Travel news latest: UK airports face busiest weekend of the year as Britons flock to Europe

·21-min read
standsted airport
standsted airport

Airports and airlines are set for the busiest weekend of the year so far, as the start of the school summer holidays signals a mass departure to Europe’s holiday hotspots.

Heathrow Airport is expecting to welcome 128,289 passengers over the weekend, with more than 66,000 expected in its terminals on Saturday alone.

“We’re thrilled to see the terminals coming to life again, with most of the shops and restaurants now reopened. We have additional colleagues on hand to ensure our passengers have a smooth journey,” said CEO John Holland-Kaye, following reports earlier this week that the UK’s flagship airport was in danger of grinding to a halt.

Airlines are also warming their engines ahead of a busy weekend. easyjet is preparing to carry over 135,000 passengers on 251 flights from the UK, on over 80 routes to green- and amber-list destinations across Europe.

“With schools breaking up for summer this weekend sees the busiest weekend so far this year and we are looking forward to taking as many people as we can on that long-awaited and well-deserved trip,” said Ali Gayward, easyJet’s UK manager.

Likewise, Jet2 has 100 more flights taking off this weekend, compared to last, to 40 destinations, compared to six a week ago.

01:27 PM

What to do if you test positive for Covid while on holiday

The traffic light system is enabling British holidaymakers to travel once again, but even visitors to green list countries are required to take a test before returning to the UK.

All being well, it will be negative, your airline will allow you to board and Border Force will let you in.

But what if you test positive? Here we detail what to do if you catch coronavirus on holiday, home or abroad.

What do I if I feel unwell on holiday?

TravelHealthPro, the Government’s travel health website, has issued the following advice:

"If you develop symptoms of new continuous cough, high temperature or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia) while abroad or during travel, you should immediately:

  • Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people.

  • Call your health provider and/or insurance company to discuss what you should do. Remember that if you have been in a malaria affected area in the last year, it is important to exclude malaria as a cause of high temperature (blood test required).

  • Follow local public health guidance if available.

  • If you become unwell at an airport, bus or train station before or during a long trip, seek medical advice and do not start or continue your journey.

  • If you test positive for Covid-19 while abroad you will need to follow local public health advice regarding self-isolation. You should expect to self-isolate in the country you are in, so you may need to stay longer than planned. Plan ahead for any possible delays to your return home and the entry requirements at your next destination.

  • Once you have fully recovered, check with your health provider if you are fit to travel, before any onward travel.

01:15 PM

Travel chaos: Train services cancelled across England due to staff shortages

It's not just busy airports and roads that holidaymakers might have to cope with in the next few weeks. Those travelling by train could also have contend with cancelled services.

Reduced train timetables will be introduced across England to try and improve reliability after multiple services were cancelled last-minute due to staff having to self-isolate.

Thameslink and Southern will cut their weekday timetables on five routes from Monday "until further notice".

Avanti West Coast is also cutting trains from Monday on its routes between London Euston and Manchester, Birmingham and North Wales.

London Northwestern Railway will offer a revised timetable with fewer services from Saturday.

01:04 PM

‘Amber Sands’ – the best beaches in Europe without quarantine

Travel to the Continent was supposed to become simpler this week, with the easing of quarantine rules for fully vaccinated travellers returning from amber list countries, but there remains a rich tapestry of guidance when it comes to hitting the beach.

While most countries continue to ask that masks be worn indoors, some require them to be donned outside, even for those visiting the coast, until you have reached your sun lounger.

We’ve handpicked a selection of the finest beaches Europe has to offer, in places where you don’t have to end up with cheeky tan line.

Read the full story here.

Even Italian insiders gasp when they see Tropea for the first time  - istock
Even Italian insiders gasp when they see Tropea for the first time - istock

12:54 PM

France eases entry restrictions for South Africa

France has announced that fully vaccinated travellers from South Africa will now be able to visit the country, without the need for quarantine.

A travel ban was enacted in April in an attempt to stop the spread of the beta variant, which has shown some evidence of vaccine escape. Since then, entry has only been granted to France residents. These travellers have been required to provide evidence of a negative PCR test and undertake a 10-day quarantine on arrival.

