EU Firms Up Air Passenger Rights

While everybody looks forward to going on holiday, there are elements of travelling abroad that can be stressful. Amongst the things most likely to cause anxiety and stress, long flight delays and cancellations are high on the list of situations we would most like to avoid.

Flight delays

Which is why the recent decision by the European Community to impose a compensation structure on these kind of events will go some way to make up for occasions where passengers have no control over the outcome. Although financial remuneration won’t alleviate the problem itself it does acknowledge the strain that individuals and families feel when faced with delays and other changes to their flight schedule.

Passenger Compensation

The way in which the compensation works is as follows:

Delays have to be over two hours in duration on short haul flights in order for the airline to be obliged to provide food and drink to waiting passengers. Should the delay extend overnight, they are also obliged to provide overnight accommodation, transport to and from such accommodation and two phone calls, faxes or emails.

On longer flights, the delay has to be of four hours or more duration before the airline is required to offer the same services. Monetary compensation is not automatically triggered by a delay alone, especially when the airline has been able to provide refreshments, food and other services.

However, where a flight has been cancelled or overbooked, financial compensation will normally be forthcoming. For flights cancelled more than two weeks before you are due to fly, there should be remuneration paid to passengers. If the flight is cancelled within two weeks of the flight date, and no alternative service is offered to you which will get you to your destination, even if by an alternative route, you are entitled to a payment.

If your flight has been overbooked and you cannot take the seat you have paid for, the airline will normally ask if any passengers will volunteer to accept compensation instead. If you are still unable to board the flight because of overbooking, you are entitled to compensation. The amount paid to passengers is determined by the distance of the flight, in both circumstances – cancellation and overbooking.

Should your flight be downgraded – in other words, changed from business to economy class – compensation is also paid, of between 30 and 75 percent of the ticket value and dependent on the flight distance.

Flights that travel up to 1,500 kilometres trigger a compensation payment of 200 Euros per person.

Flights of between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometres or over 1,500 within the European community will result in a payment of 400 Euros.

Flights of over 3,500 kilometres are compensated with 600 Euros.

Payments will be made either in cash, by bank transfer, by cheque or to a designated account. Both charter and package flights are covered by these rules and they apply to any flight beginning from an airport within the European Community.

If you have experienced a situation which you think entitles you to compensation, the first place to start in making a complaint is with the airline who sold you the ticket. If the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction, there are a number of bodies you can contact, including NI Direct Government Services, the European Consumer Centre and the British Air Transport Association.

Exploring La Palma

If you’re planning a stay in one of our villas in Mallorca then make sure you pay a visit to the island’s vibrant capital.

Palma de Mallorca is one of the oldest European capitals in the Mediterranean, dating back to pre Roman times and has seen many successive cultures taking root since then, including a period under the Moors, a Byzantine presence and the arrival of the Spanish in 1229. As a result, the city has a pleasing mixture of architecture and a real feeling of antiquity.

La Palma, Mallorca
La Palma – Mallorca’s Vibrant Capital

The physical layout of the city has the port area at its heart, with the huge Cathedral de Mallorca, known as La Seu, sitting to one side of the harbour and dominating the seaside promenade. The port was obviously one of the most important aspects of the city’s geography in historical terms, providing trading routes to North Africa and beyond.

When Spanish and Catalonian cultures began to diverge after the Succession War of 1714, with the emergence of separate cultures and languages, Mallorca, as part of the Balearics, was firmly entrenched as a leading Catalonian stronghold. Its commercial importance was already well established as can be seen in the architectural splendour of the silk exchange, which was constructed in the 1400’s.

The city is a wonderful place for exploring as a pedestrian, with many narrow streets winding through the oldest parts towards the Bellver Castle and the Royal Palace of La Almudaina, which are yet further examples of the city’s architectural riches. Palm and tree-lined avenues provide pools of shade and there are plenty of restaurants and cafes where visitors can pass the time of day.

The Castell de Bellver is a particularly interesting building as it can claim to be Europe’s first circular castle. It sits in densely wooded grounds, occupying a commanding position overlooking the harbour and dates back to the 13th Century. Similarly the Palace of La Almudaina has a position of strategic importance and while the main structure dates back to the Moorish occupation of the fourteenth century, it is believed to be built on the foundations of much earlier fortifications.

As a seaside resort, naturally enough, there are some wonderful sandy beaches within close proximity to the city’s centre. The Platja de Palma and Platja de Palma in the El Arenal area boast fine sand and palm trees, ideal for city break visitors who fancy a day at the beach. With a vibrant nightlife and several large hotels the city is an exciting alternative to the traditional beach holiday location.

