Half-term holidayers went through another day of travel chaos as hundreds of flights from Manchester, Bristol and London Gatwick were axed.
Bristol airport was compared to a ‘zoo’, with its crowded terminal the site of yet more chaos and confusion.
Last-minute cancellations even came as families sat on planes.
One Twitter user wrote: ‘Bristol Zoo, sorry airport was the same for the Mrs on Friday. She made her flight only because it was delayed.
‘Try employing more people, even on a temporary basis to cover the holidays. Oh come great asteroid!’
It followed news at Manchester Airport yesterday that TUI passengers were told their trips were cancelled by text after appalling eight-hour delays.
Police were called to the airport to quell a disturbance that broke out after the cancellation, the Manchester Evening News reported.
Meanwhile, a British Airways flight from the Italian city of Cagliari to Gatwick planned for 11:30am has been delayed until at least 7pm, leaving mothers and young children stranded in a small airport with no explanation given for the delay and no access to baby milk or sanitary products.
Bristol Airport also urged passengers not to arrive too early to avoid congestion, but passengers described severe waiting times this morning with few staff on the ground.
A TUI flight from Bristol to Paphos, Cyprus, was also delayed by eight hours yesterday and then cancelled in the evening. Among the passengers were 34 wedding guests including the bride and groom.
Seren Rounds, a primary school teacher, and her fiancé, electrician Adam Howells, are on the verge of postponing their wedding after their flight to Cyprus was scrapped.
Ms Rounds, 27, and Mr Howells, 29, of Caerleon, South Wales, have been planning their big day since 2020, but might be forced to postpone it after Tui cancelled their flight to Paphos.
34 guests were due to fly from Bristol on Saturday, with 11 guests already in Cyprus, but their 1.30pm outbound flight was first delayed and then cancelled.
The wedding is booked for Thursday June 2 but they have an appointment at a town hall on Monday.
Miss Rounds’ mother Lisa Trenchard said there is now ‘no way’ they can find flights for all 34 guests, so the wedding is ‘ruined’.
Ms Trenchard, 55, a health visiting manager from Caerleon, said: ‘We have families with babies and a devastated bride and groom to be.’
Couple Seren Rounds, 27, and Adam Howells, 29, of Caerleon, south Wales, are on the verge of postponing their wedding after their flight to Cyprus was scrapped
Police called as ‘hundreds’ of TUI passengers told by TEXT their holiday is cancelled after ‘eight-hour’ waits at Manchester Airport
She added: ‘Absolutely I blame Tui, not necessarily for the initial problem, but their lack of visibility and compassion, and how they have taken the easy option to cancel.’
Yesterday in Manchester Airport, the troubled flight to Kos, out of Terminal 2, was supposed to take off at 3.45pm but angry ticketholders say they would have missed the flight anyway due to queues ‘out of the building’ to check-in.
After an eight four-hour delay, passengers say they were informed by a text from TUI that their trip, including flights and an all-inclusive hotel, were cancelled.
Helen, from Sale, Cheshire, was travelling to Kos with her husband and teenage daughter. They have been left appalled by the treatment, they say. ‘It’s utter, utter chaos,’ she said.
‘There has been hardly any staff here. Everyone got a text from TUI saying their holidays have been cancelled and to go home.
‘The check-in girls knew nothing, we found out before they did. And they were left to deal with hundreds of passengers complaining, a full flight’s worth.
‘The police had to come in and make an announcement, a holidaymaker was arrested and was in handcuffs.
‘We have had to go back through security, show our passports, even though we’d never left the airport.’
‘All the passengers are really angry, there’s children crying. We’ve taken the week off work, my daughter is off school – she’d been looking forward to this holiday, bought new clothes and everything. We expected it to be bad at Manchester Airport but everyone is in shock at how bad it actually is. The police had to unload people’s suitcases because there were no staff to do it.’
George Sharp said his daughter had travelled from Bradford for their holiday to Kos – on the same flight as Helen – and had been queuing since 12pm. They were at the gate ready to board the flight when they received a text from TUI saying their £4,500 trip was cancelled.
‘It was like circumstances I’ve never ever heard of before,’ George said. ‘They went to board and then they cancelled not just the flight but the entire holiday. TUI staff refused to face up to anyone and the police arrived to tell them to go back through security to collect their bags and go home.
The half-term has got off to an awkward start for holidaymakers with hundreds of cancelled flights
‘She just got married two years ago so all they’ve known is Covid since they got married in March 2020 and this was supposed to be a big reset for them and to help them get back to normality. They were with a five-year-old little girl and it’s just horrendous. They were just heartbroken and confused.
‘It’s hard to console her, because what can you say? They had only just got their passports two days ago so they’ve been stressed to bits over that. It’s just been one thing after another. To be at the airport for eight hours, face numerous delays and get ready to board to then be told that it’s over is just really upsetting for them all. There’s been no communication other than a text message.’
