Episode 4 Rip Off Britain


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Episode 4

Julia Somerville, Angela Rippon and Gloria Hunniford look into difficulties that can arise en route to or from a holiday destination.


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Transcript


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We asked you who has left you feeling ripped off

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when it comes to your holidays

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and you came back with a catalogue of travel disasters.

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It happens all the time

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that somebody else has paid less for the holiday that I paid more for.

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The costs of these things are certainly going up and up.

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I always think that someone is

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trying to rip me off somewhere along the line.

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Whether it is a deliberate rip-off,

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a simple mistake or a catch in the small print,

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we will find out why you are out of pocket and what you can do about it.

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Your stories, your money - this is Rip-Off Britain.

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Hello and thank you so much for joining us again

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here on Rip-off Britain,

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where in this series,

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we're tackling more of the problems that you have experienced on your

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holidays and today,

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we are going to be hearing how some of those problems can happen way

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before you have even reached your destination.

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When you are en route or perhaps

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even when you are already on the plane.

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I can honestly guarantee that several of the situations

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we have been looking into are ones

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that a lot of you will very much sympathise with and

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indeed, that you may even have experienced yourselves.

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And what is particularly frustrating

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about a number of them is that with a

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little bit more flexibility and understanding along the way,

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things could very, very easily have been resolved,

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without them needing to escalate in the ways that they did.

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But, as we will see,

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whether it is down to poor communication

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or a misunderstanding of the rules,

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the experiences some of you have been through have at the very

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least been deeply upsetting and

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in one instance, the stakes were much, much higher

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and could even have been life-threatening.

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Coming up...

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The onboard snack that could lead to a life-threatening emergency...

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Obviously, I am not going to risk my child's life,

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so I had to get off the flight.

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..and the airlines still getting it wrong when allocating families their

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seats, splitting up parents and children

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when the rules are clear that they shouldn't.

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It was the most hideous experience,

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my stomach was churning,

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I could just hear her crying at the

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other end of the plane and it was awful.

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For many of us, getting on a plane

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and settling down for the flight is the

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first part of a memorable holiday to come, but for others,

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the thought of being trapped inside an aircraft for hours on end is

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something they would rather avoid and for these holiday-makers,

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it is not a fear of flying that makes the journey so traumatic -

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instead, it is the fear of the snacks

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that you or I might be eating and as you'll see,

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they have a very good reason to be worried and you might be

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extremely surprised by the way some airlines react when they are made

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aware of the danger.

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It started as a marketing move in the 1970s when one of the

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world's first budget carriers,

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Southwest Airlines in the United States,

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abandoned the full meal served on

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most flights of the day

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in favour of free bags of nuts.

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Playing on their policy of no-frills, cheap fares,

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they branded themselves the peanut airline, as in "you fly for peanuts,

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"so you get them to eat as well."

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It wasn't long before on airlines all around the world,

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whether in first class or economy,

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a packet of peanuts became as much an expected part of flying as the

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drinks trolley or duty-free.

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But in more recent times,

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not everyone has come to welcome the arrival of this humble snack.

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Two-year-old Jamil suffers from a peanut allergy.

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Being in close proximity to the dust from peanut or Brazil nuts can give

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him a severe allergic reaction with swelling of the lips and eyes and

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breathing difficulties.

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At one particular time,

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I gave him something that had peanut in it

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and had peanut butter in it and within...

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He didn't even ingest it, as soon as I put it in his mouth,

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he just spat it out and then within seconds,

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his lips were swollen and his eye was swollen as well.

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So when his mum, Akeela, takes him on holiday,

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the question of whether there will be nuts on board

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couldn't be more serious.

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Before every flight,

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she has to let the cabin crew know about her son's allergy in the hope

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that they will make an announcement advising other passengers that nuts

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won't be served this time and explaining why.

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Which is exactly what happened on

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her latest family holiday to Majorca.

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On the way out, it was fine, there was no hassle.

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I told them that Jamil had a nut allergy.

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They said that they weren't going to serve nuts on the plane

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and they made an announcement

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asking passengers not to consume nuts on the flight.

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But at the end of the holiday,

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the family was flying back with a different airline,

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called Eurowings, and it didn't respond

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quite so positively to Akeela's request.

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When I boarded the flight,

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I told the aircrew that Jamil suffers from a nut allergy

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and what they basically said is that

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they are going to be serving nuts on the plane and

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that they are not able to make an announcement,

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asking passengers not to consume nuts

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and that I would be flying at my own risk,

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basically, if I choose to fly with them.

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Akeela had to decide whether to fly home as planned with the chance that

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Jamil could become seriously ill in mid-air

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or get off the plane.

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I was trying to explain to them, you know, it is only a two-hour flight.

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I am sure there are loads of other snacks that people can eat,

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other than nuts.

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I am sure that if you just made the announcement,

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that they would understand.

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That the people would understand.

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But they still refused to do it.

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And they said that they can't inconvenience everyone

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just because of one passenger.

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Well, given the potential fatal reaction that

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Jamil could have if he came into contact with nuts

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and the cabin crew's refusal to stop serving them,

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Akeela felt she had no choice but

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to take Jamil and her daughter off the plane,

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get their luggage and find an alternative flight home.

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Obviously, I am not going to risk my child's life,

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so I had to get off the flight.

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So I had to call my daughter who was already sitting down.

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She was in tears, asking how we were going to get home.

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Akeela says that at the time,

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Eurowings staff told her that they

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could offer her a flight the next day,

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but could not guarantee that this would be nut-free either.

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Akeela said she was told that

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if she wished to fly home using a different airline,

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she would be reimbursed.

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So back at the terminal, Akeela paid £645 to fly with another company,

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which confirmed that it would stop

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the hand-out or sale of nuts during the flight, but nine months on,

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and despite following up her case with Eurowings,

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the airline has said it won't be giving her any money back for the

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alternative flight she had to take.

