Summer 2022 Air Travel Reality Check

Summer 2022 Air Travel Reality Check

62

The peak summer travel period is right around the corner, and that’s exciting for many. The world is finally starting to return to (a new) normal, travel and coronavirus restrictions are being eased, and people are ready to party like it’s the summer of 2019.

Unfortunately that’s where the similarities between the summer of 2019 and the summer of 2022 will end, especially on the travel front, and more specifically on the airline front. And while it brings me no joy to write this, I feel like it needs to be said…

Expect airline operations to be a mess all summer

My Twitter timeline seems to be a combination of people sharing where they can still find flight deals for this summer, and people sharing their horror stories of what it’s like at airports right now. We’ve seen airlines and airports struggle to cope with increased passenger demand in recent months, and that’s about to get even worse, as summer school holidays increasingly start.

I’m not meaning to suggest that everyone will have an absolutely horrible flying experience in the next couple of months. However, you absolutely shouldn’t be shocked if things don’t go as planned, and you should even expect that.

Frankly I don’t even bat an eyelid anymore when I see a picture of a half-mile long security line or a customer service desk that has hundreds of people waiting in line with just a couple of agents working. That’s just the reality of travel in 2022.

I’m not suggesting that every single experience is going to be terrible. Quite to the contrary, I’m sure some people will breeze through CLEAR and TSA Pre-Check, fly nonstop on schedule, and their checked bag will arrive within 20 minutes. However, I think people are lying to themselves if they think that the even bigger increase in demand we’re about to see will lead to smoother operations.

Airlines will have meltdowns this summer

How you should prepare for air travel this summer

I’m not saying you should be happy about it, or that airlines should be off the hook for it, but you should expect air travel to be a mess and plan accordingly, since there’s only so much you can control.

Among other things:

  • I’ve never recommended this before, but for many airports you shouldn’t just get there one or two hours early, but maybe three or four hours early instead; that’s especially true if you don’t have access to priority services
  • Airlines are doing a ton of schedule changes, so don’t expect that your current itinerary will stick; if you’re taking a cruise or have a commitment you can’t miss, don’t fly there the day of, or even just a day early, but fly there two or three days early
  • Leave really long connections, so that you maximize your chances of actually making your flights; if you miss your connection, it might be a long time until there’s another available flight to be rebooked on
  • If you’re checking bags you’ll especially want to leave a very long connection, given the shortage of baggage handlers in so many places; otherwise you could find yourself making it to your destination without your bag
  • Fly on off-peak days if you can (midweek), and ideally fly earlier in the day rather than later in the day, since stuff tends to get messier as the day progresses

Like I said, none of this is to say that you should be happy about it, or that airlines and airports shouldn’t be held accountable (though more on that later). But rather if you’re going to post a video on Twitter with 500 people in a line, it should be with the caption “FYI here’s a line of 500 people waiting for two customer service agents, not surprising,” and not “OMFG can you believe there are 500 people waiting for two customer service agents, f*&$ [insert airline name], I’m never flying with them again.”

Be especially nice to airline staff

I want to dedicate a brief section to this specifically. If you are traveling this summer, make sure you’re nice to the frontline airline industry workers. They’re not the problem, they’re the solution. And if you think your travel experience is stressful for the few hours you spend at an airport or on a plane, imagine what it’s like for them every day now.

The fact that airports and airlines are understaffed is very much not the fault of those who are showing up to work. Quite to the contrary, they’re the ones suffering most from that.

Are airlines really to blame for these issues?

I certainly don’t want to give airlines (and airports) a hall pass for operational issues, and in particular for being too optimistic with their scheduling. In an effort to maximize profits, airlines are scheduling flights based on the best case scenario of staffing, rather than based on the worst case scenario. That’s not cool.

That being said, aren’t these issues kind of true across our entire economy? The airline industry is one of the most complex industries in the world, even under the best of circumstances. There are so many outside forces that impact airlines’ ability to operate (as we’re seeing in Amsterdam with the lack of security staff).

But even bigger picture than that, could anyone tell me what industry is delivering reliably right now? Airlines are always an easy punching bag, since consumers ordinarily like them about as much as cable companies.

I feel like at the moment you can’t get any service reliably. Sure, your flight may be delayed by a few hours, but at least it’s not delayed by six months, unlike a lot of other things that people are purchasing right now. That’s not to excuse airlines for their lack of performance, but rather to say that I’m not sure they’re doing an especially bad job, given all that’s going on.

There are lots of factors impacting airlines’ issues

My recent experience flying around Europe

In the United States we often view airline operational issues as being mostly a domestic issue, but the reality is that things are at least as bad in Europe, if not worse. So if you’re planning to travel to or through Europe this summer, expect it to be rough.

