Extreme heat in Europe contributes to summer travel chaos

Extreme heat in Europe contributes to summer travel chaos


Do you remember the days when the biggest concern for a summer trip to Europe was who could be on strike?

A brutal heat wave in Western Europe this week produced Britain’s hottest day on record, violating a runway at London’s Luton airport and affecting the availability of train travel. Portugal reported over 1,000 deaths related to extreme weather. Passengers on a train that was stopped in the Galicia region of Spain were frightened to see forest fires out of the windows on both sides of the car. Some beaches in France and Spain were closed when the fires broke out.

Central Europe is now preparing for more temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Travelers to the continent can tackle climate disasters to a list of 2022 obstacles that include the evolving coronavirus, canceled flights, lost luggage, insane ticket prices, large crowds and – yes – work strikes.

Ross Caldwell Thompson, CEO of Covac Global, said his medical evacuation company has received “many” calls from people who want to know about the service because they are worried that the heat in Europe will worsen an existing condition.

But, he said, they are still traveling.

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Kristy Osborn, who owns the Travel Leaders agency in Loveland, Colorado, said that pent-up demand has led to more customers traveling in four weeks in the last month than in a typical five-month period. Greece and Italy have been particularly popular, she said.

“The desire to travel to Europe this summer goes far beyond the disadvantages,” said Simone Amorico, CEO of Access Italy, based in Holmes Beach, Florida.

Airports in London and Amsterdam are so overwhelmed that they limit the number of daily passengers, wiping out thousands of flights from summer routes and likely leading to more cancellations.

Passengers trying to rebook can be faced with extraordinarily long waiting times and limited opportunities, because the travel industry has not returned to pre-pandemic staffing levels. Even when an aircraft is on schedule, there is no guarantee that passengers’ luggage will follow.

Welcome to summer travel. It’s a hell.

Freda Moon, a travel editor with SFGATE, twitret that the family’s luggage was lost for three weeks, resulting in them landing back in San Francisco without car seats to get the kids home from the airport.

Heather Ostberg Johnson from Fort Collins, Colorado, is going on a two-week work holiday in the London area this week. She planned the trip this spring after being admitted to a competitive theater.

The timing felt right a few months ago, she said. The plane tickets were expensive, but her young son can still fly for free. They were vaccinated and boosted, and all had recently recovered from covid-19.

“I think we felt a little invincible,” Johnson said. “It felt like it was not going to get any better than this.”

Now, when she looks at travel issues in Europe, “everything feels like it’s imploding,” she said.

Because Johnson did not plan this vacation to see major tourist sites or museums, she said she would not feel deprived of skipping the crowded attractions. She plans to focus on the lessons and take her son to playgrounds and gardens.

“I feel we can swing as we need to” around the weather and travel disruptions, she said.

“I think we should make it,” she said. “We just want to take lots of cold showers and sit in front of our friends’ swamp cooler and be with them.”

She is not the only one with a general level of acceptance. Osborn said that the only thing the travel agency’s customers have complained about is the heat, and they meet it domestically.

Temperatures have risen as high as 115 degrees in Texas and Oklahoma, and 28 states have issued heat advice. Denver broke a 144-year record for the warmest lowest temperature (72 degrees) on Monday.

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