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Massive queues build up at Bristol and Manchester and passengers wait hours for baggage

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The boss of Ryanair has suggested calling in the military to solve long queues at airports as families endure another fraught weekend of travel chaos while seeking to return from their half-term breaks.

The airline’s chief executive Michael O’Leary has also advised passengers to travel mid-week to avoid difficulties, stick to ‘hand luggage only’ and to buy socks and other small items when on holiday.

Mr O’Leary told The Times: ‘My tip would be to travel midweek, because you’ll almost certainly have no difficulties and travel with hand luggage only. This reduces the time you spend in airports. Buy socks and jocks and stuff when you get there.

‘If you really want to eliminate the security queues at airports for the next eight to 12 weeks and ensure that hard-pressed British families can get a well deserved holiday, call in the defence forces because they can solve the problem.

‘The British have the best trained military personnel in Europe. They can go in and help out, particularly at weekends, at airport security where the airports are short-staffed. They haven’t opened up all the x-ray machines and you could open up all the machines if you had additional army personnel.’

UK airports are said to be preparing for their busiest weekend since the start of the pandemic as families return from half-term holidays.

The half-term break combined with the platinum Jubilee weekend has led to a surge in holidaymakers, with lengthy queues pictured this morning at Manchester and Bristol Airports.

Carriers have struggled to cope with demand, with hundreds of flights cancelled by Easyjet, TUI and British Airways.

Gatwick and Bristol are expecting to see their highest record of passengers since 2019, with as many as 30,000 travellers being processed through Bristol on some days.

Holidaymakers and commuters flying from Bristol Airport endure lengthy queues once again

Some travellers set up camp in the departures lounge of Bristol Airport as they waited for their flight gates to open

Some travellers set up camp in the departures lounge of Bristol Airport as they waited for their flight gates to open

Swarms of passengers were pictured queuing at Manchester airport this morning

Swarms of passengers were pictured queuing at Manchester airport this morning

Long queues of passengers waited to check-in at Manchester Airport this morning, following a week in which hundreds of flights were cancelled

Long queues of passengers waited to check-in at Manchester Airport this morning, following a week in which hundreds of flights were cancelled

Ryanair's chief executive Michael O'Leary advised passengers to travel mid-week to avoid difficulties, stick to 'hand luggage only' and to buy socks, jocks and other small items when on holiday

Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary advised passengers to travel mid-week to avoid difficulties, stick to ‘hand luggage only’ and to buy socks, jocks and other small items when on holiday

Customers queue at the Vueling and EasyJet check in desks at Gatwick Airport

Customers queue at the Vueling and EasyJet check in desks at Gatwick Airport

This morning, travellers vented their frustration as they waited to reclaim their baggage at Gatwick Airport amid empty conveyor belts.

Ian Smith tweeted: ‘How long do we need to wait for luggage? Landed from Heraklion an hour agao and still no sign!! Same for other flights too. not on.’ 

Wayne M added: ‘I know you guys at Gatwick Airport have been waiting hours for baggage reclaim – we landed 30 mins ago. What’s the crack? People are getting itchy – trust is low.’

Ryannair is one of few carriers that has not cancelled flights over the Jubilee break, while Easyjet, Tui and British Airways have axed hundreds – allegedly due to staffing woes.

Steve Heapy, the boss of Jet2, said that airports were struggling to recruit staff, with Brexit cited as a problem. 

The industry wants post-Brexit rules relaxed so that they can hire foreign staff, rather than relying on British applicants who have missed interviews or failed aptitude tests.

Elsewhere, a family have described feeling ‘trapped’ and ‘scared’ after their flights were cancelled at the last minute, stranding them in Turkey, leading to costs of nearly £2,500 for new flights and hotels. It comes amid more chaos at Manchester Airport as mountains of abandoned bags are left after arrivals.

Michael Tierney and his family, including nine-month-old Ralphie, flew to Antalya, Turkey, 14-days ago and were due to fly back late on Tuesday, May 31. However, they say they arrived to find their EasyJet flight had been cancelled, leading to chaotic scenes for the many families present with no way of getting back home.

Michael Tierney (middle) with his partner Amy MacDonald (left) pictured with their children Darcey, nine, Corey, 14, and Ralphie aged nine months. The family was stranded in Turkey for three nights after their flight home to Manchester was cancelled and were forced to spend nearly £2,500 on new flights and hotels

Michael Tierney (middle) with his partner Amy MacDonald (left) pictured with their children Darcey, nine, Corey, 14, and Ralphie aged nine months. The family was stranded in Turkey for three nights after their flight home to Manchester was cancelled and were forced to spend nearly £2,500 on new flights and hotels

Baby Ralphie cried so much he fainted and many others were left with no option other than to stay at the airport overnight, hoping for another flight to come up. Reports over recent days have suggested it is not just UK airports where travellers are facing troubles, with flight cancellations and passport checks causing chaos abroad.