Visit the official Palma de Mallorca website for more information about the capital and upcoming events there.

Mallorca Property Prices Grow Faster Than London’s

If you thought recent price rises in the London property market were impressive then you’d best think again. As a small Spanish island in the Balearics is currently outpacing even the priciest boroughs in the British capital, such as Chelsea and Kensington, with property prices on Mallorca surging by nearly 16% in the last 12 months, according to international estate agents Chesterton Humberts.

Villa, Mallorca
Prices Rose By 16% Last Year

Britain’s capital city isn’t the only property hot spot in the world at the moment. As according to the Chesterton Humbert’s report other locations such as the Cote D’Azur, Barbados and Switzerland have also experienced serious price growth over the last year, with little Mallorca leading the way.

Just as the property market in London has been fuelled by investment from overseas the picture is much the same in Mallorca, with interest primarily coming from the German, Russian and Swiss markets – as well as from the UK. British buyers, buoyed by the recent improvement in the domestic economy, low interest rates and rising house prices in the UK, are now turning to overseas property as a viable investment once again, with Mallorca very much on their radar.

And whilst property prices across Spain as a whole have fallen since the onset of the crisis in 2007 certain pockets, such as the top end market in Mallorca have remained largely unaffected, driven by both rental investors and retirees. As a result prices on the island have now risen by 38% since 2007, whilst in the last 12 months the 16% rise in price has outstripped other markets, such as London. With the level of foreign investment estimated to have doubled over the last five years, now accounting for some 30% of all transactions on Ibiza and Mallorca during the course of 2013 alone. A figure reflected in the fact that over 18% of all residents of Mallorca are now of non-Spanish origin.

All of this of course makes very happy reading for the thousands of overseas owners of holiday rental properties in Mallorca, who not only enjoy excellent rental returns from their properties but also substantial capital growth.

Doctor Who Crash Lands On Lanzarote

Lanzarote’s volcanic vistas and landscapes have often been described as lunar and other worldly.  And the producers of the new series of the BBC TV classic Doctor Who most obviously agree  – as they have just finished shooting a new Time Lord tale on the island, making liberal use of the dramatic scenery in and around the Timanfaya Volcano Park, the island’s most popular visitor attraction.

Scene from the 1980's episode
Scene from the 1980’s episode

Lanzarote’s volcanic region occupies about one quarter of the island’s total land mass and was created by violent eruptions in the 1730’s.  Now in geological terms this means that the resulting landscapes are still virtually brand new and pristine, as erosion has had little chance to soften the twisted lava flows and dramatic shapes created by these fiery events.  All of which means that Lanzarote is in fact a real natural for the makers of futuristic or science fiction movies, as evidenced by the filming of classics such as One Million Years BC and Krull in years gone by.

Indeed, as ardent fans of the show will know this isn’t even the first time that the Doctor has visited the planet Sarn – which was Lanzarote’s ‘stage name’ in a previous episode, aptly entitled Planet of Fire Part One, that was filmed here way back in 1984, starring Peter Davison as the 5th Time Lord.

During this 80’s episode the Doctor travels with his faithful sidekick Turlough to investigate the source of a signal thought to be emanating from the planet Trion, which ultimately draws them to Sarn/Lanzarote.  And according to production sources on the show the Doctor is visiting the scene of this previous adventure once again, although there have apparently been some disturbing developments since his last visit (sounds familiar – perhaps they are referring to the slew of illegally built hotels in nearby Playa Blanca!).

Either way, the local tourist board are reportedly delighted with this latest publicity coup, not least as Doctor Who is a real favourite in the UK, which is the island´s largest tourist market.  The new episode will of course star Peter Capaldi, the latest Time Lord, along with sidekick Jenna Louise Coleman and is expected to be screened in late summer or early autumn.

Doctor Who is now in its eighth series and has been a regular favourite on British TV screens since 1964.  The show is also popular in Spain, where it is better known as Doctor Misterioso.


Lanzarote Tourist Boom Continues

Lanzarote’s growing popularity as a holiday destination shows no signs of abating any time soon.  As according to the latest data just released by AENA, the Spanish Airports Authority, foreign passenger numbers have soared by over 20% during the first four months of 2013 alone.

Ryanair, Lanzarote
Ryanair Has Boosted French Arrivals

Lanzarote welcomed over 2.1 million tourists last year, an impressive figure for such a relatively small island.  And this figure looks set to grow substantially again in 2014, as over 690,000 foreign tourists have already enjoyed a break here this year.

