Holidaymakers warned of a “summer of chaos” after mid-term trips ruined by canceled flights

Heartbroken families looking forward to a half-term getaway found their dreams dashed today as ongoing travel chaos at airports dashed their plans.

And when tearful children lost on their first trip abroad and relatives missed loved ones’ weddings, Britons were faced with a dire warning of “a summer of chaos” if the industry doesn’t act now.

Union Unite, which represents tens of thousands of aviation workers, said holidaymakers are paying the price for “chronic staff shortages” caused by job cuts during the pandemic.

And as Britain’s major airports became the scene of half-time hell, Unite said if airline and airport bosses don’t resolve the crisis before July, the “chaos will continue throughout the summer season”.

Sharon Graham, General Secretary of Unite, said: “During the pandemic, as airlines and others in aviation shed jobs to boost corporate profits, we warned that this corporate greed would wreak havoc in the industry.

Hundreds of passengers in long queues at Heathrow Terminal 2


Markus Thomas / i-Images)

“The consequence of mass layoffs is now a chronic shortage of staff across the board. Aviation bosses have to deal with the public. This is a crisis of their formation.

“We are determined that workers will not pay for this crisis. Current wages and conditions in the industry are so bad that workers are voting with their feet. It can only be solved through higher wages and better working conditions for employees. Unite is determined to fight for it.”

Her words came as easyJet and package travel giant Tui canceled a number of flights and BA asked passengers not only to check in bags a day before their flight, but also to pay for an overnight stay near the airport.

Travelers at Manchester, Bristol, Gatwick and Stansted airports were hardest hit by Manic Monday, facing massive queues that started at 4am in Bristol and snaked outside the terminal, with more satiated travelers crammed inside.

The airport has been likened to a ‘zoo’ while Gatwick has also seen misery as long queues formed from 5am for those desperate to take a break.

Queues at Bristol Airport as Easyjet customers faced delays and cancellations


Tom Wren (SWNS)

And those hoping to leave Manchester Airport weren’t spared travel hassles, as check-in queues started at dawn, with most being for the Tui counter.

Devastated Kim McManus, 40, from Widnes, Cheshire, should have safely boarded a plane from Manchester to Turkey with her five-year-old daughter Autumn for the youngster’s first-ever international trip.

But smiles quickly turned to tears when the pair were told their long-awaited Tui holiday had been canceled following an overbooking error, which then resulted in cabin crew exceeding their allotted hours as they attempted to clean up the mess.

In the time it took to find volunteers to get off the plane, the crew was time-limited and the plane grounded, leaving little Herbst heartbroken.

Kim, who was also looking forward to her first holiday in seven years, said: “It was so cruel – it broke my heart. I cried to my own mother.”

Hopeful holidaymakers left in limbo also found shops and cafes with no food or drink after a hectic weekend.

People brought camp chairs to wait outside the Liverpool Passport Office



One passenger, fed up, tweeted: “It’s chaos @manairport. Sat on the floor and all the food places are either closed or waiting for hours. Have a nice #holiday everyone

We are at least 3 hours late.”

There was a similar heartbreak at London’s Stansted Airport, where a Tui holiday to Cyprus was canceled and families wiped away children’s tears as they excitedly waited to board.

Anna Saunders, 41, spent £5,200 on a week-long short break to Paphos with her husband Matthew, 44, and their two children Eva, aged 13, and Jack, 10, last October.

The Bedfordshire house manager said: “My children were heartbroken. Explaining to a child that they are not going on vacation after passing through the airport is quite difficult.

“It wasn’t what we expected. They must have known they couldn’t go on vacation.

People at Manchester Airport waited four hours to get through check-in



“Not telling us the flight was canceled until we got to the airport is just gross.”

The family will now be staying in a friend’s caravan in Norfolk, with little comfort in full reimbursement from Tui, compensation worth £350 per person and a holiday voucher worth £200 per person.

Gatwick’s South Terminal struggled with delays for travelers from low-cost airline Vueling and a cancellation by Wizz Air, although pressure at the North Terminal had eased.

