The not so great getaway: Another week of travel trouble
Chalkmarks: Airport departures board, Porto, Portugal

Good Morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 8th April 2022

Holidays are back. Yes! Airports are not. It feels like 2021.
This time last year, travel bosses were frustrated when the government advised us not to book overseas holidays due to new variants and uncertainty over the vaccine rollout. PM Boris Johnson said restarting travel was too early to call. Heathrow boss John Holland Kaye said it was an opportunity lost.
Fast forward 12 months and it’s the airports and airlines that are having a wobble. For the first time in two years, airlines have seen a bookings boom, and with the first Bank Holiday of the year approaching with no travel restrictions or testing requirements, it felt like the clouds were finally lifting.
But then came two unexpected challenges: many airports haven’t recruited enough staff – having made hundreds redundant during the pandemic – to get passengers through check-in, security, and baggage claim in time to board their flights; plus airlines are cancelling services as crew are off sick with Covid.
All the national and regional papers carried coverage of the disruption this week. Scenes of chaos are definitely not what the industry needs. But delays are not affecting just planes, also trains, ferries and roads. Here is everything you need to know before you travel.

Checking in

Early Easter getaway: Each day this week has brought news of fresh flight cancellations. Some 1,143 services have been cut according to research from aviation experts Cirium, reported in the Mirror. Not all airlines are affected. The BBC explains why easyJet and British Airways have had to cut hundreds of scheduled flights due to Covid absences.

easyJet: The airline has cancelled almost 400 flights in total with another 42 cancelled today. The main routes affected are Gatwick to Agadir, and Bristol to Dubrovnik. Earlier in the week, flights to Krakow, Bologna and Berlin were cut.

British Airways: BA has cancelled 730 flights –  some at short notice – including 68 today. The airline announced it has reduced its schedule until the end of May to deal with rising Covid cases. Simon Calder has the cancellation details.

Manchester: Queues at 5am, piles of suitcases and cancelled flights adds up to one big nightmare for passengers flying out of Manchester Airport this week. After days of disruption captured by the Manchester Evening News, on Tuesday, Sky News reported airport managing director Karen Smart had stepped down. With the Easter Bank Holiday yet to come, delays are expected to continue as the airport struggles following job cuts during the pandemic. To get ready for your trip to the UK’s fourth busiest airport, the message today from its CEO Charlie Cornish is for travellers to arrive three hours before their flight. 

Heathrow: The UK’s busiest airport warned travellers of further disruption at its terminals also due to staff storages. Good Morning Britain reported on the long queues at check-in and e-gates. Strike action by baggage handlers over pay this weekend has been postponed…for now.

Birmingham: A surge in passenger numbers caused problems at airport security at Birmingham Airport, which has begun a recruitment drive. The Birmingham Mail said the jobs on offer include baggage staff, security officers, cleaners and sales assistants.

Holiday refunds: With holiday hopes plummeting for thousands caught up in the chaos, Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Expert shared what you need to do if your flight is cancelled or if you get stuck in long queues and miss the flight. Insurance is a smart move. And be prepared!

Driving: On the roads expect long traffic jams and tailbacks to popular seaside escapes over the Bank Holiday weekend. And expect rain! The AA has warned of long delays from Good Friday to Easter Monday. Here’s the warning in the Grimsby Telegraph.

Meanwhile at Dover: People hoping to catch a ferry to Calais and Dunkirk were stuck in nine-hour queues this week due to delays in Channel crossings following the suspension of P&O Ferries and bad weather. PA Media reported the gridlock was exacerbated by a lane closure on the M20, used to park HGV lorries. Known as Operation Brock this is designed to control the flow of traffic around the port and the Eurotunnel terminal, but instead has created a highway to hell for residents who spoke to Kent Online.

On the trains: Rail strikes will hit passengers from this weekend and for the next two months travelling on the TransPennine Express. The network is urging people not to use its trains as services will be greatly reduced. The industrial action starts this Sunday and will continue every Sunday “until further notice”, it announced on Twitter. Some Saturdays are also included. 

This will make you smile: Fancy working in a gift shop…in Antartica? The world’s most remote post office is looking for three members of staff at Port Lockroy on Goudier Island. Despite the temperature being -5C most days and taking showers dependent on passing ships, the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust tweeted the opportunity saying: “Dream of waking up & seeing Antarctica in all its glory? Penguins plodding around, the sun peeping over snow topped mountains. A job like no other.” Apply by 25th April!

Mais oui: Just off the coast of Cannes in the warm seas of the Côte d’Azur is the Mediterranean’s first underwater museum. Just a short ferry ride, near the island of Sainte-Marguerite, best known for the prison which once held the Man in the Iron Mask, are six 10-tonne sculptures. If you can afford it, stay on the Boulevard de la Croisette where the champagne flows like water.

Major music festival: Over the Bridge is a brand new three-day festival in Edinburgh this summer. Set for 29th to 31st July, the line up already includes Razorlight, James Arthur and Ella Eyre. The event aims to bring live music back into the city and will be held at Raeburn Place sports ground in Stockbridge. Check the listings at What’s on Edinburgh. Tickets go on sale today.

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