Destination of the week: Geneva
The chief executive of easyJet, Ray Webster, is a skiing fanatic. That could explain why his airline (0871 750 0100; www.easyJet.com) today introduces a 5am departure from Luton to Geneva, gateway to the French Alps. The Saturdays-only flight is scheduled to arrive at 7.40am, which could get you to the nearby pistes by 9am, for a long day and even some après-ski before catching the new 8.30pm return flight to Luton. This will cost you a lot less than the bespoke packages considered by Stephen Wood on page 5.
The new departures are part of a tranche of extra easyJet flights from UK airports (including Gatwick and Liverpool) to Geneva during the ski season.
Also starting today, Bmibaby (0870 264 2229, www.bmibaby.com) launches a package of weekend flights to Geneva from Cardiff, East Midlands and Manchester.
Warning of the week: is your journey really possible?
Britain's annual festive transport shutdown will be exacerbated this year by engineering work and strike action. As usual, rail services will wind down on Christmas Eve; drivers on the Gatwick Express are striking on that day, which will halve services. On Christmas Day, buses replaces trains to Gatwick; the UK's only train will be the Heathrow Express (every 40 minutes during the day from Paddington). The Stansted Express will run from Liverpool Street every day except 25 Dec.
Trains to Luton airport will be hampered by engineering work from Christmas Day to 4 January. Nationwide, there will be massive disruption to Virgin Trains caused by Network Rail work. From Penzance to Preston or Watford to Wolverhampton, anyone planning long-distance rail travel before 5 January should call national rail enquiries on 08457 48 49 50 - and expect long delays.
Between England and Scotland, GNER is extending some trains to Edinburgh on 23 and 24 December. Later services on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve will be reduced. No Scotrail trains will run on New Year's Day.
On the long-distance buses, National Express (08705 80 80 80) will run a near-normal service on Anglo-Scottish routes and airport links on Boxing Day and New Year's Day, and a limited service on the rest of its networks.
Most airlines are cancelling domestic flights on 25 December, but some European departures, and many long-haul routes, will operate normally.
On the Channel, North Sea and Irish Seas, services are sharply reduced. P&O Ferries (0870 520 2020; www.poferries.com) has a last ferry out from Dover to Calais at 3.15pm on 24 December, with the first inbound sailing at 9.30am on Boxing Day.
The one reliable way to leave the country with a car on Christmas Day is to dig deep aboard Eurotunnel (08705 353535; www.eurotunnel.com), which will operate hourly departures.