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Covid 19 coronavirus : Lufthansa flight makes low pass over Auckland as it takes Germans home

The German airline Lufthansa bid a fond farewell to New Zealand today with a low pass over Auckland as its A380 left Aotearoa to take German citizens back home.

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Aucklanders were treated to the rare sight of the massive plane travelling low over the central city and Waitemata Harbour just before 10am today, with many heading outside to capture the rare event on photo and video.

They are on their way home, nice touch with the fly over Auckland.. pic.twitter.com/ssdyFpLdUT

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Behold the hotel voted as 'the world's most Instagrammable'

The world’s most Instagrammable hotel voted as Nizuc Resort & Spa in Cancun – and these jaw-dropping pictures show why

  • The five-star hotel is set on a 29-acre beachfront estate that overlooks the turquoise Caribbean Sea
  • It boasts multiple infinity pools, a swim-up bar, two private beaches and stunning Asian-Mexican furnishings
  • The accolade was bestowed upon the resort by Luxury Travel Advisor after a knockout-style round of votes 

Dust down the bucket list and put this luxury lodge on it. 

The five-star Nizuc Resort & Spa in Punta Nizuc, Cancun, Mexico has been voted ‘Most Instagrammable Hotel in the World’ – and these mesmerising images show why.

Scroll through them and feast your eyes upon the resort’s most drool-worthy attributes – private beaches, lush landscaping, stunning infinity pools, swim-up bars and architecture that fuses Asian forms with Mexican materials and Mayan iconography.

The five-star Nizuc Resort & Spa in Punta Nizuc, Cancun, Mexico has been voted ‘Most Instagrammable Hotel in the World’ 

The accolade was bestowed upon Nizuc Resort by Luxury Travel Advisor after over 400,000 votes were cast by its readers around the world during six knockout-style rounds involving 63 posh properties

Nizuc garnered a whopping 219,794 votes in the final of the knock-out voting contest

The accolade was bestowed upon the resort by Luxury Travel Advisor after over 400,000 votes were cast by its readers around the world during six knockout-style rounds involving 63 posh properties, with Nizuc garnering a whopping 219,794 votes in the final.

Second place went to Vietnam’s Melia Ho Tram Beach Resort, which amassed 183,303 votes. 

The hotel, which is situated on a 29-acre estate and features 274 suites and villas, said in a statement: ‘We’ve always known that Nizuc offers something special to our guests, and we’re thrilled that Luxury Travel Advisor’s readers agree.

‘From our picturesque infinity pools and turquoise waters to our stunning spa and unique design, anyone looking for that perfect picture won’t be hard-pressed to find it at our resort.’

The Caribbean Sea resort is located on a secluded area once used by Mayan astronomers and as a presidential retreat for world leaders. 

Nizuc’s architecture fuses Asian forms with Mexican materials and Mayan iconography

Nizuc provides a secluded beachfront escape surrounded by sugar-white sands, protected mangroves and lush tropical foliage

The hotel overlooks the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef – the second-largest coral reef in the world

The hotel has a live beach cam, so you can tune in and pretend you’re not on lockdown

Now Nizuc provides a secluded beachfront escape surrounded by sugar-white sands, protected mangroves and lush tropical foliage.

It also overlooks the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef – the second-largest coral reef in the world.

If all of this is proving rather frustrating during these times of lockdown, the hotel has you covered: you can tune in to a live beach cam while you sip on a homemade margarita and take in the sublime sunsets.

For more information and bookings visit www.nizuc.com.

