The combination of mass EasyJet check in through what can only be described as a self-service checkout (and we ALL know how much we love those at the supermarket), coupled with the ineptitude of Manchester's Passport Control almost made us miss our flight.
EasyJet think that it's really smart to allow EVERYBODY, regardless of what time their flight actually is, to check in whenever they please. This means that people flying at 9.30am are checking in at the same time as people flying as 7.00am. We arrived earlier than recommended for check in to find the hall rammed full and the queue snaking from one end of the hall to the other, with no staff available to assist or answer questions from those in the queue, and just two staff at the self-service check ins to cover multiple check in points.
And once all those people flying at 9.30am have checked in, they then go and queue up for Passport Control AHEAD of the people flying at 7.00am who have arrived in accordance with airline advice.
Add this to a complete lack of urgency by Manchester security staff, and one person pulling individual flights out of the queue to expedite them through security (but not even trying to be heard over hundreds of pissed off, chuntering passengers) and you really have a recipe for utter disaster.
One passenger even collapsed in the queue, it was so hot and airless.
Our flight was pulled out of the main security queue at the same time we were due to actually board the flight. We were then placed in another queue with all the other people who were panicking about missing their flights and a Security Officer who had NO. CONCEPT. OF. URGENCY. He couldn't have moved slower if he'd tried.
Ultimately, we did get on board, but we had to run (and I mean really run) from Passport Control to the gate, shouting people to get out of the way and not exactly able to enjoy Duty Free, or breakfast somewhere, etc. My partner has a heart condition and the combination of the stress of the situation, and then having to run to catch the flight was the last thing he needed.
So, thank you EasyJet for enabling our holiday to get off to the worst possible start by allowing the whole freaking world to check in at the same time. It is grossly unfair to allow mass check in like that and you need to return to having segregated check in for individual flights to ensure the people who OUGHT to be prioritised ARE prioritised.
That said, the flight crew were lovely - they got us water to drink as soon as we boarded to help us recover from the run, and were very apologetic. However, an airline should not be allowed to operate their check in in this manner when the airport itself is already incapable of dealing with the volume of customers passing through security.
Needless to say, we will not fly EasyJet again, and we will not fly via Manchester again.