What a year it’s been in the world of travel.
Year three of the Covid era began dismally, with tough testing and quarantine rules for arrivals to the UK – imposed hurriedly late in 2021 as a hopeless attempt to stem the spread of the Omicron variant.
To demonstrate that other governments could make ludicrous decisions too, 2022 began with France continuing its near-total ban on British visitors. It successfully wiped out New Year ski trips, in the same way that Australia and New Zealand banned family visits from British travellers.
By March, the UK finally got rid of futile rules aimed at international arrivals – though the Brexit ban on European visitors with ID cards succeeded in suppressing inbound tourism for the remainder of the year.
As the brakes came off, the travel industry unravelled. Airlines and airports had been crushed more comprehensively in the UK by pointless rules than in any other major European nation. And when they opened up in the hope of cashing in on a surge of demand that lasted for the rest of the year, the wheels came off too.
Random short-notice flight cancellations have continued ever since. Those sensibly seeking to travel to Europe by sea or rail found that another Brexit consequence – the UK’s insistence on creating an EU external frontier in Kent and at London St Pancras International – caused massive delays and constrained capacity.
Holidaying at home was hampered all the way from Midsummer’s Day to the end of the year by the biggest series of rail strikes since the 1980s.
Long-haul air fares, meanwhile, soared to unprecedented levels as airlines kept a lid on available seats across the Atlantic and the Chinese ban on international travel took huge chunks of capacity out to Asia and Australasia.
Having said all that, tens of millions of us found passion for travel rekindled as Covid restrictions eased around the world. As 2022 draws to a close, let’s hope that the New Year brings more freedom and more joy. Meanwhile, here is a look back at the biggest story each month – with an apology for any flashback anxiety it brings on.
Taxpayers spent £500,000 so that the-then foreign secretary, Liz Truss, didn’t have to fly to, from and within Australia on Qantas. Instead, she and a handful of officials travelled 22,000 miles by private government Airbus…