File photo showing planes at Gatwick airport
File photo showing planes at Gatwick airport

Bank holiday weekend: Big queues at Gatwick airport as baggage problems hit start to May break

'To ensure that everyone gets away on time, some flights are departing without all bags'

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 26 May 2017 12:42
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Queues, delays and confusion have marred the start of the Bank Holiday getaway for airline passengers at Gatwick airport. Dozens of flights from the North Terminal have left late, many of them without all the bags on board, following a baggage system failure.

The airport is telling passengers: "To ensure that everyone gets away on time, some flights are departing without all bags. Bags will be forwarded to passengers as soon as possible at their destination."

On Twitter, irate passengers have been expressing their anger. James Stadnyk tweeted on arrival in Spain: "Just arrived in Valencia and no bags which is no surprise with the chaos at Gatwick airport this morning. What to do?"

Felice Di Rienzo tweeted: “After significant delay, forced to take off by @easyJet without luggage. Chaos.”

Kirk R Green tweeted: “65 minutes for first airport information announcement, easyJet staff saying something bad has happened but no idea what. Shocking service.”

Faye Warner tweeted: “Absolute chaos at Gatwick with @easyJet having a failure, nearly an hour checking the bags in! Cheers for a great start to my holiday.”

Passenger Jeremy Westhead, told The Independent: “Passengers being told it's a belt failure. At easyJet they are queuing in the most spectacular fashion - wriggling around and out doors.”

Another passenger, Chris Cox, said: "All the baggage belts have broken, and they are hand-checking in flight by flight."

Passengers on easyJet flights to Malta, Barcelona, Gibraltar, Tenerife, Paphos, Copenhagen and Bodrum were delayed by an hour or more. Thomson flights to Tenerife, Cape Verde, Venice, Naples and Corfu also left around an hour late.

A spokesperson for easyJet apologised for the disruption and said: "easyJet, like other airlines, is experiencing delays in the delivery of hold luggage to departing aircraft. A number of flights are departing without all of the luggage stowed in the hold.

"easyJet takes the wellbeing of our passengers very seriously and we are working closely with the airport team to return luggage to our passengers as soon as possible.”

A Gatwick spokesperson said:

“A problem with the baggage sortation system that occurred at Gatwick has been rectified and the airport is recovering from this morning’s disruption.

Gatwick would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to passengers whose aircraft departed without their bag.

“The airport is working closely with our airlines to forward all bags to passengers at the earliest opportunity.

“Arrivals, and those travelling with carry-on baggage only, were unaffected by this issue and all bags and passengers were security screened as normal.

Gatwick is the busiest single-runway airport in the world, and disruption can quickly ripple through operations.

With the UK terror threat level raised to “critical”, passengers flying from British airports this weekend have been told to expect a heightened police presence.

Heathrow airport, the UK’s busiest, said: “We are working closely with our Aviation Police and Border Force colleagues on the plans that support this change in threat level. There will be higher visibility of police patrolling and additional checks at the airport. The airport is planning to run a normal operation.”

Elsewhere in Britain, the main Bank Holiday travel issue is the amount of engineering work taking place.

Network Rail is closing the West Coast main line north from Carlisle to Carstairs, with buses laid on for passengers travelling to and from Glasgow and Edinburgh.

In addition work is taking place between Crewe and Liverpool for most of the weekend. Virgin Trains to Liverpool will be routed via Manchester.

Buses replace trains on some sections of the Great Western line between Reading, Swindon, Bath and Bristol, with other rail services diverted.

The lines between Harrogate and York, Portsmouth and Havant, and London Charing Cross and London Bridge are also closed at the weekend.

Abroad, an air-trafffic control strike is threatened in Italy on Sunday. Flights and local transport in eastern Sicily are already heavily disrupted because of the G7 Summit in Taormina.

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