Pandemic continues to cause thousands of flight cancellations

Airlines across the globe are having to cancel thousands of scheduled flights as the Covid pandemic continues to cause travel chaos at one of the industry’s busiest times of the year.

Monday and Tuesday of this week saw a combined total of 5,600 flights cancelled globally, with a further 19,000 flights delayed, CNN has reported, quoting figures from tracking website FlightAware.

Globally, airlines cancelled more than 6,000 flights on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, many of the cancellations due to airline staff and crew calling in sick.

In the United States, more than 1,200 flights were cancelled and more than 5,000 were delayed on Sunday alone due to staff absences.

Delta said it was working to get all stranded travellers home as quickly as possible, saying in a statement, ‘We apologise to our customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans. Delta people are working hard to get them to where they need to be as quickly and as safely as possible on the next available flight.’

Though not to the same extent, European airlines are also experiencing cancellations. German airline Lufthansa has announced that it will cancel 10 percent of its winter flight schedule due to problems inflicted by the burgeoning effects of the pandemic. Its CEO Carsten Spohr spoke to German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung last week saying that that due to ‘a sharp drop in bookings’ the airline will have to cancel 33,000 flights from mid-January to February 2022, or 10 percent of the group’s winter flight schedule.

Bristol Airport to hold Horrible Histories drive-in Christmas show

Bristol Airport has announced that Car Park Panto, in partnership with the Birmingham Stage Company and Horrible Histories, will organise two performances of Horrible Christmas at the airport on December 19.

In response to increased demand from around the UK as many Christmas events are being cancelled due to Covid 19, Car Park Panto and others will hold a performance of Horrible Christmas at Bristol Airport on December 19.

Staging one of the most popular family festive highlights in a car park, Horrible Christmas presents the evolutionary story of Christmas celebrations, enabling families to enter into the festive spirit in a safe, socially distanced manner from the comfort of their own car. The live theatrical show through the history of Christmas will feature Victorian villains to medieval monks, Puritan parties to Tudor treats, as well as prominent faces likes Charles Dickens, Oliver Cromwell, King Henry VIII and St Nicholas.

Horrible Histories Actor-Manager Neal Foster of Birmingham Stage Company, said: ‘We were thrilled to be invited to take part in the run of Car Park Party events around the country and were overwhelmed by the response of the audience, who were clearly delighted and relieved to see actors live on stage again. I was totally surprised by just how well Car Park Theatre worked and loved the whole collective experience.’

‘We can’t wait to be back on stage in cities and towns that will be crying out for a Christmas show to entertain their families. As you’d expect from Horrible Histories, it’s not a traditional pantomime, but a journey through the story of Christmas in the company of the season’s most fabulous characters. It’s the perfect story for families this winter, as one young boy battles to save Christmas for the world, in this hilarious, joyous and moving celebration.’

Andrew Morris, Retail Operations Manager, Bristol Airport said, ‘We are delighted to be able to host CAR PARK PANTO, in partnership with the Birmingham Stage Company and Horrible Histories, two amazing performances of HORRIBLE CHRISTMAS at Bristol Airport on 19th December. This year more than ever families need to have the opportunity of enjoying theatre, entertainment and performances in a Covid safe way. This innovative approach will ensure that Christmas cheer and fun can be enjoyed by all the family.’

There are limited tickets for each show priced at £47 per car (£2.50 booking fee applies). Tickets and Terms are available at

Jet2 expands New York programme from Manchester and Newcastle Airports for next winter and Jet2CityBreaks, the UK-based travel and holiday company, has expanded its number of direct New York flights operating from Manchester and Newcastle Airports for next winter.

In total, there are seven additional trips now on sale from Manchester Airport, timed for holidaymakers looking for a Christmas experience in New York. The new trips announced from Manchester Airport will depart on November 29, December 2, December 9, December 13 and December 16, in addition to a Christmas in New York special on December 22 and New Year in New York trip on December 28.

These extra services are in addition to the existing programme of trips and services from Manchester Airport, which include a Black Friday trip departing on November 27, as well as Christmas Shopping and Winter in New York trips on November 30, December 4, December 7, December 11, December 14 and December 18.