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So, I have e-mailed Eurowings numerous times

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and they e-mailed me back twice,

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basically just saying that they can't reimburse me the money.

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They said that they can't ask passengers

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not to eat nuts on the flight,

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but it is at the aircrew's discretion,

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which I don't really understand that.

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Now, when we got in touch with Eurowings,

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it told us that while they are sorry

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that Akeela did not feel treated the right way,

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it was unable to offer any payment.

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It went on to say that a complete exclusion of the sale of any goods

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containing nuts is not possible.

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And that despite regular and in-depth cleaning,

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the aircraft's shape,

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air conditioning and ventilation

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mean that it cannot completely remove nut traces

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from previous flights.

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As a result, guests with a chance of

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an allergic reaction travel at their own risk.

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Now, Professor Clare Mills from Manchester University

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is one of the world's leading experts in food allergies

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and knows how devastating even minute traces of nut residue

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can be for allergy sufferers.

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So, the reason why eating peanuts on an aeroplane is different is because

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it is a very cramped environment.

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It is a very confined space,

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you are basically in a metal tube

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and you are up 30,000 feet in the air

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and when you open a bag of peanuts on an aeroplane,

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there is dust inside and it is very easy,

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because the bags go pop when you open them,

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for that dust to get on to the food

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of someone sitting next to you and

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if they don't know that has happened,

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that is still enough for them to have a real allergic reaction.

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Professor Mills' fears about

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the dangers are echoed by the parents of Faye Platton

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and Amelia Nicholas, who,

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as was reported in the press in August, 2014,

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suffered severe allergic reactions

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after being exposed to other people eating nuts on board flights.

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We do need to take it seriously.

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We have fatalities,

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from people having accidentally

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eaten peanut or tree nuts or you have

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someone who has had a very severe reaction and obviously, in a plane,

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when you are up in the air,

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having somebody who has what we would call an

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anaphylactic reaction is a very serious consideration

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and unless they get prompt treatment with adrenaline, they could die.

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But part of the difficulty here is

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that individual airlines can have very different policies

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around serving nuts and indeed,

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about what to do if there is someone with an allergy on board.

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We contacted the top five UK-based airlines to ask them

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to clarify their approach.

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All of them, BA, easyJet, Virgin,

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Thomas Cook and Flybe

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confirmed that if someone on board has a nut allergy,

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they will make an announcement requesting that other passengers

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do not consume them on the flight.

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But BA and Virgin also told us that they don't sell nuts on their planes

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or knowingly use them in their food,

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although they can't guarantee

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that they have been made in a nut-free environment.

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Thomas Cook does serve nuts,

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but said it won't do so if made

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aware that a passenger has an allergy.

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It also told us that staff receive annual training

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in treating anaphylaxis.

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easyJet told us that it asks passengers to make any allergies

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clear at the time of booking so that the crew are aware and again can

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restrict the sale of nuts on board.

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And finally Flybe said that while it too serves nuts and there is a

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possibility that some other products sold contain them as well,

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all packaging contains adequate warnings

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and details of what all menu items are available online.

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But of course whatever they do,

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none of these airlines can promise a completely nut-free flight,

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so several did stress they would

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recommend that passengers bring their own medication on board.

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And that is something that Anna is

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used to doing when travelling with her six-year-old daughter Ellie.

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Pass, mate!

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Ellie has a number of serious allergies, including one to peanuts.

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Ellie's sensitivity to nuts is extremely, extremely sensitive,

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to the extent that she doesn't even have to have

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eaten or touched the nuts herself.

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Somebody else could have eaten nuts

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and then gave her a kiss on the cheek

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and she will come up in hives.

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So when it comes to taking Ellie on holiday, again,

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boarding a plane is always a major risk.

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If she were to suffer an allergic reaction at any time, as a parent,

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we would be extremely concerned,

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but travelling on an aeroplane takes the anxiety levels to more than you

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can imagine, because God forbid, if something were to happen,

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we would not be sure that we would

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have the medical attention that we need.

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From the moment she arrives at the airport,

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every precaution is needed to avoid any potential contact with peanuts.

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Once we get to the departure gate,

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we will not only remind them that Ellie has a severe nut allergy,

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but will request to board slightly earlier than other passengers,

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so that we can wipe down her seat, particularly the tray table,

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the buckle, the TV screen, the remote,

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anything that she could touch or come into contact with,

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we wipe down with baby wipes to try to eliminate all traces of any nuts.

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Without clear and consistent rules

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around the presence of nuts on the plane,

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Professor Clare Mills believes that it is crucial that cabin crew

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are properly trained to administer vital life-saving first aid,

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should it be needed.

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What I would like to see is whether the cabin crew

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are also trained to treat food allergies,

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including administer adrenaline.

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I think it would make it safer for people with food allergies to fly.

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But the parents we spoke to would

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prefer airlines to go one step further

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and go for an outright ban on peanuts on board flights.

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I am just concerned about Jamil

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potentially having a severe reaction mid-air, you know, on a flight

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and it should just be a blanket policy.

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We appreciate that it is difficult to monitor

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and we don't want to get in

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the way of people enjoying themselves,

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but for the sake of hundreds and thousands of people,

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we would love for nuts to be banned on flights.

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Something we have touched on before is the thorny question of whether or

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not you should pay to guarantee seats together on a plane.

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It is something the airlines increasingly expect us to do,

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even people travelling with children and that is pretty controversial,

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because whenever you think about having to pay for specific seating,

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there are guidelines that say that

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parents and children should be seated close together,

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which you might think would be an end to it, but no.

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Those guidelines appear to be interpreted differently

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by the various parties involved,

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from the experts through to individual airlines and

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that has led to some incredibly stressful situations

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for several of you who

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contacted us about this and indeed

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about the rest of the passengers on their flights.

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So we thought it was about time there was a definitive answer

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on this subject, once and for all.

