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Manchester airport ‘nightmare’ as passengers face £600 tickets and lost luggage

Passengers at Manchester airport claim they are out of pocket hundreds of pounds after not being able to board their flights following a power cut on Sunday night.

Holidaymakers passing through the airport claim they faced an “an absolute nightmare”, as thousands said they were forced to wait hours to either collect or check-in luggage.

The chaos began on Sunday at around 1.30am when a power cut disrupted operations in terminals one and two. Some 70 flights had to be cancelled and other inbound flights diverted.

Passengers due to fly out from terminals one and two on Sunday were told “not to come to the airport until further notice and to contact their airlines” – but those arriving at the airport and using its third terminal were still held up in significant delays.

Manchester airport later apologised for the disruption and confirmed that operations had returned to normal by Monday.

Travellers caught in the chaos described scenes of confusion after losing their luggage and watching their flights take off without them.

Aurora, a 28-year-old from Liverpool, told i that she and her partner were initially unaware that there had been a power cut after arriving for their flight around three hours in advance at 6am on Sunday.

“When we arrived at the airport there was a lot of people sat on the floor, it was really busy, and there were some delays on the flight list – but we didn’t make much of it because there was no kind of information being shared at that point about any issue having happened during the night,” she said.

The couple were due to fly to Pisa for a festival before making their way on to Florence the next day. They were flying from terminal three which had not initially been affected by the power cut but later became caught up in the delays.

She said there were no staff visible but it “felt just like a very busy airport in summer so we didn’t make much of it”.

Passengers waiting at Manchester airport on Sunday

The 28-year-old also described huge queues and delays, but because there was no information about the power cut, she assumed the airport was just “poorly managed”.

Instead of dropping off their bags at the check-in point, she said the couple were told by staff to keep hold of them and take them to the other side of the airport.

“We were basically just left there waiting for about an hour and a half but we finally managed to check in the bags. Again, no communication about any issues happening with them and we just thought maybe they’re short-staffed, she said.

“At around 8.15am – considering we were due to fly at 9am – I started going around to try to understand what was happening, because at that point we still had the luggage, we still had to drop them off.

“And we were basically just told, ‘It doesn’t look like you’ll make your flight, there’s been this issue with the power cut, but we’re doing our best, but yeah, I don’t think you’ll make your flight’.”

Aurora told i it wasn’t clear who would be responsible for a refund, Manchester airport or Ryanair.

“It wasn’t really clear what we were entitled to or what we could do, so they said our best chance is just to buy new tickets and then try and see if we can claim them back from the airport,” she said.

Aurora fears she may not be entitled to compensation as “it’s not the airline’s fault” she missed the flight. She claims Manchester airport did not give them any information about what they are entitled to.

“I spent £640 for the two of us to buy new plane tickets, train tickets to London, the taxi back, and on all the stuff we’ve missed,” Aurora said. The couple had been due to attend a festival today before travelling on to Florence as part of a trip through Italy.

“We’re probably losing £600 from this and no idea whatsoever, no communication from the airport, as to whether we’re going to get any of that back,” she said.

“Legally speaking, we’re not really sure where we stand with it.”

Passengers faced severe delays while dropping off and collecting luggage

The couple have since booked flights to Ancona in the Marche region of Italy to try and enjoy what is left of their nine-day trip around the country.

Sarah Merriman, meanwhile, was flying back from a holiday in Rhodes, Greece, when she and her husband, Mark, 59, were left waiting for hours with their fellow passengers after their plane landed at around 3am on Sunday morning outside terminal two.

Ms Merriman, 57, said her flight back from the Aegean island was initially told that there had been a problem with the tower and that passengers would have to stay on the plane for a short period before disembarking.

After a short wait, Ms Merriman said they exited the plane and made their way through the airport, assuming there were no more issues.

“Suddenly everybody started backing up,” she said, “and because we were on a Dreamliner that holds over 300 people, you couldn’t even see to the front to see what was going on. We all just came to a dead standstill.”

The charity worker said: “Everybody was kind of stood waiting, and then we waited and we waited, and waited, and nothing happened.”

She said around half an hour later the passengers were told about the power cut and that the airport was trying to fix the issues.

“But nobody came down, everybody’s just stood there. There were babies crying and everybody’s desperate for a drink,” she said.

After around an hour Ms Merriman, from Scunthorpe, said the queue started moving and they slowly made their way through the passport gates and past border control. They were then ushered to terminal one where they were told they could collect luggage.

“We were just like cattle, we were just being herded through,” she said.

Sarah and Mark Merriman on holiday in Rhodes, Greece

Ms Merriman said she was told to wait at the carrousel to collect her baggage, but realised there were “people from three or four different flights” waiting with “very few” bags being released.

“It just became apparent then that the same bags were just going round and round, and no new ones were being loaded,” she said.

She claims Tui airline staff were unable to provide any information as to where they could find their luggage.

After around two hours of waiting, she told i she went to the lost luggage desk where a worker said he had “no idea” where their luggage was.

They were then told they could leave the airport and have their bags sent to their home but a day later they still have no idea where they are.

“There’s no prospect of these bags arriving,” Ms Merriman said.

“They were brand new suitcases. We’d packed loads of stuff because we were doing a week bed and breakfast in Rhodes and we had no idea how much stuff we were going to need.

“We’d got all my summer clothes in there, we’ve got loads of stuff in the cases, and we’ve just no idea if we’re getting it back.”

“My medication, luckily, was in my hand luggage, because I wouldn’t risk that,” she said.

“My husband, for the first time ever, had bought a £60 bottle of tequila at Manchester airport on the flight out as a special treat.

“He’d not opened it and he said we’d save that for when we get home. Obviously we couldn’t bring it back through hand luggage so that was packed in the case. I think he’s as angry about that as anything.”

Ms Merriman said she had been in touch with Tui who said they were doing their best to locate their bags.

Manchester airport said in a statement it “would like to apologise to all those affected” by Sunday’s incident.

The statement continued: “Airlines will be in touch with passengers to rearrange cancelled flights as we work with airlines, their baggage handling agents and other partners to make sure passengers whose bags did not make it on to their flights are reunited with their belongings as soon as possible.”

Managing director Chris Woodroofe told BBC News a “fault with a cable had caused a power surge that took down security systems and baggage screening”.

He said there would be an investigation into what happened.

i approached Manchester airport, Ryanair, and Tui for further comment.

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