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A short time after London Heathrow, one of Europe’s busiest airports, urged airlines to stop selling tickets as they couldn’t possibly cope with an overwhelming demand, British Airways has been one of the first to follow the order. BA won’t simply trim their schedule, though: it is going as far as temporarily halting ticket sales where multiple flight routes.
Now, booking flights into and out of the UK might be much more challenging than before, at least in the immediate future, with thousands of seats already being taken off sale. Unfortunately, the situation will probably not improve in spite of flight caps, and UK-bound passengers might experience delays well beyond summer.
On this article, you will find out how exactly British Airways’ latest move affects you as a traveler, and what the future of air travel is looking like as things stand:
What Is Behind BA’s Move To Limit Ticket Sales?
It looks like Europe’s messy post-Covid summer might in fact turn into a whole year of travel chaos. Earlier this year, numerous countries dropped their once-strict entry restrictions, reopening their borders for tourism as it was in 2019. Naturally, this caused travel demand to surge, particularly in Europe, home to some of the world’s most sought-after destinations.
Throughout 2020 and most of 2021, Americans had been virtually banned from visiting Europe. Starting this year, the scenario changed dramatically, with only 3 EU nations still imposing Covid rules. As a result, tourists rushed back to the continent in their droves, at a time when the industry still struggled with staffing constraints and other operational issues.
These issues are part of the reason why London Heathrow has seen some of the longest delays in Europe lately: there are simply not enough aircrew, baggage handlers, security personnel, and even border officials to respond adequately to the sky-high air traffic numbers. Unsurprisingly, Heathrow has demanded that airlines limit seating capacity.
British Airways, the UK’s flag carrier, has been one of the most heavily affected. Besides reducing frequency, it has now shockingly temporarily suspended short-haul ticket sales from Heathrow until August 15, following reports of poor service and multiple flight cancellations at the UK’s number one airport.
Essentially, flying to the UK is set to become a much harder task.
BA’s Move Is An Indication The Ongoing Air Travel Crisis Could Get A Lot Worse
For now, intra-Europe flights have represented a majority of those targeted by the measure. While BA’s ban is in place, ticket availability on short-haul, mostly European routes will be reduced. This includes flights between London and Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Rome and countless other destinations that are popular among American travelers.
According to data by YouGov UK, British Airways is the number one airline in Britain, making the ban, albeit provisional, even more troubling. Additionally, BA has refused to rule out cutting long-haul routes into and out of Heathrow, inadvertently offering a stark warning to Americans visiting the country in the months to come. In short, no one is safe.
Under the flight cap rules, Heathrow can only accommodate a maximum of 100,000 passengers per day until September 11, when the busy summer season traffic is expected to drop. Regardless, the travel woes plaguing the sector will likely continue for at least another year, and travelers should be prepared for sales suspensions to be enacted with little to not notice.
Will The Short-Haul Sale Ban Expire As Planned?
For now, the short-haul sale ban is set to expire on the 15th, but we cannot know for certain it will not be reintroduced every time Heathrow officials declare demand to be ‘too high’. London’s is not the only airport resorting to drastic actions to slow the passenger influx. Amsterdam Schiphol, recently named the most chaotic in Europe, has done the same.
It has been shortly followed by Germany’s leading hub Frankfurt, which not only limited intra-EU flights, but cross-continental services as well. A piece of advice? If you’re coming from America, you might as well avoid flying altogether once you’re in Europe. Trust us, this will help you avoid the dreaded delays and bypass disruption.
All 3 of the continent’s top transport hubs have adhered to daily flight limits, and more could certainly follow. Luckily, there are a number of alternatives that will spare you the pain of flying within Europe in the immediate future. Europe may be vast collective of more than 40 countries, but cross-border infrastructure is incredibly well developed.
Several European countries have extensive railway systems linking destinations both within their own territories and their neighbors’. If you’re planning on country-hopping across the Old Continent, we strongly recommend you check out the ‘Europe Train Pass‘, a single multi-journey ticket allowing its holders to travel to 33 countries for less than $200.
No flights, no travel woes, and just the ultimate money saving hack.
For more Heathrow updates, make sure you visit their official website.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories