Holidaymakers should expect lengthy queues in ‘no deal’ scenario
A new Which? Travel investigation has found UK tourists to some of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations could face hours of delays.
Which? identified Alicante in Spain as the EU airport most vulnerable to disruption, where 43% of all passengers entering the airport arrive from the UK. In a no-deal Brexit, it may need over 200 hours of additional immigration checks every day.
Six of the top 10 busiest airports for UK arrivals are in Spain. As well as Alicante, travellers to Tenerife South, Lanzarote, Malaga, Ibiza and Palma de Mallorca airports could face severe difficulties if no contingency plans are put in place. The Spanish government has yet to make any announcements on its plans.
Immigration officials will need to check UK visitors’ passport validity, passport expiry date, purpose and length of stay, and whether visitors can support themselves financially. The European Tourism Association (ETOA) estimated that this could add 90 seconds for each UK passport holder – or 5 hours for the 189 passengers on a single flight. Alicante has up to 10 planes arriving from the UK each hour.
Other countries have announced contingency plans: the Portuguese prime minister has already announced plans to ease congestion by opening special fast-track lanes at both Faro and Funchal airports.
Weary travellers can choose to use one of the various Fast Track systems at the various airports. Alicante’s Fast Track system costs €4. Stansted has a Fast Track option for £5. However, there may be problems if everyone has the same idea.
Rory Boland, Which? travel editor, said: “Airports can be chaotic at the best of times, but if additional checks at passport control in Spain, Italy and other popular EU destinations are implemented in the event of a no-deal, it seems that very long queues are going to be an unwanted side effect.
“Until there is a deal or these airports announce simpler arrangements, you should consider what you may need if you have to fly to them – as it is very likely that you’ll be in a queue for several hours. Make sure you have food, water and essentials for kids like nappies to hand.”