Speaking after arriving home to Oldham, Mr Tierney said: ‘I should have been back three days ago. We were checking the flights on the app when we were travelling there on Tuesday night and it didn’t say anything had changed.

‘But, when we got there people were running around as the flight had been cancelled with no notice. We found a member of staff and asked what we could do but they just told us there were no more flights.

‘We were just told to make our own way back and to sort it ourselves, a lot of people there had no money to do that. People just ended up on the floor with loads of kids crying. The only solution were were offered were flights the next day from Dalaman which is miles away.’

Mr Tierney’s brother was able to book him a flight back, but they had to wait three days for this. In this time, he had to buy more food for the baby and book more travel and hotels, coming to just under £2,500.

They say that other airlines were offering flights back to England for inflated prices after this, and all easyJet could offer him was a flight back to London, but without his whole family.

Mr Tierney's children Corey, Darcey and Ralphie were stranded with their parents in Turkey for three days after their flight home to Manchester was cancelled at the last minute

Mr Tierney’s children Corey, Darcey and Ralphie were stranded with their parents in Turkey for three days after their flight home to Manchester was cancelled at the last minute

The queues at Manchester Airport showed no signs of letting up this morning after a week of fraught travel for passengers

The queues at Manchester Airport showed no signs of letting up this morning after a week of fraught travel for passengers

Long-winded waits were the order of the day at Bristol Airport this morning

Long-winded waits were the order of the day at Bristol Airport this morning 

Yesterday, it was reported furious passengers at Manchester airport storm behind the carousel curtain to try and locate their lost luggage forcing police to step in – as the boss of Ryanair has called on the government to deploy the army to help ease the ‘shambolic’ airport crisis.

The chaotic scenes at Manchester Airport were filmed after passengers on a Ryanair flight arrived from Porto in Portugal on Monday. The footage shows armed police being called to the carousel amid lengthy delays.

The woman, who recorded the footage but has remained anonymous, said by the time she reached the baggage hall ‘there were hundreds of people waiting’ and ‘luggage had been left everywhere over the floor’ – with some bags ‘dated from May 27’ – meaning it would have been there for three days. 

She told Manchester Evening News: ‘Border Control came to calm some passengers. They were saying that there was no one to get the bags. A lot of people were angry. People were offering to go and help put the bags on the carousel from behind to speed up the process.

‘It was worse for people with kids. There was nowhere to sit or get a drink or something to eat. A lot of people were just leaving their bags and coming back to get them on another day.’

Ryanair boss Mr O’Leary, meanwhile, told ITV News: ‘Bringing in the army, which they do at many other European airports, would, at a stroke, relieve the pressure on airport security and would mean that people have a much better experience – not just this weekend, but for each weekend over the next three, four months.’

Britons returning from their holidays have complained of ‘three hour delays’ at baggage reclaim across UK airports and ‘abandoned’ luggage ‘left in stacks’ at Heathrow this morning – travellers have also said ‘their luggage has been diverted to another airport’, while others have reported their baggage missing altogether. 

Tui customers have been left furious by ‘awful service’ after their flights landed at 3am this morning at Manchester Airport, forcing families to put their children to sleep on the floor as the crisis continues to cause disruption.

The reason for the ongoing chaos has been due to a aviation staffing crisis – recruiting for roles such as security staff, ground handlers and check-in staff which is seeing passengers advised to arrive much earlier than normal for their flights because they are facing long queues.

While many businesses in the aviation sector are struggling to rehire staff after many were let go during the pandemic due to a collapse in demand thanks to successive lockdowns, high levels of staff sickness for those who are still employed is also having an impact. 

Manchester Airport: One group of returning passengers took matters into their own hands and climbed behind the plastic curtain to get their baggage after 'serious delays'

Manchester Airport: One group of returning passengers took matters into their own hands and climbed behind the plastic curtain to get their baggage after ‘serious delays’

Heathrow Airport: Britons returning from their holidays have complained of 'three hour delays' at baggage reclaim across UK airports and 'abandoned' luggage 'left in stacks' at Heathrow this morning

Heathrow Airport: Britons returning from their holidays have complained of ‘three hour delays’ at baggage reclaim across UK airports and ‘abandoned’ luggage ‘left in stacks’ at Heathrow this morning

Manchester Airport: Hundreds of passengers travel plans for the Jubilee celebrations have been thrown into disarray for the sixth day running after an 'awful' week of flight cancellations and painfully-long queues as the staffing crisis continues to cause mayhem at UK airports

