Travel Unpacked: A new flight-booking tool and the UK’s worst airport

The National rounds up the most interesting tourism news you might have missed

Manchester Airport's Terminal 3 is the worst in Britain, according to one study. EPA
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Supersonic travel has been on the cards for decades, but Nasa appears to be speeding up the process with its Advanced Air Vehicles Program, which is now moving into its next phase, the agency recently confirmed.

Slowing travel down, on the other hand, are the huge queues at one British airport, which has been named the UK's worst.

Meanwhile, one UAE airline is offering tickets to lucky winners for a weekend trip to a “mystery destination”.

Here's a round-up of recent travel and tourism news – in case you missed it.

UK’s worst airport named in study

Manchester Airport is the worst airport in the UK, according to the latest research from Which?

Customers rated it “dismal”, though the airport hit back saying the study was “deeply flawed”.

The consumer group’s annual report asked about 4,000 people about their experiences in airports across Britain between June 2022 and 2023. Criteria included seating, toilets, queues, passport control, staff and security.

All three of Manchester’s terminals ranked in the bottom five, with Terminal 3 coming last, with a score of 38 per cent, closely followed by Terminal 1, with 44 per cent. Terminal 2 scored 50 per cent, just ahead of Luton and Birmingham’s airports. Liverpool's John Lennon was ranked highest.

Earlier this year, online luxury travel agent eShores also placed Manchester Airport last in its rankings of UK airports.

Mystery flight competition returns to UAE

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi has brought back its #GetLostwithWizz competition, which offers winners the opportunity to “get lost” over a weekend in a mystery destination, along with a plus one. Flights, accommodation and travel insurance are all included in the prize pot.

The flight will depart from Abu Dhabi on September 21 and return three days later. Passengers won’t know where they’re going until they get there.

To be in with the chance of winning, applicants must have their Instagram profile public and follow @WizzAir, as well as share a post on the platform of their most memorable travel moment, tagging the airline with the hashtag before midnight on Sunday.

Last year, for the inaugural competition, the mystery destination was revealed as Georgia.

New tool predicts best time to book

Last week, Google Flights launched a new tool to give customers insight on when might be the best time to book the most affordably priced plane tickets.

Using trend data, the platform can tell you if the cheapest time to book similar trips is usually two months before departure, or that prices have previously dropped closer to take-off, suggesting you wait to book.

This complements older features such as price tracking, which, if turned on, automatically notifies you when flight prices drop; and the price guarantee badge, which means Google is “especially confident” the fare won't get any lower before departure.

Qantas could face hundreds of millions in fines

Australia’s biggest airline is being accused of advertising and selling tickets for more than 8,000 flights it had already cancelled in its system, breaking the country's consumer law.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which is taking Qantas to court over the claims, says the tickets were on sale on its website for an average of two weeks after the cancellations, potentially affecting the travel plans of tens of thousands of people and causing them to buy higher-priced tickets as a result. This happened during the period of May to July 2022, when the airline cancelled almost one in four flights.

Qantas could face maximum fines of 10 million Australian dollars for each breach or 10 per cent of the corporation’s annual turnover, depending on which is the greater amount.

Nasa moves into next phase of supersonic flight research

Flying from New York to London in about 90 minutes could be feasible, according to recent research by Nasa. In a recent blog post, the space agency announced it has been investigating the business case for supersonic passenger air travel with aircraft that could theoretically go between Mach 2 and Mach 4 (2,470kph to 4,900kph), or about 80 per cent of the speed of sound.

The study concluded that there are “potential passenger markets” in “about 50 established routes”.

Nasa is also developing a “quiet” supersonic aircraft, called X-59, as part of its Quesst mission.

The Advanced Air Vehicles Program is now moving into the next phase of this high-speed travel research, the agency confirmed. This includes issuing two contracts to companies to develop concept designs and technology road maps that will explore air travel possibilities, outline risks and challenges, and identify “needed technologies to make Mach 2-plus travel a reality”.

Redheads congregate at Netherlands festival

Thousands of redheaded people gathered in the town of Tilburg, in the Netherlands, to celebrate their auburn hair as part of the annual three-day Redhead Days Festival.

About 5,000 redheads from across the world attended, according to organisers, to participate in workshops, photo shoots and speed-meet events.

The Dutch festival began by accident in 2005, after Bart Rouwenhorst placed an advert in a regional newspaper seeking 15 red-haired models. He got 150 responses – and the rest is history.

Updated: September 25, 2023, 10:25 AM