From Newcastle Airport, there are now five trips on sale, timed for holidaymakers looking to celebrate Thanksgiving, as well as experience the festive season in the city. The full programme of four-night trips means flights depart from Newcastle Airport on November 22, November 26, December 3, December 6 and December 17.

Further, Jet2 has introduced a total of 27 New York trips from across six of its UK bases for Winter 20, with over 8,500 departing seats on sale in total. In addition to the flights with, there are package city-breaks for sale with Jet2CityBreaks across 3-5 star hotels in central New York locations.

Steve Heapy, CEO of and Jet2CityBreaks said: ‘Next winter’s programme of once-in-a-lifetime specials to New York are proving to be extremely popular, so we have responded to that by doubling the number of trips on sale from Manchester Airport, and adding another fantastic trip from Newcastle Airport. This means we have 14 magical trips to New York on sale from Manchester next winter, and five trips on sale from Newcastle. With Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Black Friday and Thanksgiving covered, holidaymakers have never had so much choice when it comes to getting to the Big Apple at this special time of year.’

British Airways announces Christmas holiday breaks to European destinations

British Airways has announced Christmas festive getaway programmes to European winter destinations and Christmas markets including Berlin, Innsbruck, Stockholm and Vienna from major UK airports, with fares starting from £129 per person.

Starting November 27 to December 26, 2017, British Airways Holidays (BAH) will offer a two-night holiday from Heathrow to Berlin, with stay arranged at the three-star Days Inn Berlin West, from £149 per person. The German capital has more than 60 Christmas markets across the city throughout November and December.

Starting November 15 to January 6, 2018, BAH will offer two-night holidays to Innsbruck from London Gatwick, with stay arranged at the four-star Alphotel Innsbruck, from £179 per person.

From December 1 to December 24, BAH offers three-night holiday breaks to Nuremberg from Gatwick, with its famous Christkindlesmarkt on the Hauptmarkt square in the old quarter, among other city and market experiences. The stay is arranged at the four-star NH Forsthaus Furth Nurnberg hotel, from £209 per person. Starting December 2, 2017 to January 6, 2018, BAH will offer two nights to Prague from London Heathrow, with stay arranged at the four-star Duo, from £129 per person. Christmas markets are held in the Old Town Square (Staromestske namesti) and the Havelska market (Havelske trZiSte).

Further, from November 19 to December 23, 2017 BAH is offering UK holidaymakers from Heathrow a chance to enjoy Stockholm’s Christmas markets – some of the most traditional in Europe with the Skansen on the park island of Djurgarden. The two nights stay is at the three-star Scandic Prince Philip, from £159 per person. In addition, from November 18 to December 30, 2017, BAH is offering, from Heathrow, two-holidays to Vienna. The stay is arranged at the three-star Donauwalzer hotel, from £129 per person.

Tickets can be booked until October 31, and includes Euro Traveller return flights and accommodation with breakfast, the airline said.

British Airways to fly over 2.7 million customers during Christmas period

British Airways is expecting to fly its biggest ever operation – carrying nearly 2.7 million customers over the festive Christmas period this year – following the addition of 20 new aircraft into its fleet since last year.

On December 25, 817 pilots will be operating 267 flights across the airline’s network and 3,500 cabin crew will serve customers more than 37,000 turkey dinners, along with opening thousands of champagne bottles. The busiest day for the season will be Friday December 19, with some 129,000 people flying.

The top destinations for a Christmas break are Dubai, Barbados, New York, Australia and Barcelona, BA said.

In addition to the general in-flight entertainment system, the airline will be airing a selection of TV programmes and the holiday classic ‘Home Alone’. Christmas specials showing on board during the festivities include: Doctor Who, The Big Bang Theory, Friends, Family Guy, Mrs Brown’s Boys, The Vicar of Dibley, One Foot in the Grave, Gordon Ramsay’s Christmas Home Cooking, and for children – ‘Gangsta Granny’.

BA is also showing Doctor Who Earth Conquest, a documentary filmed during the British TV show’s recent world tour, of which British Airways was an event sponsor. From Boxing Day, passengers will also be able to watch the Queen’s annual address.

