Thousands of passengers jetted off on holiday without their suitcases on Sunday after a baggage belt broke down at Gatwick.

A technical fault with the automated sorting system at the North Terminal meant about 3,000 bags couldn’t be loaded onto flights.

Both long-haul and short-haul flights were affected by the fault, including carriers such as British Airways and easyJet.

Gatwick told the Metro that a fault left one of two systems in the terminal out of action for nine hours until 2.30pm yesterday afternoon. But flights later in the day were still affected as a knock-on result from the earlier disruption.

A spokeswoman for the airport told the BBC that staff prioritised long-haul passengers and further contingency plans were then put in place to ensure there were no reported problems yesterday.

Any items not loaded in time were put on the next available flights and passengers were advised to contact their airline on arriving in their destination.

In a statement, Gatwick Airport said: “On Sunday there was a technical issue with one of the baggage sorting systems in the North Terminal.

“Extra resource was drafted in to manually cage the bags for loading.

“This ensured that the vast majority of bags were loaded on to planes without issue.

“We worked closely with our airlines and their baggage handlers to make sure that any missed bags were loaded on to the next available flight so passengers could be reunited with their luggage.”

Gatwick Airport said it usually handled about 40,000 to 50,000 bags on a Sunday during the summer.