London News & Search
Thousands of holidaymakers were left queuing for hours at Barcelona airport amid tougher security screening at EU border gates, which is leading to mass disruption for Brits on their summer breaks.
The chaotic scenes at Barcelona’s El Prat airport were sparked when security staff manning x-ray machines checking passengers’ carry-on luggage went on strike.
Staff chose to carry out a series of hour-long stoppages, leaving thousands of passengers floundering and sparking major delays.
The ongoing dispute, which has been going on for weeks, comes as Brit passengers were warned to arrive at airports three hours early in order to catch their flights due to extra checks by border guards.
Passengers returning from a summer break have been warned they could miss flights as changes to EU border rules were expected to cause huge queues for short haul journeys.
Ten million people are expected to pass through Europe’s airports on what is traditionally the busiest weekend of the year.
Airlines including EasyJet and British Airways have already texted customers urging them to turn up early for flights in a bid to stem the chaos.
Ryanair pleaded with passengers to arrive at airports three hours before take-off instead of the usual two.
However, Airlines for Europe, which represents travel providers across the EU, has said this may not be enough and warned travellers there was a chance they would miss flights altogether.
To make matters worse, passengers were warned they will not get compensation from their airline or be able to claim on their travel insurance if they miss a flight as a result.
Airports in France and Spain struggled to cope earlier in the week as sun worshippers faced four hour queues at passport control.
According to reports, just four security guards were left to cope with hundreds of passengers in Palma, Majorca.
The chaos has been caused by changes to EU border control regulations which mean travellers from countries outside the Schengen free movement zone, which includes Britain, face stricter vetting at passport control.
The process may now take up to 10 minutes rather than a few seconds, due to more in-depth background checks of travellers.
A spokesman for BA said: “We’re texting customers flying from airports that we know are having issues to ask them to arrive early.”
The airline promised to rebook journeys for passengers who miss flights for free after it emerged many insurers will pay out.
The Association of British Insurers said the majority of policies will not pay out if a flight is missed because of delays at passport control. Most cover only specific mishaps such as mechanical failure, bad weather or strikes.
Ryanair told the Daily Mail it is customers’ responsibility to arrive in time and it is up to European regulators to resolve the delays.
An EasyJet spokesman added its staff would “try to assist in prioritising those whose flights are boarding”.
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