Audio albums on board include ‘Advent Calendar’ by The Choir of Somerville College, Oxford, with traditional carols including The Twelve days of Christmas, Silent Night and In the Bleak Mid-Winter, as well as ‘Christmas the Collection’ and ‘4 Girls 4 Harps’ featuring O Holy Night, Deck the Halls and Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

British Airways is also set to launch its ‘thank-you’ campaign, featuring images sent in from customers from their travels around the world. The 70-second video will feature on the airline’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and G+ platforms. The video will also play on the airline’s in-flight entertainment system. In addition, travellers will be asked to recommend destinations for 2015 by uploading their images to Instagram.


London Gatwick apologises to passengers affected by travel chaos, offers £100 in good will

Gatwick Airport (GA) has said that it is extending its sincere apologies to all passengers who were affected by the disruption on Christmas Eve.

The extremely adverse weather in the UK, including heavy rain storms, caused flooding of all waterways around Gatwick Airport. The flood waters also caused significant damage to electrical substations and switch rooms, which resulted in power supply disruption to the North Terminal.

As a result, several flights were cancelled and others were subject to significant delays causing considerable inconvenience for passengers.

Stewart Wingate, London Gatwick chief executive, said: ‘We appreciate that lots of our passengers were travelling to be with their families over the festive period and we are sorry that flights were cancelled and passengers left disappointed, particularly at this time of the year.’

London Gatwick will now offer GBP100 of high street vouchers to each passenger whose flight was cancelled on Christmas Eve as a gesture of goodwill and in recognition of the exceptionally difficult circumstances.

Affected passengers may email with evidence of their booking on a flight due to depart from or arrive at Gatwick Airport on December 24, 2013, and with their postal address. After verifying the details, a voucher for GBP100 will be posted to passengers within 28 days of the application for payment.

Following the incident, London Gatwick had worked with its airport partners to help support passengers, ensuring that 414 of the 535 scheduled flights departed and arrived safely. Ever since all efforts have been focused on restoring the North Terminal to its full operation and a full schedule of flights was operated on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and thereafter.

Gatwick, which has invested over £12m on improving the flood defences, has introduced several short term measures since Tuesday to reduce the risk of such incidents recurring.

In addition, a full review will be undertaken, led by David McMillan, the former director general of Eurocontrol and a non-executive director of Gatwick Airport. The report and recommendations are expected to be published in February 2014.


Heathrow predicts British Christmas to be enjoyed across the world

Heathrow Airport has said that the trappings of a traditional British Christmas will be enjoyed across the world this festive season.

Britain’s biggest transport interchange is expecting a record year for sales of popular UK products, including English tea, Scottish salmon and single malt whisky. During November and December, international visitors departing from Heathrow purchase more than 918 tonnes of British products to bring a touch of Great British style to their festivities.

According to Dana Jaber, a personal shopper at Heathrow, the type of items passengers are looking for have changed significantly in the last five years. While English tea sold at Heathrow is popular with Chinese passengers, Turkish and Japanese passengers are the key buyers of Scottish Malt Whisky, and Middle Eastern passengers are the biggest customers for sealed Scottish salmon. The most popular British brands include Mulberry and Jo Malone.

Dana Jaber said: ‘More than 5.8 million travellers will pass through Heathrow this Christmas, searching for a little piece of Britain to take home. Thanks to the Royal Wedding, the Olympics and more recently the birth of Prince George, the desirability of British brands has never been higher. Visitors are keen to take home a little piece of the UK for their own Christmas celebrations.

‘The Asian market – including mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore – like the romance and heritage of a traditional British Christmas, and tend to go for items that allow them to recreate British traditions at home,’ she added.

Heathrow’s Personal Shopping service is open to all passengers and no minimum spend is required. Home delivery is available to those travelling within the UK or the EU, and is free when passengers spend £300 or more at Heathrow and use a Heathrow Rewards card. For passengers without a Heathrow Rewards card the service is free, subject to a minimum purchase of £500.00.

Busy travellers can also choose and order from a wide range of products available at the airport by using the free online service, Heathrow Boutique, to reserve and collect items. The web address

Christmas, a Time of Lost Gifts at Premier Inn

Even as the Christmas celebrations come to an end, at Premier Inn, a UK-based hotel brand from Whitbread PLC, gifts are still very much on the agenda as the group collates its annual list of left or lost gifts at its branded properties across the country.

