A man has described the ‘mayhem’ he experienced when flying from Manchester Airport as children were ‘forced to urinate in plastic bags’ in huge security queues and some passengers collapsed.
Jack Makin, 32, and his wife Laura Story-Makin, 32, arrived at the airport – which has been plagued by problems due to staff shortages in recent weeks – three and a half hours before their flight to Malta was due to take off. But Jack said it took them five ‘intense’ hours to get from check-in to the boarding gate.
He said he saw one child be sick ‘from dehydration and exhaustion’ in the ‘horrendous’ security queues and that he had the ‘worst experience’ he’s ever had at an airport. Manchester Airport apologized to any passengers who had an ‘unsatisfactory’ experience on April 1 – the day of the flight.
READMORE:‘We don’t have the staff for the level of service passengers deserve’ – Manchester Airport boss writes apology letter
Jack, a postman and photographer from Winsford in Cheshire, said he arrived at the airport at around 4.30pm with paramedic wife Laura. The pair booked fast-track security passes and hoped to enjoy some food and drink before jetting off on the trip to celebrate their five-year anniversary, but said they wish they ‘hadn’t bothered’.
“We were flying out of Terminal 3 but had to go through Terminal 1 to their security, and then across the Terminal 3 to fly as Terminal 3 didn’t have the staff to open security there,” Jack said. “So we had two terminals worth of people going through one security area. It was mayhem. There was about five staff manning the whole thing and handing out trays for luggage. A family in front of us had a child who started being sick due to dehydration and heat exhaustion.
“Kids were having to pee in the plastic bags that you’d usually put liquids in. It was horrific.”
Jack said it ‘got heated at times’ as people ‘were pushing in’ the queues and that he ‘felt bad’ for staff who were trying to manage the situation.
He said they were still queuing to get their bags through security at 8.15pm, when their flight was due to take off at 8.05pm. By around 9pm, their bags had gone through the conveyor belt to be scanned, Jack added, but there were then further delays after they had to be checked over by a member of staff.
“I said to Laura we should just give up and go home a few times because it was past the time for our flight and we’d obviously missed it. After asking anyone who worked there if our flight had gone, no-one could answer us,” Jack said.
“We had to risk it all in the hopes our pilot hadn’t danced on us after an intense five-hour battle.”
Jack said the couple were ‘tired and hydrated’ after this ‘hellish ordeal’ and ‘could have cried’ when they got to the boarding gate and saw the Ryanair flight parked up on the tarmac.
He added: “Trust me when I say this was the worst experience I’ve ever had at an airport, and I’ve traveled quite a lot. One of the staff members said to me he’s never seen it this bad before, honestly it was horrible.”
The flight took off at around 11.15pm. Jack said around two and a half hours into the flight, a woman collapsed through the toilet door. An elderly man then ‘dropped to the floor’ a short time later.
He said: “Laura went over to see what was going on. It turns out this poor lady was suffering from low blood pressure and fainted as she entered the toilet. Laura along with the absolutely brilliant Ryanair staff lay her down and elevated her feet. A few minutes later she was feeling better.
“Within 10 minutes an older gentleman walked past our seats and just dropped to the floor with a horrible thud. Laura leapt out of her seat for a second time and ran to the man’s aid. Luckily a surgeon was onboard and they realized he had low blood pressure and monitored him for a while.”
Jack said the Ryanair staff were ‘amazing’ and kept everyone calm. The ‘sleep-deprived’ pair finally got to their hotel in Malta at around 5am.
A spokesperson for Manchester Airport apologized for the delays and said that security workers handled the ‘challenging circumstances’ as best they could.
In a statement, the spokesperson said: “We apologize to passengers whose experience on the evening of Friday 1st April was unsatisfactory. Our industry is facing shortage staffs and recruitment challenges at present after the most damaging two years in its history. On some occasions, including on the evening in question, this led to delays in passing through security, as well as other parts of the passenger journey that are managed by airlines and third parties, such as check-in and baggage reclaim.
“Wherever possible, our security staff prioritized passengers within queues, with the aim of ensuring that they did not miss their flights. We also have a special assistance service available for passengers who are less mobile and those who cannot stand for long periods, which can be pre-booked through their airline.
“We have launched one of our largest-ever recruitment drives and hundreds of new security staff are in the process of being vetted and trained. Unfortunately though, this is not a quick process, and at times in the coming weeks, we do expect wait times in security to be up to 90 minutes.
“As such we are asking passengers to arrive at the airport three hours in advance and to double-check their hand luggage complies with security rules before arriving, as any additional screening of bags will add to wait times. If passengers do this, we are confident that we will be able to get them away on their travels.”
the Manchester Evening News also contacted Ryanair for a comment.
Other passengers have recalled having similar experiences to Jack and Laura in recent weeks as they were met with scenes of long queues, crowded check-in halls and abandoned baggage at the airport. Warnings were issued that ‘someone could get hurt’ among the chaos, as civic leaders urged the management to ‘get a grip or get out’.
The mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, has warned the long queues at the airport could last for months into the summer. Police and transport staff will be parachuted in to help, while passengers will get real time online queuing information and the option to check-in their bags the night before their flight as part of a new action plan to solve a staffing crisis, Mr Burnham revealed .
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.