Queues ‘outside the terminal’ leave passengers out of pocket amid airport chaos
Passengers have complained of ‘frustrating’ queues leading outside airport terminals, which has left many people missing flights and losing hundreds of pounds. Airline passengers have been affected by disruption for several months.
The situation worsened due to the surge in demand driven by the mid-term school holidays and the four-day Platinum Jubilee weekend. The aviation industry is suffering from a staff shortage after letting thousands of people go during the coronavirus pandemic.
London Gatwick Airport announced on Friday that it was reducing the number of daily flights during its busy summer period to help resolve staffing issues. Nicole Venglovicova, 31, has missed three separate flights to Belfast from Heathrow and is worried she won’t get a refund for around £500 she spent trying to sort out air travel.
Ms Venglovicova, a freelance video producer from London, told the PA news agency: “I had a seizure, I was crying outside the airport out of stress. I arrived at the airport for my morning flight and Flybe told me the queue was huge so I have to run.When I finally got through security my boarding pass wasn’t working…the door was still open at this point.
As Ms Venglovicova returned to reception to explain the issues with her boarding pass, she said staff ‘started arguing with security’. By the time she was able to get back to her door, it was locked and no one was there, she says.
She said: “The problem I had was that they should have told me that I would miss my flight because of the queue and would (have) immediately booked a later flight to continue. But instead they sent me back to security checking and making me miss my flight and I had to go through arrivals and pick up my luggage which they didn’t even put on the plane.”
Collecting her bags and going through security took Ms Venglovicova an additional two hours, meaning she missed two other flights she could have taken to Belfast. She said: “I thought I (could) get the afternoon and then I saw the queue was going all the way to the parking lot and I couldn’t see the end of it.
“Then I had a seizure and went home. There is no interest. Domestic flight to Belfast and I have to be at the airport when? Eight hours earlier?
Liverpool’s Mick Lyon said his time at Manchester Airport on Friday was “very frustrating”. Returning from Paris, the 39-year-old said passengers were queuing outside the terminal as passport control barriers were closed.
He said: “I travel for work and fly most weeks and Manchester airport is definitely the worst experience at any airport. I literally needed someone to open the gates so that people could line up in an orderly fashion…this could easily have been avoided by opening the barriers.”
The airport will limit the number of flights to solve the problem
Pressure is mounting on airports and airlines to manage the influx of those going on holiday abroad. Gatwick Airport plans to limit its number of daily flights to 825 in July and 850 in August, compared to 900 daily flights reported during the same period in previous years.
It comes after a busy Jubilee holiday week, which saw more than 150 flights across the UK canceled on the eve of Jubilee.
EasyJet said it was “looking into the details” of the cap, but insisted it expected to be able to “readjust the majority” of passengers if their flight was affected. An airline spokesperson said: “We are aware of the capacity cap announced by Gatwick Airport and are currently reviewing the details to assess what this means for easyJet’s operations at Gatwick.
“We recognize the need for Gatwick Airport to do this, as airports across Europe have visibility across all airlines and are well placed to decide what capacity is realistic in the current challenging operating environment so that all airlines can provide reliable services to their customers.Given the high frequencies of our services to and from Gatwick, we expect to be able to rehabilitate the majority of customers if their flight is affected by the cap.
Downing Street welcomed the reduction in flights from Gatwick “so they can realistically deliver over the summer”. A No 10 spokesperson said: ‘We want everyone to be able to travel freely and easily, which is why we continue to encourage the industry to step up recruitment so they can put in enough flights to families looking forward to a well-deserved post-pandemic vacation.”
Business Secretary Paul Scully suggested earlier that one solution to the chaos at airports is for staff to work longer hours if they wish. He told Sky News: “We want to work closely with airports and airlines to make sure they are doing everything they can and see what more we can do.
“There are a record number of vacancies – 1.3 million vacancies across the country in all kinds of sectors – but there are also people who have recalibrated what they want to do when they were on furlough. . We want to make sure that those people who are not necessarily working full time, through universal credit, we can put them back to work to be more productive, if that suits them, and obviously match them with the sectors where it there are these vacancies.”
When asked if that meant people were working longer hours, he replied: ‘I’m not talking about forcing people to do anything, but we just want to make sure they’re matched up correctly. so that it’s fair that people who can work longer – who want to work longer – can do it.”