Long queues have also been seen at London’s St Pancras station, with slow-moving queues stretching outside the building as hoards of customers wait for Eurostar services.
Passengers reported problems on Friday and Saturday with more travel chaos expected as EasyJet announced it will cancel more than 200 flights over the next 10 days.
In a blow to half-term travellers, the budget airline said the cancellations will impact around 24 flights each day from Gatwick between May 28 and June 6.
Passengers described the queues at the airport on Saturday as “absolute chaos” with some having to wait up to five hours for flights that were later cancelled.
Among the comments, one traveller wrote on Twitter: “What is going on at Gatwick? Queues snaking around the entire concourse…and then when I finally get onboard my seat is double booked! Total shambles.”
— The Entrepreneurs Growth Club (@CharlieDay_EGC) May 28, 2022
Another passenger added: “Couldn’t be more disappointed with my experience! We were due to get on a flight at 2.30 yesterday, we got bumped to 9.45pm then at 1.07am it was cancelled. The airport staff didn’t have a clue, it was dirty and the queues were so long! An awful experience.”
A spokesperson for Gatwick replied: “Sorry to hear your flight was cancelled, Charlie, and we understand how frustrating and disappointing that must be. We hope the airline has kept you fully informed.”
Others wrote: “What a shambles @vueling. 3hrs at bag drop with 2 small kids, a sprint through @Gatwick_Airport to find no flight info once through security so 2+ hrs sat on the floor. Circa 6 flights leaving within an hr and just 3 staff! PS. These guys deserve a medal for managing the queue .”
“Terrible experience in Gatwick. Flight to Berlin cancelled, everyone told to go to airline desk 40 minutes ago and there is no one at the desk. Queue of over 200 people and no staff around at all. Awful.”
Tui has cancelled three flights from Birmingham, two flights from Gatwick and one from Manchester.
The travel company said “various operational and supply chain issues” are to blame for the flight cancellations.
Glad we got to gatwick 3 hours early, @TUIUK has 3 check in desks, no bag drops, all flights in same queue, you'd think as they know its going to be busy they would get some extra cover!
— David Webb (@DavidWe46549583) May 28, 2022
A Tui spokesperson said: “We would like to apologise for the inconvenience to customers who have experienced flight delays or a flight cancellation.
“Delays have been caused due to a combination of factors and we are doing everything we can to keep customers updated, and will provide refreshments and, where appropriate, provide hotel accommodation.
“Where we have made the difficult decision to cancel a small number of flights, customers will receive a full refund within 14 days and we will contact them directly to help them try and find another holiday.
“We would like to thank our customers for their understanding and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
EasyJet earlier said its 200 cancellations were “necessary to provide reliable services over this busy period”.
It comes after a software failure forced EasyJet to cancel around 200 flights on Thursday.
A spokeswoman for the company said in a statement: “We have taken the decision to make advance cancellations of around 24 Gatwick flights per day starting from May 28 until June 6.
“We are very sorry for the late notice of some of these cancellations and inconvenience caused for customers booked on these flights, however we believe this is necessary to provide reliable services over this busy period.
“Customers are being informed from today (Friday) and provided with the option to rebook their flight or receive a refund and can apply for compensation in line with regulations.
“Over the next week we will be operating around 1,700 flights per day, with around a quarter of these operating to and from Gatwick.”
A Gatwick Airport spokesperson said: “Any flight cancelations and disruption to passengers is regrettable.
“The airport is operating normally today but will be busy today with over 700 flights and 110,000 passengers. We continue to advise passengers to arrive at the airport as soon as check-in opens for their flight. Typically, this is 3 hours for long-haul and 2-2 ½ for short-haul.”
Elsewhere, Liverpool FC supporters travelling to the Champions League final and families embarking on half-term getaways faced long queues at the Port of Dover and UK airports.
Thousands of fans descended on the Kent port on Friday to board cross-Channel ferries en route to Paris for Saturday’s match.
Airline passengers were also stuck in lengthy queues at airports such as Manchester, Stansted and Bristol.
There is also high demand for sailings from families embarking on trips to the continent for half-term.
The port advised passengers to “pack adequate supplies including food and water” as it is expecting “a very busy week ahead”.