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Chalkmarks: Winterful photo: The harbour at Húsavík, North Iceland

Good afternoon. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 10th June 2022

When we learned we could travel again, we signed up for our summer holiday. We all did. Travel companies were advertising deals and the prices looked good. We wanted to seize the day and live the dream. We wanted to travel but the transport system wasn’t ready.
And this week we got caught up in the airport chaos. But we learned a secret to a happier wait: find the airport hotel! Our flight wasn’t just delayed it was eventually cancelled. Waiting in the terminal would have driven us crazy. There were passengers sitting on the floor, Costa Coffee was heaving. The airport hotel though was just across the way and was empty. I ordered two shots at the bar and a bottle of fizz – double espresso and a water. I took a seat in a comfy chair and stirred in the sugar. From here calls were made and we waited it out. It was still a drag but we had lunch on a plate with cutlery (a cheese toastie and chips). There were power sockets and the TV was on. It was the perfect escape. Plus, it gave us the chance to catch up with the news. The same headlines were back this week with strikes and flight cancellations. Here we go.

Break away!

Flight cancellations: Today Bristol Airport had become overcrowded from 4am. The i Paper reported that groups of men on stag dos had created an “awful atmosphere” in the terminal with bars running out of beer by 6am. The airport saw 14 departures cancelled today. The i Paper had also seen a four-page letter from easyJet’s French pilots warning there was more chaos ahead. It comes after the airline cancelled 70 flights today and 60 flights yesterday, which affected 10,000 passengers. On Thursday easyJet said there had been knock on effects on services following strikes in Italy and France but that they were operating more than “1,700 flights”. Simon Calder had the full story, naming the three European airports facing the most cancellations as Heathrow, Amsterdam and Gatwick.

This has to stop: These are the words from Which? magazine, which has started a petition calling for better treatment of passengers, and for the regulator, the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) to be granted new powers to enforce the law when travellers demand compensation.

Some hope: The government has launched a survey inviting passengers to share their experiences at airports over the past few weeks. Ahead of a meeting with travel bosses next week, they want to know how people have been treated by airlines and whether they have yet been compensated. The survey ends on Sunday (12th June). Travel Weekly has the details and here is the survey if you want to take part.

Best tip: Use a travel agent when booking. After speaking to travel agents this week, Chalkmarks has heard that many complaints we read are about passengers who booked direct with the airline – although operator TUI has cancelled flights too. But if you use a travel agent you’re in a stronger position. They tend to do the calling and the rearranging for you when things go wrong. They are responsible for ensuring your holiday takes off and they know when it’s time to request compensation. They say that often travellers have a knee-jerk reaction and demand a refund – but this can benefit the travel company. If you stay with the airline or operator they are responsible for you until you get home. Once safely back, you can then look at compensation. If you take a refund in the heat of the moment while abroad, you risk being left to find your own way home, which can take much longer and costs much more.

What to do: Abta, the association of British travel agents, has put together a Q&A answering dozens of questions about travellers’ rights and even what to do if you want to cancel your up-coming trip. Telegraph Travel put together “Eight things you should know if your flight is cancelled” that includes insisting on accommodation.

Strike: June is the month of national rail strikes and London Underground walkouts. More could be on the cards this summer as the union boss from TSSA (Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association) announced today they were balloting their members in the coming weeks. The union tweeted: “Make no mistake, we are preparing for all options, including coordinated strike action which would bring trains to a halt.” Strikes are already planned after union Aslef announced on Thursday a walkout from June 23 and July 14 and the RMT rail workers will shut down the country’s train network on 21st, 23rd and 25th June. Bloomberg says the three days of strike action could cost the UK economy £100m.

Pride: Pride events have already kicked off around the world with many more to come this month. Millions are expected to take part in colourful parades to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. Times Travel put together a run-down of marches and parties around the world.

Forget the Med: With so many Britons heading south for summer sun, why not look up and head to Northern Europe. Think Copenhagen (Denmark), Helsinki (Finland), Oslo (Norway) or Stockholm (Sweden). Summer in these cities is warm, hot even. You don’t need thermal underwear. We headed to Stockholm where the temperature in July hit 30C!

Nordic art: Norway opens its £520m ($650m) art museum tomorrow (Saturday) in  Oslo – the largest in Nordic region. They’ve worked hard to get this right with the project taking eight years following funding issues. But finally they have brought together the collections of five Norwegian art and design galleries. It will include the iconic masterpiece The Scream by Edvard Munch. Reuters had the news.

Discover the moon: When I think of Iceland, I think ice. I think cold and freezing. I’d pack thermals, scarfs, big jumpers, thick socks and a hot water bottle. But I’m here in June, it’s green. It’s 17C. It’s summer! Basically forget Tenerife – here they have the midnight sun – that’s 24hr daylight. I need my sunglasses on all day long! Niceair, a brand new airline, is launching a direct route from Stansted to North Iceland, to the city of Akureyri in July. It’s a very good looking city sitting on the waterfront with the white peaks of the Eyjafjörður fjord in the background. If you’re very lucky (I wasn’t) humpback whales will swim in to the fjord. Otherwise you have to take a boat trip where the chance of seeing them is 90 per cent. I was in the 10 per cent. But there’s more. This place is a gem. It’s filled with unique volcanic landscape where Nasa astronauts train, there are natural thermal spas where the water is 40C, there’s waterfalls, lava fields, puffins and a Eurovision museum. In the winter it becomes the best spot for skiing and seeing the Northern Lights. And all this before you have done anything interesting, like super Jeeping. Best of all it’s just three hours from the UK. Did I mention there’s Icelandic fish and chips?

Howdy, another new flight: For those who love a star-spangled holiday, billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson has launched a Virgin Atlantic flight from Heathrow to Austin, the capital of Texas. They’re hoping the flight, set to fly daily from next year, will tempt people to the city which was voted the number one best place to live in the US in 2019. There’s mountains, bike trails and with sunshine all year round it’s an outdoor destination. Check it out.

Loving Shakespeare: American travellers are back in the UK and visiting Stratford-upon-Avon. According to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, in May, 61 per cent of international visitors were from the US. Rachael Boyd, director of visitor experience at the trust, said: “It is fantastic to see our international visitors returning to the home of Shakespeare.” Some of the most popular buildings to visit include the 16th-century half-timbered house on Henley street where Shakespeare was born and his family home where he died in 1616. The Stratford Observer had the news.

Bucket list tick!

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