Will airport chaos continue into the summer? Top tips from industry insiders

We’re all hungry for a holiday. With entry rules coming to an end in many countries and anxieties around travelling easing, a lot of people are hoping to get away this summer.

But the excitement of going abroad has been marred by airport chaos, cancelled flights and hours-long queues. Though travel restrictions may be easing, the recent problems at airports are leaving many uncertain if they should book at all.

So with airlines saying it is very difficult to predict what will happen in the next 12 months, we went to Routes aviation conference to find out their thoughts on travel in the next year.

Will airport chaos continue this summer?

The bad news is that the chaos seen in airports across Europe in recent months looks like it is set to continue.

Airlines are working hard to reshuffle their teams to have enough staff on-hand but as passenger numbers increase over the summer, the problem may get worse. And they say it is mainly to do with staff shortages at the airports where they operate.

Managing director of Airlines For Europe Thomas Raynaert says there is no short term solution. People left the industry during the pandemic for other sectors with better pay, more satisfying work and better conditions. There’s little chance that they will come back.

Because it takes time to train staff in roles like security and baggage handling that are currently lacking people, the problem won’t be fixed quickly.

Rafael Schvartzman, the International Air Transport Association’s regional vice president for Europe, said the situation must be addressed urgently “to avoid frustrating customers.”

He added that it was “unprecedented” to see an airport asking airlines to cancel bookings and reservations into the future – as happened at some airports during the chaos earlier this year.

Why is there so much disruption at Europe’s airports?

Passenger numbers in March were up to 75 per cent of what they were pre-pandemic, IATA says, showing the aviation industry is recovering. Schvartzman 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 projections for a very strong season. But it doesn’t seem like some airports are ready for this increase in traffic.

Many industry experts pointed to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam as an example of this under-preparedness. The airport authority here has warned that it will be very busy there every day up to and including summer due to staff shortages.

Staff are threatening strikes due to the working conditions, queues have led to outbreaks of violence and Dutch flag carrier KLM has had to temporarily suspend ticket sales due to the chaos.

“People have waited two, sometimes three years for a holiday and that should not be ruined by a lack of preparedness,” Schvartzman added.

Why is airport chaos a big problem for tour operators?

For those who have booked their flights directly with airlines, delays and cancellations are often fixed by taking another flight. But for people booking packages with tour operators, the situation can be a bit more tricky.

Rex Nikkels, airport procurement specialist for TUI, says that because hotels, transfers and other parts of the trip are booked together, it makes it hard to reschedule. It means that tour operators like them – and the people that book through them – have been some of the hardest hit by chaos at airports.

“We also had to get rid of people,” he says, explaining that they lost workers during the pandemic just like airports. “We are also short of staff for now, but we can manage.”

Nikkels says it means tour companies have taken a hit to their reputation because people are quick to blame them when all of the moving parts of a package holiday can’t be changed.

“This summer, we will face the same problems,” he adds.

Should you plan to arrive early when you fly?

It’s easy to think that arriving super early for your flight is the solution when queues are ridiculously long.

But according to Nikkels, arriving too early can cause as many problems as arriving too late. People shouldn’t show up more than three hours before their flight as those turning up five hours or more before departure are simply adding to the queues, he says.

Most airlines are advising passengers not to arrive before the earliest time their check-in allows. It’s also worth making sure your passports are still valid – especially if you are travelling from the UK where post-Brexit rules are adding to the confusion and there have been delays on renewals.

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Travel chaos: Simon Calder explains passenger rights for flights cancellations | Travel News | Travel

The half term holidays are supposed to be relaxing but may actually cause stress for families whose flights are cancelled. Simon Calder told the BBC what travellers can do if they find themselves in this position.

BBC Breakfast presenter Charlie Stayt asked: “If you’re one of those people whose flights have been cancelled, just go through their rights.”

Simon explained: “When you get the cancellation message from the airline, it says ’sorry, we’ve cancelled your flight, here’s what you can do, you can get a refund’ – for most people they want their holiday, not a refund.

“Or you can rebook – they say go through to the app or website, that is of course, only going to delivery EasyJet flights.”

“I was talking to someone who’s Madeira flight was cancelled and they rebooked for Monday, as it was the only one, the presenter said.

READ MORE: Suitcase packing hacks: Items dubbed the ‘biggest waste of space’

“No, that’s not correct,” the travel expert stated.

“The airline that cancels a flight has to get you to your destination on the day you were supposed to get there.

“If that means they have to spend hundreds of pounds paying for a flight on British Airways, Ryanair or Jet2, that’s what they have to do.

“It’s the law,” Simon said. “So you can rebook on other airlines.


“The other thing which airlines quite often forget to remind you, if they cancel a flight with less than two weeks notice, they have to pay you compensation.

“£220 for shorter flights, anything over 1500km in Europe or North Africa, is £350, those are your legal entitlements.”

This means that half-term holidayers will not be left in the lurch.

It comes after Gatwick has experienced several flight cancellations.

“Very, very busy, crucially an awful lot of cancellations.

“Easyjet now 28 cancellations, two and from Gatwick, they decided to cancel 240 flights pre-emptively, between now and Monday week, simply because they were getting so many on the day cancellations.

“So therefore people were told ‘Going to Seville, going to Marrakesh, those flights have all been cancelled, and I’m afraid we’ve still got more cancellations today; Porto in Portugal and Milan they’ve just dropped off the schedules.

“Not just EasyJet, TUI has just cancelled the flight to Minorca from Gatwick, and said ‘sorry your holiday is off.’”

