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Forums Frequent flyer programs British Airways Executive Club Buses, not runways, at LHR

  • jj 526 posts

    Paywalled article in The Times suggests that Heathrow is about to abandon plans for a third runway in favour of squeezing extra capacity from existing facilities. Amongst other ideas, more bus gates would apparently increase throughput.

    Do you share Heathrow’s vision of a cheek-by-jowl terminal experience followed by a third-world style bus trip to your delayed flight?

    Article here: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/e4eea062-560c-4d9b-a580-c992f94529c9?shareToken=e2b4488bf8bb488d22fe0cd68ac3d2a0

    JDB 4,317 posts

    @jj QR often uses buses at Doha! Heathrow would love a third runway but without sufficient political support and with every do-gooder under the sun launching law suits against the project, one has to face reality. It’s not a lack of vision. Also, I wouldn’t believe everything you read on this topic; there’s a lot of lobbying and interests from different parties as well as deliberate misinformation to try to alter the course of the debate. We are some way from a decision – at present we don’t even know who the shareholders will be, and they will need time to consider the facts.

    The awful LHR buses aren’t operated by HAL but by the airline user group.

    Terminals 1 and 3 will be knocked down to allow for a much expanded T2 so there will be slightly more capacity and if there’s no third runway, T4 may be reprieved.

    Blair Waldorf Salad 1,103 posts

    I don’t actually care that much so long as there are segregated buses for boarding groups. Qatar does this, as does Swiss. TAP at Lisbon on the other hand – first group is boarded into a bus, then said bus is packed to the gills, and there’s a veritable stampede off it to the stairs upon arrival at the remote stand. It’s not so much about overhead space, more about there being absolutely nothing premium about a crowded bus experience after the pantomime of segregated gate lines.

    LD27 172 posts

    Recent BA flight out of T3 used the bus gate. It appeared that only boarding Groups 1-3 had access to first bus. It left before it was full and before other groups.

    BajiNahid 169 posts

    LHR is a mess when it comes to busses. I had to wait 30 minutes in a bus to board a flight to MIA because of congestion on the roads around the terminal. Go Figure.

    jj 526 posts

    Buses provide a dreadful experience in the British weather. Like many people, I rarely fly with a coat or umbrella (are umbrellas even allowed on planes?), and I’ve had too many mad dashes on/off a flight in horizontal British rain to ever forgive an airline or airport that uses them except as a last resort.

    I appreciate all that @JDB says about do gooders and the impossibility of developing large infrastructure projects in the UK, but I also realise that a certain type of management exists which prefers to increase RoE by sweating existing assets rather than building for the long term.

    NorthernLass 7,466 posts

    Yes you can take an umbrella on a plane but it’s a terrible use of hand baggage space! In cold weather I take a coat with a hood, in warm I just take the risk. If it’s Ryanair from MAN, chances are you’re going to get wet on the walk to/from the plane …

    BA Flyer IHG Stayer 2,045 posts

    Sounds more like a “support the 3rd runway or else this is what you’ll have instead” strategy to me.

    The issue at LHR is the capacity of the runways to permit any more arrivals and departures. And there is very, very little headroom for more.

    True anyone can launch a court case but very few judicial reviews are actually won and even then the government or whoever will just rerun the process in question to fix the error in the process and that’s if the Judge finds that the error in the process is a major one.

    One review involving my local council was technically won because the council only consulted for 89 days instead of 90 but the judge said the error was immaterial to the decision made as the closing date was announced in good time and the error not pointed out until after the consultation closed.

    No one is stopping expansion with an “I don’t like it” case. They win because of a failure of process. And it’s hard to win those cases unless the error is egregious.

    JDB 4,317 posts

    I appreciate all that @JDB says about do gooders and the impossibility of developing large infrastructure projects in the UK, but I also realise that a certain type of management exists which prefers to increase RoE by sweating existing assets rather than building for the long term.


    @jj
    the difference with Heathrow is that regulation massively incentivises investment but that airlines can effectively veto such investment and they stop all the good things that could be done. BA is also very opposed to the third runway which is quite problematic on top of political lack of enthusiasm/opposition. HAL would love to make lots of improvements!

    While we definitely have a problem with infrastructure in the UK, the condition of airports isn’t really very different to those in the rest of Europe, US and Australia where nobody is willing to fund loss making showcase airports.

    memesweeper 1,242 posts

    I’m certainly not in favour of public funds subsidising loss-making airports. I am in favour of minimum standards and other regulations for monopoly and similar businesses. There is no effective competition between airports (and in some cases airlines) in London due to slot constraints. Heathrow and Gatwick need an obligation to not be awful, and the airlines need to be obliged to pay for a reasonable minimum standard (eg minimum use of busses/jet bridges by default). A role for the CMA or CAA?

    The airlines will complain that this will lead to higher fares, which is largely untrue, as flights are on the whole dynamically priced on what the market will tolerate. The airlines will make less profit, however.

