On that very first flight to Faro, Portugal from Manchester Airport, there was a family from Halewood.
The pandemic has led the family to cancel seven vacations in the past year.
James Welsh, 28, from Halewood arrived in Faro with his partner and their two children, Anthony, Delilah, three and eight months old, after booking the flight over the weekend.
He said: “We have had to cancel seven vacations in the past 12 months. We were leaving all the time and it was frustrating not being able to leave.
“When this opportunity presented itself, we jumped on it. “
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Portugal is one of those Green List countries, which means sun worshipers can book flights there and swap our miserable, wet May for blue skies and golden beaches.
If a destination is on the green list, it means travelers are not required to self-quarantine when they return to England – but there are still rules to follow.
Travelers will be required to complete a passenger tracing form, provide a negative test result before traveling, and take another test two days after arrival.
So how’s it going now that the airports are starting to fill up again?
The Mirror’s Paul Byrne flew to Manchester Airport and joined the queue to board the UK’s first flight to Faro this morning – here’s what he found:
After Portugal announced on Friday, I immediately paid £ 99 for a Covid PCR test and waited anxiously 24 hours for the negative result which allowed me to travel.
I will have another test on my return, adding £ 200 to the cost of the trip.
But with around 5,000 Britons heading into the country every day this week, it seems like that is a price people are willing to pay.
Ryanair flight FR4088 was the first plane to leave the tarmac off Portugal’s south coast at 6:15 am today, one of 17 jets carrying holidaymakers from across the UK to Faro.
Louis Myers, 23, and Elle McLaughlin, 23, along with their 18-month-old son Kruz were first in line at 3 a.m.
The Manchester couple had booked a week’s vacation in Vilamoura.
She said: “We can’t wait to go. We think we deserve what has been such a horrible year for everyone. “
“This is Kruz’s first time on a plane. We are so excited. “
Construction worker Louis added, “We booked it as soon as possible last week and are glad we did as prices started to go up.”
Newlyweds Camilla and Calum McNally, of Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, were also in the queue.
The couple got married on Saturday and after an earlier honeymoon in Greece had to be canceled due to Covid restrictions, they booked their flights to Portugal as soon as the UK government gave the green light.
Official Calum, 23, said: “We were desperate for a honeymoon.
“We are very excited. We want to relax and eat good food by the pool. I feel a lot of people want to do this and we feel very lucky to be able to do it today.
Camilla, 22, said: “It was quite stressful leaving it at the last minute, but it’s worth it. We haven’t been away for so long now.
Girlfriends Kim Howard and Olivia Sheridan from Altrincham, Greater Manchester, were eager to lounge around the pool at their hotel in Albufeira.
Hairstylist Kim, 28, said: “I want to take a break, sit around the pool, sunbathe, have a drink and eat good food.
“Like a lot of people, I struggled during the lockdown. People have had enough now.
Olivia, 27, who runs her own salon, Olivia Rose Beauty in Urmston, Greater Manchester, said the couple are desperate for a break after working hard in recent weeks.
She said, “We’re both in the beauty industry so it hasn’t stopped since the lockdown ended.
“People get their hair done at 2 am. I do nails at 10 p.m. It was crazy.
She added, “I love going on vacation. I look forward. “
Luke Senior, 25, an electrician from Leeds, West Yorks, said: “I’m flying out to meet a companion. I booked the flight two days ago.
“I just want to get some sun. I am really excited. I am ready to party.
There are others on current affairs, politics, court news, Knowsley, Wirral, arts and culture, as well as Liverpool FC and Everton FC.
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Inside Manchester Airport, masks were mandatory for travelers and staff.
And the announcements reminded passengers to respect social distancing rules.
But there wasn’t much of a need because the airport, which typically handles around 30 million passengers a year, had little of its hustle and bustle before Covid, with few shops open and bars firmly closed.
The first flight from Manchester was at 6 a.m. to the Portuguese island of Maderia.
Elizabeth and David Jolliffe from Hamilton, near Glasgow, booked their tickets last week after their top pick from Dubai was left off the ‘green’ list.
Elizabeth, 59, said: “There was nothing available in Glasgow so we came here. It’s worth it, we desperately need to escape.
CFO David, 57, added: “The past year has not been normal, not being able to get some sun.
“We cannot be stuck forever.”
More than 2.8 million Britons visited Portugal the year before the pandemic and he is desperate to welcome them again.
Covid is still a threat and masks are worn both indoors and outdoors.
And the country has imposed a frightening “state of calamity,” which allows for emergency lockdowns to fight the virus.
But that hasn’t stopped the British from booking flights for a well-deserved break.
Portuguese Secretary of State for Tourism Rita Marques said “everything is open”.
She said: “Certain restrictions apply, of course, so you have to wear a mask, you have to maintain social distancing.
“Masks should be used all day, except when you’re on the beach, of course.
“So if you go to a restaurant near the beach you should wear a mask, but if you are near the sea you don’t need to wear a mask. “
She added: “At the end of the day it will be a great experience.”
“I certainly hope so. “