It seems ridiculous that we put a man on the Moon before anyone had the idea to add wheels to our suitcases, but until 1972, tourists were still lugging their gear around by the handle.
Dutch airline KLM has come under fire after a customer published a screenshot of a “homophobic” email allegedly sent to them by a customer service representative.Twitter user @ErinClaireSF posted the correspondence on the social media platform, along with the caption: “Gay brothers and sisters, KLM will approach you and let you know someone has complained about you holding hands on board. The crew will decide the best course of action.”The original message the customer service agent was responding to wasn’t shared, but the alleged KLM response in the screen shot begins by addressing a query about the airline’s breastfeeding policy.“The Twitter post is simply a reminder to mothers breastfeeding on board that they may be told by the cabin staff to cover up in case somebody a passenger for example, tell the cabin crew they are uncomfortable on what they are seeing,” it says.It continues: “Same as with the same-sex relationship that you gave as an example, if needed be the cabin crew can approach the said party and base on the response they were given, then they would act and respond accordingly.> Gay brothers and sisters, @KLM will approach you and let you know someone has complained about you holding hands on board. The crew will decide the best course of action. Cc: @stonewalluk pic.twitter.com/t8dJTBwcsy> > — Erin ‘Normalise It’ Resists (@ErinClaireSF) > > July 18, 2019“This type of concern is on a case to case basis, and should be dealt with based upon the response of the said parties.”The email appears to have been sent from KLM UK Reservations, and is signed off simply “Aaron”.Social media users were shocked by the email, with one Twitter user commenting: “This is just support for homophobia. When someone says ‘those two guys are holding hands, it offends me’ the only proper response is telling them to f*** off back to the 1950s.”A KLM spokesperson told The Independent: “We’re currently investigating this reply as it does not represent our official point of view at all. We understand this reply is offending and we distance ourselves completely from it.”The airline says it is taking the accusation “very seriously”.It is the third time the beleaguered airline has hit the headlines in recent weeks.A mother expressed her shock at being asked to “cover up” while breastfeeding during a recent KLM flight, while an ill-advised tweet from the airline indicating the seats in which passengers are most likely to die on an aircraft also ruffled feathers on the five-year anniversary of the MH17 crash which killed all 298 passengers and crew.
An airline which authorised dragging a passenger from his seat has defended its actions, saying it was just following European safety regulations.In footage filmed onboard a Tarom flight from Bucharest to Cairo, a man is seen being forcibly removed from his seat by three airport security staff.Passenger Viorica Hagagg, who was onboard flight RO0101, filmed the incident and posted the video on Facebook.She said that the man’s wife, who was sitting in an emergency exit row, was asked to leave the aircraft. She couldn’t speak English or Romanian, and therefore couldn’t understand the emergency procedures.The woman refused to leave the plane and security came to forcibly remove her, plus her husband and child, according to Ms Hagagg. The woman also spat at cabin crew, Ms Hagagg claimed.Shocking video shows her husband being dragged out of his seat while fellow passengers are screaming and crying.A plain-clothed security officer is also seen asking Ms Hagagg to stop filming.In a Facebook response, the Romanian flag carrier Tarom said it regretted the incident, but said it had to respect European regulations and that it couldn’t allow a passenger to “endanger the safety and security of other passengers”.
Lying south west of Spain in the Atlantic Ocean, the archipelago is made up of seven main islands: take a bow Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. Those most frequently included on cruise itineraries are Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.