12:36 PM

Comment: Four hours of traffic for the beach made me realise I'm holidaying all wrong in the UK

Don’t swarm to the sea like turtle hatchlings but find a spot on the coast that you can have all to yourself, writes Laura Fowler.

Dungeness beach and the nature reserve were deserted while nearby Camber Sands heaved with people 
Dungeness beach and the nature reserve were deserted while nearby Camber Sands heaved with people

Now that the sun has finally reappeared, our herd instinct is to head for the sea, like turtle hatchlings. And so, on the hottest day of the year, I made for Camber Sands, one of the South East’s loveliest beaches, along with tens of thousands of others.

After sweltering in gridlocked traffic for the final hot hour of our four-hour journey, we bailed out before we had reached the sands of Camber, setting up instead at the mouth of Jury’s Gut Sewer, which is nicer than it sounds. Though we had a splendid time – swimming, skimming stones – eventually I could bear the FOMO no longer and decided to walk the final two miles to see what we were missing.

Imagine Reading Festival crossed with Notting Hill Carnival. There were tents, blankets, parasols and windbreaks. The air seethed with clashing sound systems and smoke from joints and catering-sized barbecues. After hours of sitting stationary in their cars, incensed latecomers had decided to sit outside them instead, decanting dogs, camping chairs and beer coolers on to roadsides where they couldn’t even see the sea. They really could have been anywhere.

Read the full story here.

12:25 PM

Tuks-tuks in trouble as Bangkok cases surge

Tuk-tuks and garishly coloured taxis that once weaved through chaotic Bangkok traffic are sitting idle in storage as a fresh Covid surge scuttles hopes of relief for Thailand's tourism-dependent economy.

Tuks tuks  - AFP/Getty
Tuks tuks - AFP/Getty

The kingdom is currently undergoing its worst-ever stretch of the pandemic after largely keeping Covid contained when the illness first emerged last year.

Bangkok is subject to a night-time curfew and a ban on gatherings as authorities advise residents of the capital to stay home.

"Tourists, people going to work, shopping, hanging out with friends – these are our customers but they've all vanished," said taxi driver Anuchit Surasit.

12:10 PM

How to navigate this weekend’s holiday rush


School’s out, and many families around the country will be packing their bags for what could be their first holiday abroad in many moons. This is also the first weekend that fully vaccinated British travellers have been exempt from quarantining when returning home from amber-list countries, meaning it’s likely to be a busy few days at Britain’s airports.

Unfortunately, travelling abroad is no longer just about remembering your passport and a plastic bag for your toiletries. These days there is a web of admin to sort out, including (but not limited to) test results and passenger locator forms.

In the stress of organising all your documents, it’s important not to forget simple details that could derail a trip, such as arriving early to the airport and bringing a face mask. Here’s your survival guide for navigating this weekend

11:47 AM

'Staggering' drop in sequencing of PCR tests to track Covid variant

Potential Covid variants are entering the UK unchecked as the rate of positive tests being genome sequenced from amber-listed countries has fallen to just three per cent, official figures show.

The analysis shows that just 44 - or three per cent - of the 1,388 positive test results on people arriving from amber countries in the three weeks to June 30 were genome sequenced to identify variants. That compares with 61 per cent in the three weeks to March 17.

There was a similar decline even for travellers returning from red list countries - including South Africa, South America and India where three of the variants first emerged.

Charles Hymas has the full story here.

11:13 AM

Australian ski resorts devastated by new lockdown

The state of Victoria in Australia has entered its fifth lockdown, forcing ski resorts to close once again amidst the busiest period of the winter season.

Recent snowfall had given local businesses hope that they might be able to recoup the loses made during the lockdown last year, which lasted most of the winter.

Instead, they are now left to issue refunds and postpone bookings.

11:02 AM

Heathrow Airport set for busiest weekend of the year

Thousands of British holidaymakers are packed and ready to jet off on their summer break, and airports and airlines are ready to welcome them, in their droves.

This weekend is set to be the busiest weekend of the year so far at Heathrow, with the airport set to welcome 128,289 passengers. Saturday will be the busiest day of the year so far, with the airport expected to welcome 66,383 passengers. On Sunday, 61,906 passengers are forecast to pass through its terminals.

