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Adding to the upheaval, aviation workers in Europe have held strikes in recent weeks, demanding better working conditions and higher salaries to help ease the burden of soaring inflation. Paris Charles de Gaulle airport canceled more than 100 flights on Thursday after its union announced a walkout demanding a 300-euro monthly pay raise for all airport staff, around $320. More than 360 flights were canceled in and out of Italian airports last week after air traffic controllers and cabin crew staged a 24-hour strike. Scandinavian Airlines pilots have also threatened to walk out beginning in late June over salary disputes.
Willie Walsh, director general for the International Air Transport Association, an airline trade group, said that coronavirus policy changes by governments created a lot of uncertainty and gave the travel industry little time to prepare for the restart of travel after a two-year shutdown.
“It is no wonder that we are seeing operational delays in some locations,” he said.
I’m already booked. What could I be facing?
Be prepared for long lines, flight cancellations and delays, even after you’ve arrived at the airport for check-in, as some airlines are changing flight schedules at the last minute to manage staffing issues. Download your carrier’s app to get the most up-to-the-minute changes and for easier rebooking from your phone.
At many European airports, travel experts are advising passengers to arrive three to four hours before their scheduled flights to get through long lines. For those traveling from the United States to Europe, try to take the most direct route to your destination and make sure there are several flights scheduled to your final destination in case you are transiting through a busy airport and miss your connection.
The staff shortages at airports have also caused baggage delivery delays with some passengers waiting up to a week to reclaim their luggage. Some travel operators are advising travelers not to check baggage, but if traveling light is not an option, then be sure to pack a carry-on with essential items for the first few days of your trip.
Earlier this month, Esra Topaz, 22, a fine arts student, flew from Paris to London on a British Airways flight that was delayed by more than five hours; her checked luggage never arrived. After she spent three days chasing the airline, her bag was finally delivered to her house, reeking of cheese and other perishable goods she had brought back from her trip.