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Simon Calder: Essential tip amid passport chaos at Passport Office for Britons | Travel News | Travel

“Occasionally one comes up and somebody grabs it but frankly it’s not worth bothering with.”

Simon Calder said British tourists would have to wait for the 10 week period advised by the Passport Office.

He said: “As soon as you’re up to 10 weeks, which is two and a half months, that seems absurd anyway, then you can call the Passport Advice line, demand that you get fast-tracked.

“They could well offer you an appointment at a Passport Office.”

Simon said the advice line had been a “real disaster” for some people with long wait times for customers.

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Passengers complain of ‘chaos’ at Manchester and Birmingham airports today | Travel News | Travel

Passengers at Manchester airport said they were facing a two-hour wait at security check-in. At Birmingham, queues were described as “ridiculous”.

At least 10 flights were delayed at Manchester while four had been delayed at Birmingham by 8am.

Fiona Miller tweeted: “Utterly ridiculous. Everyone will miss their flight.”

AmiA127v1 posted: “Chaos at Manchester airport this morning. Queue for security is outside in the drop off area.

“Then snaking inside before you are even near the gate for security.”

READ MORE: Britons will need Covid certificate for at least another six months

Rajesh said: “Queueing since 4:30 this morning for getting through Manchester airport security.

“Manchester airport what a nightmare.”

Another passenger ‘Tim’ tweeted a photo of a lengthy queue outside and said: “What the hell?”

Ernesto Tripodi tweeted: “And the worst airport award goes to Stansted airport. Two and a half hours to go through passport control, terribly long queues and I wonder if this is safe at all other than unbearable.”


Birmingham Airport said the queues were due to staffing issues with almost half of its staff made redundant during Covid.

The airport has reportedly launched a recruitment drive and is aiming to recruit more security officers.

Manchester Airport has also launched a recruitment campaign to attract new staff to aid the airport.

Staffing issues have hit the UK travel industry widely with many facing huge problems ahead of the summer season.

Britons have also been urged to check their passports as today is the last day to make the ten-week deadline for renewal.

British tourists will need to get their applications in today if they want to make trips in the first week of school holidays.

Since Brexit, a British tourist must have three months left on their passport after the end date of their holiday in the EU.

It is illegal to travel without the correct documentation and experts fear as many as four million Britons could be affected.

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Travel chaos returns as Alaska Airlines blames … the calendar?

After more than 15,000 Alaska Airlines passengers had their flights canceled Sunday and Monday, Alaska blamed the turn of the month.

Despite a massive scheduling debacle that began on April 1 — causing hundreds of Alaska Airline flight cancellations early in the month that ruined the travel plans of tens of thousands of passengers — somehow Alaska’s crew schedule planners didn’t foresee this coming around again on May 1.

“Month-to-month transitions can be challenging for several reasons, but particularly so when they fall on a weekend,” Alaska spokesperson Bobbie Egan said via email.

Will McQuillen, chair of the Alaska Airlines council for the Air Line Pilots Association union, said the problems run deeper than the calendar.

“I gotta tell you, there’s a month-to-month transition, literally every month,” he said. “The fact that April and May were such a problem, that really does point to the greater issue that they’re having with attracting and retaining pilots.”

The union and management are deadlocked in negotiations over a new pilot contract. McQuillen said that with flight-crew shortages industrywide, Alaska continues to lose pilots to other airlines, with four or five resignations a week — “a pace we’ve never seen.”

Alaska’s management attributed the April chaos to a shortage of pilots after the omicron virus surge disrupted its pilot-training program in the spring.

In response, Alaska cut its flights by 2% through June in an effort to ensure it had sufficient pilots to fly the schedule.

But on Sunday, the calendar turned over to May 1, and Alaska’s monthly transition fell apart again, at a less extreme level than in April but still bad enough. The airline canceled 53 flights on Sunday and 55 more on Monday.

“Due to our operational difficulties in April a significant number of our reserve pilots had already flown to their monthly limitation and were not available to be on call,” said Alaska’s Egan. “This, combined with a higher than usual absence rate, forced us into a short staffing situation and resulted in delays and cancellations.”

ALPA’s McQuillen doesn’t buy that explanation.

“This airline has always run too lean. We use the reserves much more aggressively than other airlines do to cover flying,” he said. “Other airlines are more adequately staffed to deal with the month-to-month transition.”

Working the reserve pilots harder increases Alaska’s productivity but leaves “no slack in the system,” McQuillen added.

“While that productivity may be nice for shareholders in the short term, it certainly has the opposite effect on passengers when flights are canceled,” he said. “They’re not getting ahead of the problem.”

Travelers on social media over the weekend offered glimpses of disarray in the airline’s response to the cancellations similar to that of a month earlier: One told of 10-hour hold times on the customer service phones and the online chat function down “due to high volumes.”

A poor customer support response

On Tuesday, cancellations continued, though at a lower level. Alaska canceled 33 flights, impacting another 3,790 air travelers across its network.

Of those, 15 were at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Alaska was the only airline with cancellations there Tuesday.

One traveler, who only gave his last name, Adhikari, to preserve his privacy, described the stress a flight cancellation can cause.

He flew from Columbus, Ohio, to Seattle for a family wedding with six relatives, then learned late Monday afternoon that their direct return flight early Tuesday was canceled.

With two aging relatives unable to travel alone, he spent three hours on the phone trying to sort something out but it proved impossible to accommodate all on the same flight.

