Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Ryanair gone soft & Dublin reclaims Bram

ryanair captcha copyRyanair going soft? Not THAT soft. There were a few caveats in Friday’s announcement that the airline is to reduce fees, remove the second bag charge and introduce what it calls “quiet flights.”  The “Recaptcha” security code will be removed from the website for individual bookings next Friday, after two years of torment which drove many of the airline’s customers to near distraction. Ryanair also announced that:

  • Customers who book directly on the website will be given a 24 hour grace period from the time of their original booking, to correct minor errors (such as spelling, names, routings) made in their original booking. This facility does not apply to travel agents or screenscrapers.
  • Ryanair will operate “quiet flights”, prior to 8am in the morning and after 9pm in the evenings.  During these quiet flight periods no PA’s will be made on board other than required safety announcements.  Ryanair will also dim the lights during these quiet flights so that any customers who wish to snooze, can comfortably do so.
  • From December 1st, Ryanair will allow passengers to bring a second small carry-on bag (small ladies handbag or small airport shopping bag) no bigger than 35 x 20 x 20cm which will allow a bottle of wine or equivalent to be carried. Yes to duty free but no to laptops.
  • From December 1st, Ryanair’s boarding card reissue fee will be cut from €70 to €15 for customers who have already checked in online.  Customers who fail to check-in online will continue to pay a €70airport check-in fee.
  • There was some confusion about the fee reductions, originally announced for January 5th but moved to January 1st. Ryanair’s standard airport bag fees will be cut from €60 o €30 at the bag drop desk, and from €60 to €50 at the boarding gate, bringing them into line with competitor airline standard airport bag fees.
  • The Irish Independent noted that passengers who make it as far as the boarding gate only to realise that their carry-on bag is too big and that it will need to be checked in to the hold, will have to stump up €50.
  • For those who fear they might forget what the old Ryanair was like, the parody by Fascinating Aida is worth another look.

Bram Stoker

The weekend before Hallowe’en and Dublin is making its most serious effort yet to reclaim its most famous popular literary son (move over Joyce) Bram Stoker. The Stoker festival is the city’s second largest scale festival, after the St Patrick’s weekend, with which the Bram Stoker Festival shares an organisational team. The programme included free pop-up street theatre performances,  a city-wide Vampire Hunt, movies in the open-air including Dracula (1931), The Brides of Dracula (1960) and Blood of Dracula (1974), literary events featuring John Boyne (Boy in the Striped Pyjamas) and acclaimed gothic writer, Diane Setterfield, live graffiti projects and haunted walks & talks. Ireland (Sligo had a claim, too) woke late to the fact that Dracula is big business. Several locations in Transyvlania, notably the atmospheric but historically unconnected Bran Castle near Brasov, Whitby in Yorkshire and its mini-me Slains Castle in Aberdeen, Rosenbach Museum and the Hyatt Bellevue hotel in Philadelphia and diverse other wannabe Draculocations from Prague to Vegas have all been seizing a slice of the Dracula tourism teeth. Dublin’s previous big ticket attempt, the Bram Stoker Dracula Experience at Clontarf which opened with great aplomb in 2003, closed in 2010. Susan Kirby and Edelle Moss were the event managers, Jane Algar directed the literary programme and Paul Clegg, head of Dublin City Council Events Office pulled the programme, funding and partners together. Paolo Cuelho once told Travel Extra‘s Eoghan Corry that Bram Stoker was the greatest novelist of all time. It was said in a pub in Dublin so it must be true. Picture shows Lucy Rhinehart as Countess Erzsebet Bathory and Paddy Walsh as Bram Stoker. What’s next? Bram brack instead of barm brack? You read it here first.

