Commuters face chaos as the big return to work gets under way

Warnings of long delays and overcrowding as the Paralympics prove busier than the Olympics

Prophecies of transport gridlock in London, the prospect of further lightning strikes at Europe's biggest airline and tax rises in Mediterranean countries signalled a dismal start to autumn today for business travellers and holidaymakers seeking September sunshine.

As many schools in Britain start back, and businesses wake up after the August lull, Transport for London is advising that today will be exceptionally busy as commuters jostle with spectators heading for the Paralympics. At London Bridge and Waterloo Underground stations, passengers have been warned to expect to wait more than half-an-hour to board Tube trains between 8am and 10am.

To the surprise of forecasters, the Paralympics has proved busier than the Olympics on some routes to the Games venues. Yesterday train operator Southeastern tweeted: "We've just had the busiest morning on the HS [high-speed] service so far, with 26,000 people using the Javelin service to the Olympic Park".

Travellers seeking to escape to Spain, the most popular destination for UK holidaymakers, for some autumn sunshine will find the prices of everything from car rental to restaurant meals have increased.

The principal rate of VAT increased this weekend from 18 to 21 per cent. A 1 per cent increase also took effect in Israel. Meanwhile, Milan has become the latest Italian city to impose an accommodation tax. The rate of €3 per person, per night for hotels must be paid in cash, at check-out.

The wildfires threatening the resort of Marbella on Spain's Costa del Sol appear to be under control. David Speakman, chairman of the Travel Counsellors organisation, travelled through the area yesterday.

He told The Independent: "Along the autopista to the airport, the charred trees and fields of the foothills run from about Ojen to Mijas Costa. The main tourist resorts of Benalmadena, Torremolinos and Fuengirola are unaffected. The fires got about as near to Marbella town as the Don Carlos hotel but were mainly on the foothills at the back of the resorts."

Most of the 26,000 passengers affected by the short-notice strike by Lufthansa cabin crew on Friday have now reached their destinations. Almost 200 flights to and from the German airline's Frankfurt hub were cancelled, including six transatlantic departures.

The airline said: "Flight operations at Frankfurt airport are mostly back to normal." It warned, however, that the union involved, the Independent Flight Attendants Organisation (UFO), may call further strikes at short notice.

After three years of a pay freeze, cabin crew are demanding a 5 per cent increase. Lufthansa has offered 3.5 per cent and indicated it will continue to seek lower costs.

While most flights to and from British airports were operating normally last night, the Malaysia Airlines arrival from Kuala Lumpur touched down 15 hours late at Heathrow. From Gatwick, two transatlantic flights, Sunwing to Toronto and BA to Orlando – were more than six hours late.

Passengers returning from Ibiza to Belfast yesterday arrived two hours late after their aircraft landed en route at Stansted. EasyJet flight 6652 touched down at the Essex airport "for refuelling".

One piece of good news for British travellers: the £5 cut in the price of an adult passport takes effect today, reducing the cost to £72.50. But that is still more than four times the £18 fee that applied 15 years ago.

British travellers pay more for a travel document than do Canadians, for whom the fee is C$87 (£56). But Americans face significantly higher fees: $165 (£104) for a first passport, $140 (£88) for renewals.

Australia is believed to have the highest fees for a major country, with a standard passport costing A$233 (£151).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Secondary supply teachers needed in Peterborough

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: The JobAre you a trai...

Year 3 Teacher Cornwall

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Primary Teacher...

HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbridge Wells - £32,000

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbrid...

Year 3 Teacher Plymouth

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Primary Teacher...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering