Woman with Hand LuggageHappy New Year everyone. While Rob brought in the new year with a little gloom when he wrote about the rail network (typical Rob!), there is some good news to rejoice in air travel. Firstly, the BAA and Virgin Atlantic have been able to avoid significant disruption by settling disputes with their respective trade unions. Secondly, the Department of Transport has announced that the restriction allowing airline passengers to bring only one piece of hand luggage on to a flight had been removed (this has been in place since the terror alert in August 2006). Great news in the name of convenience.

Unfortunately nothing is ever that simple and these restrictions will only be lifted where the airport has the extra security procedures in places and the airline’s own policy allows it. Unsurprisingly this has led to all kinds of confusion. Fear not though! The BBC has done a great job of summarizing exactly what airports are approved and, for those who fly from these airports, which airlines have removed this restriction from their own policy. Click here for their guide. If you are still unsure I would recommend checking with your airline before you travel. I should also add that the restrictions on liquid are still valid.

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With the winter arriving in some parts of the UK with a bang yesterday and snow showers scattered all over the country, it’s always best to take precautions when out on the roads. Rob blogged about Driving safely in the snow early last year when we had some wintery weather, so I thought it wouldn’t hurt to have a reminder.

Information can be found on Rob’s original blog, along with some helpful links to other websites. Here’s are some extra tips as well:

* Check weather and traffic reports before leaving
* Allow more time than normal for your journey
* Ensure you have enough fuel for the distance you are driving
* If you’re planning a long journey, let someone know your route and your expected time of arrival. Pack some food and hot drink, if possible
* Stick to major roads and motorways that will have been gritted and cleared of snow

As always, we wish you a safe journey.

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Happy New Year to you all. A couple of members of the blog team are now back in the office so standard blog service resumes!

Unfortunately it is not a happy start to the year for rail passengers with the BBC reporting that rail operators are raising fares by up to 11%. And if it couldn’t get any worse, West Coast Mainline have announced further delays on their network due to engineering works running behind schedule, adding to the existing burden of over-congestion.

Of course rail has an important part to play in the travel arrangements of many people’s lives. I often use the train to travel in and out of London. However, if you are planning to use rail you may want to consider car hire as an alternative form of transport. It may not be appropriate in all situations but, depending on the number of people you are travelling with and the amount of luggage you are carrying, you may find it to be cheaper and more convenient. Stephen wrote about this in one of his very first blog posts back in March 07 and I would recommend reading it if you are interesting in reading more about the potential benefits of renting a car over travelling by train.

Before I go I would like to give a bit of recognition to Virgin Trains whose service is one of the most affected by the West Coast Mainline engineering works. In a refreshing display of honesty, Managing Director Chris Gibbs yesterday advised his customers not to travel by Virgin Trains to and from London during the period of disruption because they are “no longer able to provide a very good service.”

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View from “Road to Hana”I hope everyone had a good Christmas. I was thinking about what else I could write about this week and my thoughts turned to the great holidays I’ve had in Maui (my Dad lives in California and it is kind of a family tradition to go there every 4 years). Now I don’t want to shamelessly plug car hire but if you are planning a trip to Maui I would strongly recommend renting a car. Sure you can stick to the south coast resorts where there is plenty to do: chill out in Lahaina, dive into the beautiful, life-rich Pacific ocean, enjoy the luau and catch some waves with the surf board. But limiting your itinerary to just this will deprive you of some of the beautiful sights this Hawaiian island has to offer.

There are a couple of drives that I would highly recommend. Firstly, you can drive to the top of the island’s volcano Haleakala, a dormant volcano that sits over 10,000 feet above sea level. For the most rewarding views, time your visit to the top of the volcano so you can catch the sunrise. It’s breathtaking. My trips to Maui have been in about August time and, at this time of year, the sun rises at about 4.30 am. It was a tiring day but well worth it!

