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News: Heathrow drops threat of Christmas flight caps, Eurostar commits to Amsterdam

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News in brief:

Heathrow pulls back on threat for Christmas capacity caps

Heathrow is attempting to calm concerns from airlines and passengers over short notice capacity caps over the busy Christmas and New Year period.

As we covered here, Heathrow lifted its passenger cap as planned from 30th October. This wasn’t the end of it, however, as the airport said that it had not ruled out implementing a ‘highly targeted mechanism’ that would ‘align supply and demand’ during key peak days in the run up to Christmas.

This threat now appears to have lifted, with the latest trading statement from the airport claming that, following discussions with airlines and ground handlers, it now believed that it had sufficient capacity to cope.

It isn’t clear if these ‘discussions’ with the airlines were about making additional early cancellations, which is not exactly helpful but at least avoids short terms disruption, or if was around some rescheduling of services to balance out the hourly flow rate of arriving and departing passengers.

It’s not all good news, of course, with multiple stakeholders, including Border Force, currently planning industrial action in the coming weeks over pay.

In its latest update on recruitment, the airport said that it was now expecting to be able to find enough staff to return to pre-pandemic employment levels by the time of the Summer holiday peak in 2023. Rising unemployment elsewhere in the economy is likely to make it easier to find staff willing to accept the low pay and unsocial hours involved in airport work.

Eurostar commits to Amsterdam

Eurostar commits to Amsterdam services

According to Dutch media reports picked up by Business Traveller, Eurostar has agreed a deal to remain at Amsterdam Centraal after a way forward was found to ease the processing of passengers.

As Rhys found when he reviewed the Amsterdam Eurostar service this year, the situation at Amsterdam is far from ideal. The existing station layout and the need to separate UK passengers, including immigration and security clearance, has led to issues which threatened the future of the service. The existing security area was also required to allow other construction work to take place.

Reports suggest that a new facility will be built in an existing but underused passage underneath Amsterdam Centraal. This will have capacity for 600 passenges compared to the current 250.

No timetable for the development has been released.


How to get Club Eurostar points and lounge access from UK credit cards

How to get Club Eurostar points and lounge access from UK credit cards (December 2022)

Club Eurostar does not have a UK credit card.  However, you can earn Club Eurostar points by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards

Cards earning Membership Rewards points include:

Membership Rewards points convert at 15:1 into Club Eurostar points which is an attractive rate.  The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, so you will get the equivalent of 1 Club Eurostar point for every £15 you spend.

American Express Platinum comes with a great Eurostar benefit – Eurostar lounge access!  

You can enter any Eurostar lounge, irrespective of your ticket type, simply by showing The Platinum Card at the desk.  No guests are allowed but you can get entry for your partner by issuing them with a free supplementary Amex Platinum card on your account.

Comments (29)

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  • Erico1875 says:

    “Rising unemployment elsewhere in the economy is likely to make it easier to find staff willing to accept the low pay and unsocial hours involved in airport work.”

    I can accept unsocial hours are neccessary, but a business that cant pay their staff properly and are only relying on people who dont have any real alternative, doesnt have a proper business.

    • Rich says:

      Agreed, but one needs specifics of what the pay levels being offered are, including all allowances such as for anti social hours. We can then make our own mind up as to whether the pay really is low, or as some would say ‘poor’.

      Minimum wage now gets a 23 yrs or older worker close to £20k a year for a 40hr week before extras – I’d hope LHR workers are getting much more than that.

  • Paul says:

    I wouldn’t want to be flying out of Heathrow this Christmas. On Thursday morning they couldn’t cope at First Wing with up to 30 minute queues there for security. I was diverted to fast track south which was down to one machine at 6 am. In the end I went to standard security which was no worse than anything else. What people alwYs seem to forget is just how much they are paying for this rubbish service from Heathrow Airport. They were, they are and will in all likelyhood remain, a national embarrassment!

    • Rich says:

      Not to make excuses for LHR but have you never experienced terrible queues at other airports around the world? I have, and I view them as extremely frustrating but far from a ‘national embarrassment’. In my view that’s just a typical statement from someone totally over reacting, or a headline writer from a red top newspaper (and increasingly the broadsheets) wanting clicks.