The younger relatives left on Alaska for Philadelphia, where they had to switch to American for a flight to Columbus. Meanwhile, Adhikari and the two older relatives were flying United to Columbus via Houston on a new ticket he paid for.

“I had to waste half of my day yesterday figuring this out,” Adhikari said Tuesday. “We’ll get to Columbus around midnight.”

Stephen Robinson was booked to fly home to Portland on Monday evening from San Jose, California, with his wife and their 8-year-old son, who has mobility issues. Their direct flight was canceled Sunday afternoon, however.

Robinson was stunned when Alaska rebooked the family on “a completely undoable” itinerary from San Jose to Portland via stops first in Seattle and then in Spokane, a trek that made little sense and would have taken just over 12 hours.

When the Robinsons instead rented a car, drove to San Francisco, paid for a hotel there Sunday night and then caught an early morning Alaska flight to Portland, the airline charged them $330 in change fees because the switch to depart from a different city was “voluntary.”

“It was very disappointing,” said Robinson. “A fundamental customer service breakdown.”

Eight days ago, on April 25, Constance von Muehlen, Alaska’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, told staff in an email of “a new approach” intended to fix the scheduling problems.

“We have seen staffing or training challenges in virtually every group since we began the process of recovering our capacity back to pre-COVID levels,” von Muehlen wrote. “We need a sharper and more holistic look at capacity planning.”

She said she was centralizing crew schedule and staffing under a new resource planning team, led by Ryan St. John, who previously worked in financial planning.

“This centralized team’s work will include month-to-month schedule creation,” von Muehlen told staff.

Alaska’s Egan said this new team, which didn’t set up fast enough to flag the problems that hit May 1, will now work to “identify changes that need to be made so this doesn’t happen again.”

“The month of May will see our team continue to proactively cancel our flights eight or more days into the future,” she said. “We will be more resilient in June and beyond after we’ve re-built our schedules to better match the number of pilots.”

ALPA’s McQuillen said there may need to be a reassessment of whether the 2% schedule cut was enough.

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How to avoid airport queues – five tips to minimise holiday chaos

Holidaymakers are being faced with up to 90-minute delays going through security at airports, as Border Force officer staff shortages begin to bite in post-pandemic-measure air-travel.

Speaking to the BBC’s Today Programme, Kully Sandhu, the managing director of the Aviation Recruitment Network, said that it will take ” at least the next 12 months for the industry, vacancy wise, to settle down”.

It comes at the worst possible time, as terminals, such as Birmingham Airport, see consecutive months of record passengers for the first time in two years, an eight-fold increase from this time last year. Travellers have been left gobsmacked by the scenes at security, with many missing flights or just narrowly making them.

Lucy Moreton, General Secretary of the Immigration Services Union, has rejected calls for the recruitment process to be sped up, saying: “This is a law-enforcement role. You don’t expect your police officer to be incompletely trained or not security cleared and we certainly wouldn’t want anything else for Border Force”

Read more:Passport expiry rules after Brexit as tourists are turned away

“More resources would enable those checks to get through quicker, but we can’t cut corners on the training so we are looking at a very difficult summer”. With this in mind, it is down to passengers to help minimise delays at airports with these five tips.

Early baggage drop-off

A little known hack that may make all the difference, is night before baggage drop-off. For example, Jet2 allows luggage drop-off from 15:00-20:00 the night before at Manchester and Birmingham, while British Airways has a 18:00-21:00 bag drop at Heathrow T5 for morning flights the next day.

Take only hand luggage

By not taking any checked-in luggage, your time at the airport will be greatly minimised, cutting out one of the two notoriously long airport queues. You should also check-in online if you can.

Know airport layout

At some airports, particularly abroad, there will be another security check after your hand luggage and body gets scanned at Border Security. When you head to your departure gate, you may be greeted with another long queue, but this time it is to check your passport.

This is separate to the queue you join when boarding the plane, where they again check your boarding pass and passport. With this in mind, do not wait until the last minute to head to your gate, as the post-baggage scan passport check can take up to 30 minutes.


Before arriving in the security queue, make sure you already have your liquids in a clear, sealable sandwich bag, take jewellery off, belts or anything likely to set off an alarm.

This tip relies on everyone else doing the same, as just one unprepared individual can cause deadlock.


For a small fee, passengers can get a speedier journey through security thanks to fast-track schemes. Some of these have dedicated check-in desks, will allow you to get through security faster and are normally available for as little as £4. However, there have been complaints that during the Easter holiday chaos, these ‘fast-lanes’ were equally as slow.

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Cruise packing advice to avoid holiday chaos: Hacks and tips for jewellery | Cruise | Travel

Emily added: “Sun hats are so easily squashed inside suitcases! To avoid this, pack the head of your sun hat tightly with clothes so that it keeps its shape.”

A stylish sun hat can make or break a holiday outfit so make sure it stays on top form by packing it among clothes.

Emily told Express.co.uk: “Mini products are cute but they are more expensive and not great for the environment, especially when you’re packing for the whole family.

“Decant your and your family’s favourite products into mini reusable containers so that you can travel with everything you need.”

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Travel chaos and flight cancellations will rule this summer

(CNN) — It’s time! Travel restrictions are easing, infection rates are settling, you’re fully vaccinated, and you’re finally thinking about going on vacation. This is the year to make up for the holidays you didn’t enjoy over the past two years. You’ve likely saved for two years to make it a good one. This — finally — is it.

Or is it? While you may have got all your ducks in a row, the same can’t be said for all of the travel industry. Not only are there ever-changing rules on testing, vaccines and quarantines to abide by when traveling; but once you’ve sorted your side out, getting to your destination looks set to be fraught with difficulty.

