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Airline no-phones policy could become a thing of the past...
Turning off electronic devices when boarding an airplane may soon be a thing of the past as the FAA is re-examining those ancient, sometimes abused and generally disliked rules. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has long maintained the rules were necessary because of safety concerns. The group says it will now conduct tests to see if that's the case, a move that could lead to their abolishment. Most airlines currently prohibit passengers from using cell phones, tablets, and other personal gadgets during runway taxi, takeoff, and landing. In-flight use is usually restricted to devices which aren't communicating with a cellular or data network. Pilots and flight crews have for a long time bypassed the rules for passengers by using iPads and other electronic devices during takeoff and landing. The simple reasoning of the FAA: if pilots are already using gadgets during take-offs and landings, and there are no problems, perhaps a "fresh look" at the subject is needed. FAA rules already permit any airline to test specific makes and models to determine if they generate enough power that they could interfere with sensitive cockpit radios, navigation instruments and other critical equipment. But few airlines have done that kind of extensive testing because there are so many devices, and testing them all -- or even many -- isn't practical, says the New York Times. Instead, the fallback position has been to comply with FAA rules requiring passengers to turn off all electronic devices while the aircraft's altitude is below 10,000 feet. The FAA said it was bored at waiting for airlines to take the initiative in testing whether electronics really can knock out flight instruments. There's some evidence that electromagnetic interference from cellphones and similar devices can cause problems with on-board systems, writes TG Daily. However, there's no evidence on the other side because there's never been an accident blamed on using the devices. Consumer demand to use personal electronics at all times on board planes has been increasing, especially on flights with long delays waiting for takeoff. While acknowledging "this is an area of consumer interest," the FAA said in a statement that "no changes will be made until we are certain they will not impact safety and security".
Chancellor George Osborne has missed an opportunity in yesterday's Budget to create more jobs by making the UK's hospitality and tourism industry competitive with other European countries, according to the British Hospitality Association (BHA).
Although he welcomed many measures in the Budget, Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the BHA, was disappointed that the Chancellor's statement gave no indication of the Government considering a reduction in the VAT rate. "The Chancellor said that he wanted Britain to have a tax system that is more competitive for business than any other major economy in the world, but Britain has the third highest VAT rate on hotel accommodation in Europe," said Couchman. "We are continuing to compete with countries like France and Germany, which charge 7% on hotel accommodation, Spain which charges 8% and Italy, which charges 10%. Of all the 27 EU member states only Denmark and Lithuania charge a higher rate." Couchman said the BHA would continue to lobby for a reduction to 5% of VAT on hotel accommodation and attractions so that the industry could operate on an equal footing with European competitor countries and help create new jobs. "Until we do, hospitality and tourism, which is Britain's fifth biggest industry, will be unable to realise its full potential, create more jobs and help fulfill the Chancellor's aim," he said. Couchman recognised that some measures in the Budget were helpful, including the reduction of corporation tax and the simplification of tax returns for micro businesses such as guest houses and B&Bs. "Altogether, if the Budget achieves the Chancellor's aim to get Britain moving, then this is to be welcomed, but tourism and hospitality could make a much bigger contribution to this objective if he had listened to our arguments on the reduction of VAT."
Thomas Cook says more mature travellers are booking far-flung trips to follow in the footsteps of their globe-trotting kids.
The operator carried out a study of 5,000 people with YouGov, including almost 1,000 over-50s, and found that one in ten over-50s has been inspired to travel to a destination they hadn't previously considered after their children recommended it to them. One in ten also said they have been encouraged to travel further afield by younger relatives, with 37% now going on holidays they never dreamed of going on when they were young. Almost two thirds (64%) of those say it is because they have more money, but almost one in 20 put it down to listening to stories from their children or grandchildren after returning from a gap year. A spokesman for Thomas Cook said: ‘It seems the older generation is more adventurous than ever. ‘We've seen a rise in the number of over-50s booking trips to far-flung destinations once their children have left home and an increase in long-duration holidays, with some booking 21- and 42-night packages.' Researchers also found that 44% of over-50s are jealous of the travelling that younger people are able to do nowadays, with 55% planning to travel the world once their children have flown the nest. Almost one in ten even admitted to booking a holiday to a particular destination to appear younger or more adventurous than they really are. Australia came top of the list of destinations that the over-50s would like to visit, followed by Canada, New Zealand, US and Caribbean.
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