As the rain pours Spain soars: Last-minute bookings boom but flights prices are up 40%!
Chalkmarks: Amsterdam, Netherlands, February 2023

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 10th May 2024

GOOD day holidaymakers it’s Friday. This week as we check into another hotel we realise we’ve created a monster by just innocently saying “yes, of course”. In recent years as Chalkmarks has checked into hotels we are more frequently being asked to offer a credit card as a guarantee. At first we asked why? (We still ask why tbh?) The answer never makes sense to us. So, it’s a very hard conversation. We already paid upfront so why are we having to pay again? We’re told it’s because people steal things like pillows, bathrobes and kettles. As an aside: who wants a pillow that hundreds of people have slept on to take home – eugh? They have my address, passport and credit card details. Why is that not enough to come after me if I rob the stinky pillow? And why aren’t they up front and charge it on booking. Then the customer is informed and has the choice. Instead they surprise you with it on arrival. And the amount differs per hotel: it can be the cost of the first night, it can be a random £250, it can be £1. Is it legal? We don’t sign a contract – we just say  “yes, of course” and hand over the credit card. Then, strangely they refund the money back on check out before they’ve checked if we’ve stuffed the musty pillows in our suitcases. So, what was the point? Does anyone out there have any answers perlease?  Until then, here’s this week’s fluffy travel headlines. 

Travel happily ever after!

No escape: The number one travel story this week was the wifi going down at Heathrow. The outage meant the e-gates at passport control failed from around 7.45pm on Tuesday and didn’t come back on until just after midnight. Why did it take so long to press reboot sooner? Thousands of passengers got stuck having just landed and were made to wait in halls, corridors and even on their planes. It looks unlikely those who lost connections and onward bookings will get reimbursed but there is hope their insurance might payout. The Guardian has the full story.

Real escape: Britons have been looking out the window at the wind and rain and opening up their laptops to book trips to the sun. According to Advantage Travel Partnership, which represents 20 per cent of agents, there’s been a boost in bookings to flee the chilly spring. Kelly Cookes, the group’s chief ­commercial officer, said: “We’ve had a mix of people who have been looking at the weather for this weekend and ­booking super last-minute as well as people who are planning something for later in the month. But across the board demand for May is really strong, up 10 per cent on last year.” The Times has the story.

The pain in Spain: Airfares between UK and its favourite holiday destination Spain is up 40 per cent. Mabrian, a travel data ­company, says the average budget fare to Espaňa is now £156! Ever taken the ferry? We have! Which is cheaper? Flight or ferry?

Awkward: Qantas has been fined £62.9 million for selling flights it had already cancelled during the pandemic. Boss Vanessa Hudson said: “We know many of our customers were affected by our failure to provide cancellation notifications in a timely manner and we are sincerely sorry.” The BBC has more.

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!

Competition for Eurostar: The Man in Seat 66 wants to see more competition in the Channel Tunnel to help bring prices down. As the Chunnel turns 30, train geek Mark Smith (sorry to blow his cover) said: “We know that competition will keep a lid on those prices. We might see some extra destinations. The obvious one is Germany. A direct train to Cologne would be wonderful if they could find the space to put terminal facilities there.”

That’s priceless: Just when everything’s getting more expensive, now even the cost of free things is going up! On Thursday we heard the iconic Brighton Pier will charge a £1 admission from Saturday 25th May. First opened in 1899, it’s had a recent history of fire and neglect. With the promise of fun in its restaurants, bars and arcades the money will go to help pay for the pier’s upkeep and maintenance. The BBC has the story.

All at sea: Stockholm is a capital city of 14 islands built around Lake Mälaren. For a whistle-stop run down, the city is divided into neighbourhoods, and Gamla stan is its 13th century medieval heart made up of three islands: Stadsholmen, Riddarholmen and Helgeandsholmen. Here you’ll find the Royal Palace, Parliament Building, The Prime Minister’s home, Sager House, and City Hall where they feast after the Nobel Prizes have been handed out. You’ll also come across the Rune stone carving, the narrowest street, Mårten Trotzigs gränd, and the tiny statue Järnpojke or Iron Boy. Finish on Plaza Stortorget filled with its mustard-coloured buildings that are the backdrop to many holiday snaps. It’s filled with cafes and people sitting out on the pavement. Even though this is northern Europe, the Swedish capital can get super hot in July. With the sun beating down, it’s Scandi eye-candy. Oooh, hot dogs!

This time last year: Air we go! Ryanair orders 300 planes to fly holidaymakers to north Africa and the Middle East Ryanair announced it had ordered 300 brand new Boeing 737 Max jets as it sets its sights on flying holidaymakers to north Africa and the Middle East … Two days of rail strikes began causing disruption across the UK … Birmingham Airport was named the UK’s worst for its 30 minute flight delays … The big family holiday was  back – and that included trips with mum, dad, and even nana and grandad … And where are they going? SpainFrance and Italy topped the list … The Eurotunnel Le Shuttle was mocked on Twitter after it shared its new name: LeShuttle … It dropped the word Eurotunnel to avoid confusion with the Eurostar and unveiled a swish … On X someone posted: “They must have spotted a gap in the market.” … Also, the iconic National Express coach company was renamed Mobico … According to a survey 48 per cent of people, who set up tents and go camping, feel happy almost every single day, compared to 35 per cent of us who don’t camp!

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