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow CEO, said:

This weekend is set to be one of the busiest of the year so far. We’re thrilled to see the terminals coming to life again, with most of the shops and restaurants now reopened. We have additional colleagues on hand to ensure our passengers have a smooth journey as they take well-deserved breaks or travel abroad for long-awaited reunions with loved ones. We look forward to welcoming back even more passengers as vaccination rates climb in the UK and abroad.

However, this weekend’s figures are still roughly 77 per cent down on pre-pandemic levels.

heathrow passengers
heathrow passengers

10:47 AM

Why Clevedon is the best beach break this summer


A saltwater lido open for all, a restored pier and a burgeoning indie scene make the Somerset town a buzzing place to visit this summer, writes Sarah Baxter.

Find out why here.

10:36 AM

UK and France plan Covid travel app to avoid holiday chaos

Britain and France are in talks to roll out a “wallet” travel app to ensure holidaymakers have all the necessary Covid documentation before heading to the airport.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, met his French counterpart Jean-Baptiste Djebbari in Folkestone this week to discuss using an app developed by the owner of the Channel Tunnel to avoid chaos at the border.

Results of Covid testing, and proof of vaccination or herd immunity, are all stored alongside other information required for customers to travel such as passport details.

Read the full story here.

10:25 AM

Spain to issue third vaccine dose as rollout curbs infection rate

Spain's vaccine rollout has begun to slow the spread of Covid-19 infections and the country is preparing for a booster third dose, the health minister said today.

"We are starting to see a slowdown of the rise (in cases)," Carolina Darias told radio station Onda Cero, while reaffirming that the target was for 70 per cent of the Spanish population to be vaccinated by late-August.

She said: "We'll need to keep vaccinating until we reach 100 per cent or be close to it." A third dose will then be offered to Spaniards, she added, but has not confirmed when.

Spain has reported 180,096 cases in the past seven days, a increase of 17 per cent week-on-week. Over 74 per cent of its population has now received one dose of the vaccine, while some 61 per cent are now double jabbed.

10:10 AM

In pictures: Holiday hotspots across Europe

Here’s a view from on the ground in the continent’s top holiday destinations.


lisbon - Corbis News
lisbon - Corbis News


Tourists enjoy Benidorm's Levante beach at night - Reuters
Tourists enjoy Benidorm's Levante beach at night - Reuters


Two women play beach ball on a beach by the sea in Saint-Malo - AFP
Two women play beach ball on a beach by the sea in Saint-Malo - AFP


A couple takes a selfie photo as people gather by the Trevi fountain - AFP
A couple takes a selfie photo as people gather by the Trevi fountain - AFP


Tourists walking in the streets of the old town Chora - Alamy
Tourists walking in the streets of the old town Chora - Alamy

09:54 AM

The 10 best Olympics-inspired holidays

Southern Dalmatia
Southern Dalmatia

Ahead of the Olympic Games opening ceremony today, forget amber, go for gold. After the inertia of lockdown, it’s time to work up a sweat and capture the Olympic buzz on your next holiday.

From surfing in Portugal to splashing around in St Lucia and saddling up in Spain, Simon Parker chooses the top trips for holidaymakers inspired to take on their own sporting challenge this summer, here.

09:44 AM

Woodland Trust urges summer visitors to not light fires

The Woodland Trust has issued a plea to summer visitors not to light fires at its countryside sites, in light of the United Kingdom's recent heatwave and a number of historic fires that have had a devastating impact on sites across the UK.

The Trust is now launching a national "love your woods" campaign, which urges visitors to leave no trace when visiting countryside destinations on holiday this summer. Barbecues and small fires have been earmarked in particular as potential hazards, as they can easily get out of control and damage habitats and wildlife.

woodland trust
woodland trust

"Our sites are a wonderful place to visit with so much diversity – from mountainous Ben Shieldaig in Scotland and the moorlands of Smithills, to community woods and lowland forests towards the south of England, and everything in between," said Al Crosby, the Woodland Trust’s regional director for northern England.

"We of course want people to enjoy them but also to take care of them, which is why we have launched this campaign, all about recognising what’s special about these places, and how visitors can show their love for them and help us to keep them that way."

09:28 AM

Jet2 adds more flights and holidays in response to surge in demand and Jet2holidays have added more Autumn flights and holidays to Madeira and Malta in response to 'very strong' demand from customers.

