Air Passenger Duty reformed for long-haul flights in UK

Air Passenger Duty has been partially reformed in the UK as the new tax year begins.

From April 1st, the two more expensive bands of APD are being abolished.

Band C affects people travelling over 4,000 miles, and band ‘D’ affects journeys over 6,000 miles.

Band C passengers flying economy class paid £85 each in APD last year, and will now pay £71, as the fall into the newly expanded Band B.

This is a £14 reduction.

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Band D passengers paid £97 last year, and will now pay £26 less, as they fall into the lower band.

Announcing the move in the budget last month, the chancellor of the exchequer said the measure was designed to help boost trade with emerging economic countries like China and Brazil.

However, passengers in band B, which covers flights of 2,000 to 4,000 miles, will see APD rise from £69 to £71.

Further reform will happen on May 1st, when children under 12 will no longer have to pay APD.

Those under 16 will be exempt from March 2016.

Commenting on the changes a spokesman for trade body ABTA said: “From today, travellers taking long haul flights will benefit from the abolition of Air Passenger Duty Bands C and D.

“This will make destinations such as Australia, India and Brazil more accessible to Britons, while travellers to the Caribbean will no longer face competitive disadvantage compared with destinations such as Hawaii. 

“While this is undoubtedly good news for holidaymakers, British travellers still face the highest air taxes on air travel anywhere in Europe and ABTA, along with other members of the Fair Tax on Flying campaign, is as committed as ever to making the case against this damaging tax.”


Rules committee recommends sales tax


Duval County taxpayers should help the city get out of debt, the Jacksonville City Council rules committee decided Monday.

The committee, tasked with recommending a way to close a $1.7 billion gap in the city’s Police and Fire Pension Fund, voted for a half-penny sales tax increase. That would bump sales tax in Jacksonville from 7 cents to 7.5 cents.

“You can’t deal with this problem with a $1.7 billion deficit without some increase,” Councilman Warren Jones said. “Now, I voted for the half-penny sales tax that Mr. (Bill) Gulliford offered, but I want all options on the table.”

That half-cent sales tax would last 10 years, helping the city make the extra $40 million a year contribution toward the fund that’s needed because of the deficit.

The committee discussed four options for funding the pension:

A JEA franchise fee that would mean higher rates for consumers

A home or property tax, which would include businesses

A JEA lump sum payment

A sales tax option

JEA’s board of directors voted two weeks ago to make a one-time $120 million contribution to the city to help fund the pension. The finance committee and City Council could still adopt the mayor’s JEA proposal.

Rules committee members also voted not to decrease the return rate for Jacksonville’s police officers and firefighters. Finding a way to fully fund the pension is something the committee members said they owe to the men and woman of Jacksonville’s police and fire departments.

“Especially with the events that happened in Ferguson, (Missouri), and then you had someone shooting randomly at our fire department,” Councilman Stephen Joost said. “I don’t dodge bullets any day in my life or ask to go out on a traffic stop when Lord knows what could happen, so (we need) to guarantee them a 2 percent rate on return for the risk they take every day.”

From here the finance committee will take up the issue at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

If those committee members approve it, the recommendations will go to the City Council at its next meeting.

When to warn kids, teens about sexting


A disturbing trend among teens and children continues to grow: “sexting,” or sending sexually explicit photos or text messages.

Just this week two local men were arrested on sex charges involving children under the age of 16, and one of the girls was talked into sending nude pictures of herself.

Parents may only think of teens sending nude pictures, but children young enough to play on playgrounds are doing it as well. A police report from a recent incident involved an 11-year-old girl sending naked pictures to a 19-year-old, who is accused of later raping the girl.

With children getting cell phones younger than ever, social media is right at their fingertips, and experts say that is a huge part of the problem.

“When you send something to the Internet and cyberspace world, you lose control of it, and what you put out there could always come back and haunt you,” said Dr. David Chesire, a former school psychologist who now works for UF Health.

It’s unsettling for parents to think about their children sexting. Lori Sabins said her 14-year-old daughter recently received an inappropriate picture from a friend. She said she’s thankful she prepared her daughter for situations like this.

“She actually came to me, fortunately, and told me, which was great,” Sabins said. “I know it doesn’t always happen.”

In Flagler County, 19-year old Karl Westgate was arrested Thursday, accused of raping an 11-year-old girl he met on Facebook. In Clay County, 20-year-old Dylan Fillmer was arrested Monday, accused of having sex with a girl under 16 four times in one night. He also met his victim on Facebook, police said.

Of the more than 130 million child pornography images examined since 2002 by the National Center for Missing Exploited Children, one in four were originally posted by minors themselves.

And according to a 2014 survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, nearly 40 percent of students said they had either sent or received a sexually explicit image of themselves.

The consequences of sexting can be far worse than being embarrassed in school. Teens can also get in trouble with the law or pictures could end up in the hands of sexual predators.

Friday, a federal judge sentenced Christopher Cloonan to life in prison without parole for producing child pornography. He was convicted of several sex crimes dating back to 1991.

Chesire said as embarrassing or uncomfortable as it may be, parents have to talk to their kids at some point about what’s appropriate.

“Parents are going to know their families better than anyone else and will know when their kid is ready to have the conversation,” Chesire said. “Certainly if a kid is walking around with a cell phone, they need to have a conversation.”

Sabins, who also has an 11-year-old daughter, said as much as parents may trust their children, they still need to keep tabs on their cell phone and online activity.

“I definitely think people need to be the parent and just realize no matter how much you’re friends with your child they’re still children,” Sabins said.

Chesire said if your children are old enough to know what social media is, they’re old enough to have that conversation. He said if you’re having trouble figuring out how to initiate it, speak with fellow parents, friends, pastors, or even a psychologist like him for advice on where to start.

First-year Eagles heading to first-ever district tournament

Danny Rivera, Jacob Craven and Liam Davis each scored two pins Friday as Island Christian School’s first-year wrestling squad won two of three dual meets in Islamorada.

The Eagles outscored Pinecrest Prep, 42-30, and Riviera Prep, 30-20, in the ICS home tournament.  Westminster Christian claimed a 39-24 win over ICS.

Rivera, wrestling at 145 pounds, got a first-period win against Pinecrest and a third-period pin against Riviera.

Davis, the 106-pounder, finished both his Westminster and Riviera foes in the opening period.

Jacob Craven (126) and Justice Craven (152) each scored a first-period pin against Westminster. The Warriors won the five remaining matches decided on the mat for the team decision.

Kurt Ihrig (120) and David Calderwood (160) each notched second-period pins against Pinecrest. Connor Martin (132), Carter Coussens (113) and Jesus Lopez (220) also competed for head coach Jason Harrison’s Eagles.

Island Christian School enters the wrestling postseason for the first time Friday with a trip to the District 16-A Tournament at Key West High School.

‘No warning of attack’ on Sydney cafe

22 February 2015

Last updated at 08:11

Bae Jie-un, a staff member of a Sydney cafe and one of the hostages, runs to armed tactical response police officers for safety after she escaped from a cafe under siege in Sydney

Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.

Phil Mercer reports: “The Lindt cafe gunman Man Haron Monis… was never considered to pose a serious threat”

Australia’s security hotline received 18 calls about a self-styled cleric just days before his deadly attack on a Sydney cafe – but none suggested an imminent attack, a report says.

The first official review into the attack at the Lindt cafe says the calls related to offensive Facebook posts by hostage-taker Man Haron Monis.

Two hostages were killed along with Monis during the December siege.

“Plainly, the system has let us down,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.

Mr Abbott, who will make a national security address on Monday, said he would consider changes to the legal and immigration systems in response to the siege.

He said Australia would have to reconsider where the line between individual freedoms and the safety of the community would have to be “redrawn”.

“This monster should not have been in our community,” he added.

Mr Abbott’s comments came as he released a 90-page report conducted by officials from the federal government and the government of New South Wales.

Analysis: Phil Mercer, BBC News, Sydney

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has proposed tighter immigration controls at the release of the first official report into last December’s deadly siege in Sydney. The gunman was a radical Islamic refugee from Iran who died when police stormed a cafe in the centre of the city.

How and why was an unstable man with radical views and a long criminal history able to bring terror to the heart of Australia’s biggest city? Monis was well known to the police and security agencies but was never considered to pose a serious threat.

The Iranian, who was granted asylum in Australia, became a citizen a decade ago. He had been charged with conspiring to murder his ex-wife along with dozens of sexual assaults, and was out on bail at the time of the attack on the Sydney cafe. In 2012, he was convicted of sending hate mail to the families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

Tony Abbott said hard lessons had to be learned and the siege was likely to result in tougher visa, citizenship and bail controls.

