A couple missed their flight to Ibiza to celebrate a birthday due to ‘mile-long queues at security’ at Bristol Airport - despite arriving two hours before scheduled departure.
While Paul Vaughan. 48, and Zena Grant, 35, should have been touching down on the Balearic island this morning (April 8), instead they were drowning their sorrows at a Wetherspoon pub back home in Pontypridd.
The £319 flights were for a holiday paid for by Ms Grant as a present to her partner who marks his 49th birthday on Sunday. But arriving by car at Bristol Airport at 4.30am - two hours before their 6.30am Ryanair flight - things started to go wrong.
The pair first waited 45 minutes at the Ryanair baggage check-in, only to be eventually told they did not need to use the service as they had priority tickets. They then went upstairs to departures and discovered a huge queue to get through security.
After waiting 45 minutes, the couple got through and after buying a drink from a shop saw their flight was boarding from the electronic screens at around 6.10am. They walked to the gate, getting there at 6.20am, where they were told the flight gate was closed.
Mr Vaughan said: “There were no ‘last call’ announcements for the flight to say the gate was closing and when we got to the gate there were people outside queuing to get on the plane - it was tough for us both.”
He added: “I saw on the news about problems at the airports, I didn’t think it was going to be like that at Bristol, but it was. The security queue was a mile long, it was worming up and down - I think there were about four queues going on.
“And when we got to the scanners it was absolute chaos. Boxes full of keys and wallets were left out while crowds of people walked around. They need more staff, and they need fewer flights at the time, as when we came back later the queue was gone.”
Having also paid £60 for parking, the pair left the airport and their four-night holiday behind to drive back to Pontypridd, where Mr Vaughan is from. There, they had a drink at the town’s Wetherspoon pub.
Mr Vaughan tweeted: Currently sat in Wetherspoon in Pontypridd as absolute chaos at Bristol Airport and missed my flight.”
In response, Bristol Airport contacted Mr Vaughan, who is set to share his experience with an airport team later today. He is unsure if they will get his money back.
“We just have to find something else to do now to keep our mind off it,” he added.
It isn’t the first time customers have complained of long queues at the airport. On Sunday, Owen Houlihan missed a flight to Murcia after an hour-and-a-half wait in the queue to pass security.
On Monday, Bristol Airport apologised for ‘above average queue times for security’, which is put down to staffing levels. In response to Mr Vaughan’s case, a spokesperson said the queue time for security at the time was approximately 27 minutes.
They added: “We are sorry the customer missed their flight on Friday 8 April.
“We work closely with all business partners to ensure staffing levels are sufficient to provide our normal high levels of service to passengers. Security and customer service teams were on hand to assist customers during the busy peak period.
“We are experiencing high volumes of customers who are not prepared at security, either not removing laptops/iPads and liquids from bags, or have misplaced their boarding cards, all of these issues are adding to the queue times for other customers.
“We advise all customers to arrive in the terminal a minimum of two hours before scheduled 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 to be prepared for the bag checks at security.”