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A minister has apologised to those who have experienced delays at the UK’s airports over the weekend.

People have complained of “total chaos” at airports as the summer holidays began for millions.

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Two hour-long queues to show COVID-19 documentation before being allowed airside were reported at Heathrow on Saturday, while there were complaints of a lack of staff at Stansted Airport causing “chaotic scenes”.

Airports and airlines were expecting their busiest weekend of the year, with hundreds more flights and thousands more passengers than at any time during the COVID pandemic.

Speaking to Times Radio, crime and policing minister Kit Malthouse apologised for the delays and suggested that airline staff could be among those made exempt from having to isolate if identified as a close contact of someone who tests positive for coronavirus.

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“I know Border Force are one of the frontline services that will be able to access more of this test and release,” he said.

“And I think at Heathrow yesterday we had a technical issue with the e-gates where they went down for 90 minutes or so. That caused a problem and I’m very sorry about that, and I’m sorry for the people that were inconvenienced.

“Hopefully Border Force will be relieved of some of the aspects of the pingdemic.”

Asked if airline staff could be made exempt as well, he said: “Yes, we would be in conversation with employers.”

Heathrow was expecting to welcome about 128,000 passengers over this weekend, although that is down from pre-pandemic daily volumes of around 230,000 to 260,000 in July 2019.

Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said more staff would be deployed to make sure passengers had a “smooth journey”.

However, Fiona Brett, a violinist travelling to Frankfurt with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, said she had to queue for two hours at Heathrow on Saturday to show her COVID vaccination certificate to staff at check-in, despite already checking in online.

Ms Brett, from Watlington, Oxfordshire, said the “total chaos” meant her 9.30am flight was delayed.

“They were constantly calling people out of the queue for the next flight that was closing,” she said.

“Actually it would have been better to turn up at 8.30 and get called from the back of the queue to the front – total chaos.

“I believe the queues were caused not by too many people but by the airlines having to do all the extra checks before properly checking in.”

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Holiday hotspots moved back to amber list

Other passengers vented their frustrations via social media about the queues at Stansted Airport, with one labelling the scenes “chaotic”.

Manchester Airports Group said it was expecting 958 flights at Manchester Airport from Friday to Monday, 224 at East Midlands Airport and 1,330 at Stansted.

This is an increase from the same weekend last year, when 632, 177 and 735 flights respectively took off.

But it is still significantly fewer than over the same period in 2019 – 2,512, 503 and 2,139 respectively.

Gatwick Airport was expecting to see around 250 to 260 flights and between 25,000 and 27,000 passengers a day over this weekend, up from a low of just 15 flights a day at one point in the pandemic.

Budget airline easyJet said it was expecting to transport some 135,000 passengers from the UK this weekend across more than 80 routes to a variety of green and amber-list destinations in Europe.

A total of 251 flights were due to take-off, flying to destinations including Malta, Madeira, Malaga in Spain, Faro and Lisbon in Portugal, and Corfu and Athens in Greece.

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Disruption to international travel should be expected – transport secretary

Tui said it had almost double the numbers of passengers setting off this weekend compared to last, with the Balearic islands and Greece the “clear favourites” for Britons jetting off for some sun.

Jet2 had 170 flights going to more than 40 destinations, up from around 70 flights to six places last weekend.

A traffic light system for international travel has been in operation since May, with destinations given a green, amber or red designation.

People returning from green list countries do not have to quarantine when they get back, but only a handful of European tourist hotspots are in this tier.

Travellers coming back from amber list countries have to isolate upon their return, but there is an exemption for those who are fully vaccinated as well as under 18s.

Spain, Italy and Greece are on the amber list.

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5 highlights of Sam Bankman-Fried’s first day of trial




5 highlights of Sam Bankman-Fried’s first day of trial

The high-profile trial of former FTX CEO Sam “SBF” Bankman-Fried kicked off on Oct. 3 with plenty of activity both inside and outside of the cramped Manhattan courtroom.

