Half-term holiday chaos as mass queues form at airports and two hour waits for ferries

27 May 2022, 11:11 | Updated: 27 May 2022, 11:40

Passengers reported chaotic scenes at Gatwick today and there have been warnings of long queues at Dover
Passengers reported chaotic scenes at Gatwick today and there have been warnings of long queues at Dover. Picture: Social Media

By Asher McShane

Holidaymakers faced fresh ‘chaos’ this morning at Gatwick airport on the eve of the half-term break after an IT crash that hit people’s holiday plans.

A further 14 easyJet flights were axed today and there were reports of a lack of check-in staff at BA desks, with passengers complaining of long queues.

EasyJet was forced to cancel around 200 flights yesterday because of an IT issue.

Last night easyJet said: “Today’s IT system issues have now been resolved. Although we expect to operate most of our remaining flights today, we’d advise anyone due to travel with us this evening to check before travelling to the airport."

One frustrated passenger replied: “You have cancelled my flight to Palma this morning from Gatwick. No options available to book an alternative. What am I supposed to do now please?”

Another said: “Me and my partner arrived at Gatwick airport this morning, only to be told at security that our flight to Berlin was cancelled. Absolutely no warning from #easyJet ! With no alternatives, birthday at home it is”.

One person simply wrote today: "Gatwick Airport South Terminal is a shambles this morning."

One holidaymaker caught in long check-in queues wrote: “British Airways what are you playing at. First and last time I’ll be flying from there. 3 hours waiting for check in and I’m still waiting ..”

Another said: “British Airways at Gatwick South terminal is completely shambolic! We have been queueing for 2 hours with hundreds of others. They only have 3 people working the check in desks!!”

A third said: “British Airways absolute shambles at Gatwick airport check in. 3 desks open for all flights checking in. What a way to ruin the start of a holiday.”

Some Air Malta passengers also reported issues at Gatwick.

One passenger posted: “Guess it’s all messed up at Gatwick? Wrong gate on board, one person at check in, moved gate twice. Delayed. All for a £5 voucher??”

Another posted: “AirMalta what is going on with this baggage drop queue at Gatwick? None of us will make the flight at this rate.”

A spokesman for Gatwick airport responded online saying: “We are busy this morning and any queues are being managed well. We recommend passengers arrive when their airline check-in opens which is usually 2.5 hours prior for short-haul flights, and 3 hours for long-haul.”

An easyJet spokesman said: "easyJet can confirm that the earlier IT systems issues have now been rectified.

"Unfortunately, they resulted in some cancellations earlier today and while we expect to operate most of our remaining flying programme some may still be subject to some disruption in the coming hours."

Holidaymakers also reported long queues getting through immigration at Heathrow.

One person wrote: “Nothing says welcome home like 2 hour queues to get through immigration. Shocking. Attendant just walked past and said worst she had ever seen.”

Another posted a picture of the queue and said: “What a national embarrassment.”

A third wrote: “Ok folks by what standard can this continue to be seen as acceptable? It’s actually getting beyond a joke and an all-too-frequent occurrence. Can we get our act together please!”

People trying to get away by ferry are also being warned of delays at Dover.

P&O Ferries posted: “Please be aware that there is heavy traffic at border control in the port of Dover. If you are booked to travel today please allow at least 2.5hrs to clear all security checks. Rest assured, if you miss your sailing, you'll be on the first available once at check-in.”

“Please do not travel to the Port of Dover unless you have a booked ticket for travel. We have very limited space across our sailings today.”

A leading trade union has warned delays could get worse as the summer goes on.

Unite said delays at some airports over Easter will be repeated during the half-term holidays and will likely get worse.

General secretary Sharon Graham said: "During the pandemic, when airline operators, and others in aviation, slashed jobs to boost corporate profits, we warned this corporate greed would cause chaos in the industry.

"The aftermath of mass sackings is now chronic staff shortages across the board. Aviation chiefs need to come clean with the public.

"This is a crisis of their making.

"We are determined that workers will not pay for this crisis. Current pay and conditions in the industry are so poor that workers are voting with their feet.

"It can only be resolved by offering higher wages and better working conditions for staff."