Need help? Find out more about our Covid Cover, how to update your policy online & the latest travel updates in our Covid Help Centre

UK holidaymakers face international travel delays

Posted on April 20, 2022 by Vikki Measures
A couple waiting for a delayed flight in a busy airport wearing masks

Travel companies are currently struggling to meet demand due to a shortage of workers from COVID-related absences. This has caused widespread disruption throughout the UK and beyond which has especially affected air and sea travel. 

If you’re planning a trip over the coming weeks, read on to find out how this affects you and what you can do to minimise potential problems.

What’s happening?

Transport operators are facing difficulties, which has led to airlines having to cancel flights at short notice. Ferry operators are also struggling to fulfil bookings.

Last week both British Airways and easyJet grounded more than 70 domestic and European flights. Heathrow and Gatwick were particularly affected, although Edinburgh and Glasgow also had flights cancelled. 

A silhouette of passengers wait in a queue to board the plane at the airport boarding gate

What’s causing the travel disruption?

The main issues causing disruption at airports are a surge in travellers returning from Easter holidays, combined with staff shortages caused by COVID-related absences. The shortages are affecting all airport departments across airport security to baggage handlers and cabin crew.

Ferry services on the Channel are also experiencing problems. P&O Ferries services were suspended due to failing safety checks over the Easter bank holiday weekend. The knock-on effect has put pressure on other operators to meet the unprecedented demand to help holidaymakers return home.

How long is the travel disruption expected to last?

It’s believed delays are likely to continue until the summer. Airlines are now struggling to recruit additional staff following the pandemic’s widespread redundancies. 

P&O Ferries suspended crossings over the bank holiday weekend, which is expected to cause a backlog and lead to busier ports over the coming days and weeks. We recommend checking P&O sailing updates for the latest information.

Two P&O cross channel ferries docked in Dover Harbour, England

How does it impact me?

If you’re travelling by air, expect longer queues at security. Manchester airport has warned passengers that it can take up to 90 minutes to get through security. Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham have also been affected by similar delays.

Long traffic queues at ferry ports are also expected to continue while the operators try to manage the increase in demand with fewer services running.

What should I do?

Wherever you’re heading, be sure to plan ahead and allow extra time for travel.

Airports now advise passengers to arrive at least three hours before their flight. Check for planned roadworks and traffic before setting off for the airport, and be prepared to take an alternative route if necessary.

To speed things up a little, make sure you’re prepared when you arrive at the airport. Check all your documents are in order and easily accessible. At security be prepared to remove coats, shoes, watches and belts. Don’t forget to keep liquids in a separate clear bag, too!

For live flight updates, keep an eye on the airport’s website for real-time departure information.

Woman collects her belongings after checks at airport security

What if my flight is cancelled?

If your flight has been cancelled by the airline, you will need to contact your travel provider. They should be able to offer you a full refund or rearrange your flight.

If you’ve rearranged your flights, you’ll need to update your travel insurance policy with the new travel dates. Log in to your My Staysure account to do this yourself, or contact us.

How do I cancel my accommodation?

If your flight is cancelled and you need to cancel your accommodation booking, you will need to request a refund from your travel provider

If your booking is non-refundable, you may be able to make a claim on your travel insurance policy. For more information on making a claim, visit our claims page

Can travel insurance protect me against travel disruption?

If you need to cancel your trip due to travel disruption, it’s important that you contact your travel provider first. Your travel provider may be able to offer you a full refund, or help you to make alternative travel arrangements. 

If your travel provider is unable to offer you a full refund, or rebook your holiday, you may be able to claim back the costs of your trip on your travel insurance. You can find more information on our claims page.

If you’re able to rebook your holiday, we can help by moving the travel dates on your single trip policy. We can move your policy start date as long as it falls within 18 months from the date you bought your policy, or 24 months if you bought your policy from 29 April 2021 and are eligible. There may be a charge for changes to your policy.

Vikki Measures

by Vikki Measures

Vikki Measures is Staysure's Senior Content Executive. She loves gardening, beach holidays, and sharing top travel tips.