UK airport chaos takes toll on airlines

Thousands of passengers flying out of the UK were delayed on the fifth day of the security squeeze at British airports as ministers, airlines and the airport authorities blamed each other.

Worst hit were Heathrow and Gatwick and Stansted, with BAA ordering airlines to cut outgoing flights by 30 per cent or be banned from using London’s Heathrow airport at the peak of the holiday season.

In response airlines have cancelled flights from Britain’s busiest airport.

Britain has downgraded its terror alert level from “critical” to “severe”. Therefore travellers will be able to take hand baggage onto planes, including laptops and other electrical items.

The change in the status came after Britain’s Home Secretary John Reid said a terrorist attack was “highly likely” but not “imminent”.

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The reduction in the threat level means that the ban on taking hand luggage on airplanes from the UK has been lifted, although some restrictions remain.

The US Department of Homeland Security has also downgraded the threat level for flights from the UK from “code red” to “code orange”.

BAA UK airports has said that hand baggage restrictions are still in place. Passengers will be hand-searched, footwear and all items (including pushchairs and walking aids) must be x-rayed and liquids will be removed from the passenger.

Electronic devices, such as laptops, will be permitted but will be thoroughly screened.

A medium-sized item of hand luggage will be permitted. This bag will be around half the size of luggage previously admitted.

For more information on what exactly can be carried click here.


easyJet is also asking travellers to put one piece of hold luggage on the plane in order to reduce the strain on airport baggage systems.

UK airport operator BAA has also come under strong criticism from airlines.  Willie Walsh, British Airways Chief Executive has bluntly accused BAA of failing to cope.

British Airways said it had cancelled 30 percent of its flights from Heathrow on Sunday and all its domestic flights to and from Gatwick.

Walsh said: “The Heathrow baggage system cannot process all of the passengers’ bags and where passengers have been able to check in their bags, the queues in the airport search area means that passengers are unable to get to the departure gate in time for their flight.”

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