Secondly, is a drive known as the “Road to Hana”. It is not necessarily a long road but, with all the twist and turns and numerous stops you’ll going to want to make, it takes about 3 hours to make your way around. But boy is it worth it. This trip is on the north side of the island and is like a different world to the busier south side. Along the drive you’re going to want to stop on numerous occasions to take in the rainforest, stunning waterfalls and gorgeous black sand beaches that line the blue Pacific ocean. You’ll also want to stop at the small charming town of Hana but don’t let that be the end of your trip. I’d recommend making the extra 45 minute drive to the Seven Sacred Pools at the Halekala National Park and spend a couple of hours here diving into the pools (bring your swimming wear!), splash under the waterfalls and hide in the caves; all encased within the black rock of north Maui.

There is an Avis rental office conveniently located at Kahului airport. So if you are looking for some holiday inspiration in the new year then I’d recommend trying Maui.

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Kudos to Kia. I was reading Marketing magazine who reported on what has been called the “2007 Promise Index”, developed by Brand Agency Promise. The index measures the difference between the image consumers have of a brand and the actual experience. I’ve heard some good things about Kia recently and they should be pretty chuffed that their product was the highest car manufacturer in the index. They came 7th place showing that they have a product that is clearly performing signifcantly above consumers expectation.

The one other car manufacturer in the top 20 list was Jaguar (19th) which is indicative of the great job they have done with the XK and the XF.

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Porsche 911In Rob’s Christmas post, he talked about indulging himself a little with his blog writing. It’s that time of year so I thought ‘why not’ and decided to indulge myself a little?! For a bit of fun over the Christmas period, I started thinking about what cars I would have on my car hire fleet if money was no object and I could have any dream car I wanted. So, I’ve listed my top make/models below by car category…

1. Prestige – Porsche 911 Targa 4S or Audi R8
2. Luxury – Jaguar XF SV8
3. Executive – Audi A4 and Mercedes C Class
4. Standard – Ford Mondeo
5. Medium – Citroen C4
6. Small – Citroen C1 and Fiat 500

Thoughts? Agree/disagree? Please feel free to list your own choices!

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Christmas treeToday is my last day in the office until the New Year so I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish all of our customers, all of our staff and anyone else who reads this blog a very merry Christmas! I also want to give some recognition to all those staff who continue to work their socks off over the Christmas period (including Christmas day at some airport locations), a period which is one of our most intensely busiest of the year.

On a separate Christmas-related note (and in demonstration of how superbly co-ordinated the blog team is), we have managed to plan our holiday so that we are all off over Christmas at the same time. To keep the blog going in the meantime I have, rather foolishly, agreed to keep writing new posts and responding to comments during the Christmas week. Please bear with me as I may not always be able to answer your question. However, I promise to do the best I can and if I need to defer it I’ll get a full answer to you when I am back in the office.

So please keep in touch over the Christmas period, read any blog post I decide to indulge myself in writing and keep your thoughts and feedback coming in, particularly with regards to Select Series and, my favourite, “Strange and unusual driving laws”!

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Empty Fuel GaugeMy colleague Andy B has a theory. He has noticed that the nozzle on the fuel pump symbol on a car dashboard (the symbol that lights up when you are running low) is positioned to correspond with what side of the car the fuel cap is. It’s a great tip if it is true. I do find it frustrating when I pull into a petrol station with an unfamiliar hire car but I do not know what side of the fuel pump to park at (admittedly part of this frustration is because I’m too lazy to get out of the car and check!).

Andy B has tested his theory on a few cars and the only model that has so far disproved this was a Ford Fiesta. However, I must stress that this was an old model. So can anyone confirm whether this is in fact true? Has anyone checked this on their own cars? Better still, can the manufacturers who read this blog confirm that this is something they consciously add in to the design of their cars?!

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Plymouth coastlineI was fortunate to spend some time over the October half term down in Devon visiting family and used the opportunity to catch up for a chat with our team in Plymouth, who do a great job covering the Southwest! Nicky Conner (station manager) was very keen to add her ten pence worth of comments on Plymouth and activity in the Southwest…

Hi, I’m Nicky, and following the trend being set by our colleagues on the South Coast I thought it was about time the glorious South West got a posting! I am based in Plymouth where we have 2 locations – one at Plymouth Airport and one in the City. Our team comprises of Myself, Jackie, Sophie and Dave – all of whom are always ready with a smile!

