Portsmouth from a different angle…

I was flying back from Lisbon, Portugal to Gatwick after working for a brief (3) days.

I’m going home with Easyjet, the brand of the airline doesn’t really matter in this case as when I am flying I get the best experience with a seat next to a plane and have decent weather and visibility and be able to spot things from high up.  On the way over, I was with TAP (Portugese national airline) and got a luke warm cup of tea and a very small sandwich included, where as Easyjet make you pay high prices for food.

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So we are going north from continental Europe and I see this island.   I think this is Jersey.    Oh gosh I really need to watch repeats of 1980s TV detective series Bergerac now, although since reading up in Wikipedia, a lot of it was filmed in mainland UK as budgets were a bit tight.

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Now I see my home city of Portsmouth!!  This city has a distinctive shape as its effectively an island with three roads connecting it to the mainland.    Here if you look carefully you can see where Eastney (yes, the East corner bit)  meets with Hayling Island, a neighbouring protruding section of Hampshire south coast.   I think I need to move back there at some point soon.



Flight purchase blues

Ordering flights online isnt usually too bad of an experience, just this week its be fraught with gremlins 😦

I am trying to get some plane tickets to go home and see family, lately I have been disappointed at airline web sites.  I avoided using Easyjet this time make a quick journey back to my house rather than go to Luton, I am using them to go back as I need to visit Wales on the way back to Israel.

First is Jetairway an airline I am not familiar with but wrote about their new route between Liege, Belgium and Tel Aviv, I bought my ticket, then Google Chrome came up with an odd error message towards at the end of the purchase that some parts of the web site are missing and asked if I want to display the non-secure parts.   I clicked yes.   It then took me back to the first stage all over again!!    Thinking I had not had my payment go through, I did it all over again and then realised I had bought two tickets.   I regret not hitting ‘printscreen’ and getting a shot of this error now to prove this issue.

My fears were confirmed by this message I had a short while later,

Later I called up and was told nothing could be done by phone and I would need to email back, responding back to this specifically, which I thought was an automated generic response.

I got this message.

Ok, I got my funds back, but “contrary to your claim”???? the tone of the email lacks any kind of empathy or customer service and forces me that its my fault and not a technical issue with the site 😦     It doesn’t make me think about using this airline again afraid.    Wouldn’t of hurt to have a spell checker as well!!

As they have my name and title, its normally common courtesy to refer to me to as “Dear Mr Hayward” I think, and give the name of the person dealing with the complaint, you know, those usual business type traditions that show respect.

I looked at another airline Flybe to get the 2nd leg of my journey, to go from Brussels to Southampton.   I wasnt sure if this combination was possible.   Rather than a simple message why, when clicking on this link….

I was choosing different options between using Eurostar between Belgium and the UK, or flying.

So when ordering a ticket to go from Brussels to Southampton, I got this this rather oversized blue screen which means I have to scroll down to see Belgian airports that is inconsistent and vague to the user’s simple request to find out if he can go that combination of cities to fly is possible.

So why is it asking me to go flippin’ Dubrovnik?? (which is in Croatia)

Its most annoying that airlines don’t provide a simple method of seeing which combination of cities are possible, and this blue window has the bottom cut off, as the web seems poorly thought out.

Eastern Airlines could take me from Brussels to Southampton but at nearly £200.  Hmm.

I looked at one of the ‘best price’ type sites called ‘cheap flights’, with some odd results:

In other words, you have to use a German site, even I am using this on a computer in my flat in Israel!!    I guess the web site made a guess at my IP address and tried to give a page better for my location but got it totally wrong!

So next trying Eurostar….

Heres the ticket I wanted…..

Payment declined, oh man…

I called my bank who told me theres nothing wrong with the payment method, I called Eurostar to be told I could buy the leg of the trip that goes from Brussels to London, but not the bit for going home, I got on the phone to Eurostar’s customer support, with a nice friendly chap called Peter said it was simple to get Brussels to London bit booked.   I was told ring someone called ‘Bob’ who could give me an explanation for the rest of of the journey, which was largely unknown why this part wasn’t possible to order online or on the phone (engineering works or something maybe)

Later I got this email….

This below also seems like a poor job of doing the emails out to customers as it seems some part of the formatting or any logos and branding are all messed up.  Might be Gmail sometimes screws this up a bit, something that ought to be tested given how popular Gmail is.

Should say “we¿re sorry for these grammatical problems as well!”

I don’t want to put people off booking journeys online as it still is the best form of commerce the internet does best at, but I hope these odd problems could get notice but the airline and railway PR people maybe.

Does anyone want to hire me to test usability on your airline’s retail system from a customer perspective?   Whether you offer a free flight or a financial payment, I could do with something like this to help me with the big costs associated with travelling for the volunteer work I do.   Feel free to contact me on jp.hayward A T gmail.com

fees for flight payments are daft

I bought three plane tickets recently, to come back to Britain to see family for Christmas, on the way back here I am stopping for a short break in Basel, Switzerland to spend New Year with my friend Matthias who lives there, I am going to do some travelling and fly out of Geneva back to Tel Aviv.

