Heathrow terminal is swamped by sea of loose luggage with passengers left to sift through bags


Heathrow terminal is swamped by sea of loose luggage with passengers left to sift through bags from DAYS OLD flights to find their lost possessions in latest example of airport chaos

  • Unclaimed luggage was seen lying on the floor of Heathrow’s arrivals as passengers stepped off the plane 
  • Terminal 2 and 3 saw baggage piled everywhere and passengers waiting in hope at conveyer belts
  • Customers reported that the baggage is days old and were told by staff ‘sorry, the whole industry in a mess’
  • Chaos at airports have been blamed on getting staff numbers up to pre-Covid level which is set to get worse
  • As over 700 BA Heathrow check-in and ground-handling staff voted for strike and 16,000 could join them

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Fresh chaos has been piled on passengers at Heathrow Airport today as holidaymakers yet again endured issues at baggage reclaim. 

Arrivals at Terminal 2 and 3 saw a sea of luggage spilling out across the airport as they landed from Amsterdam, Canada and India while staff reportedly told anxious customers ‘sorry, the whole industry in a mess’. 

One passenger who was at the airport yesterday questioned if it was ‘safe and secure’ to leave customers’ ‘days old baggage’ strewn at reclaim when people have arrived home. 

Another passenger who was at Heathrow saw baggage lying at various points of baggage reclaim and passengers waiting in hope at conveyer belts while they waited for their luggage to arrive. 

Airports have been plagued for months by check-in delays, flight cancellations and baggage issues at UK airports which experts have blamed on widespread staff shortages in the industry. 

And thousands of British Airways staff including cabin crew and engineers have threatened to plunge airports and airlines into yet more chaos during the school holidays.

Unions are asking over 16,000 workers if they want to join the more than 700 BA staff who have already committed to a walk-out over pay at Heathrow Airport during the summer.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said yesterday that one of the issues with recruitment in the UK stems from ‘British people not wanting to be baggage handlers’ as he said his Irish company has not faced the same issues. 

HEATHROW AIRPORT: Arrivals at Terminal 2 and 3 saw a sea of luggage spilling out across the airport as they landed while staff reportedly told anxious customers 'sorry, the whole industry in a mess'

HEATHROW AIRPORT: Arrivals at Terminal 2 and 3 saw a sea of luggage spilling out across the airport as they landed while staff reportedly told anxious customers ‘sorry, the whole industry in a mess’

HEATHROW AIRPORT: One passenger who was at the airport yesterday questioned if it was 'safe and secure' to leave customers' 'days old baggage' strewn at reclaim when people have arrived home

HEATHROW AIRPORT: One passenger who was at the airport yesterday questioned if it was ‘safe and secure’ to leave customers’ ‘days old baggage’ strewn at reclaim when people have arrived home

HEATHROW AIRPORT: Another passenger who was at Heathrow saw baggage lying at various points of baggage reclaim and passengers waiting in hope at conveyer belts while they waited for their luggage to arrive

HEATHROW AIRPORT: Another passenger who was at Heathrow saw baggage lying at various points of baggage reclaim and passengers waiting in hope at conveyer belts while they waited for their luggage to arrive

HEATHROW AIRPORT: Luggage is left on trolleys at the airport and on the ground

HEATHROW AIRPORT: Baggage left at the airport in piles on and off trolleys in no real order

HEATHROW AIRPORT: Luggage is left on trolleys at the airport and on the ground and baggage left at the airport in piles on and off trolleys in no real order

HEATHROW AIRPORT: TV's Nick Dixon, correspondent at Good Morning Britain, arrived from Amsterdam at Terminal 3 in Heathrow to see piles of baggage at arrivals

HEATHROW AIRPORT: TV’s Nick Dixon, correspondent at Good Morning Britain, arrived from Amsterdam at Terminal 3 in Heathrow to see piles of baggage at arrivals

ITV’s Nick Dixon, correspondent at Good Morning Britain, arrived from Amsterdam at Terminal 3 in Heathrow to see piles of baggage at arrivals. 

