If ever there was a time to book an airport hotel, this is it.
Air travel across the UK is in chaos thanks to the snow. Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Edinburgh and Aberdeen have all been closed at varying times during the past week. On Sunday we sold out of hotels at Gatwick and Stansted – and very nearly at Heathrow – and had to call in staff on their day off to help the call centre cope with the overwhelming volume of calls.
As customers booked, unbooked and rebooked, the phones were ringing off the hook and, although we were able to help many people, it was heart-rending when we couldn’t. Five minutes after we sold our last room at Gatwick, I had an American customer on the phone who’d already endured delays coming over from Europe, and was now facing the prospect of a night in Gatwick airport before – he hoped – catching his flight to the States.
“I’ve had problems every step of the way and I just want to get home to America for Christmas,” he told me forlornly. “Looks like I’m going to have to sleep in the terminal. Are you allowed to sleep in the terminal?” My heart ached for him and I wished I could somehow, someway, magic a hotel room out of the air for him. But I couldn’t.
It doesn’t have to be this luxurious – but it can be
So here’s my Christmas message, a bit earlier than the Queen’s: If you’re flying from a UK airport this week, and you’re at all worried about snow interfering with your plans, book an airport hotel.
People assume they’re expensive. They’re only expensive if you choose to stay somewhere expensive. Our prices for Thursday, December 23 currently start from £35 at Gatwick, £30 at Manchester and £35 at Glasgow. And – wait for it – that Glasgow price is for a four-star hotel. It’s almost worth booking even if you’re not going anywhere, just because it’s such an amazing bargain.
Yes, it’s £35 that you could spend on your holiday instead. But if you don’t get to the airport, you won’t be going anywhere. No-one knows what the weather’s doing at the moment, or how long any journey will take, or how much snow and ice they’ll hit on the way. Driving in snowy conditions is always more difficult, but if you know you can take your time, it’s much less of a problem than if you’ve got to catch your flight and can’t really afford to be delayed. Even if you make your flight, you’ll be starting your holiday stressed out – and if you don’t, your chances of getting on another flight amid the chaos currently prevailing are probably slim. Set against the huge disappointment of losing out on your holiday – which may well have cost you hundreds of pounds – I’d say the price of an airport hotel was worth paying.
Make it your Christmas present to yourself.