Disappointing photos show the long lines, hectic airports, lost luggage, and more travel chaos this year so far


long airport line in portugal during summer travel
Travelers crowd a departure hall in Humberto Delgado International Airport on July 9 in Lisbon, Portugal.

  • Travel in 2022 has been complicated by high gas prices, understaffed airports, heatwaves, and more. 

  • Travelers shared their vacation woes with Insider, including lost luggage and long security lines. 

  • Others have paid a high price for poor service, including a traveler whose hotel room had ants and a moldy sofa.



Traveling has always been a bit of a hassle, but 2022 has been particularly chaotic for millions of travelers so far.
Long lines at the Düsseldorf Airport in Germany.
Long lines at the Düsseldorf Airport in Germany in June 2022.

Source: Business Insider



And the future isn't looking that much brighter, either. Airline industry experts say travel may not be able to fully recover until 2024.
Canceled flights, plane de-icing and runway clearing at Logan Int. Airport on February 4, 2022 in BOSTON, Massachusetts.
Flights were canceled as planes and runways needed to be de-iced and cleared at Logan International Airport in February 2022.

Source: Business Insider



So how did we get here? Travel got off to a rocky start in 2022 as a COVID-19 surge and bad weather led to thousands of canceled flights.
NEW JERSEY, USA - JANUARY 07: Airplane runway covered with snow at Newark Liberty International Airport on January 7, 2022 in New Jersey, United States as massive snow storm hits the east coast.
Newark Liberty International Airport's runway is covered with snow in January 2022.

Source: Insider



A powerful winter storm in February that blanketed much of the southern, midwestern, and eastern US snarled transportation for millions of would-be travelers.
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - FEBRUARY 02: A resident digs out his car on February 02, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. A massive storm, working its way across the Midwest, is expected to dump as much as 16 inches of snow in some areas. Chicago is expected to receive between 4 and 8 inches by the time the system passes tomorrow afternoon.
A resident digs out his car in Chicago, Illinois after a massive winter storm on February 02, 2022.

Source: USA Today, Associated Press



Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February also drove oil prices to record-high levels, resulting in the highest gas and jet fuel prices in years and overall inflation.
12 August 2022, Brandenburg, Schönefeld: A ground staff member refuels an Airbus A330-300 aircraft of the airline before the first flight of the Chinese airline Hainan from BER, at Berlin Brandenburg Airport.
A ground staff member refuels an Airbus A330-300 aircraft at Berlin Brandenburg Airport in August 2022.

Source: UNWTO, Business Insider, Business Insider



As demand for air travel continued to rise, nearly 80% of people who traveled between January and July said they'd hit snags like soaring prices, long waits, cancellations, and poor service.
LOS ANGELES-CA-JANUARY 3, 2022: Travelers at LAX on Monday, January 3, 2022. More than 1,900 U.S. flights and more than 3,300 worldwide were grounded as of early Monday, according to tracking service FlightAware.
Travelers wait in long lines at LAX after thousands of flights were grounded on January 3, 2022.

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider



As we headed into the summer, heat waves also made travel a lot less comfortable. Record-breaking heat was reported across the US, sparking wildfires and heat advisories.
A woman pours water on her face to cool off during a heatwave.
A woman attempts to cool down in New York City in July 2022.

Source: Insider, Insider



When Insider's lifestyle reporter Amanda Krause visited Disney Springs in July, she said the asphalt walkways and minimal shade made Lake Buena Vista, Florida's 90-degree weather feel oppressive.
Stores at Disney Springs in July 2022.
A view of Disney Springs in July 2022.

Source: Insider



When Krause ordered a Dole Whip frozen desert just after 7 p.m., it melted in less than two minutes after it was served, she said.
A melted Dole Whip flight at Disney Springs in July 2022.
A melted Dole Whip flight at Disney Springs in July 2022.

Source: Insider



From Spain to Norway, Europe also faced record heat waves between June and August.
A person pours water on their head during a heatwave.
A man throws water over himself during the second heat wave in Spain in July 2022.

Source: Sky News



Even in London, which typically hits the mid-70s in July, the temperature reached a record high of 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) that month.
A Queens guard member swelters in the heat during the Changing of the Guard ceremony on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.
A Queen's guard member swelters in the heat during the Changing of the Guard ceremony on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace in July 2022.

Source: The Washington Post, Insider



It was so hot that members of the Queen's Guard broke their traditionally stoic persona for quick water breaks.
A member of the Queen's Guard receives water to drink during the hot weather in London.
A member of the Queen's Guard receives water to drink during the hot weather outside Buckingham Palace in London in July 2022.

Source: Insider



And public beaches didn't offer relief to some travelers either because they were overcrowded this summer, according to Insider's Rachel Askinasi.
Crowds of people sunbathing in August 2022 at Cala Pi beach in Spain.
Crowds of people sunbathing at Spain's Cala Pi beach in August 2022.