Mr Dixon said: ‘[I’m] trying to locate my lost bag and staff just said “sorry, the whole industry in a mess.”‘ 

Fellow GMB colleague Kieron Clarke said: ‘I am still to be reunited with my luggage, which is in another part of Heathrow along with thousands of other items. Unfortunately, staff cannot access them. 

‘Worse still, those items are now being sent from London to Amsterdam for processing because of a lack of staff in the UK.’

Ashley Burke, a reporter at CBC’s Parliamentary Bureau, also said on Twitter when she arrived there was a 10 min delay on the plan but quick walk through security of about 15 mins. 

She didn’t check a bag but said she saw ‘scattered [luggage] everywhere in the baggage claim area’.

A TUI rep was seen today telling passengers that their flight to Palma has been delayed for 12 hours. Customers were then pictured sitting on floors at Manchester Airport to wait out the delay in another airline issue while more beleaguered passengers waited to check in and drop off their bags at other airlines including Pegasus and TUI. 

Yesterday passengers also had to endure long queues at Bristol, Birmingham, Edinburgh, and Glasgow Airports. Many airports experts have pointed to recruitment post-Covid as the underlining issue.

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: Today people are seen lying down on floor as they saw flight delays at Terminal 2

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: Today people are seen lying down on floor as they saw flight delays at Terminal 2

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: One woman sits on a suitcase as passengers are delayed going to Palma

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: One woman sits on a suitcase as passengers are delayed going to Palma 

CBC's Ashley Burke said 'there are bags scattered everywhere' as she landed at Heathrow

CBC’s Ashley Burke said ‘there are bags scattered everywhere’ as she landed at Heathrow

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: Passengers have had months enduring check-in delays, flight cancellations and baggage issues at UK airports with today seeing another day of queues at Manchester

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: Passengers have had months enduring check-in delays, flight cancellations and baggage issues at UK airports with today seeing another day of queues at Manchester

However, Ryanair – largely based in London Stanstead and Dublin Airports – appears to have escaped largely unscathed from the mess, according to the Telegraph.     

Between May 7 and June 6, the low cost airline had three cancellations out of its 13,099 flights (0.02%) compared with 142 out of 13,010 (1.09%) British Airways flights. While easyJet had 16,425 flights with 636 (3.87%) cancelled. 

Ryanair – which is based in Dublin, Ireland – has 19,000 staff which it recruits from across Europe. 

It’s boss has largely blamed Europe’s inflexible Labour market for other airlines like BA and easyJet having to cancel flights.

Mr O’Leary told the Telegraph that Ryanair has been ‘completely unaffected’ as unlike some airlines it saw the recovery coming ‘early’.

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: A Tui rep is seen telling passengers that their flight to Palma has been delayed for 12 hours

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: A Tui rep is seen telling passengers that their flight to Palma has been delayed for 12 hours

HEATHROW AIRPORT: Another pile of baggage left in piles near trolleys

HEATHROW AIRPORT: Another pile of baggage left in piles near trolleys 

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: Passengers sit out the wait on the floor today

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: Passengers sit out the wait on the floor today

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: Queues for bag and check in today were very long

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: Queues for bag and check in today were very long 

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: The long queues seen while customers try to drop off bags

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: The long queues seen while customers try to drop off bags 

He added: ‘I’m not re-campaigning on Brexit, but the UK is going to have to find a way to open up the Labour market between the UK and Europe, to get people in here to do the jobs which frankly British people don’t want to do.

‘They don’t want to pick fruit, they don’t want to do agricultural labour, they don’t want to do hospitality or security or baggage handling at airports.’ 

John Grant, chief analyst at global travel data provider OAG, said unlike BA, Ryanair is not ‘reliant’ on UK labour. 

He added: ‘EasyJet has access to a wider range of labour, but most of its bases are in major Western European countries which are facing similar resource issues to the UK. 