    Richie 970 posts

    @JDB which airports are you thinking of when you describe them as “showcase”?

    zapato1060 625 posts

    I read someone’s QR review in Doha recently whose bus was going round and round for 20mins plus. I’ve never flown with them but hope that’s not what’s to come at LHR.

    JDB 4,317 posts

    @JDB which airports are you thinking of when you describe them as “showcase”?

    Singapore and Doha are two that come to mind. They go beyond good functionality, are very wasteful of space and are as much about projecting an image about their country as they are airports. There’s nothing wrong with that an it’s great for the passenger, but unaffordable / unachievable for most airport operators. China has huge airports and some striking architecture but no fripperies.

    Super Secret Stuff 365 posts

    Yes you can take an umbrella on a plane but it’s a terrible use of hand baggage space! In cold weather I take a coat with a hood, in warm I just take the risk. If it’s Ryanair from MAN, chances are you’re going to get wet on the walk to/from the plane …

    A fair few airlines specifically exclude it from the luggage allowance if you’re carrying it.

    Anyway… I don’t understand what there thinking here. Unless your going to catapult the planes down the runway there not going to take off quicker.

    The buses won’t create any more terminal space for massive increases to passenger numbers. Yes it allows them to merge two a320 gates into a 777 gate and in theory the other plane goes to a bus gate. But how much can the facilities physically handle? At some point you’ll need a new satellite terminal

    Colin MacKinnon 291 posts

    How do buses stop the widespread cancellations when ATC decreases the flow rate due to weather?

    Surely more flights in good weather will simply mean more cancellations in bad weather!

    jj 526 posts

    The article talks about increasing capacity on the existing runways: “Other initiatives include more efficient use of the runway so that planes could take off and land closer together.” The idea is to increase the number of aircraft movements and to use new bus gates to cope with the inevitable gate shortage.

    As for overcrowding in the terminal building, have you ever seen how many sheep can fit in a transporter? It’s extraordinary how densely organic matter can be packed if the creatures concerned have no choice.

    chungcyk 21 posts

    Recent T5 flight to NYC also departed from bus gates – a little frustrating to be honest given it’s a huge plane and as others said, the rain wasn’t kind…

    Ihar 111 posts

    Quite impressed from boarding from the lounge in BOS and A380 boarding at LHR (both in F). No thanks to buses. Can’t see how buses help LHR – runways are the bottleneck, not to mention ATC routes.

    Given the cost of a new LHR runway, build out a second at LGW and provide a direct LHR/LGW rail route. LGW is already served well from London via train, and noise impact will be minimal.

    Paul 133 posts

    How do buses stop the widespread cancellations when ATC decreases the flow rate due to weather?

    Surely more flights in good weather will simply mean more cancellations in bad weather!

    This is exactly what will happen.

    Heathrow needs to be bulldozed and a new airport built connected to all corners of the country by high speed rail!

    No Third Runway

    phantomchickenz 312 posts

    Given the cost of a new LHR runway, build out a second at LGW and provide a direct LHR/LGW rail route.

    What route would it take?

    BA Flyer IHG Stayer 2,045 posts

    Given the cost of a new LHR runway, build out a second at LGW and provide a direct LHR/LGW rail route.

    What route would it take?

    There was a proposal to build an elevated railway above the M25 similar to the JFK airtrain.

    BA Flyer IHG Stayer 2,045 posts

    Heathrow needs to be bulldozed and a new airport built connected to all corners of the country by high speed rail!

    No Third Runway

    Please tell us where this new airport and rail lines would be built.

    And who would pay for it.

    Ian m 17 posts

    There is no room for manoeuvre on the capacity of Heathrow runways . Flow control already regulates for traffic to arrive in an excess per hour so creating an approx 20 min delay. They do this so that when the actual number of aircraft turn turn up its much closer to the capacity to actually land them all. There are always those flights that miss slots or get rerouted etc.
    Unfortunately, when they all turn up then there will be an approx 20 min hold. The sectors that feed traffic to the London area regularly slow traffic to minimum speed so some delay is absorbed before they reach the holding fixes. But this at most can save 2/3 mins holding time.
    The easiest way to get more people through Heathrow is to use bigger aircraft.
    Rather than BA, for example, having 6 flights per day to a destination they only have 3 and use an aircraft with double the capacity.
    Forcing all airlines that operate many flights per day to a single destination will instantly increase capacity for passengers using the runways.
    But could the airport cope?

    jj 526 posts

    Reducing the frequency of flights to popular destinations fundamentally breaks the hub and spoke model. Heathrow is a hub airport.

    In a rational world, the regulator and government would require the monopoly provider of critical transport infrastructure to invest in a way that ensures supply keeps pace with demand. Instead, government needs to be cajoled into reluctantly and unreliable allowing investment. It’s no surprise that our infrastructure is so poor.

    phantomchickenz 312 posts

    Given the cost of a new LHR runway, build out a second at LGW and provide a direct LHR/LGW rail route.

    What route would it take?

    There was a proposal to build an elevated railway above the M25 similar to the JFK airtrain.

    That would cost more than a new airport!

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