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Queues at Manchester and Birmingham Airport: Holidaymakers complain of long queues this morning

Thousands of passengers were stuck in ‘mile-long’ queues at Birmingham Airport today as a staffing crisis continued to cause chaos at Britain’s airports. 

Some families have taken to turning up six hours early while, at Manchester Airport, one woman was left ‘in tears’ after missing her flight. 

Passengers in Manchester said they are facing a two-hour wait at security check-in this morning, with queues leading outside the terminal and into a nearby car-park.

There are also delays to flights, with at least ten late flights at Manchester and four at Birmingham as of 8am this morning. Meanwhile at Stansted, there were also claims of two-hour delays at passport control last night.

Are you stuck in the airport queues today? 

Share your experience – Contact: james.robinson@mailonline.co.uk 

It comes as airports up and down the UK continue to face staffing issues in the wake of Covid restrictions.

Travel chiefs say the issues have been exacerbated by a huge increase in demand for travel following two years of Covid-enforced disruption.

Some have warned the staffing issues, which came to a head last month as people rushed away for the first restriction free Easter Bank Holiday in more than two years, could last as long as a year.

And yesterday EasyJet announced plans to remove seats on some of its planes this summer so that it can operate flights with fewer cabin crew as it too battles staffing issues.

With holidaymakers flocking to airports this morning at the start of a new week, passengers again faced delays at Manchester and Birmingham. Bosses of both airports today said the queues were due to the ongoing staffing problems.

It is also understood that Manchester has suffered additional problems, including passengers arriving up to six hours before their flight in the hope of beating the queues – creating bottlenecks at already busy times.

However there did not appear to be queues at Heathrow and Gatwick today. Passengers at the travel hubs, the UK’s two biggest airports, faced delays over Easter – when millions jetted off for a four-day weekend.

One holidaymaker flying out from Manchester Airport today branded the situation a ‘sh*t show’, while others at Birmingham Airport said they feared missing their flight.

Manchester Airport staff direct passengers as they stand in a massive queue outside of the departures terminal to try and get through security

Queues were so long at Birmingham Airport this morning that some passengers had to queue outside the terminal building

Holidaymakers jetting off on their late Spring getaway are today facing airport chaos, with delays to flights, 'shambolic' organisation and queues stretching outside terminal buildings. Pictured: Queues at airport security today at Birmingham Airport

Holidaymakers jetting off on their late Spring getaway are today facing airport chaos, with delays to flights, ‘shambolic’ organisation and queues stretching outside terminal buildings. Pictured: Queues at airport security today at Birmingham Airport

Holidaymakers have been queuing in their hundreds today at Birmingham Airport, with some passengers even having to wait outside the terminal building

Birmingham Airport say ongoing staffing issues are behind the queues. Pictured: Passengers queueing for a Tui flight at Birmingham Airport this morning.

Birmingham Airport say ongoing staffing issues are behind the queues. Pictured: Passengers queueing for a Tui flight at Birmingham Airport this morning.

At Manchester Airport’s Terminal 1 passengers were today seen queueing outside the terminal building as they waited to get through to security

Passengers were seen queueing in the car-park outside Manchester Airport today as long queues developed this morning

Passengers were seen queueing in the car-park outside Manchester Airport today as long queues developed this morning

Another Twitter use wrote: ‘Chaos at Manchester Airport this morning. Queue for security is outside in the drop off area. Then snaking inside before you are even near the gate for security.’

EasyJet to remove some seats from flights so it can fly with fewer crew 

EasyJet will be ripping out seats on some of its fleet this summer, so that it can fly with fewer crew, due to difficulties with staff shortages. 

The airline has been struggling to meet the rising demand for travel, as more Brits head abroad now that pandemic restrictions have been lifted.

In a bid to solve this, it is removing the back row from 60 of its A319 jets, which will limit the plane to 150 passengers instead of 156.

It means that three crew members can operate the cabin, instead of the usual four.  