Top of the chaos board? Aviation. The industry was, of course, decimated by the pandemic — but many airlines and airports currently seem unable to cope with travel’s resurgence.

Countries on both sides of the Atlantic are seeing a slew of canceled flights due to lack of crew, long lines at airports thanks to understaffing, and the kind of rates for rental cars that make buying a vehicle look cheap. That’s, in part, because everyone has the same idea as you — only this week, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian announced that March 2022 had been the carrier’s best month for sales in its history.

Facing unprecedented demand, the much-reduced industry is struggling to cope.

In the US, things have been brewing for the past year, as domestic travel has taken off again. Meanwhile in UK, the chaos at major airports has made the news every day for the past couple of weeks, and seen the national carrier, British Airways, reported to the industry regulator for potential law-breaking.

The flying experience may be smoother elsewhere in Europe, but car rentals are not. A bubble car can set you back more than your hotel — and that’s before you factor in rocketing gas prices. Traveling within the US? That “carmageddon” is hitting just as hard.

Welcome to a summer of chaos? Let’s hope not — but industry figures rather fear it will be.

A hot mess summer

Snaking queues in Frankfurt airport.

Snaking queues in Frankfurt airport.

Boris Roessler/picture alliance/Getty Images

“I think it’s a preview of things to come — and I do think things are going to get worse,” says consumer advocate Christopher Elliott, who’s been monitoring the situation in the US and Europe.

“The summer will be chaos,” he believes — so much so that he’s advising his followers to avoid Europe in August, the peak of the peak season.

That airline chaos? He lays it squarely at the door of the airlines.

“I think we’ve been seeing some delays related to the pandemic, but I think they’re baked into the equation at this point — I don’t think that’s really a legitimate excuse,” he says.

“It’s everyone’s fault except their own. If they took a good look in the mirror they’d realize that during the pandemic they downsized and laid staff off, and now demand has come surging back and they’re caught off guard. They haven’t been able to staff up fast enough to meet demand.”

Elliott — the founder of non-profit Elliott Advocacy — has little time for the oft-quoted “technical issues,” either.

“Airlines in the US use antiquated legacy systems in desperate need of update. They haven’t upgraded as they should have. When they crash they lead to massive cancellations,” he says.

On the opposite side of the pond, technical issues — which have been blamed for mass cancellations in the US since last year — have also plagued by British Airways, the UK flag carrier.

On February 26, a “systems disruption” saw the airline ground all shorthaul flights. It was the second IT failure in 10 days, and followed similar issues in 2017 and 2018.

But that was the least of the UK’s problems. Since then, hundreds of thousands of travelers have seen their flights delayed or canceled, or have simply missed them thanks to the chaos engulfing some major UK airports.

Heathrow and Manchester airports have rarely been out of the news since the end of March, with severe staff shortages creating hours-long lines at check-in, security and passport control.

And the lack of staff also means that people are waiting hours for their baggage to arrive.

(Aviation) anarchy in the UK

British Airways' hub at Heathrow Terminal 5 has been particularly hit.

British Airways’ hub at Heathrow Terminal 5 has been particularly hit.

Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Photos of snaking lines and piles of baggage — often abandoned, after customers get tired of waiting for hours — have dominated the UK press.

And the chaos is only getting worse. Stansted airport, budget carrier Ryanair’s hub outside London, on Thursday advised passengers traveling for the Easter break to drop their luggage off a full 24 hours before their flight.

Ryanair at least isn’t canceling flights. The two airlines doing that in the UK currently are easyJet and British Airways. Both have been suffering unprecedented staff shortages since the end of the month, leading to dozens of flight cancellations every day. It may or may not be a coincidence that both also ditched their onboard mask requirements in mid-March.

Enrico Ferro, from Padua, Italy, flew to London with British Airways for a four-day vacation with his wife and child on March 30. On arrival, they spent three hours waiting for their luggage to arrive at Heathrow.

“We spent the first day of our holiday in the airport,” he tells CNN.

Things got worse on the way back. Their return flight to Venice was canceled when they were already at the gate. They ended up on a flight to Bologna, arriving at midnight. Ferro’s father had to go collect their car from Venice airport, and drive two hours to pick them up and get them home in the early hours of the morning.

Ferro says BA staff never informed him that he was due compensation. He says he will “never” fly the airline again.

“I chose BA instead of low-cost companies because I was sure that services for travelers was better,” he says. “I found out that this is no longer the case.”

British Airways did not respond to a request for comment from CNN, but told Which? Travel in a statement: “We always meet our legal obligations.”

Boland told CNN that the current chaos in the UK is, he thinks, “worse than in many other countries.”

Understaffing has led to scenes like this in the UK, where one easyJet check in agent is on duty as thousands of passengers queue in Manchester.

Understaffing has led to scenes like this in the UK, where one easyJet check in agent is on duty as thousands of passengers queue in Manchester.

Ryan Jenkinson/Story Picture Agency/Shutterstock

“There’s a longer term problem around staff employment, and that’s difficult to overcome — especially for travel businesses who pay low wages.

“I’ve been in touch with some [aviation workers] who were fired during the pandemic. They’ve been offered to come back under worse pay and worse conditions, and they’re saying, ‘I don’t really want to — I’ve got a better job.’ Unless airports and airlines increase their offer, they’ll take a long time to increase staff.”

Brexit is, of course, a famously divisive topic in the UK, with many who opposed it ascribing the country’s current problems to the UK’s exit from the EU.