anne coughlanThe IATA passenger symposium which brings 400 senior airline, travel industry and travel technology executives to Dublin between Tuesday and Thursday next week is coming down to three increasingly familiar letters: NDC. We could see a nice set-to on the new technology which allows airlines take on a role traditionally played by the GDS’s. Keynote addresses will be by Aer Lingus CEO Christoph Mueller and IATA Director General and CEO Tony Tyler. Star attractions include Air France CEO Alexandre de Juniac and European Commission Aviation Director Matthew Baldwin. Attendees will also hear about developments in the Checkpoint of the Future programme to improve checkpoint security at airports, presumably to make it faster. Watch out for the paper from Illinois academic Anne Coughlan (pictured) from the  Kellogg School of Management. Elephant in the Room points out that agents are running scared from NDC because the two sides of the system are so far apart: the split of the work in the air travel channel, combined with the current non-parallel split of payments and compensation and what she calls “the history of past compensation shifts” (ie the attack on commission payments in the 1990s). IN fact, she says NDC decreases travelers’ cost of access to information about valuable elements of the air travel bundles they wish to buy, and because it will reduce the cost to travel agents and to the system as a whole of providing that information.

michael cawleyRyanair’s Michael Cawley said the airline plans to base a second aircraft at Shannon as the airline announced eight new routes (five of them restarts) in response to Michael Noonan’s abolishing the €3 tax. The routes announcement was more adventurous than it might have been. Beauvais, Faro (a route restarted by Aer Lingus this summer), Fuerteventura and Warsaw were predictable, Berlin, Krakow, Munich and Nice a tad adventurous. Unsurprisingly, there were no new/revived routes to England. The Irish independent hailed it as a “huge boost for Shannon.” While the Irish Times also cheer-led, misleadingly stating it “could nearly double Shannon passengers.” Michael O’Leary sees Shannon as an inbound destination (“the Germans love that hunting, fishing shooting stuff”) but the airline has tried 35 different roués from Shannon in the past. At the peak in 2008, Ryanair was flying 20 departures a day with 6 based aircraft, compared to only 5 daily departures and one aircraft now. Ryanair promised 300,000 new passengers bringing Ryanair total at Shannon to 750,000 & airport passenger numbers to 2.3m, up 15pc. Like he turned on a tap, he has Shannon growing again. Next up Cork and Farranfore. See video of the announcement here.

Iran is the latest country to allow visas upon arrival at the airport (after India’s announcement last week). Mohammad-Ali Najafi of the heritage and tourism organisation confirmed this week that Iran is planning to relax its visa requirements to boost tourism. Irish people will be entitled to visa on arrival but not passport holders or residents of England who will continue to apply to the Iranian consulate in Dublin for their visas for the time being. No finger-print is needed for visa collection from the Iranian consulate in Dublin. (even for British passport holders). Form downloadable here or from Ireland is Iran’s 13th most important inbound tourist market among countries that currently require a visa. US passport holders are also excluded from the proposed visa on arrival scheme.

The spat between Aer Lingus and labour union IMPACT at Shannon airport turned nasty when the airline announced its was closing the base there with the loss of 87 jobs. Aer Lingus CEO Christophe Mueller once answered a question on Shannon by opining that it was a base where Aer Lingus could never make a profit because of legacy issues. He pointed out that this was not unique, each flag carrier has a few of these, including Lufthansa (where industry speculation has it that Christophe may well be pitching his tent in the coming weeks). Aer Lingus will continue to operate a short-haul route to London from Shannon using its own cabin crew. Options for the 87 include transfer to Cork or Dublin, voluntary severance or unpaid leave for those who secure work with ACL and, if necessary, redundancy. Impact by alleging Aer Lingus attempted to “bully its own staff into submission.” Aer Lingus said that what “started out as a jobs growth initiative “ has ended up in a situation “where, as a result of IMPACT’s refusal to co-operate we no longer require a large portion of the cabin crew group there.” The vested interests at Shannon, perhaps distracted by Ryanair, have not yet rowed in on the Impact side. There will be some more news for Shannon in the next week.

Tourism Ireland has lined up its team for the World Travel Market in Excel in London in a fortnight’s time. Leo Varadkar will be elsewhere and there is no Arlene Foster this year but, never fear, Michael Ring will be there among over 70 ministers for tourism who will be attending the event. Michael is fresh from the personal triumph of bringing 1,100 Mayo people from Manchester home for one of the biggest Gathering events in the year. The full team of 17 is: Abbey Tours, Ashling Hotel, Best Western Ireland, Camden Court Hotel, Carlton Hotel Group, Cassidys Hotel, Castle Leslie Estate, Causeway Coast & Glens, Celtic Group Hostels, Choice Hotel Group, Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, Cork Coach & Chauffeur Drive, Culture & Heritage Tours Ireland, Dalata Hotel Group Ltd – Maldron Hotels & Partner Hotels, Derry Visitor & Convention Bureau/UK City of Culture 2013, Destination Killarney Group and Destination Waterford City.

