Captain Fantastic! Hero pilots have stepped in to help holidaymakers by loading luggage on to planes


Captain Fantastic! How hero pilots have stepped in to help holidaymakers by loading luggage and checking tickets as airports are crippled by staffing crisis

  • One pilot was filmed by thankful passengers loading bags on to an Edelweiss flight from Edinburgh Airport
  • It comes after a TUI pilot was seen loading luggage on to a plane at Manchester Airport earlier this month
  • Social media users have also heaped praise on an easyJet pilot, while it also appears to be happening in US 
  • Holidaymakers are today facing yet more airport misery, with dozens of flights cancelled at Heathrow Airport
  • Delays and cancellations come after many firms sacked off staff during pandemic and struggled to re-recruit
  • Have you seen a conscientious captain? Send your pictures and videos to: [email protected] 

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Heroic pilots are rolling up their sleeves to help tackle the UK’s airport chaos by loading bags on to plane and checking passengers’ tickets.

Conscientious captains have swapped the comfort of their cockpits for the tarmac in order to help get holidaymakers to their destinations in the face of crippling staff shortages.

In the latest incident, one diligent Edelweiss pilot was seen loading luggage onto a conveyor belt ahead of an Edelweiss flight from Edinburgh airport.

Passengers also filmed a punctilious TUI pilot rushing to help staff at Manchester Airport after his flight was given a 40-minute window to take off.

Have you seen a pilot, crew member or airport employee going above and beyond to get your holiday off the ground?

Send your pictures and videos to: [email protected] 

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And easyJet passengers also heaped praise on one pilot, named only as ‘Marcus’, who also helped ground staff load up a plane ahead of a flight to Corfu earlier this month.

It comes as holidaymakers continue to face chaos at UK airports, which has been caused by staffing shortages following the lifting of Covid travel rules.

Today the chaos, which has now lasted months, continued with Heathrow ordering airlines to cancel 10 per cent of their flights to cope with the baggage backlog – leaving 15,000 passengers stranded.

Passengers’ travel plans were thrown into disarray at the 11th hour again following weeks of cancellations as the ongoing staffing crisis continues to cause mayhem at Britain’s travel hubs.

Some 90 flights are expected to be affected today after airlines flying from Terminals 2 and 3 at Heathrow were asked to scale back schedules.

Virgin Atlantic has cancelled at least three long-haul flights to destinations including New York and Los Angeles, while British Airways has been forced to make a small number of cancellations.

Three flights BA had planned to Toulouse in France have been grounded alongside two of four Marseille departures.

Meanwhile, a huge ‘carpet’ of baggage has been set up outside Heathrow Terminal 2 following a ‘technical glitch’ on Friday.

Pilots are now doing their best to help out.  One diligent captain was spotted loading luggage on to a plane ahead of an Edelweiss flight from Edinburgh airport.

A diligent airline pilot has been spotted loading luggage on to a plane, as baggage chaos continues to hit airports across the UK. Video shows the conscientious captain down on the tarmac helping ground crew to load up to the cargo hold ahead of an Eldeweiss flight at Edinburgh airport.

Video shows the conscientious captain down on the tarmac helping ground crew to load up to the cargo hold ahead of an Eldeweiss flight at Edinburgh airport.

A diligent airline pilot has been spotted loading luggage on to a plane, as baggage chaos continues to hit airports across the UK. Video shows the conscientious captain down on the tarmac helping ground crew to load up to the cargo hold ahead of an Eldeweiss flight at Edinburgh airport

It comes as earlier this month a hero pilot saved hundreds of holidays by getting out of his cockpit and loading luggage on to his plane that was delayed by 32 hours. 

Passengers watched as the pilot, known only as Simon, rushed to help staff at Manchester Airport after the flight was finally given a 40- minute window to take off.

Katherine Cox, who was among those travelling from Manchester to Crete, said the pilot was the ‘hero of our holiday’. 

On the Manchester flight, passenger Jenny Cook claimed the hands-on captain had saved hundreds of Tui holidays. 

She said the pilot had told those on the flight that the crew were doing everything in their power to ensure the flight took off.

‘He said, ‘Even my co-pilot is loading bags’,’ Mrs Cook, from Warrington Cheshire, revealed.

‘We looked out of the window and there he was. The next thing we knew we were taxiing to the runway. We were all cheering. Simon had gone above and beyond.’

Mrs Cook, who was travelling with her husband and daughters, added that the pilot should be ‘recognised’ Tui for his work. 

