Thousands to come to Bristol and Exeter Airports for New Year's celebrations

  • Watch a family reunite at Bristol Airport

Thousands of passengers are expected to take flights in the next couple of days to enjoy New Year's celebrations abroad - despite cases of coronavirus continuing to rise.

People have been arriving at airports across the region – including Bristol and Exeter – to take advantage of no new Covid restrictions being brought in before the arrival of 2022.

One family returned home from France – which has some of the strictest restrictions in place - on December 30 and were just three of only a handful of people that arrived at Bristol Airport that morning.

One woman told ITV News: “The airport in France was so stressful. The queues were horrendous and so, so long.

"I can’t wait to go home."

Passengers at Exeter Airport say travelling should come down to personal choice Credit: ITV West Country

At Exeter Airport, travellers who are becoming familiar with pre-flight rituals of Covid tests, passenger locator forms and vaccine passes, said the decision to fly comes down to personal choice.

One said: "If you feel it’s safe, I think you’ve got to do what you feel is right. Don’t be put off – I feel really safe flying domestically.

"You don’t have to do any of the PCR tests, just a lateral flow to be on the safe side."

Another passenger admitted there’s "always going to be another risk" and advises that people "keep safety in their mind."

For passengers like Claire and her family, who have returned home to Tenerife, their flight to the UK was cancelled with fewer than 12-hours' notice putting their Christmas plans in the balance.

Claire and her family had their flight cancelled with fewer than 12 hours' notice Credit: ITV West Country

She said: “It’s just been crazy but it was worth coming back to see our family.

"Last night, we were checking the restrictions to get back into Spain and we’d seen they had made changes but nothing to the UK thankfully. It’s just been a nightmare."

The onsite covid testing centre at Bristol Airport has been at capacity over the last week testing more than 400 people a day.

A spokesperson for the airport said: "Bristol Airport is anticipating over 100,000 passengers will be travelling through Bristol Airport during the Christmas period (21 December until 31 December inclusive).

"During the busy Christmas holiday period passengers are advised to allow extra journey time to the Airport and to arrive at check-in at least a minimum of 2 hours prior to scheduled departure time.

"If travelling with presents passengers are asked to keep them unwrapped and check with the airline if wanting to take Christmas crackers away, as many airlines refuse to carry crackers on board the aircraft."