But when it comes to the current airport chaos, there’s a tangible link, says Kully Sandhu, managing director of Aviation Recruitment Network, which finds staff for the industry in the UK.

“We used to receive 50% to 60% of our applications from EU nationals for our London airport roles,” he says.

“Not having this European workforce has not only has caused problems with recruitment, but it also means that airports have fewer employees who are able to speak a European language. This was a major benefit and not having that facility can impact the time it takes passengers to get through an airport.”

Sandhu also blames yo-yoing travel restrictions which led to employers using staff on an “as and when needed” basis rather than giving them regular work — leading to more and more leaving the industry.

In a nutshell? “Airport staff found more stable and financially lucrative opportunities and have decided not to return to work in such a volatile market,” he says.

Sandhu predicts that it will take “up to 12 months” for airport staffing levels to return to pre-pandemic levels in the UK.

Meanwhile, Lucy Moreton, general secretary of Immigration Services Union (ISU), told the BBC that Border Force — which checks people coming into the UK — is “catastrophically understaffed.” The government has blamed problems on the surge in travelers over Easter.

With reports of physical fights breaking out, passengers passing out in queues and thousands of travelers having their flights canceled every day, many will decide to put that post-pandemic trip to London on ice.

Meanwhile, in America

Spirit and JetBlue were badly hit last week.

Spirit and JetBlue were badly hit last week.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Not everyone is so downbeat. We need to keep perspective, says Courtney Miller, managing director of analysis at The Air Current.

For starters, he says, after two months of restrictions “We can get out and fly.”

But he admits that, particularly in the US, the experience “sucks — it’s more expensive, and more wrought with the chance of being delayed or canceled.”

The problem is? “Things are great — too great — and we’re struggling to catch up.”

Miller says that the sudden rebound of the domestic US market last summer saw demand as high as 70% of pre-pandemic levels — and airlines simply didn’t have the infrastructure to respond. “We had various airlines go through meltdown,” he says, adding that over 5,000 pilots left (or were asked to leave) the industry in 2020, and new ones aren’t coming through fast enough.

While demand plateaued during the Omicron outbreak, it’s now back with a vengeance — at around 90% of 2019 levels, he says — and airlines simply can’t keep up.

“We’re seeing mass cancelations again, and airlines are reducing schedules. Fares are through the roof, and people like to talk about [the price of] oil but that’s not why. The problem is we have more people wanting to fly than we have seats,” he says.

Miller has more sympathy — or, perhaps, understanding — for the airlines than most. We need to realize the magnitude of what they have been through, he says: “98% of their business disintegrated.” By comparison, the long-talked-of devastation wreaked on aviation by 9/11? It reduced the industry by a mere 10%.

When an industry is down to the bones, he says, an unexpected problem — like the storms in Florida last weekend, which saw JetBlue and Spirit ground flights — “really hits.”

US airlines are now reducing their summer schedules — in other words, canceling flights — in a bid to improve the problem. That’s why Miller recommends booking as soon as possible, so that you’re already in the system if cuts come.

“If they cancel my flight, they have to find me a new flight; if I wait, the risk is on me,” he says.

“Just book now.”

Not in the US and feeling smug? Bad news: he says America is about a year ahead of other western travel industries.

“We can look at western economies and say we expect a similar magnitude as we go into peak season,” he says.

“European markets haven’t yet gone through that extreme shortage, but this summer is going to be very, very telling as passengers return.”

‘I wanted to rent the car, not buy it’

Americans are ready to travel again, says Kerby.

Americans are ready to travel again, says Kerby.

Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Because passengers are returning, despite the chaos.

He should know — he was quarantined for five days in the Caribbean last year, sharing a room with his kids as they listened to people having the time of their lives outside. And on March 31 he spent two hours queuing to check in for his British Airways flight from Heathrow.

He thinks that it’ll take “months, not weeks” to have things running smoother. And yet, all he wants to do is get on the road again.

For Kerby, the main sticking point is the non-uniform way in which travel restrictions are being imposed and lifted around the globe — and, in particular, the requirement to test before returning to the US, which he says is causing psychological chaos, and putting people off travel.

For those who conquer that barrier, he says that now’s the time to book via a travel adviser.

“The landscape is changing all the time, rules and requirements too. You need someone not only looking out for you, but who can anticipate things that can go wrong, and help get you rebooked and find accommodation if they do go wrong — particularly for international trips,” he says.

He warns that booking your flight isn’t enough this year, and flags the rental car situation as another major pinch point.

“It could be worse than last year,” he warns. “There are popular destinations in the US — Honolulu, LA, South Florida — where prices have spiked to unbelievable levels.”

Last year, he was quoted $3,200 for a week’s rental in Hawaii.

“I didn’t want to buy the car, just rent it,” he says.

We need to talk about rental cars

Kerby was recently quoted $3,000 for a week's car rental in Hawaii.

Kerby was recently quoted $3,000 for a week’s car rental in Hawaii.

Pgiam/iStock Unreleased/Getty Images

So you’ve arrived at your destination. You’re in luck — your bags have arrived, too. But it’s not over — now there’s the gauntlet of the rental cars to run.

The “carmageddon” of 2021 — sky high prices caused by intense demand and not enough cars — has not been resolved. The supply chain crisis still means a global shortage of new cars being manufactured — which means rental companies are still struggling to fill their fleets.
Plus, there’s still nervousness around the pandemic, says Phil Partridge of brokers Rhino Car Hire.

“Car rental agents remain hesitant to fully restock fleets in fear of another variant wreaking havoc through the travel industry,” he says.

