It’s plane to see: Airports are in chaos!
Chalkmarks: Gare du Nord

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 1st April 2022

Just when you thought spring had sprung, it starts snowing. It’s not even an April fool. And just when you thought travel was getting back to normal, there’s a sting in its tail.
As passenger numbers surge, airports are struggling to cope with high holiday demand. Twitter is alive with airport rage. There are queues at check-in, delays at security, lost luggage, IT meltdowns and flights being cancelled. This is partly caused by the hundreds of jobs that were cut during the pandemic and rehiring has not yet caught up.
We’ve been following the story this week so you don’t have to. Air we go! 

Holidays begin here!

Hard landing: The latest misery came for British Airways passengers checking in to Heathrow’s Terminal 5. On Wednesday, the airline suffered an IT failure which meant dozens of flights were grounded. It led to hours of disruption and queues outside the airport. Again? Yes, this is getting embarrassing. Back in February BA had to cancel flights due to another IT meltdown. Some on Twitter suggested it might be cheaper for the carrier to pay for a new computer system than having to pay out thousands in compensation. Helpfully, the Civil Aviation Authority explained how to get a refund. Heathrow apologised.

Bumpy: Which brings us to Edinburgh Airport. Its boss Gordon Dewar warned holidaymakers to be prepared for long delays this summer as staffing levels are still low following the pandemic, and will not pick up in time to deal with the surge in passengers in the months ahead. The BBC had the story.

Also struggling: It was the same story at Manchester Airport. According to the Manchester Evening News, there were long queues, staff storages and more computers glitches this week.

Runway reopens: In contrast Gatwick Airport has prepared for a boom in travellers. After 93 weeks of being closed, the south terminal reopened in time for the Easter and summer holidays. It’s expecting to see the number of flights increase from 300 to 570 a day from Sunday. It shut in June 2020 to reduce costs during the pandemic. During that time the terminal has had a refurbishment, including the shops and cafes.

Still sinking: Manage your expectations if you have a booking with P&O Ferries. It doesn’t look like anyone will be sailing anytime soon between Dover and Calais, Larne to Cairnryan, or from Hull to Rotterdam. The only route operating is between Liverpool and Dublin. Problems are set to go on for some time yet as its future is being decided. ITV News reported on Monday that the Pride of Kent vessel had been impounded for safety reasons. If in doubt what to do, ask Simon Calder? Here’s what he recommends.

Taking off again: BA made its first flight across the planet to arrive in Australia on Tuesday – the first time in two years. It’s popular London to Sydney (via Singapore) route was welcomed with great fanfare…and in the rain.  “Such a great moment to see the Union Jack back on our tarmac,” said Australia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom George Brandis. And Sydney Airport tweeted: “It’s terrific to welcome the airline back to SYD as it resumes one of the most iconic routes in international aviation (London-Sydney).”

How much? Brace yourselves when booking a holiday this year: costs are going up. First there’s the rising cost of fuel, the impact of sanctions and the ongoing war in Ukraine, and there’s the cost of living crisis, which is the current rise in inflation combined with the upcoming tax increases due this month. Which? has put together 11 tips to save on travel (within the UK), including checking for discounts and booking in advance.

Mais oui: Many countries are still locked down to unvaccinated travellers but yesterday (Thursday) France opened its borders to those who have not had a Covid jab, although they do need to present a negative test taken 72 hours before travel. France’s consul général Guillaume Bazard made the announcement on Twitter, while also saying the UK had been moved on to its green list, removing the need for the unvaccinated to quarantine.

And the winners are: The Schengen website reported that Greece, France and Portugal are the top three most-sought after European destinations for British holidaymakers this year. This comes as no surprise as they offer wall-to-wall sunshine. In October we went to the newly opened World of Wine in Porto, located on the banks of the Douro and the weather was just like summer had never ended. WOW celebrates port and all things wine – perfect for spring city break.

India is go: After two years, India reopened to international travel. Restarting tourism is high on the government’s agenda. Its tourism board tweeted the announcement on Sunday with “Namaste world”. It said: “Planning a trip to India? Finally the wait is over! As India is resuming scheduled commercial flights for international travellers from today, March 27th, 2022.”

Colombian magic: After Encanto won Best Animated Feature at the Oscars on Sunday, AFP took us to on a tour of the tiny town of Salento, in the west of Colombia, which inspired the Disney fairytale. Blockbuster films can attract thousands of visitors such as the Game of Thrones in Croatia and The Lord of the Rings in New Zealand has shown. Colombia could soon find out what an impact this win will have. 

Weekends away: If you want to skip the plane, let the train take the strain. Guardian Travel brought us 10 of the best train journeys in Europe – and they’ve done all the leg work adding the booking links. Taking the fast train to Europe’s hotspots isn’t always best, there’s the slow train from Paris to Barcelona and the Amsterdam to Vienna on the Nightjet.

Be more explorer: If you are after true escapism this year, visit Peru. It has an impressive reputation with coast and deserts in the west, jungle in the north, and the Andes – the longest mountain range on Earth – in the east. Each region has its own soundtrack. In Lima you’ll hear reggaetón and salsa, in the Amazon bird song and in Cusco the sweet sound of pan pipes on every corner. It’ll make you glad to be alive. Where to go? Here are some ideas.

Price is right: At some point, you’re going to stay in a Travelodge or Premier Inn – and not solely because they’re the cheaper option but because they tend to be central. If you want to stay in a city centre, and be within walking distance of shops, restaurants and a train station, these two brands tend to be the only choice. Here, Times Travel investigates the difference between the two budget classics.

One man went to mow: As a nation of gardeners it’s fitting that the Tower of London is getting a meadow makeover. More than 20 million seeds are being planted in to the moat to create a “superbloom” in time to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June. The stunning display will include blue cornflowers, red poppies and yellow corn marigolds. I wonder if we can bring a picnic in the summer?

On the road: National Express began in 1972 and this week celebrates its 50th birthday. To mark the occasion they are asking passengers to share their travel tales from seaside day trips and West End jaunts to airport runs and students heading home for Christmas.

Edinburgh entertainment: We’re spoiled for choice at this year’s Edinburgh Festival which is running its first full programme since 2019 after two years of Covid restrictions. This year also marks its 75th anniversary. With 87 events across 14 venues according to BBC, everyone’s welcome they said on Wednesday. Getting booking your spot on the Royal Mile. Here’s where we stayed.

And away…!

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