Just to give an example of what I’ve seen the past couple of days in Europe, and it’s not even the summer school holiday here yet:

  • Yesterday morning Frankfurt Airport was busier than I’ve ever seen before; fortunately I didn’t have to clear security or passport control
  • Our checked bags didn’t make it despite having a very reasonable connection time, and as you’d expect, the lost baggage line was very long (we’re in Europe for over a month, which is why we have checked bags)
  • At Düsseldorf Airport yesterday I saw the longest security line I’ve probably ever seen

I certainly don’t see things getting any better in the coming weeks…

European airlines are having reliability issues as well

I’m happy not to travel in July & August

As I mentioned above, I’m in Europe for June, since I figured it would help me somewhat beat the summer travel rush (admittedly many Americans already have school breaks, but Europeans don’t). It’s already too wild for me here.

I don’t have any real travel planned for July or August, and my plan is to keep it that way. I’m happy to let the rest of the world travel to their hearts’ content, and I’ll just be chilling/sweating in Florida, hoping everyone leaves the state.

Other aspects of travel won’t be much better

While I’m keeping this post mostly airline specific, I think it’s worth also mentioning that I’d expect many aspects of travel to not be as great as pre-pandemic this summer. At a minimum, expect this to be the summer where you pay more and get less.

Across the board we’re seeing hotels and the tourism sector having staffing issues, so expect worse service, fewer things being open, higher prices, and longer lines for just about everything.

Expect some service issues at hotels as well

Bottom line

I know many people are excited to travel this summer, and that’s great. I don’t at all mean to take away from that. I just want to help people set realistic expectations. The fact that airports and airlines are going to be understaffed isn’t really within our control at this point.

What is within our control, however, is how we plan, and how we respond when things go wrong. Absolutely go out and travel, just don’t expect that it’ll be like 2019. And be nice to the people who are showing up to work, because they’re not the problem.

What are you expecting air travel to look like this summer? Anyone have a more optimistic outlook?

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  1. LufthansaFlyer Guest

    @Lucky
    Do you know what happens to Lufthansa now? According to Twitter, seems there is a surge number of baggage loss. Almost all tweet with #lufthansa is about baggage loss. What happens to Lufthansa luggage handling systems?

  2. AA70 Gold

    I got to FRA 2 hours before my 7AM flight and had to check in at the counter since LH did not let me check in online. The counter had 2 people working and the queue was especially long. I finally got through and had to wait 20 minutes each at security and document check. Finally made it through and arrived at my gate 5 minutes before boarding, but I was stressed the whole time....

    I got to FRA 2 hours before my 7AM flight and had to check in at the counter since LH did not let me check in online. The counter had 2 people working and the queue was especially long. I finally got through and had to wait 20 minutes each at security and document check. Finally made it through and arrived at my gate 5 minutes before boarding, but I was stressed the whole time. The whole time I really wondered if I would have made it to ARN and back to the US that day.

  3. kenindfw Guest

    Last summer was the worst. This summer so far so good. It depends, friends had trouble getting back from PSP on Monday. We kept checking the incoming flight for him. Fortunately, we went to lunch and hung out at the pool for several more hours. He didn't get home till 1:00am, but it beats sitting in the airport. The next day our flight went smoothly, but then again I always do the flight alerts for incoming flights so I know when the plane coming is in the air.

  4. Timtamtrak Member

    “They’re not the problem, they’re the solution. And if you think your travel experience is stressful for the few hours you spend at an airport or on a plane, imagine what it’s like for them every day now.”

    Blame airline corporate management all you want… and they are to blame, but please - can we all do this? Without the folks still showing up to work every day still. You’d be going nowhere. I also...

    “They’re not the problem, they’re the solution. And if you think your travel experience is stressful for the few hours you spend at an airport or on a plane, imagine what it’s like for them every day now.”

    Blame airline corporate management all you want… and they are to blame, but please - can we all do this? Without the folks still showing up to work every day still. You’d be going nowhere. I also work in the travel industry and our company has been hard hit by corporate buffoonery, needless layoffs and lackadaisical hiring plans, but we come to work every day to give our best to get y’all where you want to be. :)

  5. Wit Guest

    My family just got back from a trip to Barcelona.

    We connected through Munich. When we arrived to MUC we were forced to wait on the tarmac because Lufthansa didn’t have any staff. Missed connection.

    On our way back, United had 15 staff members at their check-in counters at BCN! I think some were contractors.

    Newark was an absolute zoo this past Thursday.

