Chaos at airport disrupts holiday plans of hundreds of thousands of Australians | Tourism (Australia)

As airport queues stretched out on Saturday, ruining the vacation plans of hundreds of thousands of travelers, Sydney Airport said people arriving too far in advance for their flights were exacerbating problems caused by wet weather, school holidays and ongoing staff shortages. .

In Sydney, Guardian Australia has learned that there were technical problems with baggage check-in systems on several domestic airlines on Friday and Saturday, which has contributed to long queues at baggage drop-off.

Sydney airport is crazy this morning. Check-in is fully packed and the bag drop line is out the door and spills out into a covered area next to the terminal. pic.twitter.com/nJGp0z207r

— Molly Glassey (@GlasseyMolly) July 1, 2022

Baggage drop-off lines meandered more than 100 yards out the front door.

The disruptions were significant on Friday due to industrial action on the train network that restricted services to the airport. At some points, only two trains per hour were running to airport stations on Friday, but this rose to about seven services per hour on Saturday.

Many travelers chose to drive to the airport due to train shortages and the wet weather, further adding to the congestion, an airport spokeswoman said.

As a result, pedestrian traffic between the parking lot, the drop-off bays and the terminals was so great that traffic was reduced to one lane for fear of pedestrian safety.

Flash flood warnings in Sydney also contributed to disruptions, and wet and stormy weather across the country caused a series of flight cancellations, delays and diversions.

More than 350,000 people were expected to pass through Sydney Airport between Friday and Monday, and more than 2.1 million between June 27 and July 17 – 300,000 more than during the Easter holidays.

While the airport has been stressing for months that domestic travelers must arrive two hours before their flight due to chronic staff shortages, an airport spokeswoman said some passengers had taken the message with great caution, arriving so far before their flight that they caused congestion in the terminals. .

She warned travelers not to arrive earlier or later than two hours before their flight departure.

Despite the appearance of long queues, the spokeswoman said they are progressing quickly and check-in lines on Saturday were no longer than 30 minutes.

Sign up to receive Guardian Australia’s top stories every morning

Before Covid, the airport employed more than 30,000 people, but it is estimated that 15,000 jobs have been lost during the pandemic, and the airport is desperately trying to fill 5,000 jobs at security, ground and baggage handling companies.

Meanwhile, travelers at Melbourne airport reported long queues amid several canceled flights on Saturday morning.

Chaotic scenes at Australian airports have been recorded throughout the year, but a growing number of Australians looking to travel abroad this winter, as evidenced by long delays for passports, are believed to contribute to the regular increase in airport activity during school holidays.