Who were the victims?

How the siege unfolded

Inquest findings – excerpts

Australia’s radicalised Muslims

The document says that the 18 calls to the national security hotline were made between 9-12 December – three days before the cafe siege.

It says Australia’s security service and police considered that the Facebook posts by Monis “contained no indications of an imminent threat”.

“On the basis of the information available at the time, he fell well outside the threshold to be included in the 400 highest priority counter-terrorism investigations,” the review says.

It adds that Iranian-born Monis – who first came to Australia as a refugee in 1996 and was granted citizenship in 2004 – was “the subject of many law enforcement and security investigations” in the country before the attack.

He had a history of religiously motivated activism and called himself a cleric, but officials have said there is as yet no evidence his actions were linked to international Islamist militant networks.

He was on bail after being charged with dozens of sexual assault charges and with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife, who was stabbed to death and set alight.

Presenting the review, Mr Abbott said that “the decisions made were reasonable at the time, but plainly in their totality the system has let us down”.

Monis shot one of the hostages before being shot dead himself when armed officers stormed the cafe, ending the 16-hour standoff.

Another hostage, a mother of three young children, died after being struck by ricochets from police bullets.

Sex offender arrested

Sex offender arrested

LOWER KEYS — A man who was nearly struck by a motorist on U.S. 1 was arrested after arriving deputies found he failed to register as a sex offender, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

Victor Purdue, 43, faces charges of failing to register as a sex offender and failing to register as a convicted felon.

Sheriff’s office dispatchers received…

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Key West Transit buying hybrid bus, more could be in future

Key West Transit is looking to update its aging fleet of buses and is starting with, among other things, buying a hybrid vehicle that could lead to more of the same.

City Transit Director Norman Whitaker said the department is planning to order a 30-foot hybrid diesel-electric Gillig bus for about $600,000. The bus uses regenerative breaking, a system in which the electric motor is charged whenever the brakes are used. That charge is then used when the bus is taking off in first gear.

“The bus recharges itself each time it slows so we won’t have to plug it in,” Whitaker said. “We’ll see how efficient it is and how much it really saves. It’s a little on the experimental side for the Keys.”

Three other 30-foot diesel-only Gillig buses are on order for about $400,000 each. All have a shelf life of about a dozen years and all should arrive in 12 to 16 months.

Should the hybrid save on fuel costs, Whitaker said the city’s 14 buses could eventually be replaced by hybrids. The current buses are 12 years old, Whitaker said.

The move to a possible all-hybrid fleet comes as more passengers are riding the Lower Keys Shuttle, which Key West Transit operates from downtown Key West to the Holiday Inn Express, around mile marker 54, in Marathon.

The hybrid bus will be used in Key West first, expanding to other routes outside the city if it proves reliable.

Whitaker said Key West Transit is on pace to see 500 more passengers this fiscal year, which runs from October to September. From October 2013 to September 2014, an average of 2,108 passengers used the Lower Keys Shuttle daily for an estimated 109,647 total passengers.

Tuesday, the Marathon City Council agreed to renew its agreement with Key West and Monroe County for the Lower Keys Shuttle until April 4, 2020. The cities and county pay $135,380 each annually.

Whitaker was asked by councilmen if more passengers and the need for new buses may lead to increasing the current $4 fare for a one-way ride.

“We’re not increasing fees at this point,” Whitaker said, noting that whenever there is a fare increase, there is a 10 to 15 percent decrease in revenue.

Sketch released of 2nd abduction suspect


Police have now released a composite sketch of a second man involved in last month’s abduction of a woman and robbery of a check cashing store on the Westside.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, a least two men abducted a woman from her home in Argyle Forest early the morning of Jan. 31, forced her to go to her workplace — the Ace Cash Express at 929 S. McDuff Ave. — and made her open the safe.

The victim told police three black male suspects rushed through her front door, and held her and her small child at gunpoint about 8:45 a.m. One suspect then made her get into a vehicle and took the victim to the check cashing store while her young child was left at the residence.

When they arrived at Ace Cash Express, the suspect stole money and fled on foot. The victim’s small child was found by police at the home with her hands and feet bound by duct tape.

Police released the composite sketch of the first suspect Tuesday and a sketch of the second suspect Wednesday. The men police are looking for are described as:

A black man, 6 feet tall, thin build, wearing black shirt and pants with sunglasses.