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We went right to the top, to get one.

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Children separated from their parents,

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distressed mums and dads and other passengers upset as well.

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Not the start to a holiday anyone would choose,

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but judging by all the letters and e-mails we have had on the subject,

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it is becoming increasingly common as families who have not paid

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to guarantee sitting together on holiday flights are split up.

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Nadine Strong from Barry in Wales

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faced such a predicament after booking a holiday

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with Thomson, now known as TUI.

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Along with her husband Nathan,

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plus eight-year-old George and five-year-old Olivia,

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Nadine was looking forward to a seven-day break to Rhodes.

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To save time at the airport, she checked in online.

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It's mine!

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When check-in online opened a week before we were due to fly out to

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Rhodes, we went on, checked in.

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Going out, we were sat two and two,

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so we had one child with each parent.

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Obviously, they would have preferred to be altogether,

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but being allocated pairs of seats

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for the outward journey could have been worse

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and indeed, that was the case when it came to the flight home.

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For that journey, the four of them had been scattered around the plane,

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each of them on their own, in a different row,

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not ideal for an eight and a five-year-old.

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They are very young.

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They have to be sat with us, so that we can take care of them,

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take care of their needs.

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And I don't want them sat close to...

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..by any strangers without me being there.

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Nadine called customer services, who told her that the only way she could

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be sure of sitting with her children was to pay more, £100 more.

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It was just simply this is what you have to do,

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you have to pay £100 and then you

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will guarantee that your children will be sat close to you.

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So, as a parent, you have got no alternative,

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you have to pay that additional money.

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But travel expert Simon Calder does not agree.

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He says the rules on where children should be seated

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are really quite simple.

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There is no need for anybody to be confused about what their

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rights are and what they can expect if they are travelling with children

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under 12 - you can expect that you're going to be sat with them.

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Civil Aviation Authority guidelines are clear.

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The child must be close to a parent.

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Ideally in the same row or no more than one row apart,

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that is not going to cost you a penny.

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It is something that the airlines do for safety reasons.

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So, there is no need to feel ripped off,

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because there is no need to pay anything.

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As we have reported before,

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those CAA guidelines state that if children and their parents are

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separated by more than a row,

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then a flight must not take off,

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which should mean that once you are on the plane,

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seats could be swapped around to put things right.

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But Nadine says no-one suggested that to her.

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Instead, she was left with the impression

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there was only one way she would be sitting with George and Olivia.

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We were never told that the flight crew

0:17:160:17:19

would sit them or try their best

0:17:190:17:22

to get them to sit close to you once you were on board.

0:17:220:17:25

We were never told that by customer services,

0:17:250:17:28

we were just simply told that you have to pay the money.

0:17:280:17:30

George and Olivia were not happy

0:17:320:17:34

about the idea of being separated either.

0:17:340:17:36

You're sitting by a stranger,

0:17:360:17:38

you don't know them and if you can't see your family,

0:17:380:17:40

it is going to be sad.

0:17:400:17:42

I would feel really sad to go on a plane without my mum and dad.

0:17:420:17:48

So to avoid that, Nadine paid up,

0:17:500:17:53

but she feels strongly that she shouldn't have had to.

0:17:530:17:56

You pay enough for the holiday,

0:17:560:17:58

pay enough for the flight only and then you have to pay this additional

0:17:580:18:01

money on top and I just think it is..

0:18:010:18:04

..a scam.

0:18:040:18:05

And Simon takes the view that anyone in a similar situation should stand

0:18:070:18:11

their ground and remind the airline

0:18:110:18:13

of its obligations under the CAA guidelines.

0:18:130:18:17

You need to say to the cabin crew,

0:18:170:18:19

"I am afraid you have got to sort this out, as you know

0:18:190:18:21

"you legally have to."

0:18:210:18:23

So therefore, as has happened to me on occasions,

0:18:230:18:25

you just say, "Would you be kind enough to sort this out?"

0:18:250:18:29

Which will involve other passengers switching, but in my experience,

0:18:290:18:32

they are generally happy to.

0:18:320:18:33

Unfortunately, however clear the guidelines may be,

0:18:350:18:39

you have been telling us they are not always followed.

0:18:390:18:41

Planes do take off with families entirely split up,

0:18:410:18:45

as Andrea Dodd from Hertfordshire

0:18:450:18:47

discovered on a recent holiday to Greece, also with Thomson.

0:18:470:18:52

When we first booked the holiday, you have to put in,

0:18:520:18:55

obviously your ages of the children that you are flying with.

0:18:550:18:59

It wasn't that we just booked a villa and the flight separately,

0:18:590:19:03

we booked everything as a package.

0:19:030:19:06

So it was very clear that we were

0:19:060:19:07

flying with a seven-year-old and a 12-year-old.

0:19:070:19:10

As this was a last-minute booking,

0:19:130:19:14

Andrea knew that it was unlikely

0:19:140:19:16

that all four of them could sit together,

0:19:160:19:18

but she did assume that they would be in pairs and she certainly never

0:19:180:19:22

expected when she went online to check

0:19:220:19:24

that they had been allocated seats

0:19:240:19:26

on four completely different rows.

0:19:260:19:28

All four of us were separated on the flight and especially my

0:19:280:19:33

seven-year-old was almost at one end of the plane compared to the rest of

0:19:330:19:36

us up the other end of the plane.

0:19:360:19:38

Andrea called the company, who gave her a choice,

0:19:400:19:43

either pay the extra to guarantee seats together

0:19:430:19:46

or speak to the cabin crew on the day to see what could be done.

0:19:460:19:50

And confident that the airline would

0:19:500:19:52

have to stick to the CAA rules to sit under-12s

0:19:520:19:54

if not next to their parents, then at least close,

0:19:540:19:58

she decided to wait to sort it all out on the plane.

