Where will the travel chaos land next? Everything you need to know for the UK school summer holidays
Chalkmarks: Prague, Czechia

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 22nd July 2022

Hello islanders, what you saying? Where’s your head at? Yes, we’ve been watching Love Island where they had a very important chat this week. Luca and Gemma discussed the difference between a holiday and a trip. Luca said he wanted to take Gemma on a skiing holiday but she said that wasn’t a holiday but a trip. Luca said a day out to Margate was a trip. Gemma said a holiday was sunbathing and everything else was a trip. Answers on a postcard please.
Back on this island, records were broken. The mercury hit 40.3C in Lincolnshire and inflation went up to 9.4 per cent. Elsewhere schools broke up, Parliament rose for the summer – wonder if MPs will be taking holidays or trips – and Boris Johnson said hasta la vista. Welcome to summer 2022. Here are this week’s travel headlines. 

Anyone seen my bag?

Record breaking: Not the weather, the traffic. The RAC has warns the great summer getaway starts today and predicts the roads this weekend will be the busiest they’ve been for eight years. Already this morning Sky News has reported four-hour queues at Dover, blamed on French immigration controls, but let’s not forget Brexit which made Britons third-country nationals who require more checks when entering the EU. The M25 has been singled out as a potential traffic jam hotspot as well as the A303 near Stonehenge, the M4 around Cardiff and M5 around Bristol. Their best advice is to leave early!

Destination Panorama: Every time we read about airports or airlines they’re struggling with a new problem: baggage lost here, mile-long queues there, delays just about everywhere…and this week it was “melting runways” . At Luton Airport this week flights were suspended when the tarmac buckled during the heatwave. The i reported.

Not getting where you want, when you want: On Monday BBC’s Panorama asked the big question: “What’s gone wrong?” It’s the answer we’ve all been waiting for. They unpacked the stats with the help of aviation data experts Cirium. We took notes.

The pain was plane to see: 17,000 flights or 3 million seats (enough passengers to fill Wembley stadium 33 times) have been cancelled this year with just three days notice given. 

Worst airlines: According to the programme easyJet and British Airways cancelled three out of every 100 flights while Ryanair and Jet2 cancelled one in every thousand flights.

Worst airports: Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester had all suffered big cancellations but performance of airlines were also a factor. Stansted, which has a similar number of flights as Manchester, had just 29 cancellations compared to the 223 flights in the northern city.  

So what has gone wrong: Airports were not ready and Brexit were suggested as reasons but aviation minister Robert Courts said that “doesn’t stack up” as there are staffing issues across the EU. Travel guru Simon Calder said last-minute cancellations was partly about airlines wanting to keep their take off and landing airport slots. This was denied. Then Airlines UK said delays weren’t the fault of poor planning by the airlines. Its policy director Rob Griggs told Panorama: “I don’t think there were wrong decisions made in terms of planning for the summer. Of course, it might be operationally on the day, different things perhaps could be done in different places.”

When will things better: In 2023! Panorama’s investigation didn’t reveal any great scoops. We already know that everyone wanting to go on holiday – at more or less the same time – after Covid restrictions lifted and when the airports and airlines had fewer staff has caused the chaos. It’s all added up to delays and cancellations – and there’s much more to come.

Top travel tip: If you like taking holidays and you’re worried about future disruption Which? editor Rory Borland gave some advice. Google the airport and the airline you’re planning on travelling with and check if they’re experiencing problems. He said: “…look around what’s happening at the airport near you, the airlines you’re considering, and make your decision based on that.” Keep calm and carry on (luggage).

Top travel tip 2: Holiday in the UK this summer and try again next year!

BIG lesson: Passengers MUST complain if they face delays. Calder said less than 40 per cent of people who are entitled to claim do so. He said if everybody asked for compensation the airlines would improve. Ultimately flyers are continuing to pay the price. When airlines cancel their services, prices on remaining flights, going to the same destination, sky rocket. Calder posted that flights to Berlin are already more than £900 with other destinations fully booked.

On Tuesday: The man at the top of Heathrow Lord Paul Deighton blamed the chaos on the airlines claiming the wages of ground handling staff have been “driven down over the years” so when it came to re-hiring after the pandemic the airlines weren’t willing to pay market rates and the roles went unfilled. Here it is in Travel Gossip.

Taking action: Then easyJet boss Johan Lundgren came along and declared he “can’t guarantee” passengers will not suffer more disruption this summer. But, he said, they had introduced “a number of measures” to avoid a repeat of the queues seen at Easter and over the Jubilee weekend. The Liverpool Echo had the story.

Some good news: The BBC reported Gatwick announced it had recruited 400 security staff to help things go “as smooth as possible” this summer.

A bit more good news: In travel trade magazine TTG we read that airline refuellers at union Unite called off a three-day strike at Heathrow – due to have started yesterday – as an 11th-hour pay offer was being considered.

But but but: Looking ahead to Wednesday rail workers in the RMT union will stage a one-day walk out on 27th July – and again on 18th August then on 20th August.

Elsewhere: Passports have power. The annual Henley Passport Index came out revealing that the Japanese have the best global access –  meaning they can travel to the greatest number of countries without requiring a visa. Singaporeans and South Koreas shared joint second place. Germans and Spaniards took third. Britons came in 6th place – up on 2021, when we reported the UK came in 7th.

Not rocket science: Passport boss Thomas Greig was called before MPs at the Home Affairs Select Committee to answer why people weren’t getting their passports on time – that’s within three weeks. There are currently 550,000 applications in the system with 55,000 stuck, having waited longer than 10 weeks. It turns out some passport staff are still working from home and an emergency hotline was closed due to hot weather. Then the fire alarm off went off. Don’t miss it, it’s in MailPlus. Spoiler: things aren’t going to get better for a “few months” aka 2023!

Foodie adventure: Mamma Mia. Pull up a stool, dangle your legs and get stuck into aperitivo. It’s not wrong to start a weekend break in Emilia-Romana, Italy, sipping a glass of Prosecco but it’s the perfect excuse to revisit the classics: Campari, Cinzano, the bright orange Aperol and even a sparkling Lambrusco. Bellissima. Italy is also a top spot for great food. From the moment you step off the plane, it’s ragu, lasagne, Mortadella ham, green olives and nearby Modena is home to Balsamic, delicious drizzled over gelato.  Here’s what we got up to when we went. Read all about it. 

Full-steam ahead: There’s free train travel in Spain from 1st September until the end of the year. Funded by a windfall tax on energy and finance sector the Spanish government announced free trips on short and medium routes and half-price tickets on longer trips. Yes Pedro! The Guardian had the story. This comes after we wrote about Deutsche Bahn launching a €9 (that’s £7.61) train ticket for travel anywhere in Germany this summer. 

Hasta la vista!

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