An “enormous luggage carpet” has been spotted outside a terminal at the UK’s busiest airport, as staff grapple with an “ongoing issue with the baggage system”.
Sky News defence and security editor Deborah Haynes 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 at baggage claim.
“There were clusters of suitcases without owners grouped around various conveyor belts.
“I wondered where the owners were.”
Haynes had been asked to put her hand luggage in the plane’s hold before her flight, as there was not space for it onboard.
Luckily, she said she only had to wait “a little” for it after her arrival.
But she added: “Then when I stepped outside I could see this crazy mass of suitcases filling the pavement like an enormous luggage carpet.
“I’ve never seen anything like it.
“Though it did seem to be trying to be organised chaos.
“Officials looked to be trying to arrange the suitcases next to poles with letters from the alphabet stuck on them – maybe it was to correspond with the name of the owner of each bag.
“It looked to be 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 may not get their luggage for two days.
“One passenger was overheard saying ‘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 are now able to check-in as normal, but a number of passengers who departed from Terminal 2 earlier today may have travelled without their luggage.
“We are working closely with airlines to reunite passengers with their luggage as soon as possible.
“We’re sorry there has been disruption to passenger journeys.”
It comes after weeks of travel chaos, with various airports in the UK and across Europe struggling to handle the peak summer season while short of workers.
Airlines have faced the same staffing issues, resulting in hundreds of cancellations over the past month.
Earlier, Heathrow’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye told Sky News that the airport’s passengers had faced only minor delays.
He defended the industry against criticism of its failure to cope with the return of traveller demand after two years of COVID lockdowns.
Also on Friday, Gatwick Airport announced that it is limiting its number of daily flights to 825 in July and 850 in August to help passengers “experience a more reliable and better standard of service” after a review of its operations.