2022 Round-up part one! Travel takes off again…
Chalkmarks: London, England, UK, December 2022

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 9th December 2022

2022 will be remembered as the year travel returned after two years of worldwide Covid lockdowns. If you didn’t rush to an airport to stand in a queue for 15 hours with an out-of-date passport just where the hell were you?
It was good to be back on a plane though. We navigated our way through all those passenger locator forms and trekked through airport terminals to find our luggage. It was a brave effort all round but it turned out there wasn’t enough staff and their pay was poor. They went on strike and things went off piste for the rest of the year…and so they go on.
Don’t They Know It’s Christmas Time At All? Oh no, they don’t! Yes, it’s gone a bit panto, but let’s hope in the New Year we can put them behind us. Our advice is to keep travelling. And whatever the case, Chalkmarks will be there unpacking all the travel news, as it happens, every Friday in 2023!

Part 1: Go on holiday and relax they said!

January

To the airport and beyond…Boris Johnson was still in No10 and Omicron was the new Covid variant…international borders were opening up and PCR tests had been scrapped…bookings soared almost overnight…Spain remained the UK’s number one holiday destination while the emerging hotspot was Saudi Arabia…the Queen’s jubilee celebrations were announced, with an extra Bank Holiday in June…according to a study of 43 women ghastly surgical masks made us look as hot AF …Kaunas, in southern Lithuania, became Europe’s Capital of Culture shared with Novi Sad, Serbia and Esch, Luxembourg… travel tests to enter the UK were scrapped…there were no more amber or red travel lists, no more self-isolation, and no more quarantine hotels…snow fell across some of Europe’s popular holiday islands including Crete and Mykonos…Essex County Council spent £300,000 to shed its TV Towie reputation.

February

It’s time for Paris: Say cheese and wine….Everyone on board all flights must wear a mask…Ryanair was named the worst airline for “difficult” customer service in the Which? customer survey… Jet2 received the highest score…. Britannia hotel was named by Which? as the UK’s worst hotel…we still had Omicron but the world was opening up – even Australia…from 4am on 11th February, the UK government removed all travel testing requirements…Gatwick Airport announced it would reopen the South Terminal… much of Britain shut down as Storm Eunice halted flights, trains and ferries…Stonehenge reopened…restaurant L’Enclume in the Lake District became the first in the North to be awarded three prestigious Michelin stars…We were live from Paris…Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye described 2021 as “the worst year in Heathrow’s history” since 1972…Dubai opened its Museum of the Future…Dippy the dinosaur returned home to The Natural History Museum…the Colman’s Mustard family conservatory in Carrow was given listed at Grade II*…the price of fish and chips soared to £10.

March

Do we keep travelling as if nothing has happened…The war in Ukraine had begun…with concerns for safety, flights were cancelled and travel operators changed their itineraries…Eurostar offered free train travel to Ukrainians travelling to the UK… instead of questions about Covid, holidaymakers were asking about Russia…travellers were canceling trips to Krakow, Poland…the Foreign Office recommended against travel to Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the eastern border region of Moldova…Aeroflot flew one of its last international flights from Cancun, Mexico, to Moscow…elsewhere, Jet2, became the first airline to announce it would drop face masks on flights between England and Northern Ireland Neighbours confirmed the soap would end in June after 37 years…hermit state Western Australia reopened its borders after almost 700 days in lockdown…500 flights were cancelled due to a British Airways computer glitch…the infamous Marble Arch Mound in London that cost £6 million was dismantled… passenger locator forms were axed …also gone was testing for unvaccinated travellers…the-then Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said “International travel is back.”… Heathrow said passengers no longer had to wear masks inside the airport…P&O Ferries sparked outrage when it laid off 800 of its staff without warning…spring arrived, temperatures reached 20C and the clocks went forward…Flybe, which collapsed in March 2020 during the pandemic was back.

Have you seen our pictures: Our fantastic travel photos, which capture some of our favourite destinations around the world, are now available for sale on Alamy. Woohoo!

