Fuming holidaymakers crawled through an airport baggage carousel curtain to hunt down their suitcases themselves.
As some travellers waited around for up to three and a half hours at Manchester Airport, others took it upon themselves to speed the process up on Monday (May 30), MEN reports.
A woman from Oldham said she flew with Ryanair into the airport's Terminal 3 from Porto, Portugal when chaotic scenes in baggage reclaim broke out until armed police arrived.
Photos of massive queues shave been shared on social media this week as the airport struggles to cope with the number of Brits looking to make the most of a long bank holiday.
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Baggage handler Swissport issued an apology and said current peak periods at airports were "exacerbating resource challenges across the recovering aviation industry".
The holidaymaker who filmed the carousel scenes said: "Passengers got annoyed because they could not get any answers. People were climbing and crawling through the curtain on the carousel belt trying to find their own luggage.
"The bags were there, but there was no one to put them onto the carousel.
"I do not think that anyone got their bags, but I don't know, and the police came armed. They were closing shutters and walking around making the point.
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"People were just trying to get their own bags back. The carousel belts were not moving and no one was there to help us."
Another holidaymaker said: "At first, when we landed, we had to wait for the steps to get off the flight because there was no people around to do that apparently. We finally get off after around 30-40 minutes then went through passport control, where there were no issues.
"Then we went to the baggage reclaim hall. There were hundreds of people there and luggage everywhere on the floor. Some of it was dated from May 27 – it had been there for three days.
"The worst part was that you could not get any answers. There was no one working in the area and no representatives."
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In a statement, Manchester Airport referenced cancelled TUI flights and 'significant challenges' faced with check-in and baggage reclaim operations.
A spokesperson said: "Over the last few days TUI and its appointed ground handler, Swissport, have experienced significant challenges with their check-in and baggage reclaim operations at Manchester airport.
"From extensive discussions with the TUI and Swissport management teams, it is clear that they are experiencing temporary staff shortages, in common with other aviation and travel companies.
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"Given these challenges, we understand TUI's difficult decision to cancel a number of services over the course of the next month, although we are obviously disappointed to see passengers' plans disrupted in this way.
"We will continue to work with TUI, Swissport and other partners to give passengers the best possible service as the travel sector builds back to full strength after the pandemic.
After explaining how the current peak period has stretched the company, Swissport said in a statement: "We are very sorry for our part in the disruption people are experiencing.
"We are working hard to address our resource challenges, with over 2,800 new hirings since the start of the year. We will continue to work with our partners to find solutions for this industry-wide issue."
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