London riots shouldn’t stop travelers; FAA resumes ‘ticket taxes’

August 12, 2011

Post-riot London; no FAA tax refund; Swiss safety

London isn’t burning

Last week, London resembled “A Clockwork Orange,” a montage of looting, stealing and fiery rampaging. But the city is quickly returning to its civilized, Merchant Ivory self.

“With the sheer number of police and more than 1,000 people arrested,” said Stephanie Kallab, Europe security analyst at iJet Intelligent Risk Systems, “London is calmer.”

Prior to the arrests, aided in part by security cameras and the influx of police forces, rioters had raged through such chic neighborhoods as Sloane Square and Pimlico. Scofflaws broke into a two-star Michelin restaurant, the Ledbury, in upscale Notting Hill and shook down diners for money, jewelry and cellphones.

The melee trickled into other areas as well, such as the West Midlands, Manchester and Birmingham, where officials temporarily closed public transportation into the city center.

“It’s not the Arab Spring coming to Europe,” said Kallab. Despite the return of order, she said that visitors can expect to see ramped-up security forces, especially at night. She assured CoGo that it’s safe to travel to England but reminds tourists to follow the golden rules of travel.

“If you see hooded people running,” she wisely advises, “you need to run in the other direction.”

FAA tax redux

Cancel the clowns and the cake: The tax holiday is over.

On Aug. 5, Congress extended the Federal Aviation Administration authorization, thereby reinstating the federal “ticket taxes” on air travel.

During the partial shutdown, which lasted two weeks, the department was unable to collect the taxes — although airlines made up the difference by raising airfares. The reauthorization bill reinstates the excise tax retroactive to July 23, which means that passengers may not file for a refund.

“If you purchased a ticket between July 23, 2011, and August 7, 2011 — regardless if you flew then or at a later date in time — the airlines were not authorized to collect the tax and so passengers did not pay the excise tax,” the IRS explains on its Web site. “While the tax was reinstated retroactively by Congress, the IRS has provided relief during this lapse for taxpayers and airlines and will not collect the excise tax covering that period.”

Now, how about a refund on the fare spike?

Travel ticker

The Swiss government has passed a law to ensure the safety of ad­ven­ture travelers. Starting Jan. 1, 2013, travel operators must hire licensed guides and carry insurance to protect guests. The law stems from a 1991 canyoneering trip in Interlaken that left 21 dead. . . . Delta and Aerolineas Argentinas have announced a codesharing agreement for flights connecting Miami and Atlanta to Buenos Aires as well as service to 14 U.S. destinations, eight destinations in Argentina, three flights to Canada, and flights to Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. Codesharing will start in the fourth quarter of this year, pending government approval.

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