Travel Disruption as the Big Freeze Sets In

With many of the UK’s airport closed at times over the weekend and further delays expected at Heathrow today because of the weekend’s flight cancellations, Europe’s big freeze is playing havoc with travel plans.

So far over 300 have died due to extreme conditions across Europe as well as parts of North Africa. Despite the fact that continental airports were still operating, Heathrow’s cancellations upset angry passengers who faced long delays or disrupted routes despite the fact that only three inches of snow fell at London’s main airport.

Despite £32 million being spent on snow-clearing equipment at Heathrow to prevent a repeat of the travel chaos over the Christmas period in 2012, 600 flights were grounded over the weekend, affecting up to 18,000 passengers.

A spokesperson said yesterday, “Heathrow is open. Our runways, taxiways and stands have been cleared of snow. Our snow plan has worked far better than in previous years and the airport is getting back to normal.”

The airport is planning its usual flight schedule but is warning that some cancellations may be on the cards because of the weekend’s disruption and aircraft and crew having to be repositioned. Authorities are advising passengers to check the status of their flight before travelling – ideally before leaving home or their hotel.

Luton, Stansted and Birmingham were among airports closed due snow on Saturday.

Gatwick has also said it is expecting to be back to normal today, but travellers should check with their airline for up to the minute advisories. Meanwhile, severe fog is causing delays at London City Airport.

The Met Office has warned that ice could be a hazard on roads and pavements across much of England and south-east Wales after major snowfalls have blocked roads in the South East, East Anglia, Lincolnshire, parts of the Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East, and some places in North Yorkshire and Suffolk are under six inches of snow.

Some villages in Oxfordshire plunged to -12c overnight, colder than parts of Norway and the Thames froze over at Limehouse, Kingston, Hampton Court, Teddington and in Benson. Further south, the sea froze at Poole, Dorset. Both the AA and the RAC have urged motorists to stay at home if possible to avoid treacherous road conditions.

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