Tuesday, March 18, 2014

London to Open "Secret Tube" to Tourists

A network of disused underground tunnels, that were once used to transport rail across London, have been given the go-ahead to open as a tourist attraction. Mail Rail first opened in 1927 and in its heyday used a series of driverless trains to transport post beneath the capital's streets from the East End's Whitechapel to Paddington in the west. Islington Council has approved plans to allow tourists to descend beneath the city and ride the trains that sit below some of the London's most iconic sights. From 2020, visitors will be able to ride the 'secret Tube', departing from Mount Pleasant, in Islington, which was once one of the largest sorting offices in the world. 

The original track was 6.5 miles long and had a total of eight stations and at some stages narrowed to just 7ft wide. Tourists will ride the miniature trains for a total of 0.6 miles, while learning about the history of the Post Office. A new postal museum will also open on the Mount Pleasant site in 2016, displaying artefacts from British postal history, including telegrams from the Titanic, original evidence from the Great Train Robbery trial and pistols used to defend mail coaches in the 19th Century. The Mail Rail was finally closed in 2003, after Royal Mail built a new hub in Willesden, west London and it was decided it would be cheaper to transport mail by road instead of using the tunnels.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

App To Help Travelers Collect Airline Compensation

Getting compensation from an airline for a delayed, canceled or overbooked flight can range from difficult to impossible as many travelers have found out this bad winter. There are several online companies including Air Help, EU claim and refund.me that charge a fee ranging from 15 to 27% (plus, in some cases, handling charges), for helping European travelers file claims under regulations that apply to flights to or from a European Union member state. 

Now, one of those companies is offering its services to U.S. fliers online, and through a free app. Air Help estimates that, under U.S. Department of Transportation's rules, each year a total of $450 million in potential compensation is owed to passengers involuntarily bumped on overbooked U.S. flights and that, under European Union regulations, there are $2.1 billion in potential claims for U.S. air passengers flying to, from or within Europe on EU carriers. Because many travelers don't understand the rules, only a small amount of the compensation owed to passengers gets claimed or paid. That's where Air Help comes in. You give them the details of your flight, and they'll check whether or not you're legally owed any compensation. If you are, you sign a PDF that gives them power of attorney (with regards to dealing with the airline), and they go hunting for the cash. If you end up getting paid, they keep 25% of it. And if you don't you pay nothing.