Jayesh Patel, from Manchester, was due to travel on the same flight to Kos with his wife and their three children, aged nine, 12 and 13.
‘We arrived at the airport three hours before our flight, as advised, and the queue for the baggage at T2 was all along the sky bridge up to terminal one,’ Jayesh said.
‘At 7.48pm, we received a text to tell us our entire holiday had been cancelled. There was nobody at the airport to speak to, but there was a lot of upset and frustration as we all received the text at the same time.
‘We all then had to go back through passport control, which was ironic as we hadn’t gone anywhere, and back into arrivals to wait for our luggage which was already on the plane.
‘People were visibly upset and children were crying. We then had to wait another couple of hours and at this point, we’d spent the whole day at the airport and just wanted to leave. ‘
Jayesh said all passengers were offered a full refund on their flights, £350 in compensation and a £200 holiday voucher, but he says he would rather the voucher was in cash.
‘Realistically, I’m not sure we want to book another holiday with TUI at this point,’ he explained.
‘We’ve travelled with TUI in the past – before the pandemic – but I’ve got no confidence in them at this point. I can’t see these problems being solved in the short-term either so I think I would rather just have the cash, instead of a voucher, so we can book elsewhere.’
Speaking about what he and his family now plan to do with their week off, he said they will just spend time together as it looks like they will be unable to book somewhere last minute.
He added: ‘We thought we’d be waking up this morning going out to have a Greek breakfast somewhere near the beach, but it wasn’t meant to be.’
A spokesperson for TUI said: ‘We would like to apologise for the inconvenience to our customers on flight TOM2680 from Manchester and Kos, on Saturday 28th May who were delayed to a combination of factors causing significant operational disruption.
‘Unfortunately, we felt the impact to customers’ holidays was too great and took the difficult decision to cancel the flight. We contacted affected customers as soon as we became aware of the change and all customers will receive a full refund within 14 days. We understand how disappointing and frustrating this is and we do apologise for any inconvenience caused.’
Meanwhile, one traveller stranded in Cagliari, Italy told of how her 11:30am British Airways flight to Gatwick has been delayed until at least 7pm with no communication from the airline.
‘We are at Cagliari airport in Sardinia and our BA flight is going to be over seven hours delayed. Absolutely no communication on why,’ she told MailOnline.
‘No one in the whole airport seems to have any idea what’s going on and no BA employees to be seen… No communication at check in that the flight was severely delayed, despite the fact they would have known because the plane hadn’t even taken off from Gatwick. Shambles.
‘Tiny airport too so nowhere for anyone to buy any milk, baby food or nappies even though we’ve all been here since 9.30am for an 11.30 flight – now allegedly taking off at 7pm.
‘Loads of babies and young kids on the flight so everyone is losing their minds.’
A British Airways representative said the extensive delay was due to a technical concern with the aircraft in question and a different plane was needed to operate the flight.
This morning, travellers made complaints about further delays at Bristol Airport.
RedChris 1964 tweeted: ‘Chaos at Bristol Airport this morning, people been sat over three hours on planes waiting to take off due to luggage handler shortage. All departures [have been] taken off the website info.’
Baron Von Jasper posted: ‘Over two hours stuck on the tarmac at Bristol Airport because they firstly hasn’t taken off the luggage from the inbound flight and then nobody to remove the stairs and push us back. Massive delays.’
Luca Goddard added: ‘I’ve have been sat on an aeroplane here at Bristol Airport for three hours and it hasn’t moved. The captain has just told us that this is due to there only being one team on air traffic control today!’
Across the country, scores of holidaymakers faced travel chaos after Tui axed a ‘small number’ of flights and easyJet announced it would scrap more than 200 over the next 10 days.
Mother-of-one Sunita Ramjee, 50, of Swansea, Wales, said she spent £6,000 on tickets to take her daughter, 19, and brother to the Grand Prix in Monaco for his 40th birthday present.
They were meant to be flying from London Gatwick to Nice on Friday, but the flight was delayed and then cancelled while they were at the airport.
She says there were no alternative flights available because of the Grand Prix and the Champions League final in Paris on Saturday.
Ms Ramjee said: ‘We had tickets to the Grand Prix and now easyJet has cancelled my flight and I’m not going to get a refund (for the Formula One tickets).
‘I’m really disappointed in the way it was handled. Nobody helped us to try and figure out alternative flights or make hotel bookings.
‘It is something my daughter has been looking forward to since we moved to the UK, it was my brother’s 40th birthday present.’
Michele Farmer, 56, tweeted: ‘Our easyJet flight to Naples at 5.30pm, yes, in less than an hour’s time has been cancelled.
‘We’ve been sent through baggage collection with luggage thrown on the floor now standing outside Bristol Airport.
‘No help. Poor on every level.’
She was meant to be taking her daughter Madeleine for a half-term holiday they booked for the same week in 2020.
A Tui spokesman said: ‘We would like to apologise for the inconvenience to customers who have experienced flight delays or a flight cancellations.
