How early should you arrive for flight check-in

The chaos at European airports continues to get worse with people missing flights due to delays at passport control and security staff strikes.

Yesterday we wrote about the delays caused by new EU regulations requiring member states to check all passports from outside the Schengen area against a number of databases including Interpol.

Airlines are recommending that passengers arrive at 3 hours before departure. However, some airlines don’t open check-in until 2 hours before departure. Ryanair have announced that they will open check-in desks earlier than normal.

Why are the delays so bad at Barcelona?

Adding to the delays caused by the new Schengen zone checks, Barcelona have a security staff strike further delaying the process. Strikes are taking place on the busiest days of the week for 60 minutes and start at 5.30am, 10.30am, 4.30pm and 6.30pm.

Are you eligible for compensation if you miss your flight as a result of delays caused by passport control?

Airlines will not compensate passengers who miss their flight due to delays at the airport whether it be check-in, security or more recently passport control. The only reason why you can get compensation is if the airline delays or cancels your flight. Insurance companies will not help either. The onus is on the passenger to allow enough time to catch their flight.

Is this EU action designed to punish the UK? 

Despite comments from some UK politicians endorsing this view, the new EU rules are a response to terrorism and nothing to do with Brexit. The point of the exercise is to check who is entering and leaving the Schengen area. Many terrorist fighters are from the EU and knowing people’s movements is of paramount importance for EU security services. When the UK leaves the EU in 2019 it is likely to be more complicated to travel with new red tape and electronic visas for non EU nationals.

What is the best advise?

Check-in as early as you can and avoid hanging around the airport in duty free shopping or coffee bars. Go straight to passport control to check how long the queue is. Some airports haven’t adopted the new rules that come into full force in October this year, so you might be lucky and not have to queue. However, if there is a big queue, make sure you join it and get safely to your departure gate before the airline decides to unload your checked-in bags.