Travel Inn has collated a list of forgotten Christmas gifts, left in rooms by its guests, which includes 18 Christmas jumpers, a pair of tickets to VIVA Forever, a set of diamond earrings, a set of Little Mix dolls, a Bradley Wiggins’ autobiography, a Furby, a One Direction fan t-shirt, and 17 copies of one of the best-selling books of 2012, Fifty Shades of Grey.

The company has also reported finding around 25 rolls of leftover wrapping paper, 137 blank Christmas cards and two homemade Christmas cakes.

Claire Haigh, the head of communications for Premier Inn, said, ‘We are surprised at the variety of gifts that our team members have discovered in the hotels this festive season. Christmas day may be over, but we will continue to spread the festive joy by going the extra mile to ensure that these presents are returned to their rightful owners.’

Premier Inn will be re-launching its Premier Inn Gifts Reunited Service at its Facebook page,, where guests may post a comment if they have lost a Christmas present, and it will be shipped back to them as soon as possible.

The brand is offering room nights priced at £29 for the winter season, for popular locations that include Exeter, Bournemouth, Liverpool, York and others in the UK. For an extra payment of £22.99 per person, the hotel group is also offering a three-course meal, a drink of choice, and a Premier breakfast the next day.

The group, with around 600 hotels across the UK and Ireland, has Recently won the Best Leisure Hotel Chain award at the British Travel Awards 2012.

Car rental companies step in to ease Christmas travel woes

For those travellers concerned with holiday travel problems in the UK during the Christmas period, reassurances are being offered by the UK’s car rental services, which are available to bridge the gap left by scheduled maintenance work on the rail service, and strike action called by ASLEF, the London Underground drivers’ union.

Car rental brokers, Holiday Autos, said, ‘We understand how expensive travel can be. Whether for work or leisure, transport is becoming one of the most expensive outgoings in many households so the government’s recent u-turn on an increase in fuel prices is a welcome one.

However, the Christmas and New Year holidays are the one time of year when friends and family should be able to get together and we are committed to finding drivers the best deals to make sure that doing that doesn’t break the bank.’

Previously, Heathrow Express, an express train service from London Heathrow Airport to London Paddington station, had stated on its website that, ‘Due to essential Crossrail improvement works, Heathrow Express will not be running any services between London Paddington and Heathrow Airport on December 25 and 26.

Our inter terminal transfer service between Heathrow Terminal 4 and Terminals 1 & 3 will continue to run in line with the planned timetable. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.’

With regard to its strike action on Boxing Day, ASLEF commented, ‘The union is being blamed for taking industrial action on London’s tube network on Boxing Day. The real fault lies with a management that has failed both us and the public.’

The car rental companies have urged their customers to book early to avoid being disappointed.

Heathrow Passengers May Face Travel Woes on Boxing Day

Passengers travelling to London Heathrow Airport by rail may face disruptions on December 26, 2012.

Transport for London (TfL), the UK-based government agency responsible for the transport system in Greater London, has reported that ASLEF, the union of tube drivers, has announced strike action on that day, coinciding with a planned maintenance work announced by Network Rail on the Heathrow Express or Heathrow Connect network connecting to the airport.

A Heathrow Express statement on its website said, ‘Due to essential Crossrail improvement works, Heathrow Express will not be running any services between London Paddington and Heathrow Airport on December 25 and 26.

Our inter terminal transfer service between Heathrow Terminal 4 and Terminals 1 & 3 will continue to run in line with the planned timetable. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.’

Transport of London said, ‘In general, train services will finish earlier than usual on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve, and start later in the day on the Thursday 27 December and Tuesday 1 January. There are no trains running on Christmas Day (some buses will run for Airport services), and only a limited service running around the London and Glasgow areas on Boxing Day.

No trains run in Scotland on New Year’s Day, while some Operators run additional early morning trains from London on New Year’s Day morning following the celebrations in central London.’

The agency has also issued its online annual Festive Travel Guide for London residents and visitors travelling in the city during the Christmas holiday period, offering detailed information on Tube, buses, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), Tramlink, London Overground, Emirates Air Line, Riverboat services, Barclays Cycle Hire and the Congestion Charge.