Hundreds of passengers arriving at Brussels Airport were forced to join lengthy queues for border control in scenes of chaos on Monday.
Frustrated travellers said people were “skipping queues like crazy” as crowds waited in corridors after touching down.
There were similar scenes at Dublin Airport in Ireland, Bristol Airport in south-west England and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam amid a spike in travel across Europe.
A spokeswoman for Brussels Airport told The National that the extended waiting times were caused by multiple flights from non-Schengen Area countries arriving at the same time. EU nationals do not need to show a national ID card or passport when travelling from one border-free Schengen country to another.
“We saw a peak moment because several flights arrived at the same time from non-Schengen countries," the spokeswoman said. "Passengers queued for up to one hour.
“We saw this queue start at 10am and there was a peak at noon when a few hundred passengers had to go through border control at the same time.
“Of course it’s an inconvenience for passengers. We have handed out bottles of water to make it a bit more comfortable.”
Alison Comyn, who travelled to Brussels from Ireland, said she witnessed manic scenes upon arrival.
“Brussels Airport why the crazy queues at passport control? It’s chaos here,” she tweeted. “No information and people skipping queues like crazy. And just as I managed to escape Dublin Airport with very little hassle.”
Long queues at Dublin Airport caused “more than 1,000 passengers” to miss their flights on Sunday and set off a wave of criticism from disgruntled travellers.
Gardai (Irish police) were drafted in to man doorways and calm the chaos at Ireland’s main airport. The setbacks also prompted travellers to arrive up to 12 hours before their scheduled departure time on Monday, in anticipation of further queues.
An urgent meeting to discuss the issue will take place on Monday between airport officials and Junior Minister for Transport Hildegarde Naughton.
Kevin Cullinane, interim group head of communications at Dublin Airport, told The National that the lengthy queues on Sunday caused major disruption for passengers.
“At the moment, we are aware of just over 1,000 passengers who missed their flights yesterday from those airlines that have informed us at this stage," he said. "Those airlines account for more than 80 per cent of passengers at Dublin Airport, [so] it’s unlikely to be much higher than that."
Some 45,000 passengers were scheduled to travel through the airport on Monday, Mr Cullinane said.
Despite the queuing times for check-in and security returning to normal on Monday, many people arrived at the airport half a day in advance for fear they would miss their flights.
“Most passengers were through [security] in under an hour this morning,” Mr Cullinane added. “We advise passengers on short-haul flights to arrive two and a half hours before and those on long-haul flights to arrive three and a half hours before. If you have a car to park at Dublin Airport, arrive 30 minutes before that.
“There’s no need to be arriving 10-12 hours in advance. Some passengers this morning were over-compensating for what they read and heard about yesterday.”
Passengers at Dublin Airport on Sunday vented their anger and disgust on social media and demanded action.
One man posted a photo of crowds waiting outside an airport entrance and said he had been standing in line for hours.
“Three hours of queuing to this point,” the man named Ralph McCurry wrote.
“Just witnessed a stampede. I saw more order during the evacuation of Kabul last August. Get a grip down here please. Is anyone in charge??!...anyone?!”
Another man branded the scenes “insane” and “shameful”.
Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport was also hit by problems as passengers reported four-hour waiting times on Monday morning.
Exasperated travellers tweeted pictures of long queues in and outside the airport — and lambasted the “embarrassing and unacceptable” waiting times.
“Absolute chaos at Schiphol this morning,” one man wrote. “Been queuing 2.5 hours to get through security — and still waiting.”
The airport apologised for the “discomfort of the queues”.
Passengers due to fly from Bristol Airport in south-west England on Monday also reported lengthy queues.
A spokesperson for the airport apologised for the upheaval.
“We appreciate the frustration experienced by customers early this morning and are sorry for the queues at security which exceeded 90 minutes for a short period of time," they said in a statement.
“We’ve fallen short this morning but the Bristol Airport team and our business partners are working hard to ensure all customers have a smooth and easy journey through the terminal."