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There are more Christmas Day escapes to Europe on offer than ever

Simon Calder
·3 min read
Welcome sight: Tram 28 in Lisbon (Simon Calder )
Welcome sight: Tram 28 in Lisbon (Simon Calder )

Despite the devastation that the coronavirus pandemic has wrought on the aviation industry, there are more opportunities to fly to Europe on 25 December than ever.

In previous years, the standard pattern for Christmas Day is that long-haul links operate a near-normal service, in order to have aircraft and crew in the right places on Boxing Day and beyond.

Christmas 2020 is likely to see a far lower range of intercontinental departures than usual; for example, British Airways has only one flight from London Heathrow to New York JFK and none to Singapore.

But due largely to the Hungarian-based low-cost airline Wizz Air, travellers heading from the London area to Europe have unprecedented choice – with fares as low as £11, which does not even cover Air Passenger Duty.

The Independent has analysed schedules and has identified a wide range of options.

The earliest and most exotic is the 5.45am departure from Luton to Olsztyn in northeast Poland, about 30 miles south of the border with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

A much warmer destination is Lanzarote, destination for Wizz Air at 3.45pm – currently on sale at just £20, and with no quarantine for returning holidaymakers.

Poland, Spain and Portugal appear to be the most popular targets for flights.

Some destinations even have multiple flights: TAP Portugal has three flights from Heathrow to Lisbon, and Wizz Air also flies to the Portuguese capital. KLM has departures from Heathrow to Amsterdam at both 6.30am and 10am, while there are morning and evening flights from Luton to Warsaw on Wizz Air.

The only UK domestic links are between London and Manchester on British Airways, with one flight in each direction: northbound at 7.55am (£56) and southbound at 9.50am (£50).

Fares are one-way for the specified departure and do not include checked baggage. Research conducted direct with airlines’ websites on 27 November 2020. Be aware that you currently need to self-isolate for 14 days, or take a test after five, on return.

Austria

Heathrow to Vienna, Austrian Airlines, 7.35pm (£58)

France

Gatwick to Paris Orly, Vueling, 12.55pm (£45).

Heathrow to Paris CDG, Air France, 9am (£85) and 5.40pm (£72)

Hungary

Luton to Budapest, Wizz Air, 3.10pm (£22)

Italy

Luton to Milan Malpensa, Wizz Air, 8.40am (£11)

Gatwick to Florence, Vueling, 3.50pm (£47)

Netherlands

Heathrow to Amsterdam, KLM, 6.30am and 10am (both £60)

Poland

Luton to Olsztyn, Wizz Air, 5.45am (£14)

Luton to Gdansk, Wizz Air, 8.25am (£25)

Luton to Krakow, Wizz Air, 8.25pm (£16)

Heathrow to Warsaw, LOT, 6.25pm (£47)

Luton to Warsaw, Wizz Air, 8.15am (£28) and 7.45pm (£19)

Portugal

Heathrow to Lisbon, TAP Portugal, 6am (£80), 6.30pm (£95) and 7.55pm (£95)

Luton to Lisbon, Wizz Air, 5.20pm (£32)

Heathrow to Porto, TAP Portugal, 8.15am (£105)

Spain

Gatwick to Barcelona, Vueling, 8.55pm (£36)

Luton to Lanzarote, Wizz Air, 3.45pm (£20)

Gatwick to Madrid, Air Europa (£36)

Heathrow to Madrid, Iberia, 10.40am (£63) and 6.50pm (£54)

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