Cypriot hoteliers promise to launch ‘the biggest holiday competition in the world at WTM. The competition will run for 50 weeks, during which the Island’s hoteliers will give away 50 seven-night stays.  Other big WTM announcements are expected from Hungary, Indonesia, Malaysia, Moscow City and Thailand, who are launching their weddings and honeymoons brand and Jamaica who are launching a new logo.

bernie whelan cathy burke ciara mcconnellTravel Counsellors Ireland 2014 Conference will take place from Thursday March 27th – Saturday March 29th at a venue to be confirmed. Over 120 delegates will be in attendance, 55 of the company’s agents and partners plus the company’s management team, head office staff guest speakers and suppliers.  Will they be going back to Cork after the most successful conference in the history of the Irish operation was held in Fota last April? Cathy Burke says she is conscious of the journey for some people to Cork from Donegal etc. so she is looking at a few more before we make our final decision. Picture shows Bernie Whelan, Cathy Burke and Ciara MacConnell welcoming guests to the 2013 conference.

Tour Operators on Voyage of Discovery along Wild Atlantic Way (C

Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland hosted 30 tour operators from across Europe, India, Australia and the US to showcase Wild Atlantic Way in the South West area in order to promote the new route in their holiday packages for 2014. The group were hosted by Inchydoney Island, brought by Jim Kennedy of Atlantic Sea Kayaking on a West Cork Moonlight night time trip, went whale watching off the coast of West Cork, stopping off at Cape Clear Island for lunch at Sean Rua’s café, rounded the Ring of Kerry and Killarney, took a chocolate making master class at Skellig & Cocoa Bean Chocolates in Ballinskelligs, and toured Portmagee & Valentia Island, Dingle, and The Blasket Centre at Dunquin.celebrity group oct 23 2103 300

Royal Caribbean hosted agents from John Cassidy Travel, O’Hanrahan Travel, Bowe Travel and Oasis Travel, Clubworld Travel, Coop Carrickfergus and Thomas Cook Ballymena onboard Celebrity Infinity during an ‘Immersive Wine Cruise’ around western Europe hosted by the Leon Hand, Celebrity Cruises’ ever-popular trainer for Ireland and Britain. Pictures shows Vanessa O’Connor, Kathleen Core and Gillian Murphy from John Cassidy Travel; Shirley Woods from O’Hanrahan Travel; Catherine Bowe of Bowe Travel; Oasis Travel’s Eimear Lenaghan with Leon Hand, Celebrity Cruises. Jennifer Greene from eTravel, Dublin is one of the latest winners of Celebrity Cruises’ agent incentive of five €20 shopping vouchers being offered every day throughout October for selected 2014 bookings made, confirmed and registered on

Lethal Allies

Reaction to the book Lethal Allles, which launched this week, suggest it will be one of the more important books to cover events during the Northern Ireland troubles. Wriiten by Travel Extra’s Anne Cadwallader (in her other role as an investigative journalist), it exposes British complicity in over 120 civilian murders during the  troubles. See coverage here on RTE’s Nine news, the London Independent and London Guardian.

The number of Irish trips abroad was flat during the summer period, up 1pc for January to September on the corresponding period last year. Overseas trips to Ireland for the period July to September 2013 were up 8pc and up 6pc for the period January to September. Could the English market be turning? Britain grew by 9pc from July to September and are up 3pc for the first nine months of the year. North American numbers rose by 14% in July to September and are up by 15% for the year to September. France was up 10pc, Germany 7pc, Australia/New Zealand up 19pc, and other long haul areas up 24pc. Shaun Quinn of Fáilte Ireland hailed “a further boost to an industry which has been reporting confidence levels not seen since the boom.”

