London Heathrow Airport – What’s Gone Wrong?
London Heathrow Airport – what’s gone wrong?. The day started badly for me when I turned on the TV to see the Sky News airport package on London Heathrow Airport.
London Heathrow Airport had on Thursday 30th June asked airlines to reduce their schedules as they didn’t have the capacity to cope with all the passengers on booked flights.
I quickly finished packing and arrived at the airport shortly after 11:20 for my 16:30 flight to Los Angeles. I’d reserved a car parking space via one of these third party providers after the airport wanted a stunning £200 to park for eight days parking. Parking was seamless and if I am honest, much easier than using the airport long stay car park.
I had done online check in the night before meaning I just needed to drop my bag and head through security.
Last time I did this in April, the process took around 15 minutes.
The bag drop line was long and took about 20 minutes. Fair play though to Virgin Atlantic who had every single desk open. It’s also a holiday weekend in America that’s probably added to the number of people traveling.
What happened next though was not what I expected. A 90 minute wait for security.
On exiting the check in area, everyone was directed to join one queue which lead to one escalator to the first floor followed by a snaking queue that traversed the entire length of Terminal 3. No way of jumping the line as all the elevators and other escalators had been disabled.
I eventually got to the departure lounge at 13:30. So what’s gone wrong at London Heathrow Airport? In a nutshell not enough security staff. And getting airside passes processed quickly for new staff.
I worked at the airport from 2018 until 2020 as part of the research team. And from experience I can tell you that gaining an airside pass takes ages – in my case three months.
It’s a complicated process that involves a background security check, proof of employment for the last five years along with utility bills and bank statements to prove who you are. Oh and you need a number of references too.
My pass was rejected twice after the utility bills I submitted failed the check as my application had taken to long to process and the bills were out of date. There’s a three month limit on documents submitted.
Unlike many airports here in the US that are run by local authorities, London Heathrow Airport is a commercial business and as such is focussed on making profits and then distributing the profits as dividends to its share holders.
Staffing is a huge cost to the airport which they dramatically reduced during Covid 19. Now they are struggling to recruit and verify those new staff for airside passes.
One major airline at the airport has 112 staff ready to go post Covid 19 but can’t get airside passes processed quickly enough.
Sp brace yourself if you’re traveling this summer from London Heathrow Airport.