Video footage has emerged showing weary holidaymakers at Manchester Airport climbing through a baggage carousel curtain in a bid to retrieve luggage trapped behind.
A passenger, who returned to Ryanair Terminal 3 from Porto in Portugal on Monday, reported delays of three and a half hours to collect suitcases and bags. Footage shows armed police being called to the carousel amid angry scenes.
The holidaymaker, a 36-year-old woman from Chadderton, Oldham, told the Manchester Evening News people were offering to load the luggage onto the carousel mats themselves before officers from Greater Manchester Police were present.
She spoke as holidaymakers again faced huge queues at Manchester Airport on Thursday morning at the start of the Jubilee Bank Holiday. Photos shared on social media by frustrated passengers showed queues stretching into the Terminal 3 car park. Another passenger, meanwhile, posted an image of a long security queue , in which he claimed to have waited for an hour and 40 minutes.
Baggage handler Swissport issued an apology and said current peak periods at airports are “exacerbating resource issues in the recovering aviation industry”. The company also revealed that it has hired more than 2,800 new employees since the start of the year.
The holidaymaker who filmed the carousel scenes said: “Passengers got upset because they couldn’t get any answers. People were climbing and crawling through the curtain on the carousel carpet trying to find their own luggage. The bags were there, but there was no one to put them on the carousel.
“I don’t think anyone got their bags back, but I don’t know, and the police came in armed. They were closing the shutters and walking around making their point. People were just trying to get their own bags. The carousel belts weren’t moving and no one was there to help us.”
The video represents the latest evidence of chaos and long delays for passengers at Manchester Airport, as flights are canceled and the airport, along with baggage handling companies, battle to recruit more staff faced with severe shortages.
The woman who provided the images to the Manchester Evening News recounted his experience after landing. She said: “At first when we landed we had to wait for the steps to get off the flight as there seemed to be no one around to do so. We finally got down after about 30-40 minutes and then we got off. passed passport control, where there were no problems.
“Then we went to the baggage claim hall. There were hundreds of people there and bags all over the floor. Some were from May 27 – they had been there for three days.
“The worst thing is you couldn’t get answers. There was no one working in the area and no reps. The only people who came were the police. There was no problem stealing – it was just the baggage claim area and the whole T3 was in very poor condition.”
She said her flight was assigned a carousel – 16 – but the bags ‘never came’. “There was a phone on the wall that you could ring but we got no help. We went to the carousel and there was nothing – then our flight disappeared from the screen. Border control is came to calm down some passengers. They said that there was no one to collect the bags.
“Flights were coming all the time and there were more and more people waiting for their luggage. At one point a flight picked up their luggage but they had been waiting for three and a half hours.
“Then the bags started arriving. Bags from different flights were placed on the same carousel – a different one than the one assigned to us – and I finally got my bag back. We were very lucky. C It was half past two. 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 children. There was nowhere to sit or have a drink or something to eat. A lot of people just left their bags and came back for them another day.”
In a statement, Manchester Airport referred to canceled TUI flights and “significant challenges” encountered during check-in and baggage claim operations.
A spokesperson said: “Over the past few days, TUI and its designated station handler, Swissport, have experienced significant challenges with their check-in and baggage claim operations at Manchester Airport. after extensive discussions with the management teams of TUI and Swissport, it is clear that they are experiencing temporary staff shortages, like other aviation and travel companies.
“Given these challenges, we understand TUI’s difficult decision to cancel a number of services over the next month, although we are obviously disappointed to see passenger plans disrupted in this way. We will continue to work with Tui, Swissport and other partners to provide passengers with the best possible service as the travel industry recovers to full strength after the pandemic.
Swissport, which is not Manchester Airport’s only baggage handler, said in a statement: “The post-pandemic return of travel demand is welcome news, but the current peak period – which may be expand even in normal times – strains resources Airlines, airports and aviation services all work together to deliver different elements of a single passenger journey and during peak periods the ripple effects of delays resulting from one party, such as air traffic problems, security queues and late changes to flight schedules may disrupt others.
“We are truly sorry for our role in the disruption people are experiencing. We are working hard to address our resource challenges, with over 2,800 new hires year-to-date. We will continue to work with our partners to find solutions to this industry-wide problem.”
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