Welcome to the summer of ‘travxiety’, where heading off on holiday feels far from relaxing

From the threat of a last-minute cancellation to queues and lost baggage – who else has forgotten what it feels like to leave for the airport feeling lighter than air?, asks Lucy Thackray

Friday 01 July 2022 13:01 BST
For many, travel from the UK does not spark joy at the moment
For many, travel from the UK does not spark joy at the moment (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

It’s been two years and five months since I was last able to book a trip, pack my bags, and set off for the airport feeling excited. That trip was to Mexico, in January 2020 – a reasonably planning-heavy affair with a 10-hour flight, several stops and internal connections. Yet, although there has always been a possibility your flight could be cancelled, back then it felt like a slim chance, hardly worth contemplating. Instead, I flung summer dresses, sandals and a big old sun hat into my suitcase, and made my way to the airport with only excitement on my mind.

Flash forward to my most recent trip, to New York in early June. We had booked flights from generally well-performing Heathrow, but kept a close watch on our inboxes for the dreaded “Your flight has been cancelled” email – the one that (despite the statistics) seemed more of a certainty than a rarity during those first days of June. The days ticked down until the flight date, each morning laced with the possibility of a cancellation notice.

At that point, we still had to take an antigen test on the day before a flight to the US, so I couldn’t even get half-excited until my Randox confirmation – also known as “£40 out of my cocktail budget” – pinged into view at 5pm the night before. Even then I woke at the crack of dawn and dashed to the airport hours earlier than I usually would have, picturing hundreds of harried, bickering holidaymakers battling to get through security queues trailing out of the terminal door. Excitement, to be frank, was low on the list.

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