Passengers filmed climbing conveyor belt to retrieve own luggage at Manchester Airport

Passengers took matters into their own hands after waiting hours for their luggage

Lucy Thackray
Monday 01 August 2022 12:43 BST
Passengers forced to crawl over conveyor belt after waiting hours for luggage

Passengers at Manchester Airport have been filmed climbing on to luggage conveyor belts in order to retrieve their own bags when they failed to appear after a flight.

In images shown in an episode of Dispatches on Channel 4, due to air tonight, anonymous passengers are seen climbing onto the conveyor belts and into the “airside” loading area and offering to help baggage handlers to get the bags moving.

“We’ve been waiting one and a half hours,” one exasperated passenger can be heard saying to airport staff. “I will just grab it and help you unload, if you want.”

“Do you want me to help you unload the bags? We’ve been here for an hour and a half,” another reiterates.

“We’ve got another flight to catch yet,” the pair explains. They say they have arrived on a Pegasus Airlines flight from Antalya, Turkey.

The extraordinary footage was captured a month ago, when a Dispatches reporter went undercover as a baggage handler at Manchester Airport to reveal the daily life behind the “travel chaos” headlines.

A fellow baggage handler told the reporter that he was being left to do a “two-man job” on his own, adding that the role was “daunting.”

“To be honest, I just don’t know how people do these shifts and these kinds of hours starting at 3am It’s absolutely brutal,” the undercover reporter says in the show.

“No one gives them much credit. But without them, no one’s flights will be taking off. No one will be going on holiday.”

Many UK airports have struggled to scale up to meet the demand for travel this spring, resulting in long queues, hours-long waits for luggage at baggage claim, and some missing flights amid the chaos.

In April, photos of piled up, abandoned suitcases at Manchester Airport emerged following days of slow queues and long waits for luggage.

In late June, Heathrow asked airlines flying from Terminals 2 and 3 to cancel 10 per cent of their schedules on one date, due to the mounting problems with its baggage handling.

Meanwhile, earlier this month Edinburgh Airport apologised after hundreds of missing bags belonging to holidaymakers were found abandoned in a warehouse.

Baggage handling company Swissport was holding the luggage at the site while it works through a major “backlog”.

And last week, the CEO of Frankfurt Airport suggested customers should avoid using black suitcases and travel with more colourful baggage, saying that high numbers of black bags were making it “hard to distinguish them from each other”.

A spokesperson for Swissport, which provides ground handling services to some airlines at Manchester Airport, said: “In today’s aviation industry, an average passenger’s journey counts on several different organisations delivering a range of key services, including baggage handling among many others.

“Small impacts to one part of this journey – such as air traffic restrictions, pressure on airport infrastructure, security queues or last-minute flight schedule changes - can have knock-on effects that multiply delays and disruption elsewhere.

“While the return in flight volumes after the serious impact of the pandemic is undoubtedly a positive development, it is also exacerbating resource challenges across the aviation industry, including at Swissport, especially at a busy period of holiday travel.

“We are very sorry for our part in any delays and disruption passengers have experienced. We’re doing everything we can to address our role in meeting our resource challenges, welcoming over 2,000 new colleagues since the start of the year, and we continue to work with our partners to identify contingency measures and improve baggage and aircraft turnaround times.”

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