage handlers.
ON RENTAL CARS
[Re: "Stand-off at the Alamo", Travel, Mar 1]. We had oodles of issues with a Europcar in Italy. It had to be returned by 5pm to Venice, but when we arrived at 4pm the office was already closed. (Fortunately, Avis were next door and told us where to leave the key and put the car). Because the office was closed, the agency debited our credit card with their surcharge and then refused to refund us for the late return. Our search of online forums very quickly unearthed so many complaints with this franchise that we would never use them again, anywhere!
On the other hand, I once called Budget to hire a car from San Diego to LAX and asked for their cheapest rental as there were only two of us heading back to catch our flight to Auckland. The agent quoted a price of around US$35. I said that we were really doing them a favour by returning their vehicle to a main base, so the agent replied, "How does US$19 sound?" When we went to pick up the vehicle they had no compacts available so we ended up with a very new SUV. Great service! It is amazing how a bad or good experience will lose or retain customer loyalty.
Hiring a trailer from some New Zealand service stations is maybe worse. "I'd like to book your covered trailer for tomorrow" (it was late afternoon and the trailer was in the yard). "Sorry, we don't take bookings because some people don't turn up." "But I need to make sure I've got the trailer as I have to move furniture." "We don't take bookings." "I'll pay for it now so that you're covered either way." "We don't take bookings". Luckily the trailer was still there for hire the next morning. Are they actually not taking bookings in case a longer hire comes up in the meantime?
ON MINI-BREAKS FROM LONDON
In response to the answer to the query about where to go for a three-day window of opportunity for R&R [from London], I am very surprised to see flying to Europe recommended ["Ask an Expert", Travel, March 1]. The flights may only be two/three hours but the getting to and from the airport and security/immigration procedures can easily add another two or three. That's most of a day each going and coming, which leaves almost no time for being there. For such a short break your enquirers should only look at a break within England or at the most, take the Eurostar. I would recommend Bruges. It's a delightful, small city and the short time available will still be sufficient for a worthwhile visit. Customs procedures are much less time-consuming for the train and the journey is quick. Paris is also worth considering but it's a much bigger city and visiting the various sites of interest can involve some quite long distances.
Sue Ikin, Wellington