Both islands are on the UK’s green list, meaning Britons can enjoy quarantine-free travel regardless of their vaccination status. Subsequently, Jet2 has seen customers flocking to book flights and holidays to both destinations throughout the summer and into Autumn.

More flights to Madeira have been added to its schedule in September and October from Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds Bradford Airports.

It has also added more September capacity from Manchester and London Stansted Airports to Malta.

Steve Heapy, CEO of and Jet2holidays said:

Madeira and Malta are seeing very strong demand, thanks to a combination of their green list status and the fact they are fantastic destinations for holidaymakers to enjoy. It is clear that Autumn breaks are in demand this year, so we have responded to that trend by giving customers and independent travel agents even more choice in September and October.

09:15 AM

Where are the most Covid cases coming from among travellers?

NHS Track and Trace reported 1,800 cases among travellers between June 10 and 30, reports MailOnline, but where were they coming from? Here’s a breakdown of the figures from major destinations:

  1. Portugal: 277

  2. Spain: 252

  3. India: 100

  4. Greece: 85

  5. Italy: 79

  6. Bangladesh: 72

  7. US: 70

  8. Pakistan: 61

  9. Russia: 57

  10. France: 47

08:56 AM

Ryainair’s extra costs for ‘Zero Change Flight Fee’ exposed

Ryanair customers report being asked to pay fees when they rebook flights – despite the airline offering a ‘zero fee’ policy.

An investigation by Which? has found that one passenger said during the rebooking process they were told they’d need to pay a further £42 for luggage and priority boarding, despite the cost of the flight being cheaper than their original booking.

Another reported being charge £20 to rebook a suitcase onto a new flight, despite already having paid £80 previously.

According to the airline’s website: "We've dropped our flight change fees for all new bookings made before 30 September 2021, for travel before 31 December 2021. You can now make up to two flight changes for travel by 31 December 2021. This gives you complete flexibility and peace of mind."

But customers are being caught out by charges being applied to bags and priority boarding, with no clear explanation of the policy.


08:42 AM

What happens if you get track-and-traced before your holiday?

Never has travel been so uncertain – or complicated.

As the 'pingdemic' continues to make headlines many travellers are asking, do you have to cancel your holiday if you’re told to isolate? Does a full vaccination exempt you from quarantine?

The answers are not always simple – but we have addressed your latest burning questions here.

08:31 AM

In focus: Spain

Following reports that 252 cases of coronavirus were reportedly traced to returning travellers from Spain, let’s take a closer look at the latest statistics from the country, as fears grow that it could join France on the ‘amber plus’ list.

How many cases are there in Spain?

How is the vaccination drive going?

08:17 AM

Tourists told to test before visiting Cornwall this summer

Holidaymakers heading to Cornwall for their staycation this summer are being urged to take a test before they travel and continue to practise social distancing and wear masks as coronavirus cases in the county hit a record high.

A plea from Cornwall’s Council asks visitors to wear face coverings if asked to by a business, keeping a distance between people and testing themselves and their family both before and during their visit to Cornwall, as its public health team urges that "coronavirus won’t take a break when you take your summer break."

Rachel Wigglesworth, director of public health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly said: "Please enjoy your holiday and make wonderful memories here because it’s a special place - but remember that our local communities will have to live with the consequences if case numbers increase."

The head of Visit Cornwall, Malcolm Bell, has called this the "Summer of Understanding."

"We all need to understand that the virus will have a great summer of spreading infection if we allow it to, by not sticking to the guidelines," he said.

cornwall beach
cornwall beach

08:05 AM

Boom in demand for luxury travel sees prices skyrocket

Britons desperate for an indulgent holiday overseas have forced pieces to go "through the roof," according to a specialist agent.

Bookings at Shoreditch travel agent We Are Hush have increased by 500 per cent and prices for some plush properties have tripled in price, from £25,000 to £75,000 for a two-week break.

The Balearics, which include Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera, are the most popular holiday destinations for luxury getaways at the moment say travel experts from the Shoreditch-based company.

Oli Dannatt, CEO of We Are Hus said: "These last few months has been a real challenge for us, with the traffic light system constantly changing, bookings being made, then being cancelled and the ever-growing uncertainty of new Covid variants.