The hotel said in a statement: ‘We’ve always known that Nizuc offers something special to our guests, and we’re thrilled that Luxury Travel Advisor’s readers agree’

The resort is located on a secluded area once used by Mayan astronomers and as a presidential retreat for world leaders 

The hotel boasts a lux 30,000-square-foot spa, 274 suites and villas and six ‘world-class’ restaurants 

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Airbnb Just Launched Online Experiences — Including Virtual Hangouts With Goats and Cooking Classes


Since its launch in 2016, Airbnb Experiences have become a beloved part of our travel journeys. It’s taken us all to new places to try new foods, learn new skills, make new friends, and see the world in a whole new way. Though the spread of the Coronavirus has brought our in-person adventures to a halt, Airbnb is still committed to helping everyone explore the world. That’s why it’s now offering many of those same — and brand new — experiences online.

a screen shot of a dog: These virtual experiences are perfect for the whole family — especially kids.

On Thursday, Airbnb launched Online Experiences, a “new way for people to connect, travel virtually, and earn income during the COVID-19 crisis,” the company explained. “With communities around the world staying home to protect their own health and the health of others, people can’t pursue routine activities like going to work, exercising or pursuing a passion.”

So Airbnb worked with hosts around the world to find a solution. “One of the most consistent requests [from hosts] was to be able to continue hosting online,” Catherine Powell, Head of Airbnb experiences told Travel + Leisure. “So we dedicated a team to work around the clock to help ensure that they could transfer the magic of their real world Experience to the digital world.”

a dog looking at the camera: Airbnb

That magic includes online experiences like meditation with Buddhist monks, virtual visits with the dogs of Chernobyl, cooking with a Moroccan family, and even spending time with a few goats in the Catskills.

That last one — the goats — was a virtual experience we got to try out for ourselves before the official launch. It included plenty of up-close shots with the adorable creatures, lots of new facts about the animals (did you know goats have a 312-degree field of vision) as well as a question and answer time with their owner, Meagan. In all, the experience lasted about an hour, cost just $10, and would make for an excellent afternoon (and educational) activity for kids, or those curious about the creatures.

“It’s so important for us to preserve the human connection that is at the core of Airbnb Experiences, and guests can continue to expect this connection with our new offering, globally and virtually,” Powell told T+L.

food on display: Airbnb

Want more? How about learning the secrets of magi, making coffee with a professional coffee taster, or even bartending with experts? Want to use this time to get in shape? Log on for a HIIT workout, learn about nutrition with a Bobsledder, or go on a virtual bike tour while riding your spin bike.

The best part is that while you and your family get a meaningful experience, you’re also helping provide an income to people who have lost much of theirs as we practice self-isolation. “In a time where so many people are being impacted financially, we wanted to do our part to provide an opportunity for our hosts to continue to earn some money while they are sheltering at home to stay safe,” said Powell.

Airbnb is also taking the extra step to help some of our most vulnerable find human connection in these uncertain times using virtual experiences. “Millions of elderly people are isolated and are at greater risk to their health due to the current crisis. We’ve partnered with local organizations around the world — like SAGE in the United States, Associazione Nazionale Alpini – Sezione di Milan in Italy, and Amigos de los Mayores in Spain — to provide Online Experiences to their communities for free so they are able to find human connection, and maybe even learn a new skill,” said Powell.

Bookings are available for more than 50 virtual Airbnb Experiences right now on Airbnb, with thousands more expected to come online in the coming months. All online Experiences will be hosted on Zoom. Airbnb will be providing Hosts access to Zoom for free along with personalized support services for curating, capturing, and sharing their online Experience. Check out all the classes now and sign up to learn a new skill or two (or three, or four).


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Travel agents breaking the law by refusing to refund holidaymakers, says Which?

Travel agents that are refusing to refund customers for cancelled holidays are breaking the law, according to a Which? investigation.

Holidaymakers have been in touch with the consumer champion to report that some travel firms are insisting they accept a rebooking or future travel voucher, rather than returning their money, after trips were derailed by the global coronavirus pandemic.

The Package Travel Regulations mean those who have booked package trips including accommodation and travel are entitled to a full refund within two weeks of a cancellation by their agent or tour operator.

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But several companies have been flouting these rules, claim customers.

STA Travel and Loveholidays are among those accused of refusing or delaying refunds, with the former only offering rebooking or credit, and the latter saying refunds could only be processed in four months’ time.

