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Travellers hit by long queues for planes and trains during Easter getaway

Freight and holiday traffic queue to enter the Eurotunnel site in Folkestone, Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Freight and holiday traffic queue to enter the Eurotunnel site in Folkestone, Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Travellers using airports, train stations and roads have been left waiting for hours in long queues during the Easter getaway.

Passengers at Manchester and Birmingham airports shared pictures on social media of lines stretching far away from check-in desks on Thursday morning, with one saying the situation was “utterly shambolic”.

Train stations also appeared to be busy, with one passenger saying there was “carnage” as people waited for services, while delays were also seen on motorways.

Images on social media showed a large number of people waiting for Tui check-in desks at Manchester Airport, with other customers telling of a 90-minute wait for luggage.

A firm spokesperson said: “We can confirm that unfortunately due to staff shortages at Manchester Airport today, some customers are experiencing longer-than-usual queue times at check-in.

“Please be assured that our teams are working as quickly as they can.”

One passenger, Lukasz Ceglecki, from Burton upon Trent, said although there were lengthy queues, they were moving “relatively” quickly.

Another, Adam Francis, said on Twitter: “Utterly shambolic scenes in terminal 2 at @manairport when a cleaner is the only person to provide any information on why we have no bags after 90 minutes.

“Even then she doesn’t know when we will get them.”

Manchester Airport said passengers are advised to arrive three hours before their flight and double check their hand luggage.

Meanwhile, those at Birmingham Airport told of waiting in hour-long queues for security, despite paying £4-per-person for fast-track services.

Joe Clifford, 23, who was flying to Malaga in Spain, told the PA news agency it took him about an hour to get through security due to “very long queues”.

Birmingham queues
Queues were seen at Birmingham Airport (Joe Clifford/Twitter/PA)

Aviation data firm Cirium said 9,212 flights with 1.6 million seats are scheduled to depart from UK airports between Good Friday and Easter Monday.

The number of flights is 78% of the total for Easter 2019, before the coronavirus crisis affected travel.

The busiest day will be Good Friday when 2,430 flights are due to depart.

However, on Thursday dozens of British Airways and EasyJet flights to and from Heathrow and Gatwick were cancelled.

Rail passengers have also been warned of delays as Network Rail carries out 530 engineering projects costing a total of £83 million.

This includes the closure of the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Milton Keynes for four days from Good Friday due to upgrades of the existing line and HS2 work.

Parts of the railway between Birmingham International station and Coventry will also be closed, as will lines around Crewe station.

Those at London St Pancras said there were long queues for services to Europe on Thursday morning.

One passenger heading for France said he had waited for over and hour due to staff shortages.

A West Ham fan heading for his side’s Europa League second leg tie against Lyon said there was “carnage” at the station.

Elsewhere, National Highways said there were 90-minute delays near the Dartford Tunnel in Kent due to a broken down lorry and a spillage.

RAC traffic spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Although we’re expecting the biggest number of Easter getaway trips by car tomorrow – around 4.6m – it’s clear some drivers are keen to make an early escape ahead of the bank holiday.

“As well as the closure of the coastbound M20 for Operation Brock Zero, earlier collisions are causing problems on the south-eastern M25 and roads connecting with it, as well as on the A303 in Wiltshire.

“From a breakdown perspective, we’re seeing high demand for our service across northern England, especially around the Lake District, as well as the coastal areas of West Wales.”

Some 27.6 million car journeys are expected to take place over the bank holiday weekend, according to the AA.

Dover-Calais sailings by P&O Ferries are also suspended, with large queues of lorries forming on roads approaching the Port of Dover.

A spokesperson for the firm said: “We apologise unreservedly to all customers whose scheduled journeys with us between Dover and Calais have been cancelled whilst we are unable to sail.

“It is only fair and right that we make alternative arrangements for those customers, which include transferring them on to our Hull-Europoort service to Rotterdam, or booking them on to services with Brittany Ferries between Portsmouth and Caen. ”

It said this would come at no extra cost for customers, with mileage expenses reimbursed and a 25% discount on the original fee.

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