UNITED KINGDOM PAGE 1 ENGLAND MAY 2007.
For the moment, the following Sovereign Territories form the U.K.
England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Some may say America (and this is probably true of the moment) BUT, historically, no other nation has had an effect on the world greater than the United Kingdom, It's language links billions of people. It's laws form a basis for many nations. It once ruled over 25% of the worlds people. Like it or hate it, the British Empire, the largest formal Empire the world has ever known, will never be equalled, unless the dynamics of the world change dramatically. It is responsible for a disproportionate amount of the worlds innovations in all areas of human endeavour. It's people now inhabit the far corners of the globe.
Monies in Aussie Dollars
Britain like most countries is reverting to “tribalism”. My ancestors the Scots will chose self rule sooner rather than later, of that there is no doubt. Societies across the globe are exhibiting hatred, the likes of which most have not seen outside their collective history books. Religious, Ethnic, Racial and other discerning “traits” are “some” of the basis for this fractionation.
I hope for a world where all it's people find a way to tolerate each other at the very least. With the hope we progres to caring for each other, then to loving each other as you would your own. Utopian? – no “essential” if we are all going to face the challenges that our collective future holds... We cannot and must not dismiss the synergistic forces in play for all of us.... but we will
Britain uses a hybrid system of measurement, Metric/imperial and has retained an ancient, rather stupid system of distance measurement(s). The “mile” being the most stupid one. I was born here and can relate, but, it has been almost forty years since I used them in practice. We have a 3000+ Australian readership and will continue to use kilometres as the preferred distance calculator. Should this prove difficult we will show both Miles and Kilometres.
Temp will remain in Centigrade as the Fahrenheit system is simply far too stupid for anyone to consider. See this to see why Fahrenheit it is so stupid and this, for Mile. Of course like the “Flat Earth” devotees, so will there be Fahrenheit/Mile Devotees.... Duh!!!
Tuesday 1st May 2007.
Lee received her Australian Passport today. We have booked a flight to Singapore on “Tiger Airways”, a budget carrier new to Perth. The each way fare is $AUD54.00 + $AUD210 tax. Incredibly cheap! We also “booked” our bikes for an additional $AUD19.00 and increased our baggage allowance by an extra 5 kilos – again $AUD19.00. We have booked, but not paid for, a flight from Singapore to Manchester UK. As I write we are waiting for the billing details and contact from Singapore's Budget Travel Agent Misa Travel We have an email confirming the flights... However until payment has been accepted we can not be sure. (Will let you know)
My Mums condition continues to deteriorate... A family meeting with her Doctors took place yesterday 30th April. At this meeting she was given the bad news that, “it cannot be treated”. Needless to say she is utterly devastated. She has asked that I get there ASAP.
Wednesday 2nd May 2007.
We are now booked on “Emirates” to Manchester UK at a total cost of $1497.00 per person includes TAX. For a one year ticket. Had we more time we could have got there for $1388.00 PP TOTAL. Had we chosen Perth-Heathrow-Perth, we could do for ABOUT $718.00 RETURN NOT including tax. Less for those with a “Seniors” card. Again we would have needed at least a two-three week lead time. You can do it too, you just need to take a chance :-)
We will see what bureaucracy we face with our Bikes in Singapore. We DID inform the travel agent that we were travelling with bikes. Trying to get a hotel from 4am to 6.30pm is not easy.. Any tips out there please leave in our guest book.
Thursday 3rd May 2007.
“Emirates” e-Tickets arrived today... Fully booked and fully paid for..... Will write again in England.... all being well :-)
Saturday 5th May 2007.
FIRST LEG “TIGER AIRWAYS”
First leg of our journey to Britain today starting with “Tiger Airways” from Perth. We arrived at the airport with about two hours to spare. During the booking process on line, I specified our bikes and an additional 5KG of luggage. We paid $AUD38.00 in total for these “extras”. When we got to the check in rows a delightful lady came towards us and said “are you the people with the bikes”? I replied in the affirmative. “Come with me” she said and proceeded to expedite our transit through the check in counter.
We had max'ed out on weight and were expecting to be slugged a hefty fee. This was not to be, as we had been totally honest (This was pointed out to us) in the booking process we were not required to add an extra cent!... Within minutes we had our boarding passes and were on our way. They did point out that they did not posses bike boxes.. We had re-used the ones we bought from Virgin Blue. This was not a problem for them as they are CASA certified...
