We asked TUI, Jet2 and Swissport to explain why Manchester Airport has been hit with half-term chaos

Hundreds of passengers flying from Manchester Airport over the last few days as the May half-term holidays get underway have been faced with long delays, queues and canceled flights.

The recent scenes echo similar issues at the airport in the last few months as airlines, operators and other businesses try to get back on their feet as a result of the pandemic. But with many passengers now warning they will no longer travel abroad if such issues continue, there are big questions to be answered about the state of travel in 2022.

Over the weekend, many passengers for TUI flights departing from Manchester Airport’s T2 were met with long queues for bag-drop, sometimes extending past the Sky Lounge and towards the entrance to terminal one.

READ MORE: Manchester Airport updates as ‘carnage’ continues over half-term

Some passengers reported having to wait hours in the queues , while others said their flights had to be delayed as a result of the long queues. One flight in particular, to Kos on Saturday, was delayed by eight hours before customers we were informed by a text message from TUI that their entire holiday had been cancelled.

The passengers were told the cancellation had been down to a ‘combination of factors causing significant operational disruption’. “There was nobody at the airport to speak to, but there was a lot of upset and frustration as we all received the text at the same time,” passenger Jayesh Patel told the MEN

Passengers have faced ‘mile-long’ queues for check-in as families travel abroad over the May half-term holidays

There were also reports of shops running out of food, empty vending machines and closed restaurants as people tried to make the most out of their delays. Those arriving at Manchester Airport also faced ‘significant’ delays, namely with collecting their baggage. Passengers on Saturday night spoke of the ‘utter chaos’ as they waited hours for their luggage only to be told it would have to be delivered to their homes later.

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Passengers reported being surrounded by ‘abandoned’ suitcases from other flights, presumably waiting to be delivered to customer’s homes. “People were getting a bit fraught and frustrated, there were children crying and it was just absolute pandemonium,” Dawn Brian, from Stoke-on-Trent, said after being told to go home after waiting for her luggage for two hours.

The queues continued on Monday morning, with more passengers reporting long waits. In video footage, taken at around 3.30am, people could be seen queuing in a line which snaked out of Terminal 2, stretching down the full length of the sky tunnel. One passenger said they had spent two hours in the queue before checking in luggage.

Over the weekend, various airlines, baggage handlers and Manchester Airport all apologized to those affected by delays or cancellations, with some customers offered compensation. To find out more about the situation at Manchester Airport right now, we went to a number of the airlines affected, alongside baggage operators, to find out what was being done about the situation amid concerns from those due to fly out in the next few days .

What Manchester Airport have said

Manchester Airport officials have said they are working closely with senior management at airlines and ground handlers to address and ascertain the causes of the issues being faced. The number of delayed and canceled flights also led to a ‘longer dwell time’ of passengers in the terminal building, resulting in additional queues at bars and shops.

A Manchester Airport spokesman said: “We are aware of challenges being faced by a number of airlines and handling agents, which is leading to delays at check-in and baggage reclaim for some passengers.

“Airlines and their ground handlers are responsible for their own check-in and baggage handling services. Passengers are advised to direct any questions or concerns about these issues, or anything relating to their flight, to their airline, who will be best placed to respond.

‘Abandoned’ luggage was lined up at Manchester Airport’s baggage hall as passengers waited for their own bags to arrive

“However, this is not the experience we want passengers to have at Manchester Airport and we are sorry to hear customers have faced disruption. We are in contact with the senior management teams of the relevant airlines and ground handlers to understand the cause of these issues, and to support their efforts to resolve them as quickly as possible.

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“Our colleagues are on hand in the terminal to provide assistance to customers and we are working hard to ensure security waiting times are as quick as possible. It remains our advice that passengers should arrive three hours before their flight and to be as prepared as they can be for their journey through the airport.”

What TUI have said

A spokesperson for TUI said: “We would like to apologize to some of our customers who have experienced flight delays in recent days. The May half-term holidays are always an incredibly busy period with many customers looking to get away, and this year is no different.

“We understand that many of our customers have been looking forward to these holidays, as it’s the first peak period in more than two years that hasn’t been impacted by border closures and mass testing requirements. Our priority is always to take customers on holiday safely.

TUI passengers at Manchester Airport's T2 have been queuing outside the terminal entrance
TUI passengers at Manchester Airport’s T2 have been queuing outside the terminal entrance

“While flight delays and cancellations with us are rare, unfortunately the sudden increase in people going on holidays combined with various operational and supply chain issues, has meant that a small number of our flights have been impacted. Our teams have been working tirelessly to support affected customers, through direct communications and providing overnight accommodation and transfers where needed, as well as meals and refreshments.

“As the UK’s biggest holiday company, we take millions of customers on holiday every year, and the majority of our flights are taking off as planned. Our flying program today is not impacted by cancellations. We continue to work closely with our airport partners to monitor the situation and provide the best possible holiday experience for our customers. We’d like to thank them for their patience and understanding at this time.”

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What Swissport have said

A spokesperson for baggage operator Swissport said: “Half-term is always a busy time for airports, and we know that they, and our airline partners, are currently experiencing a number of challenges which often have a knock-on effect on our work.

“As we continue to recover from the pandemic, we have welcomed over 2,000 new colleagues to our business since the start of the year, but there have been some delays while we await the relevant security clearances.

“We understand how frustrating delays are for passengers so our staff will always try as hard as they can to find a solution. We will continue to collaborate with airports, airlines and other ground handlers to minimize disruption wherever we can.”

Passengers were told their flight and holiday to Kos was canceled after an 'eight-hour' wait
Passengers were told their flight and holiday to Kos was canceled after an ‘eight-hour’ wait

What Jet2 have said

A Jet2 spokesperson said: “The half-term period is a very popular time for holidaymakers who are looking to get away. We are receiving positive feedback from many happy customers, however we are aware that some customers may have experienced delays at the airport, and we would like to apologize to anyone affected.

“Our teams are continuing to work tirelessly to look after everyone and we have a very visible uniformed presence – referred to as the Red Team – in our UK airports as well as in our main overseas airports and in resorts. This team of customer helpers are on hand to assist and guide customers through their journey with us.”

We also contacted easyJet about the issues, but they did not respond to our request for comment at the time of publication. We also asked easyJet’s baggage handler DHL and Global Baggage Solutions, who provide baggage handling for a number of operators including Jet2, for comment but neither responded to our requests by publication.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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