Londoners face mammoth journeys out of the capital in the sweltering heat as thousands head off for Bank Holiday weekend breaks.
Motorists are being warned to brace themselves for long delays as 16.5 million drivers were expected to hit the road in soaring temperatures this weekend.
It is expected to be the busiest spring Bank Holiday weekend for traffic in four years, according to the RAC, with more 1.2 million cars on the road than last year.
Standstills have been reported on stretches of the M25, with much of the road already congested by 3pm as drivers tried to beat rush hour.
A problem with the airport’s baggage system meant items needed to be processed manually, causing long queues for travellers in the North and South terminal.
Chaotic scenes this morning at Gatwick due to a major fault with their new baggage system (@LanaBananaLana)
Drivers also experienced standstill traffic near Stansted Airport, and since 5pm the Dartford crossing had delays of an average of 33 minutes.
Journeys via parts of the M25 and M5 that would normally take half an hour or less will last more than four times longer on Friday, traffic information supplier Inrix warned.
Gatwick bank holiday baggage disaster
An RAC traffic spokesman, said: “The late Easter has meant there’s been something of a bank holiday bonanza this year, with up to four days off in the space of just six weeks.
“But that’s not stopping UK drivers from taking to the road for a leisure trip this coming weekend, especially as the weather at the start of the weekend at least is set to be dry, sunny and very warm for much of the country.”
He added that leisure journeys were expected to reach a peak on Monday as families set off for a half-term trip or a day at the coast.
“But drivers should be warned that the roads are likely to see significant congestion on Friday as getaway traffic and everyday commuter traffic combines,” he said.
“We’re expecting it to be bumper-to-bumper from Friday lunchtime onwards on some of the country’s most popular routes.”