The only slightly sour note, is on board.. The hostesses are on commission to sell food, drink, duty free etc.. This is clearly and transparently pointed out in the “In-flight Magazine” Nothing wrong with that whatsoever, however, they play the currency game with you and the cheaper food lines are “all sold out” to max out $$$ purchases. The Singapore dollar is approx 20% less in value than the Aussie. Prices are shown in Singapore dollars and they will accept Aussie dollar “numbers” on equal terms! If you give $AUD10.00 for a $SGD2.00 item they give $SGD8.00 change.. Your $AUD10.00 (About $SGD12.30) is retained by them. Not a huge deal but they could be more “transparent” and a little more honest.. Most people will accept the small difference if it is done with great service.
Having said the above for the sake of my honesty in giving praise and criticism..... I will certainly support them with my custom in future, with or without my bike. The seats are fairly generous compared with “AirAsia” Another excellent “Asian” budget carrier. The staff are pleasant and efficient. The flight was 15 minutes EARLY taking off... This is a first for me...
“BUDGET TERMINAL” IN SINGAPORE
Next hurdle is getting all our gear – (about) a joint 100kg or so from the “Budget Terminal” in Singapore to the “full service” terminals.
We need not have worried! After we arrived at the budget terminal we were whisked away to the Full service Terminal... for a fee $29.00. This included a large taxi van & exclusive use.
We were storing our our bikes in “Left Luggage” Terminal One, within 30 minutes of exiting customs.
We hope “Emirates” will treat us with similar courtesy as did both Virgin Blue and Tiger Airways . At this stage we do not have a hotel as none would accept us at 4am.. We will overcome this somehow when we get there. A taxi driver hunted for a hotel that would accept a “Day Booking” and found one... He was pleasant cheap and even gave us breakfast....(roti) The hotel was small, cheap by Singapore standards and comfortable.
about Dubai on
has not filled me with confidence.. Five stars are available for people to rate their review... Many gave none, most gave one and the highest was two stars, that I saw .. it is described as hell on earth.... I will let you all know.
Attempting to check in with Emirates, realised our worst fears...
They wanted $SGD2500.00 (About $2,100.00 Aussie Dollars) for the bikes... OR $SGD85.00 per kilogram! There were many large people on our flight from Australia, one was at the very least 150kg.. If Emirates charged him a per kilo ticket at those rates he would pay $SGD25,500.00 (About $21,000 + Australian Dollars) for his ticket.
This is clearly punitive and is meant to do as much damage to a passenger as is allowed by international law. I have often heard of the “legendary” Arab hospitality, from my own experience this is VERY true.. I can cite examples that would humble many. This Arab Airline is a disgrace to this wonderful heritage and it's obscene “greed” is an insult to the Islamic roots of it's home country.
They are relatively new to my country, but, one can guess they are already “greasing” the right palms with charity/sponsorship(s) donations and courting the influential, so that they can continue this plunder with impunity. Finally (for the moment) I challenge anyone to find their excess baggage rates on line – I have little doubt that these will be secret... or extremely difficult to find. I was unable to find the “rates” chart despite an extensive search. Of course hiding stuff like this is indicative of a company that does NOT value transparency.
All this happened despite me letting our booking agents know we were travelling with bikes;clearly they have not done their job... Of course hidden in the bowels of the “Lawyer Speak” they will have every contingency covered, except the important human one....... their own morality.
With NO leverage, we locked horns in mortal combat... At first they would not budge.. I kept going up the chain of command finding heartless indifference all along the way. After a long, terribly draining battle we settled on $AUD500 per bike. I lost the battle, but I have NOT lost the war... You can be CERTAIN of this. Cyclists are a gigantic force worldwide and are a VERY cohesive bunch. There are sites that report the “service” or lack of, on various airlines. Potentially these airlines can lose thousands of customers...
We have NEVER expected nothing for nothing, but we do expect transparency and honesty. ALL parties were told of the bikes in the booking process. Virgin and Tiger were exemplary in the way they dealt with us. It is almost as if Emirates knew we would be away from our home and at their mercy. I too will be merciless in attacking their credibility at EVERY opportunity... The flight has not even started as I write... It is clear that there is more to come.... Next – I hope – Manchester England.
Dubai Airport is a disgrace... People littered like confetti all over the place... Families crashed on the floor and toilets with enormous queues. I only just made it for a pee, I had waited that long. One elderly gentleman left his luggage, with abandon and begged his way to the urinal, he was in considerable distress. Lee gave up and waited the 4 hour stopover - without drinking so as to cope!. Given the huge overcrowding and long queues at EVERY counter, the Staff (all) were pleasant and efficient.. A real testament to their professionalism. I understand a new terminal is being built to cope... it is desperately needed and ASAP.
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