Travel Updates: Gatwick Hikes Drop-Off Fee – Advisor UK

2 January: Minimum Charge Rises 20% To £6 For 10 Minutes

Gatwick Airport is increasing its minimum drop-off charge by 20% from 5 January, when it will increase from £5 to £6.

The minimum charge covers the first 10 minutes and must be paid by midnight the day after the visit. After 10 minutes there is a charge of £1 per minute up to a maximum of 20 minutes (30 minutes in total costing £25, rising to £26 on 5 January). 

Anyone staying longer than this is liable for a £100 penalty charge notice reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days.

When challenged on X (formerly Twitter) about the scale of the increase, Gatwick Airport responded by tweeting: “We believe that increasing the charge will help reduce congestion, allow us to reinvest in sustainable transport, and encourage more passengers and staff to use public transport to reach the airport.”

Heathrow Airport’s drop-off charge is £5 but there is no time limit in place. Manchester Airport charges £5 for five minutes and £6 for 10 minutes, but staying over 10 minutes is not permitted, with an ‘overstay’ charge of £25 levied after this point.

Glasgow Airport charges for pickups and drop-offs at the rate of £5 for 15 minutes, £10 for 20 minutes, £15 for 30 minutes and £45 for 60 minutes.

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21 November: Europe Flights On Offer At Tempting Prices

According to our research, people looking to travel home or visit friends this Christmas will find that flying to their destination could be up to five times cheaper than getting the train.

Among the key findings from our travel study are:

  • catching a train from Bristol to Edinburgh over Christmas is five times more expensive than flying – £214 compared to £43
  • a flight from London to Aberdeen is £84 cheaper and 5.5 hours quicker than rail (£205)
  • flying from Newquay to London ahead of the festive period costs £89 return, whereas a train will cost £125 and take six times longer
  • a flight from Manchester to Paris (£51) is more than half the price of a flight from Manchester to London (£110) 
  • you can fly from Glasgow to Geneva cheaper than from Glasgow to London this Christmas. 
  • flying to Tenerife over Christmas from a range of UK airports is cheaper than travelling across the UK.

In addition to the discrepancies in the cost of travel by air and train within the UK, the study shows that it’s also significantly cheaper to travel to a number of other European countries than it is to travel across the UK over Christmas. 

With flights from Manchester to Paris costing only £51, it’s currently cheaper than travelling from Manchester to London for the festive period, with a train costing £33 more and a flight costing over double that at £110. This equates to £0.24 per mile to travel from Manchester to Paris whereas going from Manchester to London is £0.73 per mile.

If you fancy a Swiss Christmas this year, a flight from Glasgow to Geneva is only £47, which is £12 cheaper than a flight from Glasgow to London. A a train from Glasgow to London is more than three times the cost, at £148. 

Getting a train across the country for Christmas this year is looking pricey, with journeys like  Exeter to Edinburgh costing a staggering £245 and Bristol to Aberdeen totalling £261.

If you fancy a bit of winter sun instead, you can catch a flight from both Manchester and London airports to Tenerife for cheaper than this, as well as from Birmingham and Newcastle for a few pounds more. 

Return flights to Tenerife over the festive period From To Cost Manchester Tenerife £235.00 London Tenerife £259.00 Birmingham Tenerife £270.00 Newcastle Tenerife £272.00 Source: *Sky scanner Flights from 22/12/2023 – 29/12/2023 – Forbes Advisor Travel study 

Travelling significant distances from Wales is looking particularly expensive: a return flight from Cardiff to Edinburgh would be £256 and a train would be £218 during this time. However, just over the border in Bristol, this flight to Edinburgh would be only £43 return. 

While you can’t fly across Wales, a train from Cardiff in South Wales, to Bangor in North Wales costs £105 for an off-peak return. 

Meanwhile, you can travel to a number of other European Countries over Christmas for £100 or less, for a return. 

