10 problems that could ruin your 2023 vacation

10 issues that could ruin your 2023 vacation - Getty Images

10 issues that could ruin your 2023 vacation – Getty Images

The past year has been a rewarding experience for both travelers and the travel industry. The summer was filled with thousands of cancellations and serious flight delays as airlines and airports struggled to return to normalcy after the pandemic.

There were rental car shortages and major problems caused by strikes, technical breakdowns, and record-breaking heatwaves. With bookings increasing rapidly this summer, what are the chances of a repeat? We assess risks and threats to holidays and travel in 2023.

Disruption in flights

Risk ratio: 4/5

Flight disruption - Carl Court

Flight disruption – Carl Court

Last summer’s chaotic string of cancellations and delays was largely blamed for the spike in demand as pandemic restrictions ended at a time of severe staff shortages. UK airports are now confident the situation is under control – Heathrow, for example, said it is on track to return to pre-pandemic employment levels before the peak summer break period in 2023.

But Eurocontrol, the agency that advises on pan-European aviation policy, recently warned that there are still challenges overall across the industry, including supply chain issues, possible industrial action, airspace bottlenecks and technological changes.

All this means that at the end of last month, 2023 will be a pretty tough year. Meanwhile, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary recently noted the impact of the war in Ukraine, which has restricted air traffic over Poland and also prevented long-haul airlines from flying over Russia. He warned that the extra pressure on German and northern Italian airspace could well cause problems in the summer.

The return of the Covid bureaucracy

Risk ratio: 1/5

The return of the Covid bureaucracy - Iakovos Hatzistavrou

The return of the Covid bureaucracy – Iakovos Hatzistavrou

Travel restrictions have been lifted by most countries around the world, including Japan and China, most recently as a result of Covid-19 (though China requests a negative PCR test within 48 hours of your flight’s arrival).

If you haven’t been vaccinated, you’ll run into a few hurdles like a negative test in some countries outside of Europe and still not be able to travel to the US.

The risk for 2023 is the emergence of a dangerous new strain of Covid-19 and the imposition of new travel restrictions. I rated this as unlikely, but frankly I’m guessing. Who knows what could happen?

Car rental problem

Risk ratio: 4/5

Car rental shortage - Getty Pictures

Car rental shortage – Getty Images

As I reported last week, several major vacation destinations experienced a serious rental car crisis last summer, as the post-pandemic surge in bookings and the decline in the number of rental cars available drove prices to record highs.

The crisis has eased a bit, but increased demand this year means peak season prices in most destinations will rise even higher in 2023 and there may well be some shortages again. Prices in popular destinations like Tuscany have increased sharply from last summer and have more than doubled in total since 2019.

The Algarve saw a big jump in 2022 and saw another increase this year – now 47 percent higher than pre-pandemic rates. Even more moderate price increases in Spain and Greece were up 16 percent and 22 percent compared to 2019. For anyone traveling in high season, the answer is to book now, a few months in advance – you’ll have your car insured and you’ll almost certainly get a better price.

passport troubles

Risk ratio: 2/5

Passport woes - Paul Grover

Passport woes – Paul Grover

The turnaround time for a British passport renewal in 2019 was just two to three weeks. Now you have to allow up to 10, and last year about 360,000 had to wait longer than that. Refresh costs have increased, although cooldowns no longer improve.

For travelers, the problem was exacerbated by two things. First, most of us can’t risk being without a passport for 10 weeks, so we have to pay almost twice as much for fast-track service. Second, post-Brexit travel rules mean that your document must have at least three months of validity on the date you leave the EU. So passports need to be renewed sooner than before.

Queues after Brexit

Risk ratio: 3/5

Queues after Brexit - Chris Craggs / Alamy

Queues after Brexit – Chris Craggs / Alamy

All British passports have to be manually checked and stamped, as the withdrawal agreement signed by the government now limits the time we can stay in the EU.

This has caused significant queues for UK citizens arriving at peak hours at many European ports and airports – and it’s often difficult to predict how long you’ll have to wait.

EU proposals to introduce a new Entry/Exit System (EES) in May that would automatically register and track visitors from countries outside the Schengen Area were expected to speed things up at airports – in fact, there were concerns that it would cause further delays. at ferry ports. However, this has now been delayed until at least the end of the year.

Spiral costs

Risk ratio: 5/5

Rising costs - Oleg Elkov

Rising costs – Oleg Elkov

In November, I predicted a sharp increase in flight and vacation costs for this year. Unfortunately, this prediction has been proven correct, and in spades. The sharp increase in demand has already driven prices up significantly.

A recently published investigation Which? found that the cost of booking a summer package vacation increased by an average of more than 19 percent compared to the same booking period last year. Of the six popular destinations, Greece saw the highest increases (up 30%), while vacation costs in Italy, Spain and Turkey rose by a fifth or more.

Meanwhile, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the cost of airline tickets has increased by a whopping 44 percent last year, the biggest increase since registration began in 1989.

IT errors

Risk ratio: 4/5

IT errors - Orlando Sentinel

IT errors – Orlando Sentinel

Two weeks ago, all flights in the US were abruptly halted for two hours due to a glitch caused by a corrupt file in the national air traffic control system. About 10,000 flights were delayed and 1,300 flights had to be cancelled.

This was the latest in a long line of IT outages affecting passengers. In October, cyber hackers disabled several major US airports. All flights from Gatwick were halted last summer due to a glitch in the air traffic control system, and earlier in the year British Airways suffered three major disruptions in less than four weeks.

Aviation operating on complex and sometimes obsolete IT systems is highly vulnerable to such events. Will we see more this year? Almost certain.

extreme weather

Risk ratio: 3/5

Extreme weather - James O'Neil

Extreme weather – James O’Neil

Last summer was a scorch – and not in a good way. We had our hottest day ever on July 19 in England when Coningsby in Lincolnshire hit 40.3C (104.5F). This was a huge increase over the previous record – temperatures had never before exceeded the 100F mark in the UK.

Europe was even worse off, with three intense heatwaves in France and the south of the continent. Overall records were broken in 12 different European countries, with major problems with widespread droughts and forest fires. The Met Office recently reported that climate change means such events are now much more likely.

Obviously, such excesses are most urgently serious for the local population who have to put up with them. But they will also affect tourism. Last July, Luton Airport had to close its runway as the asphalt melted in the heat and there was widespread disruption to the railways due to bending of the rails. We can only hope for cooler weather this summer.

strikes in England

Risk ratio: 5/5

strikes in England

strikes in England

Disputes that resulted in strike action last year included the Border Forces strike at six key airports and ports over the Christmas period, the baggage handlers’ strike at Heathrow in November, and several national rail stops. Railroad workers and utility disputes are still unresolved and we are about to see more rail cuts on February 1 and 3, and a major civil service strike will take place on February 1, including additional actions by Border Force personnel.

Hopefully a solution will be found, but given the established bargaining positions, it seems unlikely that we will recover from further disruption in the transport sector this year.

strikes in france

Risk ratio: 4/5

strikes in france

strikes in france

The French tradition of taking direct action and fighting for their rights is hardly new. It has its roots in the revolution of 1789. The problem for us is that transport is a favorite destination, and this not only affects the French but often tourists as well. The general strike last Thursday, which hit both Eurostar and ferry services, could well be repeated.

But the biggest threat to travelers is French air traffic control strikes, as many flights to and from the UK use French airspace. I had fights canceled due to strikes in both May and September last year. A ceasefire has since followed, but last week Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary predicted an increase in such attacks this summer.

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