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Europe's airports continue to struggle


Major European airports, and some smaller ones, too continue to struggle with the consequences of a widespread revival of travel while airport security and baggage staffs have not recovered from deep-pandemic levels. And that's on top of pilot shortages and repeated strikes and strike threats by airline personnel.

London Heathrow and Amsterdam's Schiphol have been among the hardest hit, and each has asked airlines to either stop selling tickets or reduce flights to hold traffic to what the airports can handle. Heathrow has specified a 100,000 passenger a day cap; it can handle more flights but not more passengers, and is asking airlines to leave some of the seats empty. London Gatwick is also asking for limits.

In Amsterdam, American Airlines and a number of others have agreed to cap or eliminate ticket sales for now, at least until backlogs are cleared. Both Heathrow and Schiphol have had such severe baggage problems that thousands of bags are piled up—16,000 in Schiphol's case—while passengers had to fly on or miss connections. Frequent flyer blogs are urging passengers to travel with carry-ons only to avoid the problem.

One airline, Icelandair, has taken matters into its own hands; it has sent a crew of its own baggage handlers from Keflavik Airport to Schiphol to handle baggage from its planes and ensure its passengers get to their vacation destinations with their belongings. Icelandair's cabin staff are also helping out.

And U.S. carrier Delta took another creative move. When a flight from Heathrow to Detroit was canceled because of caps, the passengers were rebooked, and the empty plane, which had to return to Detroit anyway, was loaded with over a thousand piled-up suitcases belonging to Delta passengers. From Detroit, Delta then distributed them to flyers' home airports for delivery.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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