Return flights to Europe over Christmas for £100 or less From To Price Bristol Geneva £41.00 Glasgow Geneva £47.00 Manchester Paris £51.00 Liverpool Geneva £53.00 Manchester Amsterdam £56.00 Bristol Amsterdam £58.00 Edinburgh Geneva £63.00 Birmingham Geneva £67.00 Liverpool Amsterdam £69.00 Liverpool Milan £69.00 London Geneva £69.00 Glasgow Paris £71.00 Manchester Milan £71.00 Liverpool Barcelona £73.00 London Amsterdam £77.00 Bristol Barcelona £87.00 Edinburgh Paris £88.00 Birmingham Amsterdam £100.00 Source: *Sky Scanner Flights from 22/12/2023 – 29/12/2023 – Forbes Advisor Travel study

Travel experts suggest that anyone intending to travel over Christmas and New Year should be firming up their plans now and buying their tickets, because availability on popular routes will soon disappear.

For those who have always caught the train, this might also be an opportunity to explore the possibility of flying, especially as the money and time saved relative to making the journey by train could be used towards the cost of cabs to travel from the airport to the final destination.

Those with fewer personal commitments could also consider a spontaneous trip to Europe given that the cost of the flights will probably cost less than inter-city travel within the UK.

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5 September: Government Plans To Improve Shopping Online

Airlines and rail companies could soon be held to account over hidden fees, as part of a government clampdown around transparency when shopping online, writes Candiece Cyrus.

Government research published yesterday[1] (Monday) found that 72% of the transportation and communication sectors employ ‘drip pricing’ – where ‘extra’ but necessary fees for products and services are added at the online checkout, increasing the initial cost. 

When buying a plane ticket, this could include selecting a seat, speedy boarding or opting for a meal, for example.

The Department of Business and Trade has now launched a six-week consultation to identify where drip-pricing is most harmful to consumers across various sectors including entertainment, hospitality, communication and transport – a practice which costs UK customers a collective £1.6 billion online each year.

A further two other consultations will seek to stop fake reviews and simplify how prices are labelled, such as ensuring unit-based pricing is applied to special offers and promotions.

Kevin Hollinrake, minister for enterprise, markets and small business said: “We’ll be listening to industry to ensure these new regulations work for businesses too and don’t generate unnecessary burdens, while at the same time providing a crucial safety net for consumers and their cash.”

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30 August: Airlines Free Up Extra Spaces But Customers Still Advised To Check Before They Travel

Airline passengers are facing further flight cancellations and delays at UK airports today, following Bank Holiday Monday’s air traffic system glitch (see story below) which affected thousands of travellers, writes Candiece Cyrus.

However, the number of affected flights have dwindled considerably since yesterday (Tuesday). As of 9am this morning, around 60 outbound and incoming flights to the UK were cancelled, about 2% of all flights, according to aviation analytics firm Cirium. 

Cirium added that Heathrow Airport has seen the highest number of cancellations, followed by Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

On its website, Heathrow continues to advise customers to check their flight is still operating before travelling to the airport.

Aberdeen says a small number of its services continue to be affected today and has told passengers to check flight updates with airlines.

According to the Civil Aviaition Authority (CAA), airlines should cover additional costs, such as for food, drink and accommodation, if passengers are delayed overnight.

But given Monday’s events, airlines are not obliged to reimburse passengers their flight costs as they are not to blame for the system failure. Passengers may, however, be able to claim for disruption if they took out travel insurance.

A spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers said: “Anyone affected by the recent air travel disruption, should speak to their air carrier, tour operator, or travel agent for clarification of what they are legally entitled to. Anyone planning to travel should check and follow current advice. 

“Travel insurance is primarily designed to cover the often jaw-droppingly expensive costs of needing any emergency medical treatment abroad, including emergency return to the UK for medical reasons. While travel insurance policies may offer some cover against disruption and delay, this will vary, so always check what you are insured for”.

Certain airlines such as easyJet and Tui are offering passengers the option of a full refund or free change of flight. EasyJet is also operating five repatriation flights to Gatwick Airport from:

  • Palma and Faro today
  • Tenerife and Enfidha on Thursday 31 August 
  • Rhodes on Friday 1 September.

