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Driving scams, train ticket waiting list: Nine France travel updates

We look at what to do if your luggage is lost, traffic predictions for the weekend ahead, Dover Port delays and the end of Eurotunnel’s frequent traveller scheme

We look at the stories affecting travel to, from and around France this week Pic: TungCheung / Maxx-Studio / EQRoy / ModernNomads / Shutterstock

We look at the stories affecting travel to, from and around France this week.

One of the key pieces of news to emerge in recent days is the fact that the UK government is planning to implement a new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) requirement for people entitled to visa-free travel entering the country.

This could involve travellers having to send a photo of themselves along with their personal and travel document details as well as pay a small fee in order to theoretically be allowed to pass through passport control without having to scan their passport or speak with border officers. 

This would work due to the introduction of facial recognition technology at passport gates.

Read more: Five questions on how UK’s new border scheme could impact EU tourists

Port of Dover warns of huge queues due to ‘woefully inadequate’ French border support

People travelling from the UK to France for summer breaks have been affected by hours-long queues in Dover this week. Port bosses today (July 22) blamed this on French border control. 

Read more: Six-hour queues at Dover: French police pledge to respond to criticism

“Despite the Port of Dover [...] preparing over several months for the busy summer period, we are deeply frustrated that the resource at the French border overnight and early this morning has been woefully inadequate to meet our predicted demand and even more so deeply regret the consequences that will now be felt by so many,” it said in a statement.  

The Port has previously announced that it was increasing French border control booths by 50% ahead of the summer holiday rush, but stated this morning that the Police aux Frontières resource was “insufficient” 

“We have shared traffic volumes in granular detail with the French authorities in order that these volumes can be matched by adequate border resource.

"We will continue to work with all Kent partners to look after those caught up in the current situation, which could and should have been avoided and play our part in resolving it as soon as possible.

“We have to work as a team, and when we do the system works incredibly well, but it is reliant on every team member playing their part.” 

A spokesperson for the French Police nationale has told The Connexion that they will provide a response to the criticism today.

SNCF launches waiting list for Ouigo services 

SNCF has introduced a new system through which people hoping to travel on booked-up Ouigo trains can sign up to a waiting list in the hope of buying tickets from passengers no longer wishing to travel. 

The service is called Ouigoswap, and enables people needing to cancel their journey to offer their ticket to the waiting list and receive 80% of the fare they paid if they have any takers. 

People waiting to see if any seats become available will be informed about the ticket by email or phone notification and will be able to buy it at the standard Ouigo rate. 

It will be possible to sign up to the waiting list until 23:59 the day before the departure date.

Until now, Ouigo tickets were neither exchangeable nor refundable. 

Despite this, 10% of passengers do not end up travelling on their booked train, while other people struggle to find a seat.

Heavy traffic this weekend as people set off on holiday 

Traffic is expected to be very heavy across France this weekend, starting from today (July 22).

Conditions will be at their most difficult today and tomorrow (July 23), especially in the Rhône Valley around Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines, and on the A7. 

Today, the Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines are also expected to be congested, as well as the Paris region.

The motorway company Vinci Autoroutes predicts that there will be heavy traffic until 18:00 today, from 07:00 until 17:00 tomorrow and from 09:00 until 16:00 on Sunday.

Drivers may experience delays between Poitiers and Bordeaux until 19:00 today and all day tomorrow and Sunday. 

The A61 between Toulouse and Narbonne will also be difficult for the whole weekend, as will the A9 between Nîmes and Montpellier.

For journeys between Montpellier and the Spanish border, drivers should perhaps try to avoid travelling this afternoon, tomorrow between 08:00 and 17:00, Sunday between 10:00 and 12:00 and late morning on Monday.

Traffic will also be very heavy around bigger towns in the south east, such as Toulon, Nice and Aix-en-Provence.

You can find out more about the traffic conditions on the national monitoring site, Bison Futé.

Eurotunnel says frequent traveller scheme will not be returning 

A Connexion reader has been told by Eurotunnel’s head office that the firm’s frequent traveller ticket scheme will not be reintroduced. 

Frequent traveller wallets came in various different forms but largely comprised a bundle of 10 or more tickets which were bought in advance and allowed passengers to travel at discounted rates. 

While a single standard ticket may cost between £100 and £120, 10-ticket frequent traveller wallets cost under £50 per journey – although camper vans, trailers, pets and peak-time journeys brought with them a supplementary charge. 

Customers could also choose a nominated person with whom they could share their tickets. 

The wallets were initially suspended because of Covid-related passenger number constraints, but were never reinstated.

Eurotunnel said to our reader that it was a “commercial decision” to withdraw the scheme.

The company has previously made reference to plans to introduce a new “off-peak multibuy [deal]” at some point.

