Even airline workers are struggling to find a seat from Europe this summer

International passengers walk through the arrivals area of ​​Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport on November 26, 2021 in London, England.

Leon Neal | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Airlines want people to vacation in Europe this summer because they are not their employees.

Carriers are discouraging staff from using their benefits to travel to and from some of Europe’s biggest airports, warning it will be difficult to get a seat at home.

The moves come as airport labor shortages and industry strikes have made summer travel in Europe difficult, just as airlines hoped to capitalize on higher bookings after a pandemic crisis. of Covid for more than two years.

American Airlines has banned staff from using their flight benefits only for personal travel from London Heathrow Airport until “at least” September 11 and has temporarily banned the use of these benefits from Amsterdam until September 31. July. United Airlines has banned the use of buddies passes – deeply discounted flights for friends and family – on journeys through London Heathrow until at least the end of August.

United is also advising staff of the challenges of overseas travel this summer and putting customers first, a spokesperson said.

The moves came after Britain’s busiest airport set caps on departing passengers in a bid to ease congestion this summer.

Free and deeply discounted tickets are a selling point for airlines looking to staff up to handle a surge in bookings. But carriers also want to fill as many seats as possible with paying customers. Utilizing these staff travel benefits as a so-called non-returning or non-revenue passenger means flying on hold, versus a paying traveller’s confirmed space.

While getting a free or discounted seat is often a gamble during peak periods, this summer is proving particularly challenging for airline staff dreaming of cheap European vacations.

“Many European airports are experiencing overcrowding, long delays and passenger caps, which severely limit the availability of non-rotational departures,” American Airlines said in a message to staff Aug. 5.

The message said that only “a handful” of travelers recently trying to use passes for return flights to the United States have been accommodated, and that those trying to use the passes would likely be stranded in Europe for an extended period.

Tensions at some European airports could persist after the peak summer travel season. Earlier this month, Amsterdam Schiphol announced it would cap passenger departures in October.

“The purpose of setting a maximum is to keep passengers and employees safe and to create a reliable process at the airport,” the airport said in a statement.

The problems are not limited to Europe. JetBlue Airways has suspended pending travel, including for staff, between John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Jose Joaquin De Olmedo Airport in Guayaquil due to “heavy flights and baggage loads” in the Ecuadorian airport, according to an employee memo seen by CNBC.

Correction: American Airlines has banned staff from using their flight benefits only for personal travel from London Heathrow Airport until “at least” 9/11. An earlier version distorted the break conditions.

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