Get ready to travel this autumn: Everything you need to know!
Credit: Stephen McLaren

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 2nd September 2022

AUTUMN rail strikes, Eurostar axes trains to Disneyland Paris and Gibraltar becomes a city…again! Your fact-packed, must-read weekly travel round-up…

Decisions decisions!

Deja vu again: Today German airlines Lufthansa has cancelled 800 flights due to a pilot strike. In the UK, 34 services from Heathrow and 11 from Manchester have been cancelled. Simon Calder has the details. 

Flight data has landed: This week we swapped news on airport delays for data on airport delays…and bizarrely the numbers weren’t that bad although the figures were for 2021 – so long before the travel chaos of 2022. According to the Civil Aviation Authority most flights ran late by about 8 minutes 30 seconds. And according to the Guardian, last year Wizz Air came out worst with delays of 14 minutes and 24 seconds. Tui came second worst on punctuality with an average delay of 13 minutes and 18 seconds and in third came British Airways running 12 minutes and 42 seconds late. Budget airlines easyJet and Ryanair came out on top with delays of around 5 minutes.

Clear your diary: Ryanair launched its biggest winter schedule of more than 3,000 daily flights from UK airports with new routes to Lapland, Finland, Rome, Italy, Stockholm, Sweden, and Grenoble, France. During a press conference Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary again said Heathrow was “hopeless”. The BBC had the story. In August we covered the story that O’Leary had announced the €10 ticket was over. Speaking on Radio 4’s Today he said:  “I think you will not see those fares for the next number of years.”

Look away now: Breaking news on Wednesday saw more rail strikes announced for later this month. Sky News reported that train drivers, who are members of Aslef, will walk out on Thursday 15th September. This will affect Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, LNER, London Overground, Northern, Southeastern, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains.

That’s not all: Members of TSSA also called a 24-hour strike on Monday 26th September affecting nine operators: Avanti West Coast, c2c, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway, LNER, Southeastern, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains.

And then: On Thursday the RMT joined in. The i Paper told us that 40,000 workers would ‘effectively shut down’ the rail network on Thursday 15th and Saturday 17th September. Union boss Mick Lynch said they had no choice after talks about pay broken down.

Home and away: For just few days this week The World arrived in Scotland. It visited Greenock as part of its continuous global travel itinerary. If you’re confused, The World is a cruise ship, better known as the largest private residential yacht, which is basically a floating home for millionaires. Each year the residents decide the itinerary and this year they decided to dock in Inverclyde for a few days – about the average port stay, before sailing off to the Netherlands. On board there’s 165 private homes, six restaurants, a cinema, lecture theatre, a gym, spa, shops, two pools, putting greens and a tennis court. Inverclyde Now had the scoop.

A ship of firsts: Celebrity Cruises took centre stage this year when it launched its biggest and most luxurious cruise ship, Beyond, in the UK. The liner sailed out of Southampton with horns blaring and ceremonial jets blasting water as crowds waved from the dock. Beyond marks the company’s cruising comeback since the pandemic, and signalled the start of the cruising season in Europe. This is first class travel on a boat: Expect Michelin-starred food, West End-style entertainment, plenty of cocktail bars, and of course sea views. This could be the best ship in the world. We were on board for a sneak preview.

Life on the high seas: Bionic bartenders that shake and stir 120 cocktails an hour, a skydiving windtunnel and a surfing simulator are all found aboard the Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas. This sea creature was built to seduce the IT crowd. Luddites be warned. There are virtual windows in the cabins that beam live views from the horizon, a virtual 75-piece Philharmonic orchestra and moving robo-screens in the entertainment theatre. But, there is plenty of razzmatazz to satisfy those less tech-savvy including a spa, eight swimming pools and 18 restaurants. We went on board when this $1 billion ocean liner launched in Southampton.

Continental drift: Eurostar announced it would axe its direct service from London St Pancras to Disneyland Paris – aka Marne-la-Vallee – from June 2023. The Sun had the story. The company said it wanted to focus instead on core routes: London to Paris and London to Brussels. Those wanting to visit the theme park next summer will have to go via Paris or Lille.

Rail-y good news: When Germany announced its €9 (£7.76) rail pass this summer, tickets sold like hot cakes. We wrote about this back in July. This week Euronews Travel revealed 52 million tickets sold in three months. Deutsche Bahn launched the deal in June to encourage sustainable travel – and the results showed that one in five people switched to trains for the first time. The best part was, the ticket was valid for unlimited journeys for one month. The downside was overcrowding but there are calls for it to become permanent. Watch this space!

City of the week: Gibraltar became a city… again! This was a quirky story that slid into the papers on Bank Holiday Monday. It turns out that earlier this year the British Overseas Territory aka the Rock – just off the southern tip of Spain – had applied for city status during the Queen Liz’s Platinum Jubilee year. Researchers started digging through the National Archives and found it had already been granted by Queen Victoria in 1842 and nobody ever knew (…somehow) as it hadn’t made any official list of recognised UK cities in 180 years. Boris Johnson said it was “excellent” news. The BBC had the story.

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