Where is this growth coming from?  Well, if expenditure on foreign holidays is any type of positive economic indicator then it is fair to say that the recovery in Britain is well and truly under way, as the UK, Lanzarote’s largest market, is sending over more tourists than ever before, accounting for 50% of all foreign arrivals.  An upswing that can also be attributed to the fact that there is now much more competition amongst the low cost carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet on the UK to Lanzarote route, which has helped to bring flight prices down substantially over the last couple of years.

This same factor is also driving growth in newer markets.  For example the French are now able to reach Lanzarote direct with Ryanair for the first time with prices from as little as 65 euros one way.  And as a result arrivals have boomed too, with France now rapidly establishing itself as Lanzarote’s fourth largest market after the UK, Germany and Eire.

April was the fourth consecutive month of double digit growth in passenger numbers flying to Lanzarote, as arrivals in January, February and March rose by 25%, 24% and 14% respectively.  And should this current rate of growth continue Lanzarote will break the 2.5million visitor barrier for the first time in 2014.

What’s It Worth? Cameron’s Million Pound Legacy For Lanzarote

In these celebrity obsessed times, what is the endorsement of a Prime Minister worth?  Well according to PR experts in the UK, David Cameron’s well documented spring break in Lanzarote generated some 1.2 million euros worth of free media coverage for the island.  But just how free was it exactly?  As to many long term residents this so called holiday was little more than a slick PR stunt, designed to generate column inches for both the island and the Cameron’s, whilst also depicting ‘just-call-me-Dave’ as a real down to earth kind of dude.

David Cameron, Arrieta, Lanzarote
Dave ´Chillaxes´at Arrieta

Business or pleasure Mr Cameron?  Well in truth it was a little bit of both.  As despite desperately trying to depict themselves as just an ordinary family in search of some Easter sun there can be little doubt that our Eton educated PM’s visit last month was also very carefully choreographed in close cahoots with the local tourist board.

Why so?  Well there was of course the now obligatory, man of the people arrival on a Ryanair flight, a publicity ruse perfected by Tony Blair and also often utilised by our ever so ordinary Royals.  And given David’s well recorded love of chillaxing he didn’t just flop out by the pool with the kids, as would be expected of any other 47 year old father at the not very secret location of Casa Tomaren, an exclusive and expensive rural retreat which specialises in yoga breaks.

As instead his hand-picked itinerary included photo opportunities in some of the island’s key locations, encompassing surfing with the kids at Famara, the most picturesque beach on the island, shopping at Teguise market – Lanzarote’s busiest weekly event and dining in Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote’s largest tourist resort.  All of which suggests that the Cameron’s were hardly trying to get away from it all whilst also ensuring  a steady stream of daily coverage in both local and international media.

Well they say that there can be a sting in the tail – and there certainly is in this tale.  As on the penultimate day of his holiday the PM was stung on the arm by a jellyfish whilst swimming at Arrieta.  Some observers (well, one actually) claim that a column of male British tourists formed immediately , only too keen to help administer a well-known natural remedy.  Now that really would have made a great picture for the national press back home!

Mallorca Announces A ‘Bikini Ban’

If you’re planning to take a break in one of our villas in Mallorca this year then make sure you’re ready to cover up when you’re away from the beach or the pool.  As new laws look likely to be introduced that could result in a 600 euro fine for anyone who dares to wear just swimming trunks or a bathing costume in the street – an initiative which is just part of a wider Good Citizen Plan designed to promote ‘harmony and civility’ on the island.

Palma, Mallorca

This new measure, which has been drawn up by the council in the capital of Palma, has already made the national press in the UK and is designed to stop tourists wandering topless or half -dressed through the streets of the capital. 

Other proposals include outlawing cycling on the pavement, the consumption of alcohol in the street and taking glass bottles onto the beach, all of which seems reasonable enough.  However the current plans also include banning the use of buckets on the beach – which isn’t great news for anyone who was planning on creating a few sandcastles with their kids this summer!

The Ordenanza Civica isn’t just designed to frustrate tourists however as it is also aimed at island residents in an attempt to promote good behaviour across all sectors of society.  Some observers have suggested that it is just a money making scheme though, an accusation that has been flatly denied by the city’s Vice Mayor, Alvaro Gijon.

A similar ban on “nudity or virtual nudity in public places” was introduced in Barcelona a few years ago, limiting swimwear to pools, beaches and adjacent roads, with trunk-wearing wanderers facing fines there of 120 to 300 euros.  Both Barcelona and Palma are of course major, sophisticated cities in their own right and these bylaws illustrate the difficulties facing urban areas that also play host to beaches.

The new laws on Mallorca are set to be implemented from May 1st, so make sure you revise your holiday packing accordingly!