Mayhem predicted for travel this summer

(CNN) — Imagine a scene. You are going on the vacation you have dreamed of since the beginning of 2020. With your bags packed, you get to the airport with plenty of time to spare, only to find lines so long that you end up missing your desired flight.

That was the case with more than 1,000 travelers at Dublin Airport last week. The situation was so chaotic that the government called in the airport’s CEO to come up with a plan for the rest of the summer, and the airport pledged to pay out-of-pocket passengers for missed flights.

It’s not just Dublin. Dutch flag carrier KLM stopped selling tickets for four days last week due to chaos at its base in Schiphol in April and May. KLM has also offered existing passengers the option of rebooking if they don’t want to deal with long queues at the airport.

Chaos has reigned at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam since April.

Evert Elzinga/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

Meanwhile, British airports including Manchester, Heathrow and Gatwick are making headlines daily due to long lines from buildings, missing luggage and hundreds of canceled flights, especially British Airways, EasyJet and Tui flights.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary even told ITV this week that the UK should “bring in the army” to help ease the chaos.
Meanwhile, Delta has pledged to cut 100 flights a day this summer to “minimize disruptions,” while JetBlue is cutting its schedule by up to 10% and Alaska Airlines is cutting 2%.

Summer travel is always challenging, of course, but summer travel 2022 is on another level.

Experts say it’s the perfect storm: Suddenly we all want to travel, but airlines and airports have laid off employees during the pandemic and are struggling to find replacements. Simply put: they can’t handle us.

“Sign of things to come”

The lines in Dublin meandered outside the building.

The lines in Dublin meandered outside the building.

Niall Carson/PA Images/Getty Images

Of course, experts have been warning about this for a long time. When CNN spoke to a consumer advocate Christopher Elliot in April he predicted that the chaos already mushrooming in the US and UK was “a sign of things to come.”

“I hate it when I’m right,” he sighs now. “Everything is happening as I thought … and I think it will get even worse.” For some time now, he has been advising his readers not to travel to Europe in August.

“I think it’s just a warm-up for a crazy summer,” he says.

“We still have high gas prices, we still have record demand putting pressure on the entire system, we still don’t have enough pilots. Airlines are not yet fully staffed as they need to be.”

For Rory Boland, editor of a consumer magazine Which the? Travela lot of it comes down to airlines and airports relentlessly cutting costs.

“The main thing [causing disruption] “It’s a staffing issue,” he says. – Then you ask why so many people were laid off during the pandemic? Failures are not even in the entire industry. Jet2 has problems in the UK, but not on the scale of British Airways or EasyJet. Ryanair isn’t that bad either.

“The protection for the airlines is that they weren’t given enough warning about the resumption of flights, and there is probably some justice in that, but clearly there are some airlines and airports that have been able to act together and everything is going well. and some are complete disasters.

Achieving adequate staffing levels will not be possible unless airlines and airports increase their supply, he said.

“We looked at the salary for check-in staff advertised at Gatwick Airport and it was lower than at [budget supermarket] Lidl, he says. We saw it in Dublin too. Working conditions at the airport are harsh, you are asked to work after hours, on-site parking is usually not free, and there is very little incentive when you are paid less than a supermarket. [would pay you.]”

British Airways is currently offering ground handlers at Heathrow a £1,000 check-in bonus. list of vacancies states that candidates must be “willing and able to work shifts covering 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year”, lift weights up to 32 kg and have “the stamina to put up with working British weather”. However, the base salary in the job description is £20,024 ($25,143) – below both the UK average and the median average wage (shift pay adds about £5,000 more).

Boland also suspects that things are even worse. “It’s hard to predict, but we know we’re not yet at peak travel and there are no short-term solutions to staff shortages. can do without canceling more flights.

Brexit delays

Those hoping to get to places popular with the British, such as Lisbon, should expect long lines.

Those hoping to get to places popular with the British, such as Lisbon, should expect long lines.

allard1/Adobe Stock

For travelers to the EU from outside the bloc, there is another problem: Brexit.

While British travelers enjoyed freedom of movement in the EU, meaning they could travel anywhere and anytime in the bloc, after Brexit they are treated the same as other arriving third parties. This means that upon arrival, passport stamping (and possibly questions about travel plans) takes longer both on arrival and departure. Destinations popular with British travelers feel the difference.