A blonde girl with a high ponytail, leaning against part of the scenery, takes out a “passport” like the one my friend and I have just been issued with. Around us, we can hear the sounds of New York, pumped through speakers. Close your eyes and you could be on Broadway, open them and you’re in a graffiti version of NYC, the cartoonish Lady Liberty next to yellow taxis and neon street signs.The girl removes a rectangle of paper from the passport, with a quote printed on it, tears a piece off and eats it, gesturing to us to do the same. The second the lime and kuzu starch creation hits my tongue, what I thought was a wall slides open and we’re welcomed into another room. Tables are arranged in front of a window to a room filled with high-tech lab equipment where food is being prepared.We are in Refshaleøen, a watery, ex-industrial edge of Copenhagen, not far from bright, airy Noma. At the end of a stretch of warehouse buildings that used to serve the city’s shipbuilding industry is the city’s, perhaps the world’s, most groundbreaking new restaurant: Alchemist. While the food here is, technically speaking, up there with the world’s best in fine-dining, that’s only half of its appeal. Chef Rasmus Munk has created a gallery-like performance art space – sealed from natural light, like a theatre – where the dining experience is turned completely on its head in the space of around 50 very tiny but beautifully put-together courses. Food becomes a vehicle for making political statements and Munk pushes the boundaries of what’s possible in the kitchen.It gives molecular gastronomy a philosophical reboot for a generation that’s conscious of issues like overconsumption. Case in point: a waiter places two bowls, a pre-dinner snack, in front of us, and says, “this is greed”. Spoonfuls of it dissolve, hints of apple pine and citrus verbena lingering for an infuriatingly fleeting second on the tongue, but really it’s as if we’re barely eating anything at all.Munk, who closed his original 15-seat Alchemist two years ago to make way for this bigger, grander-scale venture, says: “The main idea and ambition for the restaurant is to create a space where you could put the culinary world into a new language and use it as a tool to communicate. It should first be a playground where we could talk about things that we think are important. It needed to be more than just a great meal.”The long list of issues Munk wants to tackle includes immigration – the New York room is designed by Japanese-born Brooklyn-based street artist Lady Aiko – food waste, plastic in the oceans, and how we treat the animals we eat.The main dining room – act three – is a dreamy planetarium-like space with silhouettes of trees on a starry sky projected above and around you. Later, streaks of aurora borealis appear, and eventually the whole thing transforms into an underwater scene of jellyfish floating alongside plastic bags. This is where we eat most of the courses, or ‘impressions’ (among the many experts hired to finesse the experience, Munk says he asked a food philosopher to choose exactly the right words to describe it).Plastic Fantastic is an exquisite morsel of cod jaw, topped with edible plastic made from the cod’s skin, which sticks to your lips as you eat, to highlight plastic getting into the oceans and our food supply. It’s served on a glossy plate made from plastic waste collected from Denmark’s western beaches. Blood Diamond is a small bowl of cold red liquid, containing red tomato, kombucha and tabasco, poured from vials onto diamond-shaped ice cubes. Food for Thought, served inside a waxwork head, is made with organic, ethically produced (not force-fed) foie gras. Offal features heavily, from lamb’s brain to beef tendon, but vegetarian and vegan versions of all the same dishes are also available. In a very New Nordic way, flavours sometimes jar with each other.A lighter (in every sense of the word) dish is a frozen snowball made from fermented tomatoes but perfectly white, which we eat with thick ski gloves. A hibiscus flower is made from kombucha scoby, and a solid, crisp version of a French onion soup plays with a classic culinary format. Dishes can be surreal, too: a strawberry and edible flower dish Munk made to celebrate his friend surviving tongue cancer has to be eaten, or ‘kissed’, off a rubber tongue, while a goat’s milk and dulche de leche dessert is sucked through a rubber udder.Next up is a dark corridor twinkling with rainbow LEDs, meant to symbolise a sense of isolation associated with coming out. Here a dancer wearing the same LEDs hands us a popsicle shaped like a seahorse, chosen as an LGBT+ representative here since it’s one of many animals that engage in same sex relationships. By the time we emerge and finish our final desserts over a cocktail, six hours have passed. Apparently some “hardcore foodies” set the record at just over three hours, but I’d advise taking tactical breaks – it’s intense. In one evening I’ve questioned my meat consumption, and felt what it might be like to ingest plastic. I’ve eaten some technically brilliant food, at peak quality, and with flawless service, yet it’s made me flinch, laugh and consider some of the biggest issues we face in society, right down to our place in the world as humans. And in that way, Alchemist is perfectly anarchic. Travel essentials Getting thereBritish Airways, Ryanair, easyJet, Norwegian and SAS fly to Copenhagen from £20 return. Staying thereMicro-hotel Citizen M offers centrally located, easy luxury with compact-yet-comfortable rooms – that still manage to fit huge beds. Guests have access to buzzy shared spaces with bold art and ultra-fast automated check-in and check-out, as well as weekly yoga and running sessions. Rooms from £85. Visiting thereSee visitdenmark.com for more information.
Fancy skiing bottomless powder in Japan, or following in the tracks of Winter Olympians Graham Bell and Chemmy Alcott? How about picking up tips from coach to the royals, and Telegraph Ski Skills editor, Warren Smith or discovering the joy of ski touring in the Arctic Circle?
It may seem strange, when the calendar is insisting it is mid-July and the school summer holidays are hours old, to glance out of the window and dream of snow. But it is worth flinging your thoughts six months forwards to the coldest season, especially if you are looking for a ski holiday that doesn’t cost a fortune.
Whether you're looking to nurture a young chef with cookery classes, partake in sports (on and off water), or simply be able to guarantee that your darlings are having fun – and being well looked after – while you relax in the spa or enjoy some Michelin-starred dining, we've got it all. Our experts have rounded up the best family-friendly hotels in England, from Cornwall to Cumbria.
