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This summer, the flight is hell. And it won't be fixed right away

OOn the morning of early June, the security line at Kastrup Airport in Copenhagen left the scanner and passed through an automatic boarding pass machine, long and moody. I drew such an arc and meandered. Until the end of the departure hall, go down the stairs and return all the way to Seven-Eleven at the entrance of the terminal. "That was bad," said one of the young workers in a neon yellow polo shirt that was recently hired to calm the nerves and inform frustrated and desperate travelers. Nowadays, there are many of them even at airports, which are usually models of smooth movement. Kastrup has been named more than 12 times asthe most efficient airport in the world. Workers pulled out a video of a seemingly endless queue over the phone, adding: However, I was told that I couldn't do it because it was basically everyone on that day.

In Europe and the United States, what was supposed to be a fun return summer for travel has instead become a season of turmoil. A soul-killing line at check-in and security. Hundreds of flights were canceled each week because the airline was unable to staff. Luggage that does not appear for days. Much of this is the pain of a pandemic after the aviation industry has nearly stopped in the last two years and is currently struggling to keep up with the surge in demand. And, worse for passengers, airline and airport employees are even more distressed. Pilots, flight attendants, security guards, baggage handlers, and even airport bus drivers report more overwork and stress than ever before.

The situation is unlikely to be resolved soon, as the July 4th holiday weekend has stagnated in the United States and extensive strikes are underway. “Summer will still be tough,” says Umang Gupta, Managing Director of Alton Aviation Consultancy. "Airlines obviously want to take advantage of the fact that demand is returning, but I don't think all these connected entities will be available by then."

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June,To pass security at Dusseldorf Airportlast weekat Amsterdam Airport Schiphol It took 4 hours., the security line extended the terminal through a tent set up on the side of the road and returned to the building. A technical error at Heathrow Airport on the weekend of June 18-19 caused a "baggage pile" of unclaimed luggage, and 10 days later,was

in the same month. It is reported that it has begun to give off a foul odor. Iberia has reported that since March, 15,000 passengers have missed connections via Madrid's Barajas Airport. Several times in the last two months, both Heathrow and Gatwick airports in London have asked airlines to cap the number of flights per day. EasyJet canceled 40 flights a day in June, or about 1,700 flights a month. British Airwayshas taken 8,000from the March-October schedule. Flight trackerflightaware. Randomly browse comand you'll see that United, KLM, American, Delta, and Lufthansa are all currently canceling dozens every day.

Travelers are long outside the terminal Wait in line for check-in and boarding at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on June 21, 2022.

Peter Dejong—AP

A combination of staff shortages and rebound travel. Total passenger numbers are still well below 2019 levels worldwide, but in Marchthe number ofpassengers on European airlines was 425% year-on-year, with North American airlines. It surged 228%. Individual airports are experiencing similar patterns. In May,5.9 million or morepassengers passed Paris Airport,4.1 million or moreAmsterdam, and3.4 million or more. I passed Frankfurt. Synchronized with the previous year. "Passengers have been higher and higher than they are today since the pandemic began," said Sarah Fairy, senior press officer at Heathrow Airport, in her statement. “We are facing 40 years of growth in just four months, which is putting pressure on the entire aviation industry.”

Given the stagnant demand, aviation You shouldn't see a surge in companies and airports. "Yes, no," says Alton Airlines Gupta. "It seems clear that demand will be higher, especially in the summer, but the universal hearing from airlines is that the rebound was more dramatic than the most optimistic forecast. . ”

Read more:I'm going on vacation this summer. Welcome to the "Revenge Travel" economy

At the same time, some airlines surge due to continued travel restrictions and numerous false starts in some parts of the world. I was wary of that. “There were so many variables that it was impossible to predict when the uptrend would occur,” Gupta adds.

The global aviation industry has approximately 2.3 million employees (21% of its employees) during a pandemic, in addition to a large number of staff absent due to the continuous wave of COVID-19. Dealing with the fact that you lost. From pilots and flight attendants to baggage handlers, security guards, air traffic controllers, and staff helping passengers board, all groups are experiencing shortages and it will take time to get up again. “There is a very tight labor market across Europe, which is not unique to aviation,” said Virgina Lee, director of media and communications for the European branch of the Airports Council International. "But when hiring people who work in the airport, you also need to remember that you need security clearance. It's not like recruiting a supermarket."