0:19:580:20:00

As soon as we got on to the flight,

0:20:000:20:02

both of them were very nervous,

0:20:020:20:04

so we said that we would look to see where their seats were first,

0:20:040:20:08

see if actually we could see them,

0:20:080:20:10

whether they was in our eye line and how far away we were from them,

0:20:100:20:13

and then we would speak to the staff

0:20:130:20:16

and make sure that we were either

0:20:160:20:18

moved or the fact that we could see them.

0:20:180:20:21

But as the aircraft started to fill up,

0:20:220:20:25

the cabin crew told Andrea that the closest seat to her that they could

0:20:250:20:28

put Lily would be in the row behind

0:20:280:20:30

and across the aisle in a window seat.

0:20:300:20:33

On the way out there, you know,

0:20:330:20:34

there's other people that were sitting next to me

0:20:340:20:37

that have checked in

0:20:370:20:38

after I have and their seats were allocated next to them,

0:20:380:20:42

yet ours weren't.

0:20:420:20:43

I was on the end of the next row to Lily,

0:20:430:20:46

so I kept having to look over at her and say,

0:20:460:20:48

"It's fine, I can see you,

0:20:480:20:50

"you're OK there."

0:20:500:20:51

Despite being split up, their spirits were high and the

0:20:530:20:55

outward journey went without too many problems,

0:20:550:20:58

but the real concern was the return journey,

0:20:580:21:01

a late overnight flight.

0:21:010:21:03

Again, all the family had been allocated separate seats

0:21:030:21:06

with Lily placed on her own at the back of the plane.

0:21:060:21:10

Andrea's one reassurance was the conversation she'd had with Thomson

0:21:100:21:13

before she'd departed.

0:21:130:21:16

And she obviously reassured me to

0:21:160:21:18

say this flight would not take off if you are not in, you know,

0:21:180:21:22

if you are not in the vicinity of sitting next to your child,

0:21:220:21:24

let alone sitting from one end of the plane to the other.

0:21:240:21:27

And that conversation was firmly in Andrea's in mind when,

0:21:280:21:32

after a great holiday,

0:21:320:21:33

it came to the day of departure and their midnight flight home.

0:21:330:21:38

Both children were exhausted and Lily was also under the weather,

0:21:380:21:41

all of which added extra pressure

0:21:410:21:43

to the issue of where they would all be sitting.

0:21:430:21:46

Lily was very tired.

0:21:460:21:48

She also had an ear infection so she was very, very upset.

0:21:480:21:51

She was getting herself more upset

0:21:510:21:54

in the fact that she was thinking

0:21:540:21:56

that she was going to have to sit on her own.

0:21:560:21:58

And I'm afraid that's exactly what happened.

0:22:000:22:02

Cabin staff were unable to find two seats together,

0:22:020:22:05

meaning seven-year-old Lily did have to sit well away from her parents.

0:22:050:22:10

It was the most hideous experience.

0:22:100:22:13

It's a night-time flight.

0:22:130:22:14

We were worried about Lily as it was

0:22:140:22:16

in the first place because she had an ear infection.

0:22:160:22:18

My stomach was churning.

0:22:180:22:20

I could just hear her crying at the

0:22:200:22:22

other end of the plane and it was awful.

0:22:220:22:24

Andrea says that the cabin crew made little attempt to move other

0:22:240:22:28

passengers so that she could sit next to Lily,

0:22:280:22:31

meaning that the situation affected not just her and Lily

0:22:310:22:34

but other passengers sitting nearby.

0:22:340:22:36

A night-time flight, everyone obviously wants to,

0:22:370:22:40

you know, go to sleep,

0:22:400:22:41

but we had at least an hour's worth of Lily crying.

0:22:410:22:46

She was in pain.

0:22:460:22:47

She was tired.

0:22:470:22:49

She even, after take-off, we had turbulence,

0:22:490:22:52

so she couldn't even get out of her seat.

0:22:520:22:55

Or my husband couldn't get out of his seat,

0:22:550:22:57

because he was closer to her than I was, to actually reassure her.

0:22:570:23:00

After take-off,

0:23:020:23:03

Andrea says passengers were more

0:23:030:23:05

than happy to move so that she and Lily could sit together,

0:23:050:23:08

but she is angry that, as she sees it,

0:23:080:23:10

she got little help from the cabin crew and was left to sort out a

0:23:100:23:13

potential flight safety issue herself.

0:23:130:23:16

In these sort of situations, if something had, God forbid,

0:23:170:23:20

occurred and there had been emergency procedures,

0:23:200:23:24

you can't guarantee that a stranger

0:23:240:23:26

is going to make sure that your child

0:23:260:23:29

in that hustle and bustle, in that emergency,

0:23:290:23:31

has got their oxygen mask on or has got their life jacket on.

0:23:310:23:35

And for seven-year-old Lily,

0:23:360:23:38

the experience wasn't one she'd like to repeat either.

0:23:380:23:41

They said the plane wouldn't leave

0:23:420:23:45

until a parent is sitting next to a child.

0:23:450:23:49

And our tickets said we weren't sitting next to each other.

0:23:490:23:55

My mum was sitting at the back and I was sitting at the front.

0:23:550:24:00

Well, Simon Calder says this case was completely unacceptable.

0:24:010:24:05

In Andrea's case,

0:24:050:24:07

to have a seven-year-old child

0:24:070:24:09

sitting a long way from the parents is frankly scandalous.

0:24:090:24:14

That is a serious flight safety issue

0:24:140:24:16

and it needs to be reported to the Civil Aviation Authority,

0:24:160:24:20

so that the airline gets a proper ticking off.

0:24:200:24:23

So we did just that and the CAA couldn't have been clearer,

0:24:230:24:27

reiterating that under European guidelines,

0:24:270:24:30

airlines should ensure that children are sitting...

0:24:300:24:33

..and that the cabin crew should

0:24:370:24:39

facilitate this during the boarding process.