Air passengers have been warned they face bills of hundreds of pounds if they fail to switch to their phone’s airplane mode while in flight.
There’s a real wow factor to the natural beauty of Canada's Saguenay Fjord. An off-shoot of the St Lawrence river in the province of Quebec, it is one of the world’s longest fjords, measuring some 80 miles, with cliffs rising 1,000 feet. In the port city of Saguenay, must-sees include the special La Fabuleuse show, telling the story of the region. The great outdoors is on the doorstep.
MPs on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have lambasted the former top executives at Crossrail for their “staggering” over-optimism about when the troubled project would be completed.The Elizabeth Line, as it will be known once services begin, will link Reading and Heathrow airport, west of the capital, with Shenfield in Essex and Abbey Wood in southeast London.Trains are planned to run every 2.5 minutes each way through a central core between Paddington and Whitechapel, with intermediate stops at Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon and Liverpool Street.It is intended to boost rail capacity in the capital by 10 per cent, cut journey times and relieve congestion on the existing infrastructure – particularly the Central Line of the London Underground. The line will also boost revenue for Transport for London (TfL).The body responsible for delivering it is Crossrail Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of TfL.But the project is running about two years late. Tottenham Court Road is the most of advanced of the 10 new stations, but will not be completed until August or September 2019, while Bond Street may not be finished before spring 2021.The latest Public Accounts Committee report is scathing about the management of the project, saying: “Given the scale and complexity of the remaining work, it is staggering that Crossrail Ltd continued to believe until as late as July 2018 that the central section of the railway would open in December 2018.“This over-optimism which was prevalent throughout has proved hugely damaging to the programme. “Given the amount of work still to be done, it is clear that Crossrail Ltd did not have a full appreciation of the scale and complexity of the outstanding work until recently, particularly the work to bring together all the infrastructure and systems required for the railway to begin operations.“Commuters have been let down by a programme that is well behind schedule and has seen costs escalate far beyond what was originally planned.”The current budget is £17.6bn, 19 per cent more than originally estimated, with no certainty about the final bill.The committee points out that Crossrail Ltd continued to pay its executives bonuses, even as the programme was going off track. The former chief executive, Andrew Wolstenholme, was paid a bonus of £481,000 for performance in 2015-16 and £160,000 for 2016-17.Mr Wolstenholme has been replaced as chief executive by Mark Wild, while the former chair, Sir Terry Morgan, has been replaced by Tony Meggs.Crossrail Ltd said: “Following a detailed audit of the programme, including what went wrong in the past, the new team has produced a robust and realistic plan to put Europe’s most ambitious and complex infrastructure project back on track.“As many risks and uncertainties remain in the development and testing of the train and signalling systems, Crossrail Ltd has identified a six-month delivery window with a midpoint at the end of 2020. Crossrail will be making every effort to deliver the service as early as possible.“The central section of the Elizabeth line will open between Paddington and Abbey Wood and link the West End, the City of London, Canary Wharf and southeast London with initially 12 trains per hour during the peak.“It is expected that all stations on the route will open except for Bond Street which is delayed because of design and delivery challenges.”The PAC also takes the Department for Transport (DfT) to task, saying: “We have witnessed cost increases and delays on major rail projects several times over the past few years and the department still does not appear to have got a grip on the problem.“Until the department properly embeds the lessons learned from the programme, we remain sceptical about its ability to oversee major rail projects.”A DfT spokesperson said: “The department consistently challenged the leadership of Crossrail Ltd on the delivery of the project.“When problems became clear the Department acted swiftly and effectively, changing the leadership of the board and strengthening governance structures. “The new Crossrail Ltd management team has now produced a new plan to open the railway, and the Department and TfL will continue to scrutinise progress to ensure this happens as soon as possible.”