“That alongside the physical limitations on how many cars they can procure to restock the fleets… it’s essentially a supply and demand situation again where demand is outstripping supply which inevitably leads to price hikes.”

It didn’t used to be like this — high availability meant that car hire prices rarely saw the same holiday hikes as flights. But consider this the new normal — at least, for now.

There may be some hope. Members of staff at one major Italian rental company informally told CNN Travel this week that prices should dip after Easter before rocketing again in late June, and Partridge agrees.

“Outside the school holidays we expect prices to drop, albeit not to pre-pandemic levels,” he says.

So how to beat the system? Partridge suggests searching for “off-airport” — a downtown or railway station location might be significantly cheaper, even after deducting the taxi you might take to get there.

Most importantly? Reserve your car as early as possible, everyone agrees. Partridge says that he suggests booking 8-24 weeks in advance for the best deals.

“Secure a car at the earliest opportunity and check rates periodically leading up to your rental,” he advises.

“You can always cancel and rebook at a lower rate if prices drop, but can’t turn back the clock and book the rate you saw months prior.”

Booking an electric car will save on fuel money when costs are at an all time high, he suggests — and check for any employee discounts that you may be eligible for via your job.

‘We have the infrastructure, but it’ll take time’

Remember that airline staff are badly paid and work long hours.

Remember that airline staff are badly paid and work long hours.

Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

When you’re facing travel chaos, just remember that the people facing you are likely badly paid, and will have given up the 9 to 5 to work in this industry.

“Working in travel often means working antisocial hours, especially in an airport,” says George Morgan-Grenville, founder of luxury tour operator Red Savannah, which has gone from a “catastrophic” pandemic to the best year they’ve ever had.

For him, as for Boland, aviation needs to offer better conditions. “You’ve got to make the conditions attractive enough that people can live a good family life, earn a decent wage and do the job.”

But he, more than the others, has hope that things will recover.

“Everyone who didn’t travel in the pandemic now wants to, we’ve gone from zero to 60 in months,” he says.

“For any business, dealing with that increase is going to be testing.

“We did have the capability — world class airports and infrastructure. But it’ll take time, and the airports are going to need to make the jobs very attractive.”

He also thinks we may be pleasantly surprised as the weather improves and Covid infections predictably drop. Decreasing rates won’t bring in new staff, of course, but they will help the record staff sickness levels.

How to handle the travel chaos

So what should we be doing to give ourselves the best chance of skipping the chaos?

Book early, all our experts agree. But there’s more:

• Know your rights

In the US, if an airline cancels your flight, it’s obliged to find another way of getting you to your destination — although there’s no time limit on when that should be.

In the EU and UK (which copied and pasted the travel EU law after Brexit), airlines must reroute passengers to their final destination “at the earliest opportunity.” That means they must book you on a rival airline (or train, or other form of transport) if they cannot accommodate you themselves. Although, if they can get you there the same day themselves, they may go for that option — even if it’s a much later flight.

If you are stranded overnight, the airline must pay for a hotel room for you, as well as meals for delays. You can also claim for ground transportation, if you are flown to a different destination.

If your flight was canceled with less than two weeks’ notice, they must also pay you compensation of between €250-600 ($270-$649), depending on the flight distance.

These rules apply to any flights leaving or going into the EU or UK. Do not cancel your booking, or your claim will be invalid.

• Book a car through a broker

Boland says that their research at Which? Travel shows that it’s “much cheaper to book through a broker.” Make sure it’s one that includes small, independent car rental businesses as they’re likely to be the best value this year. He suggests Zest.

• Choose your airline wisely

Miller says that most US airlines are struggling at the moment, but when it comes to Europe, as Boland says, the likes of Ryanair, Wizz and Jet2 aren’t canceling flights. British Airways and easyJet are.

• Fly midweek

While the US leisure market is on fire, Miller says, business travel hasn’t quite caught up — though it’s getting there. That means that for the moment, fares are still lower midweek.

You may find less chaos, too — Grenville-Morgan “whizzed through” Heathrow on a Tuesday-to-Thursday trip to Italy last week. “It couldn’t have been simpler,” he says.

• Book through an expert

This is one time when it’s not a great idea to DIY. Having a third party take care on your booking takes the stress off. They’ll know what the entry regulations are for your destination, which hotels are available, and if your flight is canceled, they can rebook you while everyone else stands in a 200-deep line at the gate.

“People work 50 weeks a year so they can go somewhere,” says Kerby. “Booking with a travel adviser allows you to sit back and enjoy your vacation rather than worrying about the details that can make life miserable.”

• Go for a hotel, not a rental

Boland says that while private rental prices have rocketed, hotel rates are holding for now — in fact, in some places they’re till at reduced rates, since people are preferring to stay in rentals.

• Be flexible

There are still bargains out there, says Boland — but you’ll need to be unfussy to grab them. Just want some sun or a city break — any city break? You’ll be in luck. On the other hand, if you’re set on dates or destination, book asap.

• Pick a nation of domestic tourists

Morgan-Grenville reckons that one of the reasons the UK has been so badly hit is that it’s a nation of inveterate travelers.

“In a typical year you’ve got 18 million Brits traveling to Spain, 12 million to France and four million to Italy — much more than the equivalent European nations going out to visit each other’s countries or the UK.”

That means the chaos factor is high. You may find it easier to pick a country such as France or Italy, where the locals largely stay domestic for the holidays.