Civil Aviation Authority safety laws require three cabin crew to every 50 seats, irrespective of the number of passengers on the flight.

A company spokesperson said that the decision will ‘build additional resilience and flexibility’, The Telegraph reported. 

Since Easter, multiple airlines have been struggling with crew shortages after many cut staff numbers during the peak of pandemic restrictions. 

With demand back on the rise, this has left airlines unable to bring numbers back up quickly.

Airline bosses blamed the shortages on a slow security checking process overseen by the Government. 

And cabin crew who were made redundant are less inclined to return to the workforce, having found new employment opportunities.  

At the time, Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, accused airlines of not ‘gearing-up’ before the Easter break. 

EasyJet bosses have said that covid was the made reason for staff absences over Easter, with April sickness rates rising to more than double the usual rate. 

While easyJet chief executive, Johan Lundgren, has not criticised the Government for staff shortages, the airline is believed to be waiting for 145 of its trained staff to have security checks approved.

Removing the six seats in some of its A319 fleet could reduce the need for approximately 300 cabin crew, industry sources have suggested. 

The easyJet spokesperson said the airline expects to be ‘back to near 2019 levels of flying’ this summer.

Another added: ‘Queueing since 4.30am this morning for getting through Manchester Airport security. What a nightmare.’

One holidaymaker, Danny, 40, who asked not to be fully named, and partner Abigail, were among hundreds of travellers to fall foul of baggage delays at the airport on Wednesday.

The couple’s TUI flight from Paphos landed at 7pm but they were not able to retrieve their luggage until 10.45pm, with the alternative being to give their addresses so it could be delivered ‘mid-to-late next week’.

Danny told the Manchester Evening News : ‘We were expecting something with everything that’s been in the news – but when you see little kids crying their eyes out because it’s so late and the lack of information, it makes it even worse.

‘Everyone who came out in a high vis was getting peppered but they couldn’t give us any information – apart from one guy who blamed staff shortages.

‘To be fair, Manchester Airport was good flying out, there were no issues, it was coming back that was the problem.’

Having arrived on a TUI flight from Paphos, the account director said their arrival experience was ‘a shambles’ throughout. 

Their flight was delayed by 90 minutes in Greece, there was no food available on the journey and, after making their way through customs, they were met by ‘two baggage belts of people waiting’. Danny added: ‘You knew from the looks on their faces it was going to be bad.’

The couple waited for an hour at the conveyor initially, watching baggage from other flights arrive – to cheering and clapping from the waiting travellers. When, after two-and-a-half hours they were still waiting, there was finally an announcement on the PA system.

Danny added: ‘They said unfortunately we’re not going to be able to tell you when your bags are coming out. They asked us to queue to get a baggage reclaim form, so they could send it to our houses in the middle to end of next week. People started to queue for that, and after another 45 minutes, another flight from Antalya came in and their baggage came in too.’

Finally, at 10.45pm, their baggage arrived. Danny added: ‘We couldn’t wait until next week and although around 25 per cent of passengers decided to go home and get them sent, there were families with babies who said all the stuff they needed was in the bags.’

Passengers were also left furious at the situation at Birmingham Airport. One passenger, writing on Twitter, branded the situation: ‘Utterly ridiculous’.

Sharing an image from outside the Terminal, they wrote: ‘These are the queues to enter Birmingham Airport. Everyone will miss their flight.’

Another, sharing an picture of queues outside the terminal, added: ‘What the hell?’.

There were also claims of two-hour delays at Stansted’s passport control hall last night.

One Twitter user wrote: ‘And the worst airport award goes to: Stansted. Two-and-a-half-hours to go through passport control, terribly long queues and I wonder if this is safe at all other than unbearable. Only Gatwick and Heathrow now on.’

Passengers at Manchester Airport say they are facing a two-hour wait at security check-in this morning, with queues leading outside the terminal and into to a nearby car-park

Meanwhile, at Birmingham Airport, passengers have complained of 'ridiculous' queues at arrivals today, with long queues outside the main terminal building

Passengers at Manchester Airport say they are facing a two-hour wait at security check-in this morning, with queues leading outside the terminal and into to a nearby car-park. Meanwhile, at Birmingham Airport, passengers have complained of ‘ridiculous’ queues at arrivals today, with long queues outside the main terminal building.

