The good, the bad and the (Covid) ugly

So you waited two years to travel, heard the rumors of travel chaos, but booked anyway? The good news is that people are making it to their destination, but the bad news is that arrivals could come after many cancellations and increased costs. And it doesn’t matter that across Europe, travelers are encountering fierce fires, heat waves and rising Covid-19 infection rates.

The good news: people are escaping on trips

This is not so much a story as proof that the summer of revenge travel has arrived – after being locked down under strict Covid-19 regulations, many people are fleeing:

  • The 4th of July was the biggest travel weekend for Americans since the summer after 2000, as reported Axios. 22 years later, on Friday July 1, nearly 2.5 million people passed through US airport security checkpoints.
  • European travel is booming. Spain, for example, recorded over 8 million international arrivals in June 2022, an 85.5% jump from 2019 levels.

The bad news: Many people aren’t making it through strikes and cancellations

Due to the extreme staff shortages caused by the pandemic, numerous strikes (for better wages/hours) and cancellations have hit the travel industry in Europe, with many people not arriving at their destination, or at least not on time :

  • 15,700 flights were canceled by airlines across Europe in August, representing 60% of all flight cancellations worldwide, according to figures from Cirium.
  • London Heathrow Airport has tried to limit the number of passengers exiting its terminals from 104,000 to 100,000 a day until September to try to curb chaos at security lines and check-in.
  • 500 flights were canceled in Italy on Sunday July 17 due to strikes organized by employees of low-cost airlines and air traffic controllers to demand better pay.
  • And further north in Europe, Air France-KLM and Lufthansa have limited the sale of their low-cost tickets and Deutsche Lufthansa has decided to cancel a fifth of its departures from Frankfurt and Munich, as reported. Bloomberg.

The bad news: Covid-19 and heat waves make travel dangerous

They say the journey shouldn’t be about the destination, but after such a long wait and, in some cases, arduous journeys, the fun part should be the arrival.

But across Europe, sweltering heat, fierce wildfires and rising Covid-19 infection rates make the journey seem like the easy part:

Overall, it might be better not to check baggage and stay local (at least for road and rail, rather than air). At the very least, travelers should make sure they have as much insurance as possible and allow plenty of time for delays, heat, and crowds.

The latest Covid-19 Europe travel restrictions by country are available here.

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