In one video, shared by the BBC, passengers are told that staff on the plane will be helping load the bags to help get the plane off the runway

In one video, shared by the BBC, passengers are told that staff on the plane will be helping load the bags to help get the plane off the runway

A hero pilot, known only as Simon, saved hundreds of holidays by getting out of his cockpit and loading luggage on to his plane that was delayed by 32 hours at Manchester Airport

A hero pilot, known only as Simon, saved hundreds of holidays by getting out of his cockpit and loading luggage on to his plane that was delayed by 32 hours at Manchester Airport

Katherine Cox, who was among those travelling from Manchester to Crete, said the pilot was the ‘hero of our holiday’

Katherine Cox, who was among those travelling from Manchester to Crete, said the pilot was the ‘hero of our holiday’

Others also praised Simon’s heroic efforts on Twitter and called for him to receive an award. Richard White wrote on Twitter: ‘TUI, can we get Simon the co-pilot on of TOM2744 flying from Manchester an exellence award?

‘He is out on the tarmac in the rain helping to load the bags to try and get us on our way after 30 hours delay so far. #Awardforsimon.’

Holidaymakers also said how their holiday had been saved by a dedicated pilot, named only as Marcus, on a flight from Manchester to Corfu.

One wrote: ‘EasyJet, flight number EZY1977 from Manchester to Corfu. We were delayed due to ground staff shortages and the pilot, Marcus, was absolutely brilliant keeping passengers informed and getting off the plane to help the one ground crew load the bags.’

Another, on the same flight, wrote: ‘A big cheer to the pilot on Manchester 5.20pm to Corfu on June 17, EZY1977, who helped load our bags into the plane.’ 

Others said they had seen similar at Bristol Airport. One TUI passenger wrote on Twitter last month: ‘Sat on a TUI plane now. Cabin staff doing all they can but Bristol Airport ground agents are so far a few between that bags are sat next to the plane but not getting loaded.

‘Pilot even tried to go and load them but was told not allowed as he’s not insured. Madness.’ 

And it appears that it is not just a UK phenomenon either. In the US, two diligent pilots for a SouthwestAir flight was also spotted loading bags on to a plane. One Twitter user wrote: ‘SouthwestAir pilot and co-pilot helping the cew load the bags so we can take off on time! Talk about quality humans.’

Thousands of British holidaymakers faced chaos again at UK airports today as Heathrow ordered airlines to cancel 10 per cent of their flights to cope with the baggage backlog – leaving 15,000 passengers stranded.

Passengers’ travel plans have been thrown into disarray at the 11th hour again following weeks of cancellations as the ongoing staffing crisis continues to cause mayhem at Britain’s travel hubs. Some 90 flights are expected to be affected today after airlines flying from Terminals 2 and 3 at Heathrow were asked to scale back schedules.

Virgin Atlantic has cancelled at least three long-haul flights to destinations including New York and Los Angeles, while British Airways has been forced to make a small number of cancellations. Three flights BA had planned to Toulouse in France have been grounded alongside two of four Marseille departures. 

As the chaos continued, two women said they were left without food or water for 11 hours while stranded in Palma de Mallorca Airport after their Jet2 flight back to Manchester was scrapped at the last-minute.

Meanwhile, EasyJet said it is ‘proactively consolidating a number of flights’ at airports affected by ‘operational issues’, such as London Gatwick and Amsterdam Schiphol. The airline expects its capacity between April and June to be 87 per cent of 2019 levels – rising to 90 per cent during the following three months.

Easyjet also said there will be a ‘cost impact’ from disruption and the amount of money it spends to operate each seat per mile excluding fuel will ‘exceed’ previous guidance. It added: ‘We believe that these capacity/cost impacts are a one-off this summer as we would expect all parties to build greater resilience in time for 2023 peak periods.’

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said he could not provide a figure for the number or proportion of flights that will be cancelled because ‘we need to work this through’ as ‘it would be misleading for me to give any numbers today because we simply don’t know.’  

He added: ‘The actions we’re taking, we do need to make sure that we can continue to operate a stable programme for the remainder of the summer. We believe it’s the right measure to take.’

An easyJet trading update issued today stated that ‘there will be a cost impact from disruption, coupled with the enhanced resilience easyJet is putting in place this summer, from additional wet leased aircraft, crew costs and airport charges. We will therefore exceed the previously provided operating CASK [Cost for Available Seat Kilometres] ex fuel guidance. We believe that these capacity/cost impacts are a one-off this summer as we would expect all parties to build greater resilience in time for 2023 peak periods’. 

‘Wet leasing’ agreements are between air carriers where the aircraft is operated under the party from which it is leased. For example, British Airways have wet leased four FinnAir planes with crew to run BA flights.

The reason for the ongoing chaos has been due to an aviation staffing crisis – recruiting for roles such as security staff, ground handlers and check-in staff which is seeing passengers advised to arrive much earlier than normal for their flights because they are facing long queues. 