There are also delays to flights, with at least ten late flights at Manchester and four at Birmingham as of 8am this morning

It comes as airports up and down the UK continue to face staffing issues in the wake of Covid restrictions. Travel chiefs say the issues have been exasperated by a huge increase in demand for travel following two years of Covid-enforced disruption

There are also delays to flights, with at least ten late flights at Manchester and four at Birmingham as of 8am this morning. It comes as airports up and down the UK continue to face staffing issues in the wake of Covid restrictions. Travel chiefs say the issues have been exasperated by a huge increase in demand for travel following two years of Covid-enforced disruption

Birmingham Airport chiefs today said the queues were due to ongoing staffing issues, with almost half (43 per cent) of its employees being made redundant during the pandemic. Bosses said the airport had launched a recruitment drive in November and were currently in the process of training new security officers.

A spokesperson for Birmingham Airport told MailOnline: ‘Half of the 15,000 customers flying out of BHX today were booked to depart in our busy dawn peak, so we took the decision to run queues outside the terminal to avoid them getting tangled with check-in lines. 

Bring your own plane food! TUI stop serving hot and cold meals on flights due to ‘staff shortages’ at catering supplier and will only provide ‘limited’ snacks 

Passengers on TUI flights have been encouraged to bring their own food and drink onboard after the airline announced its own meals service would be ‘limited’ in the coming days.

In a statement on its website, TUI said ‘staff shortages’ had led to the cut in services for short and mid-haul flights and it was monitoring the situation.

Long-haul flights will continue to be catered for. 

The 15 affected airports are Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Doncaster Sheffield, Dublin, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Humberside, Leeds Bradford, Luton, Manchester, Norwich and Teesside.

A TUI spokesman said: ‘We can confirm that unfortunately due to staff shortages with our catering supplier, there may be limited food and drinks services available onboard TUI Airways short- and mid-haul flights over the coming days.

‘Customers may therefore want to bring their own food and soft drinks onboard (no alcohol permitted). Any soft drinks over 100ml will need to be purchased after you have passed through security.

‘Please note this disruption does not affect any long-haul flights to Aruba, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico, Orlando and St Lucia and meal services on these flights will continue to operate as normal.

‘Please be assured we are continuously monitoring the situation and working closely with our suppliers to limit the impact to the onboard service for our customers. We are directly contacting all customers impacted.

‘We’re very sorry for any inconvenience caused.’

‘Queues were long but managed and moving. We thank customers for their patience. 

‘As always, our message to departing customers is: Help us help you keep queues moving by removing any liquids, gels, pastes and electrical items from your bags before our security x-ray scanners.’ 

Manchester Airport chiefs meanwhile say they have more than 500 new recruits going through security and vetting following a recruitment drive in April.

‘Sixty new recruits have already joined the operation in April, with a further 200 new recruits due to start in May to bolster the workforce ahead of the peak summer season,’ an airport spokesperson said last week.  

Responding to the criticism from the passenger who was delayed receiving their bag, A Swissport spokesperson said: ‘We are sorry for the delay passengers experienced waiting to collect their baggage, following a number of delays to scheduled flights which exacerbated some existing resource challenges. While the aviation industry is still recovering from the pandemic, we are working hard to address these challenges and have already welcomed over 1,200 new colleagues across the UK and Ireland.

‘We understand how frustrating and inconvenient delays are and we continue to work with our partners to implement contingency measures and improve turnaround times.’

It comes as EasyJet yesterday announced it will be taking out seats on some of its fleet this summer, so that it can fly with fewer crew, due to difficulties with staff shortages. 

The airline has been struggling to meet the rising demand for travel, as more Brits head abroad now that pandemic restrictions have been lifted.