0:24:390:24:41

But is that message getting through to the airlines?

0:24:410:24:45

Well, reassuringly, Thomson, now known as TUI,

0:24:450:24:48

told us it's sorry that Nadine and Andrea

0:24:480:24:50

were given incorrect information

0:24:500:24:52

by its staff and that while such cases are rare,

0:24:520:24:55

it will be providing...

0:24:550:24:57

..on the seating of families together.

0:24:590:25:01

It went on to say that it does, like other airlines, offer a pre-booking

0:25:020:25:06

service where customers can request specific seats,

0:25:060:25:09

but if customers choose not to use this service

0:25:090:25:12

and a child is initially

0:25:120:25:14

allocated a seat away from its parents,

0:25:140:25:16

then the seat will be reassigned.

0:25:160:25:18

The airline added that it will be getting in touch

0:25:180:25:21

with both Nadine and Andrea to offer a resolution.

0:25:210:25:24

But with some of you telling us

0:25:270:25:29

similar stories about other airlines, too,

0:25:290:25:31

it seems that for whatever reason,

0:25:310:25:33

the CAA's requirements are not always being followed,

0:25:330:25:36

so Simon has some no-nonsense advice for anyone who is

0:25:360:25:40

told they will need to pay to be sure they sit next to their child.

0:25:400:25:44

That's not the case legally.

0:25:450:25:47

It is simply an empty threat which I strongly suggest everybody ignores.

0:25:470:25:52

He makes it sound so easy, but for Andrea,

0:25:520:25:55

the frustration remains that she knew what she was entitled to,

0:25:550:25:59

and was even told by the airline it would be sorted out on the plane,

0:25:590:26:02

and yet the family was still split up.

0:26:020:26:05

I don't think they followed the CAA guidelines.

0:26:050:26:08

I think if they do feel that it's OK

0:26:080:26:12

to have a seven-year-old sat at least

0:26:120:26:16

a few rows away from her parents, then it's absolutely disgraceful.

0:26:160:26:21

Still to come on Rip-Off Britain -

0:26:290:26:31

car owners hit with unwelcome bills or a

0:26:310:26:34

very direct message left on their vehicle,

0:26:340:26:37

both of them problems caused by the same thing,

0:26:370:26:39

the sky-high cost of airport parking.

0:26:390:26:43

You think, how can it possibly be that they could charge such an

0:26:430:26:45

astronomical amount for parking?

0:26:450:26:48

Yes, it was secure, yes, it was near the airport,

0:26:480:26:51

but surely it should be a more reasonable amount.

0:26:510:26:54

Our travel expert Simon Calder is

0:26:590:27:00

full of tips to save you money on your travels.

0:27:000:27:02

He's got advice on everything,

0:27:020:27:05

from how to avoid the crowds to the

0:27:050:27:06

best way to steer clear of those tourist traps.

0:27:060:27:09

This time it's all about holding on to your pennies in the notoriously

0:27:110:27:14

expensive city of Venice.

0:27:140:27:16

The so-called floating city is

0:27:160:27:18

actually made up of over 100 small islands

0:27:180:27:20

connected by bridges,

0:27:200:27:22

and as well as the canals, it boasts some of the most notorious and

0:27:220:27:26

costliest tourist spots in the world.

0:27:260:27:28

Ah.

0:27:280:27:30

Sip an exquisite espresso as you absorb the ambience in one

0:27:300:27:34

of St Mark's Square's signature cafes.

0:27:340:27:37

All yours for...

0:27:370:27:38

..rather more than £10.

0:27:400:27:42

The most expensive coffee I've found anywhere.

0:27:420:27:45

But if paying eye-watering prices simply isn't your cup of cappuccino,

0:27:480:27:53

then you can still take in all the sites by heading to the

0:27:530:27:56

Lido di Jesolo,

0:27:560:27:57

a purpose-built beach resort just north of Venice.

0:27:570:28:00

There's accommodation ranging from

0:28:030:28:05

campsites to four-star all-inclusives,

0:28:050:28:07

with 15km of beach thrown in.

0:28:070:28:10

Then hop on a boat back to Venice to

0:28:110:28:13

see the sights, including, of course, the gondolas.

0:28:130:28:16

Now, if you are tempted to hire one,

0:28:160:28:19

it could cost you £100 for half an hour.

0:28:190:28:23

Luckily, there is a low-budget alternative.

0:28:230:28:26

Old gondolas are pressed into service as traghetti

0:28:260:28:29

shuttling back and forth

0:28:290:28:31

across the Grand Canal,

0:28:310:28:33

and a ride on one is all yours for a couple of euros.

0:28:330:28:36

Amongst the many fine things that Italy has offered to the world,

0:28:410:28:45

opera comes pretty near top of the list.

0:28:450:28:47

A night at the opera, La Fenice,

0:28:470:28:50

is an unforgettable experience,

0:28:500:28:53

and perhaps surprisingly it can be

0:28:530:28:55

one of the less expensive Italian thrills.

0:28:550:28:59

Now, you could splash out 200 or 300 euros on a seat in a private box.

0:29:010:29:07

But at the other end of the scale,

0:29:090:29:11

there's the wonderful Italian concept of the listening seat,

0:29:110:29:14

which basically means you get a terrible view

0:29:140:29:17

but it only costs about 15 euros

0:29:170:29:19

and you get to appreciate the

0:29:190:29:21

magnificent music and the excitement.

0:29:210:29:24

Bellissimo.

0:29:240:29:26

Now for a situation that usually

0:29:310:29:33

guarantees that the most even-tempered of us

0:29:330:29:36

will eventually get into a spin, and that is car parking,

0:29:360:29:40

cos let's face it, it's bad enough

0:29:400:29:42

trying to find a car parking space in an overcrowded supermarket,

0:29:420:29:46

but if you add that to the stress

0:29:460:29:48

and the costs that come with trying to find somewhere

0:29:480:29:52

to safely park your car when you jet off on holiday,

0:29:520:29:55

then you can see you've got a situation

0:29:550:29:56

that's absolutely ripe for frayed tempers.