• Plan ahead

Morgan-Grenville says that hotels have redeployed staff to cover shortages, so you might find that restaurant closed, or closing early. That goes for the outside world, too — this year, like no other, you need to plan and book ahead.

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How to minimise airport chaos over the Easter long weekend: Pack light

The long queues that have backed up Sydney and Melbourne airports all week are threatening to ground people’s hopes of travelling easily this Easter holiday period.

That’s why it pays to be efficient now more than ever.

A Sydney Airport spokesperson told The New Daily that passengers taking short trips should consider taking only carry-on luggage and checking in online.

That way, they can avoid the line at the airline check-in counters and ease the congestion for others at the same time.

However, due to additional delays at the security check, travellers are still advised to arrive at the airport two hours before their flight.

One major caveat is that certain items cannot be taken in carry-on baggage, including household flammables and sharp objects.

Here’s what the different airlines have to say about carry-on rules.


Domestic passengers on Qantas flights have several options.

One is to take a 56cm x 36cm x 23cm suitcase weighing no more than 10 kilograms.

Alternatively, passengers can take two slightly smaller bags that weigh up to 14 kilograms combined.

As a rule of thumb, all these items must either fit in an overhead storage locker, or under the seat in front of you.

You can read the full Qantas guidelines here.

Virgin Australia

Virgin Australia has slightly different restrictions for passengers flying economy and business.

Economy passengers are allowed one 56cm x 36cm x 23cm suitcase of up to 7 kilograms, or two smaller pieces totalling seven kilograms combined.

Business passengers can also take one seven-kilogram suitcase with the same size cap, but can also choose to bring two smaller bags totalling 14 kilograms.

You can read the full Virgin Australia guidelines here.


Jetstar passengers are allowed to carry on a 56cm x 36cm x 23cm suitcase weighing up to seven kilograms.

Alternatively, passengers can bring one bag plus a “small item” such as a purse, laptop or umbrella, so long as the two weigh seven kilograms combined.

Passengers can choose to purchase an extra seven kilograms carry-on allowance, for 14 kilograms in total. Individual bags cannot exceed 10 kilograms in this circumstance.

You can read the full Jetstar guidelines here.


On Rex, economy promo and economy saver passengers are allowed one standard piece of luggage of up to 56cm x 36cm x 23cm and seven kilograms, plus one personal item.

This also applies to regional flights.

For economy flex and biz saver passengers, the weight allowance goes up to 10 kilograms and can be spread across two smaller pieces of luggage.

For biz and biz plus passengers, the weight allowance increases again to 15 kilograms for up to two pieces.

You can read the full Rex guidelines here.

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Chaos expected on trains, planes and roads for Easter – live updates

Getaways by road, rail, sky and sea are expected to be disrupted this long weekend as travellers race to get away for the Easter break.

Despite the soaring cost of fuel, motorists are planning more Easter leisure journeys than ever before in the coming weekend.

The RAC says drivers are collectively planning more than 21 million leisure journeys by car this weekend – the highest number for an Easter bank holiday since the organisation first started tracking motorists’ plans in 2014.

The scale of the Easter getaway on the roads is likely to be increased because of the closures of key parts of the West Coast Main railway line.

Meanwhile, easyJet and British Airways continue to cancel flights, having axed more than 80 scheduled services between them today.

While both airlines have attributed their cancellations in the past fortnight to staff sickness and absence, UK airports have reported staffing issues leading to longer than usual queues and waits.

P&O Ferries has also caused chaos for holidaymakers by suspending all of its Dover-Calais services over the Easter weekend.

Follow the latest updates below.


Jet2 launches Athens flights from Manchester and Birmingham

Jet2 today launched its first flights to the Greek capital, Athens, from Manchester and Birmingham Airports.

Two services per week (Thursday and Sunday) will fly from each base until the end of October.

The operator now flies to 15 locations in Greece.

Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2, said: “As the UK’s leading airline and tour operator to Greece, we are delighted to see our first flights take off to Athens from Manchester and Birmingham Airports today.

“It is fantastic to be operating flights and city breaks to this historic city for the first time, as we know that Athens is a destination that customers want to get to.”

Lucy Thackray14 April 2022 12:09


Network Rail to carry out 530 engineering projects over Easter

Network Rail has announced it will carry out some 530 engineering projects over Easter, costing a total of £83 million.

This includes the closure of the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Milton Keynes (Friday 15 to Monday 18 April) for upgrades and HS2 works.

Re-signalling and crossing works will also commence at Clapham Junction, while HS2 works and line upgrades will also be inaction at London Euston and Watford North Junction stations.

Network Rail said that 95 per cent of the network would be unaffected by the improvements.

Chief executive Andrew Haines said: “The majority of the railway will be open as usual this Easter for people to take a short break or visit loved ones, but some routes will be affected by our upgrade works, so we’re asking passengers to plan ahead and check their journeys in advance.

“We’ll be carrying out hundreds of vital projects that will improve passengers’ journeys in future – for example by improving reliability and boosting capacity on the network.”

Lucy Thackray14 April 2022 11:43


Ferries apologies to Dover-Calais passengers and offers alternative sailings

Four weeks ago, P&O Ferries ordered all its vessels to tie up and await an important announcement.

Nearly 800 crew were told that they were being made redundant and would be replaced by cheaper agency staff.

Since then P&O has resumed sailings on all its routes except the most crucial: Dover-Calais.

A spokesperson for the company said: “We apologise unreservedly to all customers whose scheduled journeys with us between Dover and Calais have been cancelled whilst we are unable to sail.