IRELAND WITH A SLICE OF ‘REBEL’ … CANADIAN ‘REBEL CHEFFrench-Canadian ‘Rebel Chef’ Antoine Sicotte is filming four episodes for the new season of his TV show, Le Cuisinier Rebelle Prend L’Air (Rebel Chef Hits the Road) in Ireland. Here he is filming in West Cork with Anthony Cresswell, Ummera Smokehouse of Timoleague (centre), Adriana Canellas, production co-ordinator; Jean-Sébastian Desrosiers, director; and Jérôme Hof, cameraman.

Eoghan Corry Pingvellir pond_light 300The smell of rotten eggs, dancing northern lights, amazing music,  geysers, the constant reminder that they are in the World Cup play-offs and we are not -, it must be Iceland. Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry joined a Travel Department tour of the attractions, Reykjavík city, the waterfalls and geysers of the Golden Circle, the south coast where the Eyjafjallajökull visitor centre is the new attraction, and the old tourist standard the Bue Lagoon. Soccer fans’ wallets still break out in goose pimples at the memory of what they paid for a pint during the World Cup qualifiers of 2008. They’re in the play-offs this time round (against Croatia), the furthest they ever got in the competition, and Ireland are not. Something we should learn from that?  Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry is pictured at Pingsvellir, the pool where Sigridur Einansdottir was tied in a sack and drowned for sorcery in 1650. It being Hallowe’en and having a suspicion of those foreign otherworld ladies since an encounter on a Pow Wow post-fam in Tonopah, Nevada in 2008, we did not hang around. tourism ireland gb update 300

Tourism Ireland updated the industry on their plans to grow the British market. Picture shows Kevin Moriarty of Fáilte Ireland; Éamonn McKeon of ITIC Vanessa Markey, Tourism Ireland’s head of Great Britain; and Daragh O’Reilly of, Irish Ferries, at the update on the “GB Path to Growth” strategy.

