Gatwick staff shortage means passengers wait five hours for bags… or go home

One tweet posted by a weary traveller shows the chaotic scene (Picture: Sophie Wood/Twitter)

About 700 passengers at Gatwick Airport were told to go home without their luggage, while others waited more than five hours for it to appear.

Those landing at the South and North terminals on Saturday night were left fuming at the delay.

Baggage handling company Swissport failed to put on enough staff to cope with passengers on BA, Monarch, and Thomas Cook flights.

Those flying with Thomson were told their luggage would be sent to their homes.

It is understood that easyJet passengers were also affected but were not advised to leave without their baggage.

Exhausted passenger Sue Heffernan Smith tweeted: ‘I landed at Gatwick at 11.20pm and have just got on a train home. It is now 4.20am. Baggage fiasco.’

Will Bower tweeted: ‘Pulling an ‘all nighter’ with my 700 friends at Gatwick North Terminal Baggage Reclaim, bring water.’ Another wrote: ‘I am backing Gatwick for a second runway but if u cant handle passenger influx with one runway, how will u handle 2??’



Swissport was unavailable for comment and there was no reference to the delays on its website.

But some passengers alleged that Swissport failed because it has put some staff on zero-hours contracts and laid off others.

A Gatwick Airport spokesman also blamed staff shortages with Swissport but said operations were now normal.

The spokesman said: ‘Working with airlines, arrangements were made for passengers to leave their bags at the airport to be sent on to their home address. Bags are expected to be returned to passengers over the next 24 to 48 hours.

‘Passengers able to return to [the] airport can also collect bags. Staff at Skybreak ticket desk in North and South terminal will be able to assist.’