“Passport control queues are spreading across Europe, not just for people arriving at European airports, but for people trying to fly to the UK,” says the travel podcaster. Lisa Francesca Nand.

“The process of stamping every British passport on entry and exit slows things down considerably.”

Nand recently flew from Paris to Malaga in southern Spain and then from Malaga to the UK. According to her, there were no queues for passports on the first flight in the Schengen zone. But on the flight from Malaga to London’s Gatwick, “there were queues around the airport for the non-EU lane because there were 20 flights to UK airports that day.”

Another Briton, Victoria Bryan, thought she, her partner and her two children had left enough time by arriving back in the UK from Lisbon on 2 June. checked in their bags and went through security without any big queues.

It was then that they made the mistake of sitting with their children 5 and 10 years old near the gate. “We were sitting at the cafe instead of sitting at the gate for an hour,” she says.

But leaving the Schengen area entails a final passport check, and since Portugal is a huge destination for Britons, the new process meant queuing for another 30 minutes. The family arrived at the gate 10 minutes before departure but were told the doors were closed. Brian says there were about 30 passengers on one boat, including the elderly and children.

When CNN spoke to her, the family was standing in a two-hour line at passport control to return to Portugal, collect their bags and book a new flight at their own expense. They already did the same line last week, upon arrival.

Lisbon Airport did not respond to a request for comment.

Carmageddon continues

Renting a car in Miami this summer may not be available.

Renting a car in Miami this summer may not be available.

be free/Adobe Stock

If you haven’t already booked your car rental upon arrival, you may want to rethink your trip.

Just like last year’s Carmageddon, car rental prices are exorbitant. In August, when booked two months in advance, the cheapest weekly rental in popular Porto that CNN could find was $582 at a local company or $772 at multinational Europcar.

One tour operator to Italy told CNN they can’t find more cars to book in Sardinia in June. Elliott says he’s heard of people landing in LAX during peak hours and finding that there’s not a single car available for rent, no matter the price.

CNN checked out the cheapest price for a two-day rental this weekend at various major airports. The cheapest we could find cost $150 in Los Angeles, $161 in Miami, $167 in Heathrow, $225 in Nice in southern France, and $183 in Venice, Italy.

The situation is so dire that Christopher Elliott advises resting close to home where you can drive your own car or even stay.

“If you don’t have your own car, take public transportation somewhere and go somewhere where you can walk or have access to public transportation,” he says. Postpone your wishlist vacation to September, October, or November. He has similar basic advice for those looking for hotels and Airbnbs booked, advising to look for long-term business rentals. “I just paid $1,200 for a month in a two-bedroom apartment in Athens — I could just stay a week and it would pay for itself,” he says.

Panic on the high seas

Cruises are not immune to what is happening everywhere.

Cruises are not immune to what is happening everywhere.

Rebecca Blackwell/AP

Cruises were hit hard by the pandemic early on, when the number of cases on board mushroomed like floating ships.

Now that people are ready to take the plunge, the cruise industry is facing the same staffing challenges.

“Replenishing the staff of cruise ships is a long process. Crew members must receive a series of certifications,” says Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of the magazine. cruise critic.

“This process takes time, and with a global shortage of employees, it is even longer than usual.” She adds that cruise lines are “battling the same supply chain issues” as land-based ones.

“In extreme cases, this has meant that some flights had to be canceled if they could not be manned. But in most cases, this can mean that there are limited times in certain areas, or there are certain items that are not available during certain sailings.”

McDaniel says travel insurance is the best mitigation: The cruise line will refund you for a canceled cruise, but not for your flight to your departure point. When it comes to cruising, there’s one upside, she says: As cruise lines lift capacity limits, suddenly there are more cabins to fill and prices look “really competitive.”

That’s not the only positive, says Rory Boland.

“If you look at the whole context, most people who travel this weekend will not see their flights canceled,” he says.

“You might run into a long line, which won’t be fun, but you won’t miss your flight. Your experience probably won’t be fantastic, but you’ll get away.

“I know people are worried their vacation won’t happen, but it probably will.”

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