Travel news latest: Greece to scrap mask rules and Covid passports in time for summer holidays

Holidays to Greece will come with less admin this summer 
Holidays to Greece will come with less admin this summer 

The Image Bank RF/David C Tomlinson

Greek authorities have confirmed that domestic Covid passports will be scrapped and mask rules relaxed in time for the peak summer holiday season.

Minister of Health Thanos Plevris said that the requirement to show a Covid pass to enter bars, restaurants and other public venues would be withdrawn on May 1. From June 1, mask rules will be relaxed in most venues, with exceptions – likely to include healthcare settings – to be outlined at a later date. 

He added that the removal of international entry requirements – currently Britons must show proof of either vaccination (including a booster if their second dose was administered more than 270 days before), recent recovery from Covid, or a negative test to visit Greece – are also under consideration. 

Britons planning to visit Greece this summer will welcome the news. Many Telegraph Travel readers have expressed a reluctance to visit countries with strict Covid rules.

What happened today?

A quick recap of today’s top stories:

  • Priti Patel was warned about Easter travel chaos a month ago
  • Majority of EasyJet flights from Gatwick delayed this morning
  • P&O Dover-Calais sailings restart doubtful before Easter ​
  • Lessons must be learnt from Easter ‘travel shambles’, says Which?  ​
  • Flybe relaunches with inaugural flight from Birmingham to Belfast  ​

Scroll down for more on this week’s travel chaos.

The 10 most popular islands in Greece – and the quiet ones you should visit instead 

We all have an idea in our heads of the perfect Greek island holiday. For many it will essentially boil down to having lots of fun in an upbeat resort, with plenty of lively bars, tavernas, distractions and day trips. The country’s most popular holiday islands are all well set up for this. 

But if Greece does one thing exceptionally well – better in fact than anywhere else in Europe we can think of – it is to offer exactly the opposite: peace, quiet and sense of escape – both physical and mental – from the everyday.

Skip the tourist crowds in colourful Karpathos


So if you want to relax and recharge away from the tourist hotspots, lie on a beach without the bars, stay in a town where there are as many locals as tourists in the tavernas, where you can watch the sunset in glorious isolation and forget about pandemics and the demands of your iPhone, you will find some wonderful options among the myriad islands of the Aegean and the Adriatic. The only problem is choosing which one.

We have had some fun swapping 10 of Greece’s best-known destinations with a nearby alternative which will offer you a complete contrast. It’s amazing what a difference a short ferry ride can make. 

Read on, for some inspiration on avoiding the crowds in Greece.

New low-cost flights to Turkey and Greece launched

Turkish airline Corendon has launched a new range of flights for the summer of 2022, covering destinations including Antalya, Dalaman, Bodrum, Crete and Rhodes.

The flights operate from Gatwick, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham and Newcastle airports.

Corendon Airlines chairman Yildiray Karaer said:

“Seeing our first flights for the summer 2022 season travel with full capacity is a fantastic start to what will be our first full season operating from the UK,” Karaer added.

“We are delighted with the current demand for our flights. We can see that British tourists missed our country, following the travel restrictions over the last two years, caused during the Covid-19 outbreak.”

How to claim compensation if your flight has been delayed or cancelled

If your flight has been delayed or cancelled this week, you could be eligible for a refund.

Find out whether your are due some cash-back, and how to claim, here.

Lunchtime read: The 10 commandments you must obey when ordering coffee in Italy

Above all else, never drink a cappuccino in the afternoon – or after a meal, writes Lee Marshall.

1. Milk in the morning

Thou shalt only drink cappuccino, caffé latte, latte macchiato or any milky form of coffee in the morning, and never after a meal. Italians cringe at the thought of all that hot milk hitting a full stomach. An American friend of mine who has lived in Rome for many years continues, knowingly, to break this rule. But she has learnt, at least, to apologise to the barman.