Journalists, crypto influencers and other gawkers reportedly gathered in a media overflow room to take notes on the day’s events. Here are some of the most colorful observations about the day.

Noticeably leaner, signature haircut gone

The defendant, Bankman-Fried, appeared noticeably leaner, according to multiple reports.

Flanked by five defense lawyers, he was dressed in a navy suit that seemed bigger on him in previous appearances, and his signature unkempt curly locks were subbed for a shorter hairstyle.

Unchained Crypto’s Laura Shin noted that Bankman-Fried was noticeably “less jittery than normal.”

“I did not see him shake his leg at all,” she said in an Oct. 3 podcast.

The only time he spoke was to say “yes” to the judge and occasionally look at the jurors. Other times, he conferred with his lawyers or was seen typing and scrolling on his air-gapped laptop.

SBF has spent the past seven weeks or so locked up at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center. When his lawyers unsuccessfully argued for his release, they claimed that he was subsisting on “bread and water” and lacking vegan meal options.

Crypto influencer Tiffany Fong said, “He kind of looks more criminal now.”

Journalists, influencers and skeptics come to “crypto prom”

The first day of the trial was described as feeling like “the first day of school,” according to some journalists in attendance.

“I’ve never seen the courthouse like this,” remarked an unnamed member of the press, according to The Slate.

“While waiting to access the media overflow room, I spotted practically anyone and everyone who’s had something to say about decentralized currency over the last few years,” said The Slates’ Nitish Pahwa.

He described it as a “crypto prom” crammed with a hodgepodge of paid media participants, crypto influencers, obsessives, skeptics and more.

Cointelegraph reporter Ana Paula Pereira is also in attendance and will give daily updates on the most significant developments throughout the trial.

Jurors get whittled down, and some share sad crypto stories

Judge Lewis B. Kaplan told the burgeoning crowd of potential jurors: “You are to do no research. You are not to read press coverage”; however, he lightened up when it came to questioning the crowd, reported Cointelegraph.

Potential jurors were asked if they had prior knowledge about FTX and Alameda, with one saying they learned about it from The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, according to a partial transcript from Inner City Press.

One juror said they worked with a company that invested in (and lost money on) FTX and Alameda. Another potential juror said:

“I invested in crypto. I lost money.”

One juror shared that he wasn’t sure if he could be unbiased with crypto: “I’ve felt negatively about it since I learned about it.” He was later dismissed from the pool of potential jurors.

Another juror even asked the judge whether a death sentence could be imposed for Bankman-Fried, to which the judge answered:

“We’ll get to it in a minute or two, and my answer will have to suffice. Anyone unwilling to accept that punishment is up to the court? No one.”

At the end of the session, Judge Kaplan said, “We now have a sufficient group of qualified jurors, 50.” He added that 18 people will be selected in total, 12 of whom will be jurors with six alternates.

He added that on the next day (Oct. 4), a microphone will be passed around for each juror to speak for a minute. “Then the lawyers will confer, and the final selection will be made,” he concluded.

Witnesses for the prosecution

An assistant U.S. attorney read out a list of potential witnesses for the prosecution. This included some expected names, such as former company executives Caroline Ellison, Gary Wang, Nishad Singh, Ryne Miller and Constance Wang; family members Joe Bankman and Barbara Fried; and even Anthony Scaramucci.

Several institutions were also listed, including Jane Street Capital, Sequoia Capital, BlockFi, Genesis, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Binance, Nexo, Guarding Against Pandemics (the nonprofit of SBF’s brother) and Voyager Digital.

Six-week trial expected

Judge Kaplan said that the trial was expected to take about six weeks, but he also noted that it could be over in a much shorter time.

Related: What has Sam Bankman-Fried been up to in jail?

However, by the end of the day, he had not succeeded in finalizing the jury. Kaplan predicted that this would be completed by the morning of Oct. 4, after which both sides are expected to give opening arguments totaling around 90 minutes.

Magazine: Can you trust crypto exchanges after the collapse of FTX?