HEATHROW AIRPORT: Passengers continue to face chaos at UK airports, including at Heathrow, where hundreds of bags are mounting up outside Terminal 2

HEATHROW AIRPORT: Passengers continue to face chaos at UK airports, including at Heathrow, where hundreds of bags are mounting up outside Terminal 2

HEATHROW AIRPORT: The baggage crisis has caused chaos at Heathrow with hundreds of suitcases piled up in the airport, with airport staff having to move them today

HEATHROW AIRPORT: The baggage crisis has caused chaos at Heathrow with hundreds of suitcases piled up in the airport, with airport staff having to move them today

HEATHROW AIRPORT: Terminal 2 at London Heathrow Airport today as passengers still continue to face long queues

HEATHROW AIRPORT: Terminal 2 at London Heathrow Airport today as passengers still continue to face long queues

BRISTOL AIRPORT: Thousands of British holidaymakers again faced lengthy queues in Bristol airport this morning

BRISTOL AIRPORT: Thousands of British holidaymakers again faced lengthy queues in Bristol airport this morning

HEATHROW AIRPORT: Terminal 2 at London Heathrow Airport today as passengers still continue to face long queues

HEATHROW AIRPORT: Terminal 2 at London Heathrow Airport today as passengers still continue to face long queues

BRISTOL AIRPORT: Passengers were pictured sleeping in the airport after arriving early this morning to try and beat the queues

BRISTOL AIRPORT: Passengers were pictured sleeping in the airport after arriving early this morning to try and beat the queues

HEATHROW AIRPORT: Terminal 2 at London Heathrow Airport today as passengers still continue to face long queues

HEATHROW AIRPORT: Terminal 2 at London Heathrow Airport today as passengers still continue to face long queues

MANCHESTER AIRPORT:  Today holidaymakers are facing even more travel chaos - with exceptionally lengthy queues at Bristol, Manchester and Heathrow Airport at 4am this morning

MANCHESTER AIRPORT:  Today holidaymakers are facing even more travel chaos – with exceptionally lengthy queues at Bristol, Manchester and Heathrow Airport at 4am this morning

HEATHROW AIRPORT: Baggage is moved from busy Terminal 2 over to Terminal 3 and 4 - where more staff are in hand to move the outward bound luggage again due to T2 staff shortages

HEATHROW AIRPORT: Baggage is moved from busy Terminal 2 over to Terminal 3 and 4 – where more staff are in hand to move the outward bound luggage again due to T2 staff shortages

HEATHROW AIRPORT: A spokesperson said that while there is 'ongoing disruption' caused by the issue, no additional baggage was being delayed and the airport is doing its best to ensure all passengers flying today do take their luggage with them

HEATHROW AIRPORT: A spokesperson said that while there is ‘ongoing disruption’ caused by the issue, no additional baggage was being delayed and the airport is doing its best to ensure all passengers flying today do take their luggage with them

BRISTOL AIRPORT: Hundreds of passengers queued this morning outside the Jet2 check-in desk at Bristol airport

BRISTOL AIRPORT: Hundreds of passengers queued this morning outside the Jet2 check-in desk at Bristol airport

STANSTED AIRPORT: EasyJet has today announced plans to cut more flights over the busy summer period and has scrapped seven per cent of the 160,000 flights it expected to run between July and September

STANSTED AIRPORT: EasyJet has today announced plans to cut more flights over the busy summer period and has scrapped seven per cent of the 160,000 flights it expected to run between July and September

STANSTED AIRPORT: Chaos continues at Stansted Airport in Essex today with passengers sleeping on the floors amid further cancellations and delay

STANSTED AIRPORT: Chaos continues at Stansted Airport in Essex today with passengers sleeping on the floors amid further cancellations and delay

While many businesses in the aviation sector are struggling to rehire staff after many were let go during the pandemic due to a collapse in demand thanks to successive lockdowns, high levels of staff sickness for those who are still employed is also having an impact.

A Heathrow spokesman told MailOnline: ‘We apologise unreservedly for the disruption passengers have faced over the course of this weekend. 

Passengers ‘left without food or water for 11 hours’ after Jet2 flight back from Palma was scrapped 

Two women say they were left without food or water for 11 hours while stranded in Palma after their Jet2 flight back to Manchester was scrapped.

Nyomi Loftus, of Sale, and her friend Megan Sainsbury were due to fly home from Palma Airport on Saturday – and arrived early for their Jet2 flight at 11.25pm.

However the flight was delayed and they eventually got an update at 3.50am which revealed a mix-up with baggage led to Jet2 ‘missing their slot to fly’.

Ms Loftus, 36, said 70 bottles of water were then shared around 380 passengers before arrangements for hotels were made.

