A family missed their Barcelona flight to celebrate a Ruby wedding anniversary due to Manchester Airport queues – and say they had to fork out £614 for new tickets to salvage their trip. Mike Turner, 41, had travelled to the hub from Stockport with his husband Luke Hartbottle and parents Tom and Marie Turner, on a special holiday to celebrate 40 years since their marriage. The easyJet tickets, he says, had set him back around £630.
However, Mike claims that a wait for baggage check-in, security queues which snaked into the airport, as well as a further delay at the baggage scanners meant they arrived at the gate too late to catch their flight. Mike managed to get new tickets to fly one-way eight hours later with Vueling for another £614.25, but he says the delay has marred their getaway – and made them miss a specially planned day trip.
Teacher Mike, 41, said: “It just felt like this trip we’d been planning for years for my mum and dad, with a nice hotel and tickets for the Sagrada Familia was scuppered for something that wasn’t our fault.
“It was already two years late because of Covid. I did really feel for the staff, the woman at the gate was very apologetic but said the plane had to go and the pilot couldn’t wait any longer. Our bags had been taken off.”
Mike says during their wait at the airport for their Plan B flight, they met passengers who missed their trips to Croatia, and two couples who didn’t make their plane to Palma, again due to security delays. It comes as staff shortages have caused weeks of chaos and their ordeal happened the day before Andy Burnham warned disruption could last for two months and asked passengers to arrive at the hub three hours before their flights.
The family had arrived at Manchester Airport’s Terminal One at 4am, two hours ahead of their 6.05am flight to the Spanish city with easyJet. However on arrival, Mike says it took an hour to check in their bags due to a queue.
They then found the end of the security queue, which was on the terminal forecourt. “There were so many people that queues were crossing over each other. Nobody was telling anybody where to go. It looked like people working there were trying their hardest but there just weren’t enough of them,” added Mike.
Mike says he later found out that staff were calling for people whose flights were leaving at around 6.30am, but those calls were not being made outside the terminal where they were queuing. Mike said they did go inside a couple of times to talk to staff but were reassured they would be called when needed.
“It meant we didn’t find out our flights had been prioritised for faster security until we got into the building, and by that time they were also prioritising flights leaving later so we were told to join another queue with all those people in too,” added Mike.
He added: “When they told us where to go inside there were so many people complaining that they didn’t follow it through the way they might have done so they couldn’t show us. We just ended up queuing with everyone else.”
When the family finally made it to security, another passenger’s bag was removed for extra checks and the process for other passengers was stopped, Mike says, while they tried to find a senior staff member to check it.
“We told them our flight was supposed to leave five minutes ago but they didn’t do anything. There was no manager to search the bag so we all just had to wait. All these things were happening where if they just had enough people trained in advance we probably would have got there in time. There were just so many things that stopped us on the way.”
A spokesman for Manchester Airport said: “We apologise to passengers whose experience at Manchester Airport in recent days has fallen short of the standard they expected.
“Our industry is facing challenges in scaling operations back up very quickly after the removal of Covid restrictions, which have done immense damage to our sector over the past two years.
“We are actively recruiting for hundreds of new roles in areas including security, but are advising passengers that due to a shortage of staff, they may have to wait for longer than they are used to in the coming weeks, and that they should arrive at the earliest time recommended by their airline.
“We are aware all parts of the aviation industry are facing similar challenges, and this can impact other parts of the airport experience, such as check-in and baggage reclaim. That is why we are committed to working with our partners to ensure the end-to-end experience is as smooth as it can be during the period of recovery.”
An easyJet spokeswoman said: “We’re very sorry for the delays Mr Turner experienced at Manchester Airport, due to longer than usual queues as well ongoing security delays at the airport. We are advising customers to arrive at the airport with plenty of time ahead of their flight and continue to work with Manchester airport to ensure a solution is found for our customers.
“We’re contacting to Mr Turner to apologise for his experience and the inconvenience this caused, and to provide a gesture of good will.”
A spokeswoman said later that there were no reports of queues at the bag drop at that time, only for security.