Both firms told Which? they were basing their terms on Abta guidance.

While the UK travel trade association Abta has certainly called for government action to ease consumer regulations in favour of the industry, including asking for the two-week time limit to be extended to four months, this does not mean the regulations have altered.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak began, there have been no changes to consumer protection or companies’ legal requirement to offer refunds to customers in full for trips that are no longer going ahead.

Kane Pirie, founder and managing director of Vivid Travel and a former Abta board member, told The Independent that it was a “disgrace” that firms were denying holidaymakers refunds.

“A lot of travel companies are really short of cash,” he said. “I get that. But a lot of customers are really short of cash as well. And they want their money back.

“It’s a disgrace that parts of the industry are thinking now is the time to tell customers, ‘No, I know you’ve got a legal entitlement to this money but I’m not going to give it to you’.”

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, called travel agents’ refusal to pay people back “unacceptable”, adding that customers may “desperately need the money themselves due to financial pressures caused by coronavirus.”

STA Travel told Which?: “Abta is highlighting that customers may be offered a Refund Credit Note instead of an immediate cash refund, which can be used to book another holiday at a later date and, in the meantime, it is protected by Abta / ATOL.”

Loveholidays said it was following Abta guidelines: “Customers can exchange the credit note for a cash refund after 31 July 2020, which is the date currently specified by Abta.”

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Chicago, Los Angeles and more airports shutter gates, runways as coronavirus halts travel


Some of the nation’s busiest airports have shuttered concourses, gates and runways in the last month to cope with a significant decline in travel during the coronavirus pandemic. 

A passenger looks on near a Southwest Airlines plane at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Airport officials say reducing operations has become a cost-saving measure as airlines slash flights and federal officials urge Americans not to travel internationally.

There are no federal bans on domestic air travel. However, many states have issued stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders. 

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Photos of nearly-empty terminals and flight cabins have also circulated on social media. 

One of the biggest shutdowns happened at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport when it closed all gates at two concourses this week in response to declined air traffic.

“As passenger activity has declined, McCarran officials are continually evaluating the airport’s infrastructure and operations to identify ways to maximize efficiencies and implement cost-savings measures,” officials said in a news release Wednesday.

Other countries are also taking drastic measures. 

London’s Heathrow Airport is temporarily transitioning to single runway operations starting April 6. The airport plans to alternate which runway it uses on a weekly basis, a spokesperson said. 

A spokesperson added that while the airport is seeing fewer flights, Heathrow will remain open so it can continue its role in securing vital medical goods and food for the nation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Major airports have also consolidated TSA checkpoints along with reduced staff for efficiency since there are fewer travelers. Additionally, some airline ticket counters have been closed. 

Here is a look at more specific measures taken at some of the nation’s major airports. 

Atlanta 

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has closed one of its runways to allow airlines to park unused planes there. The airport also closed its domestic north and south TSA checkpoints, and all travelers are going through the main domestic checkpoint.

Officials at the airport, the nation’s busiest, said flights are down 60% from the daily average. 

The airport has about 2,700 arrivals or departures on an average day, but now there are about 1,100, airport spokeswoman Elise Durham said in an email. 

Los Angeles 

At the Los Angeles International Airport, Delta Air Lines is consolidating all operations from Terminal 3 into Terminal 2, and United Airlines is discussing potential consolidation in their terminals, Los Angeles World Airports spokesman Heath Montgomery said.

San Francisco 

The San Francisco International Airport has consolidated all flights in the International Terminal to a single concourse through the end of May. 

Dallas

The Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport has closed eight TSA checkpoints, and American Airlines has closed ticket counters in Terminals A and C. 

Phoenix 

In Phoenix, Sky Harbor Airport expects a 50% decline in flights in May for American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, which are its top carriers. 

“April continues to see daily cancellations as the airlines didn’t have a chance to formally change schedules in advance,” airport spokeswoman Krishna Patel said.