The carrier is also operating larger aircraft on key routes this week, including Faro, Ibiza, Dalaman and Tenerife, which will provide around 700 additional seats.

Britain’s National Air Traffic Services (NATS) said the technical fault on Monday was due to its flight planning system’s inability to process some of the flight data it received.

Martin Rolfe, NATS chief executive, said: “Initial investigations into the problem show it relates to some of the flight data we received. Our systems, both primary and the back-ups, responded by suspending automatic processing to ensure that no incorrect safety-related information could be presented to an air traffic controller or impact the rest of the air traffic system. There are no indications that this was a cyber-attack.

“We have well established procedures, overseen by the CAA, to investigate incidents. We are already working closely with them to provide a preliminary report to the Secretary of State for Transport on Monday. The conclusions of this report will be made public.

“I would like again to apologise to everyone who has been affected.”

29 August: Thousands Stranded As Hundreds Of Flights To And From The UK Are Cancelled

Travellers to and from the UK continue to face major disruption today following a four-hour fault of the main air traffic control system on Monday, writes Candiece Cyrus.

Around 280 outbound and inbound flights to the UK have been cancelled so far on Tuesday, according to aviation analytics firm Cirium, equating to around 5% of all flights. As many as 80% of flights leaving the UK could be delayed.

The chaos follows a major glitch with Britain’s National Air Traffic Services (NATS) flight planning system shortly after midday yesterday – Bank Holiday Monday and one of the busiest travelling days of the year.

Airlines announcing cancellations today include British Airways, easyJet, RyanAir, Jet2 and Tui. Heathrow, Stansted, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and Edinburgh airports are all affected.  

Airports are advising travellers to check the status of their flights before setting out. However, Tui has urged customers travelling today to head to the airport as usual unless it directly instructs them otherwise.

According to Cirium, 785 flights into the UK and 790 flights departing from the UK, were cancelled yesterday with many more subject to severe delays. Heathrow saw the highest number of cancellations, followed by Gatwick and Manchester.

During the fault, air traffic control were forced to input flight schedules manually which slowed down operations causing knock-on delays and cancellations which are expected to continue for several days.

Rob Bishton, interim chief executive at the UK Civil Aviation Authority said: “We understand the challenges many consumers continue to experience when flights are delayed or cancelled following yesterday’s technical issue that impacted NATS’ flight planning system.

“As part of our regulatory oversight of its activities, we continue to engage with NATS and once its investigation is fully complete, an incident report will be provided to the UK Civil Aviation Authority.”

Under CAA rules[2], airlines are expected to cover the cost of food, drink and access to a means of communication if passengers are delayed beyond stated timeframes. They should also arrange accommodation, and transport to reach it, if necessary. 

While airlines must only compensate passengers if they are considered responsible for the disruption caused, some may do so as a goodwill gesture. Tui, for example, says it will contact affected customers to discuss their options, including amending to an alternative holiday or getting a full refund.

Travellers who have taken out travel insurance may be able to claim on their policy if they are not reimbursed by their airline. 

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9 August: Cape Town Minicab Strikes Leading To Violent Riots

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is warning travellers visiting South Africa to check their routes for disruption, as industrial action led by minicab drivers in Cape Town has turned riotous.

The South African Ministry of Police has reported five deaths including one of a British national last Thursday. The strike started last Tuesday.

Minicab taxi drivers in the capital have been protesting against what they believe to be the unjustified impounding of their vehicles by law enforcement authorities. The drivers say their vehicles are taken off the roads more than those of other drivers who commit the same violations.

The FCDO said: “There are currently minicab taxi strikes in the Cape Town area. These strikes have the potential to turn violent and may impact multiple areas including journeys to and from the airport. 

“Check for any disruption on your route before travelling, avoid violent protests and try to stick to major routes (for example the main N2 motorway route).”

It has not gone as far as to issue advice against all, or all but essential travel to the country, or Cape Town specifically.

If it does, travellers with travel insurance[3], who visit the country against the FCDO’s advice, will likely invalidate their policy, which means they will not be covered.

