Planning to have a summer holiday in Europe this 2022? Not to burst your bubble but you might have an unforgettable travel experience…but in a negative way.
Europe’s travel chaos is real. Winding queues, piles of abandoned luggage, and stranded passengers — all these are becoming an increasingly common sight in airports across the continent. The travel industry, especially European airports, has been struggling with extreme staffing deficits and technical glitches, resulting in several delays or short-notice cancellations.
According to reports, Europe’s top 10 worst performing airports cancelled over 64,000 flights just between April 1 and June 29. The sudden influx of passengers makes the already bad situation worse. As travel resurges for the first time since 2019, there aren’t enough staff to man security, baggage checkpoints, and flight crews.
Still willing to push through with your vacation? With European airports being the epicentre of this travel chaos, we’ve got a couple of tips to minimise the risk of delay, cancellation, and a generally stressful experience.
1. Arriving too early won’t help
In fact, it does more harm than good. You won’t be able to check in either.
UK travel expert Simon Calder stressed that airport problems were being aggravated by passengers turning up hours early for their flights. If your flight is at 10am, turning up at 5am won’t magically save you from any delays — you’ll only cause other travellers (who arrive within the timeframe specified by their airline) to get caught up in queues.
That being the case, Manchester Airport launched a campaign, urging passengers to arrive no earlier than three hours before their flights.
2. Don’t fly early either
Another misconception is that flying early, between 4 am and 7 am, is a good way to avoid the worst of the airport queues. This isn’t always the case. For instance, the biggest queues at Manchester, Birmingham, and Leeds Bradford airports are reported in the early hours. Another peak travel time is from 1 pm to 4 pm.
So what’s the best time for flights? Try travelling at lunchtime during the weekdays (Tuesday to Thursday). Avoid weekends (between Friday and Monday), since airports typically experience increased traffic during these days.
3. Consider travelling during the shoulder season
We understand — postponing your dream Ireland vacation in a lovely hotel in Kilkenny (which you’ve planned for months) can be a bummer. But if you have to endure unbearable queues with possible delays and cancellations, scheduling your trip in a more relaxed travel season might be worth considering.
Europe travel chaos will likely continue to the end of the summer. The passenger numbers continue to increase above and beyond staffing capabilities. To ensure a stress-free holiday, consider waiting until autumn or shoulder season to start travelling again. Aside from fewer tourists, the shoulder season also has a few advantages, like lower travel costs and prettier autumnal sceneries.
4. Embrace slow travel via trains
Slow travel with a scenic view is definitely a lot better than wasting hours in a cramped airport for hours, hoping to get a fast ride to your destination. Despite the series of rail strikes in the UK, trains in general have been less severely impacted by the travel disruption. Connections across Europe are improving too/
5. Familiarise yourself with the airport security rules
Just because passengers are already piled up doesn’t mean the airport security will let their guard down and ease up their security scanning regulations. If rejected bags and trays can add an average of 12 minutes to a single passenger’s security process, just imagine how long it will take when multiplied by thousands of passengers flying through.
You can do your part by refamiliarising yourself with the security rules to avoid holding up the queue. Before embarking on your journey, check online for updated European airport regulations. These include the following:
- Ensuring all liquids, gels, and pastes in hand luggage are under 100ml
- Making sure all liquids are packed into one clear resealable bag.
- Checking with your airline and airport about COVID-19-related protocols, like proof of vaccination and other documents.
- Taking large electricals out of hand luggage
- Emptying pockets, removing belts and boots, and other regulations (that may vary from one airport to another)
6. Know your rights, as well as the terms and conditions of your booking
The UK travel association advises travellers NOT to cancel their flights despite the airport meltdowns. Instead, they remind travellers that they have certain rights. These include asking for a replacement flight or a refund. They may also have significant compensation when flights are cancelled less than 14 days before departure.
But if you’re planning to cancel or postpone your trip, make sure you understand your booking’s terms and conditions and ensure you won’t incur any costs. The same goes for other reservations like tours and hotel rooms.
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Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a travel and lifestyle writer. Aside from taking vibrant street photos, you can find her writing articles about travel, food, and lifestyle. To know more about hotels and travel blogs, you may visit Pembroke Hotel Kilkenny.