Heathrow Airport's fortnight of chaos drags on with four-hour queues and flight delays

Travellers criticise airport staff for failing to offer assistance

Passengers queue to check in at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 2 on Friday morning. Photo: Twitter
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Latest: UK airports hit by Easter cancellations, queues and chaos

Travellers at Heathrow Airport faced “unbelievable queues” on Friday morning as the West London airport continued to grapple with logistical challenges.

The UK’s busiest airport has for weeks been racked by chaos at check-in and arrival areas. Some passengers claimed their wait at check-in was four hours.

The issues for passengers flying from and arriving at the airport continued on Friday morning. It coincides with the Easter holidays for the majority of British schools and the first big getaway of the year.

Martin Duggan was among the frustrated passengers who on Twitter posted photos of lengthy lines of people.

“Another set of unbelievable queues,” he wrote. “This time Terminal 2. Seriously this needs real action. This is at least an hour long to use the unmanned terminals.”

His pictures showed long queues snaking along corridors leading to Border Control desks, with further queues hidden from sight. Mr Duggan said he and his fellow passengers were forced to stand in line for “one hour in total” without water or adequate assistance from staff.

“No concerns for old people and just terrible. Same at T3 a few weeks ago.”

Jonathan Betts said he had waited for four hours to check in for his flight from Heathrow on Friday and had to run to catch his plane. He claimed that the captain had “closed the doors 30 minutes late due to the incompetence of Heathrow management”.

“Bet you will have some nice fines landing your way from airlines you serve,” he told Heathrow.

Prof Steve Field, a GP and chairman of Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, also took to Twitter to raise the plight of travellers caught up in delays at Heathrow. He posted a photo showing queues at passport control and hit out at the “chaos”.

“Not the fault of the airlines, just poor organisation,” he said.

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) warned of further queues at Heathrow and other UK airports over the busy Easter season due to staff shortages.

The group said its members had been trying to recruit new workers following a spate of job losses during the pandemic and staff leaving to work in other industries.

But the AOA, which represents most UK airports ranging from Heathrow to Edinburgh, said there had been problems with trying to hire enough staff.

Karen Dee, chief executive of the AOA, said at peak time passengers “may not have the experience they are used to” over Easter.

Environmental activists targeted an oil depot close to Heathrow in the early hours of Friday as part of a string of protests across England.

Members of Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil set themselves up at the entrance to the Esso West London Terminal to prevent fuel tankers from leaving to make deliveries.

A spokeswoman for Heathrow told The National the protests had not caused disruption to travel to and from the airport.

IT glitches in British Airways’ system this week left passengers stranded at Heathrow for days.

The vast majority of flights on the airline’s live tracker were shown as departing late or cancelled between 2pm and 9.30pm on Wednesday.

The glitch was resolved on Wednesday afternoon, according to the airline, but the knock-on effect led to further cancellations on Thursday.

A British Airways spokesman on Thursday said the airline was “very sorry to say that as a result of the technical issue” and “predicted weather disruption” the flight schedule at Heathrow had to be scaled back.

“We’re taking steps to ensure as many customers as possible are able to travel as planned today.

“We’ve apologised to our customers and are offering to refund or rebook them on to alternative flights, providing refreshment vouchers and hotel accommodation where needed.”

On Thursday evening passengers claimed they were forced to sit on planes for up to two hours post-landing before they were allowed to disembark.

Heathrow Airport through the years

Updated: April 04, 2022, 7:41 AM