    • Tariq says:

      Contrary, last Saturday at around 6am I went through T5 South security and was diverted across into the standard queue and was through in 5 minutes. I think experiences are highly variable at the moment.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Agree with this. My last experience I was out at drop off, dropped my bag and on the other side of fast track within 15 mins.

      • Mark says:

        Likewise, we sailed through at 4:45am last Saturday despite the terminal already starting to get busy. Were airside within an hour of leaving home, and queuing for the lounge to open at 5am.

      • John says:

        Departures not so great for me but arrivals last week was the quickest it has been in years, no holding over LHR, arrived half an hour early and jetbridge was ready, no queue at e-gates and checked bag was almost on its way out by the time I got there

    • ADS says:

      On Monday afternoon Heathrow had closed North Security in T5 (but hadn’t bothered updating the signs throughout the terminal), and there was an enormous queue landside to even get through the boarding pass scan machines – I barely made the 35 cut off.

      • JK says:

        Tonight first wing was so backed up that the queue went several metres back from the first desk where they check your eligibility, ie: the ones in front of conformance. Very much non premium.

  • Max says:

    What was behind the decision not to perform passport checks at St Pancras on arrival? This could open up more routes to the European mainland, without the need to build infrastructure at each station.

    • OP says:

      They don’t have enough space to process passengers on arrival with the current terminal set up (and it’s generally not seen as best practice)

    • Roy says:

      They actually do perform the UK passport checks on arrival for trains arriving from Marne-la-Vallée (Disneyland), I believe.

      • tony says:

        Whilst that was the case historically, the Disney service has been cancelled now and apparently won’t be reinstated.

    • Rich says:

      Even better would be checks on board, which many countries used to do before Schengen.

      And scrap the security theatre.

      (I don’t see either happening though.)

      • lumma says:

        I travelled from Ljubljana to Zagreb in September and they do this. The train needs to wait in the border station while a Slovenian and a Croatian immigration offers walk through the train and check everyone’s passports (and stamp those that need). Another officer walks down the train outside checking that no one has been missed.

        I don’t think this would be an improvement.

        • Rich_A says:

          It doesn’t need to be done while stopped at a border. On an intercity train like Eurostar checks could be done while moving. There’s plenty of time, it’s just a question of political will.

        • BlueThroughCrimp says:

          Spent two hours on the Flixbus on that border crossing.
          Soul destroying.

          • Lady London says:

            The problem with buses IME is you only need one ‘irregular’ person whose check takes ages, and the whole bus has to sit around in no mans land waiting for them… and there seems to be quite a tolerance for that. Had it at Dover a few times back in the day… and s*d’s law it happens when it left London 10.30pm for the 01.00am ferry…. That gets missed thanks to some unusual passports on board and next ferry 04.30 or something.

            And that was pre-Brexit I shudder to think about now.

    • John says:

      They want to prevent people from reaching UK soil and claiming asylum

  • Londonsteve says:

    If Heathrow is now adequately staffed and continues to operate flights below pre-pandemic volumes, why did my BA aircraft need to wait 35 minutes after landing until it could get onto a stand at T5 yesterday afternoon?

    • Rob says:

      It’s not adequately staffed. It won’t be fully staffed until the Summer peak (so June-ish) next year.

    • BA Flyer IHG Stayer says:

      That’s because BA and / or their ground handler don’t have enough staff.

      • Londonsteve says:

        You would think it would be cheaper to increase the hourly pay of ground handlers to recruit enough of them, compared to the cost of having an A320 idling on the apron for 30 minutes running one engine and the APU, paying crew salaries, eroding the available working hours of the pilots and resulting in poorer aircraft utilisation. Strikes me as penny wise and pound foolish. I haven’t even mentioned the customer disappointment and frustration caused by having the aircraft sat not moving for 30 minutes so tantilisingly close to the arrival terminal which is hard to quantify financially and may result in considerable lost revenue in the future.

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