How travelers to Europe deal with summer chaos

Adding to the upheaval, aviation workers across Europe have been on strike in recent weeks demanding better working conditions and higher wages to ease the burden of rising inflation. Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport canceled over 100 flying on Thursday after his union went on strike demanding a €300 increase in monthly wages for all airport staff, about $320. More than 360 flights at and from Italian airports were canceled last week after air traffic controllers and flight attendants staged a 24-hour strike. Scandinavian Airlines pilots have also threatened to quit from the end of June over salary disputes.

Willie Walsh, CEO of the International Air Transport Association, an airline trade group, said changes to governments’ coronavirus policies have created a lot of uncertainty and given the travel industry little time to prepare to resume travel after a two-year hiatus.

“It is not surprising that in some places we are seeing operational delays,” he said.

Be prepared for long queues, flight cancellations and delays even after you’ve arrived at the airport for check-in, as some airlines change flight schedules at the last minute to deal with staffing issues. Download your carrier’s app to get the latest updates and make rebooking easier from your phone.

At many European airports, travel experts advise passengers to arrive three to four hours before their scheduled flight to avoid long lines. For those traveling from the United States to Europe, try to take the most direct route to your destination and make sure there are multiple flights scheduled to your final destination in case you transit through a busy airport and miss a connection.

Lack of staff at airports has also caused baggage delays, with some passengers waiting up to a week to receive their luggage. Some tour operators advise travelers not to check in luggage, but if traveling light is not an option, be sure to bring carry-on luggage with essentials for the first few days of your trip.

Earlier this month, Esra Topaz, 22, an art student, flew from Paris to London on a British Airways flight that was delayed by more than five hours; her checked baggage never arrived. After spending three days chasing an airline, her bag was finally delivered to her home, reeking of cheese and other perishables she brought back from her trip.

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