Goodwill to all men

Superbreak lived up to their name this week when a client of ours hit an unlucky streak.

The young woman and her husband had been given a Superbreak voucher from her mother. The gift had been carefully chosen. “If I give her money, she’ll spend it on her children and I really want her to have a break,” she said. Her daughter duly rang to book a hotel in Devon from the Superbreak brochure for one night.

“We can only stay one night because Mum’s got cancer and having our children for more than one night is too tiring,” she said.

The hotel was confirmed and it looked as though everyone was going to get what they wanted. However, the following day, she was in our office looking distraught. I knew before she opened her mouth she was going to cancel.

It transpired her mother had developed an infection and she was unable to look after the children.

There was nobody else to babysit, and I agreed that cancelling was the only option and rang Superbreak.

I spoke to Isobel in reservations who was very sympathetic when she heard my client’s story.

“Hold on a minute, can you?” she said. Moments later, she returned to say they’d agreed to waive the cancellation charge.

Maybe it’s something about this being the season of goodwill, but it certainly warmed the cockles of my heart and relieved my client of at least one worry. Thank you, super Superbreak!

Money, money, money

There is a certain credit card one is advised one should never leave home without, and I think a certain Captain John Lawrence would agree.

This air ace with First Choice was piloting a flight which needed refuelling en route. Captain Lawrence opted to put down in Senegal to fuel up. With a full tank, he was all set to take off, when the airport authorities demanded £2,000 for permission to leave Senegal.

Summoning up a couple of grand at the drop of a hat isn’t easy. Short of offering his body to the air traffic controllers, Captain John Lawrence and his team had to raid the petty cash box, use personal travellers cheques and liberate the takings from the on-board bar and duty free tills.

Eventually the aircraft was given permission to leave but not before a further £200 had been paid for the runway lights to be turned on!

The wrong trousers

We’ve all seen the film, The Wrong Trousers, but for Mandy Lipscombe of Stowaway Travel, fiction became fact for her clients on a trip to Antigua.

The age of elegant travel has passed. You’re more likely to see holidaymakers queuing in flip flops and vests than linen suits and panama hats these days as comfort tops the list of priorities.

While I may regret the passing of the ‘going away’ outfit, I can quite understand why Mandy’s 40-year-old male client opted to fly in combat trousers and a T-shirt.

What he didn’t know is that in Antigua combat trousers are so not the thing to wear. Upon arrival at the airport in Antigua, officials took him aside and asked him to remove his trousers. Fearful that some scary initiation ceremony awaited, he held his breath and dropped his trousers.

It was explained that combat trousers are not allowed on the island and his pair were labelled and taken away. Upon his departure two weeks later, he was told his strides were ‘non-returnable’.

Mandy asked if I’d heard of this law and I had to admit I hadn’t.

Reflecting on it later I decided it’s a brilliant piece of cheekiness. If I were an Antiguan official, I’d make it illegal to wear designer dresses and Manolo Blahnik shoes.

Jungle tones

It’s hard to be offended by a ringtone that makes you laugh even if it goes off in the ‘silent’ carriage of a train. And you have to admire the ingenuity of the providers.

Who’d have thought Dean Gaffney’s exclamations of “Slime! Slime!” on the recent series of I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! would end up as a top tone?

And it seems one travel-inspired provider has used the ring tone to generate work for an Amazonian tribe. Yes, if you can’t get to South America, get a friend to call you and be transported to the Rainforest by your ringtone of the chanting of the Xavante Indians. It’s good to talk!

Maureen Hill works at Wessex World Travel, Gillingham, Dorset