Great escape: A crash course in summer holidays

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School summer holidays are in full swing - but the Great British exodus to the sun is a relatively new invention




Thomas Cook starts the first 'package' tour, taking 500 people on a 12-mile train journey from Leicester to Loughborough



Blackpool Central Pier opens as the working classes swap rural camping for the golden age of Victorian seaside holidays seaside breaks.



Butlins holiday camp opens in Skegness complete with 'redcoats' entertainers. Becomes a cheap post-war holiday destination



More Britons start to travel abroad, with one million people heading overseas for their vacation by 1950



British European Airways launches a service to Valencia, rebranding Alicante as the 'Costa Blanca' to attract British tourists



Club 18-30 is created to fill night flights to tourist destinations, but it becomes a byword for boozy, sexed-up holidays and everything wrong with "Brits abroad".



Easyjet launches, with the low-cost airline and its competitors allowing British tourists to take cheap holidays right across Europe



The 'Staycation' is popularised during the recession. Trips abroad slump by almost a fifth as people cut back



More than 11 million Britons visit Spain each year, but holidaymakers are getting adventurous with trips to the likes of Burma on the up

Profile: The airline CEO

By Holly Williams

If EasyJet's flamboyant founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, and arch-rival, Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, are the gobby-mouthed Ugly Sisters of budget travel, then Carolyn McCall might just be a fairy godmother. Flown in as chief executive of the then-troubled EasyJet in 2010, McCall was a surprise choice: after a stint as a teacher, she'd worked in the Guardian's commercial area (and later as CEO) and on the boards for Tesco, New Look and Lloyds, but had zero experience in the aviation industry.

But she waved a magic wand over the orange airline, increasing business travellers, improving punctuality, and introducing the hugely popular allocated seating. It's made her a hit in the City, too.

McCall, as a female chief exec, is a rare breed within the FTSE 100, and was awarded an OBE for services to women in business in 2008. Juggling a globe-trotting career with her own family – she has three children – she's spoken out about the need for companies to be more flexible in order to hold on to top female talent after they've started a family.

How to: Board a plane

By Simon Usborne

The modern menace that is the Ryanair gate queue; the even more frantic seat grab; the overflowing overhead lockers: getting on a plane can be a nightmare but there are ways to make flying more bearable...

If you can't avoid the check-in queue, it's expedient to profile those ahead of you. A group of pensioners? You decide. See also: prams or Victoria Beckham-levels of luggage. Speedy group bookings, however, are the best.

Window or aisle? Apart from the obvious considerations – views, bladder size – see also a 2009 Lancet study. It showed those confined to windows had a higher risk of developing blood clots. Pleasingly, there is no advantage in business class.

Which seat? Those afraid of death should take aisle seats at the back, near an exit. A study found crash survivors move on average just five rows before escaping. Those worried about post-flight queues should stay forward.

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