“It is only fair and right that we make alternative arrangements for those customers, which include transferring them onto our Hull-Europoort service to Rotterdam, or booking them onto services with Brittany Ferries between Portsmouth and Caen.

“Both of these options are at no extra cost to customers – if anyone chooses either of these alternatives we will reimburse them for any additional mileage expenses incurred and as well as all meals onboard our overnight crossing. Customers will also receive a 25 per cent discount on their original fare.

“We also recognise that these options will not be suitable for everyone, therefore any customer who booked directly with P&O Ferries will be able to claim a full refund and a free trip for future travel.

“We thank customers for their patience during this time and apologise again to those whose journeys have been disrupted.”

Simon Calder14 April 2022 11:12


Heathrow Terminal 2 passport queues ‘stretching to 90 minutes’

Many passengers arriving at Britain’s busiest airport this morning face long delays at passport control, attributed to staff shortage at UK Border Force.

Natasha Porter arrived at Heathrow Terminal 2 at 8.45am on Air Canada from Toronto, where she had connected from the Dominican Republic. She was travelling with two passengers.

On arrival they were told the main passport hall was too crowded, and they were directed to what Ms Porter describes as “a side corridor”

She says: “A man gave a speech about short staffing and having to hold us here.”

Eventually they cleared passport control at 10.15am, 90 minutes after arrival.

Passengers at Terminal 5, the main hub for British Airways, experienced faster processing – partly because BA has cancelled dozens of flights due to its own staff shortage.

Simon Calder14 April 2022 10:42


P&O Ferries cancels all Dover-Calais sailings over Easter weekend

The company had hoped to resume crossing over Easter, but has been telling customers that no services will be operating until at least Tuesday 19 April.

In response to Twitter user Jeremy Palliser’s query as to whether ferries would be running on Thursday or Friday this week, P&O Ferries responded: “This service remains suspended until the 18 April inclusive, we will update when we have more information and if this changes we will contact you directly. We have contacted customers who were affected. Thank you.”

Helen Coffey14 April 2022 10:26


Want to avoid those airport queues? Consider ditching flights this summer

If you’re worried about the mega-queues and security delays causing some passengers to miss flights this spring, there is one blindingly simple solution, writes travel editor Helen Coffey.

You could always ditch the flights and travel closer to the ground this summer, like Helen – who has pledged to travel flight-free throughout 2022.

“Even before the recent turbulence at airports across the land, which even saw unlucky passengers miss flights because they were stuck in hours-long security queues, I couldn’t help but feel a little smug about my choice every time a friend told me about a disastrous flight delay or a nightmare case of lost luggage,” writes Helen.

“The longer I go without flying, in fact, the more I wonder how I ever tolerated it in the first place.”

Helen Coffey14 April 2022 09:59


Brits miss holidays waiting for new passports to arrive

Some British holidaymakers are missing out on holidays and losing money due to longer-than-usual waiting times for new passports.

Recent reviews on Passportwaitingtime.co.uk, which tracks consumers’ waiting time during applications, show customers’ frustration with the often inconsistent wait times for a new passport.

One user’s review, posted on Wednesday, says she’s waited more than 12 weeks for two of her family’s passports to be renewed.

The typical waiting time for a new passport is five weeks – as stated on the government website – unless it is a first time adult passport, in which case the average wait is six weeks.

However, the passport office advises travellers to allow up to 10 weeks to allow for any delays, with the disclaimer, “Standard online application processing times may change quickly.”

Lucy Thackray14 April 2022 09:31


Dartford Tunnel breakdown snarls up M25

Motorists travelling anticlockwise around the eastern section of the M25 are being warned of delays of an hour as a result of a broken-down lorry. It is in the eastern bore of the Dartford Tunnel, with all traffic diverted to the western bore.

National Highways South East says: “The Eastbore tunnel at the Dartford crossing is closed for recovery of a broken down lorry.

“There are currently long delays of at least 60 minutes on approach along the M25 anti-clockwise. If this closure impacts on your planned route, please allow extra journey time.”

There are height restrictions within the tunnel being used.

Vehicles over 4.8m (15’9”) are advised “to seek an alternative route via the clockwise M25”.

Simon Calder14 April 2022 09:02


East Coast main line hits problems

Passengers on the main rail line from Scotland, northeast England and Yorkshire to London King’s Cross are facing delays after a train driver reported hitting an obstruction in the Hatfield area.

National Rail says: “Fleet engineers and the Network Rail quick response staff are on site and are working with the driver to get the train moving as quickly as possible.

“Only one out of two lines are available for trains travelling towards London. Please allow extra time to complete your journey, as services may be subject to delays of up to 20 minutes in the Hatfield area.

“In order to fix the issue safely, more lines will need to be blocked resulting in further delays.
“Some trains may also be diverted away from the area to avoid increased delays, but this will still lead to extended journey times.”

LNER Azuma trains at Kings Cross

(Simon Calder)

Simon Calder14 April 2022 08:29


Delays on Croydon-Gatwick trains expected until 09.00

Trains between East Croydon and Gatwick Airport are currently being disrupted, with delays expected until at least 9am.

“There is a fault with the signalling system between Gatwick Airport and East Croydon. As a result of this, trains may be delayed by up to 10 minutes,” says a National Rail update.

Thameslink also tweeted about the delays, saying: “We are currently advising that you allow an additional 10 minutes for travel between Gatwick Airport and East Croydon (towards London). This is owing to a signalling fault affecting our fast ‘Quarry’ line between Earlswood and Coulsdon South.”

Lucy Thackray14 April 2022 08:14

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