Europe Travel Situation Now: The Good, The Bad And The (Covid) Ugly
So you’ve waited two years to travel, heard the rumours of travel chaos but have booked anyway? The good news is that people are getting to destinations but the bad news is that arrivals might come after lots of cancellations and increased costs. And never mind that across Europe, travelers are coming up against fierce fires, heatwaves and rising infection rates of Covid-19.
The good news—people are getting away on their trips
It’s not so much a story as proof that the summer of revenge travel is here—after being locked up under strict Covid-19 regulations, many people are getting away:
- 4th July was the biggest travel weekend for Americans since the summer after Y2K, as reported by Axios. 22 years later, on Friday 1 July, nearly 2.5 million people passed through U.S. airport security checkpoints.
- Europe travel is booming. Spain, for instance, registered over 8 million international arrivals in June 2022, a jump of 85.5% from 2019 levels.
The bad news—lots of people aren’t getting away due to strikes and cancellations
Due to extreme staff shortages brought on by the pandemic, lots of strikes (for better pay/hours) and cancellations hit the Europe travel industry, with many people not making it to their destinations, or at least not on time:
- 15,700 flights have been canceled by airlines across Europe for August—which accounts for 60% of all global flight cancellations, according to figures from Cirium.
- London Heathrow airport has tried to limit the number of passengers that fly out of its terminals from 104,000 to 100,000 per day until September to try to curb the chaos at security lines and check in.
- 500 flights were cancelled in Italy on Sunday 17 July due to strikes held by employees of low-cost airlines and air traffic controllers over better pay.
- And further north in Europe, Air France-KLM and Lufthansa limited sale of their low cost tickets and Deutsche Lufthansa decided to cancel one fifth of its departures from Frankfurt and Munich, as reported by Bloomberg.
The ugly news—Covid-19 and heatwaves make traveling hazardous
They say that travel 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, stifling heat, fierce wildfires and rising Covid-19 infection rates make the journey seem like the easy part:
- Many parts of Europe are expected to reach a record-breaking 40 degrees this week, including the U.K and France.
- A wildfire almost the size of central Paris is ripping through southwest France in the Gironde region, with 16,000 residents evacuated on Monday 18 July alone. Experts are struggling to contain it and it’s just one of many wildfires in France right now.
- And the World Health Organization named Europe as the center of a new wave of global Covid-19 infections, just as the world starts traveling there again—as reported by Bloomberg. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme told media that “we are seeing a much more intense wave of the disease passing through Europe again.”
All in all, it might be better to not check luggage and stay local (at least to roads and rail, rather than air). At the very least, travelers need to make sure they have as much insurance as possible and allow lots of time for delays, the heat and the crowds.
The latest Covid-19 Europe travel restrictions by country can be found here.