It’s a bad weekend for traveling in Europe

A long weekend that began with hundreds of flight cancellations in France will end with large crowds in London and more flights disrupted due to Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on Monday.

French air traffic controllers are on strike on Friday, leading authorities to ask airlines to cut their schedules by 50% from all airports in the country, Air France said in a statement. Some flights that were supposed to fly over France have also been cancelled, Reuters reported.

Air France operates 45% of its short and medium-haul flights, but 90% of its long-haul flights.

“Last minute delays and cancellations cannot be ruled out,” the statement said.

Ryanair said it was forced to cancel 420 flights which mainly flew over France, disrupting 80,000 passengers. The airline said the strike “only disrupts the weekend travel plans of thousands of European citizens/visitors”.

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The disruption in France comes as the number of trips is expected to increase to London for the Queen’s state funeral on Monday. Travel booking app Hopper said global search demand for flights to London airports jumped nearly 50% at the time of news of his death compared to demand the day before.

Tim Hentschel, CEO of booking site HotelPlanner, expects the funeral to be the busiest event in London “in modern history with record occupancy levels and room rates”.

On Monday, operations to and from London Heathrow Airport will be adjusted to avoid noise disruption at certain times “as a sign of respect”, the airport said in a statement. Non-essential shops at the airport will be closed on Monday, and some roads around Heathrow will be closed for the coffin procession.

“In order to observe these times on Monday, airlines will need to adjust their schedules accordingly, which will mean some changes in flights,” the airport said. “Passengers who have been notified that their flight has been canceled and/or who do not have a confirmed seat on a flight should not report to the airport.”

British Airways said it had reduced its schedule and rescheduled some flights as skies around west London were closed. This was equivalent to 50 cancellations of short-haul return flights, Reuters reported, with Heathrow changing 15% of its schedule.

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Kristen Slizgi, chief travel designer at The Luxury Travelist, expects weekend travel to be disrupted and advises travelers that their plans are likely to change. It has already had to change some last-minute train and flight plans for customers currently in Europe due to the strikes. Although travel to the UK has been affected, Slizgi does not expect the Queen’s funeral to have much of an impact in the European Union.

“I also recommend getting travel insurance in advance,” Slizgi said in an email. “And try to book the most flexible rates in case you need to change the course of your travels in the coming weeks”

James Whiteman, product development manager at London tour operator Niarra Travel, said in an email that he expects central London and all transport around it to be “an absolute nightmare”.

“We currently have a 5 mile queue of mourners winding their way through central London from Westminster to Bermondsey which has just been capped so now there is a queue for the queue wait because the English are crazy,” he said. “It’s not even the weekend yet!”

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Tourists to the UK should book everything in advance and give themselves plenty of time to get around, said Payton Chapley, deputy chief travel designer at luxury travel agency Travel Edge.

“Public transport will be overwhelmed, airline strikes will cause delays and traffic will also be wild, with road closures put in place for the funeral,” Chapley said in an email. “Be punctual, be ready and be patient! »

Airports across Europe have seen chaos throughout the summer due to staff shortages, strikes and increased demand.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol said on Friday it would have to reduce the maximum number of passengers departing locally by an average of 18% per day until at least October 31 due to a shortage of security guards. The announcement came a day after the airport’s CEO tendered his resignation on Thursday. Schiphol has been plagued by long queues, most recently on Monday when it asked several airlines to cancel flights.

HotelPlanner’s Hentschel said travelers to London from Amsterdam Airport could be affected due to the decision to cut daily passengers.

“Other airports across Europe may experience larger crowds and potential disruption as a result of Schiphol’s decision,” he said.

Justin Smith, president of The Evolved Traveler, a member of Ensemble Travel Group, said in an email that he was not advocating for customers to travel to Europe at this time.

“There’s too much upheaval, and a lot of it is unpredictable,” he said. “And if they go, I suggest we look at alternative airports such as Manchester, Brussels or Nice. If you are traveling for pleasure, other international destinations are equivalent in terms of experience and much less difficult at the moment .

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