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Sydney Airport travel chaos as passengers wait hours in queue as staff shortages cripple industry

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Travellers are waiting up to two hours in long queues at Sydney Airport as airline crew struggle to cope with the school holiday rush amid staff shortages.

Frustrated passengers took to social media on Friday morning to vent their anger at the long wait times and packed-out terminals.

Photos show large crowds of holidaymakers lining up outside a Qantas check-in terminal with queues stretching for hundreds of metres. 

Passengers have missed their flights while some have claimed the long hold-up in the terminals has been worsened by queue jumpers barging to the front of the lines.

The scenes of chaos come after the airport experienced its ‘busiest day’ of the year on Thursday after similar sized crowds formed outside the terminals.  

Airport bosses have blamed school holidays, a shortage of security personnel and, remarkably, forgetful passengers out of the habit of removing items from their luggage for scanning.  

Travellers are waiting up to two hours in long queues at Sydney Airport as airline crew struggle to cope with the school holiday rush amid staff shortages

Travellers are waiting up to two hours in long queues at Sydney Airport as airline crew struggle to cope with the school holiday rush amid staff shortages

Frustrated passengers took to social media on Friday morning to vent their frustration at the long wait times and packed-out terminals

Frustrated passengers took to social media on Friday morning to vent their frustration at the long wait times and packed-out terminals

Passengers have missed their flights while some have claimed the long hold-up in the terminals has been worsened by queue jumpers barging to the front of the lines

Passengers have missed their flights while some have claimed the long hold-up in the terminals has been worsened by queue jumpers barging to the front of the lines

‘We’re facing a perfect storm at the moment. Traffic numbers are picking up, travellers are inexperienced after two years of not travelling, and the close contact rules are making it hard to fill shifts and staff the airport,’ Sydney Airport chief executive Geoff Culbert told the Sydney Morning Herald. 

Mr Culbert apologised for the inconvenience of the delays.

One traveller said latecomers were barging to the front of the queue.  

‘People who are late push in the queue,’ he wrote. ‘And people who are on time are pushed back, waiting longer than they should, so people who are late are not inconvenienced. Pathetic.’ 

Another person said they had missed their flight because of the long wait time.

‘Absolute mayhem at #SydneyAirport this morning!’ she wrote. ‘Missed our flight and fingers crossed to find another way down to Melbourne.’  

Nine Network reporter Tom Steinfort was one of those caught up in the delays on Thursday, tweeting ‘Sydney Airport WTF’ as he panned across long queues of people inside the terminal.

Journalism lecturer Sue Stephenson was also caught up in the extensive delays.

Sydney Airport bosses blamed school holidays, a shortage of security personnel and, remarkably, forgetful passengers out of the habit of removing items from their luggage for scanning (pictured, travellers at the airport on Thursday)

Sydney Airport bosses blamed school holidays, a shortage of security personnel and, remarkably, forgetful passengers out of the habit of removing items from their luggage for scanning (pictured, travellers at the airport on Thursday)

'Thousands spilling over into carpark next to terminal. Only one officer controlling the crowd. How many flights are going to be missed??' one traveller tweeted on Thursday

‘Thousands spilling over into carpark next to terminal. Only one officer controlling the crowd. How many flights are going to be missed??’ one traveller tweeted on Thursday

‘Thousands spilling over into carpark next to terminal. Only one officer controlling the crowd. How many flights are going to be missed??’ she tweeted. 

Another traveller, James Ryall, described the scene as ‘absolutely insane’. 

‘Security line starts inside and snakes back and forth, then it goes outside and snakes back and forth, then you can go back inside and snakes back and forth,’ he posted.

Passengers were warned to get to the airport two hours before their flights in the lead-up to Easter, as Mr Culbert urged travellers to be ‘patient’ as the industry got back in the swing of processing large numbers of people though gates.  

'Security line starts inside and snakes back and forth, then it goes outside and snakes back and forth, then you can go back inside and snakes back and forth,' traveller James Ryall posted about the delays on Thursday

‘Security line starts inside and snakes back and forth, then it goes outside and snakes back and forth, then you can go back inside and snakes back and forth,’ traveller James Ryall posted about the delays on Thursday

One traveller said an announcement was made that it was the busiest day at Sydney Airport this year. 

Some people said they waited between 90 minutes and two hours from the time they joined the queue to reach the security gates. 

Widespread domestic air travel only recommenced earlier this year as states dropped Covid border restrictions as nationwide vaccination levels rose above 90 per cent. 

While people appeared initially reluctant to travel again for fear of being caught away from home in a snap lockdown, Thursday’s numbers at Sydney Airport suggests that fear has been overcome. 

Passengers have been warned to get to the airport two hours before their flights in the lead-up to Easter

Passengers have been warned to get to the airport two hours before their flights in the lead-up to Easter

One traveller said an announcement was made that Thursday was the busiest day at Sydney Airport this year

One traveller said an announcement was made that Thursday was the busiest day at Sydney Airport this year

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