Tourists in Dubai are able to buy alcohol from shops for the first time, thanks to new measures introduced to make the city more visitor-friendly.Holidaymakers could previously only purchase and consume drinks at licensed venues like hotels and restaurants.It’s now possible for non-Muslim visitors over the age of 21 to buy alcohol from any Mercantile and Marketing International (MMI) or African and Eastern liquor store in the city.Visitors will need a licence to purchase alcohol from these shops, but it’s free of charge and can be obtained by applying on arrival in Dubai at any participating store.The process requires tourists to supply their passport, fill out a short form and sign an official declaration stating that they are not a UAE resident and agreeing to abide by the UAE’s rules on alcohol purchase and consumption.The shop takes copies of the applicant’s passport and entry stamp, plus provides them with guidelines on responsible drinking in Dubai.The license is valid for 30 days and can be renewed if tourists choose to extend their stay.Although this represents a relaxation of the rules on buying booze, the United Arab Emirates still has strict laws when it comes to alcohol consumption.The Foreign Office advice states: “You should be aware that it is a punishable offence under UAE law to drink or be under the influence of alcohol in public. “British nationals have been arrested and charged under this law, often in cases where they have come to the attention of the police for a related offence or matter, such as disorderly or offensive behaviour.”It adds: “Passengers in transit through the UAE under the influence of alcohol may also be arrested.”The British consulate issued a warning on its Facebook page last year, stating that British travellers are at risk of arrest if they are found with alcohol in their blood when transiting through the United Arab Emirates. It followed the case of Dr Ellie Holman, who was detained in Dubai with her daughter in August 2018 for allegedly drinking a complimentary glass of wine on a flight from London.After landing in the UAE, the 44-year-old says she was questioned about her visa and asked if she had consumed alcohol, before being taken into custody. She was released a month later.
Tube passengers will be able to use their phones to make calls and access internet across the entire London Underground network by the mid-2020s, it has been announced.Transport for London (TfL) said mobile connectivity with 4G signal would first come to the eastern half of the Jubilee line on platforms and in tunnels from March next year.The trial section, which will cover stations between Westminster and Canning Town, means commuters will be able to check travel information, use social media, stream music and video, and read emails uninterrupted during their journey.Ticket halls and corridors will also be covered within stations, with the exception of London Bridge and Waterloo stations, which are expected to be added later in 2020.Free wifi network is already available at 260 Tube stations and on TfL rail services , but not in tunnels.Mark Bulle, TfL’s head of infrastructure transformation, told The Guardian that the service should be fast enough to allow uninterrupted video streaming, meaning passengers could watch live sports while underground.The Underground has long been one of the few major public places in the UK without phone reception, in contrast with subway systems around the world where mobile phone coverage is common.As the world’s oldest subway network, the Underground is not well-suited to providing phone signal in its tunnels.Many of its lines are built in narrow tunnels, which have little space to install mobile connectivity equipment, while twists on the lines also make it difficult for signals to pass through them. “The London Underground network is an incredibly challenging environment in which to deliver technological improvements, but we are now well on the path to delivering mobile connectivity within our stations and tunnels,” Shashi Verma, chief technology officer at TfL, said.Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, said the announcement was an “important step for the millions of people who use the Tube each year”.The upgraded network is expected to require 2,000km of cabling, with engineers working week-night shifts to minimise disruption for passengers.TfL will cover the cost for the initial trial on the Jubilee line, according to the Guardian, before awarding a contract to a private operator to install 4G equipment within all tunnels by the mid-2020s.
Thomas Cook and Tui, two of the UK’s biggest tour operators, have been ranked the worst package holiday providers in a new survey. The Which? Travel report asked more than 4,000 consumers to score 11 of the country’s leading providers on a range of criteria: average price per day, customer service, accommodation, description matching reality, organisation of holiday and value for money.Thomas Cook, the UK’s third biggest tour operator, placed last, with a quarter of the 289 respondents who had holidayed with the company saying they had experienced a problem during their trip.Issues often related to holiday reps, with holidaymakers complaining that they were unhelpful or impossible to track down.“We never saw a rep the whole time we were there,” reported one customer. “All there was, was a number on a noticeboard.”The holiday company received a customer score of 69 per cent and three-star ratings for accommodation, customer service and value for money, while holiday reps received just two stars.A Thomas Cook spokeswoman told The Independent: “Many millions of loyal customers come back to Thomas Cook year after year. It seems they are not represented by the sample of fewer than 300 of our customers which was used for this Which? report.“We take the views of our customers very seriously. Our own customer satisfaction scores – which incorporate the feedback of tens of thousands of customers – are significantly higher than those reported by Which? and this year, satisfaction is up in all areas, including our rep service and quality of hotels.“This weekend is set to be the busiest for travel as the schools break up and our 600-strong team of reps in destinations across the world are ready to make sure all our customers have an incredible holiday.”Tui, the country’s biggest tour operator, and Tui-owned First Choice placed 10th and ninth respectively, despite being package holiday specialists.Although they received slightly higher ratings of three and four stars across the board, some Tui customers complained about poor customer service, unprofessional holiday reps and disappointing accommodation facilities.“We are disappointed in the results as our customers are at the heart of everything we do,” a Tui UK spokesperson told The Independent. “We offer great flexibility, a wide choice of destinations and holiday types and will continue to do all we can to ensure our customers have the very best experiences when they are on holiday with us. We recognise the importance of great customer service and must do even more in the future.” At the other end of the spectrum, Trailfinders claimed the top spot, with an overall score of 91 per cent and five-star ratings for customer service and holiday organisation.One Trailfinders customer said “Everything ran smoothly. I was able to personalise my holiday to my taste, and the hotel was stunning.”The company specialises in tailor-made trips all over the world.Jet2 Holidays, the UK’s second biggest tour operator, also performed well, garnering a score of 87 per cent and four-star ratings across the board. Holidaymakers were impressed with the company’s customer service and luggage allowance, which offers a free 22kg bag for every passenger.“Jet2 is well-managed and consistently excellent on all fronts,” said one happy customer. “Take note Thomas Cook, Tui and others.”