0:29:560:29:59

And unfortunately that's exactly what happened last summer when a

0:29:590:30:03

group of people discovered what they

0:30:030:30:04

thought was a very cost-effective and practical solution

0:30:040:30:08

to the whole car parking situation, but sadly,

0:30:080:30:11

whilst the people parking their cars were very happy indeed,

0:30:110:30:15

those that were left behind were rather less than chuffed.

0:30:150:30:18

Holidays abroad bring the promise of longer evenings,

0:30:210:30:24

warmer days and plenty of sunshine,

0:30:240:30:26

but the expense doesn't just start when you arrive at your destination.

0:30:260:30:31

For millions of us, there is the extra cost and hassle of finding

0:30:310:30:35

somewhere to leave your car before you've even taken off, which,

0:30:350:30:38

as we've reported before, doesn't always go entirely to plan.

0:30:380:30:41

These vehicles left on kerbs,

0:30:440:30:47

in fields,

0:30:470:30:48

and in pub car parks

0:30:480:30:51

had been entrusted by their owners to one

0:30:510:30:53

of the many meet-and-greet companies that have sprung up,

0:30:530:30:56

promising to safely store your car while you're away.

0:30:560:31:00

But clearly they weren't kept in the secure environment

0:31:000:31:03

that had been promised.

0:31:030:31:06

You'd think they'd park them in a secure car park,

0:31:060:31:10

but when they hand the cars over to the drivers,

0:31:100:31:13

they're often just parked in locations

0:31:130:31:15

such as this on your right.

0:31:150:31:17

Or if it's returned dented and damaged.

0:31:170:31:20

All the paintwork above the wheel was all scratched.

0:31:200:31:22

The rear fog lamp was all broke.

0:31:220:31:24

I've had to pay for the damage myself.

0:31:240:31:26

Of course, not all meet-and-greet companies

0:31:270:31:29

leave customers in this kind of pickle,

0:31:290:31:31

and using one of them when you go away can save a lot of money.

0:31:310:31:35

Which is why, in November 2016,

0:31:360:31:38

June and Mike Jackson from Melton Mowbray

0:31:380:31:40

decided that one such company

0:31:400:31:42

would be their parking solution when

0:31:420:31:44

they headed to Heathrow Airport

0:31:440:31:46

ready to fly off on a very special six-week cruise to Sydney and Japan.

0:31:460:31:51

The trip was to celebrate our golden wedding anniversary.

0:31:510:31:55

It only comes by once, so we wanted to make it special.

0:31:550:31:59

And we were so excited about it and

0:31:590:32:01

all the planning that we put into it before we went.

0:32:010:32:03

After you, dear.

0:32:030:32:05

The cheapest quote they found at an official airport car park came in at

0:32:050:32:09

around £250 for the six-week stay.

0:32:090:32:12

But with a meet-and-greet company

0:32:120:32:14

offering to collect and return their car at the airport

0:32:140:32:17

for a total of £136.70, for June and Mike,

0:32:170:32:20

it seemed a no-brainer.

0:32:200:32:22

Having used a similar company before,

0:32:220:32:24

we felt it would be straightforward.

0:32:240:32:26

It would be convenient.

0:32:260:32:28

We could just leave the car, straight into the airport.

0:32:280:32:32

What could be better?

0:32:320:32:33

But on the morning of the flight,

0:32:330:32:35

the couple received a text message

0:32:350:32:37

from the company with some distressing news.

0:32:370:32:40

Saying, we are unable to park your car this morning.

0:32:400:32:44

We'll reimburse the fees and you'll have to seek other forms of parking.

0:32:450:32:50

Alternative parking.

0:32:500:32:52

With less than three and a half hours to departure,

0:32:520:32:54

June and make were now in a

0:32:540:32:56

desperate rush to find another way to park at Heathrow.

0:32:560:32:58

I'm thinking, "The time's going past, the time's going past."

0:32:580:33:01

You know, we were looking, just checking.

0:33:010:33:02

"We've got to get rid of this car."

0:33:020:33:04

So we just saw...

0:33:040:33:06

..a light on, on a car park in a little cabin, so we just said,

0:33:060:33:12

"Let's just go for it. Let's see if they can help us out."

0:33:120:33:15

The couple had found an official Heathrow Airport car park where an

0:33:160:33:20

attendant warned them that,

0:33:200:33:21

because they hadn't pre-booked a space,

0:33:210:33:23

they'd face a very large bill on their return,

0:33:230:33:26

but with time running out to make their flight,

0:33:260:33:28

June and Mike felt they had little choice.

0:33:280:33:31

We had to go for it.

0:33:310:33:32

We decided it was either a case of parking there

0:33:320:33:35

or we were going to miss the flight and miss the cruise altogether.

0:33:350:33:38

So the Jacksons parked their car and caught their flight,

0:33:380:33:41

but throughout the holiday

0:33:410:33:42

they couldn't shake off the worry about the big parking bill to come.

0:33:420:33:46

We kept thinking about it, kept going through your mind and...

0:33:460:33:48

-Yes.

-Thinking, we knew that we'd got

0:33:480:33:50

this big bill to face when we got back.

0:33:500:33:52

And when they got back, their worst fears were realised,

0:33:530:33:57

when they were hit with a £891.30 bill

0:33:570:34:00

for their six weeks' worth of parking.

0:34:000:34:03

That's almost another holiday, isn't it?

0:34:030:34:05

-It is, really.

-You think,

0:34:050:34:07

how can it possibly be that you can be away for six weeks and they can

0:34:070:34:10

charge such an astronomical amount for parking?

0:34:100:34:13

Yes, it was secure.

0:34:130:34:15

Yes, it was near the airport,

0:34:150:34:16

but surely it should be a more reasonable amount.

