Canceled flights and long queues at the airport are among the issues facing travelers hoping to get abroad this summer.
But the disruption people face when traveling in 2022, according to a Kent travel agent, comes down to staffing and a lack of people to handle pent-up demand from the public.
Although the last of the UK’s Covid-19 travel restrictions was lifted nearly 100 days ago, airports and airlines are struggling to get their services back on track.
With the Easter and May holidays marred by problems, people with vacations in July and August now fear that the same fate will befall their long-awaited summer holidays.
A perfect storm
A complicated combination of staffing issues caused by Brexit and recruitment challenges posed by the aftermath of the pandemic has left airports and airlines scrambling for enough workers.
Chris Scoble, owner of Go Scoble travel agents in Kent, says the current disruption can only be improved by fixing staffing issues in the aviation industry.
When the global pandemic hit and flights were grounded, companies had little choice but to lay off workers or lay them off. As a result, thousands of people have since given up on their travel careers altogether, he says, either because they had to find other work to keep themselves afloat over the past two years or because it took highlight the sometimes poor wages and working conditions they experienced.
“After their leave, they realized there was something else for them,” he explained.
And while few Covid-19 restrictions are now in place for those trying to take vacations, the havoc the virus can wreak certainly hasn’t gone away, Chris says.
With airport and airline staff testing still daily or weekly, the current rise in infection rates only further derails rotations and headcounts as workers call in sick or are forced to self-isolate, which they now do again as they grow up. numbers, further draining small teams that already struggle to manage workloads.
Added to this, says the experienced travel agent in Tunbridge Wells, an exodus of European workers since Brexit is only making the problems worse.
“It will be a recurring theme for a little while until it stabilizes and we have staff in the doors,” says Chris. “We just can’t get staff to work at airports.”
Easing strict employment rules for foreign workers to help attract European staff and ensuring that company terms and conditions are favorable could improve the situation in the longer term, Chris says – but it might not be. a consolation for anyone hoping to catch a flight in the coming weeks.
Yesterday – shortly after Heathrow canceled 30 flights because it couldn’t handle the numbers – the government announced a 22-point action plan it is now putting in place to try to ease disruption to this summer and guarantee people their trips abroad.
An amnesty for airlines returning unwanted airport slots, a call for carriers to seek and cut summer schedules now and not at the last minute, and a campaign to make it clear to travelers what their rights are. ‘they are subject to last minute change are all part of the policy.
But what’s the advice if you have a booking coming up?
Traveling in July or August
Don’t panic, says Chris Scoble, who says it’s worth travelers remembering that although there are many canceled flights, hundreds still leave UK airports every day without a hitch.
Anyone with a booking this summer should keep up to date with their airline and flight, and in the week following your scheduled departure, check your booking regularly to see if there have been any schedule changes or if you have received correspondence. notice of a cancellation or change.
And above all, when you leave, don’t arrive at the airport too early!
While we’ve all been warned to allow plenty of time to get through security, overcrowding at airports already struggling with staffing can only add to the confusion as companies like Easy Jet, Chris says, won’t open the baggage rails only three hours before a departure. which just lets the first comers kill time.
But if there is a problem, Chris Scoble suggests travelers have a clear understanding of their rights so they can communicate effectively with airports or airlines to find a solution which should include alternative flights, even if it’s with a competing company. , or hotels and expenses if different arrangements do not take off immediately.