'Total chaos' at Bristol Airport sees couple miss out on Croatia holiday

A couple from Gloucestershire missed their flight at Bristol Airport thanks to “total chaos”. Sue and Murray Stewart travelled in the early hours from their home in Sedbury to Bristol Airport for a 6.10am easyJet flight to Split in Croatia.

The pair arrived on time to drop off their vehicle at Silver Zone and experienced queues at the drop-off, and congestion for transfer buses and inside the airport. The delays were so severe that the couple missed their flight and cancelled their two-week holiday abroad.

Instead of sipping on drinks while sunbathing on a Croatian beach, the pair are spending time in their allotment and going on a campervan holiday. Bristol Airport has since acknowledged congestion in the terminal, an issue with the baggage sortation system and apologised for those travellers who missed their flights.

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Sue, an admin worker at a special needs school in Bristol, insisted the pair arrived in plenty of time, but faced “total chaos” almost immediately upon arrival. She said: “We made sure we were there in good time.

“When we arrived at the car park, it was rammed full of people and vehicles trying to get in. We could see Silverzone entrance and there were people queuing around the place, which is never something I have experienced. We parked and the queue for the key drop was quite awful, as well as the queue at the surrounding building.

“We weren’t sure how long it would be. The queue for the bus was no better - there clearly wasn’t enough busses and no one managing the queue. Like there people who needed to travel to the terminal for earlier flights than earlier, so they should be prioritised.”

After dropping off their car keys, the pair slowly waited for a transfer bus to Bristol Airport along with dozens of other passengers. With time ticking and anxious they will miss their flight, the couple made their way to luggage check-in, but faced further delays.

Sue recalled: “The easyJet check-in was massive. At that point, we just thought we weren't going to make it. We did manage to run to FastTrack to an easyJet rep who was helping people out.

“We ran upstairs and because we were late, the booking pass to get into security won't let us in. The security guard was really helpful and got us through and by this time, the flight was boarding. When we got through security, it said ‘gate closed’.

Bristol Airport apologised for numerous issues that caused delays over the Bank Holiday weekend
Bristol Airport apologised for numerous issues that caused delays over the Bank Holiday weekend -Credit:Getty Images

“The gate number disappeared and there was no TUI rep or easyJet rep. We were hanging around as we would be a no-show on the flight and someone would get us. We were waiting for our bags to be returned back to us and were unsure if they were on the flight.”

Disappointed about missing their flight, the pair were able to get their bags back before they returned to Silver Zone. They had to wait nearly an hour for their vehicle to be returned.

The pair are currently spending their holiday time working at their allotment and a few days away in their campervan. Sue and Murray said they have flown from Bristol Airport many times, with two further flights already booked. But their latest experience has left them keen to get to the airport extra early to prevent further disappointments.

After lodging complaints to Bristol Airport, she said: “There were a lot of people who probably missed their flights. What was going to be done - nothing there was no resolution.

“We hope for some compensation but we have to wait from travel ensure. We have lost £2,000. I have lived in Bristol and always flown from Bristol Airport, but we have never seen anything like this ever.

“It would be nice to have something back from Bristol Airport about the complaint but nothing so far and that was Sunday.”

A spokeswoman for Bristol Airport said: “We apologise for the longer than average waiting times experienced at the airport for a short period of time on Sunday 26 May. Customer volumes were high ahead of the Bank Holiday getaway and some congestion was experienced throughout the terminal, and this was further impacted due to an isolated issue with the baggage sortation system.

“We are collaborating with all business partners on site, and reviewing how we can provide additional contingency to avoid a repeat of the problems experienced by customers on Sunday morning.

“We advise customers to ensure they allow sufficient time to complete the relevant processes when flying from Bristol Airport this summer and arrive in the terminal a minimum of two hours prior to flight departure time to allow sufficient time to complete all the necessary check-in, bag-drop, security and boarding processes ahead of their flight and allowing additional transfer time if parking in the Silver Zone car park.”