‘Ryanair has a much broader range of bases across the whole of Europe and during the pandemic retained a larger proportion of its staff in some of those bases, particularly in Eastern Europe.’

Gilbert Ott, creator of flight tips website God Save the Points, said Ryanair is also an ‘uncomplicated’ airline with one aircraft, the Boeing 737, and short-haul European services.

He said: I think many people don’t realise how many weeks it takes to get staff through the safety checks required to fly again, particularly pilots. 

‘Furthermore, European countries were the first to signal a big summer of restriction-free travel, which gave Ryanair ample opportunity to scale up and be aggressive.’

The low budget airline has been 'completely unaffected' by airport chaos this summer which has seen others British airlines cancel 1,000s of flights. Pictured:  Hundreds of suitcases continue to mount up at Heathrow Terminal 2

The low budget airline has been ‘completely unaffected’ by airport chaos this summer which has seen others British airlines cancel 1,000s of flights. Pictured:  Hundreds of suitcases continue to mount up at Heathrow Terminal 2

British people do not want to be baggage handlers, Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary (pictured) has said

British people do not want to be baggage handlers, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary (pictured) has said

Mr O’Leary said that his cabin crew staff – who need to be retrained for eight weeks if their working hours lapse – and pilots – who need to fly every month to not lose their licence – were in the sky ‘well ahead of the expected recovery’.

He added: ‘We made sure, even if we had flights with no passengers, we sent up pilots and cabin crew. 

‘We sent everybody flying at least once a month. We didn’t dump them all at home and say, “We’ll call you in 18 months when this is all over”

Those returning to Britain also faced possible disruption as Ryanair cabin crew staff began a three-day walkout in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain yesterday.

The biggest impact was felt in Belgium, where the work stoppage led Europe’s biggest budget airline to cancel 127 flights to and from Charleroi airport near Brussels between Friday and Sunday.

Ryanair could only guarantee 30 to 40 per cent of its scheduled flights at the airport, said a spokesman for Brussels South Charleroi Airport.

In response Mr O’Leary said cabin crew with annual salaries of £24,000 and £45,000 are ‘delighted’ to be back in their jobs and ‘working post-Covid’. 

He added: ‘Everyone can afford to pay their rent. This idea that people are on minimum wage or they don’t get paid when they don’t fly – it’s complete rubbish. 

‘He dismisses the potential disruption as affecting ‘less than one per cent’ of the company’s operations across Europe.’

More than 700 Heathrow check-in and ground-handling staff voted for industrial action in a row over pay. The GMB and Unite unions are expected to set strike dates for around July 22, when the school break begins.

According to aviation data firm Cirium, nearly 1.8 million BA customers are set to fly out from Heathrow during July.

LONDON STANSTED AIRPORT - A busy London Stansted in Essex yesterday morning as people queue to leave the airport

LONDON STANSTED AIRPORT – A busy London Stansted in Essex yesterday morning as people queue to leave the airport

Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, said: ‘With grim predictability, holidaymakers face massive disruption thanks to the pig-headedness of British Airways.

‘BA have tried to offer our members crumbs from the table in the form of a 10 per cent one-off bonus payment, but this doesn’t cut the mustard.

‘Our members need to be reinstated the 10 per cent they had stolen from them last year with full back pay and the 10 per cent bonus which other colleagues have been paid.

‘GMB members at Heathrow have suffered untold abuse as they deal with the travel chaos caused by staff shortages and IT failures.’

And Unite is looking to add another 16,000 BA workers, made up of cabin crew to engineers, to the strike action. 

The BA dispute is over a 10 per cent pay cut that check-in and ground-handling staff took during Covid as airlines tried to stay afloat. Unions want full pay reinstated amid cost of living pressure and surging passenger numbers. 

MANCHESTER AIRPORT - Passengers queue for check-in at Manchester Airport's Terminal 2 yesterday as airport chaos continues

MANCHESTER AIRPORT – Passengers queue for check-in at Manchester Airport’s Terminal 2 yesterday as airport chaos continues

A spokesman for Unite said, according to the Sun, ‘British Airways’ management now can no longer ignore the universal discontent across their own workforce, in the way they have ignored the needs of their own customers.