She told the Manchester Evening News: ‘The worst part was that they called out the names of 30 or 40 passengers and told them to go to a special spot so we could go to an adult-only hotel. We had to pay for the hotel; families with babies were lying on the floor. 

‘The hotel ended up being a family hotel anyway – they could have gone. We were told there was a mix-up with the baggage and they had miscounted. They had to unload it off one plane before moving it and then they lost the slot to fly as the staff needed a rest. No one could get any detail from anyone.’

She added: ‘There was a little girl sat near us in the airport who was being sick because she was crying so much. People were just walking around trying to find out what was going on. It was left it absolute uproar – it was a bit of a disaster.’

Miss Loftus and Miss Sainsbury had to pay for a taxi to their hotel 40 minutes away from the airport, costing €65. The pair were eventually flown home nearly 24 hours later and said the first food and drink was given at the hotel at 7.30am – eight hours after the flight was due to depart and 11 hours after they arrived at the airport.

A Jet2 spokesman said: ‘We would like to apologise once again to customers affected by this delay. Our teams have worked tirelessly to look after everyone, however unfortunately there was a shortage of accommodation in Majorca yesterday evening. We advised customers immediately via text that we would reimburse anyone that needed to book hotels separately and we have done everything we can to look after everyone. All remaining customers are being flown home this evening.’

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‘The technical issues affecting baggage systems have led to us making the decision to request airlines operating in Terminals 2 and 3 to consolidate their schedules on Monday 20th June. This will enable us to minimise ongoing impact and we ask that all passengers check with their airlines for the latest information.’

Today holidaymakers are facing even more travel chaos – with exceptionally lengthy queues at Bristol, Manchester and Heathrow Airport at 4am this morning.  

One ‘stressed out’ passenger who was queuing at Manchester took to Twitter and said: ‘I’ve been queuing for an hour and I’m not even at security… stress levels are through the roof!’ 

Meanwhile, Brussels airport has cancelled all departing flights today following a strike by security staff. In a statement, the Belgian hub said: ‘Brussels airport has closed to all departures due to security strike. No departing flights on Monday 20 June.

‘Due to the national manifestation and strike of a large part of the security staff of G4S on Monday 20 June, no passenger flights will depart from Brussels airport. Passengers are urged not to come to the airport and to rebook their flight.

‘Only arriving (and cargo) flights will be carried out. Contact your airline to rebook your flight.’

The chaotic scenes came after one pilot was spotted loading luggage on to a plane, helping ground crew to load up to the plane with baggage ahead of an Edelweiss flight from Edinburgh airport.

The issue started on Friday with Heathrow chiefs blaming a ‘technical glitch’ in the luggage system. But it has sparked a huge baggage backlog which has been described a ‘carpet of luggage’.

Meanwhile, hundreds of passengers have reportedly been waiting up to three hours to retrieve their baggage today after flying into Heathrow.

A spokesperson for the west London airport said that there is ‘ongoing disruption’ from Friday’s glitch. But they said no additional baggage was being delayed.

They also said the airport was doing its best to ensure all passengers flying today can take their luggage with them – and reiterated that baggage is the responsibility of airlines and not the airport itself.

Simon Clarke, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, appeared on Sky News with Kay Burley this morning and said it’s ‘sensible’ that airports are ‘revising their schedules’ because it will prevent a repeat of the ‘terrible scenes’ passengers have been experiencing. 

He added: ‘What we’re seeing here is a result of the airline industry having massively contracted during the pandemic and now it’s facing this surge of pent-up demand as things stand back up.

‘It isn’t resourced and manned for that challenge and that’s why I think it is sensible that we’re starting to see some of the airports revising their schedules for the summer season ahead.

‘Frankly, we can’t have a repeat of the scenes we’ve had in some of our airports in recent weeks.

‘The transport secretary and ministers have been working very closely with the airline industry to try and get it into a more sensible place because they are offering flights they simply can’t honour and that is simply terrible for passengers.’

Mr Clarke also addressed the baggage crisis happening at Heathrow and said the ongoing issues are due to the Covid pandemic which led to the airline industry ‘slimming down’ their staff and operations.

He added: ‘This is not a result of Brexit, what I would say is it’s an industry that massively slimmed down and understandably so – at a time when flying was impossible for a year and a half.

‘It’s now massively expanded its operations and the pressure is enormous and it hasn’t managed to align the two.

‘We will do our part as government to try and make sure our side of things is right from issues like passports to border control.

‘We’re pouring resources into this and making sure the process is as robust as it can be. The airlines need to do their part and make sure the flights they’re offering can indeed be honoured.’

  • Have you seen a pilot, crew member or airport employee going above and beyond to get your holiday off the ground?: Contact me: [email protected] 

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