‘Delays have been caused due to a combination of factors and we are doing everything we can to keep customers updated, and will provide refreshments and, where appropriate, provide hotel accommodation.
‘Where we have made the difficult decision to cancel a small number of flights, customers will receive a full refund within 14 days and we will contact them directly to help them try and find another holiday.’
An easyJet spokesman said: ‘We have taken the decision to make advance cancellations of around 24 Gatwick flights per day starting from May 28 until June 6.
‘We are very sorry for the late notice of some of these cancellations and inconvenience caused for customers booked on these flights, however we believe this is necessary to provide reliable services over this busy period.’
Passengers blasted the service at Manchester Airport yesterday as ‘carnage’ as the half-term holidays begun
A Bristol Airport spokesman said: ‘The Bristol Airport team and business partners are working hard to ensure all customers have a smooth and easy journey through the terminal.
‘For early morning flight departures we are seeing customers arriving five hours prior to flight departure, adding to the congestion in the terminal. This is something we have not experienced before.
‘When customers are queuing before check-in and security opens it provides a negative customer experience for everyone, and one we want to avoid. We advise all customers to arrive in the terminal when their check-in opens, this helps us to manage resources and gets customers on their way quickly and efficiently as possible.
‘Each day over 80 per cent of customers experience less than a 20-minute security queue time, it is only during peak flight operations we extend beyond this.
‘We have already made a positive start recruiting new colleagues across the business and it is great to see so many new colleagues joining the team ahead of the busy summer.’
Passengers queue for check-in yesterday at Manchester airport at terminal 2 as the half term holiday gateway begins
Passengers queue in the underground car park outside terminal 1 yesterday at Manchester Airport
In an announcement on Friday, Easyjet said cancellations would affect about 24 flights per day from London’s Gatwick airport between May 28 and June 6.
It added the cancellations were ‘necessary to provide reliable services over this busy period’.
It comes after a software failure forced EasyJet to cancel around 200 flights on Thursday.
A spokeswoman for the company said in a statement: ‘We have taken the decision to make advance cancellations of around 24 Gatwick flights per day starting from May 28 until June 6.
‘We are very sorry for the late notice of some of these cancellations and inconvenience caused for customers booked on these flights, however we believe this is necessary to provide reliable services over this busy period.
‘Customers are being informed from Friday and provided with the option to rebook their flight or receive a refund and can apply for compensation in line with regulations.
‘Over the next week we will be operating around 1,700 flights per day, with around a quarter of these operating to and from Gatwick.’
Nicola Caine (left), 37, from Cheshire, was due to fly from Manchester Airport to Tenerife on Monday in a group of 13 with her husband, children and several family members. They were booked on the EZY1903 easyJet flight to Tenerife South for a seven-day holiday, which cost around £2,500
‘We notified customers of their options to rebook or receive a refund directly via email and SMS. While this was outside of our control, we are sorry for any inconvenience caused and we have been in touch with Mr Bruce to provide a full refund.’
On Friday, Liverpool FC supporters travelling to the Champions League final and families embarking on half-term getaways faced long queues at the Port of Dover and UK airports.
Thousands of fans descended on the Kent port on Friday to board cross-Channel ferries en route to Paris for Saturday’s match.
Airline passengers were also stuck in lengthy queues at airports such as Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted and Bristol.
There is also high demand for sailings from families embarking on trips to the continent for half-term.
The port advised passengers to ‘pack adequate supplies including food and water’ as it is expecting ‘a very busy week ahead’.
Huge queues at airports for families hoping to go on half-term breaks
The half-term getaway for families in Britain ground to a halt on Friday as thousands faced huge queues at airports across the country amid widespread staffing shortages – with more than 30,000 easyJet passengers also affected by hundreds of flight cancellations.
Airports in the UK are still struggling to recover from Covid restrictions and are struggling to hire enough staff to meet surging demand while Britain faces a tight labour market with more vacancies than job-seekers.
Compounding the problem, an IT crash hitting easyJet left the holiday plans of families in the lurch. The airline cancelled 14 more flights to and from London Gatwick Airport today after calling off more than 200 yesterday.
There were queues of passengers at London Heathrow Airport on Friday morning as families aimed to go on their half-term holidays
Liverpool football fans hoping to reach the Champions League final against Real Madrid in Paris were also faced chaotic journeys after flights to the French capital were axed from Manchester and Bristol.
Other fliers suffered more than 360 delays with routes such as Belfast to Corfu and Liverpool to Dalaman also affected by the disruption, which poses a serious threat to families’ half-term holidays if the issue reoccurs.
Those jetting off from Gatwick, Bristol and Manchester airports have been among the worst hit, with travellers describing scenes of chaos during and either side of the two hours when the IT failure hit on Thursday at 1pm.
There were also huge queues Luton and Heathrow on Friday morning, and the Unite union warned that the problems could continue next week and even get worse during the summer holidays because of staff shortages.