Get us in your inbox

Airport queues
Photograph: Shutterstock

10 ways to make sure you avoid holiday hell this summer

With the chaos at airports set to last for months, here’s how to ensure your vacay is totally stress-free this year

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham

So far, 2022 hasn’t quite seen the glorious return to travel we’d all hoped for. With the chaos at airports having dragged on for nearly three months now (and likely to drag on for the foreseeable), for many the prospect of a summer vacay probably prompts feelings of dread rather than thrill or excitement. It’s all a bit of a bummer, to say the least.

But there are several things you can do to make sure you aren’t sucked into the aviation sector’s current bedlam. So whether you’re planning a trip or you’ve already booked one, here are ten tips to make sure you have the best chance of avoiding holiday hell this summer.

1. Avoid certain airlines

Some airlines have been much, much more prone to cancellations and delays than others. In the UK, the guiltiest carriers for cancellations have been EasyJet, British Airways and Tui. Steer clear of those, if poss.

2. Avoid certain airports 

In terms of waiting times at security, passport control and baggage reclaim, some airports are proving much worse than others. If you can, it’s worth avoiding the likes of Manchester, Dublin and Amsterdam airports, which have all become notorious for their lengthy queues. 

3. Fly to big cities

Many airlines are still running a reduced, pandemic-level service to smaller regional airports. If the airline cancels your flight to one of these destinations, alternatives are both harder to find and often much more expensive. For the time being, it might be best to steer clear of offbeat city breaks – or to reach them via a bigger, more popular airport.

4. Get to the airport early and don’t bring checked luggage 

By getting to the airport early, you can make sure that no matter how long the queues, you’re giving yourself the best chance of getting on your flight. If you can, also avoid checked-in luggage. Check-in is just another queue to deal with once you get to the airport.

5. Get travel insurance

Sure, in a pre-pandemic world travel insurance might’ve seemed like a bit of a luxury, but these days it’s absolutely essential. Insurance can cover costs incurred by cancelled flights, guarantee you some compensation if a flight is delayed and reimburse you for lost or damaged luggage. A lifesaver. 

6. Download airline apps

With so many last-minute changes to schedules, often airport departure boards and online info lag behind official airline apps. Your carrier should always email you about delays and gate changes, but often they don’t – or they’re slow to do so. Make sure you download an official app for the latest updates.

7. Avoid really early and really late flights

Flights that are either really early or late in the day are understandable popular because you don’t feel like you’ve spent an entire day travelling. Right now, however, both should likely be avoided. Book an early flight and you might not find out its been cancelled until you’re in the departure lounge. If you book late you could end up waiting for hours into the night, only for it to be cancelled entirely.

8. Go on a staycation

Here’s an easy way to avoid airport hell: don’t go anywhere near it. Staycation booking levels in the UK are way down on last year, meaning that there’s still plenty of availability in the likes of Cornwall, Norfolk and Pembrokeshire. All you’ll have to stress about then is the weather.

9. Get the train

Whether you’re settling down on a luxurious night train or simply setting off for your destination by rail, trains are a much more comfortable, stress-free and environmentally-friendly way to go on yer holidays. If you’re in the UK, watch out for the nationwide rail strike on June 21, 23 and 25. 

10. Do your summer holiday in September instead

If you can afford to miss the classic summer holiday season, the airports should be far less congested from September onwards. The likes of Greece, Malta, Morocco, the Canary Islands, southern Spain, Portugal’s Algarve and Italy’s Amalfi Coast are all hotspots for late-summer sun.

ICYMI: why is the chaos at airports so much worse in the UK than elsewhere?

Plus: here’s why flying to a small city might not be such a great idea in 2022.

You may also like
You may also like