Advice for Gatwick passengers: put everything in your hand luggage

Baggage advice for Gatwick passengers

Flying from Gatwick this weekend? Make sure to pack essential items in your hand luggage as passengers are warned of another possible weekend of baggage chaos at Gatwick airport.

The West Sussex airport's under-fire baggage-handling company Swissport has drafted in 40 extra workers following last weekend's staff-shortage problems which saw some passengers told to go home without collecting their luggage.

And Gatwick management have also brought in their own employees to assist with the bag-recovery operation. Words:PA

A spokeswoman for travel organisation Abta said today: "We hope people can pass through Gatwick smoothly this weekend. But if people are concerned it would be a good idea for them to put essential items in their carry-on bags.

"Both Gatwick and Swissport are putting on extra people and we are confident this should help address the problem."

Swissport has been criticised for using workers on zero-hours contracts who are reluctant to work unsociable hours.

The baggage problem last weekend was at its most acute between 10.45pm on Saturday until the early hours of Sunday, with Richard Sargent, a wheelchair basketball player for
Team GB, being left waiting more than four hours for his wheelchair after returning from a holiday in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Gatwick management have criticised Swissport, saying the company had "failed to meet standards".

A Gatwick spokesman said: "This has been frustrating for passengers and we are disappointed with the recent arrival baggage service. Swissport has committed to getting this right, and we are working closely with them to help. Gatwick is providing additional

"Although we are not permitted to unload the aircraft, we are assisting with transport of bags to the terminal and the unloading of bags on to belts. We've also introduced a free baggage home delivery service for those who prefer not to wait."

Swissport has blamed last week's problems on the arrival of off-schedule flights but has also apologised for its performance.

Swissport said: "Nothing that has happened during the past week gives an indication that this weekend will cause the baggage chaos being suggested.

"In order to accommodate the expected higher level of movements this weekend, Swissport has continued its policy of recruitment to Gatwick and increased its ramp staff accordingly.

"Swissport has taken steps to boost the number of staff available to cover for off-schedule arrivals, increasing its ramp teams by over 40 staff."

The company went on: "The summer peak season puts pressure on all baggage handling companies.

"Swissport is disappointed that we have fallen below our standards during this time and will do all possible to ensure the travelling public are not inconvenienced in any way."

One airline, Monarch, is understood to be ending its contract with Swissport.

Today, Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways' parent company IAG, told ITV News:
"I think they (Swissport) have some issues at Gatwick that they need to address, and if they don't address them to our satisfaction then we have options.

"At this stage we are working with them. We are satisfied they are putting the right measures in place and I'm confident they will resolve them. If they don't we will certainly look at other opportunities."

A Gatwick spokesman said: "Gatwick is operating well and passengers booked to fly through Gatwick this weekend are advised to do so as planned.

"We would like to re-iterate that the issues we saw last weekend were limited to arriving bags and delivery has been good since the weekend. "

He went on: "While we are not anticipating issues with arriving baggage delivery this weekend, we do have a robust contingency plan in place. This includes providing an additional 60 staff to support the Swissport operation.

"On average, bags are delivered on time for 95% of flights at Gatwick and we continue to work closely with our handlers and airlines to ensure our high service standards are met."

UK's best (and worst) airports
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Advice for Gatwick passengers: put everything in your hand luggage

The worst airport in the UK is Aberdeen Airport according to British travellers. The airport, which handles more than three million passengers per year, was given the thumbs down for its facilities including its baggage carousel area, which passengers said is in need of updating.

Luton Airport is in at number 14 and is the least favourite London airport for UK travellers. It's the fifth busiest UK airport and serves as a base for airlines such as easyJet, Monarch and Thomson Airways. One passenger wrote on airline review website Skytrax: "As a frequent flyer all I can say is how embarrassing this airport is as a gateway to our country."

London City Airport is small compared to the capital's four other international airports and is mainly used by business travellers. Passengers said the airport has "expensive parking," although it does offer free WiFi for all. The airport is busiest during the winter months when most airlines fly to top ski destinations.

London Stansted Airport is not the most favoured UK airport by British travellers and was blasted for its "extremely long queues at check-in". The airport located in Essex is the largest base for budget carrier Ryanair, with over 100 destinations served by the airline. In 2012, it was named the fourth busiest airline in the UK after Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester.

Formerly known as Aldergrove Airport, Belfast International Airport lies near the village of Aldergrove in Northern Ireland. It's the busiest airport in Northern Ireland and is the second busiest on the island of Ireland, after Dublin Airport. Malaga, Faro and Alicante are the most popular international routes to and from Belfast International Airport, while Liverpool, Gatwick and Stansted are the busiest domestic routes.

Bristol Airport in North Somerset handles over 5.9 million passengers a year, with Amsterdam, Dublin and Edinburgh the most popular flight routes. It has one of the shortest international airport runways in the country at just 2,011 metres in length, which means large planes are rarely, preventing most long-distance flights.

Located in North West Leicestershire, East Midlands Airport serves the counties of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire and South Yorkshire. The airport has established itself as a hub for low-cost carriers, like, Ryanair and Monarch.

Edinburgh Airport is Scotland's busiest airport and its upgraded terminal building features new car parking facilities and a larger arrivals hall. There are plans for expansion at the airport, with passenger numbers expected to reach a whopping 26 million per year by 2030.

In at number seven is Glasgow Airport, which is located six miles west of the city centre and is Scotland's second busiest airport and the eighth busiest in Britain. The airlines with the biggest presence are British Airways and Loganair, and the busiest routes are the Netherlands, the UAE, Spain and Ireland.

Named after a famous Beatle, Liverpool John Lennon Airport picked up the sixth spot, connecting travellers to UK and European destinations. Around 4.5 million passengers pass through the airport each year. While there is no train station at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, there are shuttle buses from Liverpool South Parkway and Liverpool Hunts Cross.

Britain's busiest airport Heathrow was named the fifth best overall, but was voted the easiest airport to get to and from. Although it is served by Heathrow Express, which is one of the most expensive train journeys in the world, it is also served by several low-cost options, such as London Underground, Heathrow Connect and coach services. Travellers said Heathrow has a "great variety of shops and restaurants," such as Gordon Ramsay Plane Food, The Tin Goose and The Five Tuns.

Birmingham Airport was voted the fourth best British airport. Passengers said it is "compact and customer friendly". Birmingham Airport was also named the fourth easiest airport to get to in the UK, after Gatwick, Manchester and Heathrow Airports.

Newcastle Airport was voted by passengers as the easiest airport to travel through. Passengers of the airport commented on its simple layout and good choice of food and drink options, saying it is "easy to navigate and clean".

Britain's second busiest airport, London Gatwick Airport, handles more than 34 million passengers every year and came in second place, with passengers praising its friendly staff and large check-in areas.

Manchester Airport is Britain's best airport, according to UK travellers! The third busiest airport in the UK welcomes more than nine million passengers each year and hit the top spot for the best customer service, facilities and shopping, as well as the best bars and restaurants. Passengers commended it for being well organised, passenger-friendly and for its accessibility.

A new survey has revealed British travellers' favourite UK airports. The poll by Skyscanner asked 1,600 British flyers to rate the UK's airport on customer service, facilities, shopping, bars and restaurants, and ease of travelling through. Skyscanner's Victoria Bailie said the winning airport is one of Britain's busiest but "it still manages to keep passengers happy". Click through the gallery to find out which airport scooped the top spot...


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