TRAVEL “carnage” at British airports could last for months as longed-for hols are put at risk by “unacceptable” cancellations.
Children have wept with exhaustion and passengers have slept on floors in chaotic scenes around the country.
Travellers have been told not to arrive more than three hours early – despite facing horrific five-hour queues that snake through terminals into car parks outside.
Even when they do make it to departures they still face a gruelling getaway lottery, with hundreds of flights scrapped.
Unions claim chaotic scenes “will last the entire summer season” unless the crisis is quickly resolved.
Now the Government has blasted airlines over the turmoil and warned holiday-makers that Jubilee breaks are at risk.
A source told The Times: “The sudden cancellation of flights and airport delays are totally unacceptable.
“The simple fact is that airlines and airports overcut staff during the pandemic, ignoring the fact that the billions of pounds of aid – including furlough – handed out by the Government was meant to protect those very jobs.”
They said the surge in bookings was “wholly foreseeable” and customers are now facing “huge frustration”.
Consumer champions Which? say the Government must act to stop airlines selling flights “they can’t actually provide”.
Travel editor Rory Boland said: “We’re already seeing very long queues, widespread chaos at airports, huge stress for people planning to get away, and we haven’t hit the peak yet.”
Mum Glenda Powell, of Bristol, shared a snap of her distraught six-year-old weeping from “exhaustion” after the family were left stranded in Cyprus when Tui cancelled their flights twice.
She wrote: “Second attempt to get home…
“So our Manchester flight is cancelled… Literally got off the coach at the airport to be turned straight back round to go back to the same hotel/room.
“Absolute joke. Tui this is the face of a six-year-old who is exhausted from travelling to an airport at 10pm and just wants to go home.”
CHILDREN IN TEARS
Travel expert Paul Charles warned half a million passengers plan to jet off on Friday.
“Sadly, I think it will get worse because were reaching its peak in a few days,” Mr Charles told MailOnline.
“Monday, June 6 is scheduled to be the busiest day since 2019, with 2,864 departures from the UK, and the same number of inbound flights – it will be the busiest day since before the pandemic.”
But the situation is already dire. On Monday, families were forced to wait outside Bristol Airport from 5am, while passengers in Manchester described five-hour delays amid the “carnage”.
On Sunday, passengers in Stansted camped side-by-side on the airport floor after flight cancellations left them stranded.
Hundreds of holidaymakers also had their plans ruined with eight-hour waits at airports and flights scrapped over text.
‘IT’LL ONLY GET WORSE’
Some passengers who finally made it home were forced to leave airports without their luggage.
One easyJet flight from Santorini to Gatwick was diverted to Luton when the pilot said there wasn’t enough fuel to continue.
Once travellers touched down, they were told their baggage couldn’t be returned to them and they needed to make their own way to Gatwick.
It’s just the latest bruising story for easyJet, which has announced it will cancel more than 200 flights from in total. Around 24 flights from Gatwick will be axed every day until June 6.
Tui has scrapped a “small number” of services from Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester.
Planned walkouts could also disrupt British Airways services. Hundreds of staff are threatening to strike in a row over pay.
Even those who decide not to fly this weekend will face a tough time of it.
Experts have warned of traffic chaos this week – with 20million journeys set to be made during the Queen’s Jubilee weekend.
What rights do travellers have?
Why are airports overrun?
Staff shortages are thought to lie at the heart of the crisis. Unions say thousands of airport workers were made redundant during the pandemic and not replaced.
When will it be resolved?
Airports insist they have been recruiting new staff but workers require training and security vetting before they are allowed to start, and that may take months.
How long are the delays?
Passengers are reporting queues of up to four hours at the worst-affected airports such as Manchester.
What should I do?
Airports advise passengers to continue arriving for their flights three hours in advance. They urge travellers not to arrive earlier amid fears it will add to overcrowding.
Can I get a refund if I miss my flight because of airport security queues?
Probably not. Which? says queues at security are the responsibility of the airport. No large UK airport has a policy to compensate travellers missing flights because of long security queues.
What about queues at the airline check-in desk?
If you have arrived at the airport at the time you were instructed and miss your flight because of check-in or bag drop queues you may be able to claim under the consumer rights act. This may involve a court case.
Can I claim if queues cause me to miss flight?
It depends on your travel insurance policy. To make a claim, it will be crucial to provide evidence you arrived at the time advised by the airport, or airline.
What if I’m about to miss a flight because of queues?
Let someone know. Most airports will bring you to the front of the queue if your flight is due to depart.