A black man, 5 feet 9 to 10 inches tall, thin build, wearing a black and white jacket, black jackets and sunglasses.

News4Jax spoke Wednesday evening to the mother of the victim who was kidnapped last month. Monae said her daughter is terrified and has been forced into hiding after being taken from her 3-year-old daughter, kidnapped from her apartment and forced to drive to her job last month.

Monae said three men threatened to kill her if she didn’t comply.

“She just looks over her shoulder a lot. She don’t know what to do. She can’t believe it happened to her because she’s a good girl. She’s living each day as if it were her last because she’s traumatized,” said Monae.

News4Jax asked both pay day loan offices about the incidents if the offices had installed surveillance video since the robberies and the offices did not disclose any information.

Monae said she’s shocked that this happened to someone else and she’s upset because her daughter and grandchild could have been killed.

“Her employee that works the night shift told her because she’s the manager that three guys had been coming in the store at night. She told my daughter, which is the manager, and she told the GM, but no one did anything about it,” Monae said. “She needs help, she needs counseling. They not even accommodating her with that. So the job hasn’t done anything for my child.”

Monae said her daughter is on a leave of absence from the business and one of the men who kidnapped her, told her, he’d been following her for several months.

News4Jax Crime and Safety Analyst Gil Smith said people who work in the banking industry need to always check their surroundings and switch up their route traveling home.

“When you’re leaving maybe take a different route, don’t take the same route from work every day,” Smith said. “When you leave your place of work if there is a car that was in that lot that pulls out behind you, don’t go straight home. Go somewhere else and if they pull up at the same location or if they follow you somewhere else, notify police.”

JSO said it’s unknown if the two incidents are related, but they’re looking into both cases since the men are still out there.

Anyone who has any information about the identity of the man in the sketch or others involved in this robbery is asked to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at 904-630-0500, or to remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000 contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

JSO investigates suspicious package


Police were called Saturday morning to a report of a suspicious package in the parking lot of Sticky Fingers BBQ Restaurant at the River City Marketplace near Jacksonville International Airport.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was called about 8:30 a.m. Crews were still on the scene more than an hour later, looking into the incident. 

“The device that was found was military grade. We established perimeters both inner and outer parking lots and cleared citizens to ensure their safety while JSO bomb responded. They rendered the device safe evacuated it from the scene,” said Lt. Victor Pacheco.

Brandon Bullard, a street sweeper spoke to the assembled media by phone. He claims to have found the suspicious bag after an employee emptied a trash can for him to pick up.

“After I drove over a box I noticed bullets. We looked in the bag and found bombs, grenades, mortars, gas masks, M16’s the whole 9,” said Bullard.

JSO would not confirm what Bullard says he found, only stating there was one item of concern that was military grade. The River City Market place opened back up shortly after noon.

Arrested man shares his side of takedown

YULEE, Fla. –

A Nassau County man claims police went too far when they arrested him last March after an 18-hour standoff.

An officer said William Desmond Jr., 57, had a gun inside the motor home where he was barricaded in Yulee and pointed it at him. Desmond denies the allegations and said Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office SWAT team members, who were assisting the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office, hit him with sponge rounds and then fired a Taser at him.

Desmond, a Navy veteran, said he knows his rights and knew he didn’t have to come out of his home until police got a warrant. Desmond said the standoff began because he was fighting with his ex-girlfriend, and she told police he was suicidal.

In a video shot by a neighbor of the final minutes of the 18-hour standoff, SWAT officers can be heard telling Desmond they have a warrant for his arrest and he needs to come out of the trailer.

JSO SWAT team officers used a battering ram to punch a hole into Desmond’s motor home, then filled it with teargas. Moments later, he came out and appeared to fall to the ground. Officers approached him, then shot him with two non-lethal rounds and seconds later hit him with a Taser. 

“It was excruciating,” Desmond said. “I didn’t know anything about rubber bullets. I thought I was shot really the first two times.”

Desmond has been in the Nassau County Jail for the past 11 months, charged with aggravated assault on law enforcement, because one of the officers claimed Desmond pointed a gun at him in a threatening manner.

Desmond is being held in lieu of $100,000 bond and doesn’t have the money to get out. He said about six months ago prosecutors offered him a plea agreement, where if he pleaded guilty he’d get out on time served, but he said he wouldn’t sign it because he did nothing wrong and he’s standing up for what’s right.