0:34:160:34:20

Well, of course, Mike and June paid top whack because,

0:34:200:34:23

being let down by the meet-and-greet firm so late in the day,

0:34:230:34:27

they hadn't had a chance to pre-book anything cheaper.

0:34:270:34:30

And when we contacted Heathrow Airport,

0:34:300:34:33

it stressed that pricing is based on demand

0:34:330:34:34

and last-minute parking will always cost more as available space

0:34:340:34:39

may be limited. It went on to say

0:34:390:34:41

that pre-booking can save you money as little as 24 hours in advance,

0:34:410:34:46

and as well as pointing out that you can

0:34:460:34:48

also get to the airport by public transport,

0:34:480:34:51

it recommends that, whatever parking service you use, it's one

0:34:510:34:54

that's British Parking accredited.

0:34:540:34:55

But June and might remain aggrieved

0:34:570:34:59

at their whole airport parking experience

0:34:590:35:01

and say it took the shine off the whole trip.

0:35:010:35:04

I think we'll remember the golden wedding for...

0:35:040:35:06

-Yeah, for the car...

-For the parking rather than the holiday.

-Yeah.

0:35:060:35:09

Our travel expert Simon Calder

0:35:100:35:12

understands why airports charge a premium to park,

0:35:120:35:14

but he agrees with June and Mike

0:35:140:35:16

that the costs have now got out of hand.

0:35:160:35:18

Over the last 20 years, the cost of flying has fallen amazingly,

0:35:180:35:24

and partly it's done that because

0:35:240:35:26

the airports are charging less than they used to,

0:35:260:35:29

but of course they have to make the money back somehow and

0:35:290:35:32

airport parking, they think, is a great way to do it.

0:35:320:35:36

I've done research which shows that

0:35:360:35:38

at most of Britain's top ten airports

0:35:380:35:40

it's actually cheaper to park a small plane

0:35:400:35:43

than it is to park a car in the short-term car park.

0:35:430:35:46

In fact, the cost of parking your car

0:35:470:35:49

for seven days at a UK airport can vary wildly.

0:35:490:35:53

Exeter is generally reckoned to be the cheapest,

0:35:530:35:55

with Luton the most expensive.

0:35:550:35:57

But in most cases you can easily find that your parking

0:35:570:36:00

costs more than the price of a

0:36:000:36:02

return flight to Europe on a budget airline.

0:36:020:36:05

For example, at Manchester Airport,

0:36:050:36:07

the on-the-day cost of a week in the multi-storey car park is £280,

0:36:070:36:13

which, when we checked, would more than cover

0:36:130:36:15

a return flight to Prague.

0:36:150:36:17

At London City Airport,

0:36:170:36:19

the drive-up prices for seven days

0:36:190:36:21

in the official long-stay car park can

0:36:210:36:23

be as much as £357,

0:36:230:36:25

enough to fly a family of three to Dublin and back.

0:36:250:36:29

And at Luton Airport,

0:36:290:36:30

turn up on the day to park your car for a week

0:36:300:36:33

and you'd end up having to pay up to £385,

0:36:330:36:37

enough for a return flight to Morocco.

0:36:370:36:40

Now, of course, those prices drop dramatically

0:36:400:36:43

if you book in advance.

0:36:430:36:44

A pre-booked space at Manchester Airport works out as £79.99,

0:36:440:36:50

a saving of £200.01.

0:36:500:36:52

Similarly, pre-book at London City

0:36:530:36:55

and the price plummets to around £88 for the week, a saving of £269.

0:36:550:37:00

And you may find that parking away

0:37:020:37:04

from the terminals offers better value and more flexibility.

0:37:040:37:08

At Manchester, it's £10 per day to park in the open long-stay car park,

0:37:090:37:14

with a free shuttle bus to the terminal,

0:37:140:37:16

even if you turn up and pay on the day.

0:37:160:37:18

But with parking likely to

0:37:190:37:21

significantly bump up the cost of your holiday,

0:37:210:37:23

whichever airport you fly from,

0:37:230:37:25

some passengers have tried to avoid

0:37:250:37:28

any charge whatsoever by leaving

0:37:280:37:30

their cars on residential streets nearby.

0:37:300:37:33

But that doesn't always go down well with the locals,

0:37:330:37:36

many of whom very much resent

0:37:360:37:37

their neighbourhoods becoming unofficial car parks

0:37:370:37:40

for several weeks of the year, and in the summer of 2017,

0:37:400:37:44

some of those simmering tensions

0:37:440:37:46

came to a head with residents finding ways

0:37:460:37:48

to take matters into their own hands.

0:37:480:37:51

This car's been here for just under two weeks

0:37:510:37:54

and I would expect the owner to come back soon...

0:37:540:37:58

..after, I assume, being on holiday.

0:37:590:38:02

Tony Raines is from Greater Manchester,

0:38:030:38:05

around a six-minute taxi ride from nearby Manchester Airport,

0:38:050:38:09

and while that's come in handy for him over the years,

0:38:090:38:12

it's also meant his neighbourhood

0:38:120:38:13

has become a hotspot for people trying

0:38:130:38:15

to dodge paying to park at the airport.

0:38:150:38:18

Tony believes that the cars left here, sometimes by tourists,

0:38:180:38:21

other times by meet-and-greet companies,

0:38:210:38:24

are both an eyesore and a safety hazard,

0:38:240:38:26

and he's found a way to let the owners know exactly what he thinks.

0:38:260:38:30

I'm putting it on the driver's side

0:38:300:38:32

so the driver realises he's got to

0:38:320:38:34

move it before he moves the car.

0:38:340:38:38

Take one of these which says,

0:38:380:38:41

"This is not a car park.

0:38:410:38:43

"You are creating a dangerous obstruction.

0:38:430:38:46

"Please back much further away so we can see to get out safely."

