Amid months of queuing misery at Manchester Airport, passengers are now well-versed on the advice to arrive three hours early for their flight following warnings in the news, directly from bosses – and even from Mayor Andy Burnham. But the latest advice goes the other way; warning holidaymakers not to arrive too early either.
The guidance to make sure passengers get their trip to the airport ‘just right’ may be reminiscent of the children’s ‘Golidlocks’ tale – but it’s also a key part of the hub’s strategy to tackle delays and queues through check-in and security. On Tuesday, the Manchester Evening News reported on travelers stuck in queues in both sections of Departures amid staff shortages.
And part of the problem could be that passengers are now so wary of missing their flights that they are arriving even earlier than the recommended three hours. This means they are likely to find themselves queuing alongside passengers for much earlier departures – or that check-in and security haven’t even opened yet when they arrive.
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In a statement on Thursday, Manchester Airport said: “The airport is continuing to advise customers to arrive three hours before their flights, and to ensure they are up-to-speed with the latest rules about what can be carried in hand luggage. At the same time, the airport is also asking passengers not to arrive earlier than this because it can lead to extra queues, and check-in and security facilities may not be open.
The warning formed part of a wider story about the hub’s efforts to remedy the chaos caused by staff shortages. Manchester Airport has received more than 8,000 job applications and hired more than a thousand new recruits to bolster its workforce in a bid to cut queues as passenger numbers arise.
Hub bosses say they are now on the road to recovery ahead of the summer months, with more than 1,600 applicants having applied for jobs at the airport in April alone, 550 recruits on the floor since January, and 500 new starters currently going through vetting and security training. A further 200 workers are expected to join the operation in May, enabling management to open more security lanes in peak periods, and ‘improve customer service’.
Overall, there have been 8,000 applicants for jobs, including security officers, car park marshals and hospitality staff. Meanwhile, despite ongoing complaints from passengers, bosses insist security waiting times are improving, with ’90 per cent’ of passengers getting through in less than 30 minutes over the last fortnight, up from 78pc in the first two weeks of April.
The Manchester Evening News is still receiving daily complaints from passengers but, while the airport concedes queues times are still longer at times, they insist they are happening less frequently and are being cleared ‘relatively quickly’. They say the whole aviation sector is facing similar staff pressures and that they are working with the UK Border Force, airlines and ground handlers to support operations at immigration, check-in and baggage reclaim.
To read more stories about Manchester Airport you can head to the website’s dedicated page here.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.