‘BA customers know first-hand that the airline is in chaos and that service levels are suffering as a direct result of its own previous disastrous ‘fire and rehire’ policies.

‘Staff are simply no longer willing to excuse, or pay the price for, poor management decisions.’

The GMB also said it has started a consultative ballot with thousands more BA workers, including engineers and call-centre workers.

A formal ballot for strike action will begin in a few weeks if enough support is registered.

GMB general secretary Gary Smith told BBC Breakfast: ‘I don’t think this is going to stop with customer check-in staff. There are many of our members across the BA business who are sick to death of the cuts within the company.

‘They’ve seen the company being run into the ground over many years, they are very angry about the cynical exploitation of the pandemic by the people at the top of BA and people want to see the pay and conditions restored.’

It raises the prospect of summer disruption on an even bigger scale, as it includes workers at Gatwick airport as well as Heathrow.

GMB and Unite vowed only to call off the action if BA meets their demands within a week or so. If the BA walkouts go ahead, families could be forced to delay or cancel holidays – and face being stuck abroad if flights home are axed. 

Unions only have to give two weeks’ notice of strikes. Customers whose flights are grounded will be entitled to receive a refund or be rebooked on an alternative flight on their day of departure, even if it is with a rival carrier.

But with airlines cutting their schedules due to staff shortages and airport flight caps, it is unclear whether there would be enough seats. It will inflict a huge financial blow on BA, which lost billions of pounds in the pandemic.

Some 550 BA flights a day take off and land at Heathrow, but this is expected to rise in the summer – and the airline is now drawing up emergency plans to keep as many flights as possible on strike days. 

Around half of these are short haul and the other half longer distance – and the action threatens to ground hundreds of flights in total.

Mr O'Leary also said that his cabin crew staff - who need to be retrained for eight weeks if their working hours lapse - and pilots - who need to fly every month to not lose their licence - were in the sky ' well ahead of the expected recovery'

Mr O’Leary also said that his cabin crew staff – who need to be retrained for eight weeks if their working hours lapse – and pilots – who need to fly every month to not lose their licence – were in the sky ‘ well ahead of the expected recovery’

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT - Heathrow Airport's Terminal Two was very busy yesterday morning as Britons try to fly abroad

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT – Heathrow Airport’s Terminal Two was very busy yesterday morning as Britons try to fly abroad

Changing law over agency workers during strikes ‘will not work’, says recruitment expert

Changing the law to allow firms to hire agency workers to replace staff on strike during industrial disputes will not work, the head of the UK’s recruitment body has warned.

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), said changes announced by the Government on Thursday were being made with no consultation with agencies and agency workers.

‘It is not something agencies want, and will not achieve the goals the Government claims,’ he said.

Ministers pointed out that under current trade union laws, employment businesses are restricted from supplying temporary agency workers to cover for strikers, saying it can have a ‘disproportionate impact’.

The legislation will repeal the ‘burdensome’ legal restrictions, giving businesses impacted by strike action the freedom to tap into the services of employment businesses that can provide skilled, temporary agency staff at short notice, said the Government.

Mr Carberry said: ‘This is a fundamental change to the regulations that govern recruitment businesses, and the industry is strongly opposed to it – it is not a pro-business move. We urge Government to drop their plans and think again. In practice, this change in legislation will not work. Inserting agency workers into strikes will only lengthen disputes.

‘It will also not provide the workers that Government wants, and it puts agencies and agency workers in a very difficult position, with potential health and safety and reputational risks to consider. Agency workers are in high demand, and most will not choose a job that forces them to cross a picket line over another where they do not have to.’

Unions and opposition parties have strongly criticised the announcement.

Joanne Galbraith-Marten, director of employment relations and legal services at the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘This change would be undemocratic and unsafe. Any industrial action by our members is very carefully planned to keep patients safe already – bringing in less qualified or agency workers instead could put patients at risk.

