Air travel can be stressful and draining at the best of times, but when you're technically on holiday – and hence meant to be living it up – those delays are even more sour. Any precious minutes wasted in a queue or scrolling through Instagram in the departure lounge are minutes that could have been spent mainlining cocktails and/or getting your tan on.
So, spare a thought for the thousands of holidaymakers stuck in long airport queues at airports across the EU right now, many of whom have missed their flights. Travellers have waited in lines of up to four hours after arriving or attempting to get home from airports including Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, Lisbon, Lyon, Paris-Orly, Milan and Brussels, the BBC reported.
The cause is reportedly the rule changes brought into force after the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels. These have led to more security checks as people enter and leave the Schengen area, which grants us the ability to travel passport-free across much of the EU, and there aren't enough border staff to conduct them, reported The Guardian.
Specifically, airport border staff are now required to check travellers' details against databases when they arrive and leave the countries affected, including the Schengen Information System and the Interpol record of stolen and lost travel documents. The European commission said the delays were "the price of security."
Airlines For Europe (A4E), which represents airlines including easyJet, British Airways and Ryanair, admitted the delays at some airports were 300% greater than this time last year. "Travellers face long lines and can't get on their flights. Queuing for up to four hours has been the top record these days," said Thomas Reynaert, its managing director.
"Airports like Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, Lisbon, Lyon, Paris-Orly, Milan or Brussels are producing shameful pictures of devastated passengers in front of immigration booths, in lines stretching hundreds of metres," he said, adding that the situation is only likely to deteriorate in the coming weeks.
A spokeswoman for the travel trade association Abta reassured travellers that airport staff will try to minimise disruption for those who had purchased package holidays. "Tour operators will ensure that customers get to the airport in plenty of time so that they are not in danger of missing their flights."
But there's seemingly little help available for anyone else, sadly. "Independent travellers will need to check the situation with their airlines and, where necessary, ensure they factor these longer queuing times into their travel plans when flying in and out of the airport," the spokeswoman added.
Unsurprisingly, people haven't taken kindly to having their holidays interrupted, with many taking to social media to air their annoyance.
No amount of duty-free Bacardi or Toblerone is going to lighten up that situation.