Warnings of lengthy queues resulting from Spanish demands for advance passenger information (API) have been exaggerated. Spain's early implementation of a European Union directive that will apply to all member states next year will not lead to check-in staff filling out forms by hand from 19 June.
The idea is simply that booking details already in an airline's system be matched with a passenger's passport details and supplied as a flight departs. These details can be obtained by swiping a passport through a scanner at check-in. The problem is a shortage of scanners, especially at smaller airports.
If the UK had signed up to the Schengen Agreement on open borders we would be excluded from this process - as are passengers from most EU countries. However, in order to comply, airlines flying to Spain will seek your full name, nationality, passport number and date of birth in advance - often by an email directing you online or asking you to call your travel agent. Details of passengers who slip through the net will be typed into the system at check-in only where there is no scanner - a 30-second process.
You would not want to wait while 150 fellow passengers' passport details are entered, but this should not occur. A spokeswoman for easyJet said: "Scheduled airlines won't have a problem. We will email everyone two weeks in advance asking them to supply the information and check-in as normal. We will send reminders and, if details are outstanding, we will phone."
British Airways is directing Spanish-bound passengers to ba.com, but points out only a small proportion of flights will be affected and insists this will "not cause chaos". Spanish carrier Iberia has been supplying the details since March "without any longer queues".
One airline suggested passengers booked with travel agents might have more difficulty. But the travel agents' and tour operators' association Abta denied this, insisting: "We don't expect lengthy queues." Of the charter airlines to Spain, First Choice Airways said: "The impact will be minimal. We are talking about a handful of flights a week. …