"However, with the roll out of vaccinations and the Government keeping Spain and the Balearics on the amber list, we are getting daily enquiries from our customers looking to get away later this summer, Ibiza and Mykonos being by far our most requested locations. "

07:50 AM

Italy makes vaccine passport mandatory

italian green pass
italian green pass

Italy's Covid-19 vaccine passport will soon be required to access indoor restaurants and leisure facilities under a new decree.

The Italian government announced on Thursday evening that the use of the country’s certificazione verde or ‘green certificate’ health pass scheme will be extended from Friday August 6, with businessess are expected to enforce the rules.

People in Italy will need the pass to enter gyms, swimming pools, museums, cinemas, theatres, sports stadiums and other public venues, including indoor seating areas at bars and restaurants, Health Minister Roberto Speranza stated at a press conference.

The government had also discussed making the green pass mandatory for domestic flights and long-distance trains, but nothing has been announced.

The pass is available to fully-vaccinated Italians, as well as those who have received just one jab.

07:40 AM

Environment Secretary: No isolation exemption for hospitality sector

Following news this morning that food sector workers will avoid isolation if double jabbed before August 16, Environment Secretary George Eustice has said the relaxation of rules will not be brought forward for the hospitality sector, which includes hotels and their workforce.

"The reason we've made a special exception for food is for very obvious reasons - we need to make sure that we maintain our food supply, we will never take risks with our food supply," he said.

"When it comes to other sectors, yes, of course, the fact that they are also carrying high absence levels is causing some stress for them and making it more difficult.

"You also have to bear in mind why we're doing this and we are trying to still just dampen the pace and the velocity at which this infection is spreading because we have to keep a very close eye on those hospitalisations."

07:32 AM

New Zealand suspends quarantine-free travel with Australia

New Zealand will pause its quarantine-free travel arrangement with Australia for at least eight weeks starting Friday night, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

"We've always said that our response would evolve as the virus evolved. This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but it is the right decision to keep New Zealanders safe," Ardern told reporters.

Australia is currently fighting an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta virus variant with 157 new cases reported yesterday. By comparison, New Zealand reported just seven.

07:23 AM

Insight: How many people test positive on their return from abroad?

As reported above, new data has revealed the proportion of people testing positive for coronavirus on their return for the UK.

The destinations with the highest rate of people testing positive on return were:

  1. Sierra Leon (6.8 per cent)

  2. Algeria (4.4 per cent)

  3. Indonesia (4.2 per cent).

At the other end of the scale, with the lowest percentage of positive returning cases are:

  1. Lithuania (0.2 per cent)

  2. Jamaica (0.2 per cent)

  3. Hong Kong (0.2 per cent)

07:17 AM

Israel to add UK to its red list

Green-listed Israel looks set to ban arrivals from Britain over concerns of rising cases.

The Israeli government is poised to add four more countries to its Covid red list – the UK, Georgia, Cyprus and Turkey – with a decision set to be announced on Sunday, with changes taking effect next Friday.

Travellers arriving in Israel from the UK will face quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status.

It follows news in the past week from other nations who have clamped down on British arrivals, either with outright bans or tougher testing requirements, including Bulgaria and Croatia.

07:09 AM

Holidaymakers in airport dash as race to beat next travel list begins

Holidaymakers flying abroad this weekend will be more than double last week’s numbers as travellers race to escape before any further tightening of rules.

Tour operators and airlines reported 100 per cent-plus increases with many last-minute bookings as holidaymakers targeted the Spanish and Greek islands for the start of the school holidays.

It means nearly 400,000 Britons are set to fly out this weekend, making a total of 1.5 million for the week, the highest number so far this year.

Charles Hymas and James Rothwell have the full story here.

british airways flight
british airways flight

07:06 AM

Yesterday’s top headlines

Before we begin, here’s a recap of Thursday’s top headlines:

  • Holiday prices tumble amid travel uncertainty

  • Hotel quarantine bills could rise by £500

  • Flights to red list Turkey at 66 per cent of normal levels

  • France's first day with Covid passport restrictions

  • New restrictions in Spain as Mayor claims figures are 'not true'

Now, on with today’s news.

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