More than 5.3 million leisure car journeys will be made today as families get away for summer on what has been dubbed “Frantic Friday”.Drivers will take 13.4 million trips this weekend, the highest number in five years and 4 million more than last year, according to a study by the RAC and Inrix.With summer getaways added to normal traffic, today could be the worst day for congestion, added the RAC.Wet weather will only add to the poor driving conditions, especially in the South West, according to Met Office deputy chief meteorologist Mark Sidaway.The roads will continue to be congested over the weekend, as 5 million leisure trips are planned tomorrow, followed by 3.4 million on Sunday.Specialist data from Inrix shows the M1 and the M25 will be the most congested, with jams of up to 90 and 60 minutes respectively.During the weekend, the M40, M5 and M6 will see more congestion.“Traffic jams are pretty much guaranteed from the end of this weekend and while it’s possible to predict where some of these will be, every summer we see extra delays caused by broken-down vehicles blocking lanes, leaving drivers faced with hours of frustration,” said RAC patrol of the year Ben Aldous.“With record numbers of travellers hitting the road for the start of summer, drivers must be prepared for delays on popular routes,” added INRIX transportation analyst Trevor Reed.“Although travel times are expected to increase throughout the weekend, Friday afternoon will be the worst time to be on the road as commuters mix with holiday travellers.”Meanwhile, eight miles of the M5 has been closed northbound in Somerset following a fuel spill. Highways England confirmed that the stretch between junctions 26 and 24 had been closed.Today is also the busiest day for some UK airports, with a record number of travellers expected to fly off for summer this weekend.
An expert guide to the best hotels near The O2 arena in North Greenwich, including the top places to stay for brilliant views, cocktail bars and easy access to the venue and underground stations, in locations including Greenwich and Canary Wharf.
The Welsh government has been accused of wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on Cardiff airport.Darren Millar, a Tory assembly member, told BBC Wales the airport is “over-priced and clearly under-performing”.“It almost looks like a vanity project,” he said.Cardiff airport was bought by the Welsh government in 2013 for £52m.Since then passenger numbers have increased by 60 per cent.But for the financial year 2017-18, the airport’s pre-tax loss was £6.63m – representing over £4 for each of the 1.58 million passengers using the airport. A spokesperson for the economy minister, Ken Skates, told the BBC: “We now have an attractive national airport that is amongst the fastest growing in Europe, with passenger numbers having grown considerably and consistently since we took control in 2013.”Revealing 10 per cent passenger growth between April and May 2019, the chief executive of Cardiff airport, Deb Bowen Rees, said this week: “It’s great to look back over our quarterly results and to see steady passenger growth, during what is a challenging time for the aviation industry, and to continue to work towards our long-term vision to deliver a sustainable airport business for Wales.“Our airline partners have added new routes and continue to add more capacity where there is growing demand.”A Qatar Airways link from Doha to Cardiff opened in 2018, with financial support being paid to the airline.Cardiff is the 20th largest airport in the UK by passenger numbers, with Southend rapidly catching up. It is one-sixth the size of Bristol and one-eighth as big as Birmingham.Cardiff and Bristol take a lot of passengers from South Wales; Bristol airport claims it handles more Welsh people than Cardiff.
Wow, doesn’t a half-century go in a flash? Saturday – you may have heard it mentioned once or 6,458 times – marks a precise 50 years since the Apollo 11 mission touched down on the moon. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, and all that. Now, if this makes you look up and think, “hey, I’d love to go there”, well, you can’t – Dickie Branson’s promises of space tourism for rich folk are still as delayed as one of his trains. But you can trace the story of July 20 1969 in many places. Such as the National Space Centre (spacecentre.co.uk; £15) in Leicester, which is staging a “One Giant Leap” (featuring actual lunar rocks) exhibition until Sept 1.