Delays on planes and trains hit getaway
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Saturday 21 July 2012
Eleven-hour flight delays, emergency railway repairs and threatened strikes signalled the start of the main summer getaway.
More than two million holidaymakers are expected to ignore the start of the Olympics and travel abroad this weekend for a stay of a week or more. But airports are likely to be extremely crowded, while forest fires in Spain and Portugal are causing alarm.
The exodus coincides with a forecast of a radical improvement in the weather for England and Wales. By tomorrow and Monday, temperatures may reach 27C (81F).
Yesterday morning's Air Transat flight from Gatwick to Toronto was finally expected to take off around 10pm last night, which was also the time the Jet2 arrival from Murcia was due at Manchester after a delay of nine hours. British Airways cancelled flights from Heathrow and Gatwick to Toulouse, Brussels, Manchester and Amsterdam.
Heathrow was operating smoothly despite the extra strain from the Olympics; nearly half a million passengers are expected to pass through the airport this weekend. A strike by UK Border Force staff may disrupt Thursday, expected to be Heathrow's busiest-ever day.
East Midlands Trains drivers plan to strike early in August, but today the problem is a landslip that has closed the line between Grantham and Nottingham .
Abnormally heavy traffic was reported yesterday evening on key motorways, including the M1, M25, M3 and M5. Routes to the south-west are expected to be congested today, along with the M2 and M20 to Dover and Folkestone.
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