  6. Sam Guest

    Lots of wisdom here, but the “Are Airlines to Blame” section is duplicitous. Ben say he doesn’t want to give airlines a hall pass, then goes on to do just that (or try to).

    The airlines took billions on the premise that they would be ready to go when COVID receded, but they were not and still aren’t. We are over 2 years down the road and airlines blame cancellations in California on weather...

    Lots of wisdom here, but the “Are Airlines to Blame” section is duplicitous. Ben say he doesn’t want to give airlines a hall pass, then goes on to do just that (or try to).

    The airlines took billions on the premise that they would be ready to go when COVID receded, but they were not and still aren’t. We are over 2 years down the road and airlines blame cancellations in California on weather in Boston. That ain’t weather folks, it’s bumbling management.

    Start imposing big fines, higher based on the delays incurred. Higher yet when delays stretch to days. Make comp for hotels and transportation mandatory. Start moving the hurt from the customers to the non-performing businesses and watch this turnaround happen fast.

    1. BobTut Guest

      Sam,
      I here your frustration but no company, airlines or any other want their customer experience to be a poor one. That’s just not a business plan at any level. I think the problem is staffing, and you can’t hire when there aren’t any applicants. Just a thought

  7. Alexandra Guest

    Ben, you should probably add: be aware of potential/planned strike action at your destination. There are going to be a lot of disappointed and confused people at LHR/LGW this coming week and the rail unions are threatening to keep striking. And thats before you add in the Tube unions, who are also striking at the same time. If industrial action really gains traction who knows who else could go on strike for higher pay, wasn't...

    Ben, you should probably add: be aware of potential/planned strike action at your destination. There are going to be a lot of disappointed and confused people at LHR/LGW this coming week and the rail unions are threatening to keep striking. And thats before you add in the Tube unions, who are also striking at the same time. If industrial action really gains traction who knows who else could go on strike for higher pay, wasn't there something lately about BA unions going to ballot shortly?

    Essentially - avoid travel this summer if possible. If not, keep it simple with hand baggage and routings - now is not the time for mileage runs. If thats not possible, add in (copious amounts) of time and patience.

  8. Steven E Guest

    Also when looking at buying a hotel “luxury package “ ensure you read the recent advisories and feedback reviews - we are in Thailand at a supposed 5 star resort - 300 rooms with 7 staff and 9 guests in Koh Samui- the disappointment was real, years of hotel closures and no maintenance have left it’s mark- and it’s most properties in one way or another - everyone we’ve spoken to say it will be at least 2 more years until it’s back

    1. Alexandra Guest

      We just got back from Samui. Its definitely a mess with so many resorts for sale or simply abandoned. If you are in a position to move, Id recommend the Sala Chongmoen Beach (next door the new Kimpton) - they are in good shape, not too full, and the beach/pools are pretty good. We also stayed at the Melati around the corner and that was struggling a bit with occupancy vs maintenance and service (although still enjoyable)

  9. Daniel B. Guest

    EXCEPT: Budapest Airport (Hungary).
    Here everything is normal, fully staffed check in desk, security screeners. Here you can leave all electronics in your bag when going through security.
    I knew it would be the case (no long lines like everywhere else in the EU), because it has been widely reported in the media here. This morning it took us 8 min to get to the check in agent, 4 min to go through security!

  10. Richard Guest

    Issues with a number of flights returning from Fargo via DFW. The Citi Executive card provides access to the Admirals Club and the associated staff. The customer service external to the lounge was hundreds of people waiting in line for hours. The customer service internal to the lounge was tens of people waiting in line for 5-10 minutes. The staff in the lounges are very capable based on my experience. The issues at the airports...

    Issues with a number of flights returning from Fargo via DFW. The Citi Executive card provides access to the Admirals Club and the associated staff. The customer service external to the lounge was hundreds of people waiting in line for hours. The customer service internal to the lounge was tens of people waiting in line for 5-10 minutes. The staff in the lounges are very capable based on my experience. The issues at the airports can be mitigated with business class tickets. The flight to London in July includes a 5 hour layover at ORD intentionally. The current flight arrives at LHR at 7am but check in isn't until 3pm providing further flexibility. The trip is 3 nights in London so the arrival is important but the departure, not so much so. No concerns with issues on the return flight. The return flight is a 60 minute layover at ORD connecting to the last flight of the day to the destination. I have every expectation of a night in Chicago...

  11. D3kingg Guest

    It’s crazy out there. 25 minute wait at the priority First American Checkin in IAH. Now every flight today from CLT to EWR has been cancelled so far also United. Arrive early and please don’t hassle the ground and gate agents they are swamped.

    Club CLT is far away but decent for priority pass. Turkish lounge MIA was better if not crowded.

  12. BookLvr Gold

    Recently back from a trip to Barcelona and Madrid (5/22-6/3) and Lucky's tips are spot on! We had a fantastic trip once we were on the ground, but the flying logistics were vexing. I would also add some perhaps obvious, commonsense tips like "Pack a couple extra days worth of clothes" and "If you take any medications, pack extra and keep them in your carry on." Having fresh underwear and socks makes any situation better....

    Recently back from a trip to Barcelona and Madrid (5/22-6/3) and Lucky's tips are spot on! We had a fantastic trip once we were on the ground, but the flying logistics were vexing. I would also add some perhaps obvious, commonsense tips like "Pack a couple extra days worth of clothes" and "If you take any medications, pack extra and keep them in your carry on." Having fresh underwear and socks makes any situation better.

    Our originally booked flights were canceled in both directions, and in neither case was this information available until we were already at the airport. In fact, our flight home was canceled two days in a row. (We did finally takeoff 26 hours after our originally scheduled time.) We were flying Delta to Barcelona and United home. In the case of the flight home, many passengers (including us) were rebooked for the next day. I overheard several people asking if there was a laundromat anywhere near the random Best Western in an industrial park near the airport at which we were stashed and was really glad we had extra clothes!

    The part for which I do fault the airlines is COMMUNICATION. If a flight is being canceled due to operational issues, it should be possible to send people a text, email, or automated phone call letting them know that their flight is canceled before they show up at the airport. This was not my experience with either Delta or United on this occasion. With both our outbound and our inbound flights, we showed up at the airport and only then learned that our flight was canceled. Delta had sent us nothing and had in no way indicated in the system that the flight was canceled. (We checked before leaving the house!) United sent us a text on 6/3 saying our flight was 20 minutes delayed, which I appreciated, but our flight was in fact canceled. And on 6/4, we didn't find out our flight was canceled again until we were in line at the ticket counter.

    It would also be nice if airlines made greater efforts to ramp up the number of people working their customer service centers. We did not try to call, but some of our fellow passengers were trying to call the airlines and were put on hold for hours. Delays are going to happen. Rebookings are going to happen. We get it, and I 100% agree that it is important to remember that the people working the counter at the airline are for the most part doing their best, are definitely not to blame, and deserve our compassion. Given this reality, however, it would be nice if airlines could have more personnel working the phones to sort out problems. I felt terribly for the people working the check-in counter at United trying to rebook hundreds of people. These employees looked extremely stressed out. Having more people available at the call centers would alleviate some of the pressure on the check-in counter personnel.

  13. Bubba Guest

    It's a bit of a mess. We had a miss in CDG a few weeks ago when our TATL arrival was ten minutes late, and the connection was something like seventy minutes. Normally, that's not a problem. But security and passport control.
    A few months ago, then problem is that the airlines were understaffed. They still are, but the bottleneck is the airports. All around the world, airport jobs are underpaid yet require specific...

    It's a bit of a mess. We had a miss in CDG a few weeks ago when our TATL arrival was ten minutes late, and the connection was something like seventy minutes. Normally, that's not a problem. But security and passport control.
    A few months ago, then problem is that the airlines were understaffed. They still are, but the bottleneck is the airports. All around the world, airport jobs are underpaid yet require specific training, security procedures, and odd hours. And many European airports are run by private companies trying to make a profit.

    Europe this summer is the summer of the Americans.

    Not having kids means not being locked in to specific travel times when everyone else is traveling. I've got one set of flights this week, and then I'm on the ground until the end of August.
    Good luck to everyone out there.

  14. Joseph Guest

    Thing seem normal at AA. I’m trying to get home from sleeping in the wrong city each of the last three nights and never actually making it to my destination - all due to cancellations and late arrivals causing missed connections. Like I said, normal for
    AA

  15. Stuart Guest

    I arrived in BKK yesterday from BNE and our bags were coming off right after the AF flight from CDG. There must have been 100 people in line for lost bags from AF. Never saw anything like it other than during a massive winter blizzard.

    My plan is to finish this trip I'm on and to be very picky until mid September. Essential only for domestic flights and absolutely not going to Europe (and...

    I arrived in BKK yesterday from BNE and our bags were coming off right after the AF flight from CDG. There must have been 100 people in line for lost bags from AF. Never saw anything like it other than during a massive winter blizzard.

    My plan is to finish this trip I'm on and to be very picky until mid September. Essential only for domestic flights and absolutely not going to Europe (and have warned clients as such) until the fall. I will say though that Australia and SE Asia seem fine right now and running very smooth. SQ lounge was busy in SIN but not chaotic. Operations were running efficiently everywhere. Domestic flights in Australia were a breeze as well the past couple of weeks. So maybe if you must travel this summer pick Australia or Asia...but, of course, good luck finding award flights. Almost non-existent.

    1. Fed UP Guest

      of course the Austrailia airports were a breeze.. no one is going there... after the country was shut down to foreigins and even returning Australian citizens... who would want to go to such a xenophobic place...

  16. SSS Guest

    Airlines have made significant cutbacks over the past two years and received substantial government handouts. While a lot of what you say is true Ben, airlines seem to be over promising and under delivering. I’ve seen lots of repeated “operational” cancellations for what would otherwise appear to be an effort to consolidate flights and reduce costs. Better approach would be to not offer the flights in the first place.

  17. Brent Guest

    Does your interaction with the lounge agent comply with what you have written here?

  18. Darren C Gold

    Airport design is a major factor. DCA has been redesigned and now allows you to change concourses without exiting/re-entering security, but nightmares like DEN still require everyone to take trains from security to the gate, even us CLEAR and Pre-Check customers flying J.

    Having status might help, but I haven't had any missed connections in the last 30 days. Today I am in RIX. Previous flights this month were GDN, CPH, AMS, and YYZ.

    In...

    Airport design is a major factor. DCA has been redesigned and now allows you to change concourses without exiting/re-entering security, but nightmares like DEN still require everyone to take trains from security to the gate, even us CLEAR and Pre-Check customers flying J.

    Having status might help, but I haven't had any missed connections in the last 30 days. Today I am in RIX. Previous flights this month were GDN, CPH, AMS, and YYZ.

    In the last month I also flew to DCA, MIA, DFW, PHX, LAX, and JAN, with only minor delays.

    1. Fed UP Guest

      US airports are not designed, there are botched together over years and years, totally kluged together in a hap hazard fashion. Many have disconnected terminals that you have to re-clear security, no sterile transit areas for international transit passengers, no separation of inbound and outbound traffic in terminals, the list goes on and on...

  19. Rob Guest

    While I agree with a lot of what you said, Ben, I have issues due to the following:

    1. Airlines, unlike products, are a in the service industry--6 month delays and the like is comparing apples to oranges, no excuses in that regard as airlines aren't assembling electronics, and having to deal with international manufacturing, and shipping logistics.

    2. Airlines have enjoyed the bailout money over the last while, there should be no excuses regarding...

    While I agree with a lot of what you said, Ben, I have issues due to the following:

    1. Airlines, unlike products, are a in the service industry--6 month delays and the like is comparing apples to oranges, no excuses in that regard as airlines aren't assembling electronics, and having to deal with international manufacturing, and shipping logistics.

    2. Airlines have enjoyed the bailout money over the last while, there should be no excuses regarding operational performance. The bailout was to stave this exact issue--what use is it to get the bailout money, dump employees, then stammer to get back into proper operational efficiency having shed weight and taken the pay? All while doing an incredibly poor job.

    3. Airlines should know better than anyone what they should realistically target, but they are driven by greed at the expense of the customer experience, as opposed to planning conservatively and working within those defined expectations.

    At the end of the day, everyone suffers; the airport staff, the airline staff, the passengers..and for what? Because the idiots at the top are pushing for numbers and schedules that are in an optimal and best-case scenario, while everyone else lives in the real world?

    Over the last month or so, there have been far too many delays that are minutes away from the compensation threshold on flights I've taken, and airlines know it. I hope that sooner or later, it'll all catch up to them, and I hope they feel it--for the staff that have to be at the front of everyone's frustrations, and for the passengers who have to deal with this bull$#!*.

  20. John Guest

    I just don't understand all of the staffing delays and staffing issues didn't the government give all these airlines billions upon billions of dollars or millions upon millions of dollars to keep people employed and not to fire them or lay them off or anything like that doesn't make sense to me

    I think most of the US airlines took the bailout money I thought the agreements were that they wouldn't fire people or lay...

    I just don't understand all of the staffing delays and staffing issues didn't the government give all these airlines billions upon billions of dollars or millions upon millions of dollars to keep people employed and not to fire them or lay them off or anything like that doesn't make sense to me

    I think most of the US airlines took the bailout money I thought the agreements were that they wouldn't fire people or lay them off or whatever whatever so they should be staffed.

  21. John cochran Guest

    Have had a very good BA business class flight from SEA to LHR and connect to Paris. Flights were on time, bags arrived and staff very helpful.

