The peak summer season is underway in Europe | Photo: AFP / Christof STACHE

Top European destinations including France and Greece are reportedly set to be hit by overwhelming flight chaos this summer.

As the peak travel season approaches, with travellers from the UK looking forward to the upcoming school vacations, one must be aware of the list of key locations across Europe that are going to be overloaded with air traffic, as revealed by Eurocontrol, the air traffic management body for Europe.

Air traffic 'overload' in Europe

Even though summer vacations have just begun in the continent, Eurocontrol anticipates seeing "high overloads" of traffic in key regions. The outcome of these "overloads" can be flight delays as flights are likely to take longer routes to avoid constricted areas, according to The Sun. The delays are expected during the weekends and on Fridays throughout the summer period.

Based in Brussels, Eurocontrol is the pan-European air navigation service. It has warned that the overload of air traffic is set to be experienced at seven key Area Control Centres. These hubs handle flights across a wide patch of airspace.

The seven centres that could receive high overload in July are:

  • Athens, Greece on "most days"
  • Belgrade, Serbia on Saturdays (July 8 and 15)
  • Budapest, Hungary on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays
  • Nicosia, Cyprus on Fridays
  • Reims, France on "most days"
  • Warsaw, Poland on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
  • Zagreb, Croatia on Saturday (July 8 and 15)

Other warnings regarding travel chaos are also in place for other top destinations such as London {UK), Brussels (Belgium), and Barcelona (Spain).

Moreover, air-traffic control is frequently short-staffed in many parts of Europe. During the Covid pandemic, when air traffic numbers collapsed, many experienced controllers left the industry and training has not caught up with demand.

Travellers on the receiving end of these flight delays must be aware of their passenger rights that are protected by the Denied Boarding Regulation.

Delayed passengers can claim money for airport purchases

If a flight is delayed by more than an established amount of time: two hours for flights less than 1500km, three hours for flights 1500km - 3500km, and four hours for flights of more than 3500km, the top responsibility of the airline is to look after its passengers.

Delayed holidaymakers who make purchases in the airport while waiting for their flight should save their receipts and claim the money from the airline at a later date. To claim the money spent on expenses such as food and drink during airport waits, one must fill out a fixed benefit form for travel delay cover.

In an interview, Eurocontrol's director-general Raúl Medina said that this summer in Europe is going to be "challenging" as there is less airspace available because of the war in Ukraine and the military needs.

"We need everyone to play their part. Airports need to be well staffed, it is vital [air traffic services] provide enough capacity and airlines stick to their schedules," added Medina.

It is always good to be prepared for any inconvenient situation, especially if a person has already been warned. Before heading for a trip this summer, a traveller should pack essentials like a spare change of clothes, phone chargers, extra snacks, medicines, toiletries, and anything for entertainment. It is now more important than ever to get travel insurance that provides cover for travel delays.

Meanwhile, it was earlier reported that airlines such as easyJet and British Airways have extended deadlines for their passengers to redeem their Covid vouchers from flights cancelled during the pandemic. The Covid vouchers at easyJet were due to expire on July 31, 2023, but now the low-budget airline has extended its deadline to January 31, 2024. Therefore, the vouchers certainly will come in handy to plan a trip this summer or even during the winter later this year.