Some countries So, in addition to the time it takes to find candidates and train new employees, it can take up to 16 weeks to get clearance. “Today, we had to start the process in mid-December to be fully staffed,” Lee says. "Remember, when we were the peak of Omicron, and in fact the peak of uncertainty about travel restrictions."

At best, the airport was well oiled. It's a machine, and infrastructure staff work with airlines and third-party providers to make your trip smoother. But that same interdependence helps explain why other airports keep popping up, even if one airport can handle the turmoil. For example, at Kastrup Airport in Copenhagen, the administration decided to strengthen security guards in November, when air travel in Europe was still relatively moribund. Lise Agerley Kürstein, Head of Communications at Copenhagen Airport, said: "But now that our CEO has made the decision, we're ready for summer vacation."

A row of passenger luggage is located outside the terminal 2, June 19, 2022 at Heathrow Airport in London.

Henry Nichols — Reuters

They didn't get there, but they have employed 330 people since January and security staff Has returned to near pre-pandemic levels, and meandering in late May and early June has been largely replaced by "normal" waiting times, says Agerly Kürstein. But she admits that security is just one element of the mess. "All airlines and third-party companies have problems getting employees, which makes it difficult for everyone. How do you rebuild the entire airport?"

Once working at the airport Some have left for a better salary, less difficult, or more stable career. The workload of those who remain in the industry has increased dramatically. This can lead to further withdrawal. "When we start spring, airlines are in demand and let it work," says flight attendants of major US airlines flying to Europe. (She requested anonymity because she wasn't allowed to speak by the airline.) "But we don't have people. If you look at the app at any time, you can see that 70 people are down. This is just a flight attendant from one location. "

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As a result, she and her fellow airline employees work much longer in much more tense situations. Many flights have been canceled due to lack of staff, so the flights that make flights are frequently rerouted. In other words, the crew cannot predict when they will return home or even where they will spend the night. Previously, flight attendants operated only four flights a day, but now five are not uncommon. Also, the connections have become shorter. Often the same flight attendant does not have time to sprint through the terminal to find one restaurant still open at TIME (many airport concessions were closed due to staffing issues. It remains). "We're just exhausted," she adds. "This job wasn't something I applied for many years ago. It's not fun because the passengers are stressed, and when the passengers are stressed, it stresses us."

This kind of stress and malaise, and for at least one airline, British Airways, the COVID-19 era salary cuts that have not yet been disabled help explain the strike. increase.A wave of new challenges for the airport. On June 21, 1,300 Southwest Airlines pilots picketed the company. On June 30, Delta pilots did the same at Atlanta and other hubs. On the same day, the airport canceled 10% of the flights as ground personnel at Charles de Gaulle in Paris launched a four-day strike. It was the fourth day of the six-day strike for the flight crew of Ryanair in Spain. British Airways check-in staff and ground personnel also approved work behavior sometime this summer.

"It's not necessarily about their compensation, but if I were in their position, I would probably demand more," says Alton Aviation Consultant Gupta. "The amount of work has increased significantly. Among US pilots, I said," I've never done so much work in my life. I've never done so many flights in a year. " And it's not just pilots. It's a security staff, a baggage handler, and all contract workers.

SAS Airlines, which has one of its hubs in Kastrup, Copenhagen, faces its own potential strike next week. This means that the recent relatively calm conditions at the airport can soon disappear again.

Earlier this week, 39-year-old visual artist Martin Lindbrom, on his way from Copenhagen to Amsterdam, was waiting to pass through the guards next to a large poster that appealed to passengers' patience. In anticipation of the worst, he checked in online and arrived at the airport two hours early, but he was happy and surprised to see the line moving fast. Still, he didn't seize the opportunity. On his way home, he realized that he had to fly from one of the most problematic airports, Amsterdam Schiphol, and quit a long day for his final return. "For that, I arrive at the airport 6 hours ago."

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