Paul Charles, Chelsea Dickenson and James Moon have advised Mirror readers about how they should avoid being caught up in chaos at airports or stuck abroad this summer
Travel experts have warned that airline and airport chaos will continue throughout the summer and beyond.
Some of Britain’s most authoritative voices in the industry have told The Mirror that the misery seen at Britain’s travel hubs over the past month will continue throughout the summer season.
They blamed lack of preparedness on the part of airlines, government mismanagement and understaffing for the issues.
The experts also offered advice for Brits who are preparing to jet off abroad this summer and are concerned that they’ll be caught up in mammoth airport queues.
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Chelsea Dickenson, who started and runs Cheap Holiday Expert, predicted that the current issues with flight cancellations and delays wouldn’t be fixed in time for the peak holiday season.
She told The Mirror: “The airlines know it needs to change. People are staying in the UK because they can’t be dealing with all the drama.
“I expect more cancellations to be happening, but hopefully sooner rather than later, so people are getting on their flights when they get to the airport.
“I am optimistic. I think it will get better, but they won’t hire all the people they need in six weeks. I would not be surprised if cancellations continue until they work out a plan.
“Easter and the most recent half term has been one week, it was really condensed unlike summer.”
Ms Dickenson said that Brits were still determined to go on holiday, even though times are tight.
“It’s not a human right to go on holiday, but it is so ingrained in people they will eat beans on toast all week so they can go abroad,” she told the Mirror.
The travel expert advised people not to be sucked in by cheap flights, but to look at how much a holiday in the destination would cost.
“You need to check other costs before you book anything, such as car hire, daily costs etc,” Ms Dickenson said.
“Lots of people are going for cheaper less obvious travel destinations such as Poland, Romania, Croatia even, because they know they will have a much cheaper holiday when they get there.
“Also, if you want to find cheap car hire – because the price has been going up – try and get away from the main popular destinations.
Rowan Griffiths / Daily Mirror)
“I have just booked a place in the Andalusian hills, £70 for five nights. This summer is definitely a summer for being flexible on your destinations.”
When it comes to tackling chaos at airports – where travel hubs like Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Gatwick and Bristol have all been filled with big queues in recent weeks – Ms Dickenson urged people to plan ahead.
“In terms of airports, you should double check what your airline is saying in terms of turning up,” she said.
“If your flight is leaving soon, you can always flag it to security and be asked to be put in front of the queue.
“If you can travel without check-in luggage that will bring down queue time, also pack as light as possible and have your stuff ready. Make sure your liquids are the right size.
“It is probably a great time, if you have the money, to book fast-track, it is usually £5 to £7 if you book in advance.”
Paul Charles, CEO of the PC Agency, has echoed Ms Dickenson’s predictions that cancellations will continue for the foreseeable future.
He picked out recruitment issues within the travel industry as the biggest problem, and said a shortfall of around 20,000 staff in the UK wouldn’t be resolved until airlines launched massive recruitment campaigns, or the government gave work visas to more EU citizens.
The former Virgin Atlantic and Eurostar Director signalled longer term doom and gloom, suggesting that the UK was heading back to the 1970s in terms of travel.
“I think we are in for a period where prices will stay fairly high for another year because we’re living in high inflation times,” he told the Mirror.
“Airlines are having to hike prices due to the high cost of oil and there is no sign of oil prices falling.
“It feels like we’re back to the 1970s when flight prices were higher and there was less choice, and people travelled more short haul than long haul. Now there are fewer long haul due to Covid and demand.
“It is really frustrating. It feels like we’re going backwards.”
Mr Charles said he had faith in industry leaders to turn the situation around, but warned that ticket prices would have to go up for them to do so.
“I think the onus now is on senior management to increase wages where possible,” he continued.
“That means charging more for flights. Somehow it has to be paid for. The airlines will end up charging more for seats and airports will hike their own landing fees.
“It’s a bit of a vicious circle, but I would still advise booking. The vast majority of flights are smoothly running.
“In busy times you will be caught in a queue, but you were in 2019 as well. There is now a gamble with flights that they will be cancelled at the last minute.”
James Moon, who launched a company which lets people find and book private jets, echoed their predictions that things would get worse before they get better.
“So many people have left the industry and have discovered a better life away, and (the chaos) is only going to get worse,” he said.
“Come August it will be worse. Everyone will be planning to get away.
“Covid was devastating for the aviation industry. We didn’t really understand how bad the impact was until now.
“The number of people entering the sector to train up, it is going to take us well into next year.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mr Moon urged people to use his service TailHail to book charter and private jets if they find themselves stuck abroad or unable to get to a destination.
The registered pilot gave the example of one customer who had reduced the overall cost of hiring a Newcastle to Paris plane from £10,000 to £1,250 a person by linking up fliers via TailHail.
Clearly this is a service most Brits would find unaffordable.