0:38:460:38:51

Well, I think there will be four cars

0:38:520:38:55

that I'll be putting stickers on today.

0:38:550:38:58

This is definitely not a resident's car

0:38:590:39:02

because the residents know the situation and

0:39:020:39:05

most of the residents have got

0:39:070:39:09

enough car parking space of their own.

0:39:090:39:12

There is another car up here that needs a sticker.

0:39:120:39:15

Tony would like the local council to introduce restrictions like permits

0:39:160:39:20

or even double yellow lines to tackle the problem.

0:39:200:39:22

And while the council agrees that would have benefits for safety,

0:39:240:39:27

congestion and the surrounding community,

0:39:270:39:30

any measures like this wouldn't be actioned until 2019.

0:39:300:39:34

But this is a problem affecting

0:39:350:39:37

plenty of other neighbourhoods

0:39:370:39:38

within a few miles of UK airports.

0:39:380:39:41

In Southend, for example,

0:39:410:39:42

as the local airport has grown in popularity,

0:39:420:39:45

so too has the number of people

0:39:450:39:47

using nearby streets to park for free.

0:39:470:39:50

And in Luton, some residents have taken extreme action against those

0:39:500:39:53

hoping to evade the airport's particularly high charges.

0:39:530:39:57

Far from returning to see one of Tony's simple and harmless stickers,

0:39:570:40:01

some car owners who left their cars here have come back to find their

0:40:010:40:04

vehicles either damaged or covered

0:40:040:40:07

in graffiti, with a very clear message.

0:40:070:40:10

But with the price of airport parking so high,

0:40:100:40:12

you can understand why people may be tempted to find cheaper solutions,

0:40:120:40:17

and while the airports maintain that

0:40:170:40:19

the revenue from parking helps offset

0:40:190:40:21

other costs, and therefore keeps fares down,

0:40:210:40:24

Simon Calder believes that anyone considering driving to the airport

0:40:240:40:27

should, if they can, ditch the idea altogether.

0:40:270:40:30

Make driving to the airport and parking your last alternative.

0:40:320:40:36

Consider all the other possibilities first, in particular,

0:40:360:40:40

the increasingly good public transport to airports,

0:40:400:40:42

but, of course, you may simply find a taxi works out cheaper.

0:40:420:40:46

But June and Mike, who live too far from Heathrow for either

0:40:460:40:49

public transport or a taxi to always be the best option,

0:40:490:40:53

don't see why choosing to take a car to the airport should result in such

0:40:530:40:56

hefty charges. So next time they won't be leaving anything to chance.

0:40:560:41:02

All I would say is just check and double-check,

0:41:020:41:05

and just make sure that you've done all your homework, really,

0:41:050:41:09

before you commit yourselves.

0:41:090:41:11

Don't go through the experience that we've gone through,

0:41:110:41:15

-because it really...

-It ruins your holiday.

0:41:150:41:17

It ruins your holiday and it's not nice.

0:41:170:41:19

Rip-Off Britain wouldn't be here without your stories

0:41:250:41:28

and we've got plenty of ways you can get in touch.

0:41:280:41:30

Send us an e-mail to...

0:41:320:41:33

..or write to us at...

0:41:370:41:43

But please don't send original copies of any documents.

0:41:450:41:48

And even if you haven't got a story you'd like us to investigate,

0:41:520:41:55

you can join in the conversation on our Facebook page.

0:41:550:41:58

Just search BBC Rip-Off Britain.

0:41:580:42:00

Well, I'm afraid we're almost out of time for today's programme,

0:42:030:42:06

but I have to confess and being absolutely astonished at the very

0:42:060:42:10

different ways in which airlines

0:42:100:42:12

approach the whole issue of serving nuts on their planes

0:42:120:42:16

when they've got a passenger who has an allergy to them on board.

0:42:160:42:20

When you think of the consequences that can be so deadly,

0:42:200:42:23

you would think, wouldn't you,

0:42:230:42:25

that the industry might have a more consistent approach?

0:42:250:42:27

Yes, I would say that it's elementary that they do, actually,

0:42:270:42:30

but you know what struck me about some of the other stories that we've

0:42:300:42:33

heard about today is that the issues may well have been avoided if those

0:42:330:42:37

with the authority to do so had

0:42:370:42:39

simply asked nicely for someone to maybe

0:42:390:42:41

swap their seats or indeed to park their cars elsewhere.

0:42:410:42:45

But sometimes, I'm afraid, we are just too polite,

0:42:450:42:47

or should I say just too British?

0:42:470:42:49

-What do you think?

-Well, interestingly,

0:42:490:42:52

a lot of people come up to me and say,

0:42:520:42:54

"Your programme has made me a lot braver

0:42:540:42:56

"about complaining when things aren't right."

0:42:560:42:59

And I think that's a very good thing.

0:42:590:43:01

Well, I certainly hope you're not

0:43:010:43:03

too polite to let us know if something

0:43:030:43:05

on your holiday doesn't go to plan. Do please tell us about it.

0:43:050:43:08

It's by sharing your experiences

0:43:080:43:09

that we can make sure that other people

0:43:090:43:11

don't get caught out in the same way.

0:43:110:43:14

We'll be back with more of your stories very soon, but for now,

0:43:140:43:16

from all of us, goodbye.

0:43:160:43:18

-Goodbye.

-Bye.

0:43:180:43:19

Julia Somerville, Angela Rippon and Gloria Hunniford look into difficulties that can arise en route to or from a destination. Among the stories is a traumatic and costly experience for one family which highlights the very different ways that individual airlines treat passengers with an allergy to nuts.

Plus the airlines still breaking the rules on how and where to seat families, with parents placed at opposite ends of the plane from their children, tips on how to cut costs in notoriously expensive Venice, and how the spiralling cost of airport parking has caused chaos in some neighbourhoods as drivers try to avoid the charges altogether by parking on residential streets nearby.