  22. Greg Guest

    With many places having high Covid cases, it is hard to reliably staff many services. Add to this the draconian change/cancel policies I agree perhaps summer travel is not so great. It will be interesting to see how things play out this summer. I think the industry needs to figure out what to do with staffing issues when people need to take off time because of illness.

    1. Stuart Guest

      As a data point from my end I imagined this was the case as well. However, I just wrapped up two weeks working in Australia and flying all over every 2-3 days. This in a country with one of the worst numbers in the world right now. Flights and operations were running smoothly. I never had a single delay. I breezed through the airports. Yes, flights were all full. But not sure how it's different...

      As a data point from my end I imagined this was the case as well. However, I just wrapped up two weeks working in Australia and flying all over every 2-3 days. This in a country with one of the worst numbers in the world right now. Flights and operations were running smoothly. I never had a single delay. I breezed through the airports. Yes, flights were all full. But not sure how it's different there and chaos everywhere else. It may be that like the U.K., Australia is just not worried about people calling in sick until they test negative. The consensus there for employers is that after five days if you are feeling fine come back to work, even if you are still testing positive. That may be the difference in keeping things running.

  23. D3kingg Guest

    @Ben

    Don’t buy into all of this. Even you should know as an experienced traveler with status. Show up early and standby on an earlier flight if you have to. Take a middle seat in economy on a domestic leg. As long as you make your international connection.

  24. Alec New Member

    Which statuses will get you fast track security? I'm Star Alliance Gold flying out of LHR and One World Sapphire flying out of AMS next month, hoping I get fast track.

    1. Reyyan Member

      In Amsterdam you will be able to use the priority line at security, usually this line is significantly shorter than the normal line. Not sure about LHR though.

    2. Nate Guest

      Lhr terminal 2 where most *A flights leave from has fast track for *A gold

  25. Steve Diamond

    Just signed up for CLEAR, totally forget its free with the amex platinum. Hopefully i wont have to use it or hopefully it wont save time versus precheck but i have heard some places like Denver can have 30min-1hr precheck lines. So i guess it makes no sense not to get it if your card covers it.

    1. Andy Guest

      i wouldnt have gotten clear if it wasn't for amex platinum covering it but from my experience where ive been able to use it, it does speed things along even better than having precheck. sadly my home base airport (pittsburgh), doesnt have Clear but it also hasn't really been necessary either.

  26. Frog Guest

    We flew Belgium to Alaska and back in mid-May. Cancellations, re-routed and downgraded both ways. Delayed by more than 24hours on the outbound journey. At least our checked bags made it ok despite the rerouting.

    I’ve heard dozens of first-hand horror stories about how bad it has gotten since then. I can only imagine how much worse it’ll be in July and Aug. I for one have cancelled all travel plans till November. It’s a jungle out there…

    1. Susan Guest

      Everything in this article (except the lost luggage) I recently experienced on a trip to Ireland via air canada. Longest lines I have ever seen at the bag check in and security screening. Delayed flights. Canceled flights. Missed connections. If you are privileged enough to take an overseas vacation then you should know to pack some extra patience. The joy is not in the journey this summer but there is no sense making it misery...

      Everything in this article (except the lost luggage) I recently experienced on a trip to Ireland via air canada. Longest lines I have ever seen at the bag check in and security screening. Delayed flights. Canceled flights. Missed connections. If you are privileged enough to take an overseas vacation then you should know to pack some extra patience. The joy is not in the journey this summer but there is no sense making it misery for yourself or anyone else (especially airline staff).

  27. Deborah Guest

    I just hope you are returning on Finnair so you can review the new seats!

  28. Mick Guest

    I’m leaving to europe for an extended trip next Friday with wife and 3 kids. Eek!!!!

  29. Donna Diamond

    I haven’t run into issues in France and Italy this month. Just more people than the usual absence of crowds during the height of the pandemic but not worse than 2019.

  30. stogieguy7 Diamond

    There was a line for everything in Europe and the UK; any mode of transport was mobbed - also including trains (which used to be easier and more convenient). And the security lines are awful. As rough as it may get in the US, Europe is a disaster on a different scale. And, I'd know as I naively booked our gateway in/out of Europe through AMS. What a mistaka-to-maka.

  31. Justin Guest

    Yes make sure you are super nice to the airline staff who treat everyone like total s**t

    1. GBOAC Diamond

      Did it ever occur to you that if you start of treating the staff super nice there's a good chance you will be treated OK to great in return. OTOH treating the staff nastily will guarantee that they will treat you like s**t. I will make my choice you can make yours

    2. XPL Diamond

      As a former front line customer service person I second Ben's excellent advice.

