Tourists arriving at Palma airport. | Joan Llado

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Millions of Britons are facing airport chaos across the UK as they begin to embark on their summer holisays to destinations like Mallorca.

ABTA, The Travel Association, has already issued advice for travellers in order to help them enjoy a smooth summer.

The Travel Association is encouraging holidaymakers to start to get ready for their summer trips by checking that their passport will be valid and that they have an up-to-date health insurance card and travel insurance.

It will be the first summer people have had a real opportunity to travel since the UK left the European Union and, with Europe the most popular location for overseas trips each summer, ABTA says there are some differences that people need to be aware of and prepare for before they head to their favourite destinations.

Holidaymakers need to check their passport will be valid as, when travelling to the EU, your passport can’t be older than 10 years when entering the country and you need to have at least three months left on your passport from the date you return.

With the Passport Office advising that it could take up to 10 weeks for a passport application to be processed, ABTA is encouraging anyone who needs a new passport for travel this summer to apply as soon as possible – particularly if they are a family due to travel at the start of the school summer holidays. In many parts of the country, school summer holidays begin in just over 10 weeks.

Holidaymakers going to Europe should also check whether they have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which gives access to state medical care in the country they’re visiting and take out travel insurance.

Those who need to renew or apply for a new health card can get a Global Health Insurance Card, which replaced the EHIC when the UK left the EU. Other rule changes include possible charges when using your mobile phone abroad and new documentation when travelling with pets.

This summer is expected to be the busiest holiday season since the start of the pandemic and new figures from ABTA show that families are leading the charge, with 70% saying they have a holiday abroad booked this year and ABTA Members report that breaks to Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Portugal are proving popular.

To help people prepare for their holiday ABTA has issued some advice on checking and renewing their passport and is also directing people to its holiday checklist (abta.com/getreadyfortravel), which will guide them through everything they need to know about heading abroad this summer.

Graeme Buck, Director of Communications at ABTA – The Travel Association said:
“Now is the time to start preparing for your summer trip. Things have changed now that we’ve left the EU and it does take time to get paperwork in order, like renewing your passport or getting a Global Health Insurance Card.

“So our message to holidaymakers is don’t delay – get the boring but necessary bits done now so that you can focus on the fun parts in the run up to your holiday, like planning what you want to see and do.”

Some holiday destinations still have Covid rules and entry requirements in place so it’s important that travellers check the travel advice for their destination and sign up to email alerts for their destination at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

But, while passengers may be doig what they have been advised to, a number of UK airports are still short staffed and this is causing huge problems.

Furious customers at Birmingham, Manchester and Stansted are today complaining of long queues.
Passengers at Birmingham Airport were stuck in two-hour long queues at security check-in that stretched outside the terminal and into a car park.

Meanwhile, there have also been reports of two-hour delays at passport control in Stansted.
The widespread problem in recent weeks is believed to be caused by issues recruiting workers in the aviation sector as well as Covid-related absences.

At least ten flights were delayed at Manchester and four at Birmingham as of 8am this morning.