Iceland named as bucket list favourite and why breakfast is the key to beating jet-lag!
Chalkmarks: The hottest thing in Iceland: Geosea thermal waters

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 8th September 2023

IT WAS this time last year we were in Nottingham. It wasn’t a life changing jaunt but they don’t have to be. Some trips have that ‘before and after’ transformation. Our first solo trip was to Peru. We went to Arequipa, and it was love at first sight – waking up to El Misti everyday, jumping on combis, eating lomo saltado and drinking Inca Kola. From there we trekked the Inca trail in Cusco, we sailed on Lake Titicaca and we took a canoe out on the Amazon where a guide showed us trees crawling with tarantulas. We didn’t sleep that night. We danced salsa and merengue – and learned to speak Spanish, something we didn’t manage at school. And it was there we started to write – another thing we’d never done before. Since then we’ve been to 72 cities and counting. But Peru is our first love. If you’ve never been, it’s well worth a look. It just could change your life. On that note, here’s this week’s travel headlines.

The sun has put its hat on!

Crack out the ice bucket: The Northern Lights and the Blue Lagoon in Iceland make up two of the top three entries of the must-see travel destinations for the coming year. The nation has spoken according to the Post Office’s survey with watching the Northern Lights in the land of ice and fire number one, followed by seeing the world-famous Niagara Falls, in Canada, and third was bathing in the Blue Lagoon in southwest Iceland. The full list of 40 destinations, included the beaches in Bali, island hopping in Croatia, trekking the Inca Trail in Machu Picchu, Peru, and arriving in Venice by speedboat. It’s here on MailOnline,

We’ve been there! YESSSSS, from 31st October you will be able to fly direct to Akureyri, the capital of North Iceland. This port city is ready to rival Reykjavík for fun in the midnight sun! If you love fjords, volcanic landscapes, thermal spas, humpback whales, Eurovision, super-Jeeping, skiing, and the Northern Lights, it’s all up here. Did we mention the Icelandic fish and chips! Read our piece here in the i newspaper

Discover the moon: We travelled to the northern city of Akureyri – situated on the waterfront with the white peaks of the Eyjafjörður fjord in the background. 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 are 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. If you’re very lucky (we weren’t) you’ll see humpback whales. Best of all it’s just three hours from the UK. Check out our pix of the trip.

Refund request: Airlines this week demanded to be reimbursed for the chaos caused by last week’s air traffic control meltdown, which left up to 300,000 passengers stranded. They are calling for compensation from the National Air Traffic Service (Nats) to recoup an estimated £100 million they had to pay out in food and drink, hotel bills and rebooking passengers on alternative flights. Airlines UK boss Tim Alderslade said: “Airlines are seeking clarity on what options exist for Nats to cover our costs under the current legislation and will continue to engage with Government on all options for redress. We can’t have a situation whereby airlines carry the can every time we see disruption of this magnitude.” Interesting to watch this one. Now the shoe is on the other foot. Maybe there’s a number you could call? PA Media has the story.

Terms and conditions: The International Air Transport Association tweeted their frustration saying “Nats won’t pay a penny for their service failures. The system rewards Europe’s ANSPs for failure. Compensation incentivises performance. When will politicians act?”

Knock-on effect: Ryanair revealed around 63,000 of its passengers were affected with 350 of its flights were cancelled last Monday and Tuesday. Wizz Air said it cancelled 35 inbound flights due to the Nats failure. The Hungarian-based group said all other flights ran, even if with delays. Jet2 announced it had lost £13 million from disruption over the summer caused by the air traffic control chaos and wildfires in Rhodes at the end of July. Bloomberg has the details.

Computer says no: Nats, which manages UK airspace, is under no obligation to pay out for the dodgy flight plan that grounded thousands of flights on Bank Holiday Monday. Instead they tweeted they were again sorry, they had put safety first and a software update was due to take place. Its boss, Martin Rolfe said the chances of it happening again was a “one in 15 million”, because we’ve had 15 million flight plans through this system and we can be absolutely certain that we’ve never seen this set of circumstances before. I’m very confident that the changes we’re making here will prevent this incident from happening ever again.” AFP had the details.

What next: The Civil Aviation Authority will launch an independent review into the mayhem expected to take three months. And Transport Secretary Mark Harper said he was chairing a meeting yesterday “between Nats, the CAA and the aviation industry tomorrow (Thursday) to allow Nats to present its findings and consider initial feedback from airlines.” 

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!

Sightseeing: From next year, day-trippers to Venice will be charged €5 (today that’s £4.29) per day to visit the islands and see St Mark’s Square. The city council has yet to confirm the exact dates but says the fee will cover spring and summer weekends including Italian national holidays. ITV News has the story.

Food for thought: A big breakfast in the country you’ve just landed in can help counter the effects of jet lag. It’s science! According to American researchers feeling sluggish after a long flight is down to our body clocks getting out of whack cos’ our sleep and wake times have changed. The advice is have a large meal in the mornings, for three days after arrival to recover quicker, and to also walk in the sunshine. MailOnline has the study.

Make it stop: Last week Chalkmarks reported how the cost of airline add-ons, such as paying extra for speedy boarding and seat selection, had soared in the last ten years. And this week, the government launched a public consultation that could end the practice of what’s known as drip pricing – where you see one price on the advert and by the time you get to the check-out, the flight costs more. It’s estimated airlines make £81 billion charging for extras. An example of this came last month when an elderly couple printed the wrong boarding passes for their Ryanair flight to France. At the check-in desk at Stansted they were charged “£110 for 2 pieces of paper which took 1 minute. Shame on you [Ryanair],” said her daughter. Ryanair rage spread to 13 million people across TwitterX. Airlines argue add-ons benefit passengers because they only pay for what they want thereby making the flight cheaper for many. The BBC has some tips on have to avoid hidden extras.

This time last year: Travel like a Queen: A tribute to some of the places Her Majesty loved and inspired! The Queen died … We had a new King, Charles III … We dedicated our edition to Elizabeth II: the places she loved, and those she inspired … The Queen was the most travelled monarch having visited more than 100 countries across all four corners of the globe … She never even had a passport … There were Royal trains, planes, and even a cruise liner, the Royal Yacht Britannia, docked in Leith … Conde Nast Traveller called Her Majesty a travel icon … National Geographic said she was “gracious, determined, curious, confident, and long-lived” … Wanderlust magazine said simply she was the world’s greatest traveller … She loved Canada and Australia – the two countries she visited the most … The Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire was the Queen’s holiday home and where she died on 8th September.

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