AIRPORTS around the UK are bracing themselves for the busiest weekend in more than two years – and it looks like things are only going to get worse.
A spike in travellers is expected as families return home from holidays over the half-term and the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday.
Concerns have been raised there could be a repeat of the travel chaos seen earlier this week with holidaymakers spending hours in airport queues.
Many airports are urging passengers to limit the luggage they take to just one bag to minimise security checks and to make sure they are prepared for the process by checking baggage regulations before they fly.
Among those airports expecting to see a spike in travellers are Gatwick and Bristol airports which could see the highest numbers of flyers since 2019.
Frustrated passengers have taken to social media to describe the scenes at Bristol Airport as “carnage” which has seen 30,000 customers on some days.
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Wayne Richardson said: “Enormous queue to even get the car out the drop-off zone, let alone the 200-metre queue just to get in the terminal with your bags.”
Another customer spoke about a “horrific experience” at the airport, which had processed more than 120 flights during the day.
Bristol Airport said it was not experiencing any significant delays and was recruiting and training 300 new members of staff.
A spokesman said: “We’re seeing strong demand for car parking as business travel returns and customers go on a well-deserved holiday, city break, or to meet up with friends and family.”
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One passengers described the situation at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 as an “utter shambles”.
Brits have also complained of long waits for luggage as they returned home from their holidays.
One customer, Neil Robshaw, said he had been left waiting for three hours after a flight to Manchester Airport.
Footage emerged earlier this week, showing frustrated passengers clambering onto a luggage carousel in an attempt to find their bags after long waits.
There are widespread staff shortages across the aviation sector which suffered 30,000 job layoffs due to the Covid travel restrictions.
Figures from aviation data firm Cirium said 291 departures from major UK airports had been cancelled between May 25 and Tuesday.
Industry experts are saying the disruption, which has led to thousands of flights being cancelled, could get worse over the summer before it gets better as airlines struggle to recruit staff but continue to sell tickets in an attempt to claw back their losses after two years of disruption.
Paul Charles, head of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said he believed the chaos at Britain’s airports would get “worse” following the Jubilee Bank Holiday.
The government has floated the idea of automatic refunds for passengers who it said may have been unfairly sold tickets for holidays they cannot go on.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has called for the Army to step in to relieve pressure on airport security.
The Government has said it is the responsibility of the aviation industry to recruit adequate numbers of staff as travel restrictions were eased, telling the sector to step up recruitment.
However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has been criticised by the industry for rejecting calls for an emergency visa for aviation workers.
Jet2 boss Steve Heapy hit out earlier this week at other airlines claiming they had failed to anticipate staff requirements, as well as companies that supply baggage handlers and security checks for causing delays to travellers.
Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham said those in charge of UK aviation companies “should hang their heads in shame”.
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She added: “They got very rich on high profits and low pay. They then sacked and slashed wages for thousands of workers without a second thought during the pandemic.
"Now they are reaping what they have sown because, understandably, people don’t want to work for them anymore.”
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