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Christmas journey: The busiest days on trains, at airports and on the roads - Travel Online Tips
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Christmas journey: The busiest days on trains, at airports and on the roads

Friday 22 December is about to be the busiest-ever day within the festive season at main UK airports – with the next day seeing massive crowds at rail stations as travellers search to succeed in their Christmas vacation spot earlier than engineering works start.

Exclusive analysis reveals London Heathrow airport will likely be as busy as a peak day in summer time on the final Friday earlier than Christmas, dubbed “Flyaway Friday”. The similar day, 22 December, can be anticipated to see most stress on Aberdeen, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Liverpool airports, in response to figures seen by The Independent.

Travellers might expertise lengthy queues for safety because of the excessive proportion of airline passengers who journey sometimes and are due to this fact unfamiliar with procedures. Airport customers will even be sporting winter garments – and lots of will likely be carrying potential gadgets of curiosity of their cabin baggage.

A spokesperson for Liverpool John Lennon airport stated: “We also ask that presents carried in hand luggage are not wrapped to avoid disappointment in case we need to examine them further as part of the baggage screening process. Take your wrapping paper with you and wrap them once you’ve arrived.”

East Midlands, London Stansted and Manchester airports are anticipated to be busiest on Saturday 23 December. This can be the date when key rail hyperlinks will see peak stress. On Christmas Eve, two of the UK’s busiest stations – Paddington and King’s Cross in London – will likely be closed because of engineering work, forward of the traditional 25 December nationwide shutdown.

On the railways, probably the most closely booked intercity prepare is believed to be the ten.03am GWR from London Paddington to Penzance on Saturday 23 December.

Engineering work by Network Rail begins as early as 23 December, with TransPennine Express warning of prolonged journey occasions between Leeds and York.

National Express coaches are most closely booked on 23 December, whereas rivals Flixbus and Megabus report equally heavy demand on 22 and 23 December.

The closing Friday and Saturday earlier than Christmas are additionally the height days for P&O’s ferry hyperlinks from Dover to Calais and Cairnryan to Larne.

Road customers can count on a number of peaks, in response to Rod Dennis from RAC Breakdown. He stated: “We expect something of a double wave of getaway trips in the run-up to Christmas this year, reflecting the fact that schools break up on alternate weeks.

“But it’s the journeys made much closer to the big day that could lead to more of the jams. There’s a good chance drivers will cram lots of journeys into the weekend of 23 and 24 December, making these two dates to avoid being on the roads. If you can’t, allow some extra time and expect some lengthy delays.”

Christmas Day is often a really quiet day for journey throughout the UK and overseas. But 25 December 2023 will see extra flights to and from British airports than ever – in addition to record numbers of intercity coaches within the UK.

These are the important thing figures and recommendation for travellers over Christmas.


Heathrow will deal with nearly a quarter-of-a-million passengers on Friday 22 December. Nearly 800 flights will function from the UK’s busiest airport on Christmas Day. The hottest routes are to New York JFK and Dubai.

Dubai can be one of many prime 5 locations from Birmingham airport, together with Dublin, Tenerife, Geneva and Amsterdam.

Glasgow airport will deal with greater than 10,000 departing passengers on three days over Christmas: 22, 28 and 29 December.

Edinburgh airport will deal with greater than 7,000 passengers on Christmas Day – one-sixth of the traditional ranges. After Friday 22 December, the busiest day on the Scottish capital’s airport will likely be Friday 29 December.

Liverpool John Lennon airport will see 30 per cent of common day by day passengers on Christmas Day, and a traditional journey day on 1 January.


Avanti West Coast, which connects London Euston with the West Midlands, northwest England, North Wales and southern Scotland, says reservations are nonetheless “modest” for every thing exterior of the morning of the 27 December, however that 22 and 23 December are anticipated to be busy too.

On LNER, the primary operator on the East Coast important line from London King’s Cross to Yorkshire, northeast England and Scotland, 23 December and 27 December are at present proving the most well-liked days to journey, with 30 December and a pair of January additionally well-liked.

Between London and the West of England and South Wales, GWR stories that Saturday 23 December is “marginally busier” than Friday 22 December, with each dates busier than the previous days. The most in-demand routes are London Paddington to Exeter, Bath, Bristol Parkway, Cardiff and Plymouth, in addition to Bath to Paddington.

“Trains in the morning, between 9am and 10am, are much busier than later in the morning and the afternoon/evening,” a spokesperson stated.

Full details of the Christmas engineering works have been published by The Independent.

No additional rail industrial motion is anticipated earlier than Christmas.


On National Express and Megabus, the weekend of Friday 15-Sunday 17 December will likely be busy with many college students travelling dwelling from college. Saturday 23 December is the height day earlier than Christmas; afterwards, it’s Boxing Day, when few trains are working, and Wednesday 27 December. National Express says passenger bookings are 13 per cent up on final Christmas.


Brittany Ferries says 22 December is the busiest day over Christmas, although some areas are nonetheless out there. A spokesperson stated: “For those that are keen to go away it just a little later there’s nonetheless some good availability on Christmas Eve from Portsmouth to Caen at 8am, with a automobile and two individuals costing £190.

P&O Ferries stories that Hull-Rotterdam will likely be busiest on 14-16 and 27-29 December, with heavy inbound reserving on 15-17, 21/22 and 27/28 December.

No ferries are working on Christmas Day to or from UK ports, so far as The Independent can see.

Transport for London

London Underground will likely be working each day besides Christmas Day.

No Elizabeth Line providers on Boxing between Ealing Broadway and Paddington on Sunday 24 December and Wednesday 27 December 2023, because of work on HS2.

The central London Congestion Charge won’t function from Monday 25 December to Monday 1 January.


No Eurostar trains will run to or from London St Pancras International on Christmas Day, however demand to and from Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam is anticipated to be heavy when providers resume on Boxing Day. The Channel Tunnel rail agency is working 13 trains every solution to and from Paris on 26 December.

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