2. Keep in simple

Thou shalt not muck around with coffee. Requesting a mint frappuccino in Italy is like asking for a single malt whisky and lemonade with a swizzle stick in a Glasgow pub. There are but one or two regional exceptions to this rule that have met with the blessing of the general coffee synod. In Naples, thou mayst order un caffè alla nocciola – a frothy espresso with hazelnut cream. In Milan thou can impress the locals by asking for un marocchino, a sort of upside-down cappuccino, served in a small glass which is first sprinkled with cocoa powder, then hit with a blob of frothed milk, then spiked with a shot of espresso.

3. Never say ‘espresso’

Which reminds me, thou shalt not use the word espresso. This a technical term in Italian, not an everyday one. As espresso is the default setting and single the default dose, a single espresso is simply known as un caffè. And for pity’s sake, don’t say ‘expresso’ either.

Find the full list here.

The 20 best family holidays abroad for 2022

From summer sojourns on Portugal’s untamed coast to superb safaris in Botswana, these are the family holidays you’ll remember forever.

We all need a holiday and who better to take a trip with than your family? 

Stone RF

How quickly we forget. Not so long ago, at the start of the year, we were wondering if it was too risky to take a punt on Spain for a summer holiday. Now friends are returning from Florida and Nevis with suntans and talking about imminent trips to Mexico, the Seychelles, even Australia. So with the red list but a distant memory, and the whole world at our feet again, the big question is: where first?

All this freedom, all this choice – it’s almost too much. The possibilities are limitless. Once again, all that colour and vitality, all those unfamiliar flavours and mind-expanding cultures. Empty red deserts and the deep blue sea; the fragrance of the far-flung; the untethered remoteness of islands. The heat and dust and remarkable wildlife encounters of Africa. North America, that drama queen of a continent, beckons with its supersized and diverse landscapes; Italy, our eternal amore, proves that absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

Read the full story. 

Flybe relaunches with inaugural flight from Birmingham to Belfast 

Formerly collapsed carrier Flybe has officially relaunched today with its first flight from Birmingham to Belfast City airport. 

More routes are set to launch in the coming weeks, with services from Birmingham to Glasgow commencing tomorrow.  The regional carrier, which is under new ownership after collapsing in March 2020,  will eventually expand to a timetable of some 530 domestic and international flights each week. 

Flybe Chief executive, Dave Pflieger, said: “Today is a big day for everyone at Flybe.

“After a year of incredibly hard work, we are thrilled to have our fast, quiet and fuel/CO2 efficient Dash 8-400 (Q400) aircraft back in the sky connecting customers to two of the UK’s premier regional cities.

“Over the coming weeks and months our flight schedule will further ramp up as we take delivery of additional aircraft and serve other new destinations from Birmingham including Amsterdam, Avignon, Brest, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.”

Why moving house could mean you are denied boarding on your next flight

A hidden quirk with the NHS app could throw your next holiday into disarray, writes Greg Dickinson.

We have to fill in far fewer forms to go on holiday today than we did six months ago, after countries have relaxed their Covid testing requirements and dropped passenger locator forms. But there is one enduring loophole that could throw your next holiday into disarray. I should know, because I almost fell foul of it myself just last week.

It was the day before my partner and I were due to travel to Almeria, in the south of Spain, and we were doing our final checks. I asked her when she received her booster shot – a question in the (since dropped) passenger locator form for Spain, which I was filling out for both of us. But when she loaded up her Covid Pass on the NHS app, it had been deactivated.

“There is a problem connecting to your GP surgery,” it read. The pass was nowhere to be seen.

The only way to reactivate the pass digitally was to send some photographic ID, which she promptly did, and then a message came through saying that the NHS app was checking the information, and that approval would come through within 24 hours or at busier times, longer. 

Read the full story.

New Zealand welcomes Australian visitors as border restrictions ease

New Zealand has today reopened its borders to Australian visitors for the first time since mid-2021.

Friends and families were pictured reuniting at Auckland airport after the first flight landed with those eagerly waiting in arrivals holding up signs stating  “Hello & Kia Ora & G’day & Welcome”.

Arrivals are welcomed at Auckland International Airport today 


Air New Zealand said it was running 11 almost-full flights from Australia on April 13.

“This is the first step in welcoming international visitors back to our shores and we couldn’t be more excited for both New Zealand and Air New Zealand,” said Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty in a statement.