In a bid to solve this, it is removing the back row from 60 of its A319 jets, which will limit the plane to 150 passengers instead of 156.

It means that three crew members can operate the cabin, instead of the usual four.  

Civil Aviation Authority safety laws require three cabin crew to every 50 seats, irrespective of the number of passengers on the flight.

A company spokesperson said that the decision will ‘build additional resilience and flexibility’, The Telegraph reported. 

Since Easter, multiple airlines have been struggling with crew shortages after many cut staff numbers during the peak of pandemic restrictions.  With demand back on the rise, this has left airlines unable to bring numbers back up quickly.

Airline bosses blamed the shortages on a slow security checking process overseen by the Government.  And cabin crew who were made redundant are less inclined to return to the workforce, having found new employment opportunities.  

At the time, Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, accused airlines of not ‘gearing-up’ before the Easter break. 

EasyJet bosses have said that covid was the made reason for staff absences over Easter, with April sickness rates rising to more than double the usual rate. 

While easyJet chief executive, Johan Lundgren, has not criticised the Government for staff shortages, the airline is believed to be waiting for 145 of its trained staff to have security checks approved.

Easyjet is removing the back row from 60 of its A319 jets, which will limit the plane to 150 passengers instead of 156

Easyjet is removing the back row from 60 of its A319 jets, which will limit the plane to 150 passengers instead of 156

Removing the six seats in some of its A319 fleet could reduce the need for approximately 300 cabin crew, industry sources have suggested. 

The easyJet spokesperson said the airline expects to be ‘back to near 2019 levels of flying’ this summer. 

Before the pandemic, it had around 300,000 passengers each day during peak travel season. 

Julia Lo Bue-Said from UK’s largest independent travel agent group, the Advantage Travel Partnership, said that the ‘dire labour shortage’ is one of the key issues impacting the aviation industry.

She told the BBC that it was a ‘travesty’ that easyJet is removing some seats to reduce the number of crew required per flight. 

The airline said that its last six seats on each flight are usually taken by last minute bookings, so it does not expect their removal to impact holiday-makers who have planned their summer getaway ahead.

Last week the prospect of summer travel chaos intensified with the news that British Airways is cancelling 16,000 flights – and staff are threatening to strike over pay.

BA announced that flights on several popular routes are being slashed until October as it continues to struggle with staff shortages.

Chief executive Sean Doyle said an average of 60 flights daily – 16,000 in total – will have been axed between March and the autumn – about 10 per cent of all BA flights. 

Around 75 per cent of those are short-haul flights to EU hotspots including Spain and Italy.

The Daily Mail also revealed last week that hundreds of BA check-in staff based at Heathrow Airport, where the carrier mostly operates from, are voting on whether to strike.

They took a 10 per cent pay cut during the pandemic and are demanding their full salaries are reinstated amid cost-of-living pressures and passenger numbers surging again after the pandemic.

Nadine Houghton, of trade union GMB, said it is ‘no wonder’ workers are considering industrial action. Both GMB and Unite unions were testing members’ appetite for strikes yesterday and union chiefs are poised to hold a formal, legally binding vote giving a mandate for a walkout if pay demands are not met. Strikes could begin by July and continue into August.

BA said the majority of staff accepted a ‘generous’ one-off lump sum equivalent to 10 per cent of their salary. But check-in staff rejected this because it meant taking a long-term pay cut.

BA has already cancelled thousands of flights in recent months due to staff shortages and an IT meltdown, and critics say it cut too many staff during the pandemic. Mr Doyle said the airline had had ‘significant losses over the last two years’ but ‘I think when you look at what we had to go through, the decisions made at the time were appropriate’.

BA’s owner International Airlines Group said ‘the problems we are having at BA we can see in other airlines’.

Budget carrier easyJet has also cancelled hundreds of flights in recent weeks, but the likes of Virgin Atlantic, Ryanair, Jet2 and TUI have not.

  • Are you stuck in the queues today? Let me know about your experience: james.robinson@mailonline.co.uk  

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