Staycation bookings surge amid chaos at Britain's airports

We’re all STAYING for our summer holidays! Staycation bookings surge as Britons turn their backs on foreign holidays due as airport chaos strikes again

  • Tourism chiefs say they have seen a surge in reservations for staycation hotspots in Blackpool and Cornwall 
  • Travellers turn their backs on Britain’s beleaguered airports with huge queues at Manchester Airport today 
  • Downing Street said ministers and officials had been meeting with aviation industry leaders this week 

Holidaymakers look set to revive the ‘Great British Staycation’ with a recent boom in summer bookings as chaotic scenes continue to plague the country’s airline industry.

Tourism chiefs have reported a surge in reservations in recent weeks as travellers turn to the beaches of Dorset, Welsh valleys or the Cornish coast in a bid to swerve Britain’s beleaguered airports.

The town of Blackpool is currently the most-searched hotspot of all the UK’s staycation destinations, while bookings have spiked for firms such as Sykes Holiday Cottages, Finest Retreats and Feather Down Farms.

Industry experts have advised staycationers to book sooner rather than later with prices expected to soar with no end in sight for the chaos that has gripped Britain’s airports in recent weeks.

It comes as those heading abroad endured long queues at Manchester Airport today with warnings strike action across Europe threatens to wreak more havoc on summer getaways amid fears the situation could worsen. 

Aviation expert Julian Bray told MailOnline that those who have only paid a deposit of about 10 per cent should consider cancelling now ‘because you have no guarantee of an outward flight or a return flight’.

He gave an example of a family of four who become stuck in the Canary Islands with no available seats on flights for days and could therefore face a £4,000 bill to get home to the UK via ferry, rail and possibly more flights.

Holidaymakers look set to revive the ‘Great British Staycation’ with a recent boom in summer bookings as chaotic scenes continue to plague the country’s airline industry. Pictured: Passengers queuing at Manchester Airport today

Winding queues are pictured at Manchester Airport on Saturday morning with staff shortages blamed for recent chaos

A man is pictured resting atop his luggage at Manchester Airport’s Terminal 3 on Saturday morning as holidaymakers were hit with fresh travel headaches

Aviation expert Julian Bray told MailOnline that those who have only paid a deposit of about 10 per cent should consider cancelling now ‘because you have no guarantee of an outward flight or a return flight’. Pictured: More queue misery at Manchester Airport

Paul Charles, of travel consultancy The PC Agency, warned UK staycation prices are soaring amid fears firms were ‘price gouging’. He told MailOnline: ‘Staycations have become more popular during the pandemic and will continue to be sought after this year.

‘Some are put off by airport issues, other consumers don’t want to pay for flights. However, prices for holidaying within the UK have also been rising, mostly because of the inflationary environment and, of course, the sky-high demand. 

‘Prices are typically around 10 to 15 per cent higher this year but consumers desperate for a break do seem to be booking and paying the higher prices. They just need to hope for good weather.’ 

There had also been fears of decline in the number of Brits opting for a staycation amid the cost-of-living crisis and soaring inflation forcing families to tighten the pursestrings.

Allora’s chief commercial officer Michael De Jongh told MailOnline: ‘We’ve heard of hotels increasing their prices as a result of the airport chaos, but this certainly has not been the case with the hotels in the Allora network.’

He added: ‘Staycations are still very popular, but the cost of living crisis means holidaymakers are increasingly looking to save money wherever they can. This means many of them will look for slightly cheaper packages or to reduce the length of their stay. 

‘The good news for the hotel industry is that international visitors are back in force, once again enjoying all that Britain and Ireland have to offer.’

It comes as thousands of families returning from half-term getaways and bank holiday breaks were left stranded abroad while others were hit by further delays, with more flights cancelled earlier this week by airlines such as easyJet and Wizz Air.

Teachers were feared to be among those set to miss the return to work after airlines cancelled hundreds of flights at the last minute. 

Mr Bray added: ‘If you just paid a deposit and its usually about 10 per cent, it’s worth considering cancelling your holiday at the moment because you have no guarantee of an outward flight or a return flight – or if your return flight is delayed or cancelled and you need to be put up in a hotel. If you’re on the Canary Islands, it’s a problem. 

‘If you’re a family of four as a capital sum that could be £3,000 to £4,000. If you then have to pay for return transit, which would be a ferry to the mainland, possible train, possible new flights – then all the baggage to contend with.

‘I don’t say everybody should do it, but they should consider. If you’ve got a spare £2,000 or £3,000 that you can take as emergency money so you’ve got the wherewithal to get back, you might take a different view on it.’

He said airlines were struggling to move people from cancelled flights onto other planes because booking levels were so high – and that previous policies of overbooking by 10 per cent because there were normally 20 per cent no-shows were now redundant post-Covid, because ‘everybody wants to get away and nobody is cancelling’.

Mr Bray also warned that there were 60,000 job vacancies to be filled in the industry, and a backlog of three to six months of potential workers going through the vetting procedure which they require before starting training.

He advised people consider cancelling ‘up to Christmas because the delay in getting clearance for people is three to six months which means that the training starts after that, which means you’re still not going to be up to speed’.

