Is it now the summer of European airport discontent?
Due to staff shortages, security concerns and flight delays, thousands of passengers have experienced travel chaos across Europe and America in recent weeks, with signs the situation could be getting worse. over the coming summer months.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, Europe’s third-busiest airport, is struggling to cope with overwhelming post-Covid demand, with queues spilling past the entrance gates of terminals. A shortage of security personnel has led to a significant increase in traveler wait times.
KLM even suspended ticket sales at the airport and airlines were told to cancel flights to reduce passenger numbers. As of June 1, it was reported that Schiphol Airport had 500 vacancies in its security department alone.
Stockholm Arlanda Airport faces a chronic shortage of security personnel, causing long queues of passengers in recent weeks. The Swedish parliament has even asked Swedavia, the airport operator, to explain the situation to the public.
France’s airports will be understaffed over the summer (up to 20% according to the country’s airports association), with Charles de Gaulle, the busiest, reporting disruptive delays since early May.
Meanwhile, hundreds of flights to and from the UK and Ireland have been canceled in recent weeks, with easyJet, British Airways, Tui and Wizz Air all canceling flights, mainly due to security issues. personal.
Analysis of Google search data reveals that searches for ‘Cancel My Flight’ jumped 163% in the UK between May 22 and June 4, 2022, the highest level in a year. The last week of May – the Jubilee weekend – saw staff shortages at airports leading to huge delays and missed flights for many.
The data also reveals that searches for “refund my flight” have increased by 137% since the chaos began.
“There is a shortage of personnel everywhere. But the number one issue is the reliability of ground handling, with new processes and the need to check documents at certain destinations,” said Lufthansa COO Ola Hansson. Weekly trip. “We have tried to digitize as much as possible, but only 30% of passengers have ever downloaded documents for travel. More than two-thirds do so at the airport. It takes time and space. »
The problem is not limited to Europe, it seems. In the United States, Memorial Day weekend proved a tough test for the airline industry, with carriers canceling 2,800 departures in just five days. Delta alone canceled 800 flights, and as of June 2, more than 1,430 US flights were canceled, mostly by American, United and Southwest.
Although staff recruitment campaigns are underway, many former airline and ground handling staff have found positions elsewhere, often with better pay, and new hires require training and certification from security, which can take time.
Tips for air travelers to ensure better preparation for flight cancellations and postponements include:
- Take out travel insurance
- Prepare for contingencies such as having to spend extra days stuck abroad
- Find out about your passenger rights.