British tourists are set to be able to visit from May 1.

A passenger is greeted after arriving on a flight from Sydney at Wellington International Airport today


Holidaymakers urged to renew passports now or face missing summer holidays

It’s not only flight delays and cancellations that could scupper summer holidays. Travellers are being warned to apply for new passports in good time due to potential processing delays. 

The passport office has said it expects applications for renewals to rise dramatically ahead of the summer holidays, with travellers potentially waiting for 10 weeks for new documents – double the standard waiting time. 

Passport director general, Abi Tierney, said: “Many people are leaving applying for a passport too late.”

“Summer holidays are fast approaching so if you need a new passport we urge you to apply now,” she added.

 When will America ditch its Covid rules?  

The US is one of the few major holiday destinations to still require even vaccinated travellers to provide evidence of a recent negative Covid test, taken within just 24 hours of departure. And with current UK Covid rates remaining stubbornly high, holidaymakers continue to be faced with huge anxiety about whether their trips will go ahead, just one day before they jet off.

Some industry experts believe that demand for US holidays remains relatively low due to its insistence of persevering with strict testing rules. Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “I’m seeing destinations which continue to keep Covid testing measures in place lose traveller market share to other destinations.

“The US is not benefiting from the rebound in travel as much as other countries because of the continuing testing rules for entry. It’s now time to remove these excessive and costly rules and live with Covid as most other countries are. It would do wonders for bookings for the US.”

Read the full story.

Which countries have scrapped masks?

With Greece set to relax face mask rules in time for the summer holidays, we take a look at the destinations which currently have no mask requirements. 

Telegraph Travel counts at least 13 countries that have scrapped mask mandates, indoors and out. 

  • Denmark

  • Estonia

  • Finland

  • Hungary

  • Iceland

  • Ireland

  • Maldives

  • Norway

  • Poland

  • Romania

  • Sweden

  • Turkey (in most settings)

  • US (some states, eg. Florida)

Lessons must be learnt from Easter ‘travel shambles’, says Which? 

Which? Travel editor Rory Boland has called for “lessons to be learnt from the travel shambles during the Easter holidays.”

Mr Boland said:

With many in the industry predicting a busy summer, the Government must work with airlines and airports to ensure they have the resources and capacity to handle increased passenger numbers, as there can be no excuse for a repeat of these failings.

Airlines wouldn’t be ignoring the law and their passengers’ rights if the aviation regulator had some teeth.

The Department for Transport can support consumers by equipping the Civil Aviation Authority with direct fining powers. It should also drop its plans to change compensation rules for UK flights which are an important deterrent against passengers being treated unfairly.

Could Greece’s Covid rules return in September?

While Greece today announced a roadmap for the removal of Covid restrictions (domestic Covid passports will be scrapped on May 1 and mask rules relaxed on June 1), it has left the door open for their return. Health Minister Thanos Plevris said: “All measures will be reviewed on September 1, depending on the picture of the pandemic.”

Despite its lingering rules, Greece has experienced a significantly higher Covid case rate than the UK since the start of the year. 

More flights axed as Easter travel chaos continues

Dozens more flights from UK airports have been cancelled today as holidaymakers continue to grapple with travel disruption over the Easter break. 

So far at least 17 British Airways flights from Heathrow have been axed, including services to Paris, Rome and Amsterdam. EasyJet has scrapped a host of flights from Gatwick, while nearly all of its departures on Wednesday morning were delayed. Its CEO Johan Lundgren blamed Covid absences and problems clearing new crew to start work. 

The ongoing chaos comes after one airport recruitment expert warned that staffing issues could continue to wreak havoc for at least a year. 

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Kully Sandhu, the managing director of Aviation Recruitment Network Limited, said: “My personal opinion, it is going to take at least the next 12 months for the industry vacancy-wise to settle down.”

More than 1,000 flights have been cancelled since the start of the Easter holidays and many of those managing to travel continue to face long queues at the UK’s major airports. 