Our central location is situated in the Cattedown area of Plymouth just 2 minutes walk from Queen Annes Battery (QAB for all you sailing enthusiasts!) and the National Aquarium which boasts the largest tank in Europe. We are also just 5 minutes walk from the Historic Barbican area, where by day you can browse the Antique shops, sample cream teas made with locally produced clotted cream, visit the Mayflower Steps (the point where Sir Walter Raleigh set sail from for America) or even take a tour around the Plymouth Gin Distillery. I am told sampling is a must!

By night the Barbican has something to offer everyone: bars, night clubs and a variety of restaurants to suit all tastes. It is even home to Plymouth’s very own celebrity chefs, the Tanner Brothers (fans of TV cookery programmes will know who they are!). Adjacent to the Barbican we have The Hoe (this has confused many a visitor to Plymouth!), where you can visit the spot where Sir Francis Drake played Boules, climb to the top of Smeatons Tower Lighthouse or just relax and take in the glorious views around you.

If nature is more your thing then Dartmoor National Park is a short drive from Plymouth with its rugged landscapes and Tors to keep you busy. Not forgetting the beaches – Devon and Cornwall are home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the UK, if not the world!

If after visiting all the sites, sampling cream teas, pasties and Plymouth Gin you fancy some shopping then Plymouth’s new Drake Circus shopping Centre is the place to visit with something for everyone.

Our Plymouth Airport office is based in the terminal building at the Airport and we are partners with Air South West who have recently announced new flight routes from Leeds, Glasgow, Dublin, Cork and France (starting in April) in addition to the current routes to Gatwick, Manchester and the Channel Islands.

And to finish, I can’t go without continuing the trend and mentioning Plymouth Argyle who are currently holding their own in the Championship so watch out Portsmouth and Southampton!

Nicky Conner – Station Manager, Plymouth

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VW GolfTwo years ago, we introduced Select Series (originally called Choice Fleet) in the UK, to provide the opportunity to guarantee the make/model of the car you drive from a select range of vehicles. It is available at our most popular UK locations and gives customers an alternative to booking one of a number of different models within a specified car category.

I have been following the comments about Select Series on the blog with interest and have been delighted with all the great feedback, particularly on the blog post about introducing the Audi A4 and A6 to the Select Series. As we move into 2008 we are looking for your feedback again so you can help us shape what the Select Series will look like in the new year.

Any kind of feedback is welcome but in particular we are love to know what specific make/models would you most like to be able to book on the Select Series? At the moment we have the Peugeot 207 CC, the VW Golf, and the Audi A4 and A6 (A4 available as saloon and estate). Are these the right models to promote? Or have you spotted a car on our standard fleet that you would love to be able to guarantee? Amongst the cars we currently have on our standard fleet are the Renault Clio, Megane, Laguna, Grande Scenic and Espace; Peugeot 207, 307, 407 and 807; Ford Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo; VW Passat and Sharan; Fiat Grande Punto and Bravo; Vauxhall Vectra; and Mercedes C-Class and E-Class. Would you prefer to be able to guarantee any of these make/models over what is currently available on the Select Series? In addition, are there any models you would like Avis to consider and talk to manufacturers about outside of those we have listed?

I look forward to any thoughts you may have!

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Please note:

The details of all blog posts are correct at the time of publication. Information and offers are subject to change without prior notice. Please check www.avis.co.uk for the most up-to-date information.

All comments will be moderated so there may be a delay in your comment going live. We will filter out anything that is confidential, inappropriate, abusive, defamatory, profane, or anything considered as spam or an advertising link. We promise not to cut something just because it's not favourable to Avis.

We ask that if your feedback is regarding a past rental, you include your reservation details (which will be removed from the live post). If your comment is a customer service issue, you can email customer.service@avis.co.uk .
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At Avis, we really do try harder. We pioneered blogging in the car rental world and we aim to make our blog much more than just an information source. You can use our blog to ask questions or tell us what’s important to you when you hire a car. We try harder because we care what you think, so we really do value your feedback.

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