The Connexion has contacted Eurotunnel for further information on any potential replacements for the frequent traveller deal.

What to do if your luggage is lost at the airport 

Recently, there were reports of thousands of cases piling up at Paris-Charles de Gaulle, after a baggage handler strike and a computer fault prevented the luggage from finding its owners.

If your case is lost during your journey, you should first go to the customer services department of the baggage handling company used by your airline, where a staff member should be able to search for your luggage.

If there is no customer kiosk, you should call your airline to report that your case has been lost. Do not wait to return home before you do this.

If, while without your case, you have to buy necessities such as underwear and toiletries, you can claim reimbursement from your airline by presenting them with the receipts. 

A kit containing necessary items can also be provided for you, but you do not have to accept it.

If your luggage is not returned to you in the 21 days following your arrival in the country, it is considered as being officially lost and you can claim compensation for your possessions and case of up to €1,500 in most cases. 

If this does not apply, you can claim compensation of €20 per kg of luggage.

Three driving scams to watch out for this summer 

Drivers have been warned by the French police about a scam in which a – most likely fake – €50 note is placed under their windscreen wiper. 

The thieves depend on the fact that the motorist will not see it until they get into the car, and then will get out – leaving the door open – to retrieve it. 

Someone will then appear out of nowhere, jump into the car and drive off. 

Another scam involves two people signalling for you to stop on the road on the pretext that you have a flat tyre. 

Once you pull over, they say that they will come with you to the nearest layby to help you, but when you crouch down to check the tyres with one, the other person goes through the car, stealing valuables. 

When you discover that there is actually no flat tyre, they apologise for the false alarm and walk off, carrying your wallet or handbag.

This type of scam can also see the scammer deliberately puncture your tyre when you stop, offer to help you and then demand payment for their efforts. 

Finally, drivers are also falling victim to a scam in which they are approached by someone claiming that they have smashed their wing mirror and that they must repay them for the damage. 

The scammer then calls up their ‘insurer’ – who is actually their accomplice – who tells them the price to pay.

The scammer then gains the trust of the innocent party by suggesting that they settle the matter with cash instead of going through their insurance.

Read more: How to avoid falling for new car registration scam in France

EasyJet introduces new check-in process to tackle summer queues

EasyJet has announced that it will now be allowing passengers in some airports to check any hold luggage in the night before if they are on an early morning flight, in a bid to reduce the lengthy queues expected as the summer holidays begin. 

The Twilight Bag Drop system is being offered for free in London Gatwick and Bristol, as well as Berlin Brandenburg in Germany.

It is available for flights departing before 08:00 from Gatwick, 08:30 from Bristol and 09:30 from Berlin, with passengers able to drop off their bag between 18:00 and 21:00 in the latter two, and between 19:00 and 22:00 in the London airport.

The airline is expecting to transport more than six million passengers this summer, and has said that it has hired 350 new staff to help cope with demand.

This comes as Spanish EasyJet cabin crew are expected to go on strike between July 29 and 31.

Eurostar welcomes return of business travellers 

Eurostar has reported a significant increase in the number of people travelling with the operator for business in the first half of 2022.

Business travel is now at 70% of 2019 levels, and Eurostar has said that it “has picked up faster than we expected in 2022, especially considering that we are still only providing about three quarters of our pre-pandemic transport plan.

“We are confident that this trend will continue after the summer period, when September is typically a key month for business travel.” 

When Covid restrictions were at their height, the number of people travelling for business was at 5% of pre-pandemic levels.

A study commissioned by Eurostar also shows that 78% of UK-France business travellers expect to go between the two countries just as much as they did in 2019, or more.

Eurostar is also benefiting from the situation in European airports, where strikes and staff shortages are pushing airlines to cancel flights.

It is also the preferred option for businesses hoping to reduce their carbon footprint.

New French air routes announced 

Spanish airline Volotea will be opening four new routes from Lille this winter, with flights to Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Tenerife and Marrakech.

Ryanair will also be introducing a Strasbourg-Porto route from November 1, with flights on Tuesdays and Saturdays. 

Rival low-cost airline EasyJet has announced three new French routes for passengers from Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Lyon and Basel-Mulhouse. 

From December 4, there will be two weekly flights from Charles de Gaulle to Funchal-Madeira, on Wednesdays and Sundays.

EasyJet will be competing against Transavia on this route, although the latter departs from Paris-Orly.

EasyJet will also be offering two weekly flights from Lyon to Funcal, on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Finally, on October 31, EasyJet will start flying between Basel-Mulhouse and Marseille on Mondays and Fridays, becoming the only airline to serve this route.

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New train line, Dover ferries, busy roads: Nine France travel updates

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