Plane passengers 'waiting hours' for bags as staff shortages cause more delays at Manchester Airport

Crowds of passengers wait for their luggage after arriving at Manchester Airport Credit: MEN Media

Passengers say baggage delays are continuing to blight Manchester Airport as bosses grapple with major staff shortages.

Queuing times have improved following a successful recruitment drive, according to the airport.

But reports from passengers suggest partner agencies, including baggage handling firms, are still battling the crisis.

One couple said they were told to wait for hours to collect their bags or have them delivered "some time next week".

A TUI plane on the tarmac Credit: PA

Danny, 40, who asked not to be fully named, and partner Abigail, were among hundreds of travellers to fall foul of luggage delays at the airport on Wednesday 4 May. The couple's TUI flight from Paphos landed at 7pm but they were not able to collect their bags until 10.45pm.

They were told the only alternative was for their luggage to be delivered home 'mid-to-late next week'.

Airport bosses, airlines and baggage handling agents are continuing to grapple with major staff shortages. Credit: ITV Granada

It comes amid staffing problems which have led to long queues in security, check-in, passport control and issues with baggage handling. 

Danny said: "We were expecting something with everything that's been in the news - but when you see little kids crying their eyes out because it's so late and the lack of information, it makes it even worse. "Everyone who came out in a high vis was getting peppered but they couldn't give us any information - apart from one guy who blamed staff shortages."To be fair, Manchester Airport was good flying out, there were no issues, it was coming back that was the problem."The account director said their arrival experience was 'a shambles' throughout.

The couple's flight was delayed by 90 minutes in Greece, there was no food available on the journey and, after making their way through customs, they were met by "two baggage belts of people waiting".

Danny added: "You knew from the looks on their faces it was going to be bad."The couple waited for an hour at the conveyor initially, watching baggage from other flights arrive to cheering and clapping from the waiting travellers.

After two-and-a-half hours of waiting, they heard an announcement on the PA system."They said unfortunately we're not going to be able to tell you when your bags are coming out.

"They asked us to queue to get a baggage reclaim form, so they could send it to our houses in the middle to end of next week.

"People started to queue for that, and after another 45 minutes, another flight from Antalya came in and their baggage came in too."Finally, at 10.45pm their baggage arrived. Danny added: "We couldn't wait until next week and although around 25% of passengers decided to go home and get them sent, there were families with babies who said all the stuff they needed was in the bags."

Taxis wait to collect passengers arriving at Manchester Airport Credit: Jon Super/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

A Manchester Airport spokesman said: “We are disappointed to hear this passenger was unhappy with his experience when returning through the airport.

"We are aware of challenges faced by our partners on the day in question, which led to service standards falling below what we want to see at Manchester Airport. This includes ground handling agents handling bags on behalf of airlines."The whole of the industry is facing challenges associated with recovering from the biggest crisis it has faced in a generation, and while we understand the pressure this places on all partners operating at Manchester Airport, we will work with those concerned to understand the root cause of issues.”

A spokesperson for Swissport said: "We are sorry for the delay passengers experienced waiting to collect their baggage, following a number of delays to scheduled flights which exacerbated some existing resource challenges.

"While the aviation industry is still recovering from the pandemic, we are working hard to address these challenges and have already welcomed over 1,200 new colleagues across the UK and Ireland."We understand how frustrating and inconvenient delays are and we continue to work with our partners to implement contingency measures and improve turnaround times."

Tui have been contacted for comment.