What do you know about the travel chaos in Europe’s airports

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At London Heathrow, some passengers said they made it to immigration lines that take hours. In Dublin, the Irish Independent reports that piles of lounge walls are lined with luggage, some from flights that arrived a week ago. For Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, Dutch carrier KLM has temporarily canceled all incoming European flights, and later apologized for stranding passengers there last weekend.

As summer travel begins and the United States raises coronavirus testing requirements for incoming international passengers, many European airports are experiencing significant disruption.

“The majority of people who travel in the UK or the EU will have uninterrupted flights,” said Rory Poland, travel editor for Witch magazine. “However, this is the biggest disruption we’ve ever seen, and it matters.”

Here’s what you need to know about problems at European airports.

Henry Hartfeldt, travel industry analyst at research group Atmosphere, said there were indications that British airports were having problems delivering bags as early as March and April. But the problems have grown in size and scale.

In May, passengers mentioned The check-in and security lines at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport were so long that she had to wait for hours outside before even entering the building. This month, that’s what’s happening in Stockholm and Dublin.

A shortage of security personnel in Britain has left passengers stranded in queues at London, Manchester and other airports Airlines cancel dozens of flights. The CEO of Ryanair, a budget airline, has suggested “bringing in the military” to ease the stalemate; The idea was quickly dismissed by British authorities, according to The Guardian.

Similarly, passengers arriving at immigration checkpoints in London, Amsterdam and elsewhere have reported long queues. Once they arrive, there’s no guarantee their bags will wait for them – and baggage handlers are also in short supply, meaning days delays in delivering luggage to customers in some cases.

Like many industries, airlines and airports have laid off staff during the pandemic and are struggling to return to previous staffing levels, according to Poland. The air travel industry faces additional hurdles because new employees often need to wait for security credentials or specialized training.

Boland said low wages at many European airports and airlines make it difficult to compete for workers with other industries.

These working conditions have also led to strikes between airport workers in Paris and air traffic controllers in Italy in recent weeks, each of which has resulted in hundreds of flights being canceled, Bloomberg and Reuters reported.

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All of this has coincided with ‘pent-up demand’ for travel – a rise in passengers who have ‘caught up’ [the industry] said Peter Fletas, Executive Vice President of Partner Relations at Internova Travel Group.

“I don’t think anyone expected that we would go so fast,” he said.

How long will this last?

“The problem with this is that it’s not easy to solve,” Poland said. “So if you’re looking forward to the summer vacation, we’ll almost certainly continue to see major disruption because there simply isn’t enough staff.”

He predicted that even as companies temper their offers to hire staff, the labor shortage could persist for months.

Harteveldt said that while conditions are improving every week, problems at European airports could continue into the fall or winter.

Analysts are not sure how removing the pre-departure test requirement for the United States on Sunday will lead to travel problems in Europe. It could be a catalyst for more travel, as travelers who were worried about testing positive for coronavirus are stranded in Europe. You may now feel free to fly. On the other hand, it could help ease congestion at stations, as some airlines have asked US-bound travelers to stand in line and manually review their test results, according to Hartfeldt.

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What do I need to know to be prepared?

If you are planning a trip to Europe, here are some tips from travel experts:

Check the websites of airports and airlines at least a day in advance. Some airports post updates on their websites on levels of congestion or other disturbances, allowing you to plan your arrival time or even consider rebooking your flight.

Arrive an extra hour or two early. While airlines typically recommend arriving two hours early on an international flight, it’s best to allow three or four hours in European hubs this summer, Hartfeldt said. “If you miss your flight, you may not be able to go home for several days because flights are very full and airlines are not operating as many flights between Europe and the US as they were before the coronavirus,” he said. Even fast-track or priority aisles for business and first-class travelers take longer than usual.

Carry your luggage if you can. Due to the shortage of baggage handlers, avoid your flight being derailed due to a delay or loss of a piece of baggage. If you need to check your bag, bring a few sets of clothes and any medications on the plane with you.

Book with plenty of time for connections. Don’t forget that you may need to clear immigration – and in some cases, security again – when connecting via European hubs. Make sure to consider unexpected waiting times at passport control.

Think of a European airline. According to Poland, European airlines often offer better protection to consumers than their US counterparts on the same routes. “If you experience significant delays or disruption, you could potentially get several hundred dollars in compensation if you were working with the European or British airline,” he said.

Bring a jacket. In acknowledgment that check-in lines can extend outside the terminal building, Amsterdam Airport recommends bringing a coat to wait.

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