With Covid travel restrictions scrapped in March many people have been looking forward to flying off overseas on holiday once more. But long queues at Birmingham Airport in recent days and weeks have affected thousands of travel plans.
There are no reports of passsengers queuing outside this morning (Thursday, May 19), and social media users are reporting that queues are moving steadily on Thursday.
Thousands of passengers were forced to queue outside Birmingham Airport terminal last week on Monday, (May 9) - with 20 people missing flights.
Around 200 Birmingham Airport passengers reportedly missed their flights over the May Day bank holiday weekend. A spokesman for the airport said they will look into the circumstances of anyone who missed their flight.
Birmingham Airport has admitted that it is still training up staff after being forced to lose 43% of its workers during the pandemic which has led to issues after the government fully lifted Covid-19 travel restrictions with no prior warning on March 18th this year.
The airport said it began a recruitment drive in November with the aim of increasing numbers of key roles, including security officers. It is now training its newest recruited security officers who will be on duty soon, to assist with the security search function.
Meanwhile fast-track security bookings have been halted due to high demand - bookings are being honoured for people who had previously made the rervations.
Here are some of the latest social media posts from travellers this morning (Wednesday, May 19).
A Birmingham Airport spokesperson told BirminghamWorld today (Wednesday, May 18): “Around half of the 13,500 customers booked to depart BHX today (Tues May 17) were through security screening and on to their departing flights before 0900.
“A big ‘thank you’ to customers who presented compliant baggage at our pre-flight security screening today - with liquids, gels, pastes and larger electrical items removed.
“This helps all customers keep moving. It also helps our security officers as they carry out the vital task of keeping everyone safe.”
Yesterday (Tuesday), a spokesman for the airport, said:“Around half of the 13,400 customers booked to depart BHX today (Tues May 17) were through security screening and on to their departing flights before 0900.
“A big ‘thank you’ to customers who presented compliant baggage at our pre-flight security screening today - with liquids, gels, pastes and larger electrical items removed. This helps all customers keep moving. It also helps our security officers as they carry out the vital task of keeping everyone safe.”
Yesterday (Monday, May 16)the airport said: “Our operation ran steadily this morning as we helped around half of the 15,600 customers booked to depart BHX today (Mon May 16) through security screening and on to their flights.
“As always, we ask customers to arrive at the airport at the time your airline advises - and to help us help you keep queues moving by removing any liquids, gels, pastes and electrical items from your bags before our security x-ray scanners.”
The airport explained that on Monday last week it was necessary to run security queues outside the terminal because half of the 15,000 customers flying out of the airport today were booked to depart in the busy dawn peak.
Those hoping to jump the queues with fast-track security will be disappointed ot hear that it has been suspended due to high demand.
The airport’s website shows that it is currently not possible to pay extra for the time-saving Express Lane at security, as the fast-track bookings at the airport are now fully subscribed.
Here are some tweets about queues at Birmingham Airport last Monday morning (Monday, May 9).
Why is there more risk of queues at airports now?
The UK government’s major changes to Covid travel rules came into effect on Friday 18 March, and travellers no longer have to fill out “complicated” passenger locator forms, which should also speed up the airport check-in process.
And with spring now upon us, many people are preparing to head abroad via Birmingham. There has been serious disruption at other airports, including Manchester. The airports were forced to lay staff off during the pandemic and are now having to recruit and train new staff, which is also affecting security queues.
Birmingham Airport admitted it has had issues with staff shortages.
In a statement issued to BirminghamWorld in April, Al Titterington, Terminal Operations Director for Birmingham Airport, said: “The recent lifting of Covid-19 travel restrictions is leading to a dramatic upsurge in customers and, in some instances, long queues.
“The cause of the problem is this: having spent the past two years running at about 30% of pre-pandemic volumes, we reduced staff numbers accordingly. Now we have a sudden return of people wanting to fly but we don’t yet have the right numbers of security officers to check everyone through as quickly as we or they would like at peak times.
“We’re working to fix this. We’ve been running a big recruitment drive since January. We’re currently hiring and training more security officers every month until we’re up speed.”
“Please ensure you allow sufficient time to pass through security. For those that have checked-in online please ensure you adhere to the check-in times of your airline and leave plenty of time to clear the security search area.”
You can also check the security queue time from your boarding check point, as well information on flight delays on the Birmingham Airport website, here.
When should I arrive at Birmingham Airport?
Generally, check-in for long haul flights (flights between 6-12 hours) will open approximately four hours before departure.
For short haul services (flights between less than 6 hours), desks will normally open at around two to three hours before departure.
Passengers are advised to check with the airline directly if they wish to confirm precise check-in opening times.
Advice on the customer support section of the Birmingham Airport website says passengers ‘must ensure they allow ample time for the check-in, security and boarding process, and keep a close eye on flight information screens throughout the airport for flight updates and boarding times’.
You can find this by checking the individual airline’s website and searching for your route.
You can also speed up the process by checking in online in advance on your airline’s website or on their app.
Some airlines - including Jet2 - are offering twilight bag drop services at Birmingham Airport, so you can drop off check-in luggage the evening before to smooth the process on the day, but not all airlines do this - you need to check on your airline’s website baggage page in advance for details.
Travelling only with carry-on luggage can speed up your passage through airport - as long as your hand baggage complies with your airline’s size policies and you are not carrying any forbidden items such as liquids over 100ml - see the Government website here for an overview of these items.
Make sure your contact details on your airline booking are up to date too, so your airline can try to alert you to any significant changes or known disruption.
To check which terminals your flight departs from and arrives into, visit the Birmingham Airport website, here.
Can I buy fast-track security passes for Birmingham Airport?
The Express Lane is a separate lane through security at Birmingham Airport, designed to enable passengers to pass through the security area more quickly.
But it is currently not available as the airport has suspended it due to high demand. Previous bookings are being honoured.
When it is available you can pre-book Express Lane security for £4, here.
If you’re travelling with children, under 5’s go free.
When available the service also lets you buy Premium Fast Track vouchers, which can only be pre–booked online for a cost of £5 per person, and must be purchased at least 24 hours prior to their arrival at Birmingham Airport.
The service allows passengers upon arrival to skip the long general queues and gain faster access to Passport Control at the UK Border Force checkpoint by using the separate designated lane.
Are there hotels at the airport?
There are indeed. There are a number of places to stay for passengers, including, Ibis, Novotel, Hilton Garden Inn and a Travelodge.
Check the full list here.
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