Source: Insider



During a visit to The Hamptons in July, Askinasi discovered many of the local beaches that offered peace and privacy were limited to residents only – meaning public beaches were overwhelmed with travelers.
A crowd of people in Southampton, New York.
A crowd of people in Southampton, New York, in July 2022.

Source: Insider



With sky-high gas prices, finding reliable and cheap transportation was a hassle for travelers this year, too.
Traffic jam in Hamburg, Germany, in July 2022.
Cars are stuck in a traffic jam during the summer holidays in Hamburg, Germany, in July 2022.


In June, inflation caused US gas prices to hit a record high of $5 per gallon. A California town even reached $7.59 per gallon that month.
Gas prices over the $8.00 mark are advertised at a Chevron Station in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 30, 2022.
Gas prices over the $8 mark at a Chevron Station in Los Angeles, California, in June 2022.

Source: Insider, New York Post



High gas prices forced many travelers to alter their plans. One traveler told Insider he paid double what he expected on a summer road trip down the West Coast.
West Hollywood, CA, Tuesday, March 8, 2022 - The Mobil station at the corner of La Cienega and Beverly advertise prices higher than the norm throughout the Los Angeles area. Across the street is the Beverly Center where the Pixar movie Turning Red is advertised.
A Mobil station in West Hollywood, California, advertises prices higher than the norm in March 2022.


When travel nurse Alex Waldie moved from Seattle to San Diego, California, he told Insider that he spent nearly $400 on gas alone on the 20-hour drive.
Packed gas station
Motorists line up to receive free gas at a station in Chicago, Illinois, in March 2022.


On the East Coast, Askinasi had a similar experience when she drove up to the Hamptons from NYC. "The prices were disgusting, but I had to fill up," she said. She paid $6.65 per gallon.
Gas prices in Montauk
High gas prices in Montauk, New York, in July 2022.

Source: Insider



For travelers like Jeff Kunkel, higher gas prices have put a damper on travel plans. Ideally, he told Insider, he would have driven five hours to Michigan's Upper Peninsula this summer, but he can only afford to travel locally this year.
Kalamazoo, Michigan.
A picture of Kalamazoo, Michigan.


Some travelers say they have paid a high price for mediocre service on their vacations. Insider's lifestyle reporter Monica Humphries traveled to Cairns, Australia, this summer and booked a three-star hotel "at a five-star price," she said.
An aerial view of Cairns, Queensland, Australia.
An aerial view of Cairns, Queensland, Australia.


But Humphries said she received poor service throughout her stay, like when the ceiling leaked from a rain storm and soaked the carpet flooring in her room.
leaking ceiling in hotel room
A leaking ceiling in Monica Humphries’ hotel room in July 2022.


There was no shower curtain in the bathroom, so the bathroom flooded after a five-minute shower. When Humphries went to management, she said they told her they were fully booked, and there was nothing they could do.
The toilet and bed in the hotel room
A wet bathroom floor in Monica Humphries' hotel room in July 2022.


"It was a tough realization that, when there's a demand for a destination, the guest experience can be placed on the back-burner," Humphries said.
The toilet and bed in the hotel room
Monica Humphries' hotel room in July 2022.


Insider's senior travel editor Emily Hochberg was also shocked by exuberant prices and lackluster service when she booked a holiday weekend in Manhattan Beach, California.
Manhattan Beach, California.
A picture of Manhattan Beach, California.


Hochberg said she spent more than she normally would on a beach hotel in California. So, it was upsetting to find broken windows, ants, peeling paint, a moldy pullout sofa, and features not as advertised. Hochberg said she alerted management, but they "just shrugged their shoulders and said it was a historic building."
Arrows point to issues in the hotel room
A broken window and some mold in the hotel room where Emily Hochberg stayed in July 2022.


Meanwhile, air travel continued to be a headache throughout the summer, with more than 50,000 canceled flights and over 570,000 delayed flights from the US alone between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
A display indicates cancelled flights at Frankfurt Airport in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on July 27, 2022, after employees of German airline Lufthansa were called to strike. - German national carrier Lufthansa said on July 26 it would have to cancel almost all flights at its domestic hubs in Frankfurt and Munich because of a planned strike by ground crew, adding to a summer of travel chaos across Europe.
A display board indicates canceled flights at Frankfurt Airport in July 2022.

Source: Flight Aware



For Insider's Deputy Editor Chloe Pantazi-Wolber, a planned weekend getaway in June turned into a long night at the airport waiting in line.
Travelers make their way through a TSA screening line at Orlando International Airport ahead of the July 4 holiday
Travelers make their way through a TSA screening line at Orlando International Airport on July 1, 2022.