The airport has closed its B and D security checkpoints in Terminal 4. 

Denver 

The Denver International Airport closed its north TSA checkpoint and is directing travelers to the south checkpoint. 

Chicago 

At Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Air Traffic Control operations have been consolidated into one Federal Aviation Administration tower. Two runways have been closed. 

Contributing: Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY; Ed Komenda, Reno Gazette Journal


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Airlines are burning through cash at £400,000 per minute amid coronavirus pandemic

In the time it takes today’s sole British Airways departure from London to Los Angeles to reach California, the world’s airlines will have lost a quarter of a billion pounds.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, BA had planned to dispatch three wide-bodied jets on the route from Heathrow to LAX today. The two Boeing 747s and one Airbus A380 would have carried around 1,000 people between them.

Instead, like other airlines, British Airways has seen its passenger numbers collapse.

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Today’s service between the UK and the US west coast is flown by a Boeing 787 with just 214 seats. The 11-hour, 10-minute journey is set to lose the airline yet more cash.

The London-Los Angeles link is running as part of a skeleton service on a few key routes, for the benefit of essential workers, important family or business journeys and travellers trying to get home; some US-government organised rescue flights are operating from Europe and elsewhere to Heathrow because London has the best remaining transatlantic connections.

For today’s flight, a late-booking passenger would expect to pay around £1,750 one way – but BA is charging a low one-way fare of £633, which is unprecedented in the 21st century.

IAG, the parent company of British Airways, has cut capacity by 90 per cent in April and May; agreed that its 4,000 pilots will take four weeks of unpaid leave in April and May; and furloughed 30,000 cabin crew and ground-based staff.

Most of the BA fleet is in storage, at locations including Cardiff, Bournemouth, Chateauroux in France and Teruel in Spain.

But the airline must keep paying the aircraft leases – which even on the narrow-bodied Airbus A320 can amount to £250,000 per month.

This pattern is being repeated around the world.

The Independent has analysed figures from the International Air Traffic Association (Iata) and can reveal that airlines are collectively losing cash at £400,000 per minute, based on the fall in cash reserves per week.

An announcement on Tuesday evening by the German national airline, Lufthansa, indicated pessimism about the future: “It will take several months until the global travel restrictions are completely lifted and years until the worldwide demand for air travel returns to pre-crisis levels.”

“Lufthansa will be reducing capacity at its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich.

The carrier is to permanently ground more than 20 wide-bodied jets.

Many aircraft are expected to be flown to locations such as Lourdes in France and Victorville in California to be stripped for parts.

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Tui won’t have beach holidays until mid-May and no cruises until June

Europe’s biggest holiday company has announced all its beach holidays up to and including 14 May have been cancelled.

Tui will now have to refund hundreds of thousands of customers.

Its Marella cruise subsidiary will not operate until at least June.

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The company said: “Customers who have a booking impacted by these changes will be able to amend their holiday to any other TUI package holiday on sale for free via manage my booking on our website.”

But holidaymakers who booked through a travel agent have been told to wait for the company to contact them.

Tui said: “Our customer teams are working extremely hard to contact everyone affected, however changes in ways of working and the closure of our retail stores have impacted the speed at which this can happen.”

For tour operators, the main summer holiday season begins in May.

But the coronavirus pandemic has made leisure travel impossible – with little indication of when holidays might be possible.

The Foreign Office has warned against non-essential travel abroad “indefinitely”. Some holidaymakers with bookings for the summer peak have concluded they will be able to get full refunds.

But instead, the decision not to specify an end date means travel firms can legitimately cancel on the day – on the basis that the advice could be lifted at any time.

In practice, holiday companies are issuing “rolling cancellations”: picking a date they hope to start up on, and then contacting customers whose trips have been cancelled.

On Tuesday, Jet2 – second to Tui in the UK for passenger numbers – said it would resume operations on 17 June.

But Tui is more optimistic, setting a date for resumption five weeks from now, and saying: “We, like other travel companies, want to travel again as soon as we possibly can and will do so in line with government advice.”