Manchester Airport: Hundreds of passengers travel plans for the Jubilee celebrations have been thrown into disarray for the sixth day running after an ‘awful’ week of flight cancellations and painfully-long queues as the staffing crisis continues to cause mayhem at UK airports

Bristol Airport: Holidaymakers and commuters flying from Bristol endure lengthy queues outside the terminal building and flight delays once again as the Jubilee holiday weekend continues

Bristol Airport: Holidaymakers and commuters flying from Bristol endure lengthy queues outside the terminal building and flight delays once again as the Jubilee holiday weekend continues 

Manchester Airport: The queues were 'slowly moving', according to one passenger at Manchester Airport this morning

Manchester Airport: The queues were ‘slowly moving’, according to one passenger at Manchester Airport this morning 

Michael O’Leary, 61, Ryanair's chief executive, (pictured) said 'defence personnel with experience providing security' should be drafted in for the next 'three to four months' to help ease the ongoing travel disruption at airports across the country

Michael O’Leary, 61, Ryanair’s chief executive, (pictured) said ‘defence personnel with experience providing security’ should be drafted in for the next ‘three to four months’ to help ease the ongoing travel disruption at airports across the country

Manchester Airport: Passengers queue for security at Manchester Airport's Terminal 1 today

Manchester Airport: Passengers queue for security at Manchester Airport’s Terminal 1 today 

Birmingham Airport: Passengers check the departures board to make sure they don't miss their flights amid lengthy queues at Britain's travel hubs

Birmingham Airport: Passengers check the departures board to make sure they don’t miss their flights amid lengthy queues at Britain’s travel hubs 

Heathrow Airport: One passenger called Heathrow Airport an 'absolute shambles' after stacks of 'abandoned luggage' were left in 'stacks' across the floor

Heathrow Airport: One passenger called Heathrow Airport an ‘absolute shambles’ after stacks of ‘abandoned luggage’ were left in ‘stacks’ across the floor 

Bristol Airport: The chaotic scenes came after Andy Prendergast, national secretary of the GMB union that represents aviation workers, said passengers should 'pack light' and only take a rucksack to the airport

Bristol Airport: The chaotic scenes came after Andy Prendergast, national secretary of the GMB union that represents aviation workers, said passengers should ‘pack light’ and only take a rucksack to the airport

Manchester Airport: Manchester Airport has experienced chaotic scenes all week - with new figures revealing 332,000 passengers are booked to fly through the travel-hub over the Jubilee weekend

Manchester Airport: Manchester Airport has experienced chaotic scenes all week – with new figures revealing 332,000 passengers are booked to fly through the travel-hub over the Jubilee weekend

Bristol Airport: Holidaymakers experience lengthy queues this morning outside the front entrance of  Bristol Airport

Bristol Airport: Holidaymakers experience lengthy queues this morning outside the front entrance of  Bristol Airport 

Heathrow Airport: Passengers continue to face delays travelling through the departures and arrivals halls in Terminal 2

Heathrow Airport: Passengers continue to face delays travelling through the departures and arrivals halls in Terminal 2

Heathrow Airport: Passengers are pictured queuing at Terminal 2 this morning as delays across the country continue

Heathrow Airport: Passengers are pictured queuing at Terminal 2 this morning as delays across the country continue 

Manchester Airport: Travellers at Manchester airport this morning continue to experience queues as they attempt to jet off on their holiday

Manchester Airport: Travellers at Manchester airport this morning continue to experience queues as they attempt to jet off on their holiday

Manchester Airport: Queues at the airport continue to experience queues as the attempt to jet off from the airport

Manchester Airport: Queues at the airport continue to experience queues as the attempt to jet off from the airport

Manchester Airport: Painfully-long queues were seen a the check-in area at Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport: Painfully-long queues were seen a the check-in area at Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport: Travellers at Manchester airport this morning continue to experience queues as they attempt to jet off from the airport this morning

Manchester Airport: Travellers at Manchester airport this morning continue to experience queues as they attempt to jet off from the airport this morning 

Today holidaymakers are facing even more travel chaos - with exceptionally lengthy queues at Bristol and Manchester Airport at 6am this morning - with one passenger at Heathrow claiming the a 'security guard' was busy 'playing candy crush

Today holidaymakers are facing even more travel chaos – with exceptionally lengthy queues at Bristol and Manchester Airport at 6am this morning – with one passenger at Heathrow claiming the a ‘security guard’ was busy ‘playing candy crush

DUBLIN AIRPORT: Running ‘very efficiently’ ahead of the Platinum Jubilee weekend:

Dublin Airport is running ‘very efficiently’ on Friday morning, as around 200,000 people are set to travel through the airport over the bank holiday weekend. 

Ireland’s busiest airport has been at the centre of a political storm in recent days, after last weekend saw around 1,000 passengers miss flights as lengthy queues extended outside the terminals. 