Every country in Europe will feel more expensive this summer – except one

If you haven’t booked your summer holiday yet, you’re in luck. This Med resort offers the lowest prices out of 36 popular destinations, writes Nick Trend

Head for Nice or Puglia and you face paying about four times more than in Marmaris


Imagine a world where a cup of coffee in a cafe costs 59p, where a beer in a bar is £1.54 and the bill for a three-course meal for two – complete with a bottle of wine – comes in at £16. It would make the cost of living crunch seem like a bad memory. The good news is that such a world does exist – it’s called Marmaris in Turkey. 

According to the latest Holiday Money Report from the Post Office, published in March, the Turkish resort offers the lowest prices out of the 36 popular destinations that it surveyed. Its comparative shopping basket cost a total of £26.13, compared with, for example, £44.39 in the Algarve, £56.44 in Cyprus and £59.56 on the Costa del Sol. Head for Nice or Puglia, and you would have to pay about four times more than in Marmaris. It would likely be the same with a domestic break in the UK too (although it wasn’t included in the survey). 

Read the full story. 

Extinction Rebellion protests trigger fuel crisis at Birmingham airport

Extinction Rebellion protests forced Birmingham airport to ask aircraft to land with enough fuel for return trips after its tanks risked running dry.

Protests at the Kingsbury oil depot, where 29 people were arrested over the weekend, have led to jet fuel deliveries being held up in recent days.

Airport executives said that flights were “largely unaffected” as airlines were asked to land with extra fuel. Meanwhile, supplies were sourced from other depots instead.

Nevertheless, aviation bosses held crisis talks with government officials late last week amid fears that reserves could dry up across other airports across the UK.

“Just Stop Oil” demonstrations at fuel depots have already sparked fears of shortages on petrol forecourts.

Downing Street has condemned protestors for employing “guerilla tactics” such as chaining themselves to pipework. Labour has called for nationwide injunctions to allow deliveries to be made without disruption.

Read the full story. 

Is the worst of the Easter airport chaos over?

Some travel industry experts are hopeful that the worst of the Easter travel chaos may be over. Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency has pointed out that the number of flight cancellations looks to be decreasing. 

Is the worst over? Just 29 flight cancellations yesterday from the #UK compared with 126 on 3rd April; and no @easyJet cancellations at all yesterday according to @cirium data. #Covid-induced staff shortages seemingly declining. @ThePCAgency

— Paul Charles (@PPaulCharles) April 13, 2022

P&O Dover-Calais sailings restart doubtful before Easter

P&O passengers are facing more misery after another of the firm’s vessel’s was detained. As a result, its suspended services between Dover and Calais now look unlikely to resume before Easter. 

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said inspectors had found a “number of deficiencies” in The Spirit of Britain ship. 

An MCA spokesperson said: “We have advised P&O to invite us back once they have addressed the issues. We do not know yet when this will be.”

Twitter Poll: Vote in our British Airports Cup competition

🏆It’s time for the British Airports Cup, round four

With travellers facing long queues at airports across the country, we’re asking the Twittersphere which are Britain’s best and worst

So which of these is your favourite? @ABZ_Airport @LondonCityAir @EMA_Airport @LBIAirport

— Telegraph Travel (@TelegraphTravel) April 12, 2022

EasyJet boss blames new crew security checks and Covid for cancellations and delays

Delays in processing security checks for new airline crew are compounding the number of flights being cancelled, according to the boss of easyJet, reports PA.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said the airline is waiting for the Department for Transport (DfT) to give permission for around 100 new members of staff to start work.

EasyJet has cancelled hundreds of flights in recent days, mainly on routes serving Gatwick Airport.

Mr Lundgren explained this is primarily due to high levels of covid-related staff absences but also blamed the time it is taking for the Government to vet new recruits.

He said: “There’s this delay of the clearance from the DfT (Department for Transport) for people to get their IDs.

“There’s a backlog there and we’re waiting currently for about 100 cabin crew to get their IDs.

“There’s a three-week delay on that. That has had an impact. If that would have been on time, we would have seen less cancellations.”

This demonstrates that the rise in coronavirus infections has “impacted basically the whole of the UK,he added.

Which countries have scrapped all Covid travel restrictions? 

Switching gears from the ongoing Easter travel chaos, we take a look at which countries have scrapped all Covid travel restrictions. 

