Thousands of tourists have been forced to queue for hours at some of Europe’s busiest airports and airlines are blaming a new EU regulation on passport checks for the delays.
The more detailed checks began in May and apply to British citizens because the UK is not a member of the open-borders Schengen zone, but with millions of UK holidaymakers hoping to go away over the next few weeks, the delays show no sign of letting up.
However, one Tory minister said UK airports should bring in lanes solely for British passport holders.
The unnamed minister told the Telegraph: “We should consider British-only lanes in the UK if they want to behave like that.
“Border controls should be based on reciprocal relationships. If it abuses this reciprocity we should have British only lanes.”
The MP also said tighter border checks should be imposed on citizens of some of Europe’s most powerful nations because of the number of their citizens that have joined ISIS.
He said: ”One wonders if this isn’t just subterfuge from EU members states, if they aren’t just trying to give us a warning that this is something that’s in store for us after Brexit.
“Holland, Belgium and Germany have among the highest numbers of Isil fighters. Should we be putting extra controls on them?”
Thousands of people have taken to social media to complain about the queues and to warn others set to travel in the coming weeks.
Some tourists have gone so far as to brand the new, stricter checks as “dangerous” as many have even passed out from the scorching heat as they stand in the length queues for hours without water.
Lanes exclusively for British passport holders could stop UK passengers facing hours of delays
Border controls should be based on reciprocal relationships. If [the EU] abuses this reciprocity we should have British only lanes
The new rules, which started this summer, require each passenger from outside the Schengen area (covering most EU countries) to have their arrival and departure recorded.
Previously British passengers were often waved through with just a cursory glance at the passport.
One traveller at Schiphol airport, Amsterdam, described it as a “disaster again today”, adding: “Schengen-passport control queue extends beyond E-gates 4hrs waiting time.”
Vanessa Raw shared a picture online of a queue in Spain. She wrote: “Mayhem at Barcelona airport, security queue stretching round whole airport and out exit!”
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Another in Malaga added: “I’ve been to many airports. Never have I had to stand in queue this long for passport control #appalling.”
The disruption has not only frustrated passengers but also angered industry leaders.
Lord Callanan, the aviation minister, has called on his counterparts in the worst-affected countries to demand action amid concerns that they failed to deploy enough staff to conduct the checks.
Meanwhile, Airlines UK demanded the Government use “whatever influence it can” within the EU to speed up checks for British passengers and called on ministers to remind their EU counterparts that European regulation behind the new checks can be suspended if they’re causing “disproportionate delays”.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary recently fuelled concerns about the future of British aviation when he threatened to cancel flights for summer holidays if no aviation agreement is formed before Brexit.
Some passengers complained they were forced to queue in the sun without access to water
He urged the Government to strike an aviation deal with the EU as a matter of urgency, because without an agreement there is a huge risk that flights between the UK and EU will cease altogether by March 2019.
Mr O’Leary said: “We will be taking flights that are scheduled from the UK to Europe and are on sale on our website for April 2019, we will be taking those flights off sale and issuing refunds.
“We’ll be putting those flights on sale between EU airports, Ireland to Spain; Germany to Italy; Greece to Scandinavia. We won’t be the only ones, everybody will be doing the same thing.
“That’s when you’ll have the Department for Transport or maybe even Boris Johnson explaining how exactly people are going to be going on holidays to Europe in summer 2019.”
Would the huge queues put you off flying abroad for a summer holiday?
Passengers wait in lengthy queues at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport
In response, the Government has insisted it is “committed to getting the best deal possible” for UK aviation in a post-Brexit world.
A spokesperson told Express.co.uk: ”Aviation is absolutely crucial to the UK’s economy and we are committed to getting the right deal for Britain.
“Our aviation industry is the largest in Europe, and both we and the EU benefit from the connectivity it provides.
“That’s why we are pursuing liberal access to European aviation markets – including all the benefits that brings for consumers.”