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Drivers stuck in two-hour queues at Dover miss their ferries to Europe

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Thousands of British families have been caught up in hours of delays at the Port of Dover this morning and some have missed their ferries entirely as a surge of holidaymakers make a break for the continent over the Bank Holiday weekend. 

Travellers are also facing long delays and heavy congestion on the country's motorways with the Dartford Crossing particularly affected whilst those looking to travel on the Eurostar at London St Pancras have also encountered long waits at security. 

Meanwhile passengers at Heathrow airport who have seen their flights cancelled by an IT glitch have been pictured joining sprawling queues just to get the latest information on their travel arrangements on the first day of the half term break.  

Up to 5,500 cars and 350 coaches are predicted to travel through Dover today and the Port has been under pressure to put measures in place to stop traffic getting snarled up after declaring a critical incident this Easter. 

At around 11am, Ferry operator DFDS said reported that wait times for motorists at check-in had increased to two hours - enraging those in line.

DOVER: Traffic queues for ferries at the Port of Dover in Kent as the getaway for half term and the bank holiday weekend begins

DOVER: Included in the delays is a charity volunteer who has seen his trip to Ukraine delayed 

DOVER: Port bosses are anxious to avoid a repeat of Easter where some travellers waited as long as 17 hours

DARTFORD: Heavy clockwise traffic on the A282 Queen Elizabeth II bridge at the Dartford river crossing in Kent

LONDON: Eurostar passengers have joined long lines just to get through security 

BRISTOL: Passengers faced some lengthy queues at the check-in desks this morning

DOVER: HGV traffic has been building up along the A20 approach to the Port of Dover this morning

MANCHESTER: Holidaymakers queue for check-in at Manchester Airport's terminal 2 this morning

DOVER: Some drivers have already left their cars and are waiting by the roadside

DOVER: Tensions are fraying at the port after long delays to pass security

But despite the best efforts of port staff to maintain an orderly flow of passengers, there are signs that tension is rising in the Dover queues. 

Posting a picture of a seagull, one man raged: 'One hour queue for the French Border in Dover and they have a seagull running it!' 

One holidaymaker, Filby Hyde, tweeted Irish Ferries - which operates out of Dover - to say the Port is 'not fit for purpose' after missing his ferry due to congestion.

He wrote: 'Not your fault, but arrived two hours before sailing and missed the boat.

'The Port of Dover is not fit for purpose.'

Amanda Mason also faced over an hour's wait while trying to board a ferry this morning.

She tweeted: 'Been sat here waiting for over an hour and already missed my ferry.

'Surely #portofdover you would have got it sorted after all this time! Brexit changes were two years ago.'

Included amongst the slow moving crawl at the port is children's charity director Iain Lee who tweeted: 'I picked the wrong day for my next pickup drive to Ukraine. Dover backed up to a stand still. Not making the boat at this rate.' 

Chief executive Doug Bannister says the Port of Dover has reviewed traffic volumes since the 17-hour Easter delays and insists ferry operators are working with coach companies to smooth the flow of traffic.

He told the BBC: 'We created a new processing centre in the western part of the port to better sequence the traffic coming into the port and to the advanced passenger information checks.' 

The Port also has a covered area where coaches will go for passenger passport checks.

Mr Bannister added: 'And then finally, what we've done is we've worked with all of our port partners, but specifically Police aux Frontières, to ensure that the resource levels are what we require, to make certain that we can maintain the flow rates. And they responded very well.'

He said the port had considered asking ferry operators to limit the number of passenger bookings but decided to work with them to ease congestion instead.

He added: 'We've had a look at it. But to be fair, what I would rather do is make certain that collectively, we come together and try and service the demand of the coach industry as best as we possibly can.'

However, Doug claims 'it would be foolish' to guarantee that there will not be more queues at the Port.

He added: 'Because one of the things that we have found is that things happen, right.

'But what I can say is that we have put in place all the measures all the processes installed new facilities, in the best effort to make certain that those queues cannot happen again.'

LONDON: Passengers at King's Cross station in central London as bank holiday getaway begin

LONDON: Passengers waiting at Euston station with their luggage on a bumper day of travel 

KENT: Lorries queue during Operation Brock on the M20 near Ashford

HEATHROW: Huge queues have formed at the airport as British Airways passengers wait to find out what will happen to their cancelled flights

DOVER: Cars queue to get through check in and security at the port today 

DOVER: At intervals in the enormous line vehicles are completely static 

DOVER: HGV's, cars and coaches have all been caught up in the traffic this morning

DARTFORD: Motorists have been warned to expect very busy roads this May bank holiday weekend as '19 million trips are to take place'

DOVER: Port bosses previously said 'it would be foolish' to guarantee that there will not be more queues

DARTFORD: Anti-clockwise traffic on the A282 slows to a crawl this morning as it approaches the Dartford Crossing

Half-term holiday plans for thousands of families were thrown into disarray after British Airways' flight cancellations due to an IT failure reached 175.

Most of the affected flights were on short-haul routes to and from Heathrow Airport.

British Airways said the 'technical issue' was resolved on Thursday night, but disruption continued into Friday because of aircraft and crew being out of position.

Friday was expected to see the most departures from UK airports since December 20 2019, with more than 3,000 flights planned.

This is due to the combination of many families heading overseas ahead of the half-term school holiday in England and Wales, and Monday being a bank holiday.

Aviation analytics company Cirium said 83 British Airways flights due to operate on Friday were cancelled, in addition to 92 flights on Thursday.

That means more than 20,000 passengers' journeys were axed.

Those that have made it to the airport have reported that they are being made to wait in hour long lines just to establish whether or not their luggage is missing.  

In a message on its website, British Airways told customers: 'We're aware of a technical issue, which we have been working hard to fix.'

It advised passengers to check the status of their flight before going to the airport, adding that it is receiving 'high call volumes'.

Heathrow said the problem was not related to a strike by security officers at Terminal 5 who are currently locked in a dispute over pay. 

Reacting to the carnage, Rory Boland, editor of consumer magazine Which? Travel, said: 'The busy holiday season is only just beginning but already BA is breaking its promises to its customers that it would avoid a repeat of last year's travel chaos, with thousands of passengers now finding themselves in holiday hell as a result of yet another IT disaster. 

'Occurrences like this are becoming all too familiar. 'BA has a legal responsibility to refund or reroute any passenger caught up in the chaos, and travellers shouldn't be shy about enforcing their rights.' 

HEATHROW: An enormous line of passengers wait in Heathrow for any news on their flights 

BRISTOL: Lengthy queues have formed southbound on the M5 as holidaymakers and day trippers head to the south west of England

HEATHROW: Passengers at Heathrow have reported chaos as they waited for hours to find their luggage

Members of Unite have already held 15 days of industrial action, including over the busy Easter period.

Heathrow said it has contingency plans in place to keep the airport open and operating as usual, adding that passengers can expect to have a 'smooth' half-term getaway.

Meanwhile motorists are being told to expect 'hectic' traffic during what is expected to be the busiest late May bank holiday weekend on the roads since 2019. 

A survey of 2,138 drivers for the RAC indicated that 19.2 million leisure car trips will take place across the UK between Friday and Monday.

The worst traffic over the four days is expected today, when people embarking on bank holiday getaways will compete for road space with commuters. 

Transport data company Inrix expects journeys on some stretches of the M25 to take up to three times longer than normal.

They include clockwise from Junction 23 for Hatfield to Junction 28 for Chelmsford, and anticlockwise towards the Dartford Crossing. 

Long delays are also expected on the M5 in Somerset and the M6 in Cheshire and Greater Manchester. 

DARTFORD: Huge snaking tailbacks have developed on approach to the crossing

DOVER: Lorries queue for the Port of Dover along the A20 in Kent as the getaway for half term

LONDON: Eurostar passengers with luggage wait for trains near the terminal

NEWHAVEN: Queues at Newhaven ferry port at the start of the bank holiday weekend

BRISTOL: Passengers flying out of Bristol airport have endured long queues 

LONDON: Travellers with luggage wait for trains at Euston Station in Central London

MANCHESTER: Scrums continue to form at Manchester airport this morning 

KENT: An Operation Brock checkpoint on the M20 near Ashford in Kent as the getaway for half term and the bank holiday weekend begin

RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said: 'With the travel restrictions imposed during Covid now thankfully a distant memory, it's clear drivers' desire to get away has been reignited, with our figures for this coming weekend suggesting leisure traffic volumes will be close to what we last saw in 2019.

'The Met Office currently predicts largely settled weather with above-average temperatures so we're expecting this to be a hectic period on major roads as people aim to make the most of the last long weekend before August. 

'With so many households under the cosh financially, we're concerned that a lack of essential maintenance might lead to more avoidable breakdowns than we'd normally see. 

'A quick look at oil and coolant levels, together with checking tyres are in good condition and inflated properly, can go a long way to avoiding an unwelcome stop at the side of the road this weekend.' 

Traffic control measures have already been put in place to manage the flow of lorries travelling to Dover on the M20.

The Kent Resilience Forum, which manages emergency planning for the county, told the BBC: 'The passenger forecasts from both Eurotunnel and the Port of Dover indicate an extremely busy period for cross-Channel traffic over the bank holiday weekend at the end of May.

'This also coincides with schools in the UK breaking up for half-term.'

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