Holidaymakers are being warned they face lengthy delays at European airports this summer after border checks were tightened.
Passengers have been hit by delays of up to four hours – longer than some of their flights – after arriving at airports popular with British tourists.
The delays are reportedly being caused by the introduction of newly-toughened and more time consuming immigration checks.
The problem – at what is traditionally already the busiest time of the year for flights – is being made worse by a lack of border officials on the continent, it is claimed.
An association representing airlines said queues stretching for hundreds of metres are in some cases causing passengers to miss their flights.
It warned that shameful queues can be expected at airports including Madrid, Palma, Lisbon, Lyons, Paris Orly, Milan and Brussels.
@SimonCalder queues for passport control at Palma airport this morning – what a farce! pic.twitter.com/cIunShy9r6
Some flight delays have increased by 300 per cent in a year, it claimed in The Times.
The problem is being blamed on the introduction of tighter European Union-introduced border controls in Schengen, the border-free area that incorporates most EU member states.
Previously, British travellers have been given only visual passport checks by European border officials.
But new rules, which were introduced after a series of terror attacks in Europe, mean checks against a series of databases are now carried out on each passenger from non-Schengen countries.
The new tests, on both entry and exit, are said to take around two minutes per passenger.
Amsterdam airport @Schiphol is a disaster again today. Schengen-passport control queue extends beyond E-gates 4hrs waiting time #noholiday pic.twitter.com/X75Q8ziML2
Airlines for Europe (A4E), the association that represents carriers such as British Airways, Ryanair and easyJet, said lengthy delays had been caused by many countries failing to provide enough staff for passport checks.
Thomas Reynaert, A4E’s managing director, told The Times: During the peak season of the year, travellers face long lines and can’t get on their flights.
Airports like Madrid, Palma, Lisbon, Lyons, Paris Orly, Milan or Brussels are producing shameful pictures of devastated passengers in front of immigration booths, in lines stretching hundreds of metres.
EU member states have until the autumn to implement enhanced border checks, but many have already introduced them.
In a statement, the Association of British Travel Agents said: 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.
However, independent travellers will need to check the situation with their airlines and, where necessary, ensure they factor these longer queueing times into their travel plans when flying in and out of the airport. It is also extremely important that border control check points are sufficiently resourced.
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News Source TelegraphNews