I really don’t like airlines for their dishonest practices with upselling you things that used to be included.  This booking I did here was an extra £13 to use a credit card or £8 using a debit card!

I am already doing this on the cheap by not taking any luggage, just everything as carry on.    I don’t have a Electron card to circumvent payment fees, as I thought they were pointless as they are not accepted in a lot of places, but with three flights, I think should exploit getting one just save of these stupid fees I think…

I bet you if you bought a chocolate bar with a credit card in Tescos they couldn’t care less!

I’d like to know if anyone has ideas on getting a suitable Electron card just for buying flights…

Back in the holy land for 2011

After a 3 week break to see family for Christmas and New Year and see my home church and friends, I am back in my flat in East Talpiyot, south part of Jerusalem, having flown back on tuesday.

The flight was a bit more eventful than I would of liked, once aboard the Easyjet flight in its usual orange livery in Luton, we were advised by the captain that the plane could not take off due to a warning light the advised of a part on the plane that needed to be replaced, at first it was thought that a part could be brought over from Heathrow, after a while we were told this was not possible and that a replacement plane would be here shortly.  However the other plane was smaller and not able to take all of us, so it was back to the lounge and told to wait for the screens to show an announcement.   A refreshment voucher was offered to the value of £3 ($5 or 18 Shekels)  which makes me think that the voucher scheme for delayed passengers appears to be a bit out of touch with inflation, this got me one coffee as another 20p was needed for a packet of salt and vinegar crisps.

It was not until 4 hours later another flight was ready for us taking off at 3.30.   On the flight its quite interesting listening to British Jews speak in Hebrew with an English accent, I forgot my earplugs as I always seem to be sat near screaming children on flights but I did bring an inflatable neck cushion for a bit of a doze on the flight.   It left me some time to pray, as I also forgot where my iPod cable was and there was no chance of any tunes or TV shows as the battery was flat.  When exiting the airport I handed over my passport for examination which after being asked my purpose (volunteering) a couple of times there was a awkward long 2 minutes as the woman checked my details on her computer.

Once on the Sherut (a bright yellow Mercedes 12 seater minibus) it was just an hour or so to get to my flat, which I arrived at about 1.30am IL time.  I wasn’t feeling that tired by the time I got there.

Its freezing here, a different type of chill than the UK, but I am not used to it, I have not experienced Israel in early winter months.  It was cooler in December for sure and until mid-november I was wearing just one shirt.  The downside is my flat like most I see in Jerusalem is made of concrete (with the familiar white stone facade) with no curtains to insulate the windows, only roller blinds.

Yesterday we got some rain, it may of only been for 10 minutes or so before I went to bed yesterday but the metal rails of the balcony of my flat were still wet when I was up the next morning so this is a good thing this country is so desperately in need of.

More articles will be listed soon.

Back in Jerusalem for a second season…

Whilst waiting to catch my flight, I caught sight of the Harrods logo on of the aircraft hangers outside the window at Luton airport.  Interesting, I didn’t know Mr Alfayed or the world famous department store would have any interest in the aviation business.  Luton being a city north west of London has a busy medium volume of flights to various bits of Europe as well as domestic parts of the UK including Scotland and the Channel Islands.

Flying with Easyjet was ok.  The flight itself wasnt particulary cheap as it was only slightly cheaper than my flight with BMI last year, and the next cheapest would of been with Turkish airlines and had to spend a good few hours changing planes in Istanbul.  Bearing in mind as a budget airline you dont get food, drinks, TV/movies, choice of seat etc, this is no big deal when flying to Paris or Amsterdam as its only 1 hour and 15 minutes for these sorts of routes, however here being 4 hours, it gets annoying paying for #4 for a very small cake and some coffee.  I brought some food to take on the plane however when I was about to say goodbye to my parents, the announcement on the tannoy system was you were strictly allowed on bag to carry on, so I gave part of my lunch to my parents, and just carried my laptop with me and two large books loose.

When getting on the plane I noticed overhead luggage space was very tight, it seems most of the other passengers took no notice of the announcement, mostly a necessity with people needing things for very young children and religious Jews who always carry boxes to put their hats in, as well as many people with laptops meant shoving your belongings wherever they could fit often some distance away from your seat.

Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport has this nice Roman Mosaic hung on the wall of the new airport that was built in 2004.   Some people have said TLV is one of the best airports in the world, with its modern bright interior with familiar white Jerusalem stone everywhere, big water fountain at the interest, free (unlike Heathrow) wireless internet and big choice of shops I am inclined to agree here.

The next step was getting on a Sherut bus (12 seater Mercedes van) directly to my new flat.  This was quite simple and I do like this cheap and easy direct to your door method, with the exception of driving very fast in between some road humps around the discrict of Talpyiot which made me feel a bit sick.

Anyway its nice to be back, in a much nicer apartment and in a different part of town.

More soon…..