Miserable Monday as travellers hit by Heathrow flight chaos and Eurotunnel delays

Tap above to watch video report by Rags Martel

Travellers embarking on overseas trips on Monday faced chaos as flights were cancelled and cross-Channel rail services were hit by major delays.

Airlines are suffering from staff shortages related to coronavirus sickness, leading to flights being grounded.

Eurotunnel warned its vehicle-carrying Le Shuttle rail services from Folkestone, Kent to Calais, France were delayed by three hours due to “a train stopped temporarily in the tunnel”.

The travel disruption is affecting many families heading abroad for the Easter school holiday, which is the first since the UK’s coronavirus restrictions for international travellers were dropped.

EasyJet cancelled 62 flights scheduled for Monday, after axing at least 222 flights across Saturday and Sunday.

Some holidaymakers reported being stuck abroad with no explanation or alternative route home offered by the airline.

A spokesman for the airline said: “As a result of the current high rates of Covid infections across Europe, like all businesses easyJet is experiencing higher than usual levels of employee sickness.”

The airline attempted to limit the impact on passengers by focusing cancellations on routes with multiple daily flights.

The spokesman added that the number of cancellations “represents a small proportion” of the total of 1,645 planned for Monday.

British Airways cancelled at least 115 flights to or from Heathrow Airport on Monday, although the PA news agency understands that only a handful were last-minute cancellations caused by coronavirus-related staff shortages.

People queuing to go through security at Heathrow Terminal 2

The total includes many flights axed due to the airline’s recent decision to reduce its schedule until the end of May due to rising coronavirus cases.

It also suffered chaos on March 30 as flights were cancelled due to an IT meltdown.

The airline said: “Aviation has been one of the industries worst hit by the pandemic, and airlines and airports are experiencing the same issues rebuilding their operations while managing the continuing impact of Covid.”

Passengers at Heathrow, Manchester and Birmingham airports have reported long queues in recent days, with many taking to social media to warn fellow flyers.

One customer from north Warwickshire had her flight from Birmingham delayed by more than 12 hours.

“It’s not been a good day, I felt extremely stressed,” said Rebecca Young.

“I have to wait around until 9.50pm tonight.

“I got to the airport at 6.30am, 2.5 hours prior to my departure time… I kept asking one of the staff members whether I would make my flight, they just shrugged.”

Ms Young added the queue for security was “overly crowded and extremely busy” with no staff on hand to help.