‘Health professionals face the most draconian anti-trade union laws. The Government curtails their right to be heard because it knows it is failing them. Silencing health workers silences the patient voice too. Any attempts to further limit workers’ rights to challenge their unfair treatment will be strongly resisted.’

The announcement was made as thousands of rail workers staged their second strike of the week in a bitter dispute over jobs, pay and conditions, which led to four out of five trains being cancelled.

Subject to parliamentary approval, the changes are made through statutory instruments and are set to come into force over the coming weeks and will apply across England, Scotland and Wales.

One statutory instrument on maximum damages courts can be awarded if strikes are found to have been unlawful will be laid on Friday, while a second regarding agency workers will be laid on Monday, according to Downing Street.

A No 10 spokesman said: ‘The SI that we’re laying on Monday … we’re hoping will come in force, if Parliament agree it, within weeks, so it wouldn’t have an impact on this week’s action.’

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Downing Street said strike action would add to passengers’ ‘misery’ at airports and called for BA to put contingency measures in place.

A No 10 spokesman said: ‘This is obviously a matter for British Airways and the unions and we would strongly encourage both to come together to find a settlement.

‘We don’t want to see any further disruption for passengers and strike action would only add to the misery being faced by passengers at airports.

‘DfT (Department for Transport) will obviously work closely to look at what contingency measures BA could put in place and we expect BA to put in place contingency measures to ensure that as little disruption is caused, and that where there is disruption that passengers can be refunded’.

A BA statement said: ‘We’re extremely disappointed with the result and that the unions have chosen to take this course of action.

‘Despite the extremely challenging environment and losses of more than £4billion, we made an offer of a 10 per cent payment which was accepted by the majority of other colleagues.

‘We are fully committed to work together to find a solution, because to deliver for our customers and rebuild our business we have to work as a team.

‘We will of course keep our customers updated about what this means for them as the situation evolves.’

EasyJet’s operations in Spain also face a nine-day strike next month. 

Britain could see a summer of strikes as unions representing other professions also flex their muscles in pursuit of inflation-busting pay rises.

The National Education Union has warned that schools could be next in line for strike action unless ministers stump up ‘inflation-plus pay increases for all teachers’.

Unions representing doctors, nurses, civil servants and postal workers are also threatening industrial action over pay.

Some have even demanded settlements of 5 per cent above inflation – which this week hit 9.1 per cent.

A Government aide said the official independent pay review bodies were expected to recommend rises for public sector workers of up to 5 per cent ‘in at least some cases’, the Financial Times reported. These pay increases will have to come from existing budgets.

It came as the boss of the TSSA rail union, Manuel Cortes, said his union could team up with the militant RMT during the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next month to ensure ‘there’ll be no trains running at all’. 

Yesterday Mr Cortes said his union, which is balloting staff at Network Rail and nine train operators, could plot walkouts with the RMT to hit the Commonwealth Games, which begins on July 28.

Asked if the 10-day event, which England last hosted in 2002, will be targeted, he said: ‘That’s clearly a possibility, I rule absolutely nothing out.

‘It’s not inconceivable we will walk out at the same time. And I’m absolutely certain that if our members strike along with the RMT, there’ll be no trains running at all.

‘We’re probably heading towards the biggest strike wave on the railways since 1926.’

Like the RMT, the union is in dispute with Network Rail and train companies over pay and job security.

RMT workers will walk out again for 24 hours tomorrow having already gone on strike yesterday and Tuesday. 

There are fears the union could call another round of strikes as early as July 9.

Meanwhile an organiser of Edinburgh Pride said it is ‘really quite sad’ that thousands are expected to miss the annual event due to tomorrow’s planned rail strikes.

Passengers across the UK will face more disruption this weekend as ongoing train strikes promise to halt thousands of services for a third day.

Jamie Love, marketing director for Edinburgh Pride, said his team are expecting around 5,000 from in and around Scotland’s capital to attend, compared with more than 12,000 people in 2019.

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