Desmond said he wasn’t suicidal and wasn’t dangerous. He did have guns inside his home, but they were legal and he never threatened anyone.

“I still was told I hadn’t done anything wrong that I had to come outside,” Desmond said. “And I said, ‘No, I don’t. It’s my Fourth Amendment right that I don’t have to come outside.'”

Nassau County Undersheriff George Lueders said deputies responded after getting calls that Desmond was armed and distraught. After several hours, they called Jacksonville’s SWAT team for help.

“Apparently JSO thought he might still have access to a weapon, that’s the reason he was taken down like he was,” said Lueders, who watched the video of the takedown Wednesday. “I can’t talk about their tactics or why they took the action. All I know is there’s three factors (that) were met. In other words, he didn’t require hospitalization for his injuries, they were not severe. I think it was successful.”

Desmond is fighting the charges. Months ago he went to trial but the jurors deadlocked. In March, he’ll be tried again.

“I believe that in the long run, and this is taking a lot of my time, but our system does work in the long run,” Desmond said. “And eventually it’s going to come out clearly for me.”

ONLINE: Petition to support William Desmond

JSO has not yet responded to a request for comment.

If convicted Desmond faces up to 15 years in prison. He said he hopes he can clear his name and get on with his life, spending time with his children and grandchildren.

Abbott pledge after Queensland rout

1 February 2015

Last updated at 09:11

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has vowed to learn the lessons from a rout in Queensland state elections.

The state’s Liberal-National Party, allied to Mr Abbott’s ruling coalition, lost the largest political majority in Australian history after just one term.

The PM accepted his coalition had “difficulties” but said that government was about competence not popularity.

The latest opinion poll suggested his coalition would be defeated if an election were held now.

The poll in the Sunday Telegraph registered a drop in support for the coalition from 53.5% in the 2013 national election victory to just 43% now, compared to 57% for Labor.

Mr Abbott’s personal ratings had slumped to 27%, as opposed to 44% for Labor leader Bill Shorten.

‘Career over’

Amid rumours Mr Abbott could face challenges for the leadership of his party, the PM said: “There are obviously lessons in the election result last night and we’re determined to learn them in Canberra.

“I accept that we need to learn from the difficulties that we’ve had, but in the end, government is not a popularity contest, it is a competence contest.

“The people of Australia elected me as prime minister and they elected my government to get on with the job of governing our country.”

Queensland’s Labor Party leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said: “It’s just been absolutely amazing, the support right across the length and breadth of Queensland, it is extremely humbling and we are going to restore good governing to this state.”

The latest results show Labor on 43 and the LNP on 40. Premier Campbell Newman lost his own seat. The LNP won 78 seats in 2012.

“My political career is over,” Mr Newman said.

Attorney-General George Brandis insisted on Sunday there would be no repeat in the Liberal Party of the leadership challenge that tore apart the previous Labor government.

However, Mr Abbott will deliver a speech in Canberra on Monday which analysts say will be one of the more important of his career.

Jane Prentice, a Liberal National backbencher, told ABC television: “Tony has said he has listened and learned. He is making a keynote speech on Monday at the Press Club but we can’t continue as we are. I think that’s the lesson from today.”

Mr Abbott’s government faced stinging criticism recently, including from his own party, over his decision to award a knighthood to Queen Elizabeth’s husband Philip.

Inquest hears of Sydney siege deaths

29 January 2015

Last updated at 02:33

The start of an inquest into the Sydney cafe siege has heard that hostage Katrina Dawson was killed by fragments from a police bullet or bullets.

The inquest heard that another hostage, Tori Johnson, was killed by a bullet to the head from gunman Man Haron Monis.

That sparked the police raid on the Lindt Chocolat Cafe last month in which Ms Dawson and Monis died.

The inquest is seeking to establish exactly how the three died and whether their deaths could have been avoided.

Monis took 18 people hostage at the cafe in Martin Place in central Sydney on 16 December, holding them for more than 17 hours.

It led to a shutdown of a large part of the city centre and the biggest anti-terrorism operation in Australia’s history.

Jeremy Gormly, a lawyer assisting the coroner, told the inquest that Ms Dawson was “struck by six fragments of a police bullet or bullets which ricocheted from hard surfaces into her body”.