April

It’s plane to see: Airports are in chaos…it started snowing – it wasn’t even an April fool…airports struggled to cope with high holiday demand…there were queues at check-in, delays at security, lost luggage, IT meltdowns and flights being cancelled…it felt like 2021…queues at 5am at Manchester Airport…passengers hoping to catch a ferry to Calais and Dunkirk were stuck in nine-hour queues…Happy Bank Holiday Easter…temperatures rose and spring flowers bloomed…there was a huge backlog with passport applications…then-PM Boris Johnson said he would “privatise the arse” out of the Passport Office…more than one million train tickets went on sale in the Great British Train Sale…rail workers announced a national strike this summer over job cuts and pay freezes…in the US, the wearing of face masks on flights was dropped…daytrippers to Venice started paying a €10 (£8.30) entry fee…petrol stations were low of fuel, made worse by protesters blocking roads…Cornwall was named the UK’s number one seaside destination, Derbyshire was top for a countryside getaway and London was favourite for a city break…we were in OxfordCelebrity Cruises took centre stage as it launched its biggest and most luxurious cruise ship, Beyond…we went on board.

May

Back of the queue: Airports continue to frustrate with long holiday hold ups…forget partygate, beergate and who wore what at the Met Gala, in May Chalkmarks was a drama-free, flip-flop-only zone…but in travelland thousands of passengers were turned away from departure gates because their passports were considered out of date…Qantas announced it’d soon be flying the world’s longest, non-stop flight –19hr19mins – between Sydney to London… ETC named Britons top five destinations this year as SpainFranceGreeceItaly and Portugal…P&O Ferries restarted sailings between Dover and Calais…Bamburgh in Northumberland was named the UK’s best beach for sunbathing…the Wagatha Christie trial had us gripped while Stonehenge was the most complained about tourist attraction in the UK…Cirium found UK travellers most popular holiday hotspot was Turkey – with 3,017 flights this year…eight new cities were created in honour of the Queen’s 70th Jubilee anniversary including Stanley on the Falkland Islands, Douglas on the Isle of Man, Colchester in Essex, and Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire…the newly opened Elizabeth Line left Paddington on a wet Tuesday morning, the verdict? It smelled amazing…Harry and Meghan rejoined the royal family at Madame Tussauds…the US Esta visa waiver for UK travellers jumped from $14 (£11) to $21 (£17).

June

The summer of ’22: Why this could mark the end of cheap air travel…We were in the middle of the worst rail strike for 30 years…what did Boris Johnson say about all this: Not much…the then-UK PM was in Rwanda updating us on his trip to Kigali over on Twitter…ski resorts in the Alps reported they could see fewer snow days if nothing was done to slow climate change…across the cliffs and beaches of Britain the temperature heated up to 34C (not so hot in Scotland)…Chalkmarks visited the famous Roman spa city of Bath, recently Unesco-listed…while the Pump House was heaving the rail strikes became historic…40,000 staff walked out from sunrise to sunset, closing half of the UK rail network…in short, everyone was angry…the UK’s biggest music festival Glastonbury was back at Worthy Farm after being cancelled for the past two years…a weakened pound made taking holidays oversees more expensive…the US finally dropped its Covid testing requirements three months after the UK and the rest of Europe…Wales decided to escape its ‘sheep, wet weather and rugby’ image, by reselling itself as offering adventure, food and drink to boost tourism…we got caught up in the airport chaos at Stansted on our way to Iceland…the “bloody chaos” at airports made front page news all week…there were 17-hour waits at Birmingham…at Glasgow Airport, the queues snaked into the car park…airport strikes also caused chaos in Amsterdam, Rome and Frankfurt…Norway opened its £520m art museum which houses the iconic The Scream by Edvard Munch…billionaire Sir Richard Branson launched a Virgin Atlantic flight from Heathrow to Austin, the capital of Texas…Bradford was named the 2025 City of Culture…American travellers were back in the UK and visiting Stratford-upon-Avon…we were in the middle of the Jubilee four-day bank holiday…the weekend ended with Ed Sheeran singing the national anthem in front of Buckingham Palace and the Queen waved from the balcony.

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Merry Christmas
Part 2…next week!

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