Tips On Surviving European Airports In Summer 2022

Travelers across Europe are in need of tips to survive the airports this summer.

Summer 2022
Photo by Yolanda Suen on Unsplash

European countries, big and small alike, are experiencing an influx of travelers from all around the world, reaching and surpassing pre-pandemic levels. Airports across Europe, however, have not been able to handle the sheer number of travelers across the continent. So, why has Europe been unable to keep up with the demand of travelers?

Much like the rest of the world, Europe dramatically reduced its airport, airplane, and general staff during the pandemic to compensate for costs in other sectors. Unlike the U.S., however, European airlines also severely diminished the number of flights scheduled to fly during the heat of the pandemic. The U.S. continued keeping up with a slightly lower average number of domestic lights, but many European airlines did not. Because of this, many airlines in Europe are now experiencing a labor shortage and cannot keep up with the demand of American and other travelers to visit and travel within Europe. As a result, between April and June, Europe had more than double the amount of flight cancellations than U.S. carriers, according to the company RadarBox.com.

European carriers such as Ryanair and Aer Lingus — airlines known for their cheap flights between European countries — saw their workers staging 3+ day strikes complaining about low salaries and long hours. This is no surprise; transportation labor unions, not limited to subways, trains, and buses across London, Amsterdam, and many other major European countries, have been striking all summer due to poor working conditions. Airports such as Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, London Heathrow Airport, and Dublin airport have all made news headlines this summer due to their long queues out of their respective terminals. Airlines have even started suggesting their customers arrive up to 3 hours early just to get through checking a bag.

So, how can you survive and avoid the worst parts of the plague of European airports in Summer 2022?

1. The early bird gets the worm (but not too early)

Airport security
Airport security. Photo: Rayner Simpson

Airports and airlines across Europe have been recommending their passengers to arrive at least 2+ hours early to combat the lines to check a bag and get through security. Due to the lack of workers, there are fewer lanes available for security in European airports, and thus, the lines are longer. For example, in mid-June, it was recommended to arrive at the Amsterdam airport at 2 am for a 7 am flight. Nevertheless, many airlines warn not to arrive at the airport too early because this has created bottleneck effects where the airport’s pre-security area has been too crowded as you can only let people in through security so fast. A safe bet is to arrive at European airports at least 3 hours before your flight.

2. Pack Lightly

Ideally, to make the check-in process quicker, not checking a bag may be the best option for European travelers this summer. Skipping the hour line to get a tag on your bag and check it is the smartest move to make travel efficient. If you must check a bag, make sure it is not over the weight limit, and you still travel relatively light so that you may also fit new European-purchased items in your suitcase without having to buy a new bag on the way. When packing, maybe consider putting that eighth summer dress back in your closet before zipping up that bag.

3. Have your passport ready!

Paddington train station
Paddington train station. Photo: Tomek Baginski

This may seem obvious, but passport control and customs have been a doozy this summer. Some airports, such as Heathrow in London, have electronic passport gates that allow you to pass through passport control quicker if you are a member of the E.U. or the U.S. A pro-tip to remember for these machines is that they won’t work if you are wearing glasses! Make sure to look as similar to your passport picture as possible to ensure a swift entry through the machines. When having to do passport control with a physical person, make sure you know exactly what to tell them when they ask about your travel reasons. Have any other traveler information ready to show them on your mobile device so that you minimize the amount of time at the control gate. And, of course, have your passport flipped to the page of your picture!

4. Arrive at the physical gate early

Amsterdam airport
Amsterdam airport. Photo: Anna Gru

No matter your boarding group, you should arrive at your physical gate in European airports at least an hour before the departure time. Many European airports, such as Gatwick in London and the Amsterdam airport, have gates that admit everyone into a separate waiting room and then allow people to board. These gates allow people to enter the waiting room an hour before departure time; if you want a seat in the waiting area, you should be there early. Other airports, however, don’t even release the gate number until 15 minutes before departure, so be sure to be near and watch the screens around the airports that signal which gate you will be leaving from. Also, be aware of the rush of people that will inevitably be running to your gate to avoid the lines.

5. Acknowledge that there will be bumps along the road (or the sky)

Due to a large number of travelers and work shortages this summer, European airports are not set to get better soon. Thus, you must understand that traveling through Europe will not be easy no matter what. Many customers have experienced a substantial amount of canceled or delayed flights, and many others have complained that their checked luggage didn’t arrive at their desired location.

From the Amalfi Coast to Iceland, travel ease will be based on the roll of the dice. Just make sure to stay patient and follow the above tips to make your Pinterest-worthy European travels all the easier.

Paloma visited various European countries in the Summer 2022.

Paloma Vigil

A Miami native, Paloma is an avid traveler eager to put pen to paper and describe all of her adventures. Her favorite way to experience new places is with a fork in hand. Whether it is a tapas snack in Spanish bars or freshly caught raw fish delicacies in Japan, she is always ready for the next bite. Her dual Cuban-American identity drives her to explore how cultural differences can bring people across the world together in unexpected ways. She is always seeking to find innovative ways on approaching global interconnectedness through travel.

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