Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Airport staff warn two-hour queues over new scanners could hit summer holidays

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A MAJOR airport could face mammoth security queues during the summer holidays after an insider revealed the reason for delays.

Furious passengers have waited hours to get through security after Birmingham Airport installed a new technology which allows people to travel with liquids up to two litres in their bags. 

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Holidaymakers queued for hours over the weekendCredit: x.com/@wesandpete
Birmingham Airport has seen travel chaos over the last two days

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Birmingham Airport has seen travel chaos over the last two daysCredit: X/@CaptainGlobie
Once in the terminal queues still stretched on for a long time

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Once in the terminal queues still stretched on for a long timeCredit: Supplied

The disruptions began on Thursday June 6 when long lines formed amid confusion over new 100ml liquid rules and 3D baggage scanners.

But the chaos did not ease up over the weekend as people turned up three hours early for their flight only to find themselves stuck in long lines at security.

Holidaymakers were left queueing outside the departure check-in areas before even reaching the security hall.

And some passengers even claimed to have been on their feet for “well over two hours”.

Now, an insider has claimed that the queues could last for months and the airport is “understaffed”, leaving employees “overworked” and “struggling”.

The anonymous employee told BirminghamLive that passengers complain to him about missed or delayed flights regularly and said the situation is “really bad”.

They said that the main reason for the current problems is the new security system.

And the situation could remain like this until the end of August and even into September, the source claimed.

The disgruntled employee added: “But the airport should have employed extra security staff to stop this from happening. We’re getting a lot of delayed flights, or customers missing their flights, which is really bad. A lot of us are really overworked at the moment.

“It doesn’t seem to be slowing down. I think it will remain like this until at least the end of August and into September.”

A Birmingham Airport spokesperson said in response to the allegations: “The airport has invested £60 million of privately-funded money into our new security search area. This new facility boasts streamlined and simpler screening equipment to search customers’ bags.

“However, we cannot use the new screening equipment to its full capability at the moment due to a partial regulatory restriction. This is out of our control.

Travel chaos as furious passengers are forced to wait in huge queues outside Birmingham Airport in ‘total carnage’

“The airport has continually planned for this transition from our old security area, to our new, and had considered the impact of the building works, new equipment, and the unfamiliar queuing areas.

“We have around a million passengers use our airport each month, the majority of whom have a good experience despite the ongoing construction works.

“In addition to the changes we have made for our customers we have also catered for our colleagues. As part of the building works a new colleague welfare area has been created to include a large breakout area, dedicated toilets, a prayer room and a quiet room.

Yesterday, entrepreneurs Wes and Pete posted on social media site X, formerly Twitter, after joining the queue first thing for a 7.20am flight to Cyprus.

At 4am they posted a video of the already formed queue outside the airport and said “seems like another day of chaos”.

By 6am the pair have made it along the line into a tent-covered area of the queue “which is slow to get through”.

Five minutes later, they post again saying the line has only grown since they had been in the line.

At 6.58, they said they had “just about made it” and had made it through security with the boards showing their flight status as ‘Final Call’.

“Absolute shambles and a terrible, stressful, exhausting start to the holiday.

“We certainly felt like livestock today!

“No time to buy anything, get food, go to the loo, make use of the lounge I’ve paid for or sit down after being on our feet for well over two hours.

“When bag drop doesn’t open until two hours before the flight, and it takes one hour and 45 minutes to clear security, it’s just absolutely the most stressful start to the holiday.”

In May, Birmingham Airport has introduced a £60million “state-of-the-art” security hall which allows passengers to carry liquids of up to two litres.

Absolute shambles and we certainly felt like livestock today.”

Wes And Pete, X

But regulatory approval is yet to be granted for the increased liquid limits at Birmingham.

New CT scanners already allow passengers to keep their liquids and electronics loose in their hand luggage without taking them out of the bag at security checks.

But despite the improved scanners, holidaymakers are still asked to stick to 100ml containers for the meantime.

The advanced tech, which create a 3D image of what is inside passengers’ bags, was already in use across five UK airports.

BHX was first hit by long queues last Thursday and Friday.

But, despite what passengers said on social media, a spokesperson said the lines had “moved fast”.

One passenger said: “Travelling from Birmingham Airport is an absolute shambles. It has the longest queue for security that I’ve ever seen in my 49 years.

“And check in desks open 2 hours before, despite tickets recommending 3 hours.

“If you’re booking holiday now avoid it like the plague.”

When Wes and Pete posted the first video at 5.18am there was a long queue already ahead of them

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When Wes and Pete posted the first video at 5.18am there was a long queue already ahead of themCredit: x.com/@wesandpete
Passengers complained about having to wait for hours like "livestock"

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Passengers complained about having to wait for hours like “livestock”Credit: x.com/@wesandpete
Longs queues also hit Birmingham Airport last Thursday morning

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Longs queues also hit Birmingham Airport last Thursday morning

Why are there long queues at Birmingham Airport?

Birmingham Airport has recently opened a new  £60million “state-of-the-art” security hall upgrade in May after months of construction work.

The hall is part of a wider £300million upgrade to the airport which is expecting to handle 18million flyers a year by 2033.

The upgrade will eventually allow passengers to carry liquids of up to two litres in cabin baggage.

But regulatory approval is yet to be granted for the increased liquid limits at Birmingham.

A spokesperson has previously said that work continues on the hall.

“Although our new security hall is operational, we still have on-going building works on-site and are awaiting regulatory approval that will allow liquids of up to two litres to be taken through in cabin baggage. 

“These building works will continue for the foreseeable future as we redevelop the airport, which is part of our planned, and previously announced, £300m investment.”

“Until further notice, passengers are advised that they can only carry liquids up to 100ml, albeit it can stay in hand luggage and no longer needs to be in a plastic bag, when departing from Birmingham Airport.”

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