By Andrew Atkinson Passengers at Stansted Airport missed flights to Spain – after a new £70m baggage system upgrade failure plunged departures into chaos.
“We had to wait in that awful long queue because the belts are down – it’s completely put a downer on the whole thing,” said Trinity Hammatt, 21, from Haverhill, and Thomas Hammond, 21, flying to Valencia.
The couple had arrived at the airport three hours in advance, as advised by Ryanair: “Everyone we spoke to brushed us off. I understand it’s busy and manic – but it’s been overwhelming – no-one is taking responsibility,” she added.
The baggage system upgrade in May involved replacing old conveyor belts and chutes with 2.4km of track and 180 automated carts.
“Contingency measures were immediately put in place with our airlines to mitigate disruption and manually process baggage while engineers worked to fix the issue,” said an airport spokesperson.
Travellers faced long queues around the terminal – as staff raced to manually process luggage – after the system, which recently underwent a £70m upgrade, was thought to have suffered a power issue.
“We queued up to check in and that progressed quite quickly. But it really went off the rails and we were all advised to drop our bags at a particular zone. There was absolute chaos,” said Gemma Jackson travelling from Kent with her husband and their children to Lanzarote.
“Every single passenger from every airline seemed to be in the same queue.
“There was no crowd control, it snaked around the entire airport – and people were pushing in.
“We waited politely at security control. Then our gate closed and we were turned away,” she added.
Ellie Winstanley, 27, flying with Ryanair, advised to join a queue, said: “The conveyor belt stopped working. We rushed through security which was fairly quick – then sprinted – and they closed the gate on time.
“One woman with two kids looked teary and so incredibly stressed.”
An airport spokesman apologised for the disruption and said the problem had been resolved: “The system is now operating as normal – passengers are still asked to arrive at the airport at least three hours before their flight departs in accordance with their airline’s latest advice.”