£1,000/night, B&B IN CORNWALL — A private room in a bed and breakfast for two adults and two children in Liskeard, Cornwall, for the four-day bank holiday weekend was on Airbnb for a whopping £1,000 a night

£351/night, FAMILY ROOM IN NORTH WALES — A family of four looking for a Jubilee bank holiday stay in North Wales would have gad to fork out £1,052 for three nights at this private room in a bed and breakfast in Conwy which can sleep five guests

£247/night, GLAMPING IN KENT — A family of two adults and two children hoping to visit Kent for a camping trip over the Jubilee bank holiday would have had to shell out £742 for three nights at this glamping site in Wickhambreaux 

£400/night, ROOM IN CAMBRIDGE — A family of four wanting to visit Cambridge for the bank holiday weekend would have been expected to spend £1,200 to stay in this room in a two-bedroom maisonette a 10 minute walk away from the city centre

Couple whose easyJet flight from Berlin to Luton was cancelled drove through the night after borrowing relative’s car 

A couple whose easyJet flight from Berlin to London Luton last night was cancelled decided to borrow a relative’s German car and drive 850 miles through the night to get to work by lunchtime today.

Clare, 49, and Christian Engelke, 56, were told in a text message yesterday lunchtime that their 10.55pm flight had been cancelled, and there were no alternative flights available until Wednesday.

Clare and Christian Engelke, pictured on holiday in Berlin

The couple, who are from the Staffordshire village of Codsall, spent the next few hours unsuccessful trying to find alternative flights or train journeys.

They gave up at 4pm and their friends said they could drive them three hours from Berlin to Saltzgitter, where they picked up another car from relatives.

The Engelkes then drove through the night across the continent to the Eurotunnel in Calais so they could get back home for work today.

They said they had to spend £180 on fuel and £178 on the Eurotunnel, and also then had to pick up their car at Luton today after paying £10 to extend the parking.

In addition, the couple now have a German car in England that they will have to take back.

Mrs Engelke told MailOnline today: ‘The staggering thing we learnt was how few flights are available between the capital city of Germany and the UK.

‘We are lucky we have mobile phones and used our initiative to call on lovely friends who we met in Berlin – seeing them for the first time in three years due to the pandemic – and family in Germany who have lent us a car to get us home. We now have a German car in England that we have to take back eventually.’

She added at 9am that they were ‘making good progress now on the M1 so hope to be sitting at our desks by lunchtime’.

Earlier this week, Downing Street said ministers and officials had been meeting with aviation industry leaders and Border Force to increase ‘resilience for the sector throughout the summer’ to avert further travel chaos.

But the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said it was ultimately down to the aviation industry to address staff shortages.

‘We fully understand that the aviation industry – like many others – has faced significant challenges during the pandemic,’ the government’s spokesman said. 

‘But ultimately they are responsible for making sure they have enough staff to meet demand and we have been clear they must step up recruitment to make sure disruption is kept to a minimum.’

Meanwhile Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has refused to help short-staffed airlines by relaxing visa rules to ease the travel chaos, and also ruled out sending in the Army to ease queues at Britain’s struggling airports.

EasyJet pilots have also accused the ‘chaotic’ airline of cancelling viable flights over the half-term holidays after ‘foolish’ bosses thought they could operate despite making hundreds of staff redundant during the pandemic.

Pilots from France working for the Luton-based company warned of the ‘frightening prospect’ of even worse disruption this summer as fears build that customers will stop using the airline after being put off by the chaos.

Workers from the French SNPL pilot union also accused easyJet officials of failing to act on warnings that the firm could not cope with demand after Covid-19 restrictions were lifted amid ‘operational meltdowns’. They also said there ‘seems to be a curse on easyJet top management, bound to become penny wise and pound foolish’.

The letter, written to easyJet’s Swedish chief executive Johan Lundgren, accused executives of being ‘fooled’ into believing they could put on a summer schedule despite ‘less flight crew, cabin crew or flight planning officers’.

EasyJet cut 1,400 UK jobs in the first ten months of the pandemic up to January 2021, having initially warned shortly after the Covid-19 crisis began that up to 4,500 members of its 15,000 workforce could lose their jobs. 

The situation at EasyJet – whose pre-tax losses over the six months to March were revealed last month to have hit £557million – comes as British holidaymakers heading abroad were hit by further long queues at UK airports again today as others were warned strike action across Europe threatens to wreak further havoc on summer getaways.

Unions representing Ryanair crew in Spain said they had ‘no option’ but to call for a walk-out after the carrier abandoned pay talks. The move raises the prospect of more misery for travellers, many of whom are still stuck at holiday destinations after their flights home were cancelled following half-term flight chaos. 

According to the i newspaper, the French pilots said in their letter: ‘Literally hundreds of employees in distress have fed back how chaotic our operations have become recently, to unprecedented levels… We are actually convinced that our disruption hasn’t even peaked yet and frankly this is a frightening prospect.’

They claimed there were dozens of ‘red cancellations’ just minutes before departure, and some early flights were cancelled at the last-minute despite easyJet bosses knowing the night before that no crew were available.

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