“I will not detail the damage done to Ms Dawson other than to say that one fragment struck a major blood vessel. She lost consciousness quickly and died shortly afterwards.”

The inquest has now adjourned, with no date yet announced for the next hearing.

Australia media reports earlier this month had indicated that Ms Dawson, a 38-year-old barrister and mother of three young children, had died after fragments from a police bullet hit her in the heart and shoulder.

Monis, a refugee from Iran, was facing a range of criminal charges and had a history of religious activism.

He claimed to be a cleric and asked his hostages to display an Islamic flag during the siege. However, police believe he was not linked to international militant networks.

Iain Mallory’s Tips on How to Photograph Canada

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Iain Mallory, one of the leading travel bloggers in the United Kingdom, provides travel photography tips to help you take pictures of a lifetime on your visit to Canada. Watch Iain’s tutorial and then enter for a chance to win a trip to Canada by visiting


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Skyscrapers of the future

Al Noor Tower, Morocco

Height: 540m (1,771ft)

The final height of Casablanca’s 114-floor tower from the Dubai-based Middle East Development group is meant to act as a tribute to the 54 countries that make up the African continent. The building will house a “seven-star” hotel, an art gallery, a spa, fine dining restaurants and luxury boutiques, alongside an exhibition centre and offices.

Picture: Valode & Pistre

How dangerous is flying in high winds?

In an ideal world, the pilot wants to land into the wind and in the centre of the runway. If there’s a tricky cross wind, he says, they will approach with the nose of the plane facing the wind. Just as the pilot performs the “flare” – designed to slow the descent rate – he or she will bring the aeroplane’s nose in line with the runway.

It this manoeuvre is performed too early, “the aeroplane won’t land in the centre of the runway – or on the runway at all,” says Captain Thomas. If the pilot isn’t happy with their first effort, he or she will abort the landing, and try again. In what is known as a “baulked landing”, the plane might even touch the runway.

In the windiest conditions “wingstrike” may occur – when, you’ve guessed it, a wing hits the runway. It doesn’t happen often, although one notable incident took place in 2008, when a Lufthansa A320 tried to land at Hamburg Airport amid gusts of up to 47 knots (54mph). The footage on YouTube is excruciating, but no one was hurt and the plane eventually touched down on another runway.

The phenomenon known as “wind shear” also poses a risk. This is a sudden change in wind speed and/or direction, causing turbulence or a rapid increase or decrease in velocity. A tricky scenario might see a pilot attempting to land into a head wind that sudden turns into a tail wind. The result? Landing late and fast, and potentially overshooting the runway.

Airbus says wind shear is the main cause of four per cent of “approach and landing” accidents, such as the crash of the Delta Flight 191 in 1985. A loss of 54 knots of air speed in a matter of seconds saw the plane hit the ground about a mile short of the runway. This was one of several incidents that led the Federal Aviation Administration, the US equivalent of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), to rule that all commercial planes must be fitted with a wind shear detection and alert system. The CAA does not currently make the same demands of UK operators.

Captain Thomas says that wind shear may cause a pilot to break off a landing at around 3,000ft: “It’s the right thing to do – put the power on and get up and out of there.”

Pilots always have a plan B in mind if the intended approach is not safe or if the airport closes because of high winds. For landing in Washington DC, for example, the BA pilot knows he could divert to Baltimore or Boston. Updates on wind and weather conditions are communicated to crew throughout a journey to help with decision making.

To curtail the dangers posed by strong winds, manufacturers issue limits for maximum ground speeds, air speeds and cross speeds in which a plane can operate, based on “analytical computations and simulations”. For example, the Airbus A380 was designed to cope with crosswinds of 35 knots at take-off and 40 knots when landing.

According to the CAA, however, the pilot decides whether a landing is safe – based on experience, not algorithms.

The CAA does enforce detailed weather reporting regulations for UK airports, however – set out in a 119-page document that makes for gripping reading – and airports must also provide half-hourly reports describing conditions along the runway.

Some airports are more susceptible to strong winds. Those flying into Leeds Bradford, the highest airport in Britain at 681 feet (208m), have seen their fair share of wobbly approaches – including this week. Last month, a BA flight diverted to Manchester because of conditions there.

