Long queues, lost luggage, favorable euro exchange
A favorable exchange rate between the dollar and the euro may make a summer getaway to Europe appealing this year, but travelers who have been there warn that the continent’s airports are a mess.
Mark Cassell, a political science professor at Kent State University who lives in Washington, D.C., told USA TODAY his experience returning from Amsterdam this week was marred by flight cancellations, long lines and lost luggage.
“Just getting my boarding pass took at least an hour and a half of waiting, and waiting to go through security took another three hours,” he said. “I looked at the number of steps I took and it was at least two to three kilometers of lines.”
Cassell ended up having to connect via Frankfurt after his original direct flight was canceled, and he said he ended up waiting for more lines there, including an hour-and-a-half-long one just to confirm that his luggage had arrived on the new plane journey. The airline told him it was, but he never appeared on Dulles’ carousel.
Nanci Belmont, a bassoonist from New York, had a similar experience returning from Italy via Paris on Sunday.
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“I go to the carousel where our bags are supposed to be, and there were so many people standing there, the carousel finally stopped and the carousel is full of bags that don’t belong to anyone,” she said. , and guessed that the bags that showed up were the ones that had failed to catch the previous flights.
Belmont’s luggage was finally delivered to her apartment in New York on Tuesday, but by then she had already been out of town for a teaching opportunity in Texas, which meant she had to borrow tools spares and other work-related items to colleagues because his had stuck in Europe.
“We make our own reeds and we have these toolboxes full of knives and other scraping type things that you can’t take on a plane in your carry-on,” she said. “A good amount of stuff I needed for traveling to Texas that I didn’t have before I went.”
What travelers need to know
If a summer eurotrip is still on your horizon, experts and fellow travelers are warning that now is the season to get to the airport early and be patient.
“I was surprised and impressed by the stamina of people traveling with young children,” Cassell said. “Literally, you stood in line for hours, how did you get to the bathroom?
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According to data from Hopper, an online travel booking platform, Brussels and Frankfurt airports have had the least reliable service so far this month, with 72% and 68% of their respective flights suffering. delays.
Travel agents told USA TODAY that those heading to Europe this summer should allow themselves plenty of extra time to account for lines and avoid checking a bag if possible.
Belmont pointed out that she wished she didn’t have to check her reed tools.
“Keep some things you really need in your carry-on,” she said.
What are European airports and airlines doing to reduce congestion?
To cope with the increase in demand, the major European airports, including Heathrow in London and Schiphol in Amsterdam, cap capacity during the summer and ask airlines to reduce their schedules and limit ticket sales.
Even with these measures, airport operators across the continent are warning that this summer could continue to be difficult as they strive to hire more people to help process travelers through baggage screening and security. .
“My advice would be: be patient when possible,” Belmont said. “It’s a summer that people are going to travel again, and the fact that airlines can’t keep up is quite frustrating.”
In an extraordinary sign of the seriousness of the situation in Europe, the CEO of Delta Air Lines admitted during the company’s earnings call on Wednesday that they operated a baggage repatriation flight earlier this month. After canceling passenger service on July 11, the airline used the plane to fly about 1,000 pieces of luggage back to the United States, the airline said.
When will things be better?
Airlines and airport operators are trying to sort things out, but it will take time.
Alex Cruz, former CEO of British Airways and current board member of Fetcherr, an artificial intelligence company specializing in airline pricing and revenue management, previously told USA TODAY that one of the main delays in Europe is to get new airport employees the security clearances they need to work. at or beyond security.
He said things should be a bit more normal by the fourth quarter of this year and hopefully be back to business as usual by summer 2023.
What does a stronger US dollar mean for US travelers visiting Europe?
“Going to Europe seems much cheaper to Americans than it did last summer,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “With a stronger dollar, it helps offset the cost of airfare and hotel rooms about 10-20% cheaper.
“If you’re planning on traveling and have some extra savings, now is the time to go.”
Of course, the reverse is true for European travelers heading to the United States.
“The United States seems incredibly expensive to Europeans compared to this time last year, about 10-15% more,” he said.
Contributor: Terry Collins, USA TODAY