Tui had planned to launch a river cruise operation in March, but this has now been deferred until 26 November.

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Here’s How to Take Over 20 of the Best Disney World Rides Virtually


If you’re a die-hard Disney fan looking for some good news, look no further. For the first time ever in Disney’s history, all Disney parks around the world have been closed indefinitely since March 16. Luckily, we can still have some fun on the best Disney World rides virtually.  

a sign on the side of a road

How can you take the virtual rides?

Have you ever wished you could take your favorite Disney World rides without having to wait in long lines? Thanks to the YouTube account Virtual Disney World, you can do it now. The channel has been offering virtual reality rides through 360-degree videos since 2016. All you need to do is click on the page and you can take as many rides as you want for free. If you want to make things even more fun, you’ll be happy to know that the rides are compatible with a virtual reality headset or a smartphone with a headset. You’ll have fun learning these 23 mindblowing facts about Disneyland.

The channel has over 62,000 subscribers to date and includes rides from Disney World’s Epcot and the Magic Kingdom, Disneyland, Disney’s California Adventure, Universal and more. Each video takes you through one ride from start to finish—no waiting in long lines or travel necessary! If you’re looking for more fun Disney-related activities you can do at home, try to see if you can spot all the hidden Mickeys in Disney World’s new ride.

What are some of the rides that you can take?

Thanks to Virtual Disney World, you can take rides from all of the four theme parks in Disney World, as well as Disneyland rides, and rides that no longer exist. For those who may wonder: Here’s the difference between Disneyland and Disney World.

These are the most popular attractions for viewers:

The Slinky Dog Dash from Disney’s Hollywood Studios features a two-minute roller coaster ride.

The Frozen Ever After from Disney’s Epcot theme park is a song-filled journey in a slow-moving boat ride through short waterfalls.

Expedition Everest—Legend of the Forbidden Mountain from Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park is a race through the Himalayas on a speeding train.

Under the Sea Journey of the Little Mermaid, which is at Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park, recreates scenes from the classic film.

Are there other virtual Disney offerings?

While the YouTube channel offering these rides is not officially affiliated with Disney, there are other virtual attractions that Disney is offering until the parks open again. If you’re looking to add some creativity into your day, you can watch a complete series of how-to tutorials on drawing Disney characters. Need some magic in your life? You can view Disney’s Magic Happens Parade online, and experience the magic without having to stake out the “perfect spot” to see the parade. You can also take a virtual, behind-the-scenes tour of Walt Disney’s Imagineering, which is a very rare treat. Or, you can join in this magical moment as the Dapper Dans, an iconic part of the Main Street, U.S.A. experience at Disneyland Resort, give a video-performance to bring some joy into people’s lives.

The post Here’s How to Take Over 20 of the Best Disney World Rides Virtually appeared first on Reader’s Digest.

WATCH: Disney safari cast member ‘works from home’ with stuffed animals (provided by USA TODAY)


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Holidays: Virgin offers cheap post-lockdown flights to the US – how much are they?

Holidays and flights have been cancelled, suspended or re-scheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic. As travel restrictions continue, it is unclear when Britons will be allowed to leave the country for a well-deserved holiday. An expert even recently suggested that holidays to Spain for Britons could be cancelled until September.

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Cases across the world have now hit a massive 1.3million with almost 80,000 deaths.

The UK’s death toll has hit 6,159 with total cases reaching more than 55,000.

But despite the lockdown continuing until further notice for many, airlines are still enticing holidaymakers with some incredibly cheap deals.

If you’ve ever fancied a trip to the US, some people may think about whether to book some flights as prices plummet.

Virgin Atlantic, Delta and KLM are offering some very affordable flight fares between the UK and Boston, Massachusetts.

The flights are for late this year and early 2021.

However, the cheapest flights might mean that many Britons will have to take a bit of a detour up north to Scotland.