  • Video of the week was Kelly McGarry flipping a 72-foot-long canyon gap at the Red Bull Rampage 2013 amid stunning scenery at Virgin, Utah, right beside Zion National Park.
  • Etihad Airways will increase its Abu Dhabi-Colombo service from seven flights per week to a double daily schedule from February 16. Etihad has expanded its codeshare agreement with Korean Air, South Korea’s largest airline,
  • It was reported that Thailand is set to introduce a new ‘tourist tax’ (“to improve ‘quality’ of visitors,” the Daily Mail claims) as soon as January 2014. TAT responded that the tax is still one of several ideas the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Tourism & Sport are considering, has not yet been approved and is still to be passed by government.
  • Dublin will host a Web Summit with 12,000 attendees on October 30th – 31st. Taxi drivers from across Dublin city and county were briefed on this and other upcoming events in the Radisson Hotel Dublin Airport. This week Dublin also won the 2017 EuroSpine conference, the annual event of the Spine Society of Europe will bring 3000 medical professionals to the city.
  • GLH is to launch a new four-star Amba brand with four properties which will all be located in London, at Buckingham Palace Road, Charing Cross, Marble Arch and Tower Bridge.
  • US immigration queueThe US Department of Homeland Security is to boost the numbers of staff at its Customs and Border Protection facility at Dublin Airport.
  • Easyjet announced new routes from Belfast Aldergrove to Bordeaux, and Jersey for next summer.
  • Insight Vacations escorted tours launched their 2014 Europe brochure with new destinations, expanded off the beaten track “Country Roads” holidays, welcome receptions to include a sit down meal and dine-around options and free wi-fi on coaches and in hotels. Insight travels to every country in Europe with the exception of Kosovo. Early bookers get a 10pc discount.
  • Explore escorted tours launched 80 new tours its 2014/15 collection with over 80 new tours on offer in destinations including Guinea Bissau in West Africa, Taiwan and Colombia’s Lost City, in addition to a new range of ‘food and drink’ tours.
  • The volunteering debate continued with the news that fake orphans were paraded through the streets of Siem Reap to attract tourist volunteers.
  • Carlow born John O’Kelly’s steel engineering firm won the contract to build a new baggage handling facility at Abu Dhabi’s Midfield Terminal. Ryanair bratislava copy
  • Pictured celebrating eight years of Ryanair flights from Bratislava Airport are: Svenja Damzog, Sales and Marketing Executive Ryanair; Dana Madunicka, PR and Communications Manager Bratislava Airport; and Markus Leopold, Sales and Marketing Executive Ryanair.
  • Heathrow proposed that the use of both runways for arrivals could help the airport get back to normal more quickly after periods of disruption and reduce the impact on passengers following an eight-month trial at the airport that ended in March,
  • Cityjet’s Dublin to London City service is scheduled to increase from 32 to 34 weekly in 2014, 29 using RJ85’s and 5 using F50’s weekly.
  • Boeing got $20.7bn worth of 737 Max commitments from China.
  • Doolin’s new pier and construction on the new coastguard station already underway
  • Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin’s synthetic biology and DNA exhibition Grow Your Own opened yesterday and runs until January 19th.
  • Aer Arann will have a new services announcement on Tuesday. Stobart said that its investment in Aer Arann is “progressing well” in its first-half results and is looking at expansion,
  • British Airways launched a premium leisure sale, offering up to 40pc off flights and holidays in Club Europe, Club World and First cabins
  • More bad news for Kenya came in the form of a travel alert from Australia, one of the jumpiest governments in the tourist advice business. Will Kenya advice its citizens not to go to Australia because of the bush fires?.
  • Lowcostbeds is giving away 4 tickets for the Irish Travel Industry Christmas party on the 11th December 2013 at the Doubletree by Hilton formerly the Burlington Hotel. Daily draw takes place on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday Oct 29-Nov 1 for agents who make a sale between Friday Oct 25 and Nov 1.
  • Caminoways are hosting free talks at 53 Degrees North in Cork city (November 4th) and Carrickmines, Dublin (November 5th) to highlight the Via Francigena to Rome.
  • United Airlines (reported third-quarter 2013 net income of $590m, up 13.5pc, and profit up to $379m against $6m a year earlier but the airlines’ parent company is to take “immediate action” to improve efficiencies after saying its results were not good enough. United were fined $1.1 million under America’s controversial tarmac delay legislation for delays at Chicago O’Hare airport.
  • Phone app Viewranger announced that Ireland OSI Whole country product is now available.
  • Celtic Horizons launched their “self drive premier league football packages priced from €156 pp based on Car + 4
  • The USA National Park Service has submitted a recommendation to Congress to establish a new National Historical Park to honour César Chávez and the Farm Labour Movement.
  • Travel Solutions air division has launched Malta packages from Belfast. Ryanair’s Malta schedules for 2014 have not yet been finalised.
  • Michael O’Leary said on his Twitter feed Cork is getting very little/if any new routes because of the high DAA charges. Among Michael O’Leary’s responses on the new Twitter feed which is generating a lot of media attention (does anybody else care?) was a remark to a passenger who praised Ryanair for the caring treatment she got when she flew with a broken leg: Fly again soon or we’ll break your other ankle.Mulnomah Whiskey Library - Laura Guimond copy
  • Check out this fabulous new watering hole in Portland Oregon, Mulnomah Whiskey Library has 1,600 bottles on the wall, and an encyclopedia to guide you through them. Or you can just sit and drink in comfort and style.
  • Emirates expects to become the largest airline by international traffic in 2020, with 250 aircraft flying 70m passengers (Ryanair already does 80m).
  • Police arrested nine members of staff at Heathrow airport on suspicion of theft.
  • A columnist pondered how holidaymakers appear unwilling to rely on the advice of travel agents but seem to have no problem following anonymous advice on TripAdvisor.
  • US firm said it wants to send travellers to the edge of space attached to a helium balloon.
  • Japanese holiday company is giving people the chance to send their stuffed toys on a tour of Tokyo
  • South Korean province is considering setting up the country’s first nudist beach in an attempt to boost tourism.
  • Vietnam Airlines plane landed in the popular tourist city of Danang this week minus a wheel and nobody on board seemed to notice.
  • A new zip line ride between two towers at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas opens next month
  • Beginner skiers spend an average of three days of their holiday learning to ski at a cost of €350, an indoor snowslope operator claimed
  • Warm weather provided a highly successful summer for Irish tourist attractions, a survey has suggested
  • The world’s best base jumpers leaped off Balinghe Bridge in Anshun City in China
  • Ryanair derided a survey which claimed that when baggage charges are added they are not the cheapest airline.  Pegasus Airlines was named the cheapest European low-cost airline by Although Ryanair was the cheapest based on average basic prices of tickets, when you add on transaction fees and charges for checking in luggage, it finished in fourth place.
  • Rome reported a surge in pilgrims following this year’s election of Pope Francis.
  • Wales is preparing for a year-long festival to mark Dylan Thomas’s 100th anniversary.
  • The tourism industry in the NSW Blue Mountains said it is losing more than $2m day because of the area’s bushfires.
  • Young adults are most likely to cut back on their travel spending, a survey claimed.
  • The annual World Development Report of the World Bank, reported an alarming growth in natural disasters across Asia.
  • Travel Counsellors Ireland is to organise Discovery Days across the country for potential recruits. Email enquiries here or 0818 33 20 03.
  • JAL Japan Airlines threatened to sue the government for favouring rival ANA in allocating landing slots
  • Hurricane Raymond brought heavy rain but nothing more serious to Acapulco.
  • Cuba is to scrap the CUC (convertible peso), used by tourists, which has been in use since 1994, the process is expected to take about 18 months.
  • Delta Air Lines reported quarterly income up 31pc to $1.37bn due to a rise in passenger numbers and air fares and a fall in fuel costs. It said bookings for the end of year holiday season were strong.
  • There was outrage at cyanide poisoning of elephants and other animals and birds by poachers in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.
  • Two thirds of hotels and 58pc of restaurants in Ireland reported an increase in tourist business according to a survey by Fáilte Ireland.

