This past weekend, 159 flights were cancelled just at Gatwick Airport with EasyJet accounting for half of the flights cancelled with 80 trips off the tote boards on Sunday. These flight cancellations left around 15,000 travelers stranded abroad who were trying to return home to the UK. According to experts in the field, it is going to take at minimum 3 days to deal with the backlog of passengers whose flights were cancelled.
The finger pointing of blame is shifting back and forth between the airlines and the UK government. According to EasyJet, the cancellations are due to the “ongoing challenging operating environment.” If you ask the government, the response is that the airline industry at fault. And then there are the other factors that require no finger pointing because they just are: staff shortages, delays in air traffic control, and power outages are all taking a toll on flying this summer.
If there is any comfort in shared misery, similar scenarios are happening in other European countries.
In Dublin and Amsterdam, for example, it seems that airports in general were not prepared for the onslaught of summer bookings once the pandemic travel requirements eased around the globe. To add insult to injury, airport jobs are the hardest and lengthiest to qualify for because of the need to fulfill background checks and other security processing.
Contributing to the airport chaos are aviation strikes happening in Italy that are causing flight cancellations to the UK for Jet2 and Ryanair. With this past weekend being a 4-day holiday schedule for so many Brits, families were trying to get back home and finding themselves stuck with other airlines as well such as Wizz Air and British Airways.
And for those fortunate souls who made it through the long lines to check in to flights that were not cancelled, a number of them discovered upon landing that their luggage was lost. The strain of staff shortage is affecting travel at the airport all around in a not very good way.
So despite the fact that many are chomping at the bit and wanting to get on with a real holiday after 2 years of dealing with COVID’s harsh realities, perhaps some will decide after all to have a staycation instead. Might be better than wasting a good holiday standing in line or sitting in an airport.