Pantazi-Wolber dealt with long lines at LaGuardia Airport when her Delta flight to Atlanta was canceled after being delayed for two hours. She said that the Delta app said her flight was canceled over inclement weather, though neither NYC nor Atlanta had weather issues that day.
Large crowds of travelers waiting at Baggage claim area, LaGuardia Airport, Queens, New York.
Large crowds of travelers wait at the baggage claim area at LaGuardia Airport in New York City in June 2022.


When she reached the front of the line, Pantazi-Wolber said the airline told her it could rebook her flight for two days later at an airport upstate. When she asked for a refund, she said they replied that she needed to call the airline. She ultimately was able to get a refund.
Delta employees assist customers at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas.
Delta employees assist customers at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, on January 13, 2022.

A representative for Delta Airlines did not comment on the matter when contacted by Insider.



With so many cancellations, some travelers have been left with no other options than to sleep on the floor and yoga mats ...
Two passengers sleep on the floor at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport ahead of the Fourth of July holiday in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., July 1, 2022.
Two passengers sleep on the floor at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in July 2022.

Source: Business Insider



... airport benches ...
14 July 2022, Lower Saxony, Hanover: A traveler sleeps on a bench at Hannover Airport. In Lower Saxony, the summer vacations run from July 14 to August 24, 2022.
A traveler sleeps on a bench at Germany's Hannover Airport in July 2022.


... airport seats ...
Passengers wait at Rome's Fiumicino airport during an airline workers strike that cancelled hundreds of flights on July 17, 2022.
Passengers wait at Rome's Fiumicino airport during an airline workers strike that cancelled hundreds of flights on July 17, 2022.

Source: Business Insider



... luggage ...
A child sleeps as his family waits for their flight to Mexico at Toronto Pearson International Airport in April 2022.
A child sleeps as his family waits for their flight to Mexico at Toronto Pearson International Airport in April 2022.


... or even baggage conveyor belts.
MISSISSAUGA, ON- APRIL 19 - Passengers sleep on conveyer belts. Passengers wait to be allowed onto their Sunwing flights after some have been delayed over a day at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga. April 19, 2022. Others have been stranded in Cuba, Mexico and Canada.
Passengers sleep on conveyor belts as they wait to board their flights at Toronto Pearson International Airport in April 2022.


Delays have also made flights more difficult to plan around.
A crowd of travelers check in for their flights on Memorial Day weekend. Over 3,000 flights were delayed or cancelled over the holiday weekend.
A crowd of travelers check-in for their flights in May 2022.


Pauline Villegas, a fellow at Insider, said when she flew from LAX to Newark Airport in May 2022, she had to wait three hours on the plane after landing due to a backed-up flight schedule and traffic on the tarmac.
Airline Jets Lined up on Runway
A general image of airline jets lined up on a runway.


An overwhelmed flight industry also caused London's busy Heathrow Airport to limit the number of passengers traveling through the hub daily to 100,000 in July. The cap was later extended to October.
People wait in long queues for security at Heathrow Airport on June 1.
People wait in long queues for security at Heathrow Airport on June 1, 2022.

Source: Insider



And lost luggage has only made travelers' experiences worse.
Luggage starts to pile up at Pearson International Airport on June 10 2022.
Luggage started to pile up at Pearson International Airport in June 2022.

Source: Insider



One traveler told Insider that she deliberately took a carry-on bag to avoid this summer's notorious travel chaos, only for the airline to insist she check her bag and then lose it.
Suitcases and bags which arrived with delay via other flight or uncollected are spotted in a specific area at the baggage belt area after the arrivals of Athens International Airport ATH. Lost and found office faced increased demand of requests specially with connecting - transfer passengers flights in Europe where the luggage workers as others in the aviation sector face staff shortages. The lost luggage cases are also higher than normal. Many European and UK airports cancel flights and have long delays, creating a travel chaos for the aviation industry after the high demand in summer 2022 a season without the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic safety measures and travel restrictions. Athens, Greece on August 2022
Uncollected suitcases and bags litter the baggage area in Athens International Airport in August 2022.

Source: Insider



Another traveler told Insider that, after two months of his luggage being lost, he still doesn't know when he'll be getting it back.
23 June 2022, Hamburg: Numerous suitcases are stored in the baggage claim area. Hundreds of suitcases, bags and baby carriages are still piled up in the baggage claim area of the airport and only find their owners after days. According to the airport, this is so-called rush baggage, which arrived in Hamburg on a later flight than the passenger.
Numerous suitcases are stored in the baggage claim area at Hamburg Airport in June 2022.


Despite all the setbacks, many aren't letting it damper their travels. More people flew over Labor Day 2022 than in 2019, suggesting a higher demand for travel. Only time will tell whether the tourism industry can handle that demand.
Airplane flying.
There were more flyers this Labor Day than in 2019.

Source: Insider




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