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Airport delays in Europe – your questions answered

by Sharron Livingston
Munich Airport security screening

It may be the busiest time of the year, yet the EU have chosen this moment to enforce tighter border controls. As a result thousands of British holidaymakers are facing longer airport queues and delays with some even missing their flights homes, especially those travelling home from Spain.

Why is this happening?

Following the terror attacks in Paris and Belgium the EU has put in place new security measures on April 7. The rules require countries to carry out more stringent checks on travellers entering and leaving the Schengen area, a no frontiers” zone comprising most EU countries plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, but excluding UK and Ireland.

Up to now Brits have been able pass through passport control easily, sometimes being waved through by merely showing the passport. Now every passport needs to be compared against the “Schengen Information System” and also against Interpol’s list of stolen and lost travel documents.

Which airports are effected?

Airline lobby group, Airlines 4 Europe said passengers can expect the longest delays in popular tourist destinations where travellers enter or leave from outside the Schengen Area. The worse hit airports are likely to be:

  1. Palma, Majorca, Spain
  2. Malaga, Spain
  3. Paris (Orly), France
  4. Lyon, France
  5. Brussels, Belgium
  6. Lisbon, Portugal
  7. Milan (Malpensa and Bergamo), Italy

The organisation also warns of long queues at Madrid, Lisbon, Lyon, Paris-Orly, Milan and Brussels.

What are the new procedures when flying through the Schengen area?

Standard security procedures are still in place but the extra checks take place at the passport desks. Lack of resources is being blamed to cope with the demand created by the new rules – especially at peak times.

How much earlier should I arrive?

It may be useful to arrive a three or even four hours early if you are flying from one of the airports mentioned – especially Spain – to get into a queue even though sometimes check-in opens only two hours before departure. At least you will be ahead of the game.

Will airlines wait for passengers who are held up in queues?

They may do. It’s a case of hoping for the best.

Do I get compensation if I miss my flight home?

Sadly not. If you miss a plane because you were unable to reach the gate in the time stipulated by the airline, you will not be looked on sympathetically. You will have to buy a new flight.


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