Angry Vueling passenger Ross Bryant, 31, from London, told how he was booted off a flight to Rome because he was overbooked.

He said: “It’s shocking. I even got kicked out of the last flight because they overbooked it. Four people were denied boarding.”

Alan Black, from Havant in Hampshire, missed his nephew’s wedding in Seville after easyJet canceled a flight from Gatwick while he and his wife were waiting at the gate.

He said: “We tried very hard to get an alternative flight but as you can imagine everyone else was trying to do the same.”

And there were similar problems for families trying to return to the UK after a hiatus with cancellations throwing work schedules into chaos.

Glenda and Stephen Powell were still hoping to return to Bristol with their two young children with a grand piano and a prayer after two cancellations from Tui in Paphos last night (Mon).

Hundreds of suitcases left at Manchester Airport


Lisa health)

Avon and Somerset police officers called the situation “an absolute joke” and said even if their flight did take off they would go to Manchester and then have to get on a bus to return to Bristol.

Ms Powell, 40, said she wouldn’t believe the family were finally on their way home until “we take off”.

Consumer advocates Which? blamed the “pathetic” understaffing following the lifting of Covid restrictions and called for an immediate response from the government and airlines.

The? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “There really can be no excuse for these mistakes to be repeated this summer.

“Unacceptably long queues and widespread chaos at airports are causing tremendous stress for those planning to get away this mid-year and bank holiday weekend.

“The situation requires an immediate response and the government must work with airlines and airports to ensure they have the resources and capacity to put an end to the last minute flight cancellations and disruptions that we are seeing.

“If their flight is cancelled, most passengers just want to be put on another plane and taken to their destination. The Civil Aviation Authority should remind airlines of their duty to offer passengers the opportunity to rebook on any reasonable route as soon as possible – even if this means using other airlines. All too often, this legal requirement is not met.”

Unite blamed the airline industry for the plight of holidaymakers and travel expert John Strickland said it will take time for airlines to address their staffing shortages.

Independent aviation adviser Mr Strickland told the BBC’s Today programme: “Getting back to (full) staffing levels is a structural challenge for the industry, pretty much globally.

“The salary levels for many of these front-line jobs that are so important to airlines, whether it’s security, check-in, baggage handling, etc., have always been fairly low. They are now becoming less competitive with other industries.

Hundreds of suitcases have been left at Manchester Airport as TUI customers have been told to wait “over five hours” for luggage


Lisa health)

“Many of these jobs are physically and mentally demanding, and regardless of the pay, the day-to-day pressure of dealing with the strain and getting the backlash from dissatisfied passengers means it’s a structural issue for the industry going forward.”

Yesterday (Mon) apologies from airlines and airports came thick and fast with Tui, easyJet and Vueling all offering explanations.

Easyjet said a “rare cancellation” could happen without warning due to “a live operational issue on this particular flight”.

Tui said: “Although flight delays and cancellations are rare with us, the sudden increase in people going on holiday combined with various operational and supply chain issues has unfortunately resulted in a small number of our flights being impacted.

“We continue to work closely with our airport partners to monitor the situation and offer our customers the best possible holiday experience. We would like to thank them for their patience and understanding at this time.”

Vueling said: “We always strive to offer a timely service, but when this is not possible our priority is to organize the best alternatives for our customers.”

Manchester Airport said in a statement that airlines and their ground handlers are facing “challenges” that “resulted in delays in check-in and baggage claim for some passengers”.

It added: “This is not the experience we would like passengers to have at Manchester Airport and we are sorry to hear customers have faced disruption.”

Bristol Airport said it “fell short this morning” but added it was “working hard to ensure all customers have a smooth and easy journey through the terminal”.

And Gatwick Airport said there had been some difficulties but “not to the extent of the reported disruption”.

And problems also hit Dover, with reported delays of up to four hours attributed to a lack of open French border control booths.

Adding to the nation’s travel woes, the RAC has warned of gridlock on the roads during the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday as nearly 20 million cars are on the move between Wednesday and Sunday.

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