Week in Travel: EU hands out 20,000 free train tickets for 18-year-olds

Heathrow celebrates another record number of passengers, while Air New Zealand marks a carbon offset milestone, and Canada opens the world’s tallest and fastest dive coaster

European citizens born between 2 July 2000 and 1 July 2001 now have the opportunity to travel by train for free. As a part of its DiscoverEU initiative, the European Union has launched another round of providing 18-year-olds with 20,000 train tickets for up to 30 days.

This year, the Union also allows the contestants to form groups so that they can travel with their friends. They can organise meet-ups and combine travel plans with other DiscoverEU travellers.

“By travelling mainly by rail (there are exceptions to allow those living on islands or in remote areas to take part), you will discover Europe’s stunning landscapes and its endless variety of cities and towns,” European Union says on the official application page.

“This journey will also give you the chance to meet like-minded travellers, become more independent and confident as well as explore your EU identity.”

Everyone interested has to have the nationality of one of the member states of the European Union at the time of the award decision, and fill in the correct ID or passport number on the online application form. The deadline for applications is on 16 May.

EU provides the 18-year-olds with this opportunity every year. Last year, the Union handed out 15,000 train passes.

Heathrow welcomes more passengers than ever before

UK’s largest airport continues with its outstanding performance with a 29th consecutive month of growth. During the first quarter of 2019, London Heathrow welcomed a record 17.9 million travellers, more than ever before.

17.9 million travellers passed through Heathrow during the first quarter of 2019 — Shutterstock Week in Travel: EU hands out 20,000 free train tickets for 18-year-olds
17.9 million travellers passed through Heathrow during the first quarter of 2019 — Shutterstock

The airport is currently preparing for a huge expansion. Recently, the High Court in London has removed a big obstacle from Heathrow airport’s decades-long campaign to build a third runway. The court has rejected five legal challenges raised against the expansion. The airport is now set to invest nearly $1.30 billion (£1 billion) over the coming year.

“This is an important year for Heathrow as we put in place the building blocks that will define Britain’s global connectivity for decades to come,” said John Holland-Kaye, chief executive officer of Heathrow.

“With passengers continuing to choose Heathrow in record numbers, the strong backing of global investors and a credible plan to expand responsibly, we’re ramping up for growth and excited about building a bigger and better hub airport for Britain.”

Canadain theme park launches the tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster in the world

Thrill-seeking travellers should head to Canada as the Wonderland theme park in Vaughan has finally opened its new masterpiece — a 75-metre-high dive coaster named Yukon Striker.

The ride is reportedly the tallest, longest and fastest dive coaster in the world and has been accepting its first regular passengers since 3 May.  

“Be exhilarated by Yukon Striker’s epic journey high above the park’s skyline where you’ll hang over a 90-degree drop for three breathtaking seconds, staring 75 metres down into an underwater tunnel,” Wonderland says on the official website.

“Then suddenly you dive, reaching speeds of 130 km/h and soaring through four dynamic inversions, including a complete 360-degree loop the only one of its kind for a dive coaster. Be prepared for the ride of a lifetime.”

Norm Pirtovshek, general manager of Canada’s Wonderland, said in a press release that the roller coaster also comes with floorless trains. That means your feet dangle from the car as you fly through the air.

The dive coaster is 1,105 metres long and the ride takes 3 minutes and 25 seconds. However, while it is the fastest dive coaster in the world, it is not a record-breaking roller coaster overall.

The number ones in this category can be found at Formula Rossa at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Steel Dragon 2000 at Nagashima Spa Land in Japan, and Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey.

Air New Zealand marks a carbon offset milestone

New Zealand’s flag carrier is taking its pledge towards the environment seriously. Since its launch in 2016, the carrier’s Fly Neutral voluntary carbon offset scheme managed to collect $660,000 ($NZ1 million) to compensate for the airline’s carbon footprint.

Blue Planet Studio / Shutterstock Week in Travel: EU hands out 20,000 free train tickets for 18-year-olds
Air New Zealand — Blue Planet Studio / Shutterstock

The offsets allow passengers to tick a box to offset the carbon emissions associated with their flight. The money raised from the initiative goes directly towards the purchase of certified carbon credits from a range of permanent native forest projects. It also contributes to a handful of international initiatives that help remove carbon from the atmosphere.

“Climate change is an urgent global issue, and as an airline we know we must play our part in finding solutions. Providing our customers with an easy way to offset the carbon emissions associated with air travel is one way to do this,” Said Air New Zealand head of sustainability Lisa Daniell.

“As with anything of this magnitude, it’s a step in the right direction.

“Last year we offset 8,700 tonnes of carbon on behalf of all our employees who travelled for work, and we’d obviously love to see even more travellers, including business travellers, join us in offsetting their emissions in the future.”

Harry Potter fans can now stay at Hagrid’s Hut overnight

Fans of Harry Potter now have yet another opportunity to immerse into the world of magic and wonders. For the occasion of the International Harry Potter Day on 2 May, a cottage in Liverton, England, started to offer overnight stays in its premises that accurately represent Hagrid’s Hut from the movie series.

The Ground Keeper’s Cottage — how the establishment is called — can host six guests, with room for four adults and two kids. Holidaymakers can enjoy a fully equipped kitchen as well as a bathroom with an authentic copper bath.

The stay in the hut costs only $254 (£195) per night to enjoy views of the sea and rolling countryside. The rooms can be booked directly on the North Shire holiday park’s website.