Angry passengers have criticized Heathrow Airport for huge queues and delays in picking up bags as chaos returns to Britain’s busiest airport.
Angry travelers vented the ‘chaos’ caused by queues and alleged labor shortages this morning as they tried to get to their flights.
Some said people were queuing so hot for hours that they removed their masks and risked spraying Covid on other customers.
Heathrow acknowledged the “longest” immigration waiting list but added that staff were “working hard to deal with travelers”.
It comes just weeks after faulty electronic gates led to a terrible backlog at the airport that left hundreds of people waiting for up to four hours.
Angry travelers vented out about co-working lines and a lack of workers this morning as they tried to get to their flights
Some said people had been queuing so hot for hours that they removed their masks and risked spraying Covid on other customers.
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A man commented online: “HeathrowAirport, please send more officers to the immigration counters here.”
Heathrow Airport responded: ‘We are aware of longer immigration queues at this time, Border Force is working hard to handle travelers. Thank you for your patience.’
Another post: ‘HeyHeathrowAirportBritish_Airways When will BA172 baggage be delivered from JFK? The flight landed at 0836 and arrived at 0846.”
The airport responded: “We are sorry to hear of the long wait. Baggage handlers are working hard to process passenger bags.
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I stood in line for more than an hour, and many passengers began to take off their masks around me. Your understaffing creates a serious Covid risk in T5.
Heathrow Airport commented: “We are aware of longer immigration queues at this time, Border Force is working hard to handle travelers.
We are sorry to hear that passengers are removing their masks. While we appreciate that some passengers and fellow passengers may not be able to wear face coverings, we expect everyone to wear them where possible.
But she responded, “Unfortunately, people seem to be removing their face coverings out of boredom/frustration of standing in line for about two hours with little progress. If waiting times cannot be improved, is there perhaps at least a way to enforce your own policies?”
“Heathrow airport staff will enforce applicable rules which include wearing face masks when possible,” the airport said.
Paul Johnson said: HeathrowAirport Bags have been delivered as the case for 15 minutes now and there is no indication of it. Is this normal?
The company replied: We are sorry to hear about the long waiting times for your bags. If you are concerned about the condition of your baggage, please speak to your airline.
Peter Martin said: “HeathrowAirport what’s going on in the parking lot, trying to get out, is on level 3 and hasn’t moved for 30 minutes!!!!!!”
Another wrote: ‘Why can’t we get out of the T3 car park for a short stay? Did we move for 15 minutes? Another added, “I even rocked a T3 Short Stay for a PCR test so I could travel… I was sitting in a queue to find a parking spot for about an hour… What’s going on?!”
Heathrow said: ‘We’re sorry to hear about the delay. Please speak to the traffic guards who will be present in the car park if you have any concerns about the current situation.
She added, “We are currently experiencing delays in our parking lots. Our teams are working hard to allow passengers to pass the barriers, and we apologize for any inconvenience that may occur.”
Ramya Mure added: “It was the worst experience at Heathrow today with TSA. They were rude and didn’t let me carry most of my toiletries even though it was less than 100ml as it didn’t fit in a small bag. Most other airports don’t seem to care and the staff are polite. Very frustrating.’
Pictures showed tall crowds packed into narrow corridors as they waited to be treated at the airport this morning.
Others showed a group of passengers – most wearing face coverings – walking through flight gates as they tried to board their planes.
Today’s chaos was reportedly caused by “logistical problems” that led to waiting of up to an hour to collect luggage.
A Heathrow spokesman said it was not about “infrastructure on our part” and referred to airline dealers. British Airways has been contacted for comment.
Last month, Heathrow airport was in the grips of border frenzy as hundreds of angry travelers had to wait up to four hours upon arrival in Terminals 3 and 5.
Huge queues erupted due to portal crashes, the second time in two weeks. Passengers estimated that there were more than a thousand people waiting at the immigration center.
Heathrow Airport said at the time that the electronic gates were down due to a “national systems problem”. The airport is even blaming border forces, apparently, saying their staff operate electronic gates at ports across the country.
Earlier this week, the owner of British Airways threatened to quit Heathrow over the airport’s plans to raise fees and raise the cost of family holidays.
Luis Gallego, chief executive of British Airways owner IAG, fired the warning shot over Heathrow’s plans to increase passenger fees by up to 76 per cent.
It will see an increase from the current £19.60 to £34.40, which could add £75 to the cost of an overseas vacation for a family of five. The costs are charged to the airlines but are usually passed on to the passengers.
Gallego said the fees charged by the UK’s largest airport were already among the highest in the world and that IAG would “reconsider” the use of Heathrow if the planned increase continues.
He expected other airlines to cut services to and from the UK’s largest airport.
He said: “Heathrow is becoming more expensive for airlines to use. It is already 44 per cent more expensive than its European competitors.
It has some of the highest landing fees of any airport in the world. And now, operators can face a [more than] A 50 per cent increase in fees … a decision that would make the UK not more competitive, but less.
Earlier this week, the owner of British Airways threatened to quit Heathrow over the airport’s plans to raise fees and raise the cost of family holidays (file photo)
He added: “Heathrow’s leadership position is not inevitable. In fact, more than 40 per cent of people who use Heathrow Airport drop off passengers.
They are simply passing through, on their way to other destinations, and can easily pass through other, more competitive hubs.
“The hiking fee will not help. It will not attract demand. It will have the opposite effect.
And if landing fees continue to increase, I know IAG won’t be alone in reconsidering our airlines’ use of Heathrow as a port.
British Airways is one of the few airlines that exclusively use Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport.
But a new unit offering European flights from London Gatwick is due to start in March next year.
Gallego was speaking at an industry summit hosted by British Airways, which represents all of the UK’s major carriers.
Willie Walsh, a former director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, who runs a trade body for the International Air Transport Association, said Heathrow would “shoot itself” if passenger fees increased.
“Raising fees to this high will only drive people away from Heathrow,” he added.
Among the seven billionaires at Heathrow are the sovereign wealth funds of Qatar, Singapore and China.
It has paid around £4 billion in dividends since 2012 and said it could resume payments next year, after being paused due to the pandemic, if its debts are brought under control. Heathrow Airport charges the numbers that use the airport.
It expects about 40 million passengers next year, compared to 80 million before the pandemic, and said that means each passenger must pay more to cover the shortfall.
The airport’s desire to increase fees is subject to review by the Civil Aviation Authority, which will make a decision on whether the increase can continue into the next year.
British Airways chief executive Tim Alderslade said the proposed fee increase at Heathrow would threaten the viability of its expansion project.
But Heathrow hit back last night, accusing airlines of raising airfares for Christmas, with 2021 bookings closed at pre-pandemic levels now, and most overseas travel restrictions now scrapped.
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “The £10-15 increase in airport fees cannot be compared to pushing economy class tickets to the US over £2,000 at Christmas, which some airlines do.
“It is true that Heathrow Airport is proposing to raise pandemic prices higher than continental airports, but we are not state owned and have not received billions of dollars in government aid during the crisis – we are completely dependent on private investment.
Heathrow passengers want a reliable, high-quality experience. The higher fees will enable us to make a major investment in the next five years to protect passenger service.
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