MILLIONS of Britons face travel chaos this weekend as huge traffic jams form, major works on the railways begin and airports descend into chaos.
Anyone preparing for a trip should be prepared for interruptions, however they plan to achieve their goal.
Queues began forming at Gatwick and Manchester airports at 3am, while Dover faced an eight-day traffic nightmare and Eurotunnel bosses warned of a “tsunami of traffic” thanks to the P&O disaster.
Here’s how to survive this weekend – with all the info you need to know when to head out and how to get an airline refund.
How early should I be at the airport?
There were long queues and delays at many airports this morning.
By far the worst affected airport seems to be Manchester. who is struggling hard during a personnel crisis.
April 1st is claimed desperate children vomited from exhaustion during five-hour queues. There were reports that some passengers were forced to remain on their feet for up to seven hours in the sweltering heat.
Police have been placed on standby and airport director Karen Smart has resigned to “pursue new opportunities”.
The at Heathrow and Gatwick have faced other problems after British Airways and easyJet summarily canceled 110 flights. There are also reportedly problems with queues for some passengers.
The advice seems to be the same for every airport – get there as early as possible.
Manchester Airport urged passengers to arrive three hours before take-off or they risk missing their flight. But anyone heading there this weekend should probably plan to arrive significantly earlier.
A couple leaving for their anniversary told how they arrived at the airport at 4:30 p.m but were still queuing at 8:15 p.m. to get through security – 10 minutes after the scheduled departure.
Early risers may be aware that check-in and security at Heathrow usually opens at 4am, while security at Gatwick’s North Terminal opens at 2am.
Some airports also allow passengers to pay for express security – in Manchester this costs £4. But even those who paid for the privilege last weekend still had to wait two hours.
What if I miss my flight due to airport queues?
Most airports, including Manchester, have a procedure for calling passengers to the front of the line with just an hour to spare.
There is also no guarantee that you will be rebooked on another flight, although staff will likely try to help you in this way.
The best thing to do is get good quality travel insurance and make sure you get to the airport on time.
What if a flight is delayed or cancelled?
Passengers are entitled to a cash payment of £220 for short flights delayed by at least three hours at fault of the airline.
The payout increases to £350 for a flight of 1,500km to 3,500km and £520 for flights over 3,500km with a three to four hour delay.
If a flight is delayed five hours or more, you can simply go home and be entitled to a full refund within seven days.
However, it is absolutely best to check with the airline as compensation does not apply in all cases.
How about a ferry?
The situation on the ferries can generally be classified as “catastrophic” due to the summary dismissal of 700 employees at P&O.
There were Eight days of traffic jams in Dover already, and yesterday, the company all services suspended until the end of the weekend and told potential passengers to book with other companies.
The company is thought to be resuming services from Dover to Calais soon, but who knows – best to keep an eye on Twitter for updates.
For now, customers are advised to make their own arrangements with a competitor.
Unfortunately, this is also tricky.
DFDS ferries have reported two-hour delays on services from the port of Kent to Calais and said they could not accept desperate P&O customers. 40,000 travelers are expected tomorrow and Sunday.
The company’s Chris Parker said, “We’ve added additional departures and increased passenger capacity.”
Anyone out and about in Dover will quickly see the impact.
Council leader Trevor Bartlett said the city could “not tolerate another weekend of deadlock‘ and was about to report a ‘major incident’.
Can I get a refund for ferry delays or cancellations?
P&O says it will issue a full refund for canceled tickets by April 10.
It will also pay back the difference between the original P&O ticket and the new booking with another operator.
Send all claims to email@example.com
Passengers with a journey time of up to four hours can get a quarter of the fare refunded in the event of a one-hour delay.
The situation is different for journeys between four and eight hours, where the delay must be two hours to get money back.
For eight to 24-hour journeys, customers can request compensation after waiting three hours.
Compensation rises to 50 percent of the ticket price if the delays are double the stated times.
What about railroads?
There’s more bad news, we’re afraid to say.
Let’s start with the Eurotunnel. Getting there alone will be difficult – bosses say demand has surged as the holidays start and the reduction in ferry capacity has caused “kind of a tsunami of traffic all at once”.
Passengers would be offered the next available service if they missed their bookings.
The bosses say that anyone who is heading to the Eurotunnel for whatever reason should take food and drink with them.
Toby Howe, tactical director of the Kent Resilience Forum, advised travelers to France to “allow plenty of extra time”.
He told BBC Breakfast the delays were caused by “the perfect storm” of the P&O chaos, a storm at sea that held up crossings, snow and IT problems.
Eurostar runs normally, although customers are advised to arrive at the stations at the time stated on their ticket. However, it is a good idea to arrive earlier. Snakes were sighted sneaking up outside St Pancras this morning.
Meanwhile, Network Rail is conducting 530 engineering works during the break.
This means buses will replace trains in some areas.
Here’s a warning for anyone looking to cancel their trip – rail companies have been accused of levying a “ridiculous” administration fee on anyone who cancels an Easter trip.
Customers who do not wish to travel on replacement buses but booked their tickets after they were confirmed will have to pay a £10 fee to receive a refund.
Ok so far so bad. What about driving?
The RAC estimates there will be 21 million trips this weekend alone.
It will probably be extremely difficult in all the usual places and a few more.
But there might be a trick to avoid the worst of queues.
Data from traffic analysis company INRIX suggests that it’s best to leave very, very early – or a little later.
Between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. the main streets are expected to be particularly busy.
RAC traffic spokesman Rod Dennis said: “We are expecting two big waves of Easter holiday traffic over the next few weeks – one over the coming weekend as many schools are closing and another to coincide with the bank holiday and a long weekend for many people.”
If you are heading to Kent take a look at the railway advice above – anything close to the port or the Channel Tunnel is very difficult indeed.
https://www.thesun.ie/travel/8629892/easter-travel-traffic-roads-train-delays-airports-manchester/ How to survive holiday chaos and how to get an airline refund