Passengers at some European airports have experienced delays at immigration longer than their flights!
The worst affected destinations are Spain, France, Italy and Holland. Palma de Mallorca and Madrid airports are highlighted. Some passengers claim to have waited up to four hours to clear immigration, many reports delays of around two. Reports state that on average immigration is taking three times longer than last year.
The cause – new Schengen Area Border Controls
Following the terrorist atrocities in France, Germany, and Belgium, the EU introduced tighter border checks. All passports for travellers from outside the border-less Schengen area have to be cross checked against a database when entering and leaving. Although not mandatory until October, some airports have already implemented the rules. Lack of staff and issues with the technology are blamed for the delays.
Airline and Tourist organisations are calling on governments to increase staffing to address the issue. It is claimed that each passport check now takes about 2 minutes whereas carriers of UK passports were often only briefly checked before.
Contrary to what is said in some newspapers, this has nothing to do with punishing the UK for Brexit. Britain and Ireland have never been part of the 26 country Schengen area. It does however highlight concern that in the future, we will not have influence over EU laws that affect us.
European leaders have defended the change in legislation. It seems that immigration authorities though were under prepared. Realising the potential damage to tourism, politicians in the affected countries seem to be springing into action, announcing that staffing will be increased. Hopefully the countries yet to introduce the new checks will learn from the crisis and be better prepared.