A ‘huge baggage carousel’ has been spotted outside a terminal at the UK’s busiest airport as staff grapple with a ‘permanent problem with the baggage system’.
Deborah Haynes, Sky News’ defense and security editor, witnessed the chaotic scenes as she left Heathrow’s Terminal 2 after an early evening arrival from Brussels.
She said: “The warning signs that all was not well were clear when collecting baggage.
“There were clusters of ownerless suitcases clustered around various conveyor belts.
“I was wondering where the owners were.”
Haynes had been told to put her hand luggage in the hold of the plane before her flight, as there was no room for it on board.
Luckily, she said she only had to wait “a bit” after arriving.
But she added: “Then when I came out I could see this crazy mass of suitcases filling the pavement like a huge carpet of luggage.
“I’ve never seen anything like it.
“Although it seemed to try to be an organized chaos.
“Managers appeared to be trying to store the suitcases next to poles with letters of the alphabet taped to them – perhaps this was to match the name of the owner of each bag.
“It seemed like an epic task.”
Sky News’ international affairs editor Dominic Waghorn was at the same terminal on Friday evening and said: “Passengers are being told they won’t be able to collect their bags for two days.
“We heard a passenger say ‘but I’m climbing Kilimanjaro tomorrow, I need all my stuff’.”
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Earlier today there was a technical issue with the Terminal 2 baggage system which has now been resolved.
“Passengers can now check in as normal, but a number of passengers who left Terminal 2 earlier today may have traveled without their baggage.
“We are working closely with airlines to reunite passengers with their luggage as soon as possible.
“We are sorry that there have been disruptions to passenger travel.”
It comes after weeks of travel chaos, with various airports in the UK and across Europe struggling to manage the peak summer season as they run out of workers.
Airlines have faced similar staffing issues, leading to hundreds of cancellations over the past month.
Earlier, Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye told Sky News that airport passengers had only experienced minor delays.
He defended the industry against criticism from his inability to meet the return of traveler demand after two years of COVID closures.
Also on Friday, Gatwick Airport announced it was limiting its number of daily flights to 825 in July and 850 in August to help passengers “experience better and more reliable service” after a review of its operations.