But for a £186 return in early 2021, one could fly to the US from Edinburgh (EDI).

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There are also cheap fares from London Heathrow (LHR) to Boston if Scotland is a bit far away.

Most of these deals are through Virgin Atlantic but include travel with KLM or Delta.

If the individual books with KLM, they do have to stop in Amsterdam for a connecting flight.

Often, waiting times aren’t too long though.

If they book with Virgin, there is a flexible policy for flights until December 31 which allows them to rebook the travel until April 30, 2021.

To book the flights, the person can go to Google Flights and type in the preferred city they would like to travel from and Boston as their destination of choice.

Meanwhile, currently, flights from London Heathrow to New York’s John F Kennedy airport, are costing just over £200 with Virgin and KLM.

Last month the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) urged all Britons to avoid non-essential travel worldwide for 30 days, however, officials took a further step this weekend.

In a social media video update, the FCO changed the 30-day period to an indefinite amount of time.

A tweet posted on Saturday night reads: “Travel update Airplane: The Foreign Office indefinitely advises against all non-essential global travel.”

Money expert Martin Lewis has offered advice on travel insurance amid coronavirus.

He said: “Travel insurance will pay out but only until the 16th April.”

Any holidays after this date he explained, “I strongly suspect it will be extended beyond that point but we don’t know exactly when it will be extended to.”

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Airline mechanic reveals simple reason for delays – they aren’t always fixing the plane

Passengers sometimes find themselves faced with long delays that leave them sitting on the tarmac for hours at a time. Often, this is due to a mechanical issue prior to taking off which requires the help of a mechanic.

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While the lengthy weight is often due to the problem being resolved, it turns out the fix might not be as long as the wait denotes.

An anonymous airline mechanic, with experience working for a number of carriers, revealed in a Reddit forum the truth about what they’re really doing while passengers wait.

The mechanic wrote: “Most of your delay is spent waiting on me to do all the paperwork to clear the aircraft or for me to finish the other seven calls I’m out on to get to your plane.”

Though the problem will be fixed if the plane can not fly safely with the error, it seems sometimes a quick fix is lengthened simply by admin necessities.

“If your flight has a maintenance delay and there is no on station mechanics for that carrier I get called. If it’s a quick fix, I fix it. If not we check to see if it can be deferred to get fixed later,” explains the mechanic.

The mechanic also pointed out that safety is paramount, and though delays or cancelled flights may be a headache for passengers, they are often the only option.

“There is also constant pressure on both me and the pilots to clear or fly aircraft that have some fairly significant problems,” they continue.

“I have airlines try to get me to sell some pretty sketchy stuff to the pilots to get them to fly and avoid a costly delay.

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“I have no problems telling a pilot to call his controllers/dispatchers and tell them to f*** off if I’m not comfortable with whatever concoction of deferral action I was asked to perform.

“Don’t get me wrong, the airlines would never willingly fly an unsafe aircraft. But if there is say an engine vibration that is just right at a hair under the limit they will fly it.

“If the oil is super low but servicing it will cause a delay-service it at the next stop.

“If the pilot encounters something at altitude that I can’t duplicate on the ground-sign it off and see if it happens again.

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“Those are the ones I usually push back on depending what it is.”

While mechanical issues may sound scary, they are often just basic servicing needs for the plane to fly.

Some of the most common mechanical issues include aircraft parking issues, problems with water drainage systems during the winter months, contamination of the air conditioning system, issues with engine fan blades and fuel contamination.

Along with mechanical issues, some of the most common reasons for delay include air traffic control measures, adverse weather, strikes, connecting passengers or bags, security clearance and weight restrictions.

According to the Bureau of Statistics, about 20 percent of all flights are delayed by 15 minutes or more.

If passengers face a delay that is the airline’s fault they may be entitled to compensation under the EC261/2004 Regulation.

Mostly this depends on the length of the delay, the flights predicted journey time and the reason for the delay.

Compensation can range from monetary value to vouchers for food and drinks. 

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