Passengers warned airport chaos could last all summer

Easyjet A320 neo at Bristol Airport (Image: Max Thrust Digital)
Easyjet A320 neo at Bristol Airport (Image: Max Thrust Digital)

Travellers looking to get away this half-term have faced chaos at UK airports with massive queues at check-in and security due to low staffing levels with some finding out their flights have been cancelled whilst at the airport.

This has prompted Unite the Union which represents thousands of airport staff to warn that the problems could continue throughout the summer if more staff are not employed.

Airport bosses are blaming the time it takes to get someone vetted to work at the airport for not being able to ramp up staffing levels as quickly as air travel has demanded but Unite claims this is a smokescreen blaming slow response from the airports themselves to recruit staff.

Almost all UK airports have seen massive queues with London Gatwick (LGW/EGKK), Manchester (MAN/EGCC), Bristol (BRS/EGGD) and Birmingham (BHX/EGBB) shown to be some of the worst.

In addition, British Airways, Tui and Easyjet are among the airlines that have been forced to cancel flights due to staffing levels with crews routinely “running out of hours” to safely operate the flight.

If your flight is cancelled at short notice airlines have to rebook you on “any other reasonable flight” at their expense but as seen during the pandemic, this is rarely offered to passengers meaning whole holidays are being cancelled.

Airports are recruiting staff and as they can now start to train staff before vetting is complete there can be no excuse for the same scenes in the summer but it’s important that if they do, you know your rights.

TUI Airways UK Boeing 787 (Image: Max Thrust Digital)
TUI Airways UK Boeing 787 (Image: Max Thrust Digital)

Know your rights

If you are denied boarding or your flight is cancelled then you are entitled to compensation as follows.

Length of flightLength of disruptionsCompensation
short-haul flight of under 1,500km (e.g. Glasgow to Amsterdam)Arrive 2 hours or more later at final destination£220
short-haul flight of under 1,500km (e.g. Glasgow to Amsterdam)Arrive less than 2 hours later at final destination£110
medium-haul flight of 1,500km – 3,500km (e.g. East Midlands to Marrakesh)Takes off more than 2 hours before your original flight, and arrives 3 or more hours later at final destination£350
medium-haul flight of 1,500km – 3,500km (e.g. East Midlands to Marrakesh)Takes off 2 hours before your original flight, and arrives less than 3 hours later at final destination£175
long-haul flight of over 3,500km (e.g. London to New York)Arrive 4 hours or later at final destination£520
long-haul flight of over 3,500km (e.g. London to New York)Takes off less than 1 hours before your original flight, and arrives less than 4 hours later at final destination£260
Data from Civil Aviation Authority. All figures are per person.

In addition, Your airline must offer you an alternative flight. It’s up to you whether to fly as soon as possible or at a later date that suits you. Airlines often refer to this as being ‘rerouted’.

If you want to fly as soon as possible, your airline must also provide care and assistance while you wait for the flight. This means food, drink, communications and accommodation if you stay overnight.

If you don’t want to fly, you can get your money back instead. You’ll get a refund for all parts of the ticket you haven’t used.

For instance, if you have booked a return flight and it’s cancelled, you can get the full cost of the return ticket back from your airline.

If you’re part-way through a journey when it’s cancelled, your airline should also provide a flight back to your starting point.

About Nick Harding 1668 Articles
Nick is the senior reporter and editor at UK Aviation News as well as working freelance elsewhere. He has his finger firmly on the pulse on Aviation, not only in the UK but worldwide. Nick has been asked to speak in a professional capacity on LBC, Heart and other broadcast networks.

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