We are all hungry for a vacation. With entry rules in many countries ending and concerns about travel easing, many people are hoping to get away this summer.
But the excitement of traveling abroad has been marred by chaos at airports, flight cancellations and hours-long queues. Although travel restrictions may be loosened, recent problems at airports are making many people unsure if they should book at all.
So, with airlines saying it’s very difficult to predict what will happen in the next 12 months, we went to the Routes Aviation conference to find out their thoughts on next year’s travel.
Will the airport chaos continue this summer?
The bad news is that the chaos seen at airports across Europe in recent months appears set to continue.
Airlines are working hard to reorganize their teams so that they have enough staff on hand but as passenger numbers increase during summerThe problem may get worse. They say it is mainly about the lack of staff at the airports where they work.
There is no short-term solution, says European Airlines managing director, Thomas Reinert. People leave the industry During the pandemic, other sectors have better wages, more satisfactory work and better conditions. There is little chance of them coming back.
Since it takes time to train staff for roles such as security and baggage handling that are currently lacking in people, the problem will not be resolved quickly.
Raphael Schwartzman, IATA’s regional vice president for Europe, said the situation must be addressed urgently “to avoid customer frustration”.
He added that it was “unprecedented” to see an airport ask airlines to cancel reservations and future reservations – as happened at some airports during the chaos earlier this year.
Why is there all this turmoil at European airports?
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says passenger numbers in March were 75 percent of what they were before the pandemic, a sign that the airline industry is recovering. Schwartzman explained that this could mean a return to 2019 numbers as early as 2023.
“This is a sign of what is to come this summer,” he said, with expectations for a very strong season. But some airports do not seem ready for this increase in traffic.
Many industry experts pointed out Amsterdam Schiphol Airport An example of this lack of preparedness. The airport authority here warned that it would be very busy there every day until summer including due to lack of staff.
Employees are threatening to go on strike over working conditions, queues have led to violence, and Dutch carrier KLM has been forced to temporarily suspend ticket sales due to the chaos.
“People have waited two years, sometimes three years for vacation, and that shouldn’t be spoiled by this lack of preparation,” Schwartzman added.
Why is chaos at airports such a big problem for tour operators?
For those who book their flights directly with airlines, delays and cancellations are often fixed by taking another flight. But for people who book packages with tour operators, the situation can be a little more difficult.
Rex Nickels, Airport Procurement Specialist for TUIHe says that because hotels, transfers, and other parts of the trip are booked together, it makes it difficult to reschedule. This means that tour operators like them – and the people who book through them – have been among the hardest hit by the chaos at airports.
“We also had to get rid of people,” he says, explaining that they have lost workers during the pandemic just as much as airports. “We’re also short on staff at the moment, but we can manage.”
This means tour companies have damaged their reputations because people are quick to blame them when not all the moving parts can be changed in an entire vacation, Nikkels says.
“This summer, we’re going to have the same problems,” he adds.
Should you plan to arrive early when you travel?
It’s easy to think that arriving early for your flight is the answer when the queues are ridiculously long.
But according to Nickels, arriving too early can cause as many problems as arriving too late. People should not turn up more than three hours before their flight, as those who show up five or more hours before departure simply add to waiting lists, he says.
Most airlines advise passengers not to arrive earlier than check-in allows. It’s also worth making sure your passports are still valid – especially if you’re traveling from the UK where Post-Brexit rules add to confusion There was a delay in the renovations.