8th April 2022
Last modified on April 12th, 2022
PlanetSKI reporters have had mixed experiences travelling to Geneva and Zurich. Delays cancellations at airports and the Port of Dover have impacted people and organisations going skiing this Easter. The travel problems are set to continue this week. UPDATED
The disruption at airports and the Port of Dover is continuing.
Airlines have cancelled more than 100 flights a day due to staff shortages, while ferry operators are struggling after PO suspended services and recent bad weather.
More than 20% of easyJet’s flights were reported to be delayed on Sunday.
On Monday morning PlanetSKI reporter, Justine Gosling, was travelling from Gatwick to Zurich as she heads to the Swiss resort of Andermatt.
“Before 6am at Gatwick North the security queues were snaking the around the whole of the departure hall.
“They were moving and I got through in 30 minutes, but the queue was getting longer and longer.”
Her flight took off 30-minutes late as it was held on the runway, and then there were long queues at the border control in Zurich.
“I’ve been standing in the security queue for 40-minutes already and the queues are going back up the stairs and out of sight.”
Zurich airport. Image c/o PlanetSKI
It was better news for PlanetSKI’s Chief Reporter Jane Peel as she arrived at Heathrow to fly to Geneva en route to Tignes.
“I was pleasantly surprised at the relatively short queue for Swiss Air check in at Terminal 2 when I arrived just before 11.30 this morning,” she said at Heathrow.
Swiss Air check in at Heathrow Terminal 2 – photo © PlanetSKI
“It was moving quickly until three of the four bag drop desks closed and it was a while before the new shift of staff arrived.
“In the end I was done in 37 minutes from joining the queue to dropping my bag.
“The better news was that I got through security in about 3 minutes. Fingers crossed the other end goes well.”
Departures at Heathrow Terminal 2 – photo © PlanetSKI
The crossed fingers seem to have worked for Jane.
“The flight was delayed by about 45-minutes,” she later said on arrival at Geneva.
“There was a bit of a queue at passport control at Geneva but not too bad and the bags arrived efficiently.”
She then sped on her way to Tignes.
A school in Kent has had its school ski trip cancelled and flight cancellations at Gatwick have meant some pupils from another school could not join their school trip to the mountains.
Other skiers are anxiously checking their flights.
Pupils from Aylesford School in Kent were due to travel with PO Ferries last weekend on a ski trip to Italy.
The holiday was cancelled with 24-hour’s notice.
It is the third time it has been cancelled after two years of Covid-19.
The travel company the school was using was unable to find an alternative ferry company reports Kent Online .
A group of schoolchildren has told the BBC how upsetting it was for their EasyJet flight from Gatwick to be cancelled, preventing them from joining their classmates on a skiing trip.
“It’s really sad, because we had to get up really, really early in the morning for absolutely nothing, just to sit in the airport for about six hours, sitting next to our suitcases looking forward to something that wasn’t going to happen,” said one of the girls.
EasyJet has apologised and offered further assistance, including a refund.
Many others travelling are worried their flights may get cancelled with short notice
“We’re off to Vaujany in France as long as flights don’t get canned, keeping everything crossed,” said one PlanetSKI reader to us ahead of her planned family holiday.
Others have told us that the channel tunnel is currently running smoothly for passenger vehicles.
Channel Tunnel. Image © PlanetSKI
Manchester Airport said the long waits it has seen at security checks might continue for weeks.
Manchester Airport appears to be the worst affected, but Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham have also been hit by cancellations and delays.
At Dover the suspension of PO ferry services and bad weather have also caused delays for those driving to the Alps and other parts of Europe.
Airports say they are struggling to recruit and train new staff to cope with demand.
The airlines say they have also been hit by staff absences due to Covid cases.
At Manchester airport people have been told to prepare for longer waits and to arrive three hours before their flight time.
EasyJet cancelled 60 flights on Tuesday alone with British Airways also experiencing problems.
EasyJet blamed staff absences due to Covid and said there are double the normal amount of people off sick.
Airports are also facing problems with not enough staff to deal with the surge in bookings as covid travel restrictions have been eased.
EasyJet has said it is likely that it will have to cancel more flights in the next few days.
The airline says the advanced cancellations are made in order “to give customers notice.”
“We are contacting customers directly and providing them with their options,” the airline said in a statement earlier in the week.
“We expect to make similar levels of pre-emptive cancellations over the coming days, due to the ongoing high level of sickness.”
EasyJet. Image © PlanetSKI.
The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said he was “very concerned” about the level of disruption.
He has urged travel operators to “redouble their efforts” to make sure people going abroad “can get away as smoothly as possible”.
Labour has accused the government of being “missing in action”.
“Tory ministers need to step-up and act to ease the disruption,” said the shadow transport secretary, Louise Haigh.
Lesley Offley from Surrey was due to fly to Austria with her family this week to celebrate her husband’s 60th birthday.
The 62-year old woman told the BBC that “We’ve spent all morning unravelling all our travel plans for my husband’s 60th birthday – first time we’ve attempted to travel since 2019 – and I’m completely fed up.
“It’s been phone calls and emails all day, accommodation is lot more money so we’ve lost out there and we’re still trying sort out the travel insurance.
“We’ve re-booked for next week but I don’t feel confident at all.”
People heading to the Alps to ski have been advised to contact their airline or travel operator to check the current situation.