    3. Richard Guest

      I have a flight to JNB connecting in FRA with a 15 hour layover. With a business class ticket on LH, is getting through security and/or immigration sufficiently speedy to enjoy 8-10 hours in the city?

    4. VladG Member

      Absolutely. There's also a separate security line for Business class passengers. So make that 12 hours in the city.

  32. George Romey Guest

    I could easily see a summer of non stop meltdowns on all US domestic airlines. Of course, the people really impacted are at the end of the line in getting help (as in standing in a service desk line several hundred deep), have no clue about the ins and outs of an airline, will have the worst options, and can least afford it in the terms of forced hotel stays (or sleeping in the airport) or lost time at work.

  33. Mark F. Guest

    I just came back from 19 days in Europe. I missed several connections. But, if there was EVER a time to pay a bit extra for business class for intra-Europe, now would be the time.

    Monday morning in Dublin, the lines were out the door, but there were two people in the Business Class bag check line for LH. Add Fast Track through security, and that's another hour long line skipped.

    Unfortunately, we...

    I just came back from 19 days in Europe. I missed several connections. But, if there was EVER a time to pay a bit extra for business class for intra-Europe, now would be the time.

    Monday morning in Dublin, the lines were out the door, but there were two people in the Business Class bag check line for LH. Add Fast Track through security, and that's another hour long line skipped.

    Unfortunately, we were delayed in Dublin due to ground crew shortages, so I missed my connection in Frankfurt. Again, having Business Class tickets meant lounge access, so I could skip the huge customer service line. LH auto rebooked my missed connection to the next morning, but the competent agent at the lounge was having none of that, and got me on a flight 2 hours later. I was able to spend the extra time in the lounge.

    The next Monday, and Barcelona was crazy. But, again, the business class ticket got me checked in, bag checked, and through fast track security in no time.

    The price premium of Business Class vs Economy in Europe wasn't that great, and it saved me hours of waiting in lines, and not having to overnight in FRA (waiting in line for a hotel voucher, etc).

    1. SgFm Member

      Yes, very similar experience to your's. We had multiple flights in both business and coach during a three week trip to Azores, Madeira, mainland Portugal, and the British Isles. For all the current known pain points on this trip we were fortunate to be flying business, this included AMS and DUB, where we were able to avoid much of the landside airport messes. My one and only mishap was delayed bags when flying on a...

      Yes, very similar experience to your's. We had multiple flights in both business and coach during a three week trip to Azores, Madeira, mainland Portugal, and the British Isles. For all the current known pain points on this trip we were fortunate to be flying business, this included AMS and DUB, where we were able to avoid much of the landside airport messes. My one and only mishap was delayed bags when flying on a small regional airline, Loganair from MAN-IOM; and I count myself lucky that I got them delivered to my hotel in under 30 hours!

  34. jj Guest

    Everything has been fine for me in the UK/Europe despite the press reports of horrow shows at airports. Polite, friendly staff everywhere, and no significant queues, delays, cancellations, or lost bags. That's on a reasonable sample of five return short-haul and two return long-haul flights in the past few months.

    Maybe I'm just lucky. Or maybe the media is determined to paint a dramatic picture whatever the truth.

    1. Mark F. Guest

      I am glad your experience was smooth.

      My anecdotal experience:
      2 Hour delay out of EWR because a passenger found out you needed to wear a mask to Germany and freaked out and had to be offloaded and baggage removed. (that's not on European issues).

      1 hour line at immigration inbound to Dublin because they were shorthanded (staffing issues). That was after an hour delay in getting to Dublin from EDI because the inbound...

      I am glad your experience was smooth.

      My anecdotal experience:
      2 Hour delay out of EWR because a passenger found out you needed to wear a mask to Germany and freaked out and had to be offloaded and baggage removed. (that's not on European issues).

      1 hour line at immigration inbound to Dublin because they were shorthanded (staffing issues). That was after an hour delay in getting to Dublin from EDI because the inbound plane was an hour late getting out of DUB. (due to staffing issues).

      2 hour delay out of Dublin because when we loaded the plane, the ground crew hadn't unloaded inbound baggage yet (meaning customers were still waiting for over an hour for bags) and then had to load bags. Due to staffing issues. And then there was a shortage of ATC crew in the UK, so they were restricting take offs, and we waited another hour. Due to staffing issues.

      Delay a week later arriving in Amsterdam due to ATC issues on the inbound plane. Due to staffing issues in the UK. Once in AMS, no one was there to operate the jet bridge. Due to staffing issues. Then they couldn't get it to work. Then they couldn't get a jet ladder in until they moved the jet bridge. It took an hour to get the door open. Another 2 hour delay. Due to staffing issues.