A plane makes a wonky approach at Leeds Bradford Airport this week

Flights in northern Scotland are also more likely to be cancelled: this week around 20 were cancelled between Aberdeen and Shetland as gusts reached 70mph. Captain Thomas says that Keflavik Airport in Iceland is notorious for its high winds, and often hosts trainee pilots for landing practice.

He adds that pilots will usually tell the cabin if a landing is likely to be bumpy: “It’s better to let people know – you’ve normally got at least one nervous flyer on board.”

High winds can make a flight uncomfortable, but are extremely unlikely to be fatal – they might even mean your holiday starts sooner. Strong tailwinds – and jet streams – can shave hours off a flight time. A BA flight nearly went supersonic this week thanks to just that – flying from New York to London in just five hours and 16 minutes when the usual journey time is nearly seven hours. That’s one reason to hope for buffeting gales next time you’re waiting in the departure lounge.

Iain Mallory’s Tips on How to Photograph Canada

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Iain Mallory’s Tips on How to Photograph Canada

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Published on Dec 22, 2014

Ben Brown Photo Tutorial

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Pubblicato il 22 dic 2014

How technology will change travel in 2015

Some travel apps already have a built-in payment function, including taxi services such as Uber and Hailo and last-minute hotel service HotelTonight. Restaurant app OpenTable (Android, iOS; is trialling payment direct from its app in several US cities, including New York and San Francisco. Set to launch in London, new restaurant app Reserve (iOS; also enables diners to settle their bill in-app. Paying with your phone will become more mainstream in 2015.

Wear it’s at

There is already plenty of buzz about “wearable technology”, particularly smart watches. The Apple Watch launches next spring, but Android Wear devices including the Motorola Moto 360 are already on sale. Travel apps will learn how to make best use of this new hardware. For example, clever itinerary management app TripCase (Android, iOS; automatically notifies a connected watch if your flight is delayed, cancelled or even if the departure gate changes. One of my favourite apps, Rain Alarm (Android, iOS, Windows Phone;, also works smoothly with Android Wear. My watch simply vibrates when rain is heading my way. More travel apps will work in tandem with smart watches by this time next year.

The Apple Watch launches next spring

Tech-in times

Another sure bet is that hotels will get increasingly tech-savvy. Guests can already check in from a phone with the Starwood SPG and Hilton HHonors apps, for example. Both hotel groups are rolling out mobile phone keys during 2015, so you will be able to walk straight to your room and enter with one tap of a phone. Starwood’s iOS app is even ready for check-in with an Apple Watch. Premier Inn’s new “tech hotel” brand, hub by Premier Inn (, is plans another 10 UK openings alongside its Covent Garden flagship hotel. As well as mobile booking, the hub app controls in-room climate and entertainment.

Premier Inn’s new “tech hotel” brand

Joined-up thinking

Separate travel applications can work together thanks to a technology most travellers never see first-hand, the “application programming interface” or API. An API is a set of tools developers use to link complementary services. For example, in the US, Google Maps users can now book a restaurant table directly from the map thanks to an OpenTable API. Users can simply type “nearby pizza” in the Maps search box, read reviews and quickly book without jumping between apps. I can begin to book a taxi from inside the Citymapper transport navigation app (Android, iOS; if I don’t fancy the public transport options. A quest is on to develop the “super app”, one that feels like a proper mobile travel assistant, so interest in travel APIs will grow in 2015.

No language barrier

We will also see innovations in some travel mainstays, including Skype. The Microsoft-owned service recently demonstrated its Skype Translator tool, which allows people speaking two different languages to talk to each other hearing simultaneous translation of the conversation. Right now it works on Windows machines between English and Spanish only, but more languages and platforms will surely follow. It’s not difficult to envisage how useful a version of that could be on holiday.

On the case

The suitcase has been around for a long time, but “smart luggage” will touch down in 2015. New York start-up Bluesmart ( has successfully crowdfunded a carry-on suitcase that weighs itself, and which you can lock, unlock and track via GPS from (you guessed it) your smartphone.

So one lesson for travellers in 2015 is this: you had better not leave your phone at home – or lose it either. With everything from boarding passes and train tickets to bank cards and room keys stored on a handset, a pickpocket or mobile virus could seriously disrupt your trip. Apps such as Lookout (Android, iOS; scan downloads for viruses and other malware, and allow you to track or remotely wipe a phone if it is lost or stolen. In 2015, travelling with your mobile secured and close to hand will be one key to a hassle-free holiday.