This is because most travel insurers update the destinations they cover in relation to the FCDO’s advice, and will not cover trips to destinations the FCDO has advised not to visit. 

Travellers can contact their provider or check their policy details to find out if their policy will still cover them in such a situation.

Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, South Africa’s minister of transport, said in a statement issued yesterday: “Government is deeply concerned about the ongoing conflict involving the minibus taxi industry and the City of Cape Town, which has escalated into a strike as a result of impounding of taxi vehicles by the City of Cape Town.

“To this end, we call on the City to return to the negotiating table to address the areas of disagreement and demonstrate a genuine effort to find a lasting resolution to the current challenges.”

24 July: Children Aged 10-Plus Eligible To Use e-Passports

Children aged 10 and older can use e-passport gates at ports for faster entry into the UK from today, writes Candiece Cyrus.

Previously, only travellers aged 12 and above could use them. 

E-passport gates scan the photo and key details of a traveller’s passport, and use a camera to capture an image of the traveller’s face, to confirm their identity, eliminating the need for travellers to show their passport to a Border Force Officer.

There are 293 e-passport gates located at the following 14 airports and at Eurostar terminals in France:

  • Gatwick
  • Heathrow
  • Birmingham
  • Manchester
  • Bristol
  • Cardiff International
  • East Midlands
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • London City
  • Luton
  • Newcastle
  • Southend
  • Stansted
  • Paris, Brussels and Lille (rail terminals).

The change follows a trial run of the extended age limit at Gatwick, Stansted and Heathrow. It comes in time for the expected peak in overseas family holidays over the summer, to aid smooth entry back into the UK.

According to the government, passenger volumes are expected to return to 2019 levels this summer, with certain ports seeing even higher levels of activity. Around 42% of Brits plan to go abroad this summer, according to a YouGov poll, and Border Force expects over 34 million air arrivals.

Around 400,000 10 and 11-year-olds are expected to use the e-passport gates this year.

In May, travellers were faced with long queues at airports such as Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester when e-passport gates stopped working due to a technical fault. 

Robert Jenrick, immigration minister, said: “Families with children over the age of 10 will be able to benefit from quicker entry into the UK using e-passport gates. This national rollout will make travelling easier for passengers and strengthens the security of the UK border.

“The UK processes more passengers through e-passport gates than any other country – and today’s announcement ensures we remain at the forefront of technology.”

Travellers can typically use an e-passport gate if:

  • there is a biometric passport symbol on their passport cover
  • they are aged 10 or older
  • they are a British citizen or a national of an EU country, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the USA.

The facility is also available to those who are members of the Registered Traveller Service – which offers ‘faster and more convenient entry at passport control’ for frequent travellers – and choose to use an e-passport gate.

Travellers should still get their passport checked by Border force, and not use an e-passport gate if they have a Temporary Work – Creative Worker Certificate of Sponsorship or are carrying out a ‘permitted paid engagement’, as an expert in their profession that has been invited to the UK.

13 July: Airport Drop-Off Fees Continue To Rise, Says RAC

Seven of the UK’s busiest airports are increasing the fees they charge drivers for dropping off air passengers at their terminals, according to research from RAC.

Drop-off charges will be increasing by as much as 50% at some airports, while Belfast City airport will introduce a fee for the first time, costing drivers £3 for 10 minutes.

Southampton Airport has increased prices by the most, with drivers now paying £6 for a 20 minute drop-off, up from £4 in 2022. 

Belfast International Airport has put prices up from £2 to £3 for 10 minutes. Glasgow Airport charged £4 for a 15 minute drop-off in 2022, but now charges £5. Last year, Aberdeen Airport charged £4 for 10 minutes in 2022, but now charges £5 for 15 minutes.

Finally, Liverpool John Lennon Airport has gone from charging £4 for £10 minutes to £5, while Birmingham Airport’s 15-minute drop off now costs £4, up from £3.

London Stansted holds the dubious honour of charging the most for a 15 minute stay at £7, but has not increased prices this year. Cardiff, London City and Inverness airports, meanwhile, all offer fee-free drop offs.

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