It’s been called the summer of revenge travel. After being denied the opportunity for the past two years, people are eager to take international trips. But while the euro has fallen below the US dollar for the first time in 20 years, Americans may want to think twice about booking a trip to one of the 19 European countries that use the currency. Soaring fuel prices, persistent high inflation, and fierce demand for travel is still likely to make a European vacation not just expensive but difficult.
Hellish summer travel stories encompassing flight delays, lost baggage, overpriced Airbnbs, and booked out hotels abound. The average international flight is $827, up 26 percent from 2019. According to a July poll by the banking app Dave Inc, 60% of Americans going on vacation this year anticipate going into debt or stretching their budget to do so.
European hubs have struggled to cope with the rebound in travel. On July 12, London’s Heathrow airport asked airlines to halt ticket sales, saying it would only allow 100,000 passengers each day until Sept. 11. The airport is the world’s busiest and often serves as a critical transit point for travel in the EU, and other destinations. But as far back as early June, when the UK was celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend, the airport was struggling with widespread travel snarls.
The reduced capacity at Heathrow follows airlines including Delta, United, Lufthansa, and British Airways slashing the number of flights offered. Other European aviation hubs have taken similar capping measures including London’s Gatwick and Amsterdam’s Schiphol.
The summer months have also seen strikes from European airline and ground staff. Unions representing staff from regional low-cost carriers like easyJet, Volotea, and Ryanair are set to strike this weekend, which is expected to cause disruptions to flights in and out of Spain and Italy. Meanwhile, strikes at Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports just concluded after the union reached a deal to get their workers a 6% pay hike.
All of these travel delays and cancelations are likely to balloon costs. Travelers may be forced to scramble to find accommodation or book a new ticket on a different carrier at the last minute, none of which tends to be easy on the wallet.