These countries are following in the UK’s footsteps, with no travel restrictions of any kind – regardless of vaccination status. Just don’t forget your passport.

  1. Costa Rica

  2. Czech Republic

  3. Denmark

  4. El Salvador

  5. Estonia

  6. Hungary

  7. Iceland

  8. Ireland

  9. Latvia

  10. Lithuania

  11. Madeira (Portugal)

  12. Maldives

  13. Mexico

  14. Moldova

  15. Montenegro

  16. Norway

  17. Poland

  18. Romania

  19. Slovenia

  20. Sweden

Transport Secretary warns of weekend of disruption

Grant Shapps has warned of travel disruption over Easter weekend, especially in Dover, and expressed “concern” over the operators’ staff shortages.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the Transport Secretary said:

I think certainly this weekend will be extremely busy on our roads, potentially at our ports – of course, particularly at Dover, where P&O disgracefully sacked all of their staff and then attempted to run ships which wouldn’t have been safe with the replacement below minimum wage staff they tried to hire quickly – and we know that none of their ships are running at the moment.

So I do expect there to be disruption, with no thanks to P&O there.

I am very concerned that the operators – I’m talking about the airlines, the airports, the ports – do ensure that they get back to strength and quickly.

They lost a lot of people during the pandemic. We have been warning them for a long time that they would need to gear up again and I’m very keen to make sure that they do everything possible to manage what I realised will be – and always is in fact, the Easter weekend – a very busy weekend on our transport system.

British Airways tries to poach cabin crew with £1,000 ‘welcome bonus’

British Airways is trying to lure cabin crew with security clearances from rivals with a £1,000 “welcome bonus” amid ferocious competition for staff, reports Oliver Gill

With airlines struggling to fill staff vacancies, the flag carrier has raised the stakes by advertising for cabin crew “with attestation and hold a current Heathrow or Stansted airside ID”.

The job description states: “For candidates who are successfully offered a role through this campaign, we’re offering a welcome bonus of £1,000 – paid in two instalments – £500 after your first three months, £500 after six months in role.”

Sources at rivals claimed this was an attempt by BA to poach their staff. 

Read the full story.

Majority of EasyJet flights from Gatwick delayed this morning

According to FlightRadar24, only a handful of EasyJet’s Gatwick departures have been cancelled so far today (services to Amsterdam at 0600, Preveza at 0610, Bologna at 0635, Berlin at 0640 and Kefalonia at 0745).

However, most have faced delays. Of the 27 EasyJet flights scheduled between 0600 and 0700, for example, just five left on time. The longest delay was faced by passengers on the 0615 departure to Zurich, which didn’t take off until 0735. 

Full list of BA cancellations from Heathrow on Wednesday

The following BA services have been axed from the UK’s busiest airport today. The airline previously said it has reduced services on its most frequently flown routes so that passengers are able to travel on the same day where possible. 

Heathrow-Dusseldorf 0640

Heathrow-Basel 0650

Heathrow-Frankfurt 0705

Heathrow-Milan Linate 0715

Heathrow-Oslo 0735

Heathrow-Dusseldorf 0740

Heathrow-Toulouse 0750

Heathrow-Aberdeen 0755

Heathrow-Rome 0820

Heathrow-Amsterdam 0820

Heathrow-Berlin 0845

Heathrow-Hamburg 1230

Heathrow-Dublin 1510

Heathrow-Geneva 1515

Heathrow-Brussels 1555

Heathrow-Glasgow 1620

Heathrow-Paris 2045

Priti Patel was warned about Easter travel chaos a month ago

Priti Patel was warned a month ago about a looming wave of travel chaos after passport control staff were sent to deal with the Dover migrant crisis instead, reports Oliver Gill

Airline chiefs told the Home Secretary in March that a lack of Border Force workers could spark massive passenger queues at terminals across Britain.

Airlines UK, the trade body for the likes of British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair, said last month in a leaked letter to Ms Patel that urgent action was needed to prevent mayhem as summer schedules began in April. The letter suggested that Border Force – which is responsible for immigration and customs checks – had also raised concerns internally.

Read the full story.

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