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1m depart from Heathrow

The Heathrow Observer

August 4, 2022.

  • New York tops list of summer travel destinations in Heathrow’s busiest consecutive 10 days for departures since Christmas 2019

  • 1,300 new recruits online at Heathrow to help passengers on their journeys

  • Top tips to speed through the airport this summer include packing liquids correctly and arriving at the airport on time for your flight

The summer getaway is off to a strong start as over 1 million people took to the skies from Heathrow in the last 10 days, the busiest consecutive period for departures at the airport since Christmas 2019. The top destinations so far this summer are New York, Los Angeles, and Dubai.

This is the first summer since before the pandemic that Heathrow is fully operational with all four terminals welcoming passengers and both runways open. An estimated 13 million people are expected to travel in and out of the airport between July and September.

Heathrow began planning for this summer’s getaway last November, and the airport has now hired an additional 1,300 recruits. Most of the new joiners work in security, which now has the same capacity as summer 2019. Currently, 80% of Heathrow passengers will clear security within 20 minutes or less, although queues can be longer at the busiest times.

The airport says it is great to have new people joining their teams and although they may sometimes take slightly longer to check passengers than their more experienced colleagues, they are becoming more efficient with each passing week as they gain valuable experience.

The biggest change at the airport since the reopening of travel is in the passenger mix, with business travel numbers relatively lower and leisure travellers now making up the majority of passengers. Leisure passengers often travel with more luggage and are less familiar with travel rules which can slow their progress through the airport, particularly at check-in and security checkpoints.

One example where this is particularly apparent is taking liquids in carry-on baggage. Heathrow data shows that at least 60% of bags rejected at security checkpoints are subjected to time-consuming hand searches because passengers haven’t removed all of their liquids from bags before screening, as set out by the Government’s rules. Even now when all security lanes are open and fully resourced, these additional checks slow down the flow through security for all passengers. In July alone, passengers are estimated to have spent an extra 2.1 million minutes more in security at Heathrow because of leaving liquids packed in carry-on bags instead of placing all liquids into a sealed plastic bag.

The airport has dedicated teams of people at all security checkpoints to assist passengers with any queries they may have before screening.

Wanting to help every journey get off to the best start, Heathrow is encouraging passengers to follow these top travel tips when flying from the airport:

  • Arrive on time – Do not arrive at the airport any more than three hours before the departure time of your flight. Airlines will not be able to check-in your bags if you arrive more than three hours before departure. Heathrow has teams of people, including additional passenger service colleagues and the airport’s entire management team, out in the terminals throughout the summer and ready to help you on your journeys. Look out for colleagues wearing pink or purple Heathrow polo shirts if you have any questions or need assistance when you arrive at the airport.

  • Pack your liquids correctly – The fastest way to beat security queues is to have your liquids ready before you get to the airport and to remember things like make-up, hand sanitiser, lotion, lip balm, hair gel and tooth paste all count as liquids. If you plan on travelling with liquids, gels, aerosols, creams, pastes or anything you think might fall into one of those categories, please ensure each item is in a container no more than 100mls and all items together fit within one resealable one litre-sized transparent bag. There are bags available before all security check-points if you need one.

  • Have your documents ready – Ensure your travel documentation is in order before you get to the airport. Many countries still require COVID tests or vaccination certificates which will need to be verified by your airline at check-in before you are able to travel. The Foreign Office travel advice service is the best place to review the latest information on the entry requirements for your destination.

Heathrow Chief Operating Officer Emma Gilthorpe said: “My colleagues and I are thrilled to welcome so many passengers back to Heathrow again after two years of COVID cancellations and empty terminal buildings. The pandemic has been rough on the travel sector, but as we emerge and ramp-up operations, everyone at Heathrow is working hard to get you on your journeys. We’re focussed on getting back to giving you the excellent service you expect every time you travel, and by following our top tips – including ensuring liquids are packed correctly, you arrive on time and you have the correct travel documents – you can help us get you into holiday mode this summer.”

Image - Kevan James

Passengers rate Heathrow as one of the best airports in the world, but in recent weeks the airport has struggled to cope as passenger volumes increased beyond the collective capacity of companies across the airport to serve them. This resulted in an unacceptable increase in delays to get planes on to stand, bags not travelling with passengers or being delivered very late to the baggage hall, low departure punctuality and some flights being cancelled after passengers had boarded.

That’s why the airport introduced a cap on daily departing passenger numbers. The cap has slightly reduced passenger numbers, bringing them into line with available resources, and as a result, is already delivering better, more reliable journeys for passengers.

There has already been an improvement in punctuality, shorter waits for bags to be delivered to reclaim halls and fewer cancelled flights. Heathrow is keen to get back to operating without a cap as quickly as possible, but that is dependent on teams across the airport, notably some airline ground handlers, achieving sufficient resource levels.

Images courtesy of Heathrow Airport Ltd unless otherwise stated


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