    2. LarryInNYC Diamond

      Do you think staffing issues might have been to blame?

    3. Mark F Guest

      Definitely staffing issues were to blame. I was in Dublin Airport on a Monday (Bank Holiday). No one was sitting around not working. There was just a lack of staff. There were only 2 agents for Lufthansa and at least 150 people in line waiting. And, apparently, it takes weeks to add new workers as they have to be trained and pass a security search.

  35. John Guest

    AMS / Schiphol now cutting the number of passengers for the airport by 13,500 per day. Not sure airlines will either cancel flights, or keep flights but with less people on them.
    Recently, has cancelled flights (but not planes) from any & all European destinations to/through AMS in order for the planes to fly there empty so they can help empty the airport.

    And, here in the UK, nationwide rail strikes coming up, as well as Tube/Underground strikes in London.

  36. Never In Doubt Guest

    “we’re in Europe for over a month, which is why we have checked bags”

    That logic baffles me.

    Are you carrying over a month’s worth of clothing so you never have to do laundry?

    If you’re going to have to do laundry once, just bring what you can carry on and do it twice/three times, etc.

    Unless checking bags would eliminate my need to do laundry in a situation where it’s not possible, I’d never check.

    1. jj Guest

      Maybe you're no fashionista, but surely you'd not want to wear the same couple of outfits for a whole month?

      And you do realise how much the weather and customary dress vary across Europe, right? Clothing for London would hardly be suitable on a Greek island; and the skimpy gear worn in Barcelona's nightclubs would see you arrested for indecency in more conservative parts of Europe

    2. GR Guest

      *I'd never check* - that logic baffles me. Why is it such a big deal if you are checking in your bags or have a carry-on only? To save half an hour? I find it's super annoying pulling liquids from carry-on going thru security in Europe.

    3. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Do you folks not sweat? Do you wear the same underwear, multiple days in a row? ...I mean, I totally understand not-checking for a weekend trip, or a place where you know you'll have access to laundry. But for the folks who take week+ trips and never check, just for the sake of never checking: I question your hygiene, at best.

  37. The Joe Guest

    I think the last time I really did any "true" summer travel was in 2015.

    Maybe thats why I just don't understand the fuss!

  38. R B Guest

    flying to JFK-HEL-ARN followed by ARN-CDG this week-end...
    Should be fun!

    1. Alexandra Guest

      HEL is a total breeze, absolutely no problems through there and we transited between intra Europe to Asia flights.

      Only thing is that their duty free doesn't seem to be well stocked at the moment, and some of the shops/restaurants are closed. We had to go back through security on arrival from Asia and they ran through a whole A350 in about 15 minutes, and that included having to take electronics out.

  39. Victor Guest

    Just flew out of Frankfurt Monday morning. I had about a 20-30 minute wait at passport control and that was it. Crowded but not overly so.

    1. Jan Guest

      I’m flying in to AMS in 2 weeks forba 1:50 layover.
      Wish me luck boys

  40. Eskimo Guest

    How you should prepare for air travel this summer?

    Don't travel.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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jj Guest

Maybe you're no fashionista, but surely you'd not want to wear the same couple of outfits for a whole month? And you do realise how much the weather and customary dress vary across Europe, right? Clothing for London would hardly be suitable on a Greek island; and the skimpy gear worn in Barcelona's nightclubs would see you arrested for indecency in more conservative parts of Europe

7
GBOAC Diamond

Did it ever occur to you that if you start of treating the staff super nice there's a good chance you will be treated OK to great in return. OTOH treating the staff nastily will guarantee that they will treat you like s**t. I will make my choice you can make yours

6
Mark F. Guest

I just came back from 19 days in Europe. I missed several connections. But, if there was EVER a time to pay a bit extra for business class for intra-Europe, now would be the time. Monday morning in Dublin, the lines were out the door, but there were two people in the Business Class bag check line for LH. Add Fast Track through security, and that's another hour long line skipped. Unfortunately, we were delayed in Dublin due to ground crew shortages, so I missed my connection in Frankfurt. Again, having Business Class tickets meant lounge access, so I could skip the huge customer service line. LH auto rebooked my missed connection to the next morning, but the competent agent at the lounge was having none of that, and got me on a flight 2 hours later. I was able to spend the extra time in the lounge. The next Monday, and Barcelona was crazy. But, again, the business class ticket got me checked in, bag checked, and through fast track security in no time. The price premium of Business Class vs Economy in Europe wasn't that great, and it saved me hours of waiting in lines, and not having to overnight in FRA (waiting in line for a hotel voucher, etc).

5
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