Why are the UK’s airports still such a stupid mess?

As the Platinum Jubilee weekend approaches, travellers are facing cancelled flights and lengthy queues... again

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham
News Editor, Time Out UK and Time Out London
Airport queues
Photograph: Brookgardener /

Months after the chaos first started, UK airports are still in a pretty dire state. Right across the country, thousands of travellers continue to face huge queues, loads of left-behind bags and hundreds of last-minute flight delays and cancellations.

And with the Platinum Jubilee weekend coming up – and plenty of people no doubt looking to make the most of the four-day bank holiday – it’s got us asking, again... why are UK airports such a stupid mess?

Well, the answers are similar to before. Airports and airlines, having made huge numbers of staff redundant in the pandemic, didn’t sufficiently prepare for a return to normal levels of air travel. Which means that hours-long queues at check-in, security, baggage reclaim and passport control have become the norm, while carriers like EasyJet and British Airways have been forced to cancel hundreds of flights.

On top of all that, however, there have been even more problems in recent days. EasyJet has been suffering from an ‘IT glitch’ which has caused even more flight delays and cancellations. Some flights were reportedly even cancelled after passengers had boarded the plane, which is, whichever way you look at it, pretty shambolic.

It seems that when airport authorities said that these issues might last not just through the summer but all the way into next year, they really weren’t fibbing. The continued chaos has been aggravated by the fact that it takes longer to employ people in the aviation industry due to more stringent security checks. 

British travellers might find some kind of consolation in knowing that it actually isn’t just the UK that is suffering from airport bedlam. Across Europe, the likes of Amsterdam and Dublin are also facing lengthy queues and lots of cancellations. On the other hand, for some of you that might mean facing airport trouble at both ends. The joys of post-pandemic travel, eh?

Did you see that this budget airline is selling return flights from London to New York for just £255?

Plus: Qantas is planning to launch direct London-Sydney flights.

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