Manchester Airport chaos: 'Airlines tell customers to drop off bags night before flight'

6 April 2022, 19:45 | Updated: 7 April 2022, 06:36

Huge queues at Manchester Airport.
Huge queues have become commonplace at Manchester Airport. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Holidaymakers are being advised to drop off their bags the night before their flight and arrive three hours before take off to ease travel chaos at Manchester Airport, the city's mayor said.

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A string of measures are being brought in to ease disruption at Manchester Airport following weeks of chaos for travellers who have faced long delays and queues outside terminals.

Passengers have complained of lengthy waits at check-in, security and luggage collection, with the city's mayor Andy Burnham describing the situation as "unacceptable".

In chaotic scenes, piles of suitcases have been left in terminals as passengers abandoned the wait to reclaim their baggage and instead left for home.

Manchester Airport apologised this weekend to passengers after they admitted they had "fallen short of the standards they expected" and on Tuesday its managing director Karen Smart stepped down.

Read more: Manchester Airport boss quits after weeks of chaos for travellers

Read more: More flights cancelled on Monday with holidaymakers facing huge queues

Mr Burnham said the problem will not disappear overnight, but insists airport bosses are bringing in a number of measures to ease the chaos reported in recent weeks.

Some airlines are starting to offer passengers the ability to check in their bags the night before if they are taking an early flight, with everyone told to arrive three hours before they are due to take off.

The airport, along with much of the aviation industry, has struggled to recruit staff made redundant after the pandemic shut down airports and travel.

Read more: Easter getaway chaos: Over 100 flights cancelled as airlines face post-Covid holiday boom

Mr Burnham said that to reduce pressure at security the airport management are increasing use of overtime and bringing in temporary staff.

More staff are also being engaged to help organise the large numbers of people passing through the airport and better information will be provided to passengers who are queuing, as well as steps to look after the welfare of those experiencing long queue times, Mr Burnham said.

Read more: Grant Shapps to hold talks with P&O Ferries' rival operators as UK set for Easter travel chaos

More real-time information on security queues will also be published on the Manchester Airport website, with an increased police presence at the airport.

Mr Burnham said the airport had recruited 220 staff who were currently awaiting clearance as security checks took place but the exercise was taking longer than usual.

He is writing to the Minister for Security and Borders asking if large airports, such as Manchester, which are experiencing longer waits for vetting could be prioritised for a period to speed up the process.

"Like everyone, I have been concerned to see some of the scenes at Manchester Airport over recent times," Mr Burnham said.

"Many passengers have faced an unacceptable experience and it is important that every possible step is taken to prevent a repeat."

As the Easter getaway increases travel, similar problems have hit other airports including Heathrow and Birmingham.

Heathrow Airport, which saw similar disruption, blamed disruption over the weekend on Covid checks required by destination countries and "high passenger volumes".

But there were also reports of staff shortages and problems with the e-gate passport checkpoints, as travellers took to social media to air their frustrations.

Manchester Airports Group, which also runs Stansted and East Midlands airports, is partly owned by the 10 local authorities of Greater Manchester, with the biggest stake held by Manchester Council.

It is run independently of the mayor's office and the 10 councils, said Mr Burnham, but they would continue to work with officials to help solve the issue.