doreenDoreen McKenzie was awarded the Industry Award at the NITTN Travel Trade Awards last weekend, Mervyn McNeely the Industry Roll of Honour, Barry Jackson the NI Travel Trade Representative/Manager of the Year 2013 and Oasis Travel, Lisburn the Agency of the year award. Sandra Corkin of Oasis is pictured with Doreen McKenzie.

  • Best Tourist Information Centre 2013 – Derry TIC
  • NI Special Tourism Achievement Award 2013 – John Toner
  • NI Tourism Marketing Initiative 2013 – Fleadh Cheoil, Derry 2013
  • Best NI Visitor Attraction 2013 – Giants Causeway
  • NI Travel Student of the Year 2013 – Francis McCabe
  • Best UK Domestic Airline 2013 – Flybe
  • Best Airline Worldwide 2013 – United Airlines
  • Best Airline to Europe, ex-Belfast 2013 – Aer Lingus
  • Best Ferry Company 2013 – Stena Line
  • Best Tourist Board 2013 – Dubai
  • Best Accommodation-Only Specialist 2013 – Travelcube
  • Best Travel Internet Booking System 2013 – Jet2
  • Best Travel Insurance Company 2013 – Blue Insurances
  • Best Cruise Line 2013 – Royal Caribbean International
  • Best Luxury Operator 2013 – Caribtours
  • Best Specialist Cruise Company – Silversea Cruises
  • Best Worldwide Tour Operator 2013 – Kuoni
  • Best Specialist Tour Operator 2013 – American Holidays
  • Best Short Breaks Tour Operator 2013 – Superbreak
  • Best Ski Operator 2013 – Topflight
  • Best Package Tour Operator – Jet2holidays
  • NI Travel Trade Representative/Manager of the Year 2013 – Barry Jackson
  • Best Sales Support Team to NI Travel Trade 2013 – Corporate Travel
  • Best NI Multiple Retail Agency – Thomas Cook, Buttercrane, Newry
  • NI Travel Industry Award 2013 – Doreen McKenzie
  • NI Travel Industry – Roll of Honour – Mervyn McNeely
  • NI Travel Agency of the Year 2013 – Oasis Travel, Lisburn.

Ecrivain derry


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