Travellers at Spain’s airports face queues and ‘chaos’ over Covid restrictions and tests

Travellers at Spain's airports face queues and 'chaos' over Covid restrictions and tests
Photo:Jaime Reina/AFP
New restrictions for international trips to control the spread of the Omicron variant, combined with a lack of resources at Spanish airports, mean that travellers in Spain are facing queues and "complete chaos" ahead of the Christmas period.

As of December 1st, it is no longer possible for unvaccinated UK tourists to visit Spain after Spanish authorities ruled that a negative Covid test no longer serves as a replacement for a vaccine pass.

KEY POINTS: What are the new Covid travel rules between Spain and the UK?

The new restrictions come as long queues have already been making things difficult in Madrid, where last month 5,000 travellers missed their flights due to long waits at passport control.

“Complete chaos at Barajas airport due to lack of foresight from Aena (Spain’s airport operations company),” journalist Francisco Carrión wrote on Twitter. “Right now these are the queues for passport control in Terminal 1. The national police refuses to take responsibility and blames Aena.”

The regional government of Madrid led by Isabel Díaz Ayuso requested the deployment of more border officials to ease the flow of passengers at the city’s airport.

But now the problem seems to be extending to airports all over Spain, as fears over the Omicron variant have led governments to implement new travel restrictions.

“The delays that are occurring now at Madrid and Barcelona airports may worsen in the Christmas season, particularly in airports with the largest number of passengers from non-Schengen countries, and the airports of the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, Alicante and Málaga,” the UNAV and FETAVE travel agency groups said.

In Madrid, passengers should continue to expect 45-minute queues at passport control due to a lack of personnel, the agencies said.

The agency groups specifically expressed concern for people travelling between Spain and the United Kingdom. Particularly since British travellers represent around 25% of all international passengers passing through Spanish airports.

The hotel group Ashotel also warned that new rules approved by Spain’s Interior Ministry on November 26th were resulting in cancellations from British travellers, due to the vaccination status of British children between the ages of 12 and 17.

READ ALSO: What are the new rules for international travel to and from Spain this Christmas?

From December 1st, all British citizens over the age of 12 must show proof of full vaccination (at least 14 days must have passed since the second dose), in order to enter Spain. But very few British teenagers have had an opportunity to get both doses of the vaccine. 


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