DAA, which runs the airport, admitted that mistakes had been made but insisted that lessons were learned ahead of the coming June 6 bank holiday. 

New measures, including the installation of marquees at Terminal 1, forced passengers to queue outside to control queues

New measures, including the installation of marquees at Terminal 1, forced passengers to queue outside to control queues

New measures, including the installation of marquees at Terminal 1 for passengers forced to queue outside, have been deployed. Extra staff are also now working. 

A DAA spokesperson said the early morning wave of departures on Friday has ‘run very efficiently’. 

The spokesperson said it was a ‘result of extra staff, the maximum number of security lanes open and an improvement in queue management for passengers entering the terminals for check-in, bag drop and security. 

‘By six o’clock this morning queue times under 10 minutes were being experienced by early morning travellers in both terminal 1 and 2. 

‘Today is the start of a very busy bank holiday weekend of air travel with up to 50,000 passengers a day departing from Dublin Airport.’ 

In advice to passengers, Dublin Airport is asking travellers to arrive two-and-a-half hours before a short-haul flight and three-and-a-half hours before a long-haul flight. 

If a bag needs to be checked in, leaving an extra hour is also advised. 

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan on Thursday urged passengers to follow the advice from the airport and said he was ‘confident’ people should be able to get through the airport with minimal difficulties in the coming days.

Passengers arrive at Dublin airport on Friday morning as around 200,000 people are set to travel through the airport over the bank holiday weekend

Passengers arrive at Dublin airport on Friday morning as around 200,000 people are set to travel through the airport over the bank holiday weekend

The airport chaos has been described as the ‘perfect storm’ by travel experts due to the ending of Covid restrictions encouraging more people to travel amid the four-day bank holiday weekend. 

Today holidaymakers are facing even more travel chaos – with exceptionally lengthy queues at Bristol and Manchester Airport at 6am this morning – with one passenger at Heathrow claiming the a ‘security guard’ was busy ‘playing candy crush’.

The aviation industry is suffering from staff shortages after letting thousands of people go during the coronavirus pandemic.

Over 2,500 departures are expected to leave UK airports across the country today, carrying an average of 500,000 passengers, new figures have revealed.

The chaotic scenes came after Andy Prendergast, national secretary of the GMB union that represents aviation workers, said passengers should ‘pack light’ and only take a rucksack to the airport  – meaning passengers will have to purchase toiletries and clothing abroad – to avoid delays. 

He also said it was ‘disingenuous’ for the Transport Secretary to speak out about chaotic scenes at Britain’s airports as issues with staffing ‘have been on the radar for a long time’.

Mr Prendergast told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme on Thursday: ‘This unfortunately was a foreseeable problem, it was one we warned about at the point at which the mass redundancies were made.

‘We asked the Government to look at the aviation industry as a special case and they refused. And now, quite frankly, for Grant Shapps to come out as he has in the last 24 hours is a little bit disingenuous considering these problems have been on the radar for a long time.’

George Morgan-Grenville, chief executive of Red Savannah Luxury Travel, added: ‘It is an unfortunate perfect storm and airlines and airports are trying to ramp up again after the pandemic.

‘The travel industry is not an industry that can be turned on and then off again and it was inevitable it was going to take time. My own feeling is I don’t think we are going to see a problem-free summer by any stretch of the imagination. If it is as bad as it has been purported to be, I think you will get a lot of very upset people.’

Manchester Airport has experienced chaotic scenes all week – with new figures revealing 332,000 passengers are booked to fly through the travel-hub over the Jubilee weekend. 

There had been hopes that bosses at Manchester Airport were getting to grips with the staffing crisis which resulted in security queues and disruption earlier in the year. But the scenes emerging from the terminals over recent days have raised questions around how well the hub and its partners are weathering the storm as they emerge from the pandemic. 

Reports include queues which extend into car parks, missing baggage spotted from 1,300 miles away, police rescues after flights failed to take off and even food shortages for those passengers actually able to board their flights. More than 30,000 TUI customers have received messages cancelling their trips.

Last month, Charlie Cornish, Manchester Airports Group (MAG) boss, issued a candid apology, admitting that the staffing crisis – caused by mass redundancies during the pandemic then a sudden surge in passengers when restrictions were lifted – meant service was suffering. Many of the workers who left the hub have now found other jobs.

This year, more than 800 workers have been hired to replace them. Of those, 340 are already on the floor, with a further 500 going through security and background checks. As a result, bosses say that in May, 91 per cent of passengers got through security in less than 30 minutes, and 70 per cent under 15 minutes. They said